To: Dan Maffei, Paloma Capanna
From: The Watcher
Date: June 2nd 2006
Subject: FBI Raid Opportunity
There is a significant opportunity for strategic gain in the aftermath of the FBI raid on Congressman Jefferson’s Congressional Office and the handling of the situation by the Republican Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert. The low public esteem of Congress and Congressman Walsh’s silence on the issue give a candidate ample opportunity to condemn the Speaker’s out of touch response and score valuable points.
- Congress is Not Above the Law – While some have recently pointed to Congressman Jefferson’s party affiliation as negating the “Republican Culture of Corruption” line. Speaker Hastert has provided plenty of cover and turned the issue into a condemnation of Congress. According to a recent ABC News poll 86% of Adults believe FBI should be allowed to search Congressional offices and 66% rate Congress’s ethics as not so good or poor.
- Anti-Republican or Anti-Incumbent, Walsh is Both – It does not matter if this election is a referendum on the Republican Congress or on Congress in general, Jim Walsh fits the bill for either category. But as long as Jim Walsh can keep from talking about what is going on in Washington, Walsh can separate himself from both. To win this election, it must be played on more favorable terrain; Jim Walsh must be forced to talk about what is going on in Washington. Positive or negative, talking about Washington and national issues will remind people that Walsh is a Washington insider and a Republican.
- Putting Walsh in a Strategic Box – By this issue being raised to the forefront locally, Jim Walsh is left with three options, none of which have a positive outcome for him. First, Walsh could choose to ignore the issue, which would give the voters the impression that he silently condones the Speaker’s out of touch response. Second, Walsh could choose to openly condone the Speaker’s out of touch response, clearly the best outcome. And finally, Walsh could come out against the Speaker’s out of touch response. This outcome would remind people of Walsh’s affiliation while further damaging the Republican image. This will also put internal pressures on Walsh. As one of Hastert’s Deputy Whips and as an appointed spending cardinal, he would face intense pressure not to publicly oppose the Speaker at risk of losing his leadership posts.
Because of Speaker Hastert’s strange reaction and Jim Walsh’s silence on the issue, Walsh left himself open for a classic flank attack, one that could put him on the defensive early in the campaign and shift the campaign onto more favorable terrain for the Democrats.