Daniel Larison says this E.J. Dionne article on Massachusetts' special Congressional election will give me heartburn. I said Republican Jim Ogonowski's attempt to deflect the SCHIP issue by claiming it would give health care to "illegals" didn't help him. And yet…
Republicans think the immigration issue helped Ogonowski, so the country may be in for a lot more of this sort of thing next year. "Everywhere we went, people wanted to talk about immigration," said Matt Wylie, Ogonowski's general consultant. "It was just coming up over and over again."
Spot the fallacy. The Republican staffer claims that people who came to see the Republican candidate talked about the Republican candidate's big issue. I admit it, I'm really thrown for a loop.
What about my main point, that the immigration issue didn't help Ogonowski answer SCHIP questions? Dionne again:
The Republican's final mistake was not taking a firm stand against Bush's SCHIP veto, which Tsongas roundly condemned. This, said Autry, "provided Tsongas with an example of where Ogonowski supported Bush's position." With health care as a rallying cry, Tsongas brought more than enough Democrats home.
This proves my point. Many voters care about illegal immigration. But they don't trust candidates in the Tancredo line who blame every problem on illegal immigration. As Dionne points out, Tsongas (the Democrat) supported in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants. Democrat Deval Patrick also supported it, said so in his 2006 race for governor, and got hit on it.
How'd Patrick do? Well, he won the election and he got the same 51 percent of the vote in this district that Tsongas did. And Patrick ran in what we now agree was a blockbuster Democratic year.
So, one of the lessons of MA-05: Don't shift every argument to "because of the illegal immigrants."