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.



Blue America's new Campaign For Health Care Choice: Targeting Blanche Lincoln on the Public Option

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As you've probably noticed, I've been very upset with the way the health-care debate is headed. Kathleen Sibelius did a good job defending the public option and of exposing some of the lies being used the medical industry and their cohorts in Congress.

I think we can all agree that single payer is the way to go, but since it was never made a priority by our representatives, we are left to fight for a solid and robust public option. We know that the obstructionist Republican Party will never get behind any meaningful reforms so Blue America has to go after members of the Democratic Party in the Senate and call them out for selling Americans health care down the drain.

For weeks I've been working on an action so we could get busy defending the best option we have and I think we've come up with a great idea. We are going to target Blanche Lincoln first with TV ads, with the help of Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films, and expose her actions to her constituents in Arkansas. This will be the first play because she is up for re-election in 2010 and has already received the second most money from the HIC of any Senator.

Digby writes:

Watching the health care debate unfold is frustrating and predictably enervating. These kinds of debates are often followed by a deepening of public apathy and a sense that government can't help solve the big problems. And this plays into conservative hands since they are the ones who want to stoke that belief so that the citizens don't get it into their heads that they can get an equal shake with those who think they own this country.

We can't let that happen with health care. It is just too important on every level, for individuals, business and the country at large. It's time to get involved. To that end Blue America is launching a campaign to raise money to run some television ads. We've got to get these wavering Democrats off the fence about a public plan choice or this thing is going to fall completely apart before it even starts.

Perhaps it's not surprising that Lincoln is showing so much compassion for the poor insurance companies. She's taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from them over the years. In fact, she's already received $14,500 from insurance companies for her 2010 campaign, the second highest of any senator up for re-election next year. And the only reform they support is reform that will get the taxpayers to pay the overpriced premiums for the 47 million uninsured without having to change their ways. The fact is that insurance companies are not in any danger of going out of business because of the public plan choice unless they continue the kind of practices that have brought us to this crisis.

Please go to our Blue America Act Blue Page a to give what you can

Howie Klein writes:

Digby's been writing TV scripts for a whole week to try to salvage health care reform from the tender mercies of Democrats who have grown worthless to working families after millions and millions of dollars in legalized bribes from the Medical-Industrial Complex and the Insurance Giants. Robert Greenwald is standing by with a camera crew ready to start shooting. The first batch of ads are going up on TV in Arkansas and, man, do we need help. We have a new Blue America Page that I want to urge you to visit today.

Perhaps it's not surprising that Lincoln is showing so much compassion for the poor insurance companies. She's taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from them over the years. In fact, she's already received $14,500 from insurance companies for her 2010 campaign, the second highest of any senator up for re-election next year. And the only reform they support is reform that will get the taxpayers to pay the overpriced premiums for the 47 million uninsured without having to change their ways. The fact is that insurance companies are not in any danger of going out of business because of the public plan choice unless they continue the kind of practices that have brought us to this crisis.

Digby has finished several excellent scripts and we've begun the casting process. Please join us and support Blue America in its fight to save the public option. Idiots like Joe Lieberman are saying the fight over health insurance is for "universal access," but that's a lie.

Access doesn't do anything if the health care sucks. Lieberman should have said the fight is for universal health care for all if he was a human being instead of a shill for the HIC. We will not let them get away with this garbage.

Blanche Lincoln is the first one up on our radar, but we're sending a signal to the rest of the cowardly, corporate influenced Democrats that we are coming. Please help us save health care.

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Congressional Races Update

Mark Kirk (R-IL10): "if we see Obama, there's a shoot-on-sight order". He meant to say Osama, but how many times will we see this mistake from a Republican?

Darcy Burner (WA-08): Darcy is catching up big time on Republican incumbent Dave Reichert. The latest poll has her within 6 points. Reichert knows he's in trouble and has called in the "heavyweights" of the Republican Party to help raise funds, including Gingrich and Boehner. You can fight by donating to Darcy's Blue America account here.

Nancy Boyda (KS-02): The latest polls show Boyda comfortably leading both challengers Ryun and Jenkins.

And finally, in NM-01 and 02, Robert Novak of all people, recognizes that the Republicans are going to have a tough time of it:

New Mexico-1: "This could be a very bad year for Republicans in New Mexico"Together with the likely loss of the U.S. Senate seat, both GOP-held house seats are in danger.

In the Albuquerque seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Heather Wilson (R), Republicans have the benefit of a strong candidate in Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White (R), but they have the disadvantage of demography and a bad political environment. Democrats have nominated Albuquerque City Councilman Martin Heinrich (D).[..]

Considering only the candidates, White has the edge, but the political landscape seriously favors Heinrich. Bush's name and the GOP brand are dirt in New Mexico.[...]

Because we expect a strong Democratic tide, White's strengths look likely to be wiped out by a Democratic surge. Leaning Democratic Takeover.

New Mexico-2: This is the "Republican district" in New Mexico, but it could be represented by a Democrat next year. In 2004, Bush took 58 percent of this district, which covers the Southern half of the state, but the GOP might have nominated the wrong candidate.

I think we may have cause to celebrate much come November.




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