Today we’re kicking off a new day for our Blue America chats. Same time as always– 11am (PT) but on Tuesdays from now on. And what better way than to start with a populist icon whose grassroots congressional just paid off with gigantic dividends a few days ago. Cecil Bothwell will be joining us below in the comments section at 2pm (ET). Last week, his classic grassroots organizing and door-to-door activist campaign astounded the political establishment with polling results that showed him likely to knock off entrenched conservative incumbent, Blue Dog Heath Shuler in the upcoming May 8th primary. Shuler saw the same results and beat a hasty retreat to, suddenly, “spend more time with my family.” He actually said that. The 11th CD will never be the same.
Cecil is the Asheville City Council Member who “everyone” said was “too radical” to be elected. But when the at-large primary came around he wasn’t just elected– he got more votes than anyone else in the race. He seemed buoyed when we talked with him after Shuler– who just months ago tried to rally reactionary Democrats against Nancy Pelosi in a race for House Democratic leader– hoisted the white flag. “We were confident that we were going to win the primary, based on informal polling across the District. We learned from recipients that someone hired a firm in Raleigh to poll voters here, so my bet is that he was seeing the same results. Now it appears that he has tapped another Blue Dog, his Legislative Director Hayden Rogers, to step into the race. So game on!” Rogers isn’t well known in the district but he is on K Street and Inside-the-Beltway. The DCCC would love to talk him into running. Cecil feels confident he could beat him just as he always predicted he would beat his boss.
Cecil is a decidedly progressive Democrat– a movement progressive– who has staked out populist positions in favor of federal job creation, single-payer health care and protection of the social safety net, as well as strong support for education. A participant in October’s Rebuild the American Dream conference, he endorses “Jobs, Not Cuts!” as a battle cry for middle- and working-class citizens who have been hammered by the Bush recession. Coming from a career in sustainable building and environmental journalism, with more than 20 years spent in a photovoltaic-powered home, he knows the coming green economy from the inside out, and he was one of the thousands of activists who surrounded the White House in November to protest the KeystoneXL pipeline. Although North Carolina is a right-to-work state, he is a member of the National Writer’s Union (AFL-CIO) and is unafraid to tell his constituents that unions are essential to introduce democracy into the work place. He is a strong advocate for fair trade instead of our current badly concocted free trade rules, and believes we need to get tough with China over its currency manipulation. Because he believes that black markets always create systemic problems in society he demands immigration reform that facilitates work-permits and a clear path to citizenship, and opposes the catastrophic failure known as the “war on drugs.” He has endorsed the Move to Amend and believes that we need to adopt public financing for all elections ASAP.
“We can do better,” he tells voters. “And you deserve better. I aim to represent the real people of this District, and I won’t take a penny from corporations or corporate PACs.” Blue America could hardly hope for a better candidate to back, anywhere. Please consider contributing to a people-to-people campaign that is already paying dividends for progressives in North Carolina. You can do that here at the Blue America ActBlue page.