Foley and the South

Hastings Wyman is a very shrewd observer of Southern politics and he sees major damage to the GOP from the Foley affair. His report is behind a subscriber firewall, but here's the money quote:

Across the South, beginning with Foley's own 16th District - where voters have to cast a ballot for Foley for it to count for the GOP’s new nominee, Joe Negron - the Democrats should be major gainers. Southern Political Report now ranks the 16th as Likely Democratic; safe Democratic might even be more appropriate. In Florida, the 13th and 22nd Districts, both with competitive races before the scandal broke, are adjacent to Foley's district and voters have been subject to the same media onslaught. In the 13th (Sarasota, etc.), Katherine Harris's (R) district, Democrat Christine Jennings (R) has released a poll showing her lead has increased from 8 points to 12 points in the past three weeks. My best guess is that both the 13th and 22nd will join the 16th in electing Democrats next month. And Florida's 8th District, with another competitive race, is further north, but could still be affected by the story. After all, Foley was the leading Republican US Senate contender in Florida for months in 2004 and is not unknown.

In Oklahoma, a campaign aide to Republican gubernatorial nominee Ernest Istook (R) resigned because of allegations that he was one of the pages who exchanged sexually oriented instant-messages with Foley. Istook's campaign was already suffering; it's now in free-fall.

Finally, the Foley issue - especially when combined with a variety of other voter complaints about the Bush Administration - could help the Democrats in a number of other congressional races across the South. In Kentucky's 2nd District, which was already hotly contested, GOP incumbent Ron Lewis canceled a fundraiser featuring Speaker Hastert because of the scandal. And in Kentucky 4, ex-US Rep. Ken Lucas (D) is using the issue against freshman Geoff Davis (R). In Virginia 2, freshman Thelma Drake (R) must depend on the votes from an area heavily influenced by Pat Robertson’'s resident headquarters and educational establishments; will they vote this time? Indeed, all of the competitive races in the South - such as North Carolina’s 8th and 11th districts - are likely to be affected to some degree.

Wyman predicts that the GOP may respond by purging all gays from their ranks in order to protect their right flank. Openly gay and closeted Republicans in Washington are now besieged by both the gay-hating religious right and the Republican-hating gay left. I hoped it wouldn't get this ugly. But it has.