The “Ben Lodmell for Congress” local campaign office is moving closer to our grand opening with a meeting today of local supporters with his staff members from Mobile to make plans for a painting and furnishing party . Anyone reading this diary who has contacts in the First District, please feel free to join us and/or to contact others who might be interested.

This is going to be a race, folks. Make no mistake.  There are already a lot of “little people” on board in this campaign. If Jo Bonner  expects a cakewalk he may just be in for a surprise.


“Big Ben” Lodmell is a big man in many ways.  At 6’6″ and about 280 pounds, he is an imposing figure.  Boyishly good looking, with a quick sincere smile, he makes friends easily.  His impressive intellect is not on public display in a prideful way, but hearing him slip easily into Spanish, Portuguese and French when the occasion requires it will immediately let one know that this is a well educated and intelligent man.

With an extensive background in international finance, he understands how fiscal policies affect the economies of great nations as well as ordinary families.  His experience as an administrator of human service not-for-profit agencies have touched his heart and created a burning desire to help those who need it the most. Ben has the vision that lets him see that helping the poor, the unemployed, sickly, elderly, and, most of all, the children in our society is not expensive gravy to be dolloped on when there is extra money available, but rather the beef, the essential function of government that makes all other functions possible.    If you live in the First District, plan now to vote and campaign for “Big Ben” Lodmell. If you do not, but you want to participate in improving Alabama and America in a very real way, write your check to “Lodmell for Congress” and mail it to 106 E. Church St. Atmore, AL 36502.  Thank you.

Remember: “yard signs are pretty, but dollar signs win elections”.  

NY-26: Powers raises $139,000 in 4th Quarter; Raised over $369,000 in 2007

NY-26 Democratic candidate Jon Powers issued a press release today outlining his fundraising figures from the 4th quarter of 2007 and his overall totals to date.

From an e-mailed press release:

Jon Powers, Iraq war veteran, former U.S. Army Captain and Democratic candidate for Congress in New York’s 26th congressional district announced today that his campaign raised over $369,000 in 2007, with $139,000 raised in the 4th quarter.  This brings his cash on hand to a healthy $261,000 heading into the election year.

“Traveling across western New York and listening to so many families and small business owners having to make great sacrifices to make ends meet each month, you can’t help but notice the deep insecurities that come with feeling left behind by leadership that puts special interests before working families,” Powers said.  “To see them rally to our campaign with their ideas, time, and hard-earned paychecks is such an honor.”

The campaign’s 4th quarter filing will reflect $139,323 from over 500 individual donors.

Online fundraising has gone exceptionally well, indicating the buzz surrounding Jon’s campaign is continuing.  68% of Jon’s total donations were received online, putting his campaign among the national leaders when it comes to online fundraising.

The campaigns’ grassroots efforts are being well received: 61% of donations were $50 and under, with 87% of contributions coming from individuals.

This building momentum speaks to Powers’ support in the district and shows that people are ready for a leader who will fight to change course in Iraq, fight for better paying jobs at home, and a brand of leadership that puts hardworking middle class families first instead of special interest groups.  This quarter,  Jon Powers has also received endorsements from Livingston, Genesee, and Orleans counties Democratic committees.

“If we’re going to see change in Washington that impacts the working families here at home, we need to change the people we send to Washington,” Powers said.  “I’m running for Congress to be a voice for families in western New York, finally putting their kitchen table concerns ahead of the special interests.”

That’s right. Powers raised $139,323 in the fourth quarter, for a total of over $369,000 raised in 2007. He also has over $261,000 cash on hand.  

Pretty impressive. I know the Powers campaign has been working very hard and Jon has worked very hard to raise money and to reach out to possible donors and current donors as well.

Jon has the momentum. In nine months, we hope to have Jon elected into Congress in New York’s 26th congressional district.

On the web:

Contribute to Jon Powers for Congress

Jon Powers for Congress

Club 26

WY-Sen-A: Might Enzi Retire?

From The Hill:

Nine months before Election Day, Republican Mike Enzi is mum about whether he will ask Wyoming voters to send him back to the Senate for a third term. […]

The low-profile Enzi won’t provide a timeline for his decision, but Wyoming candidates have to file their paperwork between May 15-30 and primaries aren’t held until Aug. 19. […]

Some suspect that Enzi might be leaning towards leaving after he fumed about the decision by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bypass him for a vacant Finance Committee seat.

McConnell appointed Sen. John Sununu (N.H.), a first-term senator and one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in 2008, to the committee, which has broad jurisdiction over taxes, trade and healthcare issues.

Enzi, an accountant by training, has long sought a spot on the committee, and last week’s snub was the second time this Congress he has been bypassed in favor of a more junior member. […]

Asked for his reaction last week after the latest snub, Enzi told The Hill: “Sure. I’m pissed.”

2008: The greatest political horse race year in decades?

NE-02: Iraq Veteran Weighs Challenge To Terry

Omaha, Neb. – Richard N. Carter, a U.S. Air Force Reserve Captain with active duty combat experience in both Iraq and Afghanistan, will file Friday with the Federal Election Commission to form an exploratory committee. Carter, a Democrat, is considering a run for the U.S. House of Representatives in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.

   “Nebraskans know that this country needs significant change,” said Carter. “We are tired of the politics of division, fear, and intimidation. We are tired of politicians who march in lock-step with Washington party leadership in support of unpopular policies-policies which are not in the best interest of the American people.”

   “It’s time for a new generation of leadership to step forward and change the direction this country is headed. My experience as a combat officer in the United States Air Force and my graduate work in economics have prepared me to be that kind of leader for the people of the 2nd district.”

Carter is from Bellevue, Nebraska – where STRATCOM and Offutt Air Force Base are located. Jim Esch, who declined to run again in 2006, carried the city of Omaha, but was badly beaten in western Douglas County, Bellevue, Papillion, and La Vista. Of the 17,000 vote margin of victory, half of the margin came from heavily Republican Sarpy County.

As Richard came around to local party meetings over the last week, I had a chance to speak to him on the issues. He will represent this district well, and he is not afraid to take a stand on issues. We can always use more people like him in Congress.


MO-Gov: Nixon Dodges a Primary Bullet

After several days of flirting with a possible bid for the Governor’s mansion, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has decided to stay put:

“After careful consideration over the past several days, I have made the decision to run for reelection as Secretary of State,” Carnahan said in a statement. “Democrats have a great opportunity to change the direction of our state and refocus on issues that matter to Missouri families. I intend to work to help elect democrats at every level including doing all I can to help Jay Nixon become our next Governor. Over the past several years, we’ve accomplished a great deal in the Secretary of State’s office and I know we can continue to make a difference for Missourians.”

Nixon’s been running a hard race for quite some time, so I’m pretty pleased with this news.  May the GOP primary be crowded and nasty!

IL-03 Roundup #5

early voting ends tomorrow, january 31st.  if you intended to vote early, time is quickly running out.

the financial disclosure reports are out.  here’s a summary of how much the four democrats in this race raised and spent:

Candidate Name Net Receipts Net Distributed Cash on Hand Debt
Mark Pera $612,932 $538,918 $74,014 $261,404
Dan Lipinski $464,812 $191,014 $377,675 $0
Jerry Bennett $183,737 $153,389 $30,343 $49,523
Jim Capparelli $12,865 $8,467 $4,397 $0

the last of the newspaper endorsements are out.  jerry bennett won the biggest remaining prize, that of the sun-times, who it calls:

a broad-thinking, action-oriented mayor who knows the district well. He has been mayor since 1981 and also has taken on several regional leadership roles.

lipinski received the endorsement of the southwest news-herald.

in other news, cbs2 and wbbm-am have put together a voter’s guide.  chicago public radio has put up an interactive map on competitive races in northeast illinois, including the 3rd.  the npr station also covered the race in this story.

the ap has a story on the race, which can be found here:

A Capitol Hill newspaper last year listed Lipinski as the most endangered House Democrat because of a possible defeat in the primary. Although the congressman says he takes the challenge seriously, he brushes aside opponents’ criticism of such things as his opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights and their claims that he hasn’t done enough to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

He acknowledges that he’s more conservative than some Democrats, but says his views reflect his district, which covers Chicago’s southwest side and nearby suburbs.


Despite Lipinski’s support from party bosses and an easy re-election in 2006, some Democrats still are upset about the initial help he received from his father, a 22-year House veteran, which allowed little room for anyone else to compete.

The younger Lipinski makes no apologies for his unusual leap to Capitol Hill.

“I don’t think this is really an issue for people back home in the district … It’s very clear the voters have had an opportunity to choose me and they have done that,” he said.

Lipinski, a former professor at the University of Tennessee and former aide to five congressmen, landed a seat on the House Transportation Committee, and has sought the same role his father had as the point man for funding Chicago projects.

But Lipinski’s opponents scoff when he brags about bringing tens of millions of dollars to the district for rail, road and bridge work, and say it’s no more than any House member could do in his place.

congressional quarterly continues it’s coverage:

The multi-candidate primary challenge faced by two-term Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski, one of the more moderate House Democrats, will provide an early test of the organizing strength of the Web-based network of liberal activists known as the “netroots.”

It is, in fact, a very early test. Illinois’ Feb. 5 primaries, timed to coincide with the state’s presidential contests on this campaign year’s “Super Tuesday,” are the earliest congressional nominating elections ever held in any state.

Lipinski – who gained his seat in 2004 after the retirement of his father, 11-term Democratic Rep. William O. Lipinski – has three opponents for the primary in the Chicago-based 3rd District. The candidate drawing “netroots” support is Mark Pera, an assistant state’s attorney for Cook County. Also in the running are Jerry Bennett, the mayor of suburban Palos Hills, and local attorney Jim Capparelli.

Although the incumbent retains the edge over his rivals in funding and endorsements, Pera’s candidacy has benefited from the attention and support of liberal Democrats frustrated with the performance of the 110th Congress and the unwillingness they see among moderate Democrats to strongly confront President Bush on the war in Iraq, energy policy and social issues.

While Lipinski sided with most House Democrats on 93 percent of House votes that broke mainly along party lines in 2007, that score in Congressional Quarterly’s “party unity” study was the second-lowest among the 10 Democrats in Illinois’ U.S. House delegation.

Pera argues that Lipinski’s record puts him out of step with the district. He said the long-stated stereotype of the 3rd – located in and near Chicago’s Southwest Side and heavily populated by ethnic Eastern and Southern Europeans – as a stronghold of social conservatives is a myth.

“The ‘Reagan Democrat’ image of the district is just folklore at this point,” says Pera. He claims that the district, which supported Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry over Bush in 2004 by 59 percent to 41 percent, is a “mainstream Democratic” district.

the hill writes about the netroots targeting lipinski:

“We’re not arguing over nuance,” said Pera, a former assistant county attorney. “We’re arguing over core issues that are important to Democrats.”

sun-times coverage returns to the ethical problems that lipinski faces

“A congressional seat is a matter of trust, not a family heirloom to be passed down,” Pera said. “The only job my dad ever got me was a job at the steel mills that I used to help pay my way through college and law school.”

Dan Lipinski has also caught heat for paying his father, now a registered lobbyist, to work as a consultant on his re-election campaign.

the riverside/brookfield landmark wrote about lipinski’s absence:

The three challengers appeared together Monday night on WTTW Channel 11 “Chicago Tonight” program for a debate that lasted approximately 10 minutes. Lipinski did not participate, flying back to Washington on Monday afternoon to attend the State of the Union address by President George Bush.

Chicago Tonight host Phil Ponce said on the air that the show had offered to tape the program on Friday when informed that Lipinski would not be available Monday, but was told that Lipinski was not available then either.

On Sunday about 40 or so members of Democracy for America (DFA), a grass roots left of center group headquartered in Burlington, Vt. that grew out of the unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign of former Vermont governor Howard Dean, gathered to canvass for Pera in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.

Jim Dean, Howard Dean’s brother and the head of DFA, flew in to knock on doors with Pera, who was also accompanied by his wife Leslie and two of their four children.

“I’ll vote for you because you came to my door,” Jim McArdle of south Union Avenue told Pera on Sunday after the candidate knocked on his door and spoke with him briefly. McArdle said that he had never before had a candidate knock on his door.

Dean characterized Pera’s race with Lipinski as a battle between citizen activists and the status quo.

“The politics in this country is about a culture of activism versus a culture of incumbency,” said Dean.

Members from DFA chapters in Chicago and Oak Park have been helping Pera in the campaign.

Sandra Verthein, the chair of the North Side DFA chapter said her group had knocked on 4,609 doors for Pera.

it also gave more coverage to the mostly invisible campaign of jim capparelli.

A self-described “neighborhood guy” from Chicago’s Southwest Side, Capparelli said he ran for Congress because folks in the neighborhood asked him to.

“I value their values,” he said. “I’m for things that are best for working class men and women.”

the chicagoist has an interesting discussion with mark pera.  this follows a short item last week.  the windy city times also talked to pera in this piece.  gaper’s block questions why the chicago tribune endorsed lipinski.

the progressive democrat newsletter endorsed pera.  the pera campaign launched their third television ad, special interests.

archpundit has been touting pera in the run-up to february 5th, saying there’s Nothing More Important this week, attacking lipinski for defending a french immigrant, but not his hispanic constituents, and posting the “great mailers” from naral on behalf of pera.

markos is doing his part.  he pleads for one more to make it an even 4000 online contributors and the pitch post to make that happen.  miss laura touts pera’s new ad and the dfa rally last sunday.

howie klein talks about an alliance between icirr and progressives in the 3rd.

the bennett campaign said that their “last mailer just went out as well, a contrast piece between Jerry and Lipinski.”  the pera campaign just sent out a mailer that coincides with their tv ad.  pera’s mailers can be found here.

the last scheduled joint candidate appearance is tonight at Moraine Valley Community College at 5:30PM.  

the bennett campaign told us about the last week:

Jerry received the endorsement of the Chicago Sun Times, which called him an “action oriented” candidate with a vision for the district.  There’s also a political cartoon for the race; it’s ripe for parody.

The candidates — minus Lipinski — appeared on Chicago Tonight on Monday.  Lipinski was a no-show, claiming that he had to be in Washington both on Friday and Monday.  Curiously enough, we know that he was in Chicago on Monday morning.  Jerry distinguished himself from the other candidates by talking about his experience and belief that the federal government should invest in metro areas to achieve long term economic growth.

Chicago Tonight also interviewed the Republican candidates, I presume for comic relief.  One of the best moments was when Phil Ponce asked Art Jones if we supported keeping neighborhoods white and segregation; after a quick pause, Jones said, “Sure, why not?”  Then he went into full crazy mode.

the pera campaign emphasized their grassroots efforts:

Our volunteer efforts continue to snowball. We had over 100 people canvassing on our behalf throughout the district over the weekend. We expect to have more volunteers canvassing on the final weekend before the Feb. 5 election. We’re very, very optimistic about Tuesday.

they also noted with pride their fund-raising advantage:

Our campaign out-raised Dan Lipinski once again in 4Q, according to the FEC. To out-raise a sitting member of Congress during a three month stretch is a rare feat, to out-raise a sitting member of Congress six months running is an astounding feat, especially when you consider that our average contribution is $70. For comparison, Dan Lipinski’s average contribution is $1,033. We have received hundreds and hundreds of contributions from inside the district. Dan Lipinski has received just nine. As of Wednesday, we have received over 4,000 individual contributions via ActBlue. That goes to show how much support their is out there for our truly people-powered campaign.

they add:

The voters who haven’t already made up their minds are focused squarely on Feb. 5 and the issue that they are talking about most is the economy. We have received an amazing response from our last two mail pieces, both of which deal with the current state of the economy. Voters here in the district are coping with the healthcare crisis and a mortgage crisis and sky-high gas prices. They know that these issues and the ones that matter most to them are not even on the agenda in Congress. They know that Congress is broken and they want someone like Mark Pera in Washington D.C. who will stand up for their interests, not special interests.

It’s remarkable how many voters we have contacted during our canvassing efforts who have said, “We already voted for Mark.”

You’ve heard our campaign’s message loud and clear via mail, TV and the Internet. Our campaign offers the promise of not just reform, but also better representation on your behalf on the issues that you care about most. We hope we have your vote. If you have any questions, please call (708) 579-2834. Mark has been talking to voters for months at train stations, CTA stops and over the phone and he would be happy to talk with you before Election Day.

We need your help on Election Day. We are going to be running phonebanks at several locations across the district. If you can work for two, four, six, eight hours or more, we have important tasks that you can do. Please call our field director, Jacob Dusseau, at (708) 579-2834 for more information.

jerry bennett’s campaign tells us:

Jerry’s scheduled to do events all over the district in the last few days.  We’re going back to our core supporters to make final plans for election day activities.  A week to go, and Jerry’s campaign is picking up steam!


dan lipinski seems pretty confident, spending monday night in washington at the state of the union speech.  somehow, this seems appropriate.  lipinski’s closer to president bush than he is to people in his district.  much of lipinski’s confidence undoubtedly grows out of the fact that the 3rd is the heart of the machine.  here you have the doms of chicago politics, each of which are tasked to turn out their voters.  john daley runs the 11th ward, which has traditionally accounted for about 9% of the primary vote in the district.  michael madigan runs the 13th ward, which has traditionally accounted for about 14% of the primary vote.  add to that the 19th ward, traditionally the home of the hynes family, which has traditionally accounted for about 17% of the primary vote.  and finally, you have the 23rd, which has been the lipinski homefront, traditionally accounting for about 14% of the primary vote.  that’s 54% of the democratic vote in a traditional primary.

the big question is turnout.  with obama at the top of the ticket, we can expect an increase in turnout.  in 2006, more than 80,000 democrats voted in the contested 3rd congressional race.  two years before, more than 74,000 democrats voted in the uncontested race (for bill lipinski).  yet, in 2002, when there was an open gubernatorial seat and a contested democratic race, more than 90,000 democrats voted in the uncontested 3rd.  i expect 2008 to exceed that, adding at least another couple of thousand voters because it is more highly contested.  lipinski will be happy to repeat his 44,401 votes from 2006, as that total, more than likely, will return him to washington.

more importantly will be whether the increase in turnout comes in the city (iow, in these traditional machine wards) or whether it comes from the suburban parts of the district.  in 2002, 62.5% of the vote came from chicago precincts.  in 2004, only 55% of votes in this race came from chicago precincts.  there has been growth in the suburban part of the district, but this is not an area that has seen a big decrease in population in the city, like some part of chicago.

both bennett and pera have been campaigning in the city as well as their own bases in the suburbs.  lipinski won 55% of the vote in chicago precincts in 2006, but resentment about the passing of the seat from father to son exists here, as well.  this is probably more true, given how much attention came to a similar passing of the cook county presidency from john stroger to todd stroger that year.  there’s one other intangible out there that will effect this race: madigan is involved in some very competitive races among his illinois house democrats, where the governor is trying to make gains at the speaker’s expense.  madigan’s troops have been seen in other places, far outside the 3rd congressional district.  and the shakman decree has taken the umph out of patronage workers as campaign help.

what i will be watching for on tuesday is how the 19th ward returns come in.  there has been steady erosion in the machine vote in the 19th in the past couple of election years.  in 2006, lipinski came in second with  36.58% to his plant candidate (john kelly).  it was the only machine ward he lost.  in fact, lipinski won all of the suburban townships, but lost four wards total in 2006 (15, 16 and 20).  and there’s the secret: beating lipinski in the suburbs — something that’s completely doable — and winning at least 5 wards (including the 19th) should suffice.  who wins?  there’s a week to go.  we’ll know then…

VA-11: Tom Davis (R) Retiring


Republican Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia announced that he will not seek reelection, issuing a release announcing his retirement this afternoon.

Davis’ Northern Virginia district has been trending in a Democratic direction over the past decades, and offers Democrats a good opportunity to pick up the seat. Already Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman Gerry Connolly (D) has formed an exploratory committee, and has high name identification in the district.

Former Rep. Leslie Byrne and retired Naval officer Doug Denneny have also announced their candidacies on the Democratic side.

Businessman Keith Fimian is a leading candidate on the Republican side; he has already raised over $350,000 in individual donation over the past six months.

(Thanks to long-time SSPer Caped Composer for the catch.)

VA-11: Tom Davis Retiring!!!!

Looks like more good news is coming our way as Virginia continues on its blue-trending trajectory– Rep. Tom Davis, a somewhat moderate Republican who was at one point considering running for senate, is retiring from his district.  For the record, he has already declared that he will not run for senate, either.  

Northern Virginia is a growing Democratic region.  This seat should definitely be at the top of everyone’s list as a potential pickup.  So, the question remains . . . who are the top-tier contenders who could bring this seat into our column?

Right wing Hazleton mayor running against Kanjorski in PA-11

It looks as if Republicans finally got the candidate they wanted to run against Paul Kanjorski in PA-11, the right wing mayor of Hazleton, Lou Barletta.  Barletta is known as the guy who as mayor passed all kinds of anti-immigrant measures.  He ran for Congress against Kanjorski in 2002 and lost by 14%.  

This is a district that John Kerry carried by a healthy 53%-47% margin and Al Gore carried it by an even bigger 54%-43%.  The Republican legislature drew the district to be a safe Democratic district in order to make PA-10 and PA-15 more Republican.  They did this by removing heavily Republican rural areas and adding in a heavily Democratic slice of Lackawanna county.

I have to say that I am somewhat frustrated that more Democratic held seats seem to be coming into play.  If we were to lose seats in 2008 while winning the White House, it would be a big black eye for the new Democratic President elect, likely making it impossible to pass anything.  We need to keep this seat and all we need to do to keep it is make sure voters in the district vote straight ticket as this is a district that any Democratic candidate for President will carry.  

Races to watch…The death of West Virginia and the rise of Kentucky

While things have gone well for Democrats in recent days in these 2 states, things have also gone poorly.  

The lone decent challengers in West Virgnina, State Senator John Unger, has dropped his bid for the seat presently held by Republican Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito.  With Unger out of the race, West Virginia ia dead to Democratic challenges as we have no seats that we have a chance of taking in that state.  

Kentucky has all but washed away that bad news with recent announcments and challenges already in progress.  

Recent news in Kentucky’s 2nd CD has been a boon for Democrats as Republican Congressman Ron Lewis is retiring.  State Senator David Boswell looks to be a strong contender though Judge Executive Reid Haire will challenge him in the primary.  Haire was a last minute entry so he starts at a bit of a disadvantage though I have no FEC report to look at for Boswell at this time to see what advantage he’ll start with.  The Republicans have a state senator as well as a no name candidate on their side of the aisle so they don’t lack a decent candidate as far as I can tell.  This district isn’t hugely to the right as Lewis was held to just 55% in 06.  

In Kentucky’s 3rd CD, the Democrats will have a fairly tough defense of Congressman John Yarmuth.  Yarmuth’s 2006 opponent, the former incumbent Anne Northup is running again and while she seems to face what will be a nasty primary to get back her seat, she will have good name recognition in the district and a lot of cash.  My belief is that since Yarmuth beat her as a challenger when she didn’t have a primary and he did, that he should beat her again, but she will atleast make the race interesting.