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.



Roxanne Conlin-- Is She The Democrat Most Likely To Paint A Red Seat Blue In 2010?

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The ideologically-based media and the corporately owned media have been diligent in painting a decidedly one-sided anti-Democratic picture going into the November Midterm elections. They hope the conventional wisdom that they've created-- that this is a wave year for Republicans-- will become a self-fulfilling prophesy. This isn't borne out by the facts-- Republicans are as untrusted and unpopular as ever, for example, and as the economy recovers from Bush-Republican financial and economic policies (and deprecations), Democrats look more and more attractive to ordinary Americans. What is clear, on the other hand, is that 2010 will be a bad year for incumbents, particularly conservative ones.

Last weekend in Utah, ultra-conservative Republican Senator Robert Bennett saw his political career come to a screeching halt at the hands of deranged teabaggers. At the same time, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, Blue Dog Jim Matheson, was denied the Democratic Party endorsement-- with corporate shill Steny Hoyer in the room pleading with delegates to vote for him-- by an openly lesbian progressive Democrat, Claudia Wright. Mormon-dominated Utah hasn't exactly been fertile soil for progressive values or the Democratic Party, but progressives and Democrats stand to make gains all over the country. And the Blue America guest today, Roxanne Conlin of Iowa, may well be the best shot the Democrats have of turning a red Senate seat blue.

She's also the best shot Iowa Democrats have of taking that seat back from the conservatives in living memory. She's a trial attorney whose life's work has been standing up for ordinary American families against predatory corporations, the kinds of predatory corporations that have financed Chuck Grassley's political career. Conservative barnacle Grassley was first elected to political office in 1958. How old were you then? He's been gulping from the public trough-- with no interruption-- for 52 years. Even if the media doesn't, wily old Grassley does understand that 2010 is shaping up to be an anti-incumbent year, not an anti-Democratic year. And this will be the first time Grassley has ever faced a strong Democratic opponent and the first time he's run with a registration disadvantage. Iowa Democrats overtook Republicans in 2006, increased their share of voters substantially in 2008 and go into 2010 with around 100,000 more registered voters than Republicans.

Grassley, who may be personally liked by-- or at least familiar to-- most Iowa voters, is increasingly seen as kind of senile and bizarre, making inappropriate comments, about "pulling the plug on Grandma" and crazy stuff like that, as though he had Tourette's syndrome. One of K Street's best friends and widely viewed as a senator whose vote is always up for sale to the highest paying corporate interest, Grassley actually failed to keep pace with Roxanne's grassroots fundraising in the first quarter! The 28 point spread between Grassley and Roxanne in January has shrunk to a 9 point advantage for the 30 year incumbent.

So far all this momentum for Roxanne has come with no help from Washington, no TV ads, nothing but grassroots, on-the-ground, old style retail campaigning. She's visited all 99 of Iowa's counties, even the ones that vote for Steve King! She's already beating Grassley among women voters. And what does she talk about? Real issues with a real impact on people's lives. And that's bad news for Grassley. He may not remember, but he was the one who stuck a little provision into Bush's Medicare Part D giveaway for Grassley's Big Pharma campaign contributors that guaranteed that the federal government could not negotiate for fair prices for senior citizens. This is one of Roxanne's favorite points. She told me that when someone buys Zocor (20mg) through the VA (where the government does negotiate, they pay $127.44 annually. Vets were lucky Grassley didn't do to them what he did to seniors. Seniors buying the same Zocor through Medicare Part D pay $1,485.96, thanks entirely to Chuck Grassley and the other conservative corporate shills in the Senate. If you buy your Protonix (40mg) through the VA, the government gets you a nice deal-- $214.53/year. The Chuck Grassley price is a stunning $1,148.40. No wonder the pharmaceutical industry loves him. He's responsible for transferring billions of our dollars into their coffers. He gets a cut, too; they've given him $549,180 over the years.

Roxanne looks forward to getting into the Senate and changing this-- as well as the ban on drug importation, another reason the Big Drug companies love Grassley so very, very dearly. She's also eager to debate Grassley on his ardent backing for corporations that ship American jobs overseas. He has a long and sordid voting record she wants to talk with him about. In 2005, for example, he voted against an amendment (along with every Republican and a few conservative corporate Dems) that would repeal tax incentives for domestic companies that move their manufacturing plants to offshore locations and use the resulting revenue to reduce the federal deficit and debt by $3.2 billion from 2006 to 2010. The year before, he voted against prohibiting American tax dollars from being used to ship jobs outside the country. The amendment Grassley voted against would have: limited the ability of civilian agencies to award contracts to companies that would use offshore workers, prohibited the privatization of jobs when contractors would take the work overseas, and require states to certify that they will not use federal funds for services performed outside the United States, eliminated tax advantages for companies that move factories overseas to make goods that are shipped back to the U.S. market, and prohibited companies from deferring taxes on income earned from these “runaway” manufacturing plants. Again, Grassley and every single Republican voted against it-- joined by 4 DLC corporate freaks, John Breaux, Ben Nelson, Zell Miller and Max Baucus. 2004 was also the year Grassley voted against an amendment that would have struck $39 billion in tax breaks on overseas income. The amendment would have provided for an immediate 9% tax deduction for domestic manufacturers. And in 2003 there were three more votes along the same lines: helping wreck the middle class by rewarding corporations for shipping American jobs overseas. If Roxanne can make this case stick-- get Iowa voters to focus on Grassley's voting record-- he's toast. Let's help her get the message out.




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