Blue America Welcomes Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH)

Blue America prefers not to endorse in primaries unless there is a clear case of one excellent progressive Democrat running against a conservative corporate shill. That's how we came to endorse Marcy Winograd against Jane Harman, Doug Tudor over Lori Edwards and Regina Thomas over John Barrow. But in the New Hampshire House race to replace Paul Hodes, who's running for the Senate, had a wrinkle. There was definitely an excellent progressive-- Ann McLane Kuster-- and there was certainly a conservative corporate shill-- Katrina Swett-- but there was another grassroots-type candidate running as well. He's now dropped out and we couldn't wait to invite Ann to come over to Blue America for a live chat. She'll be joining us today in the comments section below.

Annie is an example of a grassroots activist working with her neighbors on real world problems and then taking it up a notch by running for Congress. She's the polar opposite of the spoiled and entitled insider who's running against her, the daughter of one congressman, wife of another and, to top it off, the former campaign chair of the Joe Lieberman For President campaign. As the Concord Monitor pointed out, Annie's money is all coming in small donations from New Hampshire; Swett's comes in big chunks from the corporate interests salivating to get another corrupt special interests shill into the House Democratic caucus who will do their bidding for nickels on the dollar.

Ann McLane Kuster and Katrina Swett, the Democratic candidates for the 2nd District seat in Congress, have far fuller campaign accounts than their Republican counterparts. Their accounts have been filled from near and far. Respectively.

Sixty-one percent of Kuster's reported fundraising through March came from donors in New Hampshire, with her highest-netting ZIP codes including Concord, Contoocook, Portsmouth and Hanover, according to an analysis of federal campaign filings by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics. Swett, by contrast, had raised 11 percent of her money this election from in-state donors. The ZIP codes giving her the most money included Greenwich, Conn.; New York City; and the suburbs of northern New Jersey.

New Hampshire's most respected blog, Blue Hampshire, was in the same predicament we were in-- one candidate too many for an endorsement. That ended last week when they got behind Annie in no uncertain terms (and unanimously):

Nearly four years ago Blue Hampshire was born following a groundswell of political blogging that had sprung up in a successful effort to support Paul Hodes' election to New Hampshire's second congressional district.

Today, we believe the best person to continue the work in Congress begun by Representative Hodes is attorney and advocate Ann McLane Kuster.

As Laura Clawson pointed out on Daily Kos, Ann McLane Kuster "supports the public option, the Employee Free Choice Act, non-punitive immigration reform, and environmental regulation. Not only does she want to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, she wants to repeal DOMA, and she worked to help bring marriage equality to New Hampshire."

In addition, Kuster has been a vigorous advocate for health care access and affordability, especially and unwaveringly so for women's reproductive health. From Ann's website: "Ann believes a woman and her medical care provider should be making decisions about her health care, not the politicians in Washington. She is committed to ensuring that the anti-choice movement doesn't use abortion to derail health care reform, and also that they don't use health care reform to restrict a woman's right to choose."

When I spoke with Annie I asked her if she was satisfied with the way the healthcare reform bill had turned out. She's was clear that she views it as a work in progress and that that's something she would like to get busy on in Washington. "We should be proud that the health care reform we passed will extend coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans," she began, "and that it will stop insurance companies from ending your coverage if you get sick or have a pre-existing condition. Those are major achievements and they wouldn’t have happened without pressure from the grassroots. But our job isn’t done-- now we have to tackle the other (still broken) side of health care, which is the outrageous cost of care. Along with job creation, this is going to be priority #1 for the next Congress that is sworn-in next January and I believe the best way to tackle the cost issue is by using the public insurance option to increase competition."

And she doesn't seem overly thrilled by the way Congress is approaching the occupation of Afghanistan. It was relatively easy for Democrats to oppose Bush's wars. But now that they're Obama's wars, relatively few Democrats are willing to pressure him to end them-- in the Senate Thursday only 18 Democrats voted for Russ Feingold's proposal requiring "a plan for the safe, orderly, and expeditious redeployment" of our troops. There's no doubt where the ex-Chair of Lieberman For President stands on the war. Annie has a very different approach:

I will not let the same broken mindset that got us into Iraq get us bogged down in Afghanistan too. The real threat-- Al Qaeda-- is completely ignoring the borders that our military observes, and it has spread from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Meanwhile, seven years in Iraq and close to nine in Afghanistan have severely stretched our forces, and I am worried that further entanglements will prevent us from having the flexible force structure needed to meet this threat. Finally, this is about our economic security too-- we’ve spent over $1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we’ve done it by borrowing that money from lenders like China and Saudi Arabia, which poses a potential security threat in itself.

Today's first question to Annie will be how she would be voting on legislation like Barbara Lee's that would prevent funding any more escalations in Afghanistan and seeks only to provide for the safety of American troops as they redeploy out of the country.

Please consider joining the netroots supporters who have rallied to Annie's campaign. She's our newest endorsee on the Blue America ActBlue page.

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