Friday, December 4, 2020
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“The Climate War” and Why Rick Boucher Lost His Election

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I'm reading a fascinating book by Eric Pooley, "The Climate War", described in the book's blurb as a "behind-the-scenes" look at "an American civil war in which trillions of dollars and the fate of the planet are at stake." I'll give you my theory regarding one of the main reasons why Boucher lost his reelection, as well as reaction to that theory by Eric Pooley and several "plugged-in" 9th CD residents, at the end of this  (very long) article. But first, here are some excerpts from the book that help explain Boucher's role in crafting "cap and trade," aka, Waxman-Markey, aka, H.R. 2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

For starters, here's a passage that explains where Boucher was coming from on this issue.

Boucher had concerns of his own. Coal was the biggest industry in his district and produced 80 percent of its power.  People in his district had voted for McCain, and not because they believed in global warming. They tended to think it was a hoax, but Boucher had studied the issue and disagreed. He believed that if coal was going to have a future, it had to find a way to capture and store CO2. By making that happen, legislation could usher in a new golden age for coal. He had to make sure Waxman-Markey became that bill, then persuade the coal and power industries to back it. If he did that, his district would come along. It had reelected him twelve times.
So, right there in a nutshell is Boucher's thinking on this bill, and it certainly wasn't one that would make an environmentalist like myself particularly happy. But, as Pooley writes, Boucher "had done painstaking work on how to structure a cap-and-trade program so it wouldn't punish industry or consumers." In the end, and from my view this is morally reprehensible, "If it came to choosing between the future of the planet and the future of coal, he would choose coal."

Which is exactly what Boucher did on this legislation, working closely with coal and coal-fired power industry titans like Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers. Among other things, what Boucher worked on was ensuring that "existing coal-fired power plants - and plants that were under construction - would be 'grandfathered' in and not subject to the new carbon standards (though they would be bound by the new economy-wide cap)." Boucher got that agreement "early", then proceeded to work on other aspects of the legislation so that the coal and coal-fired power industry folks would be happy.  

Boucher Gains More Endorsements

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Only one poll, which typically uses automated calls --the least appropriate method--to poll its sample here, shows the 9th District race a statistical tie, with others showing Rick Boucher leading.  It is difficult to believe voters of the 9th would reward the opportunistic race waged by Morgan Griffith, who has done absolutely nothing for the 9th and has even sent school funding (and therefore jobs) out of our area. He's blocked protection of electricity rate-payers in our region.  And yet, caution suggests we must take seriously even the possibility that such a tie is in play.  So, today, I bring you some recent endorsements from the SW Virginia region's newspapers.  And then I invite you to join in and help Rick go back to Washington, where he has ably, constructively and responsibly represented us.  Morgan Griffith knows nothing about constructive leadership. But I invite you to read what others are saying.

First, take a look at The Bristol Herald Bristol Herald, the Martinsville Bulletin, and the Roanoke Times.

"Boucher puts his constituents first, not his party. He deserves re-election.," said the Roanoke Times. Meant to contrast the extremely vicious partisanship of Morgan Griffith, this statement's subtext is clear.  Morgan Griffith cares only about destructiveness, giveaways to the rich, and corporatism.  The 9th cannot afford to go "there."

 

SurveyUSA: Boucher 51%-Griffith 41%

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According to SurveyUSA (for what it's worth, as I'm honestly not sure what to make of this outfit's - or any outfit's - polling this cycle):
In VA-09, Democrat Boucher Remains Well Positioned for 15th Term in US House: In an election for US House of Representatives in Virginia's 9th Congressional District today, 10/14/10, incumbent Democrat Rick Boucher defeats Republican State House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, 51% to 41%, according to a WDBJ-TV news poll conducted by SurveyUSA. 1 in 5 Republicans cross-over to vote Democrat. Independents break for the Democrat, one of the few places in 2010 where this is the case.
Apparently, Rick Boucher is so personally popular in the 9th CD, that even a national tsunami can't wash him away. This one looks like a Democratic "hold" in a couple weeks from now.

SurveyUSA: Boucher 53%-Griffith 38%

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I'm not sure what to make of SurveyUSA polls this cycle, as some of them have seemed wacky (e.g., in Virginia's 5th CD). With that caveat, check out these new results:
In an election for US House of Representatives in Virginia's 9th Congressional District today, 09/30/10, incumbent Democrat Rick Boucher defeats Republican State House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith 53% to 38%, according to this latest exclusive WDBJ-TV poll conducted by SurveyUSA.

Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll released 4 weeks ago, little has changed; Boucher up 3 points, Griffith is down 2. In addition to maintaining a commanding lead among women, Boucher now leads among men and voters under age 50, groups where he previously trailed.

If true, it looks like Rick Boucher is coasting to reelection over carpetbagger and climate change skeptic Morgan Griffith. I find it particularly interesting that Boucher is gaining ground on Griffith; could this be yet another indication of what appears to be a more favorable climate for Democrats as the election nears?  Oh, wait, hasn't the corporate media been telling us for months that the Democrats are doomed, DOOMED they tell us?!?  Yeah, and we must always believe the corporate media!  (snark)

Rick Boucher Fights Phony Ad Dump by Shadowy Group

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Morgan Griffith is in trouble for his do-nothing, no-ideas attempt to intrude on our 9th District representation.  So bereft of ideas is the GOP, its new "Pledge" and its 9th District candidate, that Griffith has taken to wearing a shirt saying that he can beat Boucher.  That's it?  Wow!  He thinks he is Tootle's the Train! Talk about underwhelming!  And so, to the rescue comes another corporate front group, Americans for Job Security (AJS), which is apparently run from an UPS mail box and also an office suite in the same building as Karl Rove's new money mill, Crosspoint GPS.

This past week the New York Times ran a front-page expose on AJS here. Other stories about AJS appeared at Huffington Post and Washington Independent.

The Roanoke Times reported that last week that Congressman Rick Boucher requested a Lynchburg station to  remove the AJS ads.  At issue were a number of false statements in the ad, including that Boucher sides with Nancy Pelosi more than 96% of the time.  It is not that there is anything wrong with that or that the vilification of the House Speaker is justified in any way.  But that is a blog for another day.  The RT's Mike Sluss wrote:

Home in the Fighting 9th, Our Candidate Can Vote For Himself...

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When he is not representing the 9th in Washington, US Rep Rick Boucher works tirelessly, listening to his constituents and addressing issues affecting them. Decades before they became popular, Rick Boucher was holding Town Halls across his far-flung district. The district has been gerrymandered to make Rick's life tougher.  Ironically, that means Morgan Griffith cannot hope to know it. Rick was back in town on Monday.

Come election time, all Blacksburg roads lead to Jim Shuler's home and his get-togethers for our Democratic candidates.  The splash of signs in this Dem-rich district (Hethwood usually votes around 60% for our candidates) led the way.  As I approached Shuler's home, the now-gold leaves floated to the ground. And then I heard the familiar sound of bagpipes, "trademark" of Jim and Margaret's warm hospitality.  Easy conversation, another trademark, makes it hard to live blog.  Running into people I know and greatly like will do that. The guest of honor, Rick Boucher, talked easily with guests.  When the time came for speeches, Jim highlighted the importance of our electing someone with a track record of effective representation of the 9th in Congress.

Rick Boucher has significant seniority.  Unlike his opponent, Rick has actually brought jobs to the 9th.  Unlike his opponent, Rick seeks constructive solutions.  His opponent seeks obstruction (my aside, and a mighty track record he has at that!).  The stakes are so high, reminded Jim.  

Democrat Boucher Holding Lead Against Griffith

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Don't believe what you are hearing. Voters do not vote on ballots with "generic" questions, so "generic" polls mean nothing.  Nor does level of "excitement," necessarily translate into votes.  But getting to the best predictors, such as commitment to vote, has become increasingly difficult.  Fed up with telemarketers, many of us do not answer calls from unrecognized area codes, or numbers, we don't normally receive calls from.  And unless cellphone users give away their cell numbers, those relying exclusively on cell phones are underrepresented as well.  As Rachel Maddow has documented and I have blogged, this is the year of the incumbent.  But, given the onslaught of trumped-up horse race stories claiming otherwise, it is hard to remember that. There is no better example that this is and will be the year of the incumbent than the 9th District race in Virginia.

An Augusta Free Press (AFP) story dated Friday reported results of a new Survey USA poll reports that voters prefer Boucher over Griffith 50 to 40%. Voters in the 9th know about Rick's deep roots in and commitment to the 9th.

They also know that Morgan Griffith has done nothing for the 9th District.  Griffith hopes to carpetbag instant entitlement to the 9th District seat. He's just the latest in a long list of carpetbaggers trotted before voters of the 9th in hopes of unseating one of the most popular, hard working US Representatives anywhere. The only thing Griffith has ever done, he did to the 9th, by gerrymandering the hell out of it for fun and political profit.  

(Keep reading below for some really interesting info about internal polls as reported by AFP.)

Rick Boucher Ad Defines “Non Sequitur”

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According to Merriam Webster, "non sequitur" can be defined as "a statement (as a response) that does not follow logically from or is not clearly related to anything previously said." Well, Merriam Webster's got nothing on Rick Boucher, who provides a perfect, video definition of "non sequitur" in this ad.

So, let's get this straight: Rick Boucher has Southwest Virginia values, and "that's why he voted against the health care law" and is "a leader in the bipartisan effort to balance the budget." There's just one problem with that reasoning, namely that the health care law and increased federal spending both disproportionately help relatively low-income, net-recipient-of-federal-money areas like Southwest Virginia. Also, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrates, Southwest Virginia has among the highest unemployment rates (11.3% in Radford City, 11.6% in Smyth County, 11.4% in Grayson County, 11.2% in Patrick County, etc.) in the Commonwealth. How would cutting back on federal spending or making it harder for people to get health care coverage improve conditions in this region?  It wouldn't; hence, the non sequitur.  

Rick Boucher’s Latest Commercial

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Rick Boucher (D-9th) has released an ad that highlights the fact that his opponent doesn't even live in the 9th District, without ever mentioning that fact. The way Boucher achieves that end is simply to highlight his own roots in the district all his life. There was no need to mention that his GOPer opponent, Morgan Griffith, lives in the 6th District. The ad is mega-effective.

Two New Ads Illustrate Why Rick Boucher Will Win Reelection

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The following two TV ads for Rep. Rick Boucher (D-9th) - combined with the fact that he has the money to run them, and others like them - demonstrate why he's likely to hold his seat in November.  The first ad wisely emphasizes that "Southwest Virginia means everything to [Boucher]," as well as his hard work bringing "good jobs" to the region.  The second ad stresses his vote against health care reform legislation and his support for coal. It doesn't make progressives like me happy in the least bit (in fact, the second ad really pisses me off), but that's exactly the point - Boucher isn't trying to get my vote, he's trying to win re-election in the  more conservative 9th CD.  Which he likely will do, 3 1/2 months frm now.

h/t: Virginia Politics blog

UPDATE: Per another discussion on this blog, I'd say that Boucher's ads are a classic example of people voting against their own economic self interest.  The fact is, health care reform greatly, disproportionately helps lower income people, those without health insurance, exactly the type of people who live in...Rick Boucher's district!