We?ve got our helmets on just in case, but please don?t shoot the messenger?
With one month to go until the primary to decide which Democrat will emerge in CD-7, which is widely considered the most competitive seat in the country, we?re starting to get a good look at the likely scenarios.
Rahm Emanuel, chair of the DCCC, has apparently told colleagues and representatives from several PACs that Peggy Lamm is the clear favorite to win the primary unless Ed Perlmutter can turn his campaign around quickly ? as in, a couple of days, not a couple of weeks. Several internal polls continue to show Lamm ahead.
But it?s not over yet. First, the good news for Perlmutter: His campaign says that they raised about $300,000 in Q2, leaving them with $515,000 cash on hand. Perlmutter has already paid for about $500,000 in TV time, and with an expected blitz of support from a 527 committee, he has the juice to get his message out to the voters.
The problem for Perlmutter could be that he waited too long. We?re hearing a lot of chatter, both locally and nationally, wondering what?s taking the Perlmutter campaign so long to get moving.
Perlmutter?s camp has sent out a few pedestrian mail pieces, while Lamm?s campaign has dropped a few strong attack pieces that have effectively painted Perlmutter as being in bed with the oil & gas lobby ? and team Perlmutter hasn?t done much to refute it. In fact, Perlmutter has done little to define a message at all. Lamm is painting herself as the tough Democrat who is a better choice than the oil & gas connected Perlmutter, while Herb Rubenstein is taking over the left of the debate with his Iraq withdrawal message (and going on network and cable TV today to get that message across). Meanwhile, the only consistent message Perlmutter has gotten out is to tell people that he has lived in the district for 25 years ? something the average voter doesn?t care about (political insiders may care, but average voters do not).
Lamm has had the momentum in the race for the last month, and normally the campaign that has the momentum heading into the final weeks ends up winning the race; it takes a long time to swing momentum back in your favor, and Perlmutter hasn?t been trying to do that yet.
Lamm is still the candidate with the momentum, she?s raising more money than she ever has (which is another sign that donors are recognizing the changing winds), and EMILYs List is reportedly set to do a $375,000 independent expenditure on her behalf.
Rubenstein is now the candidate with the buzz because of his TV commercial. He doesn?t look to have the resources to extend his message, but how many easy votes is he picking up now?
Meanwhile, Perlmutter has the campaign that is telling people, ?Just wait until?? Until what? The election is in four weeks.
The reason you can?t wait this long to move is because mail-in ballots are already on their way. More than half of voters in CD-7 may have already cast their ballots by the time August 8 rolls around. It takes a good week of TV advertising to really start seeing a message come across and attracting voters, and even if you are swaying voters, many of them probably already voted. Perlmutter may very well be able to take over the airwaves soon, but it may not matter. It may be too late.
This time last year, Perlmutter was being called the overwhelming favorite by Emanuel. It was his race to lose, and despite Lamm?s momentum and lead in the polls, it?s probably still his race to lose because he has the resources to turn it around. But that?s only if something significant happens, and soon. Sometimes the candidates who should win don?t win, and that may be what happens in CD-7.