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TOP OF THE TICKET

Democrats will invoke Bush in 2010

Next year's election will be a tough fight for the party in power, but it's got a plan.

December 20, 2009|By Andrew Malcolm and Johanna Neuman

It's an axiom in U.S. politics that the party in power in the White House loses seats in off-year elections. So every Democrat is girding for the fight in 2010.

But Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told reporters last week that Democrats have a plan: Remind voters of George W. Bush.

"The Republican Party in Washington today is no different than the Republican Party that ran the Congress before," he said. Republicans in New York's 23rd Congressional District race, he said, proved themselves "ideologues" when they dumped a moderate candidate for tea-party favorite Doug Hoffman.

A bash-Bush strategy didn't work too well for Democrats in the New Jersey and Virginia governor's races this year. But it could play better on a national scale. Or not.

Cutting off Lieberman

In 2006, Democrats tried unsuccessfully to oust Sen. Joe Lieberman from his Connecticut seat over his support for the Iraq war. These days, they are even more unhappy with him.

That's because not only did he campaign for his Republican chum John McCain last year, but now-independent Lieberman exercised his clout as the crucial 60th Democratic vote this month to kill some provisions of the healthcare bill he didn't like.

Last week on the Senate floor, Lieberman was explaining some amendments that he intended to offer. At the end of Lieberman's allotted time, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who was presiding in the chair, interrupted to say that Lieberman's 10 minutes were up.

Lieberman made a routine motion that he be allowed to finish.

Franken made the un-routine move to object.

"Really?!" exclaimed a surprised Lieberman.

McCain (R-Ariz.) rose in his friend's defense, to no avail.

andrew.malcolm@latimes.com

Neuman writes for The Times.

Top of the Ticket, The Times' blog on national politics ( www.latimes.com/ticket), is a blend of commentary, analysis and news. These are selections from the last week.

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