The most appealing things about the Dean tenure’s 50 state strategy was the idea that you never know what might happen in any campaign so it was best to be prepared and at least nominally support candidates everywhere just in case the brilliant electoral prognosticators in DC might not always know ahead of time who is and isn’t “unelectable.” (I can’t help but think that if these people were so damned good at picking winners, we wouldn’t find ourselves on the brink of electoral disaster quite as often as we do.) So, it’s been left to the progressive netroots and grassroots to try to give some of these candidates a little support to make up for the fact that the party refuses to even spend a penny to help them out. (In fact, they pretend they’ve never heard of them when publicly asked about it.)
Aside from the important work of spreading the good word and building movement politics for the long term, sometimes, unexpected things happen. For instance, Blue America candidate Billy Kennedy, who is challenging the intellectually challenged Virginia Foxx in NC-05, may just pull this thing out, despite the fact that the DCCC has behaved as if the loony Republican is impossible to beat. In fact, the major newspaper of the district, the Winston-Salem Journal, which normally endorses Republicans, came out for Kennedy this past week-end and made a very good case for his election:
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from Watauga County, has not achieved any great accomplishments for the residents of the 5th Congressional District, and has angered and embarrassed many with her sometimes wild statements that seem designed to provoke. It’s time for a fresh, progressive voice in the 5th District. We believe that Democrat Billy Kennedy, a Watauga farmer and carpenter who says he’ll work to reverse the high rate of unemployment in the district, is that voice. He’s the best candidate in the Nov. 2 election for the 5th District.
“I’d like to make Congress work,” Kennedy, 52, recently told the Journal. “I believe with the bickering going on, they’re not solving problems.”
We endorsed Foxx, 67, in the Republican primary as she ran against an opponent less qualified than Kennedy. Her constituent service is strong, we noted, and we’ve occasionally praised her on this page, as when she sponsored a bill that tweaked the federal tax code so that troops stationed overseas can invest their income in individual retirement accounts.
While fiscal conservatism is good, Foxx, who is finishing her third term, has been too tight with the federal purse strings. For example, she does not support the Blue Ridge Parkway Protection Act, which would allocate $75 million over the next five years to preserve land along the parkway. Foxx has said she’d normally support such a measure, but not in the current economic times. But the parkway, a major cash cow of the state’s tourism industry, brings in more money in a single year– $2.1 billion dollars, through 17 million visitors– than the cost of the entire act. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican who also touts fiscal conservatism, realized that when he crossed the aisle to sponsor the protection act with Sen. Kay Hagan.
Then there are Foxx’ statements, which reflect a viewpoint far to the right of many of her constituents. Foxx, a former college educator and graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Greensboro, said on the House floor in January that the federal government “should not be funding education.”
Last November, she said on the floor that “I believe that the greatest fear that we all should have … to our freedom comes from this room, this very room, and what may happen later this week in terms of a tax-increase bill masquerading as a health-care bill. I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.” (In July of 2009, she had said the Republican version of the health-care plan is “pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.”)
In April 2009, she suggested to students at North Surry High School that tobacco was no worse than Mountain Dew. That same month, she said on the House floor that it was a “hoax” that Matthew Shepard’s 1998 killing in Wyoming had anything to do with him being gay.
She issued a quasi-apology for the Shepard statement, and she and her spokesman have sought to explain the other statements by contextualizing them. But the fact remains that she has continued to make such statements, the worst of which was comparing the potential danger of the health-care bill to terrorism. She’s positioned herself so far to the right that, even if her party regains a majority in the House with this election, it’s doubtful that she’d gain any power.
That said, Foxx will be hard to beat. Her district, which stretches from the mountains to Winston-Salem, is heavily Republican. She has more than $1 million in campaign money. Kennedy, making his first run for office, has raised about $240,000
But Kennedy, a graduate of what’s now Rhodes College in Memphis, says he has a good chance of beating Foxx. He’s getting his message out through canvassing and calling, supported by a small but dedicated core of volunteers working Facebook and Twitter. The 5th District has one of the highest rates of job losses of any district in the country, he said, and people want a candidate who will work hard to create jobs.
“I worry about the middle class getting squeezed. People are suffering,” he recently told the Journal. “They’re worried about losing their homes. People are hurting and they want solutions.”
Kennedy says he’s a good listener, a man who can work with Republicans to solve problems. He’s more even-tempered than Foxx. He says he wants to concentrate on creating jobs and improving education, rather than wedge issues such as gay rights. He wants to take away profit motives to ship jobs overseas by giving tax incentives to companies that hire and keep American workers. Tax incentives for new technology will help as well, he said, as will putting more money into alternative forms of energy. He realizes that money for efforts such as the Blue Ridge Parkway Protection Act is money well spent.
Kennedy said that he sees running for office “as a chance to serve others.”
The Journal endorses Billy Kennedy for the 5th District congressional seat.
Blue America has raised money this year to run some ads against Foxx and they’ve upset the poor delicate hate merchant so much she sent out a letter to her constituents to beg them for help:
[S]everal liberal organizations have coordinated with our opponent’s campaign to run some personal attack ads against Congresswoman Foxx. You may have seen these disgusting ads. Instead of condemning these ugly attacks, our opponent’s campaign praised them and said that Foxx supporters don’t have a brain or a heart. These types of attacks really cross the line.
That’s right, the woman who said on the floor of the House (in the presence of his mother) that the Matthew Shepard hate crime was a hoax is complaining that our ads “cross the line.”
So far our ad has only run in the suburbs of Winston-Salem. Help us raise the money we need to run it across the district between now and election day. Think of how sweet it would be on November 3 to wake up without Virginia Foxx’s brand of rancid hatemongering in Washington. And the DCCC will not lift a finger to help. Will you? Here. We can do this!
[Crossposted from Hullabaloo.]