Live Chat: Georgia Democrat Russell Edwards Talks About Taking On Lunatic Fringe Rep. Paul Broun — As a Proud Progressive

Let me interject a few words before we let Russell speak for himself and run away with the show. In 1821, extolling the virtues of the still young Republic, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, noted that we do not go “abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” That was then. And, besides, he never said we don’t search them out domestically. Not that we have to search very far. Yesterday Rep. Joe Sestak pointed out Pat Toomey’s motley monster picks. Our own Blue America contest, There’s A Republican For That, is turning up some real doozies too. In fact, we got a lot of incredible recommendations even over and above the obvious monsters like Michele Bachmann, Sharron Angle, David Rivera and, obviously, Pat Toomey. One name that came up over and over again was Georgia firebrand Paul Broun. My friend Bertis, who lives in Athens, Georgia, in the heart of Broun’s district, suggested I look into the gung-ho progressive Democrat running against him, Russell Edwards. So I did.

I called Edwards and asked him if, like so many white Southern Democrats, he would metastasize into some kind of a reactionary Blue Dog voting with the Republicans against the interests of ordinary working families if he wound up getting elected to Congress. I was more than happy with his answer and asked him to write a guest post for us, introducing himself. If you like what you see below, please consider donating to his campaign through ActBlue.

My name is Russell Edwards, and I’m the Democratic Nominee for U.S. Congress from GA’s 10th District. I’m facing off against incumbent PaulBroun, Jr., one of the most dangerous politicians in the nation according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Luckily, Broun, Jr. is also a pitiful fundraiser and only has a little over 130k cash on hand. In our first quarter, we raised over 100k and are closing on him fast.

GA’s Tenth includes Athens and Augusta– two Democratic strongholds– along with a smattering of rural NE GA. There are strong pockets of African-American communities, helping to explain the fact that Democrats Michael Thurmond and Thurbert Baker have carried the 10th every time they have run for statewide office. Broun, Jr. won in a special election in 2007 in what the Athens newspaper called “the greatest political upset in GA history.”

Since Broun’s victory, he has fought hard to be the most embarrassing politician in America. Here’s a short vid of his greatest hits. [The video is up on top of the page.]

I am a progressive Democrat and have no plans to join the Blue Dog Caucus should I be elected. They have done absolutely nothing to help me, and I’m not courting them with talk about more tax cuts for the wealthy. I’m speaking candidly about how my District should fight to create jobs and support our schools. Issues that are important to build a strong middle class and ensure every one has a chance to live a life of dignity and respect.

The Blue Dogs perhaps lost me forever during the health care reform debate. During that time, Broun Jr. was a key apparatchik in the Republican fear-mongering machine. He told full rooms of senior citizens that “if they pass this bill, they’re going to give your grandmother narcotics until she catches pneumonia and dies.” At the same time, I launched my own forum series that focused on the need for reform and how best to achieve it. How could I possibly have sided with Broun Jr. and so many Blue Dogs who voted against the final health care reform bill? To me, it was clear the abuses of the private health insurance industry had to be reigned in. These companies were denying insurance to battered women, claiming the abuse they received was a pre-existing condition for Christ’s sake!

Growing up, I came to realize the importance of helping those in my community who were unable to help themselves. I saw the truth that people suffer everyday in our country often for reasons outside their control. Today, it seems the Blue Dogs have strayed too far from empathy– comfortable to gain as much power as possible through corporate fundraising dollars. Why else would one vote against a bill banning pre- existing conditions? And don’t even give me that weak tea that you voted against it because it didn’t do enough– your campaign contributions deceive you.

As I mentioned Thursday night, it looks like Henry Waxman has come to much the same conclusion. And by the way, that report Russell referred to above from the Southern Poverty Law Center… it’s worth reading their whole statement on why they see Paul Broun as “an enabler” of violence and terrorism:

A medical doctor who makes house calls only to avoid “bureaucratic encumbrances,” far-right U.S. Rep. Paul Broun took over Georgia’s 10th Congressional District after the death of Charlie Norwood in 2007. Since then, Broun has become a pal of the antigovernment Patriot movement, warning in apocalyptic terms of a coming socialist takeover by Barack Obama and his allies.

This April 19, 15 years to the day after the Oklahoma City bombing, Broun is scheduled to join several Patriot leaders at the Second Amendment March in Washington, D.C. On the agenda that day with Broun are Stewart Rhodes of the Oath Keepers, a group that suspects the government has plans to round up Americans and put them in concentration camps, and Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt, a fan of militias who has been criticized for ties to white supremacists.

Broun says gun rights are necessary to “prevent treason in America.”

Fearmongering and fundraising with Paul Broun

Saying Broun is a fierce critic of the president would be an understatement. Broun has alleged that a civilian reserve corps that Obama proposed, and the Bush administration endorsed, might be used to establish a dictatorship. “We can’t be lulled into complacency. You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany,” Broun said in 2008.

A “birther,” Broun has openly questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship. When asked by a radio host whether Barack Obama was a U.S. citizen or a Christian, both established facts, Broun responded, “I don’t know.” Broun also calls Cuba’s former dictator Fidel Castro Obama’s “good buddy.”

Last year, Broun told his constituents that the health care bill was the work of a “socialistic elite”– referring to Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid– who might use a pandemic disease or natural disaster as an excuse to declare martial law. “They’re trying to develop an environment where they can take over,” he said. “We’ve seen that historically.” At a 2009 town hall, he called Pelosi “a domestic enemy of the Constitution.”

So far, Broun’s legislative work has been scant. In 2009, Broun voted against a climate-change bill, calling the concept of manmade global warming a “hoax” perpetrated by the scientific community. In 2009, he proposed legislation proclaiming 2010 “The Year of the Bible.” Earlier, he introduced the “Military Honor and Decency Act” that would ban sales of pornography on military installations. The bill has gone nowhere.

Athens has a proud musical tradition and the most famous musicians from their are undoubtably REM. The band members have not just contributed to Russell’s campaign, they’re co-hosting a fundraising event for him as well. It’s like Hollywood! Maybe Broun can counter with Ted Nugent or get Bound For Glory to come down from Minnesota– unless they’re too busy working to reelect Michele Bachmann.


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