Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The myth of the "safe district"

"Certainly, [US Representative Todd Akin, R-MO] seems as safe as any Republican can be in an otherwise bleak atmosphere for the GOP," writes Deirdre Shesgreen in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "The 2nd Congressional District includes the high-income, reliably Republican suburbs .... Akin won the seat in 2000, squeaking through a five-way GOP primary by 56 votes and then winning easily in the general election. He has coasted to re-election ever since."

Appearances can be deceiving. Todd Akin's seat isn't nearly as "safe" at it looks.

Over the last three elections, Akin's poll performance has declined from 67.1% to 61.3% ... versus Democratic opponents who each spent less than the $5,000 FEC reporting threshold, and with third party numbers topping out at 2.1%.

Todd Akin has been losing ground versus moneyless Democrats and "paper" third party candidates for six years. So, what does 2008 look like?

As of the end of the first quarter of 2008, Democratic primary candidate Byron DeLear reported $116,000 cash on hand (most of it from his own pocket); Democrat David L. Pentland reported $65,000 on hand, most of it raised from contributors.

The Democratic "base" in the suburban St. Louis metro area is in a growth pattern, probably pushing 40%; the GOP "base" is in decline and almost certainly no longer constitutes a majority in the district; and nationwide polling says that non-"base" voters are looking hard at third party alternatives.

I've been brutally honest with my supporters, and here's my honest opinion:

No, Missouri's 2nd District won't elect a Libertarian to Congress this year. Nor will any other US House District in the nation do so.

However, a strong Libertarian campaign in my district can make a difference.

With your help, I can turn the district into a battleground.

With your support, I can force Todd Akin out for a fight. I can make him keep his money here instead of spreading it around to threatened fellow Republicans elsewhere.

Together, we can put pressure on the resurgent Democrats -- not just the candidate in this district, but the incumbents in Washington -- to live up to their rhetoric on issues like the war in Iraq and civil liberties at home. We can make them earn any seats they gain.

There's even a real possibility that we can be the "balance of power" in this district and send an incumbent home. If the election result is DeLear or Pentland 46%, Akin 44%, Knapp 10%, the story won't be that the Democrat won -- it will be that Libertarian voters made the difference.

There are voters in the district who don't want to vote for a pro-war, anti-freedom Republican ... but who won't vote for a Democrat either. We can reach those voters. We can represent those voters. We can empower those voters.

But it's going to take a little money.

I've already ordered the campaign's first batch of postcards/doorhangers. They'll be here in a few days, and will be mailed and distributed between now and the August 5th primary.

This is a critical point for the campaign. The first step is at least doubling, and hopefully quadrupling, participation in the Libertarian primary. The next step is doing the same thing in the general election. The second step will be a lot easier if the first step gets taken.

I need to have yard signs available for constituents who respond to the postcard drive. I need to have signs in front of polling places on primary day. But the money isn't there to buy them without draining the campaign bank account. I need to raise at least $500 in the next week to make this first big step happen and still be positioned to take the second step as well.

If you're looking for a time and place to make a difference, you've found it. Please point your web browser at:

... and make your best contribution today.

Yours in liberty,
Tom Knapp
Libertarian for US House of Representatives
Missouri, 2nd District

Paid for by Thomas L. Knapp for Congress -- Paula Benski, Treasurer. Approved by the candidate.

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