Up to speed
Associated Press has finally noticed the race here in the Congressional district I live in.(Florida 22) Thirteen term Republican Clay Shaw will be facing State Senator Ron Klein in November. I've blogged about this previously here.
This is an important seat for Republicans to hold if they want to stay in the majority. It's a hard race to gague. Shaw was nearly upset in 2000, but won easily against a well funded Democrat in 2002. I think Shaw will win re-election but it is going to be a tough race.
Open Post- Bright & Early, Third World County, Outside the Beltway,
FORT LAUDERDALE - Republican Rep. Clay Shaw is on the cusp of realizing a political dream, transforming his 25 years of service and clout into one of the most powerful jobs in Washington.
Too bad most everything out of the nation's capital these days amounts to a nightmare for GOP lawmakers.
President Bush's approval ratings are sagging, gas prices and U.S. deaths in Iraq are rising, scandal is sowing discontent and a Medicare prescription drug plan is creating confusion. Events largely out of Shaw's control but closely linked to Republican rule could determine his fate in the November elections.
"I'm a Republican, but I think Bush is doing a horrible job," said Steve Rowe, a 44-year-old financial adviser, as he rushed into a crowded restaurant in this beach town where Shaw served as mayor in the 1970s. "I'd be very open-minded to vote Democrat this time."
National Republicans recognize that Shaw is in a tough fight in a district that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry narrowly won in 2004. President Bush is slated to headline a private fundraiser for Shaw on Monday at a Fort Lauderdale home, with tickets priced at $2,000 to $4,200 per person. The president will also join Shaw at a Medicare event the next day.
Democrats recruited state Sen. Ron Klein to challenge Shaw in the 22nd Congressional District that roughly stretches from the ultra-rich Republican stronghold of Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by about 22,000 out of 445,787 voters as of 2004, the latest numbers available.
Klein, 48, served in the state House and state Senate and is no stranger to many of the area's voters; his legislative district overlaps with Shaw's. A lawmaker since his election to the Florida House in 1992, Klein has supported a ban on assault weapons and a streamlined capital punishment appeals process. He served as state Senate Democratic leader for two years.
"If it wasn't for the political environment, I'd say he (Shaw) would have the edge," said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida.
The political landscape leaves Democrats confident that they can unseat Shaw. In the state that ensured Bush's presidency in 2000, his recent ratings statewide mirror the low national numbers, with the president at mid-30 percent.
Bush's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, fares better at 55 percent in a recent survey. He is in the last year of his term.
"You have people that want change, they want new priorities, they want somebody with a high level of energy to go to battle for them," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who ranks the race as top tier.
Shaw, 67, has had health problems, including surgery in January to remove a cancerous tumor from his left lung, but he insists he fine.
"They keep an eye on me but I'm in good shape," he said.
Democrats have assailed the lawmaker, possibly next in line as the chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, as a rubber stamp for the Bush administration.
"What's been missing for a number of years is common sense and independent thinking," Klein said.
Shaw rejects the notion of a Bush toady. He disagreed with the president's proposal to privatize Social Security using payroll taxes, but instead supports creating personal accounts using general revenue funds which wouldn't dip into current reserves. Shaw also opposed oil drilling off Florida's coast and criticized Bush's actions on the Dubai ports deal and his proposed budget for cancer research.