Blue America Welcomes Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH)

Blue America prefers not to endorse in primaries unless there is a clear case of one excellent progressive Democrat running against a conservative corporate shill. That's how we came to endorse Marcy Winograd against Jane Harman, Doug Tudor over Lori Edwards and Regina Thomas over John Barrow. But in the New Hampshire House race to replace Paul Hodes, who's running for the Senate, had a wrinkle. There was definitely an excellent progressive-- Ann McLane Kuster-- and there was certainly a conservative corporate shill-- Katrina Swett-- but there was another grassroots-type candidate running as well. He's now dropped out and we couldn't wait to invite Ann to come over to Blue America for a live chat. She'll be joining us today in the comments section below.

Annie is an example of a grassroots activist working with her neighbors on real world problems and then taking it up a notch by running for Congress. She's the polar opposite of the spoiled and entitled insider who's running against her, the daughter of one congressman, wife of another and, to top it off, the former campaign chair of the Joe Lieberman For President campaign. As the Concord Monitor pointed out, Annie's money is all coming in small donations from New Hampshire; Swett's comes in big chunks from the corporate interests salivating to get another corrupt special interests shill into the House Democratic caucus who will do their bidding for nickels on the dollar.

Ann McLane Kuster and Katrina Swett, the Democratic candidates for the 2nd District seat in Congress, have far fuller campaign accounts than their Republican counterparts. Their accounts have been filled from near and far. Respectively.

Sixty-one percent of Kuster's reported fundraising through March came from donors in New Hampshire, with her highest-netting ZIP codes including Concord, Contoocook, Portsmouth and Hanover, according to an analysis of federal campaign filings by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics. Swett, by contrast, had raised 11 percent of her money this election from in-state donors. The ZIP codes giving her the most money included Greenwich, Conn.; New York City; and the suburbs of northern New Jersey.

New Hampshire's most respected blog, Blue Hampshire, was in the same predicament we were in-- one candidate too many for an endorsement. That ended last week when they got behind Annie in no uncertain terms (and unanimously):

Nearly four years ago Blue Hampshire was born following a groundswell of political blogging that had sprung up in a successful effort to support Paul Hodes' election to New Hampshire's second congressional district.

Today, we believe the best person to continue the work in Congress begun by Representative Hodes is attorney and advocate Ann McLane Kuster.

As Laura Clawson pointed out on Daily Kos, Ann McLane Kuster "supports the public option, the Employee Free Choice Act, non-punitive immigration reform, and environmental regulation. Not only does she want to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, she wants to repeal DOMA, and she worked to help bring marriage equality to New Hampshire."

In addition, Kuster has been a vigorous advocate for health care access and affordability, especially and unwaveringly so for women's reproductive health. From Ann's website: "Ann believes a woman and her medical care provider should be making decisions about her health care, not the politicians in Washington. She is committed to ensuring that the anti-choice movement doesn't use abortion to derail health care reform, and also that they don't use health care reform to restrict a woman's right to choose."

When I spoke with Annie I asked her if she was satisfied with the way the healthcare reform bill had turned out. She's was clear that she views it as a work in progress and that that's something she would like to get busy on in Washington. "We should be proud that the health care reform we passed will extend coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans," she began, "and that it will stop insurance companies from ending your coverage if you get sick or have a pre-existing condition. Those are major achievements and they wouldn’t have happened without pressure from the grassroots. But our job isn’t done-- now we have to tackle the other (still broken) side of health care, which is the outrageous cost of care. Along with job creation, this is going to be priority #1 for the next Congress that is sworn-in next January and I believe the best way to tackle the cost issue is by using the public insurance option to increase competition."

And she doesn't seem overly thrilled by the way Congress is approaching the occupation of Afghanistan. It was relatively easy for Democrats to oppose Bush's wars. But now that they're Obama's wars, relatively few Democrats are willing to pressure him to end them-- in the Senate Thursday only 18 Democrats voted for Russ Feingold's proposal requiring "a plan for the safe, orderly, and expeditious redeployment" of our troops. There's no doubt where the ex-Chair of Lieberman For President stands on the war. Annie has a very different approach:

I will not let the same broken mindset that got us into Iraq get us bogged down in Afghanistan too. The real threat-- Al Qaeda-- is completely ignoring the borders that our military observes, and it has spread from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Meanwhile, seven years in Iraq and close to nine in Afghanistan have severely stretched our forces, and I am worried that further entanglements will prevent us from having the flexible force structure needed to meet this threat. Finally, this is about our economic security too-- we’ve spent over $1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we’ve done it by borrowing that money from lenders like China and Saudi Arabia, which poses a potential security threat in itself.

Today's first question to Annie will be how she would be voting on legislation like Barbara Lee's that would prevent funding any more escalations in Afghanistan and seeks only to provide for the safety of American troops as they redeploy out of the country.

Please consider joining the netroots supporters who have rallied to Annie's campaign. She's our newest endorsee on the Blue America ActBlue page.



Blue America Welcomes Our Old Friend Regina Thomas (GA-12)

History will remember this week as the one in which a tremendous stride was made down the road towards universal healthcare. But reactionary Georgia Blue Dog, John Barrow, was on the wrong side of history. A stranger to his own district and out of touch with its people, he voted twice in committee and 4 times on the floor of the House against healthcare reform. He voted against the bill last Sunday, causing an explosion of anger among Democrats back home. And then he arrogantly voted against the Senate reconciliation on Thursday evening, one of only 32 conservative Democrats to cross the aisle and voted with the GOP. But voting with the GOP is his default position on most everything. Does that make sense?

Barrow was driven out of his own Athens-based district when it was gerrymandered to make a home for another Republican. He fled to Savannah, which has a strong Democratic base-- a base he has studiously ignored while courting the wealthy (Republican) power structure. Although GA-12 leans Democratic-- Gore won there with 52%, Bush and Kerry were in a virtual dead heat and Obama won with 54%-- Barrow consistently votes as though it were a deep red district and he's been one of the worst-voting Blue Dogs-- but, only when it matters; he supports Democrats when it comes to naming post offices or honoring sports teams.

Today Blue America is honored to formally endorse former state Senator Regina Thomas, a strong advocate for working families with a long record in her district and in the state capitol. Regina will join us in the comments section (below) at 2pm (EST/11am on the West Coast). She offers her neighbors in eastern Georgia a far different outlook than John Barrow. Regina's perspective on governance is pure FDR-- the government is there to protect us from forces outside of our own control, whether that be foreign enemies or domestic predators. If Barrow's #1 concern is holding down taxes for the powerful and immensely rich transnational corporations that have financed his political career, Regina's concern is that the rich and powerful pay their fair share so that the society that has enriched them continues to prosper and thrive for everyone.

Although Barrow often votes against Democratic initiatives-- and has done so with far more frequency since Obama was inaugurated-- Regina was still surprised he so blatantly voted against the interests of his own constituents this week when he, once again, joined the GOP in opposing healthcare reform. She told me she couldn't believe he "had the nerve" to do it. She drew an interesting parallel to the one place where Barrow does support Obama: war spending.

"The cost of the Afghanistan occupation and war is astounding-- and very harmful to our country. The Congressman from GA-12 did not hesitate to vote yes-- to send more troops to Afghanistan which equates to billions of dollars. And those dollars can be more usefully spent on providing health care for 119,542 in this district; or the money could be used to hire 11,946 public safety officers; or we could keep Music, Art and PE in our schools by hiring 7,727 teachers; or we can provide 94,664 scholarships for our college students, or 87,834 Pell Grants, Or how about if we provide 3,888 affordable housing units in the 12th district, or give 265,922 children health care? Another way to look at that cost is to think about how we would benefit as a society if 66,278 children were to attend Head Start... we need more teachers; we can in one year hire 8,040 Elementary School Teachers in the 12th CD. This district needs a Representative who is committed to standing up for democratic principles. Part of "Yes, We Can," means we can provide 366,568 homes with renewable Electricity for one year. There are many, many things that should be done for this area. But we have a congressman who caters to big Corporations, the Insurance Industry and K Street lobbyists. He votes for them, not for the families in the 12th District.

See that video up top? This is the first in a series Blue America is rolling out. Regina hasn't seen it yet and is seeing it for the first time today, just as everyone else is. Turning it into a TV spot will be our PAC's first political independent expenditure of 2010. When you contribute to Regina on our ActBlue page, please also consider making an extra donation to the PAC so we can get the spot all over TV in Savannah, Augusta and all points in between.



Blue America Welcomes North Carolina Secretary Of State Elaine Marshall

Blue America tends not to endorse in primary races between Democrats unless one is really excellent and one is clearly abysmal. This year we've taken stands against Blue Dogs Jane Harman, John Barrow and Lori Edwards and against anti-Choice fanatic Bart Stupak by endorsing, respectively, Marcy Winograd, Regina Thomas, Doug Tudor and Connie Saltonstall. But when it came to the North Carolina Senate race we were in a quandary. We really like the current Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall, but one of her primary opponents, Kenneth Lewis, is also an excellent choice. The conservative in the race, Cal Cunningham, currently trying to appeal to Democrats with a laughable and inauthentic feint to the left, is being pushed by Inside-the-Beltway powerbrokers, particularly Robert Menendez and the DSCC. We'd rather not interfere and just leave it up to North Carolina voters. But because of unfair DSCC campaign practices against Elaine we invited her over for a Blue America blogging session today at 6:30pm, EST/3:30, PT.

It's important to keep in mind that there's no incumbent in the country more in peril than Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina. Burr prides himself on being part of the lunatic right fringe-promising voters earlier this year:

“…it is impossible for any candidate to get to the right of me.”

Yesterday, with Burr pouting and playing games that jeopardize the well being-- and the security-- of every American, including conservative ones, Elaine Marshall suggested he grow up and do his job, when he walked out on an Armed Services Committee meeting just out of spite, using a foolish procedural measure to delay testimony from Adm. Robert Willard, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command; Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command; and Gen. Walter Sharpe, Army Commander of U.S. forces in Korea. These men have more on their minds than partisan petulance from half-wits like Richard Burr.

“Senator Burr and his Republican colleagues need to grow up,” said Marshall. “The health care vote is over, they lost and it’s time to move on to other business. This is one more example of how Washington needs people who will get things done, not people who will stand in the way.”

Burr is the alarmist idiot Senator who has taken millions from Wall Street banks only to proudly tell his wife to take all their money out when the stock market plummeted last year. Hence the nickname, “Bank Run” Burr. He’s up for re-election in November and finds himself with an approval rating of 35% in an anti-incumbent year and leading Elaine by a mere 41-36%, a number that can easily be evened out once the May 4th primary is settled.

I've spent some time following the race and talking with Elaine on the phone. She's feisty, progressive, and refreshing rather like the standard boxed Southern Conservadems we’re used too. Elaine is a populist and not only does she talk a good game, she’s spent a career taking on Wall Street fraud and risky business in the state legislature and as Secretary of State. In fact, her office released figures that she helped return over $130 million from Wall Street scams to the people of North Carolina just last year. "I don't have to promise you what I think can do. I can show you black and white, book and page, my accomplishments. I think that is going to be crucial in this election…”

America voted for change in 2008, and… a lot of people are unhappy because they aren’t seeing it. They look at Washington and they see a lot of politicians and business interests standing in the way of the change they voted for." Richard Burr is clearly one of those politicians.

North Carolina is a prime pick-up for both Democrats and progressives in 2010 and an opportunity we cannot pass up. The state has been trending blue, going for Obama and ousting their Republican Senator Liddy Dole last year; this is a winnable race. The Senate has been where good legislation goes to die this session and we need to elect more bold progressives to the chamber. Elaine is the candidate and she’ll be taking your questions in the comments section below.

Please consider contributing directly to her campaign here.



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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 says Thanks to Dems that stood up for the Constitution: New Barrow ads

The Blue America PAC has been striking hard against Blue Dogs, Hoyer and Congress in general for abandoning the rule of law and allowing retroactive immunity for the Telecoms. You've donated and we have responded. As part of our efforts we've also decided to donate money to twelve different Democratic leaders, a thousand dollars each to show that good behavior also is worthy of support too. Here's the list:

Chris Dodd (CT)

Russ Feingold (WI)

Tom Allen (ME)

Tom Udall (NM)

Carol Shea-Porter (NH)

Doug Tudor (FL)

Dennis Shulman (NJ)

Andrew Rice (OK)

Rick Noriega (TX)

Darcy Burner (WA)

Jim Himes (CT)

Jon Tester (MT)

You can read a list of all their very good quotes here. Thank you all!

We've also started running ads against Georgia's John Barrow.

Today the first of Blue America's ads rolls out in Georgia's 12th congressional district where the Democrat who votes most frequently with George Bush on substantive matters, slippery Athens Blue Dog John Barrow, faces state Senator Regina Thomas. The two couldn't be more different. Barrow gobbles up special interests money and votes for... special interests...

And here's more from SavannhaNow: Barrow's re-election no shoo-in...

She has a tough fight ahead of her, but Go Regina...(see ad below the fold)

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Blue America Welcomes Sen. Regina Thomas

Today's Blue America candidate is Georgia state Senator Regina Thomas. She's taking on one of the very worst and most reactionary of all the congressional Blue Dogs, John Barrow, in a district that encompasses much of Savannah and Augusta. Barrow votes more frequently for the Bush agenda and with the GOP than any other Democrats, although he's sometimes tied with Nick Lampson and Jim Marshall. Regina will be blogging live at Firedoglake today at 2pm (Georgia Peach Time). Blue America worked with singer-songwriter Jason Joseph to put together a little music clip for Regina. If you'd like to help us get this spread around, please consider donating to Regina's campaign at our Blue America ActBlue page today.




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