SHAREHOLDERS REPORT– HOW'D WE DO?
From: John Amato, Jane Hamsher, Howie Klein
To: The Blue America Contributors
In this election cycle that ended Tuesday, 6,134 people contributed to 42 progressive Democratic candidates (and to Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund and to our own Blue America PAC) through the Act Blue page on this site. Click on the link and look at what was raised and at which candidates got what. The total we took in was $544,454.57.
We were never in competition with the DCCC, which spends more money on a couple of TV ads than we collected in the whole cycle. And for us, it was never really about electing anyone to any office. As a community we have been here to encourage men and women who were willing to stand up and fight for the progressive values and principles we cherish. We were here to make these men and women, these grassroots challengers and their small volunteer staffs, feel that they weren't alone in their sometimes lonely and disconnected quests.
Let me point to Robert Rodriguez as an example. A couple of us took him and some of his volunteers to dinner at the beginning of the cycle. They were passionate, smart, energetic, filled with ideas and enthusiasm. I remember thinking, "Robert is the future of the Democratic Party but he's got no chance to win against an entrenched totally wired 6-term incumbent like Bush McKeon. But… well, the district's demographics are moving our way– 65% in 2002, 64% in 2004, 60% Tuesday– and the district's population is getting younger and more diversified. CA-25 will be blue someday, probably sooner than anyone imagined. Except Robert. We had him over for a live blog session at Firedoglake on September 16 and then we had Robert and his volunteers for a riotous Late Nite FDL party with TRex on October 16. The community love him and loved his campaign and donated over $10,000 directly to his campaign and another $5,000 for radio spots with our "Time to Throw Buck McKeon Out" song.
Not one poll was ever taken in the district but that never dampened anyone's enthusiasm. We all knew that win or lose Robert was revitalizing a moribund Democratic Party in CA-25. He and his band of fun, idealistic young volunteers were doing all the heavy lifting. I sure know I was happy to invest for the future. And by the time he has to start campaigning again, he'll actually have passed his 30th birthday!
There are quite a few Blue America candidates who were elected Tuesday. One of our first endorsed candidates was Jerry McNerney, whose grassroots, anti-war, progressive campaign was fought by Rahm Emanuel, Ellen Tauscher and the Blue Dogs every step of the way– even after he had won the primary against their shill and even after Jerry was beating Dirty Dick Pombo, one of the most seriously dangerous Republicans in the whole House, in advance polling. Along with our CA-11 allies at SayNoToPombo, we helped raise awareness and seed money for Jerry ($25,000 of it) and rejoiced with the whole nation when he decisively beat the sleazy, corrupt Pombo. Jerry's an independent-minded fighter– and he owes the insidious Emanuel machine exactly nothing.
Another candidate we endorsed early who went on to make us proud is Montana's new Senator-elect, Jon Tester, for whom we raised almost $17,000. We raised money for Maryland Senator-elect Ben Cardin and gave him a bit of a netroots presence for a surprisingly tough battle against a dishonest right wing extremist who he wound up beating decisively. And we did the same for Minnesota Senator-elect Amy Klobuchar, who absolutely slaughtered the right-wing nutcase the Republicans put up against her. We were also cheered by the powerful victory Ohio Congressman Sherrod Brown had over incumbent rubber stamp Mike DeWine. We raised some money for Sherrod and developed a great deal of enthusiasm for him and his almost impeccable progressive record in the House. We didn't withdraw our endorsement but we decided to stop asking our communities to donate money to him after he voted with the Republicans for Bush's torture bill. Now that he's going to the Senate we'll be watching for Sherrod to help make up for that severe, and out of character, misstep.
Of our Pennsylvania contingent, 3 of Pennsylvania's 4 new congressmen were Blue America endorsed candidates: Joe Sestak, Chris Carney and Patrick Murphy. Similarly all the House winners in New York State were Blue America candidates: John Hall, Kirsten Gillibrand and Mike Arcuri. Another one of our candidates, Eric Massa, is locked in a tight recount battle with the odious Randy Kuhl. And speaking of recounts, Larry Kissell, is another Blue America candidate who was on no one's list of possibilities until we gave him some national ink and some seed money (almost $11,000). Today he and Republican incumbent Robin Hayes are about 400 votes apart for the North Carolina House seat. Victoria Wulsin hasn't conceded yet either and is demanding that every vote be counted since she and Mean Jean Schmidt are still neck and neck for the OH-02 seat. We were rooting for both the grassroots progressives in New Hampshire, Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter. We raised nearly $6,000 for Paul and never quite hooked up with the awesome Ms, Shea-Porter. Same in Iowa– we endorsed Bruce Braley and helped raise him $5,500 and we were rooting for the other grassroots Democrat congressman-elect, Dave Loebsack. We customized our campaign jingle for over two dozen candidates and made videos for lots of others, including the victorious Chris Murphy in Connecticut where voters agreed with us that it was indeed time to throw Nancy Johnson out
And then there are a few other victories that are somewhat less tangible. Firedoglake, Crooks and Liars and Down With Tyranny gave Ned Lamont and his powerful anti-war message an early national platform– as well as $77,000. Ned beat Lieberman in the primary but Lieberman and his Republican allies beat back his challenge on Tuesday night– although not before Ned made opposition to the war so prevalent that it became the #1 issue and ultimately led to a Democratic House and Senate and even forced the duplicitous Lieberman to swear to voters that he was against the war he helped Bush start. We would have loved to have seen Ned in the U.S, Senate but we got our money's worth in other ways of just as much value.
We know Angie Paccione, Marcy Winograd, Tony Trupiano, John Laesch, Coleen Rowley, Charlie Brown, Dave Roth, Jay Fawcett, Dave Mejias, and several of out other candidates will continue actively fighting against reactionary policies and may well run for office again. We plan on being there for them. Howard Dean's vision for a grassroots Democratic Party was vindicated on Tuesday. He was the mastermind behind a Democratic sweep of Senate seats, House seats, state legislative seats, governors' chairs, and in crucial races for secretaries of state and attorney generals. Joe Conason is right on the mark in his brilliant Salon piece today.