Steve Black (OH-02) on Iraq

Steve Black, Democratic Candidate for Congress from OH-2 has posted a position paper on Irag:

A New Direction For Iraq

The situation in Iraq is grave. There are no easy answers to the numerous challenges presented by Iraq’s multi-sided civil war and the increasing threat of terrorism and regional insecurity the war has fostered. However, we must act now to contain the violence and move the region toward stability, as well as to ensure that our superb military is not stretched thin and that it used more effectively.

I believe it is imperative to reduce troop levels in Iraq and to begin their phased redeployment to strategic counter-terrorism missions under the guidance of our military leadership. Aggressive diplomacy is also long overdue to ensure that our allies and Iraq’s neighbors have a strong incentive to promote regional security; greater diplomatic efforts are also necessary to quell heightened tensions in the Israeli-Arab conflict. A renewed focus on Afghanistan is likewise critical – the gains we made there are rapidly being lost as the Taliban and al-Qaeda regroup. In addition, we must fulfill a moral duty, as well as protect our long-term security interests, by dealing with the huge refugee crisis arising from the Iraq War. Finally, we must ensure that the military and their families who have borne the burdens of Iraq receive the best of care and services – it is the right thing to do, and it is common sense to ensure that our military stays strong to continue the fight against terrorism and to make our nation secure.

The complete position paper on Iraq is here:

Murphy West
OH-02 Democrat
It’s time for Jean Schmidt to go.

Weekly Open Thread: What Races Are You Interested In?

(Bumped – promoted by DavidNYC)

I hope you all have a great weekend!

I’m very pleased to announce that we’ve smashed through our goal of 150 new contributions for Charlie Brown and Donna Edwards on the DailyKos/MyDD/SSP Actblue page. In total, we've collected 180 new donations for Charlie Brown and 188 for Donna Edwards. If you haven't made a contribution yet, get on over to the Actblue page and shake some action before the second quarter deadline passes tonight at midnight!

Time to Face Facts on Blogosphere Senate Recruitments

[Cross-posted at Daily Kos and MyDD.]

Jim Webb’s victory tonight is a victory for Virginia’s netroots.  Virginia’s progressive blogosphere was not thrilled with the default candidate emerging earlier this year.  So, spearheaded by Lowell and many others, they drafted a Reagan Republican with a stellar resume to run as a Democrat and propelled him to victory in the primary.

—  Raising Kaine

My, how far we in the activist Netroots have fallen.  With Brad Miller’s refusal to run in the North Carolina Senate race, it’s time to admit that we have a full-fledged blogosphere recruitment disaster on our hands for the 2008 Senate races — and to ask why it happened, and how we can avoid such an event in the future.

Here are the candidate recruitment situations in the Senate races with Republican incumbents or that are open seats:

Alabama: Blogosphere-recruited State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks decided not to run against Sen. Jeff Sessions, citing concerns of a divisive primary against State Sen. Vivian Figures.  Sparks’ decision leaves only Figures, a charismatic liberal but a long-shot to win the general election, in the race.

Alaska: The Democrats’ top choice against scandal-plagued Sen. Ted Stevens, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, is the only major candidate in the race (unless former State Senate Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz gets in).  Unlike the last two election cycles, when former Governor Tony Knowles was heavily recruited by the blogosphere, there hasn’t been a peep from anyone online except to tepidly support the recruitment of Begich.

Colorado: Congressman and Blue Dog Dem Mark Udall locked up this nomination early, with support from Chuck Schumer.  The blogosphere has yet to mention a strong candidate against him (Mike Miles, anyone?)

Georgia: Neither Rand Knight or Dale Cardwell stands much of a chance against Sen. Saxby Chambliss, and the blogosphere has yet to make much noise about either of them, despite both of their solid progressive records.  The blogosphere (and, presumably, Chuck Schumer) also failed to recruit Sen. Max Cleland into a rematch with Chambliss.

Idaho: Former Congressman Larry LaRocco is a solid progressive, but has locked up this nomination against Sen. Mike Crapo without much help from the blogosphere, which is more focused on Congressional candidate Larry Grant.

Kentucky: No one on the Democratic side has yet jumped into this race against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, despite its high position on the list of blogosphere targets.

Maine: Congressman Tom Allen joined the race against Sen. Susan Collins early and was a joint recruit of the blogosphere and Chuck Schumer.

Minnesota: One could say that talk-show host Al Franken is a blogosphere recruit, but that would belie the fact that many in the blogosphere don’t want him to run.  He faces Schumer recruit Mike Ciresi in what promises to be a hotly-contested primary for the right to face Sen. Norm Coleman.

Mississippi: No one has joined the race against veteran Sen. Thad Cochran, though former Attorney General Mike Moore is considering.

Nebraska: Blogosphere recruit Scott Kleeb is considering the race against Sen. Chuck Hagel in what may be an open seat, but the most likely candidate remains Blue Dog Democrat and rabid Iraq War supporter Bob Kerrey, who is being recruited by Chuck Schumer.

New Hampshire: The blogosphere failed to recruit anyone into the race against Sen. John Sununu, leaving the two leading Democratic candidates as former Congresswoman and Joe Lieberman ally Katrina Swett and the slightly more palatable former Governor Jeanne Shaheen, who is Chuck Schumer’s choice.

New Mexico: No major candidate has yet jumped into the race against surprisingly-vulnerable Sen. Pete Domenici.  Top blogosphere recruit Congressman Tom Udall declined to run.  The blogosphere is now attempting to recruit former U.S. Attorney John Kelly.

North Carolina: A joint push by the blogosphere and Chuck Schumer to recruit Congressman Brad Miller into the race failed last week when Miller announced he wasn’t running.  To date, no one has announced a run against Sen. Liddy Dole.

Oklahoma: In one of the few potential blogosphere success stories, State Sen. Andrew Rice is considering running against Sen. Jim Inhofe.

Oregon: The top two blogosphere recruitments, Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer, both declined to run.  The blogosphere is now stuck with political novice Steve Novick.

South Carolina: No Democrat has stepped up to challenge Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Tennessee: No Democrat has stepped up to challenge Sen. Lamar Alexander, though Michael Ray McWherter, son of a former Governor, is considering.

Texas: Blogosphere recruit State Sen. Rick Noriega is still considering the race against Sen. John Cornyn.

Virginia: The only potential candidate for Sen. John Warner’s seat is former Governor Mark Warner, who is a Schumer recruit.

Wyoming: The only potential candidate for these two Senate seats now held by Sens. Mike Enzi and Jon Barasso is conservative Dem Gov. Dave Freudenthal, definitely not a blogosphere recruit.

You may question my characterizations of some of these races, but let’s look at the situation this way: The top five blogosphere recruits of the cycle (the ones that received national blogosphere attention from Daily Kos, MyDD, and other sites) were Ron Sparks in Alabama, Brad Miller in North Carolina, Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer in Oregon, and Rick Noriega in Texas.  To date, four of these five have declined to run, and the fifth (Noriega) is still considering.

This is a pretty terrible record for blogosphere recruitment this cycle.  In 2006, by way of comparison, the blogosphere was able to singlehandedly recruit Jim Webb and Ned Lamont into their respective Senate races, and then propel them ahead of high-powered Schumer candidates Joe Lieberman and Harris Miller.  We also played a major role in Jon Tester’s defeat of the Schumer-supported John Morrison in Montana.

Where is that blogosphere muscle now?  Why can’t we convince two separate Congressmen in Oregon to run against a badly damaged Senator, or show a statewide officeholder in Alabama that we can help him beat a no-name state senator?  It’s time for us in the blogosphere, both in the state blogs and in the national activist blogs, to examine our priorities and figure out what has gone so horribly wrong in this recruitment cycle.  Is it because we’re too focused on the Presidential race?  Because we’ve simply lost interest in the Senate since taking it over last November?  Whatever the reason, I think we should talk seriously about why we’ve failed so far in this cycle, and about how, or if, we can salvage the situation.  I for one would like to see a Lieberman-proof majority in the Senate after 2008.

Al Gore: The Support is Real

When I watched former Vice President Gore on Larry King, it seemed as if he didn’t truly believe that the ‘real people’ on the street were really telling the truth when they said, every single one, of them: please run.

Well, a poll released this week in New Hampshire shows that the support is real, very real. Here’s the highlight.

The Gore factor:

The only obstacle for Clinton in the Democratic primary is Al Gore.  Twenty-nine percent of Clinton voters would switch to Gore if he announced for president, and when all of the switches from other Democratic candidates were recalculated, Gore would defeat Clinton.  In total, 32 percent of Democratic voters would support Gore over the candidate they are currently leaning toward.

Here’s why this poll is so important.

First of all, New Hampshire has seen every single person who is running about 15 times by now. They’ve seen them in big crowds and small meetings. They’ve seen their television commercials and heard the speeches. They take their role as first primary very seriously up there and they are not likely to be swayed by the flavor of the month.

So the fact that in New Hampshire, Al Gore is leading the minute he enters the race — pretty amazing. It’s also amazing because D.C. types are saying Gore is running out of time, he has to raise money, build infrastructure, create a ground operation in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Maybe not.

Maybe Al Gore can get in the race, October 15 is my bet. Maybe Al Gore can get in, run a true progressive campaign driven the community online. Maybe he can ignore the mainstream media that were just pathetic in the coverage of his great new book.

The poll also says this about what’s important to the voters there:

Iraq, the lead issue:

The most important issue to New Hampshire voters was the Iraq war (34 percent), followed by Homeland Security/terrorism (19 percent), health care (15 percent), economy/jobs (8 percent), education (7 percent), and the environment (7 percent).

So, it’s not all about the environment. Seems to me that the voters in New Hampshire know what they’re looking for. And his name is Al Gore.

Building a True Blue Majority

On Wednesday, we asked Swing State Project readers to help ensure that Donna Edwards and Charlie Brown get at least 100 new donations before midnight on Saturday, when candidates must close their fundraising books for the quarter and begin readying their second quarter fundraising reports for the FEC.  As I write this, the DailyKos, MyDD and SSP communities have managed to step up to the plate, with 118 new donations for Charlie Brown, and 113 for Donna Edwards since the start of Wednesday.

Now, can we up the ante?  Can we get raise the goal from 100 to 150 new donations for each candidate?

I say: we can.  I say: we must.  2008 represents a crucial opportunity to not only expand our majority in the House, but also strengthen it.  Donna Edwards and Charlie Brown represent two great opportunities to reach for this goal.  As Laura says, we have the chance to replace John Doolittle, a guy who treats his campaign accounts like a slush fund for his wife, with Charlie Brown, a man who is giving 15% of all contributions made through his ActBlue page before the end of the quarter to Tahoe area fire victims.

In Donna Edwards, we have the chance to unseat Bush-collaborator and problem Democrat Al Wynn.  Jonathan Singer over at MyDD has a great interview up with Donna that I encourage you all to read.  The essence of her candidacy, and why Wynn needs to go, is summarized well in this exchange:

Singer: In case there are some folks particularly on MyDD who maybe were absent during the last cycle when Matt was writing so much about your race or missed Matt’s write up of your race just a couple of weeks ago, what’s the argument? Why does Al Wynn, someone who’s a Democrat – this is a Democratic district – why does he need to go?

Edwards: First of all, let’s be clear – it is solidly Democratic district. So what that means in our district is that we can actually have one of the most progressive Democrats in the Congress.

And instead we have the reverse. We have somebody who during the time of the Bush administration has voted with the President on really key issues, more conservative than this district deserves. He supported the President on the authorization to go to war when many of our Congresspeople here in Maryland actually didn’t support that authorization. He supported the President on the energy bill that gave billions of dollars in tax breaks to oil and gas companies the other Democrats in our district didn’t support that. He supported bankruptcy reform, which rewards credit card companies over consumers. The Democrats in our district didn’t support that. He supported a repeal of the estate tax, which took $50 billion out of the treasury benefiting one half of one percent of income earners.

That’s not our district. We don’t just need any Democrat. It matters what kind of Democrat we have. We need Democrats who are going to be leaders, who are going to stand out in front for the American people and for the people of the fourth district, and Al Wynn’s not that guy.

Like what you hear?  So do I.

Let’s give a crucial boost to Brown and Edwards.  Can we increase our total amount of new donations from 100 to 150 before the end of Saturday?

Let’s do this thing!

Why I Declined My Congressional Health Coverage

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

As a physician and medical scientist, I know something about Band-Aids.  You have to clean the wound first if you really want it to heal.  A little strip of adhesive glue and gauze is not going to get the job done.

As a Congressman, I have learned that Band-Aids are what politicians are using to “fix” our nation’s broken health care delivery system.  But you don’t have to be a doctor or a Congressman to understand that Band-Aids can’t fix a fracture.

That’s why I declined to accept the health care insurance offer from Congress.  Plainly put, I will not accept health insurance coverage until everyone I represent in Wisconsin and across America is given the same opportunity.  After all, I did not run for this office to get health care benefits.

I ran to change Washington and to guarantee access to affordable care for every citizen, everywhere in these United States.

Since voters sent me to Capitol Hill last November, I’ve been working hard to leverage support for a new approach.  My purpose is not to destroy profit centers in medicine, as some insurance industry allies will falsely argue, but to allow everyone to benefit from the efficient delivery of affordable care in a transparent and competitive marketplace.

Here’s how.

  • Open Disclosure of all health care-related prices;
  • Unitary Pricing so everyone gets the same discount and pays the same price for the same product or service;
  • Form a Single Insurance Risk Pool to leverage down insurance prices for all citizens;
  • Deductibles set at three percent of a household’s taxable federal income; and
  • A Renewed Commitment to Cover all uninsured children and working parents.

I’m looking forward to seeing “Sicko” soon, and I hope it will serve as the kind of wake-up call for Washington on the need for serious health-care reform that Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” has been on the urgent issue of global warming.

Everyone knows our health care system is broken.  And  there’s no longer any mystery about why.  Rising health care costs have outpaced wages.  Solid middle-class families are being squeezed.  How can people afford to purchase insurance policies when the average premiums are about $12,000 a year for a family of four?

People simply don’t have the money.

Here’s my bottom line: No citizen – rich or poor, young or old – should be denied access to affordable health care.  Period. And no business should be be pushed to the brink of bankruptcy simply because it cares for its employees.

After more than 25 years helping to heal the wounds of families in my District, I understand our health care crisis is beyond a Band-Aid remedy.  I’m pro-cure, and so are American families.  Washington should be, too.

And until it is, I will decline my Congressional health coverage.

The DCCC Plays In 14 Districts This Independence Day

According to The Hill, the DCCC has targeted 14 Republican incumbents for web/phone/radio hits starting on Monday. Here’s the full list, including each district’s Presidential vote in the last two cycles:

State CD Incumbent Kerry ’04 Bush ’04 Gore ’00 Bush ’00
AK AL Young 36 61 28 59
CO 4 Musgrave 41 58 37 57
IL 10 Kirk 53 47 51 47
MI 9 Knollenberg 49 51 47 51
MO 6 Graves 42 57 44 53
NC 8 Hayes 45 54 46 54
NJ 7 Ferguson 47 53 48 49
NM 1 Wilson 51 48 48 47
NV 3 Porter 49 50 49 48
NY 25 Walsh 50 48 51 45
NY 29 Kuhl 42 56 43 53
PA 3 English 47 53 47 51
VA 2 Drake 42 58 43 55
WV 2 Capito 42 57 44 54

However, only seven districts (NC-08, MI-09, AK-AL, NV-03, NY-25, WV-02 and MO-06) are getting the radio ads. But this is a good indicator, perhaps, of the districts that the DCCC plans to aggressively contest next year. While many of these look tough, dynamite candidates in State Senator John Unger and Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes (MO-06) could very well be map changers.

ActBlue Turns 3 Years Old Today

Today ActBlue marks its 3rd Anniversary. Seriously, 3 years? I know- time flies.

Back in 2004, our founders Matt DeBergalis and Benjamin Rahn thought they could build something that would change Democratic fundraising- making it, well, more democratic. The two of them, living off of savings and limited investment, set out to build a platform that would end up changing our Party. Working out of their homes, they built the first generation of ActBlue.

This innovative, secure, and groundbreaking way to give money to Democrats was launched in June of 2004 before the end of the fundraising quarter. The earliest adopters, the blogosphere, helped push $250,000 into federal campaigns that summer. Printing $1 million in checks out of Matt’s living room by the end of 2004 was an accomplishment for the start-up. ActBlue caught the eye of Democratic campaigns, organizations, and establishment investors and it was time to grow.

And grow ActBlue did. You can see it for yourself in the numbers.

Total Raised for Democrats through ActBlue: $24,167,741

# of fundraising pages on ActBlue: 4,204

# of people contacted in just 3 weeks via ActBlue’s new Spread the Word tool: 3,751

# of active entities in ActBlue’s directory: 3,739 (will grow towards 10,000 this cycle)

# of candidates and committees receiving funds to date: 1,725

# of states where ActBlue is active for state level activity: 23 (soon to be 24)

# of people behind the ActBlue curtain: 6

# of months until ActBlue outgrows its 600 sq foot office: 1
  (that’s over $40,000/sq.ft. of productivity!)

There a lot of talk about investing in lasting infrastructure for the Democratic Party. ActBlue returns over $20 in aid for Democratic candidates for every $1 in investment. We have more ideas under the hood than you can shake a stick at, limited not by our creativity, but by time and investment.

ActBlue is an investment in our Party. ActBlue is an investment in a Democratic future.

So, in honor of our 3rd Anniversary, will you invest in ActBlue?

With your help, the future will be more than just bright- it will be Blue.

So I offer a toast: the undiscovered country . . . the future. Here’s to turning 3.

Donate to Charlie Brown & 15% Will Go to Tahoe Fire Victims

Last night I received a fundraising email from the Charlie Brown for Congress campaign stating that 15% of online donations will go to the Sacramento – Sierra Red Cross to help the victims of the Angora fire in South Lake Tahoe (which is in California’s 4th congressional district).

Now, for those of you who don’t know it, Charlie Brown has done something similar before. At the end of the previous fundraising quarter in March he pledged to give 10% of contributions to local veteran aide groups. The donations were distributed to the Sacramento Stand Down, Nevada County Stand Down, and Sierra College Veterans Club in mid April.

This is in stark contrast to the actions of Congressman John Doolittle who’s practise it was to give 15% of all contributions to his wife. Charlie in contrast is giving money to the community in his district.

Here’s the fundraising email:

As you know, the upcoming June 30th FEC deadline is a very important benchmark for our campaign. But it pales in comparison to what’s happening right now in Lake Tahoe, where thousands of our neighbors are facing a devastating wildfire.

That’s why between now and the FEC deadline of midnight on June 30th, we will be donating 15% of all contributions made through our online ActBlue page to the Sacramento- Sierra Red Cross–to help area residents who have been affected by this horrible tragedy.

CLICK HERE to Contribute Now! (15% of your donation will help Tahoe Area Fire Victims).

CLICK HERE for a list of groups who are helping those displaced by the fire, and information about how you can help.

Together, we’ve shown that leadership is about much more than just affecting policy in Washington. It is also about mobilizing our collective strength to address real life problems here at home. In other words, leading by example.

A few months ago, our “no veteran left behind” campaign did much more than provide needed funds to area organizations helping veterans and families in need. It set an example that others have followed- both inside an outside of politics. Veterans and families in need across America, not just in our own community, have been the beneficiaries.

The events of this week demand that we lead by example once again.

Please be aware that it says that 15% of all contributions through Charlie’s ActBlue page will go to the Tahoe fire victims. So, I’m not sure if this also applies to other ActBlue pages raising funds for Charlie. I’ll ask the campaign and update once I’ve heard back from them.

cross-posted from Turn Tahoe Blue

More information on the Angora Fire at Lake Tahoe:

Tahoe Daily Tribune
Reno Gazette-Journal
Sacramento Bee

Actblue: Who’s Hot?

Just for curiosity’s sake, I took a moment tonight to compile a list of the hottest House candidates on, as ranked by their total fundraising totals for the 2008 cycle so far.* It should also give us a few clues as to which candidates we should be keeping an eye on as second quarter fundraising reports are filed with the FEC in the next few weeks.

State CD Candidate Raised on Actblue
CO 2 Jared Polis $100,621
MA 5 Niki Tsongas $92,787
MA 5 Jamie Eldridge $84,358
ME 1 Chellie Pingree $73,390
CA 26 Russ Warner $55,512
IL 10 Dan Seals $48,083
AZ 3 Bob Lord $45,275
TX 10 Dan Grant $44,010
NY 29 Eric Massa $42,931
NY 26 Jon Powers $37,825
CA 4 Charlie Brown $34,516
FL 8 Mike Smith $32,645
MO 6 Kay Barnes $27,675
CT 4 Jim Himes $25,278
NM 1 Martin Heinrich $23,044
NC 8 Larry Kissell $22,686
MD 4 Donna Edwards $19,217
MT AL Bill Kennedy $12,541
NM 2 Bill McCamley $11,580
OH 1 Steve Driehaus $9,065

*As of 9:52 PM EDT June 27, 2007

Definitely some interesting names in that list, including Russ Warner, who appeared to be capable of giving Republican incumbent David Dreier a respectable challenge in 2006. Warner apparently made the mistake of not spending enough on the primary, and lost the nomination to the district’s 2004 nominee, the unknown, underfunded Cynthia Matthews. Predictably, Dreier went on to win his 2006 contest by a comfortable 57-38 margin, even though his district has a PVI of R+4. Hopefully Warner has learned a thing or two about what it takes to win a primary and we can see how he hustles against Dreier in a general election. Judging by his campaign website, Warner has picked up a strongly anti-war flavor.

It’s interesting to note that, outside the top four candidates (who are all vying for safe Democratic open seats), some of the top names on Actblue are contesting tough districts like Bob Lord‘s campaign against Rep. John Shadegg in Arizona’s 3rd (R+5.9), and Dan Grant against Mike McCaul in Texas’ 10th (R+13). It will be interesting to see how many aggressive challenges can be raised in Republican-leaning districts like these over the next year and a half. My guess is that we’ll see quite a few. There’s nothing quite like a massive wave election to inspire recruitment.

On a more technical side, it will also be of high interest to see how great a proportion these Actblue-generated receipts will have in these candidates’ overall 2Q filings.