Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington

You may recall that there weren't many Democratic senators who voted against the invasion of Iraq in 2002 -- only 21, as a matter of fact. It was a tough call, especially with everyone declaring the dissenters the equivalent of Benedict Arnolds who hated America.

For Patty Murray, who was standing for re-election two years later in a state where the military vote is significant, it was especially tough. But she did the right thing: she voted against the resolution authorizing the invasion. She did it because it wasn't paid for. Here's what she said on the floor of the Senate:

Mr. President, if we do take action in Iraq, there is no doubt that our armed forces will prevail. We will win a war with Iraq decisively, and, God willing, we will win it quickly. But what happens after the war? That will have as big an impact on our future peace and security. Will we be obligated to rebuild Iraq? If so, how? Our economy is reeling, our budget is in deficit, and we have no estimate of the cost of rebuilding. And with whom?

Talk about prescient.

I've been an admirer of Patty Murray since well before she was a U.S. Senator -- back when she was a state senator, she made a bit of a name for herself as a grassroots Democrat who organized to save preschool programs. When she announced she was going to challenge the Democratic incumbent, Brock Adams, in 1992, I was delighted and signed up as a supporter; when Adams stepped down mid-campaign, amid a flurry of stories about the senator sexually harassing and assaulting his female aides, I became a believer.

Patty has been perpetually underestimated in every election since, and she has always beaten the odds. In '92, the Democratic Establishment quickly trotted out former Congressman Don Bonker to be the "serious" candidate in the wake of Adams' withdrawal; she knocked him off handily in the primary. In the general, she went up against a popular Eastside congressman, Rep. Rod Chandler, and beat him 53-47, despite being ridiculously outspent too.

In every election since, she's been the underdog. And she's won going away.

She's not exactly the most physically imposing presence, but what makes Patty special is that she's the Real Deal: genuinely One Of Us. Her early schtick was that she was "a mom in tennis shoes": 18 years later and now a player in the U.S. Senate, it is oddly enough a label that still fits.

Patty met with a group of poor schlub bloggers last month in Seattle, and as Goldie put it at the time: "I came away convinced that if every voter in Washington state could have the same opportunity to sit down with Sen. Murray for half an hour, she’d win reelection in a landslide."

It's not that she's smooth or ultra-persuasive: Patty is just an ordinary person with extraordinarily good common sense.

This, in stark contrast to her opponent, the ever-oily schmoozemeister, Dino Rossi, who was licking his chops along with Sean Hannity the other night over recent (Rasmussen, FWIW) poll numbers showing him with a slight advantage.

Well, there's no doubt it's a close race. And there's even less doubt that Patty's Senate seat is a vital one -- not just for Democrats, but for progressives as well, as we saw in the Iraq War vote, and in the fight over health care, where Patty was a progressive public-option stalwart.

That's why we're hosting Patty at C&L today for a live chat. We're also urging everyone to go donate what they can by going to Patty's website and to donating to her campaign.

Republicans see Murray's seat as their chance to take over the Senate. We can't afford that.

And we can't afford to lose a reliable, common-sense progressive voice in the Senate like Patty Murray. Come chat with her and see for yourselves.

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[More of the same-- Heck and Baird, Inc.]

Brian Baird was one of the 39 disgruntled rogue Democrats who voted against health-care reform last November, along with a gaggle of mostly reactionary Blue Dogs-- from John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA) and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (Blue Dog-SD) to Parker Griffith (Blue Dog, now R-AL) and Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC). Baird was the only Washington Democrat to cross the aisle and join John Boehner and Eric Cantor in trying to defeat healthcare reform.

State Senator Craig Pridemore, the Blue America-endorsed candidate for Baird's House seat isn't challenging Baird to a primary battle. Thankfully Baird is retiring from politics-- although not before endorsing a multimillionaire corporate lackey to take his place, Denny Heck. All the lobbyists, special interests and business-as-usual shills are backing Heck. Democratic grassroots and netroots activists in WA-03 are what's propelling Craig's campaign.

The video below explains Blue America's enthusiasm for Craig a lot better than I could in a few hyperbolic words. Please take a look at it as he explains why he supports a clearly flawed healthcare reform bill and how clearly he sees how corporate money is behind almost everything that's wrong Inisde-the-Beltway.

“As I’ve traveled around Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, one of the things that’s clear is that our citizens and our businesses are hurting. We need to step up and help our small businesses and workers succeed by implementing reforms to reduce their health care costs. The problem right now is that we have a health care system dominated by insurance and pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street.

“I believe we deserve a public option. It is essential that we encourage competition in the health care market place, and the only way to do that is to hold the special interests in Washington, D.C. accountable to the struggling families across our nation. I also know that the bill before us means progress. It will provide coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and end the inhumane practice of cutting off those with pre-existing conditions.

“What’s clear is that my opponent, Denny Heck, is standing on the sidelines when it comes to this issue. He wants to wait it out, see what happens, and then decide where he stands. Make no mistake, I support health care reform and I support a public option and when elected, will step up and do everything I can to lower costs and check the power of the special interests in Washington, D.C.”

What hacks like Baird and Heck don't want to understand is that less privileged, more exposed families than their own, right in southwest Washington very much need the reforms offered in the health-care bill neither of them is supporting. Yesterday the House Energy and Commerce Committee put out a report that shows how the bill would impact Baird's constituents:

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Blue America Welcomes Craig Pridemore (WA-03)

Please join us in the Comments Section for a chat with Blue America's newest endorsee, Washington state Senator Craig Pridemore, where he joins Alan Grayson and Marcy Winograd on a very short list of Better Democrats.

In 2006, Craig was named Legislator of the Year by Washington Conservation Voters. There were a number of reasons they chose the relatively new state legislator but it certainly had a lot to do with a bill he wrote and successfully passed, the nation's first electronic waste recycling bill which mandated the kind of product stewardship that makes a producer responsible for the full lifetime costs of whatever they make, including the eventual disposal or recycling. Although some electronic goods manufacturers-- some in other countries, where TVs are made-- fought passage, Craig managed to put together a strong bipartisan coalition to pass it. In fact, every Democrat in both houses of the state legislature voted for the bill with only two exceptions, conservatives Steve Kirby and Deb Wallace. Ironically, one of those conservatives, Deb Wallace, is one of Craig's opponents in the Democratic primary for the seat in southwest Washington that has been represented since 1998 by Brian Baird.

Washington's 3rd CD is a non-gerrymandered swing district. Obama beat McCain in 2008 52-46%, Obama's closest win in the state. Bush took the district, narrowly, in 2000 and 2004. Meanwhile, Baird won re-election with 64%, just around what he did in 2006, 2004 and 2002. It's one of Washington's fastest growing areas-- right across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, especially attractive for people eager to avoid Oregon's income tax and Washington's sales tax. With 15,575 homes estimated to be headed for foreclosure in the next 4 years, it has been harder hit by the housing crisis than most of the state. Very much an economic populist, Craig is a perfect fit for the district. A few days ago we had a long talk about how to put WA-3 back on the road to prosperity.

"I have a strong belief that the best thing government can do to stimulate job growth is to invest in public infrastructure and facilities. We can do some targeted tax incentives for new industries, like green energy, but tax incentives alone are not going to stimulate job growth. Businesses are not going to create jobs and start hiring again until demand for goods and services increases. That means putting money in the hands of working people, not Wall Street...

"We've spent thirty years trying to shift as much of the nation's wealth to the supply side as possible and we've succeeded. We need to get back in balance and fuel the demand side as well. We need to get money percolating through all levels of our economy, not just at the top. Republicans seem to have only one strategy for economic recovery and that's to replace good-paying jobs with bad-paying jobs."

Craig comes from a union family. His grandparents met in Hazard, Kentucky, a classic coal mining company town and his grandfather worked in the mine starting at age 15. He was the smallest kind so he had the job of placing the explosives. When he was 17 a blasting cap went off in his hands. His father had to amputate his fingers on the spot. He got docked a day's pay because he had to get his son to town and wasn't working. Craig's grandfather's lost job wasn't replaced by unemployment insurance or workers' comp; nor was there job retraining. Craig's always been very much in sympathy with working people. His dad is a pulp and paper worker and his mom is a school teacher. Everyone's a union member. It helped me understand why Craig is so adamant about fighting for ordinary families, which I heard in his voice when he talked about the battle over health care.

An overwhelming number of people in this country wanted legitimate health-care reform, including the choice of going to a public option. It wasn't just Republicans who thwarted that reform; it was Democrats too. We need strong, progressive Democrats who are going to fight for what the people want-- not just for insurance companies.

"It's clear to me that we will not get Financial Industry reform without election reform. It's clear to me we won't get progressive health-care reform without election reform. It's clear to me we won't end corporate control of Washington, DC without election reform. I'm looking forward to signing on as a co-sponsor of John Larson's Fair Elections Now Act."

Craig is a 49-year-old highly decorated former military intelligence officer who worked after college as a financial analyst the Clark County Public Works Department before being elected a County Commissioner (beating a Republican incumbent heavily financed by the developers' community. It's how he learned about grassroots campaigning, walking 117 miles eight days, meeting with hundreds of people from battleground and Yacolt to Richfield and Camas. He was re-elected and the challenged another Republican incumbent for a state Senate seat. He was re-elected to that job in 2008 with 62% of the vote.

As a state Senator he wrote and passed one of the first successful pieces of legislation for greenhouse gas caps in the U.S. Senate Bill 6001, in fact, directly prevented the construction of a dirty coal plant in Washington, saving untold numbers of people from asthma, heart disease, cancer and a whole battery of chronic lower respiratory diseases. His two main opponents, the aforementioned Rep. Deb Wallace and a millionaire investor, Denny Heck, are both what are euphemistically called "business-friendly" Democrats. That's what Blue Dogs are called before they grow up to be Republicans in Democratic clothing. Heck, particularly -- who has stated no policy positions on anything but who refers to himself as "the only working capitalist in this race"-- has started raking in a great deal of money from all the wrong sources.

Electing Craig Pridemore is an opportunity to make the House a more progressive place and to elect a leader who doesn't just go along with the flow. The first time I spoke with him he told me that "the conventional wisdom up here is that a Democrat can't win if he/she stands for Democratic values. I am absolutely committed to changing that perception and to make WA-03 a reliable, progressive seat in the future." I hope you'll join me in helping him to do just that-- at the Blue America ActBlue page, where Craig becomes the first candidate we're endorsing this who wasn't a previous endorsee.



C&L's Late Nite Music Club with the Dave Matthews Band

(guest blogged by Howie Klein) 

Jonathan Powers will be our special Blue America guest tomorrow afternoon (2pm, EST) at Firedoglake.

When I interviewed him, he was excited about a Roger Waters live concert he was going to. Turns out he goes to a lot of live shows. In fact, this former U.S. Army captain-- memorialized both in the movie Gunner Palace and the book What Was Asked Of Us-- An Oral History of the Iraq War by the Soldiers Who Fought It-- has just turned 29 this month and he's probably the most enthusiastic music fan I've talked to among anyone running for Congress... ever.

I asked him to suggest a song for the Late Night Music Club at Crooks & Liars. I saw it was hard for him to narrow it down, but he chose a great one. "Whether it's sung by Dylan or Hendrix or the Dave Matthews Band or anyone else," he told me, "All Along the Watchower is a song that can carry you away. I was at the Gorge in Washington State about a month after coming home from Iraq and DMB played one of the most wonderful versions of this. Stefan, the bassist, led in with a bass line that just rocked your soul... and to be honest, I did not even know what was coming. Once they broke into Watchtower I was just blown away. Anytime Dave and Trey are on stage together... I feel that those two are musical geniuses of our generation. Throw in Tim Reynolds and it can just get scary. Whether they are covering tunes, or mixing Everyday and Bathtub Gin... a great blend... they are magical." Here's a video of the actual show Jon was at:




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