Primaries Can Make Miracles. Meet Dave McTeague In Oregon's 5th

Tim Canova, the intrepid Democrat challenging entrenched incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a deep blue district in South Florida, wrote:

"primary challenges like mine are often the only effective way to force accountability on entrenched incumbents. Here at home, for instance, Florida’s 23rd Congressional District is seen as a safe Democratic seat. My opponent has been reelected over and over, and has never faced a primary challenger, ever! And with no primary challenger in a safely Democratic seat, there is no genuine discussion, much less debate, within our district as to the serious issues facing all of us, and the overall direction of our country."

Progressive activist and labor scholar Amy Dean sees Tim's campaign as a potential game changer: “If his insurgent campaign catches on, it could represent a serious problem for the Democratic Party establishment. It could signal an increasing willingness by grass-roots activists to use primary challenges to place champions for working people in office rather than accept lesser-evil candidates simply because they are incumbents.”

And Tim's campaign isn't the only race where Blue America is backing a proven progressive against an arrogant and out-of-touch incumbent. Alex Law is challenging the entire corrupt South Jersey political machine that has bolstered Chris Christie's administration by taking on boss George Norcross' conservative little brother Donald Norcross, whose first vote in Congress was to back the Keystone XL Pipeline. Missouri state Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, one of the heroes of Ferguson, is taking on William Lacy Clay, the kind of typical old school Democrat who has lost touch with his constituents while living the high life with his lobbyist buddies in DC. 

And this week, we welcomed a new challenger on board, Oregon former state legislator Dave McTeague, who is going after a character every bit as destructive and reactionary as Debbie Wasserman Schultz or Lacy Clay-- head Blue Dog, Kurt Schrader, a Republican in every way but the "D" next to his name

Inspired by Bernie Sander's principled campaign and his issues and incensed by Schrader's anti-environmental votes and his backing for the TPP and other job-killing corporate trade policies, McTeague decided it jump back into electoral politics, fully aware of the onerousness of the task of taking on an entrenched incumbent in a primary. But Oregon is one of the highest turn-out states in America-- 63% compared to 52.8% in New York, 51.7% in Arizona, 54.8% in California, 48.45 in Texas and 49.5% in Arkansas-- and the 5th district's voters are well-educated, environmentally-conscious and generally much more progressive than their Blue Dog congressman, who has an "F" rating from ProgressivePunch and a tense relationship with organized labor and with the environmental community. The League of Conservative Voters rates him as the most environmentally-unfriendly Democrat in Oregon's congressional delegation and he has been a big backer of clear-cut logging. The NRA, on the other hand, loves him and supports him-- because Schrader loves them and supports them.

When McTeague jumped into the race at the end of last month-- after attending a Schrader town hall where concerns about the TPP were cavalierly dismissed-- he told residents of the northern Willamette Valley, Salem, and coastal counties from Tillamook to Lincoln that he had joined Bernie's "political revolution to address growing income inequality and the decline of the middle class." He explained his reasons for running in a guest post at DownWithTyranny a few days ago:

These days a lot of voters, Democratic voters too, don’t feel represented by the Washington Establishment and want real change. This is evident in the success of Sen. Sanders’s insurgent presidential campaign, which I strongly support. The incumbent is the Co-Chair of the conservative Blue Dog Caucus. I would be a member of the Progressive Caucus.

I don’t have any illusions about this effort. Running against an entrenched incumbent is like taking on the Death Star in Star Wars especially one with access to a million or more dollars of PAC money.

So why would I do this? Because a lot of Democratic and independent voters want real fundamental change, a political revolution, and they’re not willing to settle for politics as usual. Those Democrats and independents deserve to have a choice just as they have a choice for real change in the Presidential Primary.

My candidacy’s purpose is to provide Democratic primary voters a progressive alternative to the establishment incumbent. I will not accept any funding from any corporate Political Action Committees. I agree with Senator Bernie Sanders we have to overturn our current corrupt campaign finance system to make real fundamental changes.

This community has been fundamental in helping Tim Canova get his campaign off the ground. Let's do the same for Dave McTeague by contributing here at the Blue America Progressive Congress page.



We Cannot Afford to Lose Jeff Merkley

There are a lot of Democratic politicians asking for money these days, some of them worthy and many of them not so much.  We appreciate all the support you've already shown this cycle for our Blue America slate and we hope you'll continue to do so. But we wanted to give a special shout-out to one of the nation's most exceptional Senators: Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. We knew he was a great candidate back in 2008 and we went all out for him. And he has more than lived up to the commitment and passion he showed in that campaign. He has become one of the Democratic Party's most stalwart progressive leaders. 

Not only has he stood tall on all the important social issues, from health care to LGBT rights to the war on women, he's taken strong stands against Wall Street and the Big Banks and fought hard to preserve the signature Democratic achievements of Social Security and Medicare. You can't say that about all of our Democratic Senators unfortunately. He's been a leader on the environment and worked hard for legislation to fight climate change. And Senator Merkley is one of a very few independent-minded progressives who have taken the gutsy position of publicly siding with civil liberties advocates Mark Udall and fellow Oregonian Ron Wyden in their criticism of the Obama administration's surveillance policies. Down the line he has delivered on the progressive agenda. 

Needless to say, a record like that has caught the attention of the plutocrat wrecking crew known as the Koch brothers and they are going after him hard.

They are backing an odd duck named Monica Wehby a fairly typical tool of the GOP money machine. (She even made the fatuous claim that she wouldn't have voted for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms --- because they would have lulled the nation into a false sense of security!) Oregon may be blue but it's got plenty of red and pretty soon it's going to be flooded with green. Suffice to say that Merkley needs all the progressive support we can muster. He only won by 6,000 votes the last time and this is a mid-term where turn out is going to be key.

His campaign is running a money bomb today and Blue America has promised to help out.  If you can give something to support a real progressive who thinks independently and stands up for our principles even when it's hard, today is the day to do it. 

The bottom line is this: we cannot afford to lose Jeff Merkley. He stands at the center of the progressive Senate coalition we've been trying to build for the last decade --- with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin.

It's one thing for the Koch Brothers to take out moderate Republicans and replace them with Tea Partiers. We cannot let them defeat progressive icons like Senator Merkley.

Unlike so many others, Jeff Merkley has had our back for the past six years. Now we need to have his

Thank you for all you do to make this world a better place.

--Digby, for the whole Blue America Crew




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