"I can't believe they are self-destructing before they even get started," said Representative Ray LaHood, Republican of Illinois. "Everyone on our side is giddy."
The House Democrats' battle for the new majority leader slot, which should end in less than an hour, is the kind of thing that'll be forgotten completely in a month or so. The tactics of John Murtha and Steny Hoyer have been interesting, though, for their use and abuse of media. Hoyer has run his campaign the way these things are run; talking mostly to Democrats, staying away from big media statements. Murtha has run his campaign like—well, unless he wins—like an amateur. He's wasted time on Hardball arguing why he deserves a job that only 230 people are going to vote for (Chris Matthews not one of them). He's issued angry press releases for, again, people outside DC won't determine. He's dispatched allies to blog on the Huffington Post.
I had thought the Republicans' leadership races would be more interesting than the Democrats, as the last time they held an election candidate John Shadegg did some courting of the blogs, then lost. I don't know if there's an actual trend here (leadership elections don't happen all that often, anyway), but it seems like the birth of blogs and the activation of hundreds of thousands of partisans—whom politicians can spur to make phone calls, send e-mails, etc—might have changed the way even backroom deals get done in Washington.