Not your typical Republican, John Dennis is adopting an unorthodox strategy in his bid to unseat Speaker Nancy Pelosi in next year's congressional mid-terms. Many political pundits would consider his campaign a long shot, especially in the more liberal domain of San Francisco, but rising voter discontent and a 27% congressional approval rating may set the stage for some potentially spectacular upsets.
Pelosi is revered by most Democrats and is one of the most powerful women in the world. She is a seasoned politician and has become one of the most recognizable faces in the US Congress. However, a number of developments have weakened Pelosi's political standing. In an October poll, Pelosi registered a 34% approval rating in the state of California, with only a small majority of Democrats (51%) giving her high marks. Since the 2006 Democratic takeover of Congress, Pelosi and her fellow Democrats have continued to fund the Iraq War, despite offering vociferous opposition under President Bush, and three years later, there are still over 120,000 troops stationed there and sectarian violence is once again on the rise. In early 2008, the Bush-Pelosi $168 billion stimulus failed to rescue the economy from the coming crash. In 2009, the $787 billion stimulus failed to stem unemployment at the predicted 8.1%, the Afghanistan-Pakistan war has been ramped up with two substantial troop surges in less than a year, and healthcare reform has disappointed many in the Democratic Party. Couple these troubling developments with an angry grassroots movement bent on punishing incumbents throughout the nation, and Speaker Pelosi's seat may not be as secure as she'd like.
Enter John Dennis. Dennis is a successful businessman and entrepreneur running as a political outsider. Unlike most of his fellow Republicans, he believes America should withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as close down a significant number of US military bases around the world. Instead, Dennis advocates a more limited, focused, and cost effective approach to national defense. On the domestic front, Dennis is a staunch defender of civil liberties, a diehard fiscal conservative, and a devoted adherent to the Constitution. Not afraid to hold his own party accountable, Dennis even campaigned for Dr. Ron Paul in the 2008 presidential primaries, a campaign that vigorously challenged the GOP's foreign policy, debt-laden fiscal record, and inability to predict the economic collapse. For a closer look at Dennis's positions on a slew of issues, click here.
If healthcare reform turns out weaker than expected, climate change legislation stalls, unemployment still hovers around 10%, the pace of the Iraq troop drawdown disappoints, and the Afghanistan war bogs down yet again, Pelosi could face robust competition from the upstart Dennis. However, if the opposite scenario plays out, then Dennis will not stand a chance and Pelosi will face an easy reelection.
Keep an eye on this California's 8th Congressional District. Things could get very interesting.