The last time there was a House Democratic minority hoping to take the majority, it was 2006, and a variety of factors played in Dems' favor. The public had turned sharply against the Bush administration and the war in Iraq; progressive enthusiasm about the midterm elections were high; and Democrats took full advantage of a series of scandals surrounding House GOP lawmakers to paint a picture of a Republican "culture of corruption."
The larger political dynamic is obviously far different eight years later, but Dems seem to think it couldn't hurt to try the corruption angle again.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a stand-alone website highlighting the wide array of scandals plaguing House Republicans. The website, HouseofScandal.com, outlines details of the scandals and investigations dogging 22 House Republican lawmakers or candidates.
"Whether it's indictments on tax evasion or encouraging their mistresses to get abortions, Republican leaders seem to have forgotten their 'zero tolerance' policy on members' and candidates' ethics troubles," the site adds tells readers.
To be sure, Republicans are giving Democrats something to work with here. Politico reported the other day, "The bad boys of the Republican Party are back, and it's causing big problems for Speaker John Boehner."
Among the "bad" are names that are likely pretty familiar now: New York's Michael Grimm, who's facing 20 federal criminal counts; Louisiana's Vance McAllister, who was filmed kissing a staffer who wasn't his wife; and Florida's Trey Radel, who had to resign after getting busted on cocaine charges.
Is this the sort of message that's likely to connect with voters?
I suppose it can't hurt to remind the public about some of the recent messiness on Capitol Hill, especially since the electorate is in a sour mood and Republicans aren't exactly popular anyway.
But one of the problems with the "House of Scandal" is that it pales in comparison to the original culture of corruption. Back in 2006, when Dems rode a wave back into the majority, Americans saw several House Republicans resigning in disgrace -- and some ended up incarcerated. There was a broad sense that the GOP majority was simply out of control with rampant criminal behavior. It didn't create the Democratic wave, but may well have contributed to it.
Eight years later, Grimm, McAllister, and Radel haven't done their party any favors, but I wouldn't say they're in the same league as Cunningham, Ney, Foley, Harris, DeLay, Wedlon, Burns, et al.
Maybe this year's Democratic pitch would be more compelling if they included all the Republican governors facing investigations?