Murtha hits the campaign trail to build up goodwill in his bid to become the number 2 Dem in the House.
Helping Democratic candidates could pay dividends in a race for majority leader against Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
Murtha says he thinks such a race is likely and told The Hill that if the election were held now Democrats would be catapulted into the majority.
"If it was today, we'd win 50 seats," he said, adding that Democratic strategists have assessed the field of competitive races in which they think he can help.
"In 41 seats they think I can help," he said. "They've got it narrowed."
Murtha said he plans to campaign in all of them. He also said, "I'm going to where Nancy sends me," referring to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
I wonder if Idaho, Nebraska, and Wyoming are on that list.
Hoyer (D-Corp), is also on the campaign trail:
Hoyer, Murtha's potential rival, is planning to travel to 36 districts to campaign for vulnerable Democratic incumbents as well as challengers, according to a Hoyer aide.
"Mr. Hoyer has already campaigned and recruited in 51 districts this cycle, plans to travel to almost 40 more before Election Day and has spent five months on the road for House Democrats as whip," Hoyer spokeswoman Stacey Bernards said. "He continues to work tirelessly to take back the House and make Nancy Pelosi the first woman Speaker."
Problem with Hoyer is that no one knows or cares who he is. Murtha has become a rock star amongst grassroots Dems. Not because of his politics, since Murtha (like Hoyer) is a conservative Democrat. But because of his courageous efforts to pull our forces from Iraq.
Murtha said he has received 100 requests for help. His popularity, particularly among liberal Democrats, has surged since he called last year for U.S. troops to leave Iraq.
He is a retired Marine Corps colonel and the senior Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
Democratic leaders recognize that Murtha has become an important fundraising draw and that he can help shield them from Republican criticism that they are soft on defense.
And to wrap this post up, here's some loser talk from the kind of people who back Hoyer:
But some Democrats, particularly centrist lawmakers who support Hoyer, question whether Murtha can be helpful in many races that their party needs to win if they are to capture control of the House.
"I'm sure Mr. Murtha is going to be traveling extensively, but I bet you he won't be going to Blue Dog districts," one lawmaker said, referring to members of the caucus of centrist Democrats from the South. "I can't imagine that he will be very welcome in many Blue Dog districts."
The lawmaker said that while Murtha has a centrist record on many issues, voters would be most aware of his strong position against the war, which could alienate swing voters in states Bush won. The lawmaker noted that Democrats need to capture districts in those so-called red states.
These Hoyer Democrats don't realize that Bush is in the dumps BECAUSE of Iraq. They don't realize that Paul Hackett almost won his solidly Republican district BECAUSE of his opposition to the war in Iraq.
They don't even seem to realize that, well, Bush isn't popular anymore. Amazing.