Whilst the Massachusetts Senate Special and a series of dodgy house polls have Democrats convinced that the November midterms will be apocalyptic; the fact is that a number of Republican held House districts are in fact vulnerable to a takeover from Democratic challengers.
Below the fold for all the details and hey go check out the 2010 Race Tracker Wiki over at Open Congress for all your House, Senate and Gubernatorial needs.
***This diary should be read in conjunction with the diary by Silver Spring***
There are 5 groups of races that are or might become or potentially should be competitive in November. They include Obama Republican districts, districts with very good candidates and districts of a Republican PVI of R+4 and less.
The first ten races below are ranked in order of probability of takeover. These races WILL be competitive in November.
1. DE-AL (Castle) – D+7,
Stick a fork in this one it is done.
With Castle running for the Senate does anyone really think there is a Republican in Delaware who can hold this district for the GOP? Especially as the Democratic Party currently leads in voter reg – 288,380 to 180,620.
With Carney sitting on a 100/1 Cash on hand advantage as at the end of December and the only poll available showing Carney with a 23 point lead this 62% Obama district is certain to end up in the Democratic column in November.
2. LA-02 (Cao) – D+25,
Incumbent GOP Rep Anh Cao has one thing and one thing alone going for him – a Cash on Hand advantage of $91K as at the end of December – $316K-$225K.
Every other indicator tells us that presumptive Democratic nominee State Rep Cedric Richmond will steamroll his way through this race in November.
After all Obama got no less than 75% of the vote in this D+25 district. Also there are 237,103 registered Democrats and only 39,753 registered Republicans. And lastly of course, we can all remember how Cao only won in 2008 courtesy of an awfully corrupt Democratic incumbent – Bill Jefferson.
Cao is toast.
3. IL-10 (Kirk) – D+6,
With Republican Dold and Democrat Seals emerging from competitive primaries this open District race is definitely on the radar for 2010.
Dold leads in COH $198K/$145K (as at 13th January) but Seals has the rolodex to crank up the fundraising on his 3rd attempt at the district, particularly if supporters of his vanquished primary opponent – Julie Hamos – circle the wagons and pitch in (she did raise over $1 mill). To this point Seals has outraised Dold too.
Seals will win here for two interlinked reasons:
1) Obama got 61% of the vote here in 2008.
2) Dold is just not moderate enough to attract crossover votes the way Mark Kirk did.
– I should note I volunteered for Seals in 2008 and am ridiculously biased.
Presumptive nominee Doug Pike has more than $1 Mill COH as at 31st December, although it is largely self funded. BTW at this stage in 2008 Gerlach had raised almost $1.5 mill and still almost lost 52%/48% over a 2nd tier candidate.
This D+4, 58% Obama district (that also voted for Kerry like all of my top 6 races) is at worst a 50/50 pick up chance.
5. PA-15 (Dent) – D+2,
For the first time Dent has a serious top tier opponent. Having dispatched a serious of 2nd tier candidates Dent is in for the race of his life in 2010. Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan seems to be the real deal. As well as already being a public official Callahan has in the last quarter outraised Dent and they are basically equal in
Dent must be worried as his campaign released a very dodgy internal poll showing him leading 58%/27% but refused to release the internals to go with it (a sure sign of bodgy polling)as is the claimed Obama approval rating of 41% compared to a Pennsylvania wide 57% (According to Gallup). Obama won this district in 2008 56%/43%.
Callahan has a shot here. Either way it will be competitive.
6. WA-08 (Reichert) – D+3,
Washingtons’ 8th congressional district is one of a handful that are on the perennial target list for Democrats that we didn’t win in 2006 or 2008. Will 2010 be the year? Yeh quite possibly.
Obama carried this one 56%/42% in 2008 whilst Reichert was held to 52.78% by Darcy Burner.
So far so good.
As at the end of December Democrat Delbene led the COH race $773,327/$477,149 and had raised to that point $1,047,873 to Reicherts’$985,665. Whilst almost half of Delbenes’ total came from a loan from herself to the campaign she has shown herself to be adept at fundraising from others. Yep we have a self funder who can also fundraise.
Watch this one on election night – very closely.
7. CA-03 (Lundgren) – R+6,
Well whoever would have thunk it; CA-03 as a competitive race!
Democrat Amri has just come off a $249K fundraising quarter and has more COH than Republican Lungren ($739K/$526K), who only raised $138K. At this point in the cycle Amri has outraised Lungren as well ($871K/$732K).
Add to this the facts that Obama won the district 49.3%/48.8%, Lungren only won in 2008 by 49.49%/43.93% and the voter registration advantage for the GOP has decreased from 6.6% in 2006 to near parity (38.46%/39.04%)as of the start of 2010 and we have a race on our hands.
This one will be very interesting come November.
8. NE-02 (Terry) – R+6,
Yep hard to believe that a congressional district in Nebraska could be competitive but the 2nd shall be so. Remember that Obama carried this Omaha based district 50%/49% and the makings are there for a good race. State Senator Tom White is quite an adept fundraiser for a challenger too. After a 180K December quarter he has $343K COH compared to incumbent Republican Terry’s $543K COH. Given that challengers rarely lead the COH chase this one is set for a great race in November.
9. SC-02 (Wilson) – R+9,
SC-02 will be know as the 2010 Moneybomb District! Why? because at the end of December incumbent Republican Joe “you lie” Wilson and his Democratic challenger Robert Miller have raised a breathtaking $5.5 Million between them. Wilson has $2,341,915 COH and Miller has $1,678,436 COH! To be honest Millers’ COH should by itself make this one competive.
However when you consider that Wilson was held to 53.74% in 2008 and that whilst McCain won easily 54%/45%, that is only 1% better than the neighbouring 5th, held by Democrat John Spratt and you have a barn burner in the making.
This race will be fascinating on election night – no doubt about it!
10. KS-04 (Tiahrt) – R+14,
Despite its’ heavily Republican nature (McCain won here 58%/40%) this race will be competitive in November – absolutely.
Democrat Goyle is fundraising up a storm having raised $656K as at the end of December. His closest rival – Republican Pompeo – has only raised $429K. Last quarter Goyle managed a staggering (for a Kansas Democrat) $253K for the quarter and currently has $583K COH; a fair effort to say the least. Pompeo meanwhile managed only $78K for a COH total of $318K. Republican Kelsey FWIW, despite an impressive 233K quarter, has only $40K COH!
Love to see a poll here but definitely one to watch on election night.
This second group of Districts are likely to be competitive in November but are not there yet:
AL-03 (Rogers) – R+9,
Democrat Joshua Segall had a $100K December quarter and is behind in COH by only $216K/$392K.
He ran in 2008 and kept Rogers to 46%/54% as McCain carried the District 56%/43%.
Not a friendly district for Democrats but if Segall can file some 6 figure fundraising quarters then this race could well be up there in November.
CA-45 (Bono Mack) – R+3,
Democratic candidate (and Palm Springs Mayor) Stephen Pougnet is on the cusp of a very competitive challenge to GOP incumbent Mary Bono Mack – finally a top tier candidate here.
Obama carried this district 51.5%/46.9% and the GOP registration gap has shrunk from 10% to 3.48% between 2006 and the start of this year – 38.02%/41.50% currently.
The only fly in the ointment (apart from the national political environment!) is of course fundraising. Whilst Pougnet has outraised Bono Mack in two of the last three quarters and has slightly then than half as much COH as her $402K/$893K his COH actually went backwards by 10K last quarter despite a $150K quarter. Pougnet just needs a good solid $200K March Quarter IMHO to cash him up for the stretch and make this race definitely competitive.
FL-25 (Diaz-Balart OPEN) – R+5,
With Mario Diaz-Balart bolting to run in the 21st to replace his retiring brother Lincoln this race will be one to watch.
McCain carried this one 50%/49% whilst Diaz-Balart was held to 53%. The Republican Voter registration advantage is only 3364; 137,913/134,549 as at the 2008 election. This is down from 21818 at the 21006 midterms.
Diaz-Balart had only $178K COH as at the end of December too BTW. Expect a top tier Dem to jump in here, maybe 2006 nominee Joe Garcia, and at that point this one should become competitive. The only Democrat currently running, Luis Rivera has yet to file a fundraising report having jumped in only a month or so ago.
MN-03 (Paulsen) – R+0,
Despite missing out on our preferred candidate State Sen Terri Bonoff there is every chance that this district that Obama carried 52%/46% in 2008 will be competitive. Democratic presumptive nominee Maureen Hackett only got into the race in October and self funded $103K of her $138K quarter ($129K COH). The March quarter will be telling but if as I suspect she has a really good go at fundraising up a storm this one will be competitive. The cloud on the horizon, of course, is incumbent Republican Paulsens’ $943K COH!
MN-06 (Bachmann) – R+7,
As luck would have it we have two viable candidates in this district that McCain carried 53%/45%.
Maureen Reed has 388K COH after a $208K December quarter.
Tarryl Clark (who I think will be the nominee) has yep $388K COH after a $294K December quarter. These are great numbers for both candidates. The only reason this one isn’t yet on the competitive list is batshit crazy Michelle Bachmanns’ $1 million COH!
If either Democrat can manage another $250K March quarter then this race is on for young and old despite its’ Republican bent.
OH-12 (Tiberi) – D+1,
Democratic candidate Brooks has her work cut out running against incumbent Republican Tiberi. He and his $1.2 mill COH! And his $449K December quarter haul. Brooks must we wondering what more she needs to do after her 4th quarter haul of $231K, leaving her with $328K COH – a very respectable set of numbers. Will this district that Obama carried 54%/44% be competitive in November? Dunno – but another 200K quarter will at least make Brooks (already a top tier challenger) quite viable.
Time will tell.
The third group of Districts are those that may, but are unlikely, to become competitive:
CA-48 (Campbell) – R+6,
Obama won this district 49.5%/48.6% and the GOP voter reg advantage has declined from 22% to a still whopping 15% as at Jan 1. That stat and Republican Campbells’ $1.031M/$171K COH advantage over Democrat Krom makes it unlikely that this race will become competitive. But it may. After all Krom has raised $299K so far this cycle including a reasonable but not great $90K in the December quarter. Campbell’s $500K December quarter makes it very tough though.
CA-50 (Bilbray) – R+3,
A 60K odd December quarter does not a competitive race make, especially when the COH only increases by $10K!. Busby has been beaten twice before by the current incumbent, and unfortunately seems headed that way again. Working in her favor is the fact that Obama carried the district 51.3%/47.1% and the GOP voter reg advantage has declined from 14% in 2006 to 7.58% (39.91%/31.33%) as at the start of this year. However this will be a what might have been IMHO.
MN-02 (Kline) – R+4,
With former Democratic State Rep Shelley Madore only jumping in at the start of January this race has yet to solidify. On the down side is the fact that McCain carried this district 50%/48%. On the upside incumbent Republican Kline has (only!) $358K COH after a modest $152K December quarter.
Wait and see but it may be a bit late in the cycle for this one to fire up.
NJ-07 (Lance) – R+3,
Yet another district where the Democratic candidate (Potosnak) has only just got into the race so it may take some time for things to play out. Obama carried this district 50%/49% and Leonard has only $347K COH (not a lot for a congressional race in New Jersey) and raised only 60K in the December quarter. Interestingly enough the Democrats have a 16K voter registration advantage here as at November 2009 – 121,553/105,943.
TX-32 (Sessions) – R+8,
A $151K 4th quarter and $114K COH should be a promising start. Unless your opponent is the head of the NRCC and has $1.075 million COH. Oh dear.
Roggio seems to be quite a credible candidate but without a monster March quarter he just isn’t going to be in a position to be competitive in November.
McCain carried this district 53%/46% too btw – red but not ruby red.
And fourthly these districts have either 3rd tier candidates or candidates whose fundraising precludes a competitive race at this stage:
CA-24 (Gallegly) – R+4,
A 15K December quarter for leading Democrat Tim Allison means this one can’t be competitive; the resources simply aren’t there. This is all the more so given that Gallegly has $836K COH to Allison’s $35K . Pity because Obama carried this one 50.5%/47.7% and the GOP voter reg advantage has declined from 10% to 5.75% (41.53%/35.78%) between 2006 and the start of this year.
CA-25 (McKeon) – R+6,
Our candidate, 2008 nominee Jackie Conaway hasn’t even registered with the FEC – Game over.
Pity as Obama carried the district 49.4%/48.3% and the GOP voter reg advantage has declined to 2% over the last 3 years!
CA-26 (Dreier) – R+3,
2008 Democratic challenger Warner had a poor December quarter raising only 37K and his COH is only $123K compared to incumbent Republican Dreier’s $1.025 million! Obama won the district 51/47 and the GOP voter reg advantage has dropped from 11% to 4.5% as of the start of 2010.
Despite that the COH gap and Warners’ poor December fundraising means this one is unlikely to be competitive this November alas.
CA-44 (Calvert) – R+6,
Obama won this district 49.3%/48.6% and the GOP voter reg advantage has decreased from 15% in 2006 to 8% as at Jan 5th 2010. Competitive race right? Wrong. Democrat Hedrick who only lost in 2008 48.8/51.2 just can’t seem to crank up the fundraising. Having raised only 29K in the December quarter he now trails in the COH race $95K/$519K.
Such a shame.
FL-10 (Young) – R+1,
State Sen Charlie Justice – what a great name for a congressional candidate – is the best candidate that the Democrats have run against republican incumbent Bill Young in years and years. It is such a pity then that Justices’ fundraising is so poor – $59K last quarter and $91K COH.
This is a District that should be competitive; Obama carried it 52%/47% and the Repub voter reg advantage declined from 169,982/153,728 in 2006 to 170,749/164,400 in 2008.
Alas but for that poor fundraising.
FL-12 (Putnam OPEN) – R+6,
Democrat Lori Edwards won’t make this a competitive election with a $26K December quarter ($60K COH). This is all the more so given that presumptive Republican nominee Dennis Ross has $273K COH as at the end of December after an admittedly poor December quarter; raising only $76K himself.
This is a pity given that McCain only carried the District 50/49 and the Democratic voter reg advantage INCREASED from 2006 – 2008 from 153,189/166,794 to 164,780/192,958. WOW
As an open seat this one will almost certainly be a what might have been in November unless Edwards can seriously step up her fundraising.
FL-15 (Posey) – R+6,
The Democratic candidate Shannon Roberts has not filed a fundraising report despite filing to run over a year ago. Game over.
Pity as this 51%/48% McCain district, with it s’ repidly decreasing GOP voter reg advantage (189,872/158,363 – 2006 199,669/183,100 – 2008) should really have been competitive. Oh well.
IL-06 (Roskam) – R+0,
The race has not yet really taken shape in this district that Obama carried 56%/43%. Democratic challenger Ben Lowe filed for the race halfway through November and raised a scant $14K. Republican incumbent Roskam on the other hand after a $350K December quarter is sitting on $547K.
We really won’t know whether this will be competitive or not until after the March fundraising filings come in. I suspect it won’t as both parties will be focused on tussles in the 10th, 11th and 14th.
Maybe in 2012.
IL-13 (Biggert) – R+1,
2008 Democratic nominee Harper is back in 2010 in this district that Obama carried 54%/44%.
Unfortunately a $42K December quarter ($90K COH) does not cut the mustard against Republican incumbent Biggert who had a $142K December quarter ($637K COH).
Harper is a good, credible candidate who kept Biggert to 53% in 2008. Unless he has a monster March quarter this one just isn’t going to be competitive in November.
IL-16 (Manzullo) – R+2,
Whilst Obama carried this district 53%/46% this one only just scraped in as a potentially competitive race. And it won’t be with Democrat Gaulrapp raising a scant $14K ($7K COH) in the December quarter. Manzullo raised $150K ($355K COH) in the same period.
IA-04 (Latham) – R+0,
This race is really still just coming together. However that Democrat Maske managed to fundraise only $12K in the last 2 months of 2009 I think we can safely predict another cakewalk for Republican Latham in this district that Obama won 53%/46%. BTW as at Feb 1st the Democrats had a 8000 voter registration advantage 126503/118484.
Incumbent Republican McCotter has been on Democratic target lists for years in this 54%/45% Obama district. He was even held to 51% in 2008. Despite this the Democrats have always failed to get a top tier opponent against him. Will 2010 be the year? It is hard to tell honestly but i doubt it. When Democrat Mosher declared at the start of 2009 she struck me (and the party) as being at best 2nd tier.
And this turns out to be the likely case with Mosher raising only $37K in the December quarter ($44K COH) compared to McCotters’ $118K December quarter ($579K) COH. Lets see what the March quarter reports bring but don’t hold your breath.
OH-14 (LaTourette) – R+3,
With McCain just shading Obama by less than 1% this District should be competitive. But it is unlikely. Whilst 2008 Democratic candidate O’Neill is back for another shot he did get thumped by alomost 20% in 2008. The other Democrat in the race – Greene – hasn’t even registered with the FEC to fundraise despite being in the race since November. Whilst LaTourette only has a modest $447K COH as at the end of November this race is highly unlikely to be a show stopper.
VA-10 (Wolf) – R+2,
Another perennial Democratic target sees no less than 4 Democrats running here in 2010. And it is no wonder as Obama carried the district 53%/46% and this part of Virginia is rapidly bluing. Incumbent Republican Wolf has nothing to fear here though, as none of his putative opponents have more than $6K COH as at the end of December compared to Wolfs’ $346K COH. A really disappointing miss for team blue.
WI-01 (Ryan) – R+2,
Democratic challenger Garin has $546 COH as at the end of December; incumbent Republican Ryan has $1.565 million. Game over in this 51%/47% Obama district.
The last group of Districts are those that at this stage do not seem likely to competitive.
as we do not have declared Democratic candidates as yet!
FL-18 (Ros-Lehtinen) – R+3,
MI-04 (Camp) – R+3,
MI-06 (Upton) – R+0,
MI-08 (Rogers) – R+2,
NJ-02 (LoBiondo) – D+1,
NY-03 (King) – R+4,
VA-04 (Forbes) – R+4,
WI-06 (Petri) – R+4,
So in summary:
10 competitive races.
6 races that should become competitive.
5 races that may become competitive.
15 races that should be competitive but are highly unlikely to be so.
8 races that should be potentially become competitive but won’t be unless we find a candidate.
Not a particularly pretty scenario for Democrats but not nearly as terrible as the GOP and the traditional media would have you believe.
On to November!
• AZ-Sen: There are conflicting messages in Arizona in the wake of that surprising Rasmussen poll showing J.D. Hayworth almost even with John McCain in a Republican primary. Arizona’s other senator, Jon Kyl, says Hayworth isn’t likely to run, saying that he’s better-off hosting his radio show. Hayworth himself, on the other hand, just sent an e-mail to his supporters, saying he is in fact considering a race against McCain but first needs help paying down his campaign debt from his 2006 race. A prelude to a real race, or just some conveniently-timed grifting from some easy marks?
• CA-Sen: Carly Fiorina is trying to play up her pro-woman cred, even if it means coming off very ideologically confused: she said she would have voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor, even though that gives Chuck DeVore a lifetime’s worth of ammunition to use against her in the primary. But yesterday she said she “shares Sarah Palin‘s values.” Um, all of them?
• IL-Sen: The NYT had a story yesterday giving voice to David Axelrod’s concerns about Alexi Giannoulias’s electability and his regrets about not recruiting Lisa Madigan, which got a lot of play elsewhere. They strangely left out one piece of information, though: Axelrod’s former consulting firm is working for the David Hoffman campaign.
• MA-Sen: More endorsements came out in the Massachusetts special election primary. AG Martha Coakley got the endorsement of Planned Parenthood, while Rep. Michael Capuano got the endorsements of the Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters and Black Women for Obama for Change.
• NY-Sen-B (pdf): Yet another poll shows Kirsten Gillibrand in so-so shape, as Marist dribbled out the last few results from the poll where the other results were released last week. Even as she gets better-known she still has a middling approval rating (3% excellent, 22% good, 39% fair, 12% poor, 24% unsure). Gillibrand loses 47-45 to ex-Gov. George Pataki, although that race looks very unlikely now (this same sample had Gillibrand down 54-40 to Rudy Giuliani, which still theoretically could happen). One item of good news for Gillibrand, though: she finally nailed down the endorsement of former colleague Jerry Nadler.
• IA-Gov: Here’s one more guy who has the potential to get teabagged to death in his GOP primary: ex-Gov. Terry Branstad. Branstad endorsed and raised money for Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson in the 2000 Senate race. Branstad rival Bob vander Plaats says that, as a result, using the same logic that pervades all movies about time travel, Branstad is directly to blame for the current health care bill. And while he’s at it, Branstad is also responsible for the deaths of millions, because he didn’t find a way to kill Hitler.
• MA-Gov: Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker already announced his running mate for 2010, and is fits with his financially conservative, socially liberal, insidery approach: he chose state Senate minority leader Richard Tisei. Tisei, one of five Republicans in the Senate, recently came out as gay.
• NV-Gov: There’s a new poll of the general election in the Nevada governor’s race, taken by PMI (a firm that previously did a poll of the GOP primary for a conservative website, but this one seems to be taken for the seemingly nonpartisan Nevada News Bureau). They only try out one permutation, assuming that Democratic Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman follows through on his threat to run as an indie. Republican former AG Brian Sandoval wins with 35, followed by Goodman at 28 and Democrat Rory Reid at 21.
• OR-Gov: Anti-tax initiative activist Bill Sizemore is kind of like herpes; he goes away, but is never permanently gone. With the GOP field now in shambles, Sizemore surprised everyone by announcing that he’ll run in the gubernatorial primary in 2010. He’s been out of jail for almost a year, so OK… but he may be headed back there if he follows through, as he’s under an injunction preventing him from raising political money. He plans on challenging that in court, though, at least to the extent to be able to raise individual campaign funds and not more initiative funds. If he somehow prevails in the GOP primary, this could lead to a replay of the 1998 governor’s race (where John Kitzhaber demolished Sizemore, 64-30).
• LA-02: With early entries by a few heavyweights, maybe we’ll be spared a large and chaotic Democratic primary for the right to beat accidental Rep. Joe Cao in 2010. State Rep. Juan LaFonta, long interested in the race, made official that he’s running; he joins fellow state Rep. Cedric Richmond in the hunt.
• NV-02: Do it! Do it! Reno attorney Ken McKenna has apparently been listening to the subliminal voices in his head, and was motivated to pull the trigger on a run against Rep. Dean Heller. (He’ll still face a Democratic primary against elderly ex-state Sen. Jack Schofield.) McKenna represents both personal injury plaintiffs and those accused of Breaking the Law, but he’s best known for his ill-fated suit against Judas Priest over a fan’s suicide. If he thinks he’s likely to win this race, he has another thing coming.
• PA-03: Ooops, this isn’t going to endear him much to the party base. Paul Huber, a local businessman who got into the GOP primary field to go against Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, was registered as a Democrat from 1975 until just recently. He switched to the GOP earlier this year. In his defense, he claims he was a “Reagan Democrat” and finally got driven out of the party because of, well, all the usual right-wing grievances.
• PA-06: Various developments in the 6th: on the Dem side, state Sen. Daylin Leach pulled his Doug Pike endorsement and switched to neutral, now that it looks like there’s an actual race between Pike and Manan Trivedi. On the GOP side, state Rep. Curt Schroder is facing a difficult primary against wealthy pharma exec Steven Welch, but got a boost via endorsements from seven nearby conservative legislators — including Berks County’s Sam Rohrer, who’s looking at a longshot gubernatorial bid.
• PA-11: Anti-immigration wacko wants to run for higher office, but needs supporters to pay down his campaign debt first? Sorry to keep repeating myself, but that’s happening in PA-11 too. Hazleton mayor Lou Barletta has been talking up another run at Rep. Paul Kanjorski, and has set a pre-Christmas deadline for a final decision. But in the meantime, he’s focused on raising donations to pay for his last run while considering his next one.
• VA-10: Republican Rep. Frank Wolf has proven extremely tough to pry out of his swing district, and it’s not looking like 2010 will be the year either. Attorney Patrick Lewis, who seemed to be the best bet here, has shuttered his campaign, leaving only two even less-known Dems (Richard Anthony and Dennis Findley) in the field.
• CA-LG: As many had expected, Arnold Schwarzenegger picked state Sen. Abel Maldonado to take over as Lt. Governor (now that John Garamendi is in the House). Maldonado is a sometimes-moderate who was one of Ahnold’s biggest allies in the Senate, who broke with other Republicans on budget issues (and probably earned too much of their wrath to survive a 2010 re-election). The Dem-held state legislature is mulling over whether to approve the appointment, which they certainly have the numbers to reject. Calitics is all over it, though, because Maldonado not only has little likelihood of remaining in office come 2011 (Dems he might face would be either state Sen. Dean Florez or LA city councilor Janice Hahn), but also because it would open up SD-15. The 15th is Democratic-leaning turf on the central coast; combined with another opening in SD-12, that’s a route to get over the magic 2/3s hurdle in the state Senate and actually pass a decent budget.
• NJ-St. Sen.: Guess who’s kicking himself for not taking over for Jon Corzine during the gubernatorial race’s low-water mark this summer. Now Richard Codey isn’t just not Governor, but now he isn’t even state Senate President anymore. Codey may be beloved by the state’s electorate, but not by his colleagues: he got bounced out of his position to make way for new leader Stephen Sweeney.
• Mayors (pdf): It looks like the anti-incumbent sentiment extends all the way down to local races too (OK, that’s not news; Greg Nickels and Tom Suozzi will certainly confirm that for us). A new Clarus poll of next year’s Washington, DC mayor’s race finds a 43/49 approval for mayor Adrian Fenty. Fenty leads the field, but at only 34%, followed by three city councilors: Vincent Gray at 24, Kwame Brown at 13, and Michael Brown at 6.
• RNC: If you went to college in the 1990s, you may remember the purity test that got passed around freshman dorms, which went a little like this:
1) solicited anonymous sex in the airport men’s room
2) claimed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail while actually visiting my mistress in Argentina
3) given a patronage job to the cuckolded husband of my mistress
4) texted an underage page about the size of his member
5) attempted to strangle my mistress
Wait, that’s not it. Anyway, the RNC is passing around a new purity test for future Republican candidates, which they have to score 80% on if they want official party money and support. (There’s been some public pondering whether worldly fellows like Mike Castle or Mark Kirk would even make the cut on this test.) And now the Washington Times (wait, they’re still in business?) is reporting that this test may even apply to NRSC and NRCC money as well.
• Photo of the Day: Some days I just don’t know whether to weep for my country, or stand back and laugh my ass off at it.
• CA-Sen: We’re starting to get fundraising reports filtering in, via the media and the rumor mill. And one of the most eyebrow-raising numbers comes from Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, of all places: he pulled in $330K in the third quarter, leaving him sitting on over $700K. He’s been given afterthought status as the NRSC and tradmed have rushed to fawn over Carly Fiorina, but his seeming success at tapping movement conservative wallets indicates that he won’t be going away quietly.
• FL-Sen: When you have so many people giving you money, a few of them are bound to be very bad apples…. Alan Mendelsohn, a prominent eye doctor and chief fundraiser for the Florida Medical Association PAC, was also a key financial backer of Charlie Crist and a member of his transition team. Yesterday he was charged by a federal grand jury with mail and wire fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, and lying to federal agents.
• IL-Sen: Maybe Mike Ditka doesn’t have the same iconic power that he used to, but if he does, then upstart GOP primary challenger Patrick Hughes got a really big get. The former coach of da Bears endorsed Hughes, who seems to be coalescing most of the hard-right, anti-Mark Kirk sentiment in the Senate primary.
• MA-Sen: More showy fundraising numbers out of Massachusetts, where everyone is scrambling for money in view of the primary election a few months away. Most notable is AG Martha Coakley, whose only real weakness seemed to be a lack of money (as she already has statewide name rec, is the only woman in the race, and a big edge in the polls). That’s a weakness no longer, as she raised $2.1 million in less than a month. By contrast, Rep. Michael Capuano raised only $300K in that period; even with the $1.2 mil in his House account, his one advantage — money — has now vaporized. The big surprise is City Year founder Alan Khazei, who raised $1 million in just a week after a late start to his candidacy; the question is whether he can convert that into a decent share of the vote. Celtics co-owner Steven Pagliuca raised only $200K, but can dip into his own money to advertise.
• NV-Sen: A long but must-read piece from the NYT looks at the tangled web between John Ensign and the Hampton family. Most significantly, it looks like Ensign not only went further than previously thought in trying to line up a job for Doug Hampton (the mistress’s husband) but then used his governmental power to do favors for Hampton’s new employer, Allegiant Air — certainly a violation of Senate ethics rules. And this is the Ensign that new GOP golden girl Sue Lowden was trying to circle the wagons around, even long after most of the rest of the local GOP had decided he was better served under the bus.
• NY-Gov: This is interesting: Mitt Romney is moving to back ex-Rep. Rick Lazio in the governor’s race and hosting a Lazio fundraiser. Since polls show Lazio getting completely flattened by Rudy Giuliani if they face off in a gubernatorial primary, Romney’s expenditure of political capital is either a) a sign that insiders are pretty well aware that Giuliani won’t be getting into the governor’s race after all, or else b) a repayment for Lazio’s backing in the 2008 prez primary and a thumb-in-the-eye for primary rival Giuliani.
• GA-12: More news out of the 12th: Wayne Mosley, a wealthy doctor and the NRCC’s recruit in the race thanks to his self-funding capacity (in fact, one of their top recruits in the nation, if you believe Mosely himself), had to drop out of the race. Mosely is being sued by his hospital for breach of contract, and apparently that’s taking up all his time and money. That leaves Thunderbolt Fire Chief Carl Smith and activist Jeanne Seaver as options to go up against Blue Dog Dem Rep. John Barrow.
• HI-01: Here’s some good news for those of us who’d like to see the House stay nice and Ed Case-free: state Senate president Colleen Hanabusa is getting in the race for the Democratic nomination for the open seat in the 1st being vacated by Neil Abercrombie. Hanabusa’s main opponent looks like it will be ex-Rep. Ed Case, who beat Hanabusa in the 2002 race in HI-02; the progressive Hanabusa may have better odds against the moderate Case this time, as Case alienated a lot of the local party with an ill-advised primary challenge to Sen. Dan Akaka in 2006.
• MO-03: Rep. Russ Carnahan picked up a Republican opponent: attorney Ed Martin. The 3rd is a D+7 district that has presented Carnahan with little trouble in the past.
• NY-23: Dede Scozzafava finally hit the TV airwaves with a new ad, leading the polls but lagging both her opponents in the battle for the airwaves. Also, check out Robert Harding’s thorough examination at the Albany Project of Scozzafava’s not-so-liberal actual voting record in the Assembly, if you’re looking for a counterpoint to yesterday’s Daily Kos piece about Scozzafava.
• SD-AL: Republican state Rep. Blake Curd, a Sioux Falls surgeon, is the first opponent to officially get in the race against Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. Secretary of State Chris Nelson is still considering the race, though, and given his statewide profiel seems like he’d be likelier to win the GOP primary if he got in.
• VA-10: Rep. Frank Wolf, the Republican dean of the Virginia delegation, has picked up a Democratic challenger in the form of attorney Patrick Lewis. Demographics are quickly moving this NoVa suburban/exurban district in the Democratic direction (it’s up to R+2 now), but Wolf has the kind of personal staying power that makes Lewis’s challenge an uphill fight.
• OH-SoS: Bad news out of the Ohio Secretary of State race (on the short list as one of the nation’s most important downballot statewide offices): Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown decided to end her bid for the Democratic nomination, preferring instead to run for re-election. While this may spare the Dems a contested primary, this leaves only the much more conservative state Rep. Jennifer Garrison in the race, which may leave the base unenthused for the general election.
• ME-Init: Democracy Corps has a poll out on the anti-gay marriage ballot measure in Maine. They find 41% “yes” and 50% “no.” (Remember, as with California’s Prop 8, a “yes” vote is a vote against gay marraige.) These numbers are slightly better than the near-even split an R2K poll found a couple of weeks ago. But as Markos notes, D-Corps tested registered voters, while R2K looked at likely voters. (D)
• 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.
The DCCC is out with four new ads in OH-01, NH-01, CT-04 and MI-09. All pretty good, I think the anti-Chabot one is the best. Good to see them picking up the pace. Also it looks like most of these where released a week ago but the DCCC has all the ads they are running up at their YouTube (which was invented by John McCain, by the way.)
Also in VA-10 Judy Feder has a new ad
Quite frankly, I’m not a big fan of it. She’s got a lot of money but isn’t doing what she needs to win this campaign and that’s too bad because she would be a great congresswomen.
Seeing any other ads lately?
UPDATE: On September 16 EMILY’s List announced their endorsement of two more Congressional challengers: Becky Greenwald in IA-04 (D+0) and Sharen Neuhardt in OH-07 (R+6).
Maybe someone out there who knows the inner workings of EMILY’s List can explain to me why this group has not put money behind Becky Greenwald, the Democrat challenging loyal Republican foot-soldier Tom Latham in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district.
I have been going over the list of Democratic women running for Congress whom EMILY’s List is supporting, with a particular focus on the six challengers most recently added to this group in early August. I do not mean to denigrate any of those candidates, and I recognize that every race has its own dynamic.
However, after comparing Greenwald’s race to those of other candidates, I remain puzzled that EMILY’s list is not more involved in IA-04.
Follow me after the jump for more.
First things first: IA-04 has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+0. Since 2004, every Congressional district in Iowa has seen big gains in Democratic voter registration, which surged in connection with this year’s presidential caucuses. For the first time since Iowa’s districts were last redrawn, IA-04 now has more registered Democrats than Republicans.
Democrats have an advantage in the generic Congressional ballot nationwide, but what may be more relevant for this district is Barack Obama’s big lead over John McCain in Iowa (double-digits according to the two most recent polls). The Obama campaign’s enormous ground game in Iowa will be working in Greenwald’s favor too. Her staffers and volunteers seem pleased with the level of coordination between the campaigns’ turnout efforts.
Turning to Greenwald as a candidate, you can see from her bio that she has strong roots in the district as well as experience in the business world and a history of volunteering for causes including the Iowa Democratic Party. She dominated the four-way Demomcratic primary on June 3, winning over 50 percent of the vote. As of June 30, she had raised about $143,000 for her campaign but had only about $82,000 cash on hand because of her competitive primary.
Several Iowa political analysts observed this summer that Greenwald can beat Tom Latham if she can raise enough money to compete. Latham serves on the House Appropriations Committee and was sitting on more than $800,000 cash on hand as of June 30. Then again, plenty of well-funded incumbents have lost seats in Congress when facing a big wave toward the other party. Cook has this race as likely R, but I would consider it lean R. There have been no public polls on the race yet.
The current reporting period ends September 30. I don’t have inside information about Greenwald’s cash on hand now, but I know she has been aggressively fundraising all summer long. I assume things have gone fairly well on that front, because the DCCC just put IA-04 on its “Emerging Races” list. One thing working in Greenwald’s favor is that the Des Moines and Mason City markets, which cover most of the 28 counties in the district, are not too expensive for advertising. So, she can be up on the air for several weeks, even though she clearly won’t be able to match Latham dollar for dollar.
Side note: Shortly after the Democratic primary in IA-04, the sore loser who finished third vowed to run for Congress as an independent. However, he quickly turned his attention to the fight against Iowa’s new smoking ban. He then failed to submit petitions to qualify for the ballot, took down his Congressional campaign website and reportedly moved to Florida. In other words, he won’t be a factor in November.
Why should EMILY’s list get involved in this race? Not only is Greenwald a good fit for the district, she is pro-choice whereas Latham has a perfect zero rating on votes related to abortion rights.
As a bonus, Greenwald has the potential to end Iowa’s disgrace as one of only two states that have never sent a woman to Congress or elected a woman governor.
Now, I will briefly examine the six candidates for U.S. House whom EMILY’s list most recently endorsed. As I said earlier, I don’t mean to knock any of these candidates, but I do question why these districts would be considered more winnable than IA-04.
1. Anne Barth. She is running against incumbent Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia’s second district (R+5, somewhat more Republican than IA-04). Cook has this race as lean R, Swing State Project sees it as likely R. As of June 30, Barth had about $353,000 cash on hand, compared to more than $1.2 million for Capito. My understanding is that this district is quite expensive for advertising because of its proximity to Washington, DC.
2. Sam Bennett. She is running against incumbent Charlie Dent in Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District (D+2, slightly more Democratic than IA-04). Cook and Swing State Project both rate this race as likely R, although Chris Bowers is optimistic given the partisan lean of the district. As of June 30, Bennett had just under $354,000 cash on hand, compared to about $687,000 for Dent.
3. Jill Derby. She is running against incumbent Dean Heller, who beat her in the 2006 election to represent Nevada’s second district (R+8, markedly more Republican than IA-04). It’s not too uncommon for Congressional candidates to win on their second attempt, but Cook and Swing State Project both view this district as likely R. As of June 30, Derby had about $314,000 cash on hand, while Heller had just over $1 million in the bank.
4. Judy Feder. This is another rematch campaign, as incumbent Frank Wolf beat Feder by a comfortable margin in 2006 in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District (R+5). Again, Cook and Swing State Project agree that this is a likely R district. As of June 30, Feder was doing quite well in the money race with about $812,000 cash on hand, not too far behind Wolf’s $849,000.
5. Annette Taddeo. She is running against incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 18th Congressional District (R+4). Cook and Swing State Project both rank this district as likely R. Taddeo made a great impression on people at Netroots Nation and had just under $444,000 in the bank on June 30, while the incumbent reported nearly $1.9 million.
6. Victoria Wulsin. In 2006, she fell just short against incumbent “Mean Jean” Schmidt in Ohio’s second district (R+13). Granted, Schmidt is ineffective as an incumbent, which is probably why Swing State Project has this in the lean R category (it’s likely R according to Cook). Wulsin also had about $378,000 in the bank on June 30, compared to about $390,000 for Schmidt. Still, this is a markedly more Republican district than IA-04.
I understand that EMILY’s List does not have unlimited resources, but I still find it surprising that they have not jumped in to support Greenwald. A little money goes a long way in the Mason City and Des Moines media markets.
If you want to help send her to Congress, go here and give what you can. September 15 is her birthday, by the way.
I look forward to reading your comments about EMILY’s list or any of these Congressional races.
In the last couple days, there have been several posts across the blogosphere citing what various candidates running for Congress have said on FISA and retroactive immunity for the telecoms. But so far, it’s been all over the map. I’ll try to corral all their statements into this diary, so you can see who the “good guys” are.
Follow me below the fold to see the dozens of Democratic challengers who are standing up for the Constitution, and are against this FISA bill and retroactive immunity.
Now, not all of these statements were made this past week. Some came from 2007, and others came around February when this issue was last up in the air. But hey, they’re on record. So here goes, alphabetically by district. If you know of a candidate who HAS spoken out against retroactive immunity and the FISA bill, please let me know in the comments, and please include the link where we can read their statement, and I’ll update the diary accordingly.
AZ-01: Howard Shanker
It was Ben Franklin who said that “any man who is willing to sacrifice essential liberties for the sake of security deserves, neither.” We seem to have a country full of people who are willing to sacrifice essential liberties for the sake of an empty promise of security. As a free country, founded on concepts like justice and liberty, the de-evolution of our free society should not be tolerated by any people of conscience.
CA-04: Charlie Brown (seriously, read his entire diary, it’s excellent)
I flew missions that monitored electronic communications around the world-often with Soviet MIGs flying off my wing and hoping I’d make a wrong turn. Our standing order was “if you even suspect you are collecting data on an American citizen, you are to cease immediately, flag the tape, and bring it to a supervisor.” We knew failure to comply would yield serious consequences-the kind that can end your career, or worse, land you in jail.
In short, professional, accurate intelligence collection guidelines were used to protect America “from all enemies, foreign and domestic,” without also undermining the very freedoms we were protecting.
But this debate isn’t just about security; it’s about accountability. As an officer who was both involved in these programs and held personally accountable for my actions in the name of defending America, I have a problem with giving a few well-connected, well-healed companies who knowingly usurp the law a free pass.
And when I see companies acting “in the interest of national security” held to a lower standard of accountability than the dedicated professionals charged with our nation’s defense, silence is not an option.
And to those few companies seeking immunity for breaking the law despite the best of intentions—might I offer a few comforting words on behalf of all who serve, and all who have borne the responsibilities of safeguarding our great nation…freedom isn’t free.
CA-26: Russ Warner
Going back to FISA, we need to protect our Constitutional rights while keeping the American people safe. These are not mutually exclusive.
Russ Warner: FISA expansion of power so Bush can spy on Americans without warrants (with acquiescence of Congress): Yay or nay?
CA-44: Bill Hedrick
Members of Congress take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. So do members of the Executive and Judiciary Branches. Unlike the Bush Administration, however, I will do all in my power to uphold and defend the Constitution, particularly regarding the protections and inalienable rights of all humanity it guarantees to the American people.
We live in an unsafe world. We need to ensure we take all necessary and legal steps to safeguard our country and its citizens. Our Constitution provides for checks and balances against government intrusiveness infringing upon fundamental rights of speech, religion, privacy, unlawful search and seizure, etc. It is ironic that the most efficient way to ensure perfect safety is by discarding these fundamental rights. In fact, some of the most repressive governments today (North Korea, anyone?) rule over some of the safest countries – at least when it comes to walking the streets at night.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration has ignored the Constitutions checks and balances. Instead it has created its own Rule of Law. The Bush Administration has suspended habeas corpus, sanctioned torture and illegal spying on Americans and created an extralegal detention center in Guantanamo. This arrogance continues even though the American people and many of our leading jurists and representatives have stated they want our Constitution followed in the manner envisioned by our Founding Fathers and confirmed by all subsequent administrations except the current one.
In the past the United States has ensured that those persons on its soil or under its jurisdiction or power are treated with the same dignity and respect as American citizens. This is based on that marvelous statement in the Declaration of Independence, [w]e hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights. These inalienable rights are not limited to one gender, one party or one nationality. While we cannot always influence other governments to respect these rights we can guarantee them whenever they involve those on our soil or under our jurisdiction or power.
Therefore, it is ironic that the Bush Administration, which denounces the human rights record of the Cuban government, echoes that record by claiming the Guantanamo detainees are not subject to American due process in legal proceedings precisely because they are housed in Cuba even though they are under American jurisdiction and power. How long will it be before the current infringement of inalienable rights on our own soil, which now consists of illegal spying on Americans, escalates to suspension of Habeas Corpus or even torture against Americans?
No one not the President, not the Vice President, not members of the Cabinet is above the law, nor should any governmental branch be allowed to discard Constitutional guarantees. When I become your congressional representative I will do more than merely recite my constitutional oath of office as a rite of passage. I will act upon that oath and support and defend the Constitution. I will act to restore the constitutional balance between inalienable rights and safety. As Americans we will be free . . . we will be safe . . . and we will not participate in violations of those inalienable rights guaranteed to all by our Constitution.
CA-46: Debbie Cook
Our nation was founded on a system of checks and balances. Unfortunately, the checks and balances in the Constitution and the freedoms Americans hold dear have been slowly eroding. Finally, last week the Supreme Court drew a line in the sand and restored habeas corpus, one of the Constitution’s most basic and essential protections against government abuse.
Some in Congress wish to eliminate another essential freedom by allowing the government to spy on its citizens without a warrant and giving lawbreakers who do so immunity from prosecution. Our founding fathers would be outraged at the bargaining away of the Bill of Rights.
You don’t fight terrorism abroad by taking away at our freedoms at home.
CA-48: Steve Young
We now know George Bush’s wiretapping program is not a narrow examination of calls made to and from suspected terrorist suspects — unless you believe that you and I are terrorists. I am worried and angry that the National Security Agency (NSA) has secretly purchased from the three largest telecommunications companies in the country, telephone records on tens of millions of Americans. On December 17, 2005, President Bush said he authorized the program, “to intercept the international communication of people with known links to Al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Then on January 23, 2006, after concerns were expressed that the NSA tapped into telecommunications arteries, Gen. Michael Hayden, then NSA chief, now CIA nominee, asserted his organization engages in surveillance if there is a “reasonable” basis for eavesdropping.
George Bush asks us to believe the NSA is not listening to phone conversations. Does that comfort you? Anyone with experience in data management knows the government now has the information necessary to cross-reference phone numbers, with available databases that link names and numbers to compile a substantial dossier on every American. Evidently, Bush now sees the enemy, and it is us.
I will insist on national security — we all must — but we must also insist that America is a land of laws. No one is above the law. If the law is a circumstantial inconvenience for President Bush, the law will soon be irrelevant to the ordinary American. Bush repeatedly asserts that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — which established a special court to confidentially review and authorize sensitive surveillance requests — does not apply to his surveillance program, so George Bush bypasses the court.
When you elect me to Congress, I will sponsor and pass legislation to remove any doubt that warrantless spying on ordinary Americans is illegal. We must do what is right, let the consequences follow.
CA-50: Nick Leibham
What’s much MUCH more disconcerting to me is the entire FISA bill…As somebody who has been a prosecutor and dealt with the 4th Amendment, I can tell you that this happened to have been the one amendment in the Bill of Rights that all the Founding Fathers could agree upon; that in order for the government intrusion there had to be probable cause signed off on by an independent magistrate that says you may have committed a crime. I find the entire FISA process to be constitutionally dubious. That doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be made constitutionally valid but I think that anytime you have wiretaps involved…that deals with an American citizen, you’ve gotta have a court sign off on it. The only question in my mind is whether or not that has to be done prior to there warrant being executed or whether or not there is some grace period. There is no doubt in my mind that the executive branch itself cannot act as both overseer and executioner (of warrants or wiretaps). That, I think, is constitutionally impermissible; I think it’s a violation of the judiciary’s proper role of interpreting laws.
As a former prosecutor [and] law clerk in the US Attorney’s office in the Major Frauds and Economic Crimes section…I’ve never heard of anybody being given immunity when you don’t know what they’ve done. It’s not how the immunity process works. You don’t say to somebody ‘Whatever you’ve done, don’t worry about it.’…It’s unthinkable to me as a lawyer and as somebody who will have…sworn to uphold the Constitution that I could ever support that.
CA-52: Mike Lumpkin
FISA should never have been expanded. The government’s ability to spy was extensive enough already. The government is failing us in so many ways right now, this can just be added to the list. I want a safe, secure country. I have lived my life trying to secure exactly that. Frankly, the reason I joined the service was to defend my country’s beautiful liberties and secure them for future generations of Americans. Some attribute the following quote to Benjamin Franklin “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” No one can express the ideology of our democracy better than one of the founders.
As far as telecommunications immunity, my understanding is that legal culpability is determined in context. It is quite a thing to have the power of the executive branch of the government pointed in your direction making demands. Lack of courage to say “no” under such circumstances is no surprise. I think courts are well equipped to unravel this type of legal factual minutia and get to a just result. Immunity from the law is something to be dolled out sparingly.
CO-02: Joan Fitz-Gerald, Jared Polis, & Will Shafroth (primary is in August)
Said land conservation activist Shafroth: “While this current bill takes some small steps to weaken the authority of the president to unilaterally spy on Americans, it does not go far enough in protecting our civil liberties.”
Internet entrepreneur Polis said that “phone companies should not be given a pass and should be held accountable for their involvement in unwarranted wiretapping.”
And former state Senate President Fitz-Gerald criticized the bill’s “de facto immunity for telecommunications companies that broke the law.”
“The government has no right to listen and wiretap any phone without judicial oversight,” she said.
Fitz-Gerald said the House version of the legislation amending FISA was better than an earlier U.S. Senate version, but “it still was not acceptable and I would have rejected the House measure.”
Shafroth said he would have voted against the bill because “many of the protections in the bill are superficial and there are too many avenues left to the president to unconstitutionally spy on American citizens.”
Polis said the nation must restore people’s trust in their government, but “rushing FISA reform through Congress is not the answer.”
It is disappointing that some of our Democratic leaders are rushing FISA reform through Congress. I strongly oppose telecom immunity that paves the ground for the further erosion of our privacy and civil liberties.
Our Democratic leaders in Washington should stand firm against allowing Republicans and the Bush Administration to violate the civil liberties of our citizens any more than they already have; phone companies should not be given a pass and should be held fully accountable for their involvement in unwarranted wiretapping.
Rather than providing cover for the Bush administration, our leaders should show backbone and not allow FISA reform to be rushed through Congress.
The fear mongering tactics of President Bush and his cronies on Capitol Hill are tired; the American public now understands that we can have security at home while also protecting the civil liberties of our law abiding citizens.
CO-04: Betsy Markey
I had left a message there asking her position on this FISA bill. She personally took the time to call me back and told me she is against this thing and would have voted Nay!
CT-04: Jim Himes
“In Congress, I will always stand up for the fundamental American belief that no man, and no corporation, is above the law. As always, this is a matter for the courts to decide– not for Congress, and absolutely not for the same Bush Administration who may have violated the law in the first place. It is great to see so many American citizens of all backgrounds coming together to stand up for the rule of law and in opposition to retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies who may have illegally spied on American citizens at the Bush Administration’s request. I am disappointed that Chris Shays and so many others continue to stand with President Bush by refusing to stand up for this most fundamental of American principles.”
FL-08: Alan Grayson
What, exactly, is the Right Wing’s problem with the Fourth Amendment? Why do they constantly seek ways to evade and subvert the Fourth Amendment? It seems to have worked pretty well, for over 200 years. And over 99% of the time, the federal judges give all POTUS the warrants he wants.
What it really comes down to is that they want a dictatorship. It’s issues like this one, where the Right has to choose between conservatism and fascism, when you see their true colors.
As the “New York Times” said in its June 18 editorial: “The bill is not a compromise. The final details are being worked out, but all indications are that many of its provisions are both unnecessary and a threat to the Bill of Rights. The White House and the Congressional Republicans who support the bill have two real aims. They want to undermine the power of the courts to review the legality of domestic spying programs. And they want to give a legal shield to the telecommunications companies that broke the law by helping Mr. Bush carry out his warrantless wiretapping operation.”
The problem is special interest money, Curtis said, coupled with a business-as-usual attitude in Washington.
“This is the root cause of the Democrats’ inability to stand up to the Republicans. They are all eating from the same trough,” Curtis said. “This is why we need leadership that will stay true to our values rather than cater to special interest contributors.”
FL-25: Joe Garcia
“The laws that were created under FISA were sufficient to meet our country?s national security needs. What the Bush administration has done, again, is present Americans with a false choice between national security and civil liberties, while this bill increases neither. I oppose any broad retroactive immunity provided to companies who may have broken the law. The legal purpose of immunity is to use the protection granted by such immunity as an inducement to divulge information about what occurred. Immunity in this case would do the opposite: it would shut down any investigation into what actually occurred.”
GA-08: Robert Nowak (primary challenger to Jim Marshall)
The latest demand from President Bush, that the US Congress shield telecommunication providers from liability for breaking federal law, is a real step backwards in the important mission of authorizing an effective intelligence surveillance program. Congress not give blanket immunity for any unlawful acts, it should renew its call for increased oversight of the telecom providers that may or may not have broken federal surveillance laws.
Further, the US Congress must not budge in insisting that any surveillance program with the capability of eavesdropping on US citizens be subject to court oversight.
The Congress should insist on codifying in the statute a court order requirement for any surveillance done on American citizens.
This last August, Representative Marshall voted for a temporary bill that allowed for expanded wiretapping and surveillance on Americans without a court order. Allowing that regime to continue is unacceptable.
GA-12: Regina Thomas (primary challenger to John Barrow)
After reading the FISA bill — Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — I thought “This can not be good for Americans. That the Bush Administration wants unlimited powers for spying on not only terrorists, but on any American citizen. This is against and violates the Constitutional Fourth Amendment [right of] privacy. This also allows warrant-less monitoring of any form of communication in the United States.” I was disappointed and dismayed with my Congressman John Barrow supporting this Bush Republican initiative against Americans. Too often Congressman Barrow from the 12th district in Georgia has voted with Bush and the Republicans on key issues.
The Congress is considering a bill that guarantees retroactive immunity for telecom companies who participated in the President’s illegal wiretap program, and that fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. This measure would require the courts to grant immunity to big telecom companies for their past illegal eavesdropping on American citizens, and authorize future surveillance on citizens without adequate checks and balances to protect their rights.
This is wrong. No one should get a free pass for breaking the law. Iowans and all Americans have a right to live their lives without government intrusion on their privacy.
If elected, I would vigorously oppose this measure. I believe that the constitutional rights of everyday Americans are at issue here, and full accountability is needed. No President should ever have unchecked power. Americans in the U. S. with no connection to suspected terrorists should never have their privacy abridged by an overzealous, unchecked executive branch. As Americans, we can protect ourselves without destroying our Constitutional rights. We need to focus on the very real threats we face, and not waste our resources on spying on loyal Americans.
IL-10: Dan Seals
Today, Rep. Mark Kirk once again showed how out-of-step he is with Illinois’ 10th district, by siding with the Bush administration to protect telecommunications companies who participated in illegal spying on American citizens. Kirk has received over $80,000 in contributions from the telecom companies he has continually voted to protect.
Coming in the wake of his vote against outlawing waterboarding, Kirk has shown that he is more interested in following the Bush administration than upholding our international agreements, like the Geneva Convention, and protecting our constitutional rights.
Congressional Candidate Dan Seals (IL-10) released the following statement today:
“While I was pleased to see the House Democrats stand their ground against granting amnesty to the telecommunications companies who broke the law, I was disappointed to see Mark Kirk side once again with the Bush administration and his campaign contributors over the 4th amendment.
“The U.S. Constitution is not a discretionary document. It’s time we elect leaders with the courage and independence to stand up for our most sacred rights. When I go to Congress, I will stand up for our Constitution and ensure that no one is above the law.”
IN-06: Barry Welsh
I like Brad Ellsworth, and yes he is that good looking in person, I like Baron Hill, and always have, I like Joe Donnelly and have since the first time I met him, and the same for Senator Bayh, but I really, really, really, have a fondness for this piece of paper called the United States Constitution.
I would not have voted as they did on FISA, but I am more liberal than they are and we all know that, you know that, I know that, and they know that. Some in Indiana are afraid of being called a Liberal and the word comes from Liberty, so I think we should embrace it.
Brad, Baron and Beyond, (Sorry, I couldn’t resist, it’s the blogger in me) voted the way they did because of National Security, and I do not hate them for voting what they believe, because I believe in National Security too, but I also understand the potential for expansion of the FISA bill, and the potential danger. I love this country but since 2000, have feared this government and do not agree with granting this administration any additional power. It is my hope that in 6 months this will not be re-newed, it is my fear that it will.
KY-01: Heather Ryan
There are several reasons why I feel this bill is unnecessary. First, I think that we have lost focus on the fact that a competent Administration could have actually gone a long way in preventing this tragedy. The Bush Administration was warned in advance of 9-11 and did nothing at the time to prevent it. I believe if the Bush Administration would have acted on the intelligence provided them, then the 9-11 tragedy could have been avoided through the laws that existed at the time.
I also believe this law is an extension of the Bush Administration’s attempts to politicize the Justice Department. Prosecuting entities are provided by the Constitution with checks and balances on which to operate. They already have very broad powers and if they found a credible threat would have no problem getting a warrant in a timely fashion.
Finally, I believe that FISA and this compromise are an abomination to the Constitution because it seeks to circumvent the checks and balances provided all of us by that sacred document. I strongly oppose giving the Telecom Corporations immunity when they knew they were breaking the law, when the Bush Administration asked them to break the law.
I saw where my opponent in this race, “Exxon Ed” Whitfield voted for this Legislation. I think it is pretty ironic when the very Republicans who lecture us regarding limiting the roll of the Federal Government propose, and push through, the House of Representatives a bill that vastly broadens the powers of the Federal Government. This is one issue on which Progressives, Moderates and Conservatives should all be able to agree. There are certain things on which none of us should ever compromise, and the Constitution is one thing on which I will never compromise as Representative of Kentucky’s First District.
MI-07: Mark Schauer (with video!)
Personally I’m tired of Tim Walberg and George W. Bush using fear about our national security to score cheap political points. Congress has passed legislation to ensure that tools are in place to protect our country’s safety, but Walberg and Bush seem more interested in protecting big corporations that have helped them listen to our phone calls, read our emails, violate our privacy, then they are about protecting law-abiding citizens. I believe our Constitution, and our rights, including our right to privacy, are worth fighting for. If our government or big corporations break the rules, they should be held accountable.
MI-09: Gary Peters
I would have voted no. Let me start out by saying that, I am absolutely committed to keeping America safe, taking on the terrorists, and defending our national security. I was a Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve, and I spent time over in the Persian Gulf. I understand what kind of pressure our people are under to get good intelligence. Good intelligence is absolutely critical to the safety of our soldiers and to protecting our country. We can’t function without it.
We definitely need to update FISA to give our intelligence agencies the tools they need, while also absolutely guaranteeing that Americans’ rights are protected.
There are important updates that we need to make to FISA, but I can’t support the retroactive immunity – and I sincerely hope that those provisions get stripped out in the Senate.
MN-03: Ashwin Madia
I am troubled by the House passage of HR 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. There is much we can do to prevent terrorism, but such measures do not require the sacrifice of fundamental constitutional freedoms which our country was founded upon. This legislation demonstrates the need for leaders in Congress who have experience in the military and in Iraq, and who value the rule of law as we fight the War on Terror.
NC-08: Larry Kissell
The Fourth Amendment doesn’t exclude lobbyists. The “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” means George Bush and the other Washington politicians can’t grant immunity to law breakers no matter how much they give to campaigns.
NJ-05: Dennis Shulman
It is unfortunate that it appears that the telecom industry has managed to falsely conflate its quest for retroactive immunity for lawbreaking with the issue of national security. The Founding Fathers understood that our safety as a nation depended on our being a nation of laws. Retroactive immunity undermines the rule of law, and therefore undermines our principles and security as a nation.
NJ-07: Linda Stender
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) issued a release today taunting Linda Stender, candidate for New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District, on the issue of Congress’ re-authorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Stender hit back this afternoon.
“It’s clear from this nonsensical attack that the national Republicans know they’re in jeopardy of losing this seat,” said Stender campaign spokesman Joshua Henne. “Linda Stender believes we can defend both our nation’s security, and the Constitution. The Bush Republicans sadly still haven’t learned its possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
NM-01: Martin Heinrich (with campaign commercial!)
In America, no one is above the law. We shouldn’t compromise the integrity of our justice system to protect George Bush’s friends and allies in the telecommunications industry. Anyone who illegally spies on American citizens should be brought to justice.
This Friday, legislation was passed that will take away constitutionally guaranteed rights. The FISA bill strips Americans of these rights and protects telecommunications companies from being held accountable by the people.
I am standing up against my own party because I believe we can have sound legislation that defends our country and, at the same time, protects our Constitution. If we are to hold our government accountable, retroactive immunity is the wrong path to go down.
It’s time to support Democrats with democratic values and principles, Democrats who will work on behalf of the American people and protect their rights. When I’m elected to Congress, I will be that Democrat.
NY-21: Darius Shahinfar (who’s still in a contested primary)
Today, Darius Shahinfar, candidate for the 21st Congressional District, called the compromise reached on amendment of the Federal Information Surveillance Act (FISA) a compromise of Constitutional principles.
“The critical problem of this compromise is that it contains a free pass for the Bush Administration’s and telecommunication companies’ past actions. The Administration’s use of warrantless wiretaps cannot be reviewed, and the process to review the telecommunications companies’ participation in the wiretapping program leads inevitably to immunity for those companies” Shahinfar said.
Darius’ remarks come at a time when the controversial piece of legislation would allow immunity to phone companies who currently face lawsuits for violating the constitutional rights of their members, according to plaintiff claims.
“By passing this piece of legislation, we are telling our government and our citizens that as long as the President tells you to do so, breaking the law is legal. No one, not even the President, is above our laws, especially when it comes to the issue of protecting our Constitutional rights.”
When asked further of his views about FISA, Shahinfar continued, “FISA was created 30 years ago, is applicable with today’s advanced technology and has been a vital tool in collecting intelligence for our nations’ security.It had not been an issue, until this administration decided to use it improperly and against its intended purpose. This will not make Americans any safer from threats at home or abroad; rather it will put us at the mercy of secret agreements between corporations and our government.”
NY-25: Dan Maffei
If the Bush Administration had read the constitution the first time, we wouldn’t find ourselves having this debate. Granting amnesty to these companies would set a precedent that would allow others to arbitrarily ignore the constitution. No one should be above the law in America.
NY-26: Jon Powers
Growing up in Western New York, one of the first lessons I was taught was that each of us has to take responsibility for our actions. As a social studies teacher, I came to understand this principle in the broader context of our democracy. We are, first and foremost, a nation of laws. Each of us should be treated equally under the law, and no one should be given special treatment. The founding fathers designed the courts as the proper place to weigh one’s actions under the law, not the White House. I trust that the courts, which have ensured the rights and liberty of all Americans for over 200 years, are more than able to continue providing the wisdom and protections that keep us free.
NY-29: Eric Massa (you should really read the entire diary and Massa’s analysis)
At the heart of the debate is the truncation of the Fourth Amendment, which outlines the right of the people to be secure in their persons and belongings. That right, which many would consider a bedrock of basic liberties in the Nation, is altered to allow the Federal Government to conduct searches and seizures of personal property without a warrant from a court of law.
But the bigger problem here is the immunity that would be given if it is found that the government and cooperating officials acted without due justification. Under current law, those involved can be held accountable and the individual on whom the actions were perpetrated can seek redress before the government. This right to seek redress is another fundamental individual liberty that the Revolutionary War was fought to gain for all Americans. This current bill takes away the right of citizens to seek redress.
OH-02: Vic Wulsin
The Bush Administration has run roughshod over the Constitution and now they expect the American people to pay for it by granting retroactive immunity to big corporations that illegally violated their customers’ privacy. Congress cannot not let itself be bullied into giving away the civil liberties that belong to every American, and I promise that as a congresswoman I will never put the interests of corporations before the rights of the people.
OH-07: Sharen Neuhardt (h/t DarenB)
I am opposed to affording any immunity to the telecommunications companies who may have broken the law by their participation in handing over information or granting wire-taping access to the Bush Administration without first properly receiving permission through FISA Court.
I am hoping that before the current legislation makes its way to the President’s desk, members of the U.S. Senate will see that the protection of civil rights should precede any special treatment for any special interest. When the Patriot Act was first debated and wrongly passed, the telecommunications lobbying arm kept quiet and now they want to ensure that justice is silenced forever.
As the daughter of a cop, I have great respect for our Constitution and the pursuit of the truth. Any immunity that is granted before giving the American people the opportunity to even uncover a violation is a violation unto itself.
PA-15: Sam Bennett
The Constitution also places no one above, below or immune from the law. The House Judiciary Committee was absolutely correct today to reject President Bush’s demand for blind and blanket immunity for large telecom companies who aided illegal spying. It should be noted that not all such companies heeded the call for unchecked Presidential power, and those who resisted should be commended. For the others, blind immunity for crimes, especially when not even yet fully documented, is an alien and disturbing idea to Americans.
“Finally, to those who imply that by opposing warrantless, illegal spying in America, Democrats somehow are aiding our enemies: I urge you to take an evening off, turn off that distracting talk radio and Fox News, and spend a quiet evening reading the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution. You may learn something new, and wonderful.
TX-10: Larry Joe Doherty
This out of control president has systematically shredded the Constitutional protections of every American, trashing the patriotism of anyone who is willing to stand up to him. To think that the U.S. Congress should come along behind George Bush rubber-stamping the suspension of the Bill of Rights is offensive to me. Congress is sworn to protect the Constitution, and gagging the courts from upholding the Rule of Law is the wrong way to protect this country from its enemies.
VA-04: Andrea Miller
Has anyone in Washington these days ever heard of (let alone read) the U.S. Constitution– remember that document? We were guaranteed certain rights. It seems many Republican members of Congress lay awake at night, thinking what rights can we take away from our fellow Americans today.
Specifically my opponent J. Randy Forbes, VA (R) wanted to add language that would have ensured that nothing in the bill would be construed to prohibit surveillance of, or grant any rights to, a state sponsor of terrorism or agents of state sponsors of terrorism. In addition, the language would have permitted the intelligence community to conduct surveillance of any person concerning an imminent attack on the United States, any U.S. person, including members of the Armed Forces, or an ally of the United States, Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, members of the al-Queda Iranian Revolutionary Guard, or any terrorist or terrorist organization. This language failed to garner enough votes to be included in H.R. 3773.
The right-wing is operating in force in Congress and the typical corporate Republicrats are once again falling in line. We have a Democratic majority in the House and yet they seem to be as confused by the meaning of the Constitution as the Republicans. Apparently, since impeachment is off the table, so is the U.S. Constitution. When I look at this new bill I can’t help wondering if this is the new Democratic thinking, “If we make all illegal actions legal, then the President and Vice President have done nothing wrong. Ergo there is no need to consider impeachment because no laws were broken.”
VA-05: Tom Perriello
“This “compromise” will not make Americans safer,” said Perriello, a national security consultant with experience in Afghanistan, Darfur and West Africa. “If Congress and the President were serious about national security they would have spent their time and energy giving our brave intelligence officers the resources they need, not the American freedoms that our armed forces defend. Our constitutional principles are never up for negotiation.”
VA-10: Judy Feder
No one in this country should be above the law and saying Alberto Gonzales told me it was okay is hardly an excuse. I oppose retroactive immunity for the telecoms who engaged in illegal surveillance. Unfortunately, Frank Wolf has again sided with the President on this issue voting in favor of immunity for those who circumvented the FISA courts and our legal process.
WA-08: Darcy Burner (with video!)
Honestly, I don’t understand why at this point any member of Congress would think it was a good idea to give George Bush the power to grant immunity to anyone he wants around warrantless wiretapping – and to cover all tracks in the process. George Bush has proven, over and over again, that he cannot be trusted to uphold either the letter or the spirit of the laws that protect the people of the United States from the abuse of our government.
All I can say is that I’m sorry Congress failed on this one – and that I will honor the pledge I hope to take to uphold the Constitution.
Wow. I am deeply saddened today by the news that the US House has voted to pass a bill amending the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which strikes at the very core of American democracy – our Constitutional Bill of Rights and the rule of law. It enables our federal government to intercept, without probable cause, all international communications of American citizens, and it provides retroactive immunity for companies that may have broken the law (if they did nothing wrong, why would they need immunity?).
Wow! Is that what it’s come to? Our federal government says you must do something, even if it is against the law, and we “need” to do it? Well, I don’t care whether it’s the Republican Leadership in Washington DC or the Democrats in the House, I’ll proudly tell them – and you – where I stand on warrantless wiretapping, the rule of law and protecting our national security:
I want to ensure that my children, and all of our children, are safe from terrorist attacks by beefing up our intelligence capabilities, protecting vulnerable targets, proactively taking out terrorists such as Al-Qaeda in their hideouts in Afghanistan, Pakistan and around the world, and working to remove safe havens for terrorists by winning the battle of ideas, not simply the battle for Tikrit. I believe in the Constitution and rule of law, the two things that define our great American experiment. We must not gut our freedoms in order to save our freedoms. If we do that, those who use terror as a tactic will achieve their goal – after all, what would we be fighting to protect?. We can protect our nation without sacrificing everything our founding fathers and millions of veterans fought for; the FISA law, already updated in 2001 after 9/11 and recently patched to fix some omissions due to changing technology, works. I would rather bring Osama Bin Laden to justice than help large corporations avoid justice. If we value our Constitutional rights such as the 2nd amendment right to bear arms, we better think twice about ignoring other Constitutional rights, such as the 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant and probable cause. Because once we cherry pick the Constitution, someone will eventually come after the rights we hold most dear.
Finally, the truth is that Congress last year passed a temporary extension of the Protect America Act that was vetoed by the President and voted against by the Republican leadership and certain Democrats. They said they would not accept a bill that does not include giving a free pass to companies that might have broken the law! Incredible. It deserve saying one more time – these so-called leaders are telling us the Protect America Act was so important, without it America is not protected from terrorists; however, they were willing to block this incredibly important Act, and leave America unprotected, unless large corporations were let off the hook for knowingly breaking the law. Because unlike you and me, who in the event of potential wrongdoing only get off the hook by presenting our case in a court of law, they think large corporations should be held to a different standard – no accountability.
AK-Sen: Mark Begich
The Alaskan Constitution protects the right of privacy. The 4th Amendment demands a warrant be issued for any search. And FISA says that domestic electronic surveillance must be approved by a special court. None of these facts should be forgotten on behalf of telecommunications companies that now face legal consequences for the role they played in the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. I am strongly opposed to retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.
ID-Sen: Larry LaRocco
The Church Committee’s investigations resulted in the creation of a permanent Senate Committee on Intelligence, and the passage of substantial legislation, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978.
Church’s work is now being shredded by the Bush Administration.
FISA established a legal framework for electronic eavesdropping at home, including a special FISA court. It was originally passed to allow the government to collect intelligence involving communications with “agents of foreign powers.”
The Bush Administration exploited this narrow exception in the passage of the Patriot Act that allows use of FISA to obtain personal records from many sources including libraries and internet service providers, even when they have no connection to terrorism.
Even worse, the Bush Administration now uses FISA to get around the constitutional requirement of seeking a warrant before it eavesdrops on communications by the NSA.
When I am elected to the Senate, I will demand an end to the abuse of FISA and a return to the checks and balances espoused by Frank Church and the Church Committee.
As a former Congressman, Frank Church staff member, and U.S. Army intelligence office, I will help lead the way back from the civil liberty abuses of this administration.
KY-Sen: Bruce Lunsford
The secret warrantless wiretapping program was flat out wrong. The Bush administration went too far when it may not have even been necessary. Almost 99 percent of wiretapping applications were approved when they were submitted to judges. We must do all we can to ensure that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the necessary tools to protect our homeland but individual privacy and civil liberties must be protected because those are the freedoms we fight for. That is America. And I think we should be focused finding terrorists and not protecting corporate CEOs. I’m sure there was pressure from the Bush administration and that isn’t an enviable position to be in for a company but what is wrong is wrong and there must be accountability. When mistakes were made in my companies, I took responsibility, took action and solved the problems.
I was encouraged by news a few months ago that both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed new FISA bills with added privacy protections. Now Mitch McConnell and his Republican leadership in Washington need to work with Senate and House Democrats to finalize legislation that protects the safety, and freedoms, of all Americans. I hear this issue will be brought up again in the Senate sometime during the summer.
ME-Sen: Tom Allen (who just voted against it in the House)
As I have stated before, neither the government nor large telecommunications corporations are above the law; everyone must be held accountable. This ‘compromise’ fails to hold either the Bush administration or the telecommunications companies to the same standards that apply to other Americans.
NM-Sen: Tom Udall
The FISA bill we considered today would compromise the constitutionally guaranteed rights that make America a beacon of hope around the world.
Today’s vote was not easy. I stood up to leaders of my own party and voted against this bill, because I took an oath to defend Americans and our Constitution, and it was the right thing to do.
That duty is most important when it is most difficult. We can protect our nation while upholding our values, but unfortunately, this bill falls short.
OK-Sen: Andrew Rice
Having lost my brother in the World Trade Center on 9/11, I am very sensitive to the importance of the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to effectively monitor foreign terrorist targets. However, our country must preserve our constitutional principles and such monitoring must be accomplished without compromising the civil liberties of American citizens. I am hopeful that Congress is on the verge of finally properly scrutinizing the Bush Administration’s warrantless surveillance programs, and can create reasonable legislation that provides our government the tools it needs to monitor legitimate international threats, while at the same time not compromising the personal liberties of law-abiding Americans. Members of congress must ensure that any surveillance of U.S Citizens be granted with the proper warrant. If they fail to accomplish this, then we will have lost something very sacred about America and what our system of values is supposed to provide for all Americans.
The provision for corporate immunity for the telecom companies who may have violated federal law is unacceptable and unfortunately another example of the Bush administration wanting the legislative branch to craft legislation that protects the executive branch from its own incompetance.
OR-Sen: Jeff Merkley
The bill will force federal district courts to immediately dismiss any cases against telecommunications companies that participated in illegal surveillance. This is unacceptable. The Constitution of the United States was violated. Over several years telecommunications companies turned over the records of millions of innocent Americans to the federal government without proper oversight and without a warrant.
The Bush Administration disregarded the Fourth Amendment when it authorized this surveillance and now Congress may provide the Administration and these companies a free pass. This is a mistake. The Senate is set to vote on the FISA bill this week. For the sake of our constitution and the foundation of our democracy, I urge all Senators to unite in opposition to this bill.
If I’m elected to the Senate, I will not hesitate to fight to protect our civil liberties and the laws this nation was founded upon.
I have spoken out against immunity for telecommunications companies throughout this campaign. Last February, I urged my supporters to sign a petition to pressure my opponent, Republican Senator Gordon Smith, to vote against the FISA bill that granted retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.
Unfortunately, Gordon Smith voted in favor of granting retroactive immunity. I expect him to do the same when the Senate votes on this issue in the coming days. For years, the Bush Administration has been undermining the balance of powers. Checks and balances must be restored and a vote against the immunity bill would be a critical starting point.
TX-Sen: Rick Noriega (with video!)
On Christmas morning 2004, outside of Kabul, Afghanistan, my buddies and I drove to our base camp to use the computers. We wanted to be with our kids when they woke up that Christmas. To get there we drove through a near ambush–anytime we drove on the Jalalabad Road, it was risky, and we had an incident on our way.
That Christmas morning, I suspect the government listened to our conversations. They occurred between two countries; Afghanistan and the US. They probably didn’t realize the difference in tone in my voice as I spoke to my wife and children that morning as my heart raced still from our encounter on the road. My wife did.
I fought to defend our country and our constitution in Afghanistan. I fought for the right to privacy for every Texan. Mr. Cornyn must now stand up for the privacy of every Texan and American too. We as a nation cannot grant anyone sweeping amnesty if they violated the law.
Americans understand the need for safety and the need for intelligence gathering. What they will not accept is an abuse of power, of crossing the line on American’s privacy.
I would join Sen. Dodd in opposition to any retroactive provisions that allow a “get out of jail card” for violating the Constitution. If Mr. Cornyn had ever had the opportunity to have his Christmas conversation listened to by the government, on a day that he feared for his life in a convoy on Jalalabad Road, he would do the same.
Then there’s those whose names have been bandied about the blogosphere that we’d like to think they’d be opposed to Bush taking away the Fourth Amendment, but where I cannot find a single statement from them about this specific issue. Much help would be appreciated in figuring out exactly where they stand on FISA.
AZ-03: Bob Lord (nobody asked him in his diary two days ago?)
FL-18: Annette Taddeo
FL-21: Raul Martinez
FL-24: Suzanne Kosmas
IL-11: Debbie Halvorson
MD-01: Frank Kratovil
MN-02: Steve Sarvi
NE-02: Jim Esch
NM-02: Harry Teague
NM-03: Ben Ray Lujan (who even diaried here last week, but nobody asked him about FISA!)
NV-02: Jill Derby
NV-03: Dina Titus
OH-15: Mary Jo Kilroy
OH-16: John Boccieri
TX-07: Michael Skelly
WV-02: Anne Barth
KS-Sen: Jim Slattery
MN-Sen: Al Franken (though he did write a satire piece about wiretapping)
MS-Sen: Ronnie Musgrove
NE-Sen: Scott Kleeb
And then there’s even some Democratic challengers who have come out in FAVOR of this FISA bill.
NJ-03: John Adler
For his part, Adler released a statement today, underscoring his own support for reupping FISA “so that our intelligence community has the tools needed to keep America safe in a dangerous world. We must also protect the freedoms for which our troops have made so many courageous sacrifices.”
NC-Sen: Kay Hagan
She was asked if she would have voted for, or against, the FISA bill this week which would have granted retroactive immunity to Telcos for felony violations of the current FISA law.
Ms. Hagan explained that she was against Telcos spying on Americans, but that she would have voted FOR the bill, and granted them immunity, but that future law breaking would not be tolerated.
And of course, Mark Udall running for the Senate in Colorado voted for this bill last week. And perception on the blogs seems to be that Mark Warner and Jeanne Shaheen would’ve supported this bill had they been in the Senate, so I’m not exactly holding my breath to hear statements from them against telecom immunity.
Now, some of the candidates above still have a contested primary to go, like in CO-02, where all three of them came out against it, even as the person they’re trying to replace, Mark Udall, voted for it. There’s other districts, like in AZ-01 and NY-21, where only that candidate has released a statement on FISA, and others haven’t seemed to. (I’m looking at you, Ann Kirkpatrick.) If you guys can find statements by them, please let me know in the comments.
With congressional primaries in Maine, South Carolina, and Virginia on June 10th, the deadline for candidates to file their pre-primary fundraising reports with the FEC for the period from 4/1 to 5/21 passed at midnight. Let’s round-up the numbers from all the hot races (all figures are subject to rounding and listed in the thousands; loans not included):
“Under the radar” races are my favorite, so let’s take a look at SC-01 and SC-02, two deeply red seats with surprisingly strong Democratic challengers.
In SC-01, businesswoman/civic leader Linda Ketner has raised ($430K) and spent ($398K) quite a bit money so far. She’s also loaned her campaign $350,000 so far. This is some serious money for an R+9.6 district — and she needs to be posting these kinds of figures, when the incumbent is sitting on $1.3 million cash on hand.
Also impressive is SC-02’s Rob Miller. An Iraq vet, Miller entered the race in March and has raised nearly $200K and lent his campaign an additional $100K. Again, very respectable scrilla for an R+8.9 district.