Blue Dogs have no loyalty or shame. Case in point: AZ's Gabby Giffords

Media error

Rep. Gabby Giffords is the perfect example of why Democrats in Congress should shun Blue Dogs.

Howie Klein explains:

Giffords is looking like the point of the Blue Dog spear being thrust into the House progressive infrastructure. As we pointed out over the weekend, despite Pelosi's efforts to tamp it down, the Blue Dogs are going on the warpath against progressive Democrats, using Henry Waxman's interview with The Hill as an excuse. One thing we can always be sure of inside the Democratic Caucus-- well, two, actually: Blue Dogs will always put self-preservation above the party’s principles, and the DCCC will do whatever it can to help them get re-elected.

Giffords is emblematic of the tragic turn the House Democratic Party has taken. Over the weekend she launched a $350,000 ad buy in the Tucson media market that slams the principled stand Grijalva took against SB1070-- throwing him directly under the bus in order to make herself look sufficiently xenophobic for the bloodthirsty Know Nothing mobs. As you can see in the ad, she makes a solemn vow to fight “these groups” who have protested this unjust law by boycotting the state. “These groups” include Latinos, liberals, and citizens across the country who know an injustice when they see one. She's directly targeting Grijalva, Arizona's most progressive leader and the Congressman who most consistently stands up for those who are hurt by the right wing’s agenda.

We hear that other campaigns, pollsters, donors and politicians joined Grijalva's staff in futile attempts to show Giffords the obvious-- Democrats using other Democrats as punching bags is bad news for everyone. And when DCCC leaders, such as Vice Chair Wasserman Schultz, were approached with the argument that Giffords should not run the ad for obvious reasons, the argument fell on deaf ears. (Instead, they’re rewarding her behavior with close to a million dollars in independent expenditures.) It’s bad enough when so-called Democrats habitually vote against our agenda to save their seats, often with DCCC prompting. Now they're spending Democratic money to hurt real Democrats to save their seats.

Rep. Raul Grijalva is one of the true heroes in Arizona. He stood up against Arizona's odious and racist SB 1070 law when it was passed when most politicians remained silent. Howie, Digby and myself are supporting Grijalva's re-election bid because of his spine so we started an Act Blue page called: One America. We've raised over 4,000 dollars for him so far. Please pitch in if you can. The racism and xenophobia that we are witnessing is emblematic of the tried and true race-baiting tactics that the extreme right revels in and and it's seeping in to Democratic campaigning now too. Unfortunately for this great nation, our history is littered with this intolerable technique at the expense of minorities that live here. It's sad and embarrassing. The way to battle this kind of cancer is to point it out and expose it to the sunlight. Like all malignant ideas, bringing light to darkness always has a cleansing effect.

Howie talked to Grijalva before we started to run these stories and his latest quote nails the situation perfectly:

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Blue America has decided to lend a hand to the grassroots campaign going on in Utah's second congressional district on behalf of intrepid progressive Claudia Wright. Claudia will face Blue Dog Jim Matheson June 22. We need to move forward and get this ad on TV immediately. If you don't have time to read the rest of this post but want to help, you can do it by clicking on this link-- and for as little as $5 get the ad up on CNN.

Yesterday I was shocked that one of the Inside-the-Beltway publications, The Hill, actually took note of Claudia's challenge to Matheson. They rarely do that and kind of function as a part of the company town incumbent protection program, just like the shills at the DCCC, who are, of course, fully backing Matheson despite his penchant for habitually crossing the aisle to vote with Republicans.

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) had never been challenged in a primary before this year, in which he’s fighting off a political newcomer who could make him the latest incumbent casualty.

Retired schoolteacher Claudia Wright gained traction in Utah’s 2nd district on a strongly progressive platform, while trying to paint the five-term Blue Dog Democrat as inaccessible and out of touch with constituents.

She had never sought elected office and got on the ballot by capturing 45 percent of the delegates’ votes at the state party convention last month. She needed 40 percent to qualify.

Matheson got 55 percent of the delegates’ votes but needed 60 percent to avoid the June 22 primary.

University of Utah political scientist Matthew Burbank said the convention outcome shows this election will be, more than anything, a referendum on Matheson, who may have alienated his base with his “no” vote on healthcare reform.

...Matheson holds a hefty fundraising advantage, with well over $1 million raised compared to Wright’s roughly $25,000.

But Wright argues her lower fundraising numbers belie her campaign’s appeal, given her performance at the state party convention. She said her campaign is refusing to take corporate political action committee (PAC) money, and is instead relying on the media and volunteers going door to door to get out the word.

“Old-style politics, shoe leather and person-to-person, trying to get them to come our way: That’s what we’ve been doing since day one,” Wright said. “We’ve got volunteers across the state who have been doing all of that ... It’s the only way to do this.” ... Matheson’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

The average Blue America contribution is $45.00 and it's how we raised all the money we've been able to put into campaigns to help elect progressives like Alan Grayson, Donna Edwards, Carol Shea-Porter, Jeff Merkley, John Hall, Hilda Solis, Steve Cohen, Gary Peters, and many others-- as well as to help progressive champions who haven't gone all the way (yet), like Marcy Winograd, Ned Lamont, Doug Tudor, Darcy Burner and Coleen Rowley. But I tried something new this time-- basically because we had no time. I went to every wealthy gay person I know and begged for the money. It was an exercise in humility. But I'm bad at it and I came up blank. Either they're already donating directly to her campaign or they didn't want to take a chance on a longshot candidate. It doesn't matter how good she is, how gay she is, how bad he is... just that she's not a likely winner. Of course her primary challenge has already gotten Matheson-- who voted with the GOP to table the Hate Crimes Bill-- to vote to repeal DADT (and to even show up at a Gay Pride event-- first time ever-- in Salt Lake City last week). So... I'm putting in the full legal amount I can donate personally and, anyone got $45 they wanna chip in?

Actually, Jacquie's put together a whole menu of spots you can buy with the prices on a special ActBlue page. So that ad up top is what you get to put on the cable TV programs you pick for that price shown next to it. It's kind of fun. Take a look-- and do what you can. Oh, and here's a link to the live chat we did with Claudia last month at Crooks and Liars.

Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Beth Krom (D-CA)

This year the DCCC has decided to spend virtually all of its resources playing defense. They're not spending money on replacing out-of-step, obstructionist Republicans -- not even vulnerable ones like John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Thaddeus McCotter and John Campbell -- but on saving the worthless hides of the mistrusted Blue Dogs who vote most frequently with the GOP and who have opposed most of the president's Change Agenda -- reflexive reactionaries like Travis Childers (MS), Bobby Bright (AL) and Walt Minnick (ID). So once again, it's up to grassroots and netroots organizations like ours -- who helped find and support progressives the DCCC ignored, like Alan Grayson, Donna Edwards, John Hall, and Carol Shea-Porter -- to work toward making Congress a more receptive place for progressive values and ideas that put ordinary working people before wealthy corporate interests. And today we want to introduce you to one of those candidates, Orange County activist Beth Krom. She's joining us live in the comments section below.

Beth is a proven, intrepid, can-do progressive -- a former mayor of Irvine and current City Council member of that city-- who is running for the Orange County seat, CA-48, currently help by one of the most ridiculous of all California Republicans, "Birther Amendment" author John Campbell. The district used to be solidly red but has been changing -- and rapidly. Old style pundits and prognosticators may not have noticed -- they're better at reporting what happened than predicting what's happening -- but districts like Beth's have undergone profound demographic changes. In 2008, in fact, Obama narrowly won the 48th, which helped him run up a 67-31% statewide vote against John McCain.

A dedicated environmental activist, she first ran for City Council in 2000 to stop an international airport from being built at Orange County’s former El Toro Marine Base. Within the first two years she served, a countywide initiative was drafted and passed that rezoned El Toro for park and open space use. Today, where the airport was proposed, the Orange County Great Park is being developed. The park is the missing link in, what will be, once restored, the longest urban wilderness corridor in America, extending from the ocean at Crystal Cove to the Mexican border. When we talked with Beth about the importance of smart growth, open space preservation and balanced planning, she pointed out that "buildings don’t make communities; people make communities."

Beth is exactly the kind of candidate we would like to see replacing a careerist clown and partisan hack like Campbell. Profoundly anti-environmental -- yet representing one of the most beautiful stretches of seacoast in America -- Campbell is every irresponsible developer's fondest dream. Beth has a very different vision for Orange County and for America.

As we experience the “shock and awe” that has gripped the nation in the wake of the worst offshore oil spill in human history, it’s important to consider that our thirst for oil has led to policies that place our entire ecosystem at risk.

When everything is out of balance, we feel the effects on a daily basis. An economy out of balance, a health-care system out of balance and a planet out of balance, reflect public policies that are out of balance. There are no perfect solutions, but ignoring our problems will only lead to greater challenges in the future.

Politics is not about the black and white, it’s about the thousand shades of gray. It takes smart, courageous politicians to advance the kind of policies that will inspire change and help to move our country forward.

We think Beth can win and we think she'll bring a tremendous improvement to Congress and to Orange County is she does. If you can, please consider giving her a hand at the Blue America ActBlue page.

Blue America Welcomes Doug Tudor (FL-12)


In 2008 Doug Tudor was the Democratic nominee in an impossible race against an entrenched, powerful incumbent, multimillionaire Adam "Howdy Doody Nimrod" Putnam. An outspoken grassroots progressive, Doug ran without the backing of the DCCC and with the animus of the Florida powerbroker Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And yet... Doug did as well against Putnam as any of the losing Democratic candidates-- other than Joe Garcia-- that the DCCC and Wasserman Schultz did back. Conservative Democrat Christine Jennings got boatloads of DCCC-inspired cash and wound up with 37% of the vote. Conservative Democratic incumbent Tim Mahoney, a Rahm and Debbie special, raised over $3 million and barely managed to break 40%. And although the netroots had to force Wasserman Schultz' hand, she eventually backed Annette Taddeo and Raul Martinez-- with hundreds of thousand of dollars-- and each got 42% of the vote on election day. Doug-- with nothing but grassroots support-- and a budget of $109,851 (against Putnam's eye-popping $2,054,571) wound up with 43%. Imagine if he had had Democratic Party support! (As Chris Bowers reported yesterday, the DCCC spent over $14 million on Blue Dogs and other conservatives who vote against Democratic initiatives as a matter of course.)

Well, with Putnam leaving Congress in the hopes of plaguing Florida consumers on the way to a gubernatorial run in the future, the DCCC did decide to pump some money into FL-12, but instead of helping Doug, they got railroaded into backing Blue Dog Allen Boyd's handpicked corporate shill-- and fellow Blue Dog-- Lori Edwards. Lori is the only non-incumbent Blue Dog that caucus has backed so far this cycle. They gave her a lot of money and introduced her to all the worst and most corrupt corporate lobbyists who buy votes from congressmembers with no ethics and then claimed they had to endorse her because she has so much money and Doug doesn't. (She's taken in an unimpressive $176,451 so far and has virtually no backing on the ground.)

Today Doug is being officially endorsed by Blue America and he will join us for a live blog session at Crooks and Liars at 2:30pm (11:30 am, PT). Last week, after his first debate with Lori Edwards, I made a case for his candidacy here but today we get to hear directly from Doug why he deserves support from the progressive community.

Doug's military record is a real inspiration, even for an old peacenik like myself, and I urge you to look it over carefully to help you gage what kind of a man we're talking about. But what has brought him to Blue America's attention is where he stands on the issues that are most important to us. Like I said, he's happy to answer questions on all the issues we're concerned with. Here are some direct quotes Doug has given me in interviews over time:

On the Economy: “During the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the federal government has to take the lead. Now is not the time to limit spending nor is it the time to talk about reducing the debt created by 30 years of Reaganomics.”

“The Federal Reserve needs to be audited, and the Congress needs to fully assume its role as the overseer of the Executive Branch’s regulatory functions.”

“I support reinstating Glass–Steagall provisions which prohibit banks from owning other financial companies.”

On Iraq: “It’s way past time to declare victory and come home. Like most things the Bush Administration did, the mantra of “We’ll stand down when they stand up” is absolutely backward. The Iraqi government will stand up once we stand down. Bring the troops home now.”

On Afghanistan: “We need to remove our forces and use counter-terrorism tactics instead of counter-insurgency. Only the Afghan government can successfully prosecute a counter-insurgency campaign.”

On Energy Policy: “People need to understand that America’s reliance on fossil fuels is a national security issue, where countries hostile to America can control our ability to determine our own future. Renewable and clean energy will allow us to control our own destiny, as well as creating innumerable jobs and supporting industries.”

“I support Cap and Trade, and I am not afraid to call it Cap and Tax. I believe we need to Cap (limit) carbon emissions and Tax (fine) polluters. If someone pollutes by littering we fine them. Why shouldn’t we do the same with industry and other major polluters?”

On Equality: “I support marriage equality and the Employee Nondiscrimination Act. I would advocate to rescind and vote to rescind Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act.”

Doug is a state leader of Operation Free, an organization of veterans who have been emphasizing the relationship between unsustainable energy and environmental policies and unjustifiable wars. Take a look and please consider making a contribution to Doug's campaign here:

Blue America Welcomes Bill Hedrick (D-CA)

We've been having a tough time finding even very progressive candidates willing to think for themselves on Afghanistan and not just go along with Obama and the Pentagon. Bill Hedrick, as you can see from the above video, is not one of those. Maybe it's because so many of his children are or have been serving in the military overseas, but Bill has a very clear vision of America's role in Afghanistan-- and it sure isn't as an occupier or as a nation-builder. We'll talk with Bill about that below in the comments section as Blue America formally endorses him in his race for the congressional seat currently held by one of the most corrupt men-- according to, of all sources, Fox News-- in the U.S. Congress, Ken Calvert.

Bill Hedrick has been a public school teacher in Riverside County, California for 35 years. And his wife is a public school teacher too. Bill is also serving his 5th term as president of the Corona-Norco School Board, one of the biggest in the state, responsible for over 50,000 children. In 2008 he stepped up and ran against Calvert. But a school teacher running against an entrenched favorite of Wall Street? The DCCC had no interest in helping-- and they didn't. Outspent 5-1, Bill ran an effective grassroots campaign and came closer to dislodging a Republican incumbent than any other Democrat in the country who didn't actually do it. Bill spent $191,461 and Calvert spent $1,150,432. Bill received 123,890 votes and Calvert edged him with 129,937.

This year is different... kind of. Sensing a winner, the DCCC has given Bill their blessing-- but not much else-- and certainly no money. So for Bill, it's all about volunteers and grassroots tactics again. But that makes sense for someone with deep roots in the community anyway. He told me that the big issue in CA-44, a Republican-leaning district that Obama won in 2008, is jobs and that almost all the other issues flow from that overarching one. Sometime he seems frustrated that the Democratic Party, Inc in Washington isn't getting it when it comes to the pain real people are feeling in the heartland.

The national Democratic Party needs to focus more on stimulus that supports small business recovery and job creation. In a region like this small businesses are the economic engines of recovery and job growth. The big banks aren't lending. I think the president is moving in the right direction but what we need is an infusion of money for community banks with an obligation that they will make loans to small, local businesses. Calvert voted for Bush's massive Wall Street bailout twice, a bailout with no accountability. I opposed that last time and, believe it or not, found some commonality-- on that-- with the Ron Paul folks who were also opposed.

Calvert has also been a big supporter of so-called "free trade," which is not how I see the economic future of this country and is exceedingly unpopular in this district. We've been hemorrhaging jobs. This district used to be a manufacturing area-- steel, light industry... but no more. NAFTA and policies like that sent the jobs overseas and those jobs never came back. Many in the Tea Party movement out here have stopped talking about all that anti-immigrant stuff and started focusing on the real problem: the old fashioned extreme greed that maximizes profits no matter what the cost to everyone else. People are starting to wake up to the fact that companies that became successful in America and because of America have been off-shoring jobs and have no loyalty to our country, our workers or our interests.

Calvert always claims to be an "independent voice for Riverside County;" it's baloney. He never differs from his party. I will do what's best for my constituents even if it's at odds with party policy. We need an emphasis on community banks, not Wall Street. We need job creation here and we seem to be stuck in policies that create jobs in China. We need policies that encourage manufacturing in the United States.

That's why Blue America is so enthusiastic about Bill's campaign. No one has to twist his arm to do the right thing. He decided to get into national politics because he sees the need to do the right thing. He's like the polar opposite of a Blue Dog. He has every intention of joining the Congressional Progressive Caucus and when he talks about being at odds with his party, it isn't because their policies aren't conservative and special interest-oriented enough; it's because they're too conservative and too oriented towards special interests. Bill has been and continues to be a man who analyzes the problems this country is facing through the eyes of everyday American working families, not through the eyes of the political and business elites that run both parties in DC. We need more Democrats like Bill Hedrick. Please consider contributing to his campaign, volunteering here and getting the real story on Ken Calvert (and by all means examine the official police report on his arrest for lewd conduct with a prostitute in a public park). In fact, if you have some time, here's the Fox News special on corruption in Congress, well worth watching beginning to end. Calvert's astounding section begins at around 25 minutes in.

The DCCC sent out an exceptionally well-done clip today pointing to the difference between Obama's vision of Hope and the Republican vision of failure. Please take a look at it. There's no doubt that the Republicans are on a mission to not just obstruct, but to undermine-- everything, from health care reform to the economic recovery and even to the safety of the nation itself. The clip puts forth a strong message, a compelling message. But it just isn't bipartisan enough. After all, it isn't only Republicans who want the single most important piece of Obama's change agenda-- substantive health care reform-- to fail. Plenty of Democrats get the exact same huge handouts from the exact same Medical-Industrial Complex and Big Insurance lobbyists and CEOs. And they will do anything to prevent single payer health care from passing-- or even being brought into the discussion!

I've got the full story up at DownWithTyranny, but John called from the airport and asked me to remind everyone to please consider helping out with the Blue America initiative to save the public option. As John keeps pointing out, health care reform isn't really a Republican vs Democratic issue; it's an issue for the welfare of all American families-- which is why a staggering 83% of Americans want the public option.

Blue America has launched this new campaign to persuade senators who routinely take a great deal of money from Big Insurance to work for their constituents, not for their campaign contributors. We are working with Brave New Films to put together a series of TV commercials that we will start running next month in Arkansas, home of two anti-reform Democrats, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor. Please read more about the plan-- and consider helping us put it into effect-- here at our Blue America page.

Republicans target Alan Grayson (D-FL) for his strong progressive voice

It's no coincidence that Republicans are going all out to target first term Orlando Democrat Alan Grayson. Grayson's defeat of entrenched rubber stamp incumbent Ric Keller last year was one of Blue America's most important victories ever. Since entering the House in January Rep. Grayson has made a name for himself standing up for working families and flying right in the face of the powerful banksters who have financed the deregulatory mania Grayson aims to fix.

He's fearless and his tough, aggressive questioning of banksters at the House Financial Services Committee, frightens bribe-besotted Republicans and their crooked patrons. He didn't seen intimidated by Republican efforts to recruit a top tier candidate to run against him. Doesn't this sound exactly like Grayson?

"Any Republican in my district who wants to see what it's like to run for Congress and lose is welcome to do so. But whoever it is, the DCCC will leave welts on his back."

More about Grayson and about how much bluer this district has become at DownWithTyranny. And if you'd like to help us get Grayson's back -- here's the place.

Dennis Shulman Runs A Hard Race Against Right Wing Extremist

Yesterday's NY Times focused on the differences between McCain's willful inability to send e-mails-- he uses the regular excuse he uses for all his shortcomings, that he was tortured in Hanoi-- with that our one of Blue America's highest priority congressional candidates, Dennis Shulman of New Jersey, who was completely blind by the time he was 15. Dennis is a computer whiz who believes in solving problems, not looking for pity and excuses. But Dennis isn't running against John McCain; he's running against the last hard-core right-wing extremist House member left in the Northeast, Scott Garrett.

On Friday Garrett was in the news because he was the only New Jersey congressman-- from either party-- who voted against funding the Highway Trust. The 28 others were a motley crew of mostly far right Confederates who oppose the very concept of government playing a positive role in citizens' lives-- like in maintaining bridges and highways. Garrett is often at odds with mainstream notions about the role of government and he is often found voting alone with a small handful of radical right kooks from Georgia, Texas and South Carolina.

Even if the DCCC hasn't, the Times pieces will help galvanize moderates and independent voters behind Dennis. Crooks & Liars readers have been on the case since last November.

If you'd like to continue helping this brilliant, no-excuses, blind rabbi from the Jersey suburbs get his message out, our Blue America ActBlue page is open... 24/7.

Paid for by Blue America PAC,, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.