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MoveOn.org Trains Fire on Democrats

The filing deadlines have passed in 15 other states as well, so it will be impossible to field progressive primary challengers there.

On one hand, votes for health care reform and the cap-and-trade bill are deemed political suicide, but Hogue argues that in the case of Arkansas, Lincoln’s favorable rating has fallen so far with the Democratic base because of her approach that she’ll have trouble turning out Democrats she needs to get re-elected.

The Democratic infighting is good news for Republicans, who have had their share of ideological spats showcased this cycle and who have been on the receiving end of MoveOn.org attacks in the past.

“Their focus isn’t on Republicans anymore,” quipped one House GOP operative about the group’s recent focus on progressive purity. In some ways, Republicans have moved on as well.

The National Republican Congressional Committee recently attacked South Carolina Democratic challenger Rob Miller for being a “darling” of MoveOn.org, but similar attacks appear to be tapering off as ACORN rises to the top of the list of Democratic bogeymen for the GOP.

This year won’t be the first time MoveOn.org has waded into Democratic primaries. They helped Donna Edwards defeat Rep. Albert Wynn in Maryland in 2008 and Ned Lamont defeat Joe Lieberman in the Senate primary in Connecticut in 2006, even though Lieberman went on to win re-election as an Independent.

“They do have the ability to help Democrats with urgent resources,” according to the Democratic strategist.

MoveOn.org and its members infused state Attorney General Martha Coakley’s (D) campaign with more than $600,000 in the Massachusetts Senate special election and helped elect Rep. Bill Owens (D) in last year’s special election in New York’s 23rd district.

But the group has provoked its share of controversy.

It sponsored a contest in 2004 that resulted in someone uploading a commercial to its Web site that paralleled President George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler. MoveOn.org was also heavily criticized in September 2007 after the group ran a full-page ad in the New York Times with the headline, “General Petraeus or General Betray-Us?” According to multiple Democratic strategists, that was a low point for the organization.

Still, the group has certainly benefited the Democratic Party.

In the spring of 2006, MoveOn.org aired a series of “red-handed” television attack ads that helped soften up second- and third-tier Republican incumbents and ultimately helping Democrats win the majority. Overall, the group spent $4.4 million in contributions and independent expenditures in 33 targeted House and Senate races.

In 2008, MoveOn.org’s spending held steady at $4.6 million in 20 House and Senate races, but the group’s members gave $88 million and 20 million volunteer hours to help elect Barack Obama as president of the United States.

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