Boyd Defends Record
Tallahassee, FL – The U.S. Chamber is the country's largest business lobby and plans to spend $75 million in this year's election. James Call reports some of that money will go to help a seven-term Congressman whose closest race was won with 59 percent of the vote.
Of all the veins the Republicans hope to mine to win seats they need to recapture the House, one is Democratic-held districts that picked John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008. That includes Florida's 2nd Congressional District, which Democrat Allen Boyd has represented since 1996. Used to landslide reelection victories, Boyd is in the unfamiliar position of calling on allies to defend his record. Bill Miller of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
"I am senior vice president for political affairs national political director U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And it is an honor for me to be in Tallahassee today to announce the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsement of Allan Boyd in the 2nd congressional district here in Florida."
Bill Miller flew to Tallahassee to stand with Boyd. On a handful of key Obama Administration initiatives, the Chamber sided with the Democrats. Now Boyd is among 40 Democratic incumbents the GOP has targeted for defeat. A net gain of 39 seats would give Republicans control of the House. Republican challenger Steve Southerland is making Boyd's support for the president's policies a campaign issue.
Southerland matched the chamber's support for Boyd with an endorsement from the 60-Plus Association, a self-described conservative group for seniors. It said it will spend $400,000 dollars to defeat the congressman. It's paying for television commercials attacking Boyd's health care and stimulus package votes. Congressman Boyd:
"I do not apologize for the fact that we sent the money into the state of Florida that saved 9,200 teacher jobs."
Boyd is talking to union members at a Tallahassee Labor Day picnic.
"I do not apologize for the fact that we've sent $800 million into Florida to prop up the state share of the Florida Medicaid system," Boyd said.
Southerland tells voters this is why Boyd needs to be replaced.
"Yes," said Southerland, "he's not sorry for a $787 billion stimulus package that promised unemployment would never go above 8 percent and it is now in double digits in many parts of this country. I find it astonishing not to apologize for a cap and trade bill that will add to your power bill and strain the budgets of homes and families around this country."
GOP strategists believe John McCain's performance two years ago revealed that Boyd is vulnerable. The Republican presidential candidate got 54 percent of the district vote despite the Democratic congressman easily winning reelection. Even before it knew who its candidate would be, the party was organizing against Boyd. Here's Jacksonville congressman Ander Crenshaw at a Tallahassee rally in June:
"It's very realistic to believe that we can take over the House and try to put a stop and try to change the direction of this country. So thank you for what you are doing to build the party here, if we all work together in November we'll take back control of the House."
Southerland is counting on a sluggish economy to convince voters to replace Boyd. The second congressional district seat has three metro areas where unemployment rate ranges from 7.9 to 9.6 percent. Southerland says policies promoted by the president and supported by Allen Boyd are responsible for tens of thousands of people in the district being out of work.
"The federal government is creating jobs right now with money that it takes from the American people," Southerland said. "If we have less money to invest in our people and our business then we can't create jobs. We freeze hiring. You have to let people go."
And Boyd attacks the same problem from a different angle. He says for the private sector to succeed government must provide an infrastructure. And that takes money.
"Teachers are a good example," he said. "The teachers, the transportation system, roads, bridges, ports, seaports, airports, water and sewer systems, those kinds of things. If we will do those and provide that infrastructure the private sector will do its job."
Boyd was first elected to congress in 1996 with 59 percent of the vote. Twice since then he was reelected with no opposition. When Republicans have fielded a candidate Boyd won [with] 72, 67, 62 and 61 percent of the vote. This year, Republicans are counting on two things; one, Boyd's percentage of the vote continues a downward trend. And two, it's part of a bigger nationwide trend that breaks one party rule in Washington.