In 2006, the Democrats became the first party in several generations to gain seats in the House in Senate without losing any of their own. They held their open seats, they defended their incumbents.
Lou Barletta—The mayor of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, whose emergency anti-illegal immigration laws made him into a national celebrity, the toast of green rooms from Lou Dobbs to Glenn Beck to Bill O'Reilly. As Marin Cogan writes in the New Republic, Barletta is, ironically, running as an optimistic, vim-and-vigor agent of change… just like that other guy who's ahead in the polls in Pennsylvania!
Democrat Kanjorski, on the other hand, is basically mummified.
Tom Rooney—The wealthy nephew of Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney and a former member of the Army JAG Cops, Rooney was eventually going to win a seat in his district around Palm Beach, Florida. But he was running behind accidental Rep. Tim Mahoney, the conservative Democrat who lucked out when Mark Foley's career imploded… until Mahoney laid some dynamite under his own career with multiple extramarital affairs. Rooney will win in landslide and then, as is district tradition, be caught pantsless inside a bordello two weeks before the 2010 election.
Pete Olson—Democrat Nick Lampson also won in a total fluke last year: Tom DeLay resigned his Houston-area, Sugarland-centered district too late for a new candidate to take his place on the ballot, so Republicans were stuck with write-in candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, whose name was literally too long to write in. As a non-crazy, non-hyphenated Republican who actually made the ballot, Olson's been able to run a fairly bog standard GOP campaign and surge to a huge lead.
Bill Russell—Until he called his southwest Pennsylvania district a "racist area," Rep. John Murtha was safely winning re-election over Russell, a carpetbagging military vet who moved to the district because he hated Murtha so much. The damage wasn't so bad until Murtha clarified that his area used to be "really redneck," but wasn't anymore. He still would have been fine if Russell was an underfunded fringe candidate, but the man spent a year raising more than $2 million from a national network of Murtha-haters.
As a 9-11 Pentagon survivor and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, Bill understands the sacred obligation civilian leaders owe to military personnel and their families. He'll always honor their service and sacrifice. Beyond a strong defense, Bill believes our national security policies must include an aggressive plan for energy independence, and the confrontation of radical, violent jihad.
None of these guys are moderates; none are particularly libertarian. You get another sense of the shape that a post-McCainageddon GOP conference will take.