Trent Franks has been getting a lot of visibility recently, but he may learn that a higher profile isn't all that it's kicked up to be...
I know that the CD2 race between incumbent Republican Trent Franks and Democratic challenger John Thrasher doesn't have the visibility that the CD3 race (incumbent Republican John Shadegg vs. the well-funded challenger Bob Lord), but I hope that no one writes it off - there are some significant parallels between the 2008 race in CD2 and the 2006 CD5 victory by Harry Mitchell over JD Hayworth.
1. In CD5 in 2006 the Republicans have a seemingly overwhelming 16-point registration advantage that isn't so overwhelming when you realize that Independent swing voters make up a large and ever-growing portion of the CD2 electorate.
Just like CD5 in 2006.
2. Trent Franks is a one-issue wing-nut. His issue is abortion - just this year, he has voted against SCHIP because it doesn't protect fetuses (or somesuch nuttery; video at the link), argued in favor of torture because Congress hasn't passed any laws protecting fetuses (guess only unborn people have rights; born people can stick their heads between their legs and kiss their butts goodbye - after they've been waterboarded, baked, frozen, beaten, electrocuted, starved, sleep-deprived, etc.), engaged in multiple rants on the House floor on the topic (October 25, July 19, April 18), cosponsored at least nine bills on the subject (HRes705, HR63, HR618, HR1063, HR1295, HR1457, HR3192, HR3442, HR4133), issued press releases on the subject of abortion (October 24), and gives speeches on the topic (November 4).
In short, he's just like JD Hayworth, substituting a hatred for a woman's right to choose with Hayworth's hatred of immigrants.
And by the end of last year's campaign, people were asking Hayworth "ok, enough on the immigration...what else ya got" and finding that he was an empty suit who didn't have anything else to offer the district.
3. John Thrasher has a well-documented track record of community involvement and education. While his 'community involvement' hasn't included a history of elected office that compares to CD5's Harry Mitchell (city council, mayor, state senate), his career as a teacher may be as significant - last year it seemed that at every event, as many people came up to Harry talking about how he taught them, their siblings, or their children, as did those who came up to him with political story.
Bottom line: students grow up into voters in CD2, just like in CD5.
Oh, and did I mention that while *John* Thrasher may not hold public office, his wife *Jackie* knows a thing or two about upsetting an incumbent Republican with a strong registration advantage. She forced Doug Quelland, seatmate of state House Speaker Jim Weiers, out of office last year.
Bet she might have some insights to offer. :)
Ultimately, while John Thrasher may not be the kind of polished corporate candidate favored by the DCCC and Chris Van Hollen (and his predecessor Rahm Emanuel), his candidacy may present a greater challenge for Franks than Bob Lord's does for John Shadegg. Thrasher is the kind of community icon who, even as an underdog, energizes a race, something that's needed for an uphill fight.
Just like CD5 in 2006.