The Northeast – Continuing the realignment in 2010?

That the Northeast has been trending blue in recent cycles is self evidently true. Will it continue in 2010?

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.

(Cross posted at Daily Kos, MyDD and Open Left)

Whilst current polls don’t look too good for incumbent Democrats across the Northeast I believe that we have hit the bottom. Now that Health Care reform is done I believe that the polls will rebound for Democrats, particularly in the Northeast.

Thus it is my contention that despite the current challenging environment the Northeast will continue its long term move towards the Democratic Party, despite a sure to be spiteful debate on cap and trade and despite an economic outlook that is improving in fits and starts.

The US Census defines the Northeast region as including 9 states as follows: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. And aggregating across all 9 states the lay of the land looks like this:

States that voted for Obama: 9/9

Governors: 5/9

US Senators: 15/18 (Counting Sanders and Leiberman as Dems)

House Districts: 69/83

State Senates: 8/9

State Houses: 9/9

Where I think a race is a safe Democratic hold I won’t be saying anything about it.

Going state by state then:


Gubernatorial – With GOP Gov Jodi Rell not running again it is very likely to be a Dem pickup.

US Senate – Both Dems. If Dodd runs he may lose for any other Dem it is a safe hold.

US House – All Dem, all Safe (including Himes in the 4th.)

State Senate – 24D/12R – Safe

State House – 114D/37R – Safe


Gubernatorial – Whilst it seems that half of Maine is running for the open Gubernatorial mansion I believe that the Democratic nature of the state will lead to a Democratic retention.

US Senate – Both Repubs! Not on ballot in 2010

US House – All Dem, all Safe

State Senate – 20D/15R – Safe (Margin is growing).

State House – 95D/55R – Safe

Massachusetts –

Gubernatorial – Whilst Deval Patrick really hasn’t set the world on fire the 2nd tier nature of his potential opponents should see him safely re-elected.

US Senate – Both Dems (at least after the upcoming special election.)

US House – All Dem, all Safe

State Senate – 35D/5R – Safe

State House – 144D/16R – Safe

New Hampshire

Gubernatorial – Safe Dem

US Senate – definitely a race to watch. I will be stunned if Hodes loses here. Hodes has almost $1 million dollars COH and there is a divisive GOP primary in the offing also. New Hampshire, whilst less Blue than almost all of the other states in the North East, is not going to elect a Republican as US Senator in 2010.

US House –

NH-01 – There has been a lot of focus on both of the New Hampshire congressional races. I don’t get it to be honest – Shea Porter will win, not by much but she will win.

NH-02 – Again a lot of focus here including a lot of hand wringing about how vulnerable it is to switch. Not gonna happen folks. Gore, Kerry and Obama all won this district – Obama by 13 points – and we have a quality field of candidates  running AND a divisive GOP Primary. Lead Dem Ann McLane Kuster has 250K COH as at the end of September.

State Senate – 14/10 – No change in 2008 really locks in our 2006 gains. If this one flips it will be a bad night for us.

State House – 223D/176R – Safe

New Jersey

Gubernatorial – Repub – Not on ballot in 2010

US Senate – Both Dems

US House –

NJ-02 – If State Senator Jeff Van Drew finally steps up and runs this race becomes very competitive. Hopefully he won’t wait until 2012. If State Sen Jim Whelan runs it could also get competitive in this district that Obama won 54/45 and that Bush won by less than 1% in 2004.

NJ-03 – Adler is safe.

NJ-04 – Gore carried this district and Obama lost 47/52 so a good candidate here is a must to get it on the radar instead of the second tier candidates we have run thus far.

NJ-05 – Unlikely to be on the radar in 2010.

NJ-07 – This district is winnable particularly with a freshman GOP incumbent. Obama carried it 51/48 also. Surprising then that there is no declared Dem candidate yet. Potentially a top tier race that will probably be a big miss for the DCCC.

NJ-11 – The safest GOP district in NJ and a rarity in the Northeast, (outside Pennsylvania,) a generically safe GOP district. Short of a fantastic candidate this one won’t be on the radar.

State Senate – Up in 2011

State House – Up in 2011

New York

Gubernatorial – Safe for Cuomo.

US Senate – Gillibrand will get over the line against 3rd tier opponents and Schumer is Safe too.

US House –

NY-03 – Unless Suozzi or another top tier candidate emerges then this will be a big miss for the DCCC.

NY-13 – McMahon is safe.

NY-20 – Murphy will prevail – bet on it. He had almost 1 Mill COH at the end of September!

NY-23 – One of two really competitive races in Dem held districts in NY. I think Owens will prevail, especially against Hoffman.

NY-24 – After a scare in 2008 Arcuri will be safe.

NY-25 – Maffei is safe.

NY-26 – Unless a good candidate pops up this will be a big miss for the DCCC.

NY-29 – Massa has his work cut out for him – that’s for sure. But for me Massa by a nose. Why? When was the last time the NY GOP won a District off us? Massa’s 500K COH as at end of September will help too.

State Senate – 32D/30R – A chamber to watch – big time. I expect us to hang onto or increase our majority.

State House – 109D/41R – Safe


Gubernatorial – A real worry this one could flip.

US Senate – 2 Dems – Whoever emerges from the Dem primary will beat Toomey. The good folk of Pennsylvania wouldn’t be crazy enough to sent Toomey to the US Senate would they?

US House –

PA-03 – Dahlkemper will have her work cut out to win this District that Obama JUST lost. Race to watch.

PA-04 – Altmire will be safe.

PA-05 – This central Pennsylvania district will not be on the radar unless we have an ultra conservative candidate. One of 4 super safe districts in the state for the Republicans.

PA-06 – Generic Dem beats generic Rep – Period. Doug Pike’s massive COH advantage (largely self funded) of 750K as at end of September should help him pull this one out.  

PA-07 – Not quite sure why so many people are predicting this will flip. Top tier candidates for both parties makes for a tough race but this district was won by Gore, Kerry and Obama. Add in a competitive GOP Primary and it is Dem for me.

PA-09 – One of 4 super safe districts in the state for the Republicans. This central Pennsylvania district will not be on the radar unless we have an ultra conservative candidate. Yep just like PA-05.

PA-11 – Against Lou Barletta Kanjorski will be fine. Tough part of Pennsylvania for Democrats though.

PA-12 – Murtha is vulnerable but i expect him to survive (just).

PA-15 – Like PA-06 Obama carried every county in this one and yep it is also one of only 5 won by Kerry that is occupied by a GOP House Rep. Dem Callahan is a top tier challenger and is fundraising like one (325K COH as at end of Spetember).

PA-16 – Another super safe district for the GOP. Like the 5th and 9th unlikely to be a priority.

PA-18 – In theory could be vaguely competitive in 2010 (Bush only got 54% here in 2004) but unlikely given the low hanging fruit in the 6th and 15th.

PA-19 – Another super safe district for the GOP. Like the 5th, 6th and 16th unlikely to be a priority in 2010, unless Todd Platts lands the Government job he is chasing. Even then unlikely to be competitive.

State Senate – 20D/30R – Safe GOP

State House – 104D/99R – Definitely a chamber to watch.

Rhode Island

Gubernatorial – GOP Gov Don Carcieri is term limited so either a Dem or former Repub Sen now Indy Lincoln Chaffee will be elected. The GOP bench here is terrible.

US Senate – Both Dems

US House – All Dem, all Safe

State Senate – 35D/5R Safe

State House – 69D/6R Safe


Gubernatorial – With GOP Gov Douglas not running the GOP have scored their best possible candidate in Lt Gov Brian Dubie; who will lose to a Dem (unless the Progressive Party act as a spoiler).

US Senate – Both Dems

US House – All Dem, all Safe

State Senate – 28D/7R Safe

State House – 95D/48R Safe

So with 10 months until election day it is off to the races!

What do you think?

The Northeast – Continuing the realignment in 2010?

We had a pretty good night on election night in the Northeast. We cleaned house. We nailed 1 GOP Senator, 6 House of Reps Districts, 1 State Senate and held on to all of the State Senates, State Houses, US House Reps and US Senators we had coming into this cycle.

That the Northeast is rapidly realigning towards team Blue is undeniable!

But the work my friends has merely begun. Forget the bunkum about us being irretrievably on defense in 2010 come below the fold to see who should be in our sights in 2010 as we stay on offense in the Northeast……..

Just to avoid any debate, (and because I got it wrong last time I tried this) the US Census defines the Northeast region as including 9 states as follows: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. And aggregating across all 9 states the lay of the land looks like this:

States that voted for Obama: 9/9

Governors: 6/9

US Senators: 14/18 (Counting Sanders and Leiberman as Dems)

House Districts: 68/83

State Senates: 8/9

State Houses: 9/9

Where I think a race is a safe Democratic hold I won’t be saying much about it such as all of our Northeast US Senators and US House races on the ballot in 2010.

Going state by state then:


Gubernatorial – GOP Gov Jodi Rell is quite popular and will likely be looking for a 3rd term. OTOH the Dem bench is VERY deep and a top tier challenger should be able to be found. Problem is who would want to take on such a popular pol?

US Senate – Both Dems (Hey Lieberman isn’t up for re-election in 2010 Dodd is.)

US House – ALL OURS BABY! – Keep an eye on CT-04

State Senate – zzzzzzzzzzz

State House – zzzzzzzzzzz


Gubernatorial – Dem John Baldacci probably won’t run again which on balance makes this gubernatorial chamber an easier hold for us than otherwise. The only possible exception to this is if either of the GOP US Senators run – a highly unlikely thing to happen.

US Senate – Both Repubs! Not on ballot in 2010


State Senate – We actually added to our margin here in 2008 moving it from 18/17 to 20/15 and yep they are all up again in 2010. A chamber to watch but we should be ok in this increasingly reliable state.

State House – zzzzzzzzzz

Massachusetts – aka nothing to see here move right along!

Gubernatorial – zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

US Senate – Both Dems zzzzzzzzzzzz

US House – ALL OURS BABY! zzzzzzzzzzzzz

State Senate – zzzzzzzzzzzzz

State House – zzzzzzzzzzzzz

New Hampshire

Gubernatorial – If Dem Gov Lynch runs he will win. If, as I hope, Lynch runs for the Senate then look for 2nd CD Rep Hodes to run and win for team Blue instead. My how New Hampshire has quickly shifted to us.

US Senate – 1 Dem 1 Rep and the Rep is on the ballot – Judd Gregg. Gregg has a target on his back already and I expect either Gov Lynch or Rep Hodes to run and for this one to be a barn burner.

US House – ALL OURS BABY! – Keep an eye on NH-01

State Senate – No change in 2008 really locks in our 2006 gains.

State House – Nothing really to see here we held onto almost all of our 2006 gains, dropping from 231 to 225 out of 400 we will hang onto this one in 2010 IMHO.

New Jersey

Gubernatorial – On ballot in 2009 (Go Corzine). Any Dem would be favoured to win this one as NJ residents hate all their pols they just hate Democrats less than Republicans.

US Senate – Both Dems

US House –

NJ-02 – If State Senator Jeff Van Drew finally steps up and runs this race becomes very competitive. Hopefully he won’t wait until 2012. If State Sen Jim Whelan runs it could also get competitive in this district that I suspect Obama won and that Bush won by less than 1% in 2004. Will have a Cook Dem PVI.

NJ-04 – Gore carried this district and I think Obama only just fell short so a good candidate here is a must to get it on the radar instead of the second tier candidates we have run thus far.

NJ-05 – Gee I hope 2008 Dem candidate Dennis Shulman runs again in 2010. Holding a GOP incumbent to 56% in this reasonably strong GOP district is a fair effort. Otherwise this one won’t be on the radar in 2010.

NJ-07 – I don’t know what happened here this year but a top tier candidate who is NOT Linda Stender is required. This district is winnable particulalrly with a freshman GOP incumbent. I think Obama carried it also.

NJ-11 – The safest GOP district in NJ and a rarity in the Northeast, (outside Pennsylvania,) a generically safe GOP district. Short of a fantastic candidate this one won’t be on the radar.

Keep an eye on NJ-03.

State Senate – Up in 2011

State House – Up in 2009 zzzzzzzzzz

New York

Gubernatorial – zzzzzzzzzzz – Name one GOPper who could be elected statewide? – exactly.

US Senate – Both Dems. Despite Hillary’s appointment as SOS this one will be held by whichever Dem is appointed IMHO.

US House –

NY-03 – Pete King is genuinely popular in his district and we should be hoping that the rumours of him making a gubernatorial run turn out to be true. Otherwise we really do need a top tier candidate here – paging Tom Suozzi – but that is unlikely unless the seat is Open.

NY-23 – I expect McHugh to retire in 2010; call it a hunch. If so we will easily find a top tier candidate here otherwise McHugh is perceived as unbeatable.

NY-26 – Democrats in this District just got it wrong in the Primary and we need a top tier candidate against a freshman incumbent who only got 55% first time at bat.

Keep an eye on Dem incumbents in NY-24, NY-25 and NY-29.

State Senate – Yep we have just won control of this chamber for the first time in like 3 million years. It should be 32/30 or maybe 33/29 with one race still undecided. With them all up again in 2010 we need to look for GOP State Senators who are in heavily Democratic areas of NYC and unlikely to run again as they are now free of the influence of Joe Bruni (R-thug) who kept a number of GOP Senators in place long after they wanted to retire.

I think the following are potentially competitive races as open, specials or vulnerable incumbents in 2010:

NY SS-06 – GOP incumbent won with 51.5% of the vote in 2008.

NY SS-11 – Race still undecided if Repub incumbent wins it will be by less than 1000 votes.

NY SS-22 – GOP incumbent in heart of blue NYC.

NY SS-42 – GOP incumbent rumoured to be retiring mid-term.

NY SS-44 – GOP incumbent rumoured to be retiring mid-term.

NY SS-56 – GOP incumbent won with 52.2% of the vote.

NY SS-61 – GOP incumbent won with 53.5% of the vote.

Not to mention that an additional 4 or 5 GOP State Senators will be older than 70 in 2010.

State House – zzzzzzzzzzz


Gubernatorial – This one might get complicated. Dem Gov Ed Rendell is term limited and Dem Lt Gov Catherine Baker Knoll has just sadly passed away thus making State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati the new Lt Gov and he is a Republican. Deep bench on our side including Senator Bob Casey? It goes without saying that the Repubs will have a top tier candidate also. This race makes me nervous as Pennsylvania is less reliably blue than any other state in the North East.

US Senate – 1 of ours (Casey), 1 of theirs (Specter) who is up in 2010. It has been suggested to me that Specter coud be approached to switch which would be fine by me but failing that we have a deep bench and this is a must win if we are to continue the blueing of the Northeast. Specter may yet decide to retire in which case we really are in the box seat for this race.

US House –

PA-05 – This central Pennsylvania district will not be on the radar unless we have an ultra conservative candidate. One of 4 super safe districts in the state for the Republicans.

PA-06 – As probably the single biggest recruiting miss of 2008 this one is infuriating. Gerlach was held to 52% by a 3rd tier candidate and Obama won every county that this district covers. It is also one of only 5 won by Kerry that is occupied by a GOP House Rep. Probably the highest priority house race for the DCCC on offense in the Northeast (open seats notwithstanding).

PA-09 – One of 4 super safe districts in the state for the Republicans. This central Pennsylvania district will not be on the radar unless we have an ultra conservative candidate. Yep just like PA-05.

PA-15 – Like PA-06 Obama carried every county in this one and yep it is also one of only 5 won by Kerry that is occupied by a GOP House Rep. Disappointing 41% for 2008 Dem candidate means we need a top tier challenger here ASAP.

PA-16 – Another super safe district for the GOP. Like the 5th and 9th unlikely to be a priority.

PA-18 – In theory could be vaguely competitive in 2010 (Bush only got 54% here in 2004) but unlikely given the low hanging fruit in the 6th and 15th.

PA-19 – Another super safe district for the GOP. Like the 5th, 6th and 16th unlikely to be a priority in 2010.

Watch Dem incumbents in PA-03 and PA-11.

State Senate – The only State chamber still controlled by the GOP in the Northeast. We actually went backwards there this year dropping from 21/28/1 to 20/29/1. And with only half of the State Senate up every two years this one is a hard one to flip in 2010. However the following should probably be targetted IMHO, particularly if they are open races:

PA SS-06 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama, incumbent got 53.4% in 2006.

PA SS-10 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama, incumbent got 51.5% in 2006.

PA SS-12 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SS-16 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama, incumbent got 54.2% in 2006.

PA SS-20 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SS-24 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SS-26 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama, incumbent got 52.2% in 2006.

PA SS-44 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SS-50 – Incumbent got 53.5% in 2006.

Now I am not suggesting that every State Senate race here will be competitive in 2010 as I understand that Blue counties can have Red parts, but if the Red parts of NYC can be turned then Red parts of Blue counties in PA can be turned also.

State House – In 2008 we managed to increase our margin of control from 102/101 to 104/99; still far too close for comfort. Vulnerable Repubs include:

PA SH-4 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-13 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-15 – Incumbent got 51.5% in 2008.

PA SH-18 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-26 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-28 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-29 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-30 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-31 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-44 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-57 – Incumbent got 51.6% in 2008.

PA SH-61 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-70 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-75 – Incumbent got 53.3% in 2008.

PA SH-102 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-104 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-105 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-106 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-128 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama, incumbent got 51.8% in 2008.

PA SH-129 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-131 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-134 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-138 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-142 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama, incumbent got 51.7% in 2008.

PA SH-146 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama, incumbent got 53.3% in 2008.

PA SH-150 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-152 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-155 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-157 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-158 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-160 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-162 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-163 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-164 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-165 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-167 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-168 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-169 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-170 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-172 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-176 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-177 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-178 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-183 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama.

PA SH-187 – Wholly contained in Counties carried by Obama, incumbent got 52.3% in 2008.

Now I am not suggesting that every State House race here will be competitive in 2010 as I understand that Blue counties can have Red parts, particularly given that State House districts are so small, but if the Red parts of NYC can be turned then Red parts of Blue counties in PA can be turned also. Yep the same thinking that applies to the PA State Senate.

Rhode Island

Gubernatorial – GOP Gov Don Carcieri is term limited! With a bench a mile deep we should be a lock to pick this one up as the GOP bench is almost non existent.

US Senate – Both Dems


State Senate – zzzzzzzzzzz

State House – zzzzzzzzzzz


Gubernatorial – If GOP Gov Jim Douglas runs he wins I think. However if he runs for the Senate then we should win here EXCEPT for one nasty wrinkle. In Vermont the Progrssive Party frequently run in statewide races which not only splits the left of centre vote but often allows Republicans to get elected. Surely an accomodation must be able to be found to allow us to have a decent shot at this one in 2010. OTOH GOP Lt Gov Brian Dubie is almost the only statewide candidate that the GOP could present and he could make a race of it.

US Senate – Both Dems


State Senate – zzzzzzzzzzzz

State House – zzzzzzzzzzzz

What do you think?

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

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NJ-05: Good Trendlines for Shulman

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (10/20-22, likely voters, 9/17-19 in parens):

Dennis Shulman (D): 40 (34)

Scott Garrett (R-inc): 47 (49)

Other: 2 (2)

Undecided: 11 (15)

(MoE: ±5%)

This is a tidy improvement over R2K’s first poll in this district, reflecting in part the fact that Shulman went up on the air between the two surveys. It also helps explain Scott Garrett’s wild freak-out and sick smears against Shulman. (My favorite: Shulman, an ordained rabbi, is “soft on Israel.” Uh huh.) You may also recall that earlier this week, the Club for Growth, which usually cares naught for incumbents, endorsed Garrett and may be getting ready to drop some bucks on his behalf.

In this expensive NYC metro district, Shulman will likely need some outside help of his own if he is to unseat Garrett. There’s still time for the DCCC to come in with a big moneybomb in this (and many other) districts. (Last cycle, for instance, they nuked Charlie Bass in NH-02 on Halloween.) We’ll soon see if Shulman has the momentum to pull off a major upset here.

Bonus finding: McCain leads Obama 51-39 (it was 52-37 in the last poll).

Time to get serious about expanding the field (NJ-05, CA-46, KY-01, IA-05)

Americans appear ready to sweep a lot of Democrats into office on November 4. Not only does Barack Obama maintain a solid lead in the popular vote and electoral vote estimates, several Senate races that appeared safe Republican holds a few months ago are now considered tossups.

Polling is harder to come by in House races, but here too there is scattered evidence of a coming Democratic tsunami. Having already lost three special Congressional elections in red districts this year, House Republicans are now scrambling to defend many entrenched incumbents.

In this diary, I hope to convince you of three things:

1. Some Republicans who never saw it coming are going to be out of a job in two weeks.

On a related note,

2. Even the smartest experts cannot always predict which seats offer the best pickup opportunities.

For that reason,

3. Activists should put resources behind many under-funded challengers now, instead of going all in for a handful of Democratic candidates.

Allow me to elaborate.

1. A lot of seemingly safe incumbents have lost in wave elections, even in districts tilted toward their own party.

The Republican landslide of 1994 claimed my own Congressman Neal Smith, a 36-year incumbent who had a senior position on the House Appropriations Committee. Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley spent “what aides say may total $1.5 million to $2 million, a staggering amount for a House race” in 1994, but he still lost to George Nethercutt in Washington’s fifth district.

Many of you probably remember long-serving House and Senate Democrats in your own states who were swept away in the Reagan landslide of 1980.

By the same token, a lot of entrenched Republicans lost their seats during the 1974 post-Watergate wave. That was the year Iowans elected Tom Harkin and Berkley Bedell in the fifth and sixth Congressional districts, where both candidates had lost elections in 1972.

2. Even the political pros and the best analysts cannot always handicap Congressional races accurately, especially House races where public polls are scarce.

In 2006, could anyone have predicted that Lois Murphy (who almost beat Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach two years earlier) would fall short again in PA-06, while the massively under-funded Carol Shea-Porter would defeat Jeb Bradley in NH-01?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poured millions into IL-06 in 2006, only to see Tammy Duckworth lose to Peter Roskam. Meanwhile, Larry Kissell didn’t get the time of day from the DCCC and came just a few hundred votes short of beating Republican incumbent Robin Hayes in NC-08.

My point is that we can’t always know where our best chances lie. Sometimes a stealth candidate can catch an incumbent napping in a race that hasn’t been targeted by either party.

Look at the seats Republicans are now worried about, according to Politico:

GOP Reps. John B. Shadegg of Arizona, Lee Terry of Nebraska, Henry Brown Jr. of South Carolina and Dan Lungren of California are all fighting for their political lives, a reversal of fortunes that has caught even the most astute campaign observers by surprise.

Markos commented on the Politico piece,

Shadegg’s AZ-03 is R+5.9.

Terry’s NE-02 is R+9.0.

Brown’s SC-01 is R+9.6

Lungren’s CA-03 is R+6.7.

We haven’t had any public polls in Iowa’s fourth or fifth district races, but last week Republican incumbent Tom Latham (IA-04, D+0) released his first negative television ad, suggesting that his internal polls may show Becky Greenwald gaining on him.

I can’t tell you today who will win on November 4, but I guarantee you that some Democrats in “tossup” seats will lose, even as other Democrats take over “likely Republican” or “safe Republican” districts. Which brings me to my third point.

3. We need to expand the field of Republican-held districts we’re playing for.

Thankfully, the bad old days when the DCCC would target 22 races, hoping to win 15, are just a memory. The DCCC has put more than 60 Republican-held seats in the “Red to Blue” category. Not all of those seats have seen media buys or other significant financial investment from the DCCC, however.

Plus, as I mentioned above, Dan Lungren is sweating bullets in CA-03, which isn’t even on the Red to Blue list.

In 2006 we won at least two seats that were not in the Red to Blue program (IA-02 and NH-01) and came oh, so close in NC-08.

The bottom line is that a lot of Democratic challengers with the potential to win are not getting the support of the DCCC. This post at Swing State Project lists lots of seats once thought safe for Republicans, which are becoming competitive.

Where can netroots fundraising have the most impact? In my view, it’s in the winnable districts where there will be no influx of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the DCCC or other outside groups. Many of these are districts where an additional $50,000 or even $25,000 can make the difference.

The mother of all moneybombs dumped three-quarters of a million dollars into Elwyn Tinklenberg’s campaign in 24 hours over the weekend. It was a strong statement against the intolerance and bigotry Michelle Bachmann (MN-06) displayed on Hardball.

While I respect the enthusiasm, I can’t agree with those who are still asking the netroots to give to Tinklenberg, even after he’s collected more than $750,000 and the DCCC has promised to put $1 million into this race. Tinklenberg now has the resources to run an aggressive paid media and GOTV effort for the next two weeks. He probably has more money than he can spend effectively with so little time left.

Raising $50,000 for each of ten good challengers would be a better use of our energy than continuing to push activists to give to Tinklenberg.

Remember, few challengers are able to match incumbents dollar-for-dollar, but that doesn’t mean they can’t win. They don’t need to match incumbent spending, but they do need the resources to improve their name recognition and capitalize on the Democratic wave.

Which House races should we target for a moneybomb? I would suggest looking at the list of candidates on the Blue America ’08 page at Act Blue, as well as the candidates endorsed by Russ Feingold’s Progressive Patriots Fund. We have good reason to believe that those candidates will stand up for progressive values.

I would then pick a few Democrats on those lists who are not benefiting from large independent expenditures by the DCCC or others.

Our money will go further in districts with relatively inexpensive paid media.

I would also favor candidates taking on particularly odious incumbents, such as Dennis Shulman (running against Scott Garrett in NJ-05) and Debbie Cook (facing Dana Rohrbacher in CA-46). RDemocrat has written a book’s worth of material on why we should support Heather Ryan against “Exxon Ed” Whitfield in KY-01.

And what kind of Iowan would I be if I didn’t mention Rob Hubler, who is taking on Steve King in IA-05? My fellow Iowa blogger 2laneIA published this comprehensive diary showing that if we’re talking about the most ignorant and bigoted wingnuts in Congress, King gives Michelle Bachmann a run for her money. Click the link to read all about King’s “greatest hits,” including his suggestion that we electrify the border fence with Mexico like we do “with livestock,” his prediction that terrorists will be “dancing in the streets” if Obama becomes president, and his pride in working to scale back funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (which he calls Socialist Clinton-style Hillarycare for Illegals and their Parents). King considers his work to reduce SCHIP funding a “key moment” in his Congressional career.

Amazingly, there’s even more to dislike about King than 2laneIA had room to mention in that piece. For instance, while still a state senator, King was a leading advocate for Iowa’s “official English” law, which was adopted in 2002. Then he filed a lawsuit in 2007 to stop the Iowa Secretary of State’s office from providing voter information in languages besides English. It’s not for nothing that Ann Coulter calls King “one of my favorites.”

Hubler is a good progressive who spoke out against the FISA bill and supports the Responsible Plan for Iraq. I just found out yesterday that during the 1980s he was INFACT’s national director of the boycott against Nestle. Hubler also happens to be running a great campaign, but he is not getting much outside help except from Feingold’s Progressive Patriots Fund, which has sent an organizer to work on the campaign.

Two dozen House Democrats already represent districts with a partisan voting index of R+5 or worse. We should be able to increase that number in two weeks and send home Republicans who didn’t even realize they were in trouble.

Few people have enough money to donate to every worthy Democratic candidate. But if the netroots could raise more than three-quarters of a million dollars for Elwyn Tinklenberg in just over 48 hours, we ought to be able to raise $50,000 each for ten good challengers, whose races are relatively low-profile.

Who’s with me on this, and which districts should we target?

Field Report with Pictures – Lobbyists Rally for Corrupt GOP Congressman Scott Garrett

Crossposted on Daily Kos and Blue Jersey

Last night, I joined a rally of Lobbyists for Republican Scott Garrett, who gathered to thank Garrett for supporting the financial industry that has run our economy into the ground. Scott Garrett, who represents New Jersey’s fifth Congressional district, doesn’t just accept campaign donations and personal loans from the financial giants that caused our current economic crisis – he hired a former Countrywide lobbyist as his chief of staff. Garrett is among the nation’s strongest supporters for deregulation of the financial industry that puts profit before people struggling thanks to today’s economic crisis.

More and pictures after the jump…

Lobbyists for Scott Garrett Rally

My name is Erica, and this week I started working on the Dennis Shulman for Congress campaign. With ‘Lobbyists for Scott Garrett,’ our campaign is highlighting Garrett’s ties to both the housing crisis and the special interest culture of corruption. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee and Housing Subcommittee, Garrett is unduly influenced by the industry he is supposed to regulate. This week, the Shulman campaign released a new ad calling on voters to fire Scott Garrett for letting the greed and speculation run rampant under his watch.

See the ad here – Fire Scott Garrett

Shulman for Congress is also underscoring Scott Garrett’s record as one of the staunchest conservatives in Congress. By the end of 2006, the American Conservative Union had only given a “perfect” score of 100 to two members of Congress for their lifetime voting record – and Scott Garrett was one of them. Yet the district he represents, a politically moderate swath of suburban New Jersey – is nowhere near to the far-right views Garrett pushes in Washington. Voters here are looking for leadership to get our economy going again, work towards alternative energy solutions, and bring an end to the war in Iraq.

Our campaign isn’t afraid to take the fight to Scott Garrett and expose his corruption. We recently launched several websites to highlight Garrett’s atrocious record-including his support for Big Oil, his refusal to acknowledge scientific evidence for global warming, and his opposition to a woman’s right to choose, even for victims of rape or incest.

Garrett Caused the Crash

Scott Garrett and the predatory lenders are a case study in Washington’s corrupt special interest culture. Garrett has accepted more than three quarters of a million dollars from the financial industries he is supposed to oversee in Washington, and put his taxpayer-funded office in the hands of a chief of staff who had lobbied for Countrywide and Washington Mutual.

Oilmen for Garrett

Scott Garrett has voted to subsidize Big Oil, for drilling off the New Jersey shore and in the federally protected areas of Alaska, and has taken $69,000 from the oil industry.

Global Warming – It’s a Real Threat

Scott Garrett refuses to accept the overwhelming body of scientific evidence showing that man-made greenhouse gases cause global warming and that it is a real threat to our way of life. He voted to remove language from an appropriations bill acknowledging that greenhouse gases cause global warming and that global warming is a real threat.

Your Choice Not Scott’s

In a district where 70% of residents support reproductive choice, Scott Garrett opposes a woman’s right to choose in all instances, even for victims of rape or incest.

Garrett Shrubs

Career politician Scott Garrett gets a huge property tax break because he says his brother sells $700 worth of shrubs annually. Garrett takes up to $41,000 a year in tax breaks meant for real farmers, and failed to disclose this shrub farm as required by federal law.

In what promises to be a tough race, the amazing outpouring of netroots support for Dennis’ campaign cannot be underestimated. The Daily Kos community raised $20,000 dollars for our campaign in September –  and we here at Shulman for Congress can’t thank you enough. With a horrendous right wing opponent, an inspiring candidate, and your help, together we can elect a strong progressive leader to Congress this November.

Lobbyists for Scott Garrett Rally

NJ-05: Garrett Under 50 Against Shulman

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (9/17-18, likely voters, no trendlines):

Dennis Shulman (D): 34

Scott Garrett (R-inc): 49

(MoE: ±5%)

This is the first public poll of the race in New Jersey’s fifth congressional district, where Rabbi Dennis Shulman is taking on retrograde wingnut Rep. Scott Garrett. There are a number of things worth pointing out about these results.

On the positive side, Garrett is below the fifty percent mark, which is always troubling for an incumbent. At the same time, his favorables stand at a weak 44-38 – almost as many people dislike him as like him. On the flipside, Rabbi Shulman’s favorables stand at 36-26, which means that nearly 40% of likely voters don’t yet know who he is. In other words, he has room to grow.

It’s exactly that growing room which gives Shulman the chance to make up the fifteen-point gap that R2K says he faces. Shulman’s doing pretty well among Dems, winning them at a 72-11 rate, while Garrett is doing ten points better among members of his own party, taking Republicans by 77-6. The real issue, though, is independents. Garrett cleans up here 48-35. The good news for Shulman is that this group is the least familiar with him: fully 45% of indies say they have no opinion of the Democrat – an opportunity, if Shulman can get his name out there.

Those independents are the real X-factor in this poll. They make up a huge 54% of the sample, while Republicans clock in at 27% and Dems at 19%. This is actually pretty close to where registration stood in the district before Super Tuesday. However, Dem registration has shot up since then; I’m told that more recent figures indicate the district’s makeup is more like 44I-32R-24D today. But knowing registration numbers is one thing – figuring out who will show up on election day is quite another.

And in that regard, NJ-05 is a bit of an electoral engima. The district voted for Bush in 2004 by what looks like a daunting 57-43 margin. In 2000, however, the margin was half as wide, just 52-45. Why the seven-point shift, when Bush only gained about three nationwide? Most analysts I’ve discussed this with believe there was something of a “9/11 effect” here, just as there was in many parts of the tri-state area.

If this assessment is accurate, then this right-ward shift may have been temporary. One possible piece of support for this thesis is the presidential head-to-head, which shows McCain leading Obama 52-37. Obama trails past Dem performance quite significantly, but McCain is at Bush 2000 – and not Bush ’04 – levels, for the moment. In a red district, though, undecideds are more likely to drift Republican, so McCain’s current 52% may not be his ceiling.

One final thought: Neither candidate in the fifth CD (which is covered by the ultra-expensive NYC media market) has gone up on the air yet, so there is plenty of potential for this race to move.

14 GOP House Reps in the Northeast – How many after November?

The Northeast (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island & Vermont) has been sharply trending towards the Democratic party for some years now. Increasingly at a State and Federal level Republicans are finding it harder to get elected in the Northeast, be they conservatives or moderates, particularly in statewide races. And this years election seems certain to thin out their ranks even further.

We now have 7/9 Governors, 14/18 Senators and 51/65 House Districts!

Below the line for a look at the 14 GOP held House Races in the Northeast in 2008.

Well now 14 members of that most endangered of species the Northeast House Republican. And can you believe 5 open races in more or less Democrat friendly districts – WOW!

And so on with the show:

CT-04 – D+5 – Shays

It is appropriate that the first race we look at is one of the most competitive, CT-04, pitting Chris Shays against our guy Jim Himes. This one will be a barnburner which makes it curious that I can’t find any polling of the district. Located in the Southwest part of the state it overlaps the New York media market and many people who live in the 4th commute to NYC for work.

As the only GOP survivor in New England Shays seems to be popular but as the Iraq war becomes increasingly unpopular Shays’ fervent support for the war and the President himself makes this one race to watch. Both candidates are cashed up and either could win.

CT-04 is one of 8 districts carried by Kerry in 2004 occupied by a House Republican.  

DE-AL – D+7 – Castle

GOP incumbent Mike Castle is considered safe and I see no reason to not beileve that. Whilst Dem Karen Hartley-Nagle will run a solid campaign this district is unlikely to flip this time around. Of more interest to me is whether Castle will switch parties after the election or retire in 2010 (He had a stroke in 2006). Or if Lt Gov John Carney or Attorney General Beau Biden have a crack Castle may be vulnerable if he runs again in 2010.

DE-AL is another of the 8 districts that Kerry carried in 2004 occupied by a House Republican and in fact this is the district with the highest Kerry vote – 57% – occupied by a Republican.

NJ-02 – D+4.0 – LoBiondo

LoBiondo doged a bullet when Democratic State Senator Jeff Van Drew opted not to run against him in this district that Bush won by less than 1% and that is occupied by 2 Democratic State Senators.

Our candidate David Kurkowski will have a real slog to get this race on the radar with the open races in the 3rd and 7th. Look for Van Drew to run and win in 2010.

NJ-03 – D+3.3 – OPEN

The first of our open races this one sees Democratic State Senator John Adler running against Chris Myers. Bush won this district 51-49 and Adler has a massive COH advantage – 1.46M to 155K. Polling indicates a tight race but I expect Adler to win comfortably as he is well known through the district and genuinely popular.

NJ-04 – R+0.9 – Smith

This central Jersey district was won by Bush in 2004 56 to 44 but was won by Gore in 2000 50 to 46. With a plethora of other competitive races around this one has not been on the radar and probably won’t be. Josh Zeitz is to be applauded for having a go but 2008 probably won’t be his year. 2010 maybe?

NJ-05 – R+4 – Garrett

A district that shouldn’t be on the radar is so largely because our guy Dennis Shulman is a blind rabbi who has been getting a lot of media attention. Won by Bush in 2004 57-43 this is one of two districts in New Jersey that are considered generically safe for Repubs. If Shulman can pull it off then expect a lot of house districts to be picked up by us on election day. Shulman is down 3 to 1 in COH which is ok but he really needs to step up the fundraising.

NJ-07 – R+1 – OPEN

Another open race this one pits 2006 candidate Democrat Linda Stender against State Senator Leonard Lance. Michael Hsing, a conservative republican is also running as an independent which will take votes from Lance. Both camps have released polls that show their candidate is winning. Despite the fact that Bush won this district 53-47 in 2004 I expect Stender to win at her second time at bat as she only lost by about 1000 votes in 2006. Stender has a massive COH advantage – 1.2M-88K btw and that can only help!

NJ-11 – R+6 – Frelinghuysen

This district that Bush won 58-42 in 2004 is the safest GOP in New Jersey and unlikely to flip. Our guy, 2006 candidate Tom Wyka, is putting in a valiant effort but will most likely fall short. This district is a rarity in the Northeast, a safe GOP district.

NY-03 – D+2.1 – King

This Long Island based district is not on the radar for 2008. Democrat Graham Long hasn’t set the world on fire and won’t with all of the oxygen being sucked up by the 13th. This race may have been competitive if 2006 candidate Dave Mejias had run again be he is running for the State Senate instead 🙁 Look for Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi or Mejias to run in 2010. King has said that he will running in the gubernatorial race in 2010 so we should pick this one up then.

NY-13 – D+1 – OPEN

No race in the country has been more of a soap opera than NY-13. I will spare you the details and say simply this. Democratic candidate Michael McMahon will win and win big over a divided dispirited Republican party and their 3rd tier candidate. McMahon is even endorsed by GOP powerbroker Guy Molinari. And he lives on Staten Island a vital prerequisite in this district unlike his republican opponent. Chalk this one up as a win for team blue.

NY-23 – R+0.2 – McHugh

John McHugh is a safe bet for re-election here over a low profile candidate, Mile Oot. The attenton in upstate New York will all be focused on the 25th, 26th and 29th. Sheesh even the unions endorse McHugh who seems genuinely popular. He was rumoured to be retiring in 2008 and may do so in 2010. Either way expect a competitive race here in 2010 not 2008.

NY-25 – D+3 – OPEN

Democrat Dan Maffei never stopped running since 2006 and is considered very likely to win this open seat over Republican Dale Sweetland. He has about $1M COH and of course upstate New York is rapidly bluing. The one poll I have seen had Maffei only a point in front but that was back in April. I think that the NRCC has given up here and with good reason, Dan’s gonna win. NY-25 is one of 8 districts carried by Kerry in 2004 occupied by a House Republican.  

NY-26 – R+3 – OPEN

There was a huge shock here when Democrat Kryzan won a bloody primary over DCCC preferred Jon Powers. Nonetheless Kryzan came out reasonably clean and may well pull it off in a district where Bush won 55-43 in 2004. Kryzan needs to step up her fundraising a lot but again the DCCC has weighed with advertising expenditure. When we see some polling we will get a better sense of how this one is playing but this district is still very much in play as Gopper Chris Lee hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. Watch this space.

NY-29 – R+5 – Kuhl

Democratic 2006 candidate Eric Massa is back for a rematch in this upstate district that is the most GOP friendly district in New York. Bush won 56-42 in 2004. Don’t discount Massa though as incumbent Randy “shotgun” Kuhl is certainly vulnerable (and repellant). Haven’t seen any public polling here but the candidates are basically at parity in terms of COH and the DCCC is stumping up for advertising big time. Expect a close race.

So whilst the Northeast won’t provide much excitement at the Presidential level this year the House races (and Senate BTW) will be all the fun of the fair. I think that we will probably win between 4 and 7 of these races further decimating an already shredded GOP. The Northeast is well on the way to becoming a one party region and this year will see further shifts in that direction.

NJ-05: Rothenberg’s Wrongheaded Remarks

Stuart Rothenberg on Rabbi Dennis Shulman, running for Congress against GOP Rep. Scott Garrett in New Jersey:

Finally, at times, the rabbi seems very un-rabbi-like. He is quoted as using the “s” word very matter-of-factly in Toobin’s piece and using the “b.s.” word in Time. I expect a lot of folks in the district may wonder about that.

And Shulman’s rhetoric seems more like a Democratic insider than a man of the cloth, such as his comment that Garrett is “in the pocket of Big Oil” and that the runup in energy prices “is the direct result of Big Oil and their cronies like Scott Garrett blocking sound energy policy for years.”

This is as ugly as it is wrong. In his column, Rothenberg criticizes a New Yorker profile of Shulman by Jeff Toobin, saying that the author’s “forte is simply not politics.” Yet when did Rothenberg appoint himself an expert on religion?

Indeed, reform Judaism – the sort practiced by Shulman – embraces a diverse body of beliefs, styles and personal choices. It is Shulman’s congregants – not Beltway blowhards – who determine what standards their clergymen ought to meet, and whether they meet them. As a practicing Jew myself, the thought of a smug DC pundit who isn’t even a member of my synagogue proclaiming my rabbi spiritually unfit offends me to no end – especially when the “sin” in question is a violation of some ossified standard of bipartisan gentility that never actually existed in the first place.

In fact, in pluralistic America, I’d expect all those who respect the rights of others to observe their religion as they see fit to be displeased about remarks like this. They have no place in our politics or our houses of worship. And as I say, this kind of statement isn’t just offensive, it doesn’t even pass muster as good political analysis. Case in point: While I’m sure some Catholics didn’t think Fr. Robert Drinan – who beat a 28-year incumbent on an anti-Vietnam War platform and supported abortion rights throughout his career – “acted like a priest,” that didn’t stop him from winning five terms as a Congressman in Massachusetts. He only stepped down because the Pope – not his constituents – forced him to.

If Rothenberg wants to critique Shulman on the merits, fine. But leave religion out of it. Period.

GOOD Congressional challengers on FISA: The List

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.

First, let’s start off with the current House and Senate members who voted against this bill.  They do deserve credit, as it’s their jobs on the line.

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.

House candidates

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.”

More Polis:

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.

FL-24: Clint Curtis (h/t discocarp)

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.

IA-05: Rob Hubler (h/t desmoinesdem)

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.

NY-13: Steve Harrison (h/t akokon)

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.

WY-AL: Gary Trauner (also see here for some excellent choice quotes Gary dug up from our own Founding Fathers)

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.

    Senate candidates

    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.

    NJ-02: Van Drew Won’t Challenge LoBiondo

    Earlier in the cycle, Democrats had hoped to target three House Republican incumbents in New Jersey: NJ-07’s Mike Ferguson, NJ-03’s Jim Saxton, and NJ-02’s Frank LoBiondo.  With the retirements of Ferguson and Saxton, Democrats have a solid shot of picking up both seats with the candidacies of Linda Stender and John Adler.  For a while, it looked possible that state Senator Jeff Van Drew would round out the trio by challenging the entrenched LoBiondo in his D+4 district.  Alas, that wasn’t meant to be:

    State Sen. Jeff Van Drew won’t challenge incumbent Frank LoBiondo for a congressional seat in November, Van Drew said this afternoon.

    Van Drew was elected to the Senate in November after serving three terms in the state Assembly. […]

    “We are approaching the most complex and challenging budget in the state’s history and for that reason, I’m going to stay where I am for now, although I will clearly say I look forward to the day when I will run for the United States Congress,” Van Drew said in a telephone interview this afternoon.

    Van Drew said it’s possible he could challenge LoBiondo in 2010.

    This is the safer move for Van Drew — fresh from beating an incumbent GOP state Senator last November, another bid against an incumbent so soon after his last race might have rubbed some voters the wrong way.  However, it does look promising that Van Drew will be willing to make a real race of this seat in 2010.  I look forward to his candidacy.

    Meanwhile, the promising campaign of Rabbi Dennis Shulman against NJ-05’s ultra-conservative Scott Garrett leaves me hopeful that we could see three pick-up opportunities in the Garden State, after all.