Vulnerable Democrats are avoiding Obama, and will not attend the Democrat convention
Vulnerable Democrats looking to distance themselves from President Obama have found an easy way to bolster their independent bona fides: just skip Obama's big party.
At least half a dozen Democratic officials have said in recent days that they won't attend the Democratic National Convention this September in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the president will formally receive the party's nomination for a second term. The latest: New York Democratic Reps. Bill Owens and Kathy Hochul, both of whom won special elections in recent years that were heralded by party leaders.
A spokesman for Owens gave a similar explanation.
"He just has a packed schedule back home," he said.
This comes on the heels of Pennsylvania Rep. Mark Critz saying he'd opt out, and a trio of West Virginia Democrats — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Sen. Joe Manchin and Rep. Nick Rahall — all doing the same. Even though most of the convention-skippers have claimed they'd simply rather spend time back home, the political undertones are clear. After all, these Democrats share one thing in common: They answer to a conservative-leaning electorate that, at best, views Obama with a great deal of skepticism.
So skipping a late-summer convention that doubles as a love-fest for Obama is something of a political no-brainer, especially considering the fact that a week full of extravagant parties doesn't make for the best optics with the country still in the midst of a fragile economic recovery.
"It's an easy way to make a statement that you're independent," said Democratic strategist Steve Murphy. "There are tight districts where Obama's not doing particularly well, and it makes sense from a political perspective for these folks. But I'm not sure how much difference it makes. After all, they're going to have to defend their voting records either way."
Added Democratic strategist Jim Jordan: "Conventions are for funny hats and hangovers. They're not where serious work is done, and candidates with competitive races are really better advised to spend the three or four days raising money and campaigning."
Owens narrowly won reelection in 2010 and faces another competitive race this year. Last summer he declined to say whether he'd endorse Obama for reelection. Hochul has said she'll vote for Obama. But with West Virginia emerging as ground zero for the president's struggles with white, working-class Democrats, Tomblin and Manchin have both withheld their endorsements.
Critz, who won a western Pennsylvania special election in 2010 but faces a tough reelection fight in a redrawn, more Republican-friendly district, issued a statement this week that reflected how any future convention-skippers are likely to frame their decision.
“I will not be heading to Charlotte for the national convention because I believe it is much more important to spend my time in western Pennsylvania listening to the people about how we can create jobs for the region," Critz said. "Since I was elected, my focus has been on creating jobs for people here rather than focusing on the agendas of the political parties in Washington and that will remain the case as long as I am serving in Congress.”
Naturally, Republicans aren't impressed.
“The Democrats’ convention in Charlotte is about as popular as a trip to the dentist these days," said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "Unfortunately for these ‘no shows,’ attempting to hide from the President does not mean they will be able to hide their support for his policies.”
Murphy, while conceding the wisdom in some Democrats staying away, recommended a different explanation they can offer: "A better excuse might be, 'Have you ever been to one of those things?! You can't move around, it's boring, the parties are decent but that's about it.'"
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/more_dems_plan_to_skip_...
See Votes by State
News & Politics