Democrats to Make “Ethics” Key to 2006 Campaign

Rahm Emanuel, who heads the committee that coordinates the Democrats’ bid to retake the House of Representatives, has taken a page out of Newt Gingrich’s playbook.

Rahm plots ’06 attack on ethics (The Hill)

Democratic House leaders are casting about for squeaky-clean congressional candidates — even if they’re long shots — to challenge prominent GOP incumbents who have been tainted by news reports of their allegedly unseemly connection to lobbyists. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) strategy, still in development, aims to make ethical charges the touchstone of those campaigns and would use several high-profile local races to create a national image of corruption in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. Several Democratic lawmakers and aides said that Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) will be the first target of this new strategy.

Explicitly borrowing from the anti-corruption planks in Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” and hoping to replicate the 1994 watershed victory that followed, the new plan suggests that Democratic leaders believe they need to weave themes of abuse of power into any successful campaign to recapture the House.

DCCC Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) said questions about strategy and targeting Ney are premature, but several lawmakers and aides confirmed that Democrats are actively looking for candidates to run good-government campaigns against Ney and possibly House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). “There’s no doubt that we’ll be going after Ney on ethics,” a knowledgeable lawmaker said. “There will be other races like Ney’s as well. It’s fair to say that ethics is going to be a national issue in this campaign.” Another lawmaker said, “Ney gets higher on our list every day.”

This was indeed a key part of the Gingrich strategy that worked so brilliantly in 1994. Of course, Gingrich and the GOP also put forth a bold, alternative plan for running the country. The Democrats might consider doing that, too.

Typo corrected.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2006, Congress
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Doug says:

    Gringrich’s strategy was in 1994, not 2004

  2. Hal says:

    Yea, and the ethical standards are so much higher now that the Republicans have been running things.

  3. Paul says:

    That will make it SOOOOO much easier for Hillary 2 years later.