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Democrats Running Against Congress

4:16 PM, Mar 31, 2008 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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Last week I wrote about the three dozen or so Democratic challengers running on a platform to withdraw all troops from Iraq. Implicitly or explicitly, these candidates are telling the voters that the Democratic leadership in Washington is ineffective (at best) or hypocritical (at worst). That message has not been lost on Democratic leaders in Washington:

"They're very upset about it," the Democratic operative said. "When they found out that there were a lot more people signing on, they were getting worried. I don't know exactly what their problem is..."

"You can see these candidates are pushing the envelope a little bit, and perhaps that's why organizations like the DCCC would be getting a little nervous," said the operative...

Burner said that whenever possible, the plan points out existing legislation that accomplishes the group's goals. When asked about the DCCC's reaction to the challengers' proposal, Burner said it was never their intention to look inside the Beltway for support.

"The answer is that they have certainly done nothing to hurt us," Burner said in a conference call Thursday afternoon. "But as a I said before, this has not been an effort that is drawn from inside the Beltway."

Even Democratic challengers recognize that Pelosi and Reid are too unpopular to allow them to run as defenders of the status quo. Instead, they're arguing that the Democratic Congress has failed, and that voters need to elect real change agents to Congress. You can bet that Republicans in competitive races against Democrats will repeat this charge. That will make it even harder for Democrats in Washington to navigate a path that pleases the base while addressing the priorities of moderate voters.