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Thursday, March 11, 2010

CQ Politics Changes Boucher Race From Safe Democratic To Likely Democratic

CQ Politics ran a front page article this morning on the 9th Congressional District seat currently held by Rick Boucher (D). Until today, CQ Politics had rated the race as a Safe Democratic seat but with all of the attention House of Delegates Majority Leader Morgan Griffith has received in the last couple of weeks after announcing he would challenge Boucher, and the fact that he has been listed in the National Republican Congressional Committee's (NRCC) "Young Guns," the race has been changed to "Likely Democratic" meaning the publication views it as somewhat more competitive.

Boucher has continued to win in a district that gave John McCain 59% of the vote and Bob McDonnell 66% of the vote mainly because he is known to do some of the best constituent work of anyone in congress.

Griffith even conceded that for most of Boucher’s tenure in office he has consistently represented the views of his constituents. But he said that has changed since Democrats gained control of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

“In the past, while he may have not voted 100 percent with the way the district would want, he has pretty much voted most of the time with the way the district would want. But I think in the past two years he has just clearly not done so,” Griffith said.

Add to that the fact that the day after Griffith announced, Boucher received an unusually early endorsement from the NRA (which was likely to endorse him anyway as he has consistently supported the rights of gun owners) and it would appear that Republicans would once again have a difficult time unseating this 14-year incumbent.

But the NRCC and Griffith believe this year could be different.

“Overall, the beliefs of the 9th district are definitely conservative, and Mr. Boucher has done an interesting job of portraying himself as representing those conservative values,” 9th district GOP Chairwoman Michelle Jenkins said. “But when you look at his voting record, you see that he does not reflect the conservative values that we do have here.”

Griffith and other Republicans have frequently criticized Boucher’s vote last spring in favor of cap-and-trade legislation. Republicans have said the measure, which has since stalled, would harm the district’s coal industry.

Boucher responds that by being part of the process he was able to neuter the "Cap and Trade" bill to blunt the impact on the region's coal industry. Expect Griffith to dig deep into that deal to see if it protects the workers of the district as Boucher claims.

Griffith still faces an up hill battle with Boucher sitting on a $1.7 million war chest. Griffith will not start raising money until the end of the General Assembly session which is scheduled to end on Saturday. Griffith is abiding by a law that forbids legislators from raising money for state races during the General Assembly. That law does not apply to federal campaigns but he is abiding by it.

As mentioned in the previous post about this race, the wild card this year is, unlike previous challengers to Boucher, Griffith has a voting record, including an "A+" rating from the NRA. As this campaign progresses, it will be interesting to see if Griffith can raise the money necessary to make it a truly competitive race.

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