Blue America Welcomes Tarryl Clark in Her Race Against Michele Bachmann

Hard to say who the worst member of Congress is. But there are few short lists that would exclude narrow-minded and extremist Minnesota religious fanatic Michele Bachmann. However, today isn't about Bachmann. You want Bachmann, you go to DumpBachmann; no one does it better. At the time of the 2008 election, Bachmann was just as odious as she is today. Blue America didn't get involved in that race though because her opponent simply seemed... "better than Bachmann." That standard is too low for us.

And today we're going to meet state Senator Tarryl Clark (below in the comments section), a hard working leader with a proven track record who would be a great candidate whether she were running against Michele Bachmann, or just some garden variety Republican.

People say this suburban/exurban district mostly north of the Twin Cities is too red for a Democrat. But that isn't true. Bush won it in 2004 with 57% and 4 years later McCain took 53% but, the district has also voted to elect Amy Klobuchar to the Senate-- and against Mark Kennedy, the kook who represented the district before Bachmann. And in the 15th senatorial district near St Cloud, the part Tarryl represents-- and which was a GOP bastion before she came along-- the vote totals in that 2006 race were very interesting. Because she knows what it means to work hard and work smart, and with a very committed Wellstone-style of campaigning, Tarryl outpolled everyone on the ballot:

Clark 15581 (56.30%)
Klobuchar 14980 (53.45%)
Pawlenty 14307 (51.1%)
Wetterling 13082 (46.81%)
Bachmann 12542 (44.88%)

MN-06 has the most devastating unemployment rate in Minnesota and the worst foreclosure crisis in the state. But Bachmann has neither understood nor been sympathetic to her constituents finding themselves in a jam because of the vicissitudes of an economy buffeted by disastrous conservative ideological experimentation. She has not only not contributed to finding solutions to these very real problems, she has tried to capitalize of politicizing them.

Tarryl's reaction, as a state legislator, has been the exact opposite. Instead of running around the country and ranting and raving at tea parties, she proven herself an effective leader for the people she represents, working to secure the funds to upgrade the facilities at Saint Cloud State University, working to ensure Central Minnesota’s nursing homes are paid fairly, working to establish a special law enforcement unit to fight gang activities in Central Minnesota.

Tarryl’s been a champion for issues including early childhood and higher education, health care, serving veterans, protecting Minnesotans from predatory lenders, and investing in the local communities that make America strong. Because of that her colleagues elected her to serve as the Senate’s Assistant Majority Leader. Bachmann's colleagues have recognized her as a clown and have tasked her with going on Fox to stir up divisiveness and animosities.

Tarryl’s record of results on reducing unemployment:

• Created 22,000 jobs with last session’s bonding bill

• Helped small businesses add new jobs with Angel Investor Tax Credits

• Authored the Central Minnesota Bioscience Initiative to bring jobs in the biotech industry into the 6th district

• Authored economic development bill that improved workforce development (job training) and expanded the Small Business Growth Acceleration Program, and entrepreneur and small business development grants.

Tarryl’s record of results on reducing foreclosure:

• Authored legislation to protect seniors from predatory lenders and reverse mortgages

• Helped families in keep their homes with the MN Subprime Borrowers Relief Act

• Authored legislation to reduce the burden of property taxes on middle class families

Tarryl is the newest member of the Blue America family. If you can volunteer for her campaign, there's a sign up form here and if you can help the campaign financially, she's on the Blue America endorsed candidates list.



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Billy Kennedy (NC-05)

When I first heard North Carolina farmer/carpenter Billy Kennedy-- an actual progressive, non-Blue Dog, real-life Democrat-- was going to run against lunatic fringe hatemonger Virginia Foxx, I was very excited and I realized that Americans from all over the country would be interested in this race. There are few members of Congress as bigoted and contemptible as Foxx. But as I've gotten to know Billy a bit I realize that regardless of how awful Foxx is, he'd make a truly exceptional, classic Representative of the people.

He sounds, refreshingly, like a real life, common sense American, rather than like some politician. If there's some good stuff coming out of the Tea Party movement-- once you wade through all the psychotic racism and extremist rhetoric-- you find the kind of populism many of us crave, including Billy. Believe me, this just doesn't appeal to progressives and Democrats alone-- Billy on the stump:

“The bank bailouts didn’t help keep homeowners in their homes. It only helped the banks who are still paying outrageous bonuses. The mortgage crisis is not over, and keeping families in their homes needs to be a priority.”

When the House passed HR 4626 this week-- a bill to end the anti-trust exemption for Insurance monopolies (which Foxx, predictably, voted to kill-- Billy had a clear response that anyone, even people without law degrees, could understand:

The insurance companies spend most of their waking hours trying to figure out how to avoid paying for people’s medical expenses so they can boost their profit margins. They get away with massive premium price increases and benefits cutting because they have virtually no competition. This is because they enjoy an anti-trust exemption which allows them to engage in price fixing and collusive activity.

The result? By 2008, according to the American Medical Association, a single health insurer controlled 30% or more of the health insurance market in 90% of the metropolitan markets in the country. And, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, health premiums have gone up by 131% for family coverage from 1999 to 2009.

If we are serious about promoting competition among insurance companies to hold down costs, the repeal of the anti-trust exemption is a no-brainer.

People get that and when Blue America announced a couple of days ago that we would be endorsing Billy's candidacy today, there was an immediate outpouring of grassroots contributions that stunned John, Digby and I. We're hoping to give his campaign a boost today with the chat at below in the comments section. But even announcing it has inspired Democrats who still believe in (real) Hope and (real) Change. When Billy explains healthcare reform by saying "It’s not fair for people to work all their lives and then loose everything when they are sick," people who hear him know he's going to go to Washington and work for ordinary North Carolina families, not for the kinds of wealthy and powerful vested interests Virginia Foxx is always catering to (when she isn't demagoging against gay people, public education and regular working families in her own district).

There aren't going to be any clearer choices between an advocate of people-oriented good government and an advocate of maintaining the status quo on behalf of the wealthy powerful special interests than the race in NC-5 between Billy Kennedy and Virginia Foxx. Foxx doesn't think her wealthy backers should be forced to pay taxes to educate a bunch of poor people's children. Billy has a very different perspective on the role of government in a healthy society:

“America needs a vibrant middle class and successful small businesses to survive. The middle class depends on quality public education available for all and jobs that pay a living wage... People have been benefiting from government programs for a long time in this country and still are. What would our Fifth District be like had the rural electric cooperatives not been started by the government? The government is our common wealth, our school systems, secure banking, police and fire departments, roads and water systems belong collectively to us all. And it’s our responsibility to manage our collective wealth wisely.

"No one makes it all on their own. We all benefit from successful government programs. Virginia got her BA, MA and ED from our outstanding public North Carolina Universities and she’s been on the dole ever since. She’s been living off the N.C. taxpayers, gaming the system and now she wants to deny the same opportunity she had to everyone else. Just last weekend she said that she didn’t believe that federal funds should be used for education.

"I went to college with the help of federal programs. Last year’s federal stimulus money went to our colleges and local schools supporting, and in some cases saving teaching positions, in this tough economy. Students don’t get a second chance; you can’t abandon them. If their basic educational needs are not met, they become economically disadvantaged, costing us all more in the end. Countries with higher literacy rates have more developed and thriving democracies. Investing in education is money well spent. We need an educated workforce to compete. We need good jobs. We need to be leading the world in new technologies, green technologies. We need to promote these new green technologies with tax credits at the state and federal levels. We need to renew our manufacturing base. Bring the work back home."

NC-5 in northwestern North Carolina isn't exactly prime territory for an outspoken Democrat running a grassroots campaign. Not only does the district have a horrifying PVI of R +15, the DCCC is ignoring the race entirely-- which explains why there isn't a Blue Dog running, and Billy's campaign is a 100% people-powered effort. Boone, Mount Airy (the model for Andy Griffith's Mayberry), and the Piedmont suburbs of Winston-Salem only gave Obama 38% of its vote in 2008, while re-electing Foxx with 58% of the vote. But between a Tea Party candidate campaigning against Foxx from the right and Billy's plain-spoken on the ground outreach, the anti-incumbent wave building nationwide this year could unseat an entrenched Republican in a red district, which is just what Alan Grayson and Eric Massa did with our help last year. Please consider contributing directly to Billy's campaign here at the Blue America page.




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