MA-09: Update on Progressive Mac D’Alessandro vs. ConservaDem incumbent Stephen Lynch

If you haven’t already, please join Mac’s Facebook group and please, please, please contribute to Mac through ActBlue!

The big news this past week out of MA-09 is that progressive challenger Mac D’Alessandro will make the Democratic primary ballot against anti-choice, anti-health care reform ConservaDem incumbent Stephen Lynch.  He submitted 5,000 signatures to city and town clerks offices by the May 4 deadline.  As long as at least 2,000 are certified valid (should be no problem with 5,000 submitted), Mac submits the 2,000+ certified valid signatures to the Secretary of State by June 1 and he’ll give voters a choice against ConservaDem Lynch.

Mac took to YouTube to thank his grassroots supporters for their help making the signature drive a big success:

Progressive Democrats across the country have reason to be active in this race.  There were 34 House Democrats who ultimately opposed health care reform; and Lynch’s vote was among the most perplexing:

Then there are the real head scratchers. Reps. Michael Arcuri (D-NY) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) famously abandoned the reform push late in the game, after having voted for the House bill. Lynch, in particular, went on a very public crusade of opposition to the bill from the left, and cast his vote despite pleas from President Obama and AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka that he vote with the party.

Of the 34 anti-health care reform Dems, some are running for other office (Senate or Gov), some are retiring, but most are running for re-election.  Best I can tell though, few if any have serious primary challengers.  MA-09 will provide progressive Democrats nationally with an opportunity to send a message to a ConservaDem who abandoned one of the Democratic Party’s central pillars – expanding access to health care and moving toward truly making quality health care a right instead of a privilege.

That appears to be why Mac’s campaign has found itself on’s radar screen as a viable primary challenger worthy of progressive support:

In the wake of Rep. Stephen Lynch’s vote against health care reform, many progressives have expressed frustration with him-and now he’s facing a serious primary challenge.

Mac D’Alessandro is the New England Political Director for the progressive Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and he’s pledging to “be on the side of consumers and workers, and not on the side of health insurance companies and big banks.”

So get in the game!  Now that Mac has demonstrated grassroots strength through the impressively successful signature drive, he has to raise money – and ConservaDem Stephen Lynch starts off with a $1.3 million campaign war chest.  So, please, please, please head over to Mac’s ActBlue page and contribute as generously as you can!

Here is some background on Mac, from his Facebook group:

Mac D’Alessandro of Milton, Massachusetts, has spent his career fighting on behalf of working families. For the past nine years, Mac has worked for the Service Employees International Union, most recently as New England Political Director. Prior to working for the SEIU, Mac worked for Greater Boston Legal Services, directing legislative efforts to help families combat poverty. Mac earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Human Ecology and Environmental Policy from Rutgers University and his Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School. Mac, 40, is married to Jennie Mulqueen, an early childhood arts educator, and is the proud father of five-year-old Sophie and three-year-old Atticus.

MA-09: Progressive Dem Mac D’Alessandro Takes on ConservaDem Stephen Lynch

SEIU’s New England regional political director Mac D’Alessandro has taken the primary plunge against incumbent Stephen Lynch.  (Lynch, for you Progressive Punch score followers, gets a lousy 2 rating, coming from Massachusetts, and has a lifetime progressive score on “Crucial Votes” of 81.87, which drops to 71.95 when focusing on 2009-2010.)

D’Alessandro promises to be a progressive alternative to Lynch.  D’Alessandro’s Facebook group, started this week, is up to almost 900 members.  I’d encourage you to join.  And he just got on ActBlue.  You can help replace ConservaDem Stephen Lynch with a real progressive by making a contribution to Mac D’Alessandro today.

D’Alessandro has also introduced himself to the local progressive netroots at Blue Mass Group:

Greetings, Blue Mass Group!  My name is Mac D’Alessandro.  I’m the New England Political Director for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); and, as of this week, I am a candidate for United States Congress from Massachusetts’ 9th district.  I am a progressive Democrat, and I’m running for Congress because I believe that the working families in our communities deserve a Congressman who will fight for them and who will actually be a leader on key issues that matter to them – from reforming our health care system (and building on the recently-passed reforms) to holding Wall Street accountable to investing in job creation for our communities to protecting our civil rights and ensuring equal protection under the law.

I have spent my career fighting for working families.  I’ve been with the SEIU for nine years.  Prior to that, I worked for Greater Boston Legal Services, directing legislative efforts to help families combat poverty.  I live in Milton with my wife Jennie, our children Sophie and Atticus, and our cat Nile.  Like most families throughout the district and across Massachusetts, my wife and I sit at our kitchen table on a regular basis, going over our bills and the family budget, paying for today while trying to save for tomorrow.  We see too often that the well-being of Fortune 500 companies are put in front of the good fortune of working families like ours.  That is why I’m running.  The 9th district deserves more than just another representative; the district deserves someone who will champion our Democratic ideals in the U.S. House of Representatives as we fight to balance the playing field for working families like ours.

There were 34 House Democrats who opposed health care reform.  Lynch was the only one from Massachusetts.  And, of those from the 34 who are running for re-election, I still don’t see a lot of primary challenges.  Supporting Mac D’Alessandro’s campaign can send a message nationally to Democrats wavering on other issues (like Wall Street reform).  Mac very much represents what it means to be a “Better Democrat.”  Please spread the word, join the Facebook group, and contribute any amount you can.

PA-Sen: Congressman Joe Sestak to Liveblog at Senate Guru This Thursday (Sep. 10) at 5pm

I’m very pleased to let you know that Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak, candidate for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania, will join us at Senate Guru tomorrow, Thursday September 10, at 5pm Eastern Time for a live blog session.  I’m sure he will update us on how his campaign is going, discuss a variety of issues, offer his thoughts in response to tonight’s Presidential address on health care reform, and, of course, field your questions.

I hope you will be able to join us for the first candidate liveblog session of the 2010 cycle at Senate Guru.  Bring your questions for Congressman Sestak and invite your political junkie friends to join us.  (And, if you’re really excited for the conversation, support Congressman Sestak with a contribution via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.)

In the meantime, enjoy reading Congressman Sestak’s diary from yesterday at Daily Kos – here’s an excerpt:

This week, join me in signing a petition, which calls on our congressional leaders, Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate, to hold an up or down roll call vote on the public option.

Right now, 14,000 people are losing their health care coverage every day because our costs are skyrocketing. Meanwhile, too many politicians in Washington, who seem to be ignoring the lessons from Wall Street, would rather leave our health insurance reform up to the insurance companies.  No matter what the final bill looks like, we deserve to know how our Representatives and Senators will vote on a public option – up or down!

On the web:

Joe Sestak for Senate

Senate Guru

Senate Guru Facebook Group

Senate Guru’s Expand the Map! ActBlue Page

OH-Sen, KY-Sen: Democratic Senate Candidates Appeal to the Progressive Netroots

With the 2010 Senate races in Ohio and Kentucky featuring two of the most competitive Democratic primaries of the cycle, in two of the key Senate battleground states, Senate Guru contacted the Democratic primaries’ major candidates – in Ohio, Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner; in Kentucky, Lieutenant Governor Dan Mongiardo and state Attorney General Jack Conway – to ask them all one question:

Why should the progressive netroots support your campaign in you state’s 2010 Democratic Senate primary?

To see the Ohio candidates’ responses side-by-side, click here.  To see the Kentucky candidates’ responses side-by-side, click here.

On the web:

Senate Guru

Senate Guru Facebook Group

PA-Sen: Netroots Overwhelmingly Support a Draft Sestak Effort

{First, a cheap plug for my blog Senate Guru.}

As many of you know, over the last five days, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in partnership with a number of progressive organizations and blogs including Senate Guru, asked those in the netroots, “Should a Draft Sestak movement be created to take on Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary?”

Netroots for Sestak The results are in and they are overwhelming.  85% of Pennsylvanian respondents and 86% of respondents nationally want Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak to challenge Arlen Specter in the 2010 Democratic Senate primary.  The poll has even gotten the attention of Congressman Sestak, as the PCCC points out:

“I am honored that so many of you took the time to vote in the recent grassroots Straw Poll. Let me tell you, I and many others were paying attention. If I decide to run it will be in large measure because of the grassroots energy of so many people like you. Until I and my family make that decision, please accept my thanks and my best wishes as you continue be active participants in our people-powered democracy. Thank you so very much!”

Due to such an overwhelming response, a Draft Sestak Fund has been created on ActBlue.  To contribute and further encourage Congressman Sestak to enter the race, click on the image below:

Draft Sestak Fund

If you need any additional motivation to contribute to this effort to draft a real Democrat to oppose Specter in the primary, consider Specter’s actions since announcing his Party switch:

1) Specter opposed the Obama budget.

2) Specter opposed the “cramdown” mortgage/bankruptcy reform, siding with banks over families.

3) Specter reiterated his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act.

4) Specter reiterated his opposition to President Obama’s nomination of Dawn Johnsen to the Office of Legal Counsel.

5) Specter announced his support for Republican Norm Coleman over Democratic Senator-elect Al Franken in Minnesota’s Senate race.

6) Specter promoted a website that appeared to raise money for cancer research but, in actuality, simply raised money for his campaign.

7) Specter denied reports that he told President Obama that he would be a “loyal Democrat” despite multiple reporters sticking to their story.

The netroots have displayed overwhelming support for Congressman Sestak to take on recently-Republican Arlen Specter.  Help the effort by contributing to the Draft Sestak Fund.

Tinklenberg’s surplus should be a lesson to us all

Last October, Representative Michele “Crazy as Steve King” Bachmann (MN-06) disgraced herself on “Hardball” and sparked a ridiculously successful fundraising drive for her Democratic opponent, El Tinklenberg. I was impressed by the enthusiasm and kicked in a few bucks for Tinklenberg myself, but I was dismayed to see bloggers continue to help him raise money even after he’d raised more than $750,000 and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had promised to spend an additional $1 million in his district. Within a few days of Bachmann’s notorious comments, Tinklenberg had more money than he needed to run a solid media and GOTV campaign during the final two weeks before the election.

Since most Congressional races against incumbents are longshots, I wanted to see the netroots expand the field by raising $50,000 or more for a large number of unheralded challengers.

Instead, the fundraising frenzy for Tinklenberg continued.

Yesterday Markos linked to this piece from CQ Politics about how Tinklenberg’s campaign committee was the largest donor to the DCCC in March, giving a total of $250,000:

You may recall that his Republican opponent was Rep. Michele Bachmann, whose mid-October comment that Obama “may have anti-American views” angered Democrats nationwide and spawned an avalanche of contributions to Tinklenberg in the waning days of a campaign that Bachmann won by 46 percent to 43 percent, with a third-party candidate taking 10 percent.

Apparently the money was coming in too fast for Tinklenberg to spend completely: he raised $3 million for his campaign, of which $1.9 million came in after October 15, and had $453,000 in leftover campaign funds at the end of 2008 and $184,000 at the end of March.

I’m not saying it wasn’t worth getting behind Tinklenberg. Bachmann is among the worst Republicans in Congress, and this district rightly seemed winnable. However, the netroots clearly funneled way more money to Tinklenberg than he could spend effectively. We got carried away by emotions and were not thinking strategically.

What if a million of the dollars we sent to the MN-06 race had been spread around 10 or 20 other districts? A bunch of the candidates I wanted to support as part of an expanded field got blown out by large margins, but an extra $50,000 could have made the difference for Josh Segall in AL-03, or for several candidates who weren’t on my radar, such as Bill Hedrick in CA-44.

The netroots rally for Tinklenberg started out as a good cause but took on a momentum of its own. It didn’t help that Tinklenberg sent fundraising e-mails to his new donors every day or two during the home stretch, even after he had more than enough money to close out the campaign.

Maybe the majority of blog readers who gave $10 or $20 or $50 to Tinklenberg wouldn’t have given to some other longshot Congressional challenger. Maybe people need an emotional trigger before they are willing to open their wallets. But in future election cycles, we need to be smarter about how we focus our energy and our fundraising efforts during the final weeks of a campaign. There’s no shortage of wingnuts worth targeting. Also, a fair number of good incumbent Democrats will probably need our help in 2010, depending on how the economy looks 18 months from now.

Any ideas or suggestions on how to raise money effectively during the next cycle would be welcome in this thread.

OH-16: Small Donors Back Record-Breaking Boccieri Quarter

Boccieri Banner

Schuring Bought by Big Oil, Corporate Executives that Slash 16th District Jobs

Canton, OH – 16th Congressional District Candidate John Boccieri raised $391,237.61 in the second fundraising quarter of 2008, bringing his total raised this cycle to $1,081,509.40 and his current cash on hand to $531,015.15.

Boccieri has a broad base of small donors. More than half of his contributions this quarter were $100 or less, and three in five of those small donations came from within the 16th District.

Schuring, who raised the state gas tax, has taken over $20,000 from oil executives, and fully two thirds of his funds this quarter came from big-money backers like Hoover and Timken who have laid off thousands of area workers within the past five years.

Senator Major John Boccieri(D), of Alliance, Ohio stated:

“I’m getting grassroots support from people who are fighting to keep their jobs while my opponent takes checks from the executives who are shipping their jobs away. The more people find out that Kirk Schuring is bankrolled by big oil executives and corporate job-killers, the more excited they get about our campaign. My supporters know that I’ll fight for lower energy costs, better health care, and the good jobs that our middle class families need.”

Protecting Our Asses: Rewarding Good Behavior from Congresspeople

I’m very disenchanted right now.  Somehow, we’re still in Iraq, don’t have universal healthcare, don’t have stem cell funding.  We’re seeing pushes for offshore drilling.  And this week, our party assumed the position when it comes to FISA.

What was even more infuriating is to see candidates that many candidates heavily supported the grassroots and the Netroots (both in the more limited sense that includes the page DailyKos, Swing State Project, etc collaborate on. and the broader sense to include all of the liberal websites such as Democracy for America and MoveON).  It’s both heartbreaking and infuriating to see people like Patrick Murphy, Kirsten Gillibrand, Nancy Boyda, Jim Webb, and Jerry McNerney, people we thought would be the vanguard of the coming progressive era, vote they way they do, with the likes of Murphy and Gillibrand joining the Blue Dogs!

I learned about reductionism in research methods.  This is the flawed logic of looking for THE cause of something instead of looking for all causes.  So, maybe we were had.  Maybe (probably?) the Netroots endorsement lists and frontpage diaries need to be more selective.  Maybe (hopefully) these are all still pretty progressive people who are just getting bad advice from their advisors and fellow Democratic caucusmembers.

But I think another cause is worth noting.  Because many are freshman, many won narrowly, and many represent competitive districts, many of these people are in close races.  That goes for the likes of Boyda, McNerney (although that one is looking better), Altmire, etc.  And considering that money, unfortunately, plays a big role in elections, these vulnerable incumbents need money to remain competitive and be re-elected.

This is where, I think the Netroots fail. I do not see one incumbent on the Orange to Blue list.  There wasn’t a single one on the Netroots List from the last election.  Democracy for America lacks incumbent members of Congress on their page.

I know many say that our incumbents are doing brisk fundraising.  Yes, but at what cost?  Let’s look at Patrick Murphy.  I see $11,750 from Comcast Corp and $10,000 from Credit Union National Assn, for example.  

So, I’m starting a fundraising page called “Protecting Our Asses.”  This page is designed to provide positive reinforcement for current, vulnerable Democratic legislators.  You vote the right way, you get support.  You throw you lot with the Blue Dogs are the corporatists, then let them bail you out.  

This will hopefully send a message that the Netroots will have watch your back if your watch ours, provide positive reinforcement for good behavior, give much need campaign funds to good but vulnerable Democrats, and dilute or possibly even replace contributions from less than progressive sources.

The first addition to the list is Carol Shea-Porter.  Shea-Porter won in what is, in my opinion, the second-most surprising, positive (because there are some negative surprises, ie. Christine Jennings) race in the country, second only to Nancy Boyda’s defeat of Jim Ryun.  Despite representing a light red district and facing a spirited challenge, Shea-Porter has been a progressive through and through.  Shea-Porter had a 98% Party Unity Score in 2007. She has a a 95.7% Progressive Punch score, making her the 29th most progressive member.  She gets A’s (above 90) in all but two categories and B’s in all.  She has perfect scores on the environment, corporate subsidies, government checks on corporate power, and labor rights.

Carol Shea-Porter voted the right way on stem cell research, Iraq funding, the Iraq escalation, timelines for Iraq, the minimum wage, prescription drug prices, and FISA.  Let’s reward her for taking the high road.…

OH-16: John Boccieri(D) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel to Discuss Skyrocketing Gas Prices at Canton Station

For Immediate Release

June 27, 2008

Contact: Bryan Collinsworth

330-754-0534 /

ADVISORY: Boccieri and Rep. Rahm Emanuel to Discuss Skyrocketing Gas Prices at Canton Station

Canton, OH – At 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, July 1, 16th Congressional District candidate John Boccieri will be joined by U.S. House Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) for a press conference at a Canton Sunoco station. The two will help customers pump gas and talk to them about skyrocketing fuel costs.

WHAT: Press Conference and Gas Pumping Session

WHO: State Sen. John Boccieri, Democratic candidate for

U.S.Congress in OH-16 and Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), House

Democratic Caucus Chair

WHERE: Sunoco Station, 1601 Tuscarawas St. , W. Canton , OH 44708

WHEN: 10:45 – 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sen. Boccieri and Rep. Emanuel will explain how high gas prices are hurting local residents and lay out their plans for short-term and long-term relief. Reporters are also welcome to listen in on their conversations with customers.

As Democratic Caucus Chair, Rep. Emanuel is the fourth highest-ranking Member of the U.S. House. His visit demonstrates the viability of Sen. Boccieri’s candidacy and the importance of the race to national Democrats. The contest in Ohio ‘s 16th was recently ranked the fourth most competitive U.S. House race in the nation by the Washington Post.

Questions about Draft Movements, People-Powered Candidates, and 08 Senate races

In every cycle, the DSCC has a handful of targets that it aggressively focuses on, along with any Democratic Senators that might be deemed vulnerable.  However, there are also those races that escape the DSCC’s radar for a little while (or a long while) and are vehemently trumpeted by the netroots and grassroots.  My question is, in those cases of netroots and grassroots joining hands and backing a candidate, how effective do these efforts tend to be?  Or are there not enough examples, due to the young lifespan of the netroots, to really know for sure? 

We all point out (correctly, I might add, as many have praised these efforts, including DSCC Chair Schumer) that Jon Tester and Jim Webb were greatly benefited by the efforts of the netroots/grassroots – “people powered”-candidates, if you will.  So, if 2006 was a starting point, can these types of efforts be effectively spread out to several states?  How early do they need to begin and what tools are most useful in persuading a potential candidate to make the jump?  Or are draft movements even the best way to go about getting an attractive candidate in?  Also, in presidential years it seems that the most well-known possibilities in red states are very cautious about jumping in, so these movements seem to focus on less conventional nominees, am I correct in that observation?  I will run down what I believe to the DSCC’s current top priorities, races that have heir apparents upon the retirement of an incumbent, and then 7 races that I believe would benefit from a candidate in the mold of Senators Tester and Webb.

It seems that the DSCC has five definite targets, at this point in the cycle, although each race has different dynamics going on.

COLORADO – Mark Udall, who seems well on his way to a cleared primary.

MAINE – Tom Allen, is expected to announce shortly and will also have no serious opposition.

NEW HAMPSHIRE – Steve Marchand and Katrina Swett are already announced candidates but could defer if the DSCC is successful in getting Jeanne Shaheen to run.  Either way, this will remain a top pick-up opportunity.

MINNESOTA – Al Franken and Mike Ciresi are in, however, there remains the possibility of an announcement being made by a state legislator.

OREGON – Speaking of draft movements, a very well-known one is underway to convince Pete DeFazio to make the jump.  In the meantime, Steve Novick has announced and, if DeFazio declines, Earl Blumenauer will be the next to be courted by the DSCC.

Those five races seem to be DSCC targets and will probably remain among their top priorities throughout the cycle.

Then there are these next four seats that could possibly become open and, in that event, likely gain heavy attention from the DSCC.

VIRGINIA – Mark Warner has been making waves about getting in and John Warner has been making waves about getting out.

NEW MEXICO – Richardson will either be on the ticket or Sec. of State, Udall or Chavez seem to only jump if it’s indeed open, Homans seems intent on going after Wilson, but Madrid might make the jump.

NEBRASKA – If Hagel is out, Fahey seems to be in.  If Fahey declines, then expect a netroots-driven draft movement to get Scott Kleeb to run.

MISSISSIPPI – It seems a little less likely that Cochran will retire, but Mike Moore goes in if he does.

That leaves what I believe to be a group of seven states that have incumbents that might be more vulnerable than pundits seem to believe and are also ripe for “people powered”-candidates in the mold of a Tester or a Webb. In fact, many of these states already have draft movements underway.  In the other four, I’m seeking information on whether a draft movement would even work in those states and, if so, what potential candidates (but still realistic) would be able to knock off the incumbent.

1)  NORTH CAROLINA – Brad Miller.  A draft movement has been going on for months (led by blue south, I believe) and seems to be gaining much traction.  Miller has recently stated having serious interest in the race.

2)  ALABAMA – Ron Sparks.  Sparks was mentioned in Schumer’s advice thread at dKos and has been the center of much attention since.  He also has shown interest and will make an announcement,  regarding his decision, soon.

3)  TEXAS – Rick Noriega.  Also a subject of netroots support.  The Texas House is currently in session, so, understandably, no announcement is expected until after May, from any Texas legislators.

Then there are the four states that a populist candidate could make it a competitive election.

4)  OKLAHOMA – The big names (Henry, Edmondson, Boren) have been contacted and declined, for various reasons.  State Senator Andrew Rice would be a great prospect for a draft movement.  Are there any indications he’s open to it?

5)  TENNESSE – Bredesen either thinks he’s on someone’s VP list, or doesn’t want to leave his office open to the GOP Senate Pres.  If Ford doesn’t jump in, would there be any chance of persuading Nashville mayor Bill Purcell to get in?  Are there any other Tennessee Dems that have been under the radar, but would be great for this race?

6)  KENTUCKY – Any progress on the U.S. Senate race will probably have to wait until the gubernatorial primary is over.  Who do Kentuckians want to see in this race?  Is Owen really the assumed nominee?

7)  GEORGIA – After Saxby’s distasteful 02 campaign, it would seem that this race would be getting more attention.  Anyone heard of attorney Jim Butler’s plans?

IDAHO – Larry LaRocco is our nominee, whether Craig is the nominee or not.

ALASKA – I wish Mark Begich could be persuaded to make this race, even if just for the added benefits of higher name ID for the 2010 race against Lisa Murkowski.

WYOMING, KANSAS, and SOUTH CAROLINA – No clue on any of these three.  Trauner might go for a House rematch, Sebelius won’t go for it, and I have no real knowledge about SC politics, so there’s that, lol.

So, what say you?  Are the seven races I identified actual possibilities?  Are there potential candidates that have been showing any level of interest, not just being mentioned as pipe dreams?  I know that we should all be backing our candidates, even if they are already going to have the full-backing of the DSCC, but it seems that if the more “longshot” of races were the ones that the grassroots and netroots spent most of their attention on, that would benefit all involved and expand our playing field.

I know I haven’t said anything that hasn’t already been touched upon, but I am just really interested in how candidates are drafted into the tougher races and how much success such efforts are met with.

(Also, this is my first diary, so pardon the length and lack of proper editing skills, lol.)