Two progressive political action committees, Blue America and Americans For America, have teamed up to do a series of video ads highlighting the worst the GOP has to offer. Last week we unveiled our first in the series, highlighting Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and John Boehner (above). Yecchhh, huh? Many say there are even worse-- or, at least, just as bad. Would you like to vote on who we should include in the next video in our series?
This week we're considering five more-- and there'll be others between now and November, of course. First up, though are five especially unsavory Republicans, 4 House incumbents-- Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and Steve King (R-IA)-- plus one challenger for an open seat, Karl Rove protégé and disgraced ex-U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin.
Here's how you vote: just make a donation on the page dedicated to the culprit of your choice. If you click on the picture below, you go directly to their page. Because we're progressives and not conservatives, a one dollar donation equals the same single vote as a one hundred dollar donation. Now, one of the great aspects of this is that each one of these exceptionally bad Republicans has an exceptionally good Democrat running for the seat. Believe me, that isn't easy to find. I mean, Republican John Boozman in Arkansas, for example, is just terrible but his Democratic opponent, Blanche Lincoln, is just as bad. We won't be offering any Hobbesian choices like that. In Arkansas, to stick with that state as the example, the woman running against Griffin is state Senate Majority Leader and proven progressive Joyce Elliott.
So, we're happy to announce that all of the money raised through this little contest will be used to help voters understand that there's a difference between the Republican and the Democrat running for the seat that gets the most votes. Who do you think is the worst of the worst?
[Moment of triumph for Arkansas progressives- Joyce Elliott beats Robbie Wills]
The U.S. Senate would have been considerably less reactionary-- and less a vehicle for wealthy and corrupt corporate interests-- but Blanche Lincoln won a close reelection race last night. There isn't a lot we know about Bill Halter and I doubt he would have turned out to be some kind of a progressive knight in shining armor but there is one thing we do know about him: he's not Blanche Lincoln. His first priority was never going to be to kill the Estate Tax or try to undercut Democrats at every turn-- from Social Security and health-care reform to Employee Free Choice. Lincoln has had a disgraceful and hackish career even when she was just a slimy Blue Dog in the House using another name (Blanche Lambert). Watching her seamlessly transition to K Street would have been more than natural. But, alas, she'll still be forcing the Senate Democrats to water down every bill and make each even less family friendly and more in line with her corporate donors' avaricious self interest. Unless-- as is very likely-- she loses in November to corporate shill GOP slob John Boozman.
There was some excellent news out of Arkansas as well. Proven progressive leader Joyce Elliott beat conservative hack Robbie Wills in the second C.D. (Little Rock) and will now face Karl Rove crooked protege Tim Griffin. Please give her a hand (and whatever you can afford). She's a Blue America endorsed candidate and you can donate here. She'll need the help. If she wins in November she'll be the first African American elected from Arkansas since the mid-1800s.
But there's no getting around the tremendous loss last night in California's 36th district, where voters decided to give reactionary warmonger Jane Harman another term instead of doing the sensible thing and electing Marcy Winograd. We'll just have to learn to fight harder and smarter.
But primary season is far from over and there are still plenty of messages Inside-the-Beltway Democrats need to hear. The next key races coming up to focus on are the North Carolina Senate primary that pits progressive champion Elaine Marshall, the front-running, against an ambitious but unaccomplished empty suit being pushed by Bob Menendez. That comes up June 22 and yesterday Durham Mayor Bill Bell endorsed her. This past weekend the National Federation of Democratic Women announced she has been selected as the Outstanding Democratic Woman Elected Official for 2010. Former opponent Ken Lewis, the guy who came in third, not only endorsed her -- he joined her campaign as chairman! Please consider adding your support here.
That same day, the 22nd, Utah Democrats have the most exciting and meaningful primary they've had in my memory when progressive champion Claudia Wright faces struggling Blue Dog incumbent Jim Matheson. Matheson has asked the voters to look at his record and she is responding to that challenge.
"Matheson has shown little if no leadership in his 10 years in office and the Second District deserves better" Claudia told us. "I believe he voted for the repeal of DADT simply due to the fact that I am in this race... [and] the fact that he attended the Grand Marshal Reception for Pride the weekend, something he has never done, shows he is pandering the base." Matheson appeared like a fish out of water at the reception unable to interact with anyone there. He left before the annual Pride Awards were presented and skipped the actual parade at Washington Park entirely. Claudia was given the opportunity to address Pride, and took part in the Pride Parade and was welcomed with rousing applause at every turn.
"I also question the timing of his introducing the two wilderness bills this last month, one of which trades land destroyed by off road vehicles and snowmobiles at the Snowbird Ski Resort for pristine wilderness." she said. And at a press conference on Monday, she questioned his statement last week "that we need to look at safety issues when it comes to deep water oil rigs," as too little too late. "He has been on the Subcommittee for Energy and Environment for ten years, where has his leadership been?" Energy companies know exactly where-- and have been very grateful.
Following a successful fundraiser Monday evening, Claudia is now heading out on her Wright Way Tour throughout the sprawling Second District to meet with voters and tell them of her pledge to revisit them each month from DC to share ideas and issues with them, something Matheson doesn't seem to believe it-- and certainly doesn't do.
And that brings us to July, a month with two important races for anyone interested in taking the Democratic Party back from corporately funded conservative Blue Dogs. Both races pit proven progressive state legislators against 2 of the most reactionary Democrats in Congress, John Barrow and Dan Boren. In GA-12 we see a re-match with former state Senator Regina Thomas, except this year Barrow doesn't have the support of President Obama like he did when he lied his way back into office in 2008. Although Barrow is running a well-financed media campaign, Regina has a grassroots operation and the power of constituent rage over Barrow's attempt to undermine health-care reform and other initiatives backed by President Obama and the constituents who Barrow has routinely ignored in favor of his country club friends who vote for the Republicans anyway.
The following week (July 27) anti-health care fanatic Dan Boren is facing Oklahoma state Senator Jim Wilson, a health-care reform champion. It is also a classic battle between an outrageously corrupt and entrenched incumbent and a reform-minded clean-government type. Like Matheson, Boren has wormed his way onto natural resources committees where he's in line to get tremendous bribes -- disguised as campaign contributions (he's the #1 House member, including Republicans, on the payroll of Big Oil in this cycle!) -- and sabotage effective regulation of the predatory corporate instincts of his paymasters.
You can help us defeat Matheson, Barrow and Boren-- and replace them with Claudia Wright, Regina Thomas and Jim Wilson-- at Blue America's Blue Dog page.
When moderate Democrat Vic Snyder decided to retire from Congress, half a dozen Democrats jumped into a race that was sure to pit one of them against crooked Karl Rove protégé Tim Griffin, the sleaziest of the corrupt U.S. Attorneys who were appointed by Bush to turn the Justice Department into a punitive arm of the Republican Party.
In the end there was a formidable group of Democrats in the race to replace Synder, including his chief of staff, David Boling; the Senate Majority Leader, Joyce Elliott; and the House Speaker, Robbie Wills. Wills, who hails from Conway in Faulkner County north of Little Rock, is way on the right-wing fringes of the Democratic Party, a corporate hack who opposed health-care reform, tailor-made for the Blue Dog caucus Snyder never joined.
Meanwhile, Joyce Elliott has been a tireless and well-respected advocate for ordinary working families as a member of the Arkansas House (2000-2006) and then as a member of the state Senate. She came out on top in the primary last week, despite being outspent by both Boling and Wills and despite the never-ending din of "conventional wisdom" that an African-American woman could never win federal office in Arkansas. In the five-way race, she drew 39.7% of the vote to Wills' 27.8% and Boling's 19%, the other candidates in the single digits. Closet racists in central Arkansas currently have a mantra: "She can't win against Griffin so we have to support Wills" (who will vote like Griffin but at least wears a blue jersey).
Boling has endorsed Joyce, and Wills is scurrying around to find bit players to counter that devastating blow to his candidacy. Joyce was also enthusiastically endorsed by Blue Arkansas, which urges its readers to help her make history:
State Senator Joyce Elliott has been a progressive leader and champion in the state legislature long before Blue Arkansas was ever around to back her up. Now she’s running to represent the people of AR-02 in Congress. No matter what position she has taken or how hard the fight was, Senator Elliott has always lead with courage, intelligence, grace, and character. She is the best choice to succeed Vic Snyder and represent AR-02 in these tough times, and we will stand with her every step of the way, no matter how tough the fight is.
Today, Blue America also endorses Joyce, who will join us for a live blog session below in the comments section. I hope you can stop by to meet her and ask her the kinds of questions you think candidates for Congress need to address. Last week when I was on the phone congratulating her for her convincing win in the first round I asked her a tough one -- how she would have voted on October 3, 2008, when Bush was pushing his Wall Street bailout. I like the way she approached it:
Though I am an unabashed optimist, I am grounded in reality. The Wall Street debacle forced a clash between my worlds of reality and optimism. The indefensibility of the Wall Street debacle rendered this confluence particularly disturbing when taxpayers became “forced” partners to the bailout. While I accept it was better to pull our country back from the brink of economic disaster than to let the entire system crash, I find it wholly unacceptable that transparent, stringent accountability was not a part of the equation. Handing over the Taxpayers of America credit card to “too-big-to-fail” institutions with no strings attached or with strings so loose they were totally uninhibiting was bad policy. The gravity of the economic situation was threatening, I am sure; nevertheless, it is the responsibility of Congress to conduct business in a manner that is accountable to taxpayers who pay this country’s bills, even in under great pressure. While I won’t bog myself down in hindsight, I will use hindsight going forward to make sure I never cast a vote such as the “bail out” without holding institutions and/or individuals accountable.
Please consider making a contribution to Joyce's campaign today. In fact if you do so at the Blue America ActBlue page before midnight tonight, we'll enter you in a drawing for a rare, numbered, collectible and very beautiful print of Patti Smith, one of only six that were made. This one was signed by both Richard Aaron, the photographer, and by Patti Smith herself, who wrote on it, next to her signature, "People have the power." Joyce reminds me of Patti, which is why I dug it out and decided to give it away today.