OK, first off, this is a very strange situation, so please bear with me. More importantly, please rec this diary up; we need as much exposure as possible, as quickly as possible.
Michigan’s 8th District has been “represented” (if you can call it that) by a Republican named Mike Rogers since 2000, when he won a squeaker of a race by just 111 votes to fill the U.S. House seat vacated by Debbie Stabenow when she was elected to the U.S. Senate.
You might be thinking that, given the closeness of the race, that MI-08 should be a district that the Dems could take back if they put their minds to it. Unfortunately, up until now, that hasn’t happened. He won 68/31 in 2002, 61/37 in 2004, 55/43 in 2006 and 56/40 in 2008.
The closest anyone has gotten to him was Jim Marcinkowski in 2006, a former CIA agent and Naval Operations Specialist–and that was in an extremely Dem-friendly year (Marcinkowski, a former Republican, actually ran for Congress mostly because he was furious about the outing of Valerie Plame, who was a friend of his from his CIA days).
Now, don’t get me wrong–Rogers isn’t a star in the GOP. As far as I can tell, he’s very good at raising money and getting re-elected, and not much else. Once in a while, he’ll pop his head up on TV long enough to say something incredibly stupid, like blaming Pres. Obama for McChrystal’s insults in Rolling Stone. Other than that, he’s kind of a cypher, a rubber stamp for the GOP, but boy is he good at keeping his seat.
OK, so, Rogers is sitting pretty, right? He has a million bucks in the bank, it’s a GOP-leaning year, and the district seems to have been pretty much ceded by the national Dems.
This, of course, is where Howard Dean’s 50-State Strategy kicks in, right? DON’T CEDE ANY DISTRICT TO THE REPUBLICANS; run a candidate everywhere, no matter how long the odds. At worst, you’ll at least make sure to get the Democratic message out and force the GOP incumbent to stick around their district and spend a few bucks out of their war chest. At best, the incumbent will be caught with their pants down (either figuratively or, more likely, literally), and voila, you pick up the seat after all!
Cut to the 2010 campaign.
Earlier this year, a young guy named Kande Ngalamulume (he was born in Zaire, now known as the Congo) decided to take a shot. No political experience, he’d lived outside of Michigan since 2002. His biggest claim to fame was having been a track star at Michigan State. However, he seemed like a good enough guy, and rightly got a lot of kudos for stepping up to the plate this year. He gave up his job in Pennsylvania to move back home.
I met him in February, and in March he hired me to take over the maintenance of his campaign website (someone else had set it up, but wasn’t able to do the day-to-day updates). I can’t afford to do campaign sites pro bono, but recognized the shoestring nature of his campaign and gave a hefty discount for my time. No one else seemed interested, so he was the only one to file, and had the Democratic nomination to himself; his name will be the only on on the ballot on the August 3rd primary.
Unfortunately, after finding a lack of financial support (he had only raised a total of around $25,000 or so, I believe), he dropped out of the race on June 2–and not only did so in a very public manner (via email press release), but did so several weeks after the filing deadline…and then left the state.
Since he waited until after the filing deadline to drop out, and was the only one to file, his name will remain on the August 3rd ballot anyway, unless either dies or registers to vote in a different state–and so far, he hasn’t filed elsewhere. If he does, then the 8th District Dems can legally challenge his name being on the ballot and could scramble to get someone else to replace him, but otherwise, they’re in a bind. Rogers now has a completely uncontested race, and is free to roam around the state, raising money for whoever the GOP has running against Democratic freshmen Mark Schauer (MI-07) and Gary Peters (MI-09), or turning over a chunk of his million-dollar war chest to the RNC, or whatever he likes. A GOP seat is now 100% safe, 2 Democratic seats are further threatened, and the 8th District Dems are in a pickle.
However, there is one more way out of this pickle: If someone runs as a write-in candidate against Kande Ngalamulume in the Democratic primary and wins, the problem is resolved. Yes, they’d still face the longest of odds against Rogers in November, but at least they’d be doing the yeoman’s job of keeping Rogers distracted, preventing him from helping the GOP out too much, and saving some face for the local party.
NOTE: Edited to remove the unnecessary negativity about Mr. Ngalamulume; I shouldn’t have been speculating on his reasons for doing what he did, and they’re irrelevant to the current situation anyway.
Which brings me to the point of this diary:
Lance is a government school teacher (he was laid off last year; don’t get me started about the state budget cuts by the GOP-controlled Michigan State Senate). He also happens to be a pro-choice, progressive Democrat, who was very active in Democratic politics in the ’90’s up north (He worked for Bart Stupak for a number of years; say what you will about Stupak, but aside from his recent HCR/Abortion debacle, he’s been a pretty solid Dem on most of the other important issues). He got burnt out and got out of the political game 10 years ago…until a couple of weeks ago.
Lance decided that he was so pissed off about the thought of Mike Rogers getting a free ride that he’s going to attempt the
impossible improbable: He filed to run for U.S. Congress as a write-in Democrat.
Now, his previous political involvement is important for a couple of reasons: First, it means he has some idea of how to run a campaign; and secondly, it means that, unlike Kande Ngalamulume, he understands just how slim his chances are. His primary goal (pun intended) is to at least win the nomination. While stopping there would normally be pretty meaningless, given the unique circumstances at hand, this would be huge.
The bad news, of course, is that not only does he have to get more votes than the only name actually on the ballot on Aug. 3rd; not only does he have to hope that the voters of the district know how to spell his name; but he also only has 35 days to get the word out about it.
The good news (I hope) is that he has you…and me! Yep, after being burnt by one MI-08 Democratic Congressional Candidate, I’ve willingly signed on to help out another one, in the same race, even! I got in touch with Lance after hearing about him jumping into the ring and he’s brought me on board to handle HIS campaign website from top to bottom.
Now, I know what you’re saying: This guy doesn’t have a chance in hell. OK, probably, but if you’d told me on September 12, 2001 that the next President elected–with more votes than any other candidate in history, I might add–would be a black Democrat named Barack Hussein Obama, I’d have said you were nuts.
Alright, hyperbole and wishful thinking aside, Mike Rogers remains a total jackass. At the very least I think it’s worth a shot. Besides, look what happened to Mark Foley–a 12-year incumbent in a 65%+ Republican district. Then he gets caught sending porn messages to underage boys and voila! We have an extra Democrat in Congress! (Yeah, that guy turned out to be kind of a jerk as well, but you get my point; anything can happen in a political campaign, but if you don’t have someone running, you have no chance of picking up the pieces).
Here’s some articles/interviews about Lance:
Candidate against Rogers emerges
Post-Kande options open for local Dems
Teacher fills Dems’ void in House race
Radio interview with Lance on City Pulse Live (his segment starts appx. 15 min into show)
Radio Interview on A.M. Lansing (direct link to MP3)
So, with all of this in mind, I’d like to invite you to learn more about Lance, more about his campaign, and perhaps (of course) to pony up a few bucks for the underdog race of the year:
If you can’t donate money, please at least rec this up and spread the word. Thanks.
Full disclosure: While I’m working for far less than my normal rates, I am still being modestly paid. Mostly, however, I’m just pissed at the mess Kande caused and am trying to help salvage the situation.