In the Immortal words of Maxwell Smart, Hackett “missed it by that much”. Now that I’ve carbon-dated myself, we’ll get on with the point.
Paul Hackett did himself and the Democratic Party proud. As is now widely known and blogged upon, the Iraq war veteran and vocal critic of President Bush’s Iraq policy managed to come within 4,000 votes of upsetting Republican Jean Schmidt in the solidly GOP 2nd Congressional District in southwestern Ohio. And despite some sour grape salvos from the left and right Dem Party wings, generally a pretty good indication of sound approach BTW, it is in fact a victory to be snatched from the jaws of a close electoral defeat and savored; if, that is, the Party can learn and effectively incorporate its crucial lessons for 2006 and beyond.
Yes, Hackett was an unknown running against a not much better known Republican. But to pull out a photo finish in that red meat red district was both a tactical and strategic victory: tactical in applying the right candidate for the region and staying on a well crafted, targeted message; strategic in the Party realization that the right candidate on a simple message, that is also robust and adaptable enough to resonate regionally, can compete and potentially win anywhere. And strategic in the impressive display of the progressive blogoshpere’s reach. Reach as in reach deep down into those markedly deep pockets, oh ye well heeled blue staters. This they did and it undoubtedly made a difference.
And the lesson there? Well one may be that, more so than in the Presidential variety, the biggest blogospheric generated buck bang may ultimately come into play for the 2006 congressional races – where all Politics are inherently local and a little blue state green can go quite some ways in up for grabs districts, be they red or blue. That of course has been the theory for a couple of cycles now, but this off cycle special case of the OH 2nd Dist special election brought this distributed, decentralized fund generating effect into undivided focus. And Mikey likes it! (enough boomer TV references already!)
So just say nay to the naysayers, I say. Lets we Dems cast off our gloom and take credit where it is due for today; as long as we get up off our fat laurels first thing tomorrow, refocus and apply these hard “lost” lessons to the formulation of winning regional tactics for 06, a winning national strategy for 08 and a simple yet resonate progressive message for generations to come.