SSP Daily Digest: 4/30

PA-Sen: Apparently, Arlen Specter’s campaign has only received 15 requests for donation refunds so far in the wake of his switch to the Democratic Party. The returned funds only add up to a paltry $15K. (J)

The NRSC has launched a new robocall targeting Specter, by linking him to the NRSC’s arch-enemy… George W. Bush? (It replays Bush’s 2004 endorsement of then-GOPer Specter.) Apparently, the goal is to soften Specter up among the Dem electorate to lose a Democratic primary to a more reliable Dem, who would then be a little more vulnerable to Pat Toomey in the general… or something like that? This is one of those moments when you can’t tell if the GOP is crazy like a fox, or just crazy.

Specter bringing his decades of seniority with him over to the Democratic caucus is angering some key Democrats who get bumped down the totem pole as a result, according to The Hill. Specter could find himself wielding the gavel in an Appropriations subcommittee, or even back in charge of Judiciary if Patrick Leahy takes over Appropriations in 2010.

Specter’s switch has the whining flowing among some of the GOP’s sourest senators: Jim Bunning says the GOP “coddled” Specter for too long, while Jim Inhofe shows his grasp of GOP dead-ender logic, saying that Specter’s fleeing the party is a sign of conservatism’s strength and presages a comeback. In much the same way that if my house is on fire, that indicates that its value is about to go up, because it’s finally clearing out all that clutter.

FL-Sen: The DSCC is pulling out all the stops against Charlie Crist, and he hasn’t even taken any steps toward getting into the Senate race yet. They’ve launched a new TV spot (airing in the Tallahassee market) that attacks Crist for leaving Florida in financial disarray to jump to Washington, and attacks his heavy-on-socializing, light-on-work schedule.

CO-Sen: The GOP’s Weld County DA Ken Buck is trapped in the grey area between candidate and not-candidate for Senate; his website is up and running and has a “donate” button, but hasn’t filed his official paperwork and denied Monday’s reports that he was officially in.

RI-Gov: Lincoln Chafee seems to be having similar problems on just how official a candidate he is, too. His exploratory committee is open and he said he “is” running when appearing on Rachel Maddow on Tuesday, but then issued a release yesterday walking that back, to “my intentions are” to run for governor.

WI-Gov: The GOPers aren’t waiting any longer for Gov. Jim Doyle to publicly announce his re-elections; Milwaukee Co. Scott Walker launched his campaign yesterday. Walker (who briefly ran in the primary in 2006) doesn’t have the race to himself, though; last week, Mark Neumann, who represented WI-01 from 1994 to 1998 and then lost the 1998 senate race to Russ Feingold, announced his candidacy, touting his support from Tommy Thompson surrogate James Klauser.

AL-Gov: Not one but two more Republicans are sizing up the governor’s race, although neither one seems top-tier material: Hoover mayor (in the Birmingham suburbs) Tony Petelos, and Bill Johnson, the head of the Alabama Dept. of Economic and Community Affairs. (Johnson has a colorful backstory that wouldn’t help him much in the primary.)

OR-Gov: Local Republican pollster Moore Insight polled potential Dem candidates for governor on their favorables. Ex-gov. John Kitzhaber and Rep. Peter DeFazio posted pretty similar numbers: 49/21 for Kitz, 48/17 for the Faz. (Kitzhaber has higher negatives among Republicans, thanks to all those vetoes he handed out.) Former SoS Bill Bradbury is at 29/10, and Steve Novick, who barely lost the 2008 Senate primary, is at 14/4.

GA-01: Long-time Rep. Jack Kingston has often been the subject of speculation in the Georgia governor’s race, but he confirmed that he’ll be running for re-election to the House. Interestingly, he’s supporting state senator Eric Johnson in the race instead of fellow Rep. Nathan Deal, but that’s because Johnson is a fellow Savannah resident and his son’s godfather.

VA-10: The subject of much retirement-related speculation due to age and a rapidly bluening seat (now R+2), Rep. Frank Wolf confirmed he’ll be running for re-election in 2010. He may face state senator Mark Herring or delegate David Poisson.

OH-18: Rep. Zack Space has been added to the DCCC’s defense-oriented Frontline program. Space was the target of an NRCC TV spot earlier, but this isn’t so much a question of newfound vulnerability as it’s confirmation he’s done flirting with a Senate run and committing to his House seat for 2010.

CA-36: Suddenly embattled Rep. Jane Harman has hired Clinton-era fixer Lanny Davis to help her negotiate the legal and PR minefield she finds herself in, regarding the wiretap imbroglio. 2006 primary challenger Marcy Winograd is revving up her efforts, sensing Harman’s weakness. Winograd, who earned 38% in 2006, has begun raising funds for another try.

NY-20: Republican Jim Tedisco says that he is “not planning” on seeking a rematch against freshly-minted Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy, but refuses to explicitly rule out a run. (J)

WA-08: One more tea leaf that Suzan DelBene may be left holding the bag in WA-08: State Rep. Ross Hunter, one of the first Dems to crack the GOP stranglehold on the Eastside and a potentially strong contender in WA-08, is running for King County Executive. The already-crowded Exec race is in Nov. 2009, not 2010, but indicates Hunter’s interests lie locally, not in DC.

Votes: The 17 Democrats who voted against the Obama budget are all familiar dissenters, and most of them are in difficult Republican-leaning districts: Barrow, Boren, Bright, Childers, Foster, Griffith, Kratovil, Kucinich, Markey, Marshall, Matheson, McIntyre, Minnick, Mitchell, Nye, Taylor, and Teague.

GA-01: Poll says Jack Kingston in Precarious Position

GA-01The newspaper that couldn’t be bothered to endorse anybody (who could have predicted early voting?) says:

The position of Jack Kingston is equally precarious. Kingston’s support is exactly 50 percent with almost one in four registered voters undecided, according to the survey, making a runoff in Georgia’s First Congressional District with challenger Bill Gillespie a possibility.

Valdosta Daily Times on a telephone survey of 453 random phone numbers (margin of error 4.6%) in Lowndes County on 16-26 October by the Center for Applied Research (CAR) at Valdosta State University (VSU), Professor James LaPlant.

I have the whole poll, and among respondents who said they’d already voted, Kingston was below 50%. This is ignominious for Kingston, who in 2006 got 59% against 41% for Democrat Jim Nelson in Lowndes County.

Much more here.

GA-01: Saturate the Market for BIll Gillespie and Dump Jack Kingston

Goal ThermometerJack Kingston isn’t just the goofy wingnut who made Worser on Olbermann. He’s the chief propagandist for the Republican party, in charge of making up the language of divisive politics like “subpoenas are disruptive”, “liberal baloney”, and “Obama isn’t patriotic because he doesn’t wear a flag pin.” All that and he brags about being the most conservative member of Congress, and his voting record bears that out: he gets an F from, a C from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and a zero from the League of Conservation Voters; worse than Saxby Chambliss!

Much more here about how Kingston uses his goofy persona to hide a much darker side.

Here’s a real chance to get rid of Jack “flag pin” Kingston!

Bill Gillespie:

Here are still more reasons Bill Gillespie can beat Jack Kingston:

All the surrounding GA districts are already Democratic and GA-01 is traditionally, the biggest county is already blue, etc.

A publisher that blankets the district says:

Coastal Empire News, publishers of Savannah Daily News, The Business Report & Journal and Coastal Family Magazine, is endorsing Savannah’s Bill Gillespie (D) for Congress to represent the 1st Congressional District over incumbent Jack Kingston (R).

It is painful to no longer endorse our friend, Jack Kingston. Many of us know Jack and his family personally and cherish their friendship and their public service. Jack Kingston is a good man, personally, but he has never had a viable or credible Democratic opponent to truly consider.

All that and Bill can fly!

Jack Kingston:

  • used to have an advantage as an incumbent: not so much this year of high gas and low retirement, and people are sick of him embarrassing us on TV
  • has more money than Bill, but whenever he uses it he reminds people Bill is running
  • Jack’s main advantage is a lot of people still don’t know Bill is running

Let’s fix that!

TV and newspaper ads in GA-01 are among the cheapest in the country. $3,000 will saturate the market for the last 3 days.

Help oust Jack and elect Bill.

Or follow Jack’s advice, and get married and work longer hours.

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

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GA-01: Bill Gillespie Snags Major Endorsement over Jack Kingston

Progressive Democrat gets endorsement from newspapers distributed throughout his district:

Coastal Empire News, publishers of Savannah Daily News, The Business Report & Journal and Coastal Family Magazine, is endorsing Savannah’s Bill Gillespie (D) for Congress to represent the 1st Congressional District over incumbent Jack Kingston (R).

Savannahian Bill Gillespie is a highly educated, fiscally conservative Democrat, a war hero of the Iraq War, a recipient of the Bronze Star and a candidate with a vision of how to bring jobs back to the 1st District in manufacturing, alternative energy and the timber industry.

And as for Jack “flag pin” Kingston:

It is painful to no longer endorse our friend, Jack Kingston. Many of us know Jack and his family personally and cherish their friendship and their public service. Jack Kingston is a good man, personally, but he has never had a viable or credible Democratic opponent to truly consider.

And these times force us to step back, and take a hard look at his actual voting record on critical issues including fighting all measures to set a timeline to get out of Iraq, his failure to fight runaway Federal spending as a member of the House Appropriations committee that develops the budget, his leadership in defense of Tom Delay and President Bush as well as Republican party smear campaigns this election cycle, and his failure to file his personal financial disclosure information due last May 15 even though he was up for re-election. These votes and others lead us to believe that it is time for a change in 1st District representation.

Frankly, Jack began to lose our support last Feb. 27 when he appeared on the Dan Abrams show and said it was okay to “question Sen. Barack Obama’s patriotism because he doesn’t regularly wear an American flag lapel pin.”

Problem was, sitting there on the TV set with the cameras rolling, Jack wasn’t wearing a flag pin. These types of smear tactics are repugnant and demean elected officials in an era when voters are begging for straight talk on the issues versus old-style personal attack politics.

Yet, he continues to use such tactics, seeking to smear his opponent Bill Gillespie in this race, accusing him of lying about his educational degrees and other achievements, despite two news organizations having confirmed that Gillespie’s resumé is accurate.

Much more in the endorsement, con Kingston and pro Gillespie. I thought I’d written a damning diary about Slappy and a glowing recommendation of Bill, but these guys have got me beat!

Concluding statement:

Bill Gillespie is a credible candidate and a man in touch with the needs of the military establishment in our region, which is a critical component of our local business economy.

To achieve a change, we must change.

All that and Bill Gillespie can fly!

Oh yeah: you can, too.

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GA-01: Why Rick Goddard is like Bill Gillespie: with National Party Money He Can Win

Rick Goddard is a retired general running as a Republican against Democrat Jim Marshall in GA-08.  Bill Gillespie is a retired Lt. Col. running as a Democrat against Republican Jack Kingston in GA-01. The Republican party is pouring cash into the GA-08 race, and Marshall is having to fight for political survival. In GA-01 the national Democratic party has done nothing, zip, nada. If you realize Jack Kingston is chief propagandist for the Rpublican party, you might think kicking Kingston out would be as important as keeping Marshall in.

Georgia news media are finally catching on to five military veterans are running for Congress as Democrats this year. This is old news to bloggers (dailykos, like getting the newspaper six months in advance!). Here’s somebody finally connecting the dots:

In Georgia, at least four of the 2008 “Band of Brothers” (Bobby Saxon, Bill Gillespie, Bill Jones, and Doug Heckman) are running uphill battles against Republican incumbents (Broun, Kingston, Price and Linder, respectively).  If any one of them (especially Saxon) received the type of national party support that the GOP is giving to veteran Rick Goddard to oust Democratic Party Congressman Jim Marshall, these districts could become competitive.

Add to this the five to one ratio of retired military officers running as Democrats rather than Republicans, and think about what that means about political sentiment among the military and military families and towns with military bases, of which there are four major ones in GA-01. Add to that the massive Obama GOTV, especially in GA-01. Bill Gillespie polled more votes in his primary than Kingston did in his. Bill has twice debated Kingston and fought him to a draw. Gillespie is on the air with his TV ads, and Bill Gillespie can beat Jack Kingston.

There’s still time, DCCC, swingstate project, openleft, dailykos! If RCCC can do it for Rick Goddard, you can do it for Bill Gillespie.

GA-01: Jack “Worse than Saxby” Kingston cuts and runs; DECLINES to debate Bill Gillespie– again

Jack Kingston has DECLINED to debate Bill Gillespie for GA-01. Is Jack afraid to debate his record? That’s understandable, since he’s worse than Saxby on the middle class, on veterans’ issues, and on the environment.

Or maybe  he just wanted to join the pack of his fellow Republicans who DECLINED: John Linder, leaving Doug Heckman the floor for GA-07; Tom Price, leaving Bill Jones free rein in GA-06; and Lynn “uppity” Westmoreland, leaving Stephen Camp GA-03 camped in front of the TV cameras.

Jack only debated Bill once, in Brunswick, where Bill trounced him, so it’s no wonder Jack has backed out of the two debates scheduled since then.

Guess we’ll get to see Bill Gillespie take 30 minutes instead of 3 to remind us why he’s better than Jack for Georgia’s First District.

That’s worth going to a debate party. Or, if you’re going to be in Atlanta, go on down to GPB and join the live audience.

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GA-01: Bill Gillespie Debates Jack Kingston

brunswickdebate.pngBack in June, somebody noted that if Bill Gillespie got more votes in his primary than Jack Kingston did in his, the DCCC would come down and do a poll. Well, BIll got more votes than Jack in the primary. Nobody’s ever done that before. DCCC still hasn’t done anything, but with Bill’s tireless campaigning and massively increased voter registration in his district, and the stars are aligned for Bill Gillespie to win GA-01.

Jack Kingston (you remember him, Mr. flag pin, leader of the privatize Social Security movement, proponent of drilling off the Georgia coast, etc.) tried to ignore Bill for a long time, but recently debated him in Brunswick, Georgia.

This is a substantive debate on the issues, with the moderator (Brunswick News reporter Jess Davis) sitting between the two candidates and pitching real questions.

Jack seems peeved to have to be on the same forum as some upstart; sound like certain other debates? Bill was the keynote speaker at the Valdosta Obama office opening.

Bill Gillespie wants to get us out of Iraq by handing over to the Iraqis, preferably within 18 months. Jack Kingston wants any timetable to be decided by the general in Baghdad.

Jack Kingston promotes himself as a champion of renewable energy (although local students don’t agree) but then gets off on offshore drilling.

Bill Gillespie answers Jack’s drilling hatchet with a scalpel and then describes his vision for renewable energy jobs for south Georgia and ties it to extensive existing rail infrastructure.

Jack says he’s a champion of the middle class, and Bill calls him on it, pointing out that consistently gives Jack an F.

There’s more: economy, health care, regulation, etc. Watch it and see what you think. Want to knock out the Republican theme team leader? Here’s your chance, with a progressive Democrat, Bill Gillespie.

GA-01 Another longshot worth attention?

Writing on the blog for Democrats in the Savannah area, someone named karen wrote:

Bill Gillespie has been talking to the DCCC … he may have a real chance of unseating Jack Kingston [in GA-01] … The huge increase in voter registration in Georgia this year is key.

The important thing we need to do is to turn out the vote in the primary. If Bill gets more votes in the primary than Jack, the DCCC will come down and do a poll … put him on the list of candidates they support.

The Georgia primary will be June 16 (a Monday? but I’m looking at the SOS page).

Karen, Bill, all the Democrats in Georgia, I wish you good luck. This district went for W by 66.3% and for the incumbent Repub in ’06 by 68.5%. But you never will win if you don’t try.

Other postings make clear that Georgia Democrats expect to benefit from much attention from the Obama campaign, with paid staff and Fellows and other volunteers, of course, working on voter registration all summer.

Looks like they have a great candidate, for this or almost any district.

Bill Gillespie of Chatham County served 23 years in the U.S. Army, retiring last year as a Lt. Colonel. In 2003, he served in Iraq … earning a Bronze Star.

Most recently, Gillespie worked as Army ROTC Program Director, charged with supervising programs at Georgia Southern University, Savannah State University, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah College of Art & Design and St. Leo University. He also ran all of southeast Georgia’s Army Junior ROTC Programs.

Well, there you are. It’s southeast Georgia, from the Savannah suburbs to the Florida border. It’s where we need to win if we are going to purge the reichtwingers from our body politic. It won’t be easy, but it’s worth doing — and this race just may be worth watching this time around.

FIVE Georgia vets run for Congress as Democrats

Pretty interesting observation from CQ Politics.  Four veterans, three of whom fought in Iraq, are all running as Democrats in four different districts in Georgia.  (And actually, First Coast News shows there are five, not four.)

The five are:

GA-01: Bill Gillespie

GA-06: Bill Jones

GA-07: Doug Heckman

GA-10: Bobby Saxon

GA-11: Bud Gammon

First Coast News has more on the candidates.

“When you add all of the guys up together, we’ve probably got close to 75 years of combined military service,” said Bill Jones, a former Air Force officer from Marietta who is planning to launch a campaign this week against Rep. Tom Price of Roswell. “I’m excited about the idea of veterans stepping up and representing the Democratic Party.”


Along with Jones, 53, an Air Force Academy graduate and former commercial airline pilot who is now an executive at a technology firm, the candidates are:

— Doug Heckman, 48, of Norcross, a West Point graduate and former Army colonel who served as a senior adviser to the Iraqi military in east Baghdad in 2006 and 2007. Heckman is trying to unseat eight-term Rep. John Linder of Duluth.

— Bill Gillespie, 44, of Tybee Island, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who was a senior logistician during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Gillespie is challenging eight-term Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah.

— Bobby Saxon, 46, of Nicholson, an Army veteran and Georgia National Guard major who served with the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq in 2005. Saxon, who runs a software consulting firm, is challenging freshman Rep. Paul Broun of Athens.

— Bud Gammon, 57, of Rome, an Air Force Academy graduate and pilot during the tail end of the Vietnam War. Gammon, now a commercial airline pilot. Gammon is running against three-term Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta.

And since we live in the reality-based community, and not the pie-in-the-sky one…

Despite public dissatisfaction with the war, Democratic veterans have not fared well as congressional candidates. In 2006 only a handful won seats, including just one Iraq veteran, Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania — despite the party’s boasting that more than 50 veterans were running.

Let’s keep that in mind before going overboard with optimism.

Still, it is rather interesting that so many Iraq War vets are returning home and running for Congress as Democrats, isn’t it?

Now, for those that have issues outlined on their webpages, I do like what I’ve seen so far, for the most part.  I’m under no illusions that these are Democrats running in the reddest of red districts, and in Georgia, no less.  We shouldn’t expect “liberals”, and if you really want to apply those kinds of litmus tests, then here’s a gun for you to shoot yourself in the foot.

But on the major issues, and on what the Republican Party now stands for, these people get it.

Gillespie said Republicans are trying to capitalize on emotion and patriotism while ignoring the huge costs to the military.

“They are playing the politics of fear, and Americans are tired of it,” said Gillespie. “We’ve been training Iraqi forces for five years. I do not believe the Iraqis cannot stand up and defend themselves.”

Aside from Iraq, the candidates say Georgia’s Republicans — among the most conservative in Congress — are too partisan and, as a result, ineffective.

Heckman, who compares his politics to that of former conservative Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn, says his opponent, Linder, has done little over a 16-year career other than push for a long-shot “Fair Tax” plan to eliminate the IRS and shift to a consumption tax.

“He’s written a couple of books and it’s been a profitable endeavor for him … but can anybody name anything this guy has ever done?” Heckman said, referencing Linder’s books with conservative radio commentator Neal Boortz.

Heckman, especially, is really trying to draw contrasts between himself and incumbent John Linder.  I don’t think many Kossacks will be enamored with Heckman’s calling for a Balanced Budget Amendment, but his explanation for it is a pretty good one, focusing on what we’re doing to our children.

The new budget – the Fiscal 2009 budget – has been submitted by the President and is already in deficit by over $400 BILLION dollars. Unacceptable. Collectively, we can not do this to our children. Or to rephrase, we can, but SHOULD not. The bill will come due someday.  Current politicians know they will probably be gone by then.  I say stop it NOW.

Heckman, while saying he’s “generally” a free market kind of guy, does talk about the uneven playing field, and highlights China as a prime example.  He also chides Linder for not believing in man-made global warming.

Bill Gillespie still has a bare bones issues page, but one thing that caught my eye was his calling for the repeal of No Child Left Behind.  Reminds me of Jon Tester calling for the repeal of the Patriot Act.  No fiddling around with it at the borders, just repeal the entire damn thing.  And the environmentalist in me is intrigued by his “South Georgia Alternative Energy Initiative”.

Saxon talks about providing all Georgia children with healthcare, and making it affordable for everyone else.  Reminds me of what a certain presidential candidate is saying….  He also calls for more Alternative Energy industries working with our top research universities in creating green jobs and making our country more energy independent.

Gammon and Jones don’t have an actual issues page set up yet, so I can’t comment on those.

All in all, yes, these are going to be pretty ridiculous longshots for the Democrats, but this is Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy in action.  Challenge EVERY seat, no matter how red, with credible candidates.  And these veterans are most certainly credible.