Poor Jim Rogan. The two-term congressman from California, it seems, is the focus of a dastardly campaign by Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party to take down the heroic House impeachment managers of yore. "I have been targeted for defeat," Rogan wrote in a recent four-page, tersely syntacted National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) letter. "They're out for revenge. Not because of policy differences. But because we had the courage to do the right thing."
Rogan is indeed facing a stiff chal-lenge from Democratic state senator Adam Schiff, who has been campaigning and fundraising energetically and is neck-and-neck with Rogan in district polls. But that's the exception. Even with the Republican Revolution in retreat-- "compassionate conservatism" dominating the headlines, evil Tom DeLays replaced by cuddly Dennis Hasterts--most of the impeachment managers are likely to survive the 2000 elections. In fact, dire fundraising appeals aside, it is the NRCC's own estimation that nearly all the managers are well-funded and secure enough to turn back any challengers. "Impeachment," says the NRCC's Marit Babin, "is pretty much a nonissue."
Why? Simple: All the managers besides Rogan hail from some of the safest Republican districts in the country--a prime reason they were selected to be House managers in the first place. Four of them ran unopposed in 1998, and only two besides Rogan won with less than 63 percent of the vote. "Rogan is the only one" who is vulnerable, says Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report. According to Cook, Bob Barr of Georgia faces the next stiffest challenge--from a nonetoo-daunting opponent who, as Cook puts it, "can actually walk and chew gum at the same time."
Indeed, Rogan is likely to lose his seat for precisely the same reason that he is being "targeted" and most of the other managers are not: He is a conservative Republican in a moderate swing dis-trict. Currently, Democrats in California's 27th outnumber Republicans 45-37 percent, and the district went for Clinton in both 1992 and 1996. When Rogan took office in 1996 at the tail end of the Revolution, he won with 53 percent of the vote; in 1998 his percentage had slipped to 51. "We target districts based on the voting record of the incumbent, the congressional performance of the district, and the strength of our recruit," says John Del Cecato, press spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "We have never set out to target House impeachment managers who represent safe Republican districts. We target winnable districts."
Rogan, meanwhile, is crying all the way to the bank. Whereas his opponent Schiff had raised about $1.13 million by early February, Rogan had raised nearly $3 million--$408,000 of it from PACs, and up to 40 percent of it from out of state with national fundraising appeals like the one quoted above. The managers may be reviled by soccer moms, but the Clinton-haters have deeper pockets.
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