MA-09: Stephen Lynch switches to “No” on HCR. Any primary opponents for this DINO-posing-as-lefty?

Rep. Stephen Lynch, in MA-9, voted for the health care bill in November but announced today that he’s voting against the new compromise bill — supposedly from the LEFT.

That is, he says he won’t back the new bill because it’s weaker than the original House bill, doesn’t do enough to constrain insurance companies and doesn’t allow for a public option.  In other words, we’re supposed to believe Lynch is to the left of Kucinich on this issue.  This is wildly implausible.  Lynch is a DINO, and his opposition to the bill is from the right.  Who does he think he is fooling?

My larger question is: Is there any possibility of a labor-backed primary opponent for Lynch — from the actual left?  MA-09 (South Boston) is not the bluest of MA districts, but my hunch is that labor is pretty strong there.  It might be important for the larger project of keeping wavering “Yes” votes in line on this bill for some plausible primary opponent to at least begin to get talked about for Lynch.

The filing deadline in MA is not until 6/1…

Despite pressure from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, Representative Stephen F. Lynch of South Boston said today that he will vote against President Obama’s health care overhaul when it comes to the House floor, contending that it doesn’t put enough pressure on insurance companies to reduce costs.

The move is a switch for Lynch, who voted in favor of the House health care bill in November. But he said the current version, which was approved by the Senate, is not as strong as that measure.…

Lynch goes on to criticize the raw deal Massachusetts gets financially from the bill because it’s already so far ahead of other states in covering the uninsured, but the main line of his critique is that this bill is weaker than the House bill (not surprising, since he has to justify his vote switch).

This is not the first time a conservative Democrat has characterized skepticism about HCR as being from the left when it is actually from the right.  (Isn’t that the trick Massa tried to pull before his spectacular recent flameout?)

DE-Sen: The Castle Amendment – Bend Over!

Mike Castle is toast. Not only did he cast his vote against the Health Care Bill and for the anti-choice Stupak Amendment, he also drafted an amendment to allow health insurers to raise your premiums if you don’t sign up for a Wellness Plan.

Here is the amendment Mike Castle added to the GOP “Die Quickly” Health Insurance Bill.

   ”In applying subparagraph (B), a group health plan

   (or a health insurance issuer with respect to health

   insurance coverage) may vary premiums and cost

   sharing by up to 50 percent of the value of the benefits under the plan (or coverage) based on participation (or lack of participation) in a standards-based

   wellness program.”.

   (2) EFFECTIVE DATE.-The amendment made

   by paragraph (1) shall apply to plan years beginning

   more than 1 year after the date of the enactment of

   this Act.

(cross-posted at Delaware Liberal.

So Mike Castle’s contribution to the bill is to allow your health insurance company to raise your premiums 50% because you didn’t adhere to their strict-as-hell wellness program (which probably requires you to report to them your diet and exercise habits).

I’m serious, that’s Mike Castle’s plan – letting your insurance company raise your rates for not exercising enough. The goal is to generate profits for the health insurance monopolies that contribute huge sums of money to his campaign (an industry generating record profits at the expense of bankrupting consumers). This isn’t your typical “weak-tea” Castle spinelessness, this is the real Mike Castle finally showing it’s evil, crooked face and telling you to “bend over” in the name of profit.

The next time you hear someone suggest they might vote for Castle, or that he’s some kind of “moderate”, remind them that Castle wanted to raise our health insurance premiums 50%.

What a sick fucking crook.

Stick a fork in him folks, this is all the ammunition Beau Biden needs to destroy this schmuck. And Beau Biden will run, mark my words, and he will announce it this Tuesday at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. And I will be there, and so will papa Joe Biden and the Big Dog Bill Clinton.

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

NY-23: Bill Owens: For Or Against The Public Option?

Yesterday, I provided some details on the Democratic candidate in New York’s 23rd congressional district race, Bill Owens.

In the comments reacting to the post, the big question surrounds Owens and his position on the public option. Obviously, the public option is a huge issue among progressives and the netroots. It is also a question that, in Owens’ case, does not have a clear cut response.

On August 11, Owens was profiled for PolitickerNY. He was called the “DCCC-approved non-Democrat” and was asked a few different questions. It was then that this was said about his position on health care:

Owens took a decidedly moderate line on health care restructuring, saying he does not support a public option available to anyone–the crux of the restructuring put forward by President Obama. He said some health plans in Congress not longer include the idea of a public option. This stance is gaining some traction in the Senate.

“It changes every day, the various iterations,” Owens told me. “The bill that I would vote for would have a couple of elements to it. It would cover the uninsured, it would eliminate the ability to exclude for a pre-existing condition, and also that focuses on cost-reduction.”

At the time, Owens was just picked to be the Democratic candidate and little was known about him.

(As an aside, I would like to add this from the other finalists for the nomination:

“I’m with the president; I think there should be a public option,” John Sullivan, the former mayor of Oswego, told me before Owens was selected. “I’m not a Blue Dog Democrat, let me put it that way. At least in terms of health care.”

Brian McGrath, a Manhattan attorney who grew up in the district, was more cautious, saying that he supported the idea, but that “you have to look at the public option and how it has to be structured.”

The reason I bring this up is that it has been said that Owens was the only one of the finalists to oppose a public option. On the surface, that is true. But McGrath saying that you have look at it and how it is structured certainly got my attention just as Owens and his position did.)

After President Barack Obama gave his health care address to Congress, all three candidates in NY-23 provided updates on where they stand when it comes to health care reform. Owens gave a different perspective on health care than in the past.

Owens, who told me the night he was nominated that he did not support a public option, said that it was, as a component of an insurance exchange, something he “would look very carefully at; they seem reasonable as principles.”

“My view is that there are a couple of principles that have to be adhered to in coming to a resolution of the health care issue,” Owens told me. “I’m not in favor of a litmus test because I think that’s one of the big problems in Washington today. I think we need to be able to analyze the bills and make a rational decision about it in line with the principals in the bill.

“As long as they meet the four criteria that I laid out, those are things that I would consider,” he said. “Again, I don’t want to apply a litmus test, I don’t want to apply a label. I want to be able to analyze the information and the bill and come to a conclusion.”

(His four criteria are that any bill not add to the deficit or “place burdens on small businesses,” bring down insurance costs, provide access to coverage for those without insurance, and ensure those with pre-existing conditions are insured. Owens has said this before, but it’s not on his web site, which provides no information about his biography or positions.)

(Emphasis mine.)

His response to the question about the public option (which, this time, he was actually quoted on) was, just to repeat, something he “would look very carefully at; they seem reasonable as principles.”

Owens’ approach to health care reform includes a lot of key elements. He believes in controlling costs for the middle-class and supports providing access to affordable health care coverage to every American.

This is the full list of what he supports:

·        Supports: Controlling health care costs for the middle class.

·        Supports: Providing access to affordable health insurance for every American.

·        Supports: Preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to anybody based on previous existing conditions and bans caps on lifetime coverage.

·       Supports:  Giving small business and individuals access to the lowest rates available to federal employees and large corporations.

·        Supports: Allowing anybody to keep their existing coverage.

·        Supports: Using profits from repayment of TARP funds, allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, increased efficiency in our health care system (like putting all health care records on-line and requiring insurance companies to accept payment on-line), and cutting special interest tax loopholes (like tax benefits for companies that offshore jobs) to help pay for health care reform.

·        Supports: Allowing states to use savings from elimination of uncompensated care costs (Over $100 billion annually) to reduce taxes. In New York this would help prevent property tax increases.

There are three things Owens is opposed to: Cuts to Medicare, taxing health care benefits and increasing the taxes on the middle class.

Back to the public option. It is necessary for Owens to be clear about his position. He first said he opposed it, then a month later, seemed to leave the door open for it.

So for those saying he opposes it, I would hold off on those charges.

Electoral politics of the public option

I’m quite prepared to delete this if I’m breaking site policy but the topic seems relavant to me.

I’ve been fighting something of a lonely battle at Daily Kos arguing with people over the health care debate and real possibility of the Obama administration dropping the so called ‘public option’ in order to bring conservative Democrats in congress onboard in order to pass a bill.

Most have drawn their proverbial line in the sand and are committed to opposing any bill that does not include a robust public option. I have no doubt that many posters here at SSP also hold this position. I respect it but cannot agree.

This mcjoan diary from earlier today seemed to be totally off base and I said so.…

They are fixated on the polls that show support for the public option in theory but refuse to even acknowledge the existence of the polling that indicates the electorate has turned against the plans that are actually under discussion. As we all know perception is reality in politics.…

The reason I believe we can and should discuss this here is because of the real paradox that this has created. On the one hand Democrats in conservative districts won by John McCain or narrowly won by the president last year are clearly concerned about supporting a bill that is unpopular among their constituents. Their rationale is to remove the public option. But of course this is a sticking point for progressives particularly in the House.

I think this impass is a recipe for disaster. Though I don’t think the health care failure in 1994 was the only factor in the Republican Revolution it was clearly the coup de grace after all the scandals and the contentious votes taken that cycle particularly on the budget and on the assault weapons ban. There is clear evidence that Dems in conservative districts that year who voted for those bills were likely to go down to defeat while those who voted no all survived.

Though the author is a bit of a winger and RCP in general leans conservative this article is quite persuasive.


I know Dave Wasserman at The Cook Political Report has come to the same conclusion and Nate Silver posted a link to the article yesterday and made many of the same points.…

It is clear to me the pragmatic solution would be to find a compromise that can find the necessary votes in both chambers. Kossacks seem determined though to stand their ground even if it means no bill at all. What do y’all think?

NJ-GOV: New Jersey Learns About the Real Chris Christie

As the critical governor’s race approaches this fall, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO has launched a new website, The Real Chris Christie, to take a closer look at the Republican challenger and where he stands on key issues.

Chris Christie, who got a political appointment as a U.S. attorney after raising more than $350,000 for George W. Bush, is running as “reformer,” but voters need to know what Christie would do as governor. Where does he stand on the critical issues facing New Jersey?

The Real Chris Christie looks past the rhetoric and examines where Christie stands on critical issues like the economy, health care, education and workers’ rights, as well as ethical issues and his long-standing support of Bush.


Here are some important facts available at The Real Chris Christie:

  • Christie wants to cut corporate tax rates at the expense of critical health, education and housing programs for working families.
  • Christie is proposing changes to health care that would allow insurance companies to deny claims and refuse to cover preventative care like mammograms.
  • Christie opposes funding for pre-K programs for young children.
  • Christie opposes paid medical leave for workers, project labor agreements and collective bargaining.
  • Christie has awarded no-bid contracts to friends and political allies.

Visit The Real Chris Christie to find out more. It’s an important resource as we approach the Nov. 3 election.

Cross-posted from the AFL-CIO Now Blog.

Ron Wyden for HHS?: Why and What it Means

The Oregonian is reporting that Senator Ron Wyden (D) is a candidate to be the next HHS Secretary.  I’ll discuss the rumors, who Wyden is and what this would mean for the US Senate if he were to be nominated.

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun:…

Link to the story: Wyden gains traction as possible health secretary

Key Quote:

   Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden is emerging as a potential candidate to become health and human services secretary after former Sen. Tom Daschle abruptly withdrew because of controversy over unpaid taxes.

   Wyden’s name is one of several prominently mentioned in Washington, D.C., health-policy circles and in news stories and blogs. Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s name also surfaced, but several Washington health care observers said they doubt he would receive serious consideration.

So who is Ron Wyden?:

Birth Date: 05/03/1949

Birthplace: Wichita, KS

Home City: Portland, OR

Religion: Jewish

Party: Democratic.

Elective History:

Representative, United States House of Representatives, District 3, 1980-1996, defeating an incumbent in the seat now held by Earl Blumenauer.

Senator, United States Senate, 1996-present, winning a special election over former Senator Gordon Smith to replace the disgraced Senator Bob Packwood (R).  He has not been challenged since.

Wyden’s Healthy Americans Plan:

Quoting from Slate:


   Under Wyden’s plan, employers would no longer provide health coverage, as they have since World War II. Instead, they’d convert the current cost of coverage into additional salary for employees. Individuals would use this money to buy insurance, which they would be required to have.

   Private insurance plans would compete on features and price but would have to offer benefits at least equivalent to the Blue Cross “standard” option. Signing up for insurance would be as easy as ticking off a box on your tax return. In most cases, insurance premiums would be withheld from paychecks, as they are now.

   Eliminating employers as an additional payer would encourage consumers to use health care more efficiently. Getting rid of the employer tax deduction, which costs a whopping $200 billion a year, would free up funds to subsidize insurance up to 400 percent of the poverty line, which is $82,000 for a family of four.

   The Lewin Group, an independent consulting firm, has estimated that Wyden’s plan would reduce overall national spending on health care by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years and that it would save the government money through great administrative efficiency and competition.

Replacing Wyden:

Under Oregon law, a special election would be held to replace Wyden within 91 days (the law says “soon as practicable so it may be backed up to the May Primary”).  Here is how I think it would stack up:

Republican Possibles:

Former Senator Gordon Smith would be by far the strongest possible candidate.

Rep. Greg Walden would be a likely choice but would be quite weak.

Allen Alley, who lost in his run for treasurer, would also be possible.

Democratic Possibles:

US Rep. Earl Blumeanuer would be a very strong pick and would certainly be favored statewide.

US Rep. Peter DeFazio would also be a very strong choice for us and would likely clear the field as well.

Losing Senate candidate Steve Novick would be a strong third possibility.

Overall I think we would clearly have the edge in any special election.

Let me know what you think.

Year in review: Iowa politics in 2008

I do most of my writing at the Iowa progressive community blog Bleeding Heartland.

Last year at this time I was scrambling to make as many phone calls and knock on as many doors as I could before the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

This week I had a little more time to reflect on the year that just ended.

After the jump I’ve linked to Bleeding Heartland highlights in 2008. Most of the links relate to Iowa politics, but some also covered issues or strategy of national importance.

I only linked to a few posts about the presidential race. I’ll do a review of Bleeding Heartland’s 2008 presidential election coverage later this month.

January 2008

The Iowa caucuses dominated the beginning of the year. In the ninth and final diary in my series on how the Iowa caucuses work, I responded to arguments in defense of what I consider flaws in caucus system.

I supported John Edwards and was impressed by some of Hillary Clinton’s campaign tactics, but on the whole January 3 was obviously Barack Obama’s night.

Chris Woods posted some early analysis of the Iowa caucus results. Barack Obama won 41 counties, John Edwards won 29 counties, Hillary Clinton won 25 counties and four counties were ties.

I was frustrated by my failure to secure a third delegate for Edwards in my precinct.

Chris Woods lamented the Iowa mainstream media’s lack of interest in political blogs.

Iowa Republicans were already downbeat about their election prospects, having failed to recruit a credible candidate against U.S. Senator Tom Harkin. Republicans in the state legislature fell behind Iowa Democrats in fundraising.

I was hoping the legislature would put some balance in our state’s transportation planning, but the powers that be wanted to spend virtually all the new money on road-building.

Secretary of State Mike Mauro did us all a favor by proposing a bill to require paper ballots in every Iowa precinct.

I took a stab at explaining why Iowa has never elected a woman governor or sent a woman to Congress.

Yet another study confirmed that runoff from conventional farms in Iowa is a major contributor to the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

Former Governor Tom Vilsack called for more action to combat global warming.

Noneed4thneed called for more leadership from Chet Culver on conserving energy and making Iowa the renewable energy capital.

A report by the American Wind Energy Association showed Iowa falling to fourth in wind power.

Environmental advocates arranged for world-class expert testimony before the Iowa Utilities Board against a proposal to build a new coal-fired power plant near Marshalltown.

Ed Fallon announced his candidacy for Congress, and I explained why I planned to support him against six-term incumbent Leonard Boswell in the third district primary.

I was a respondent in a long poll commissioned by Boswell’s campaign, which tested some of Fallon’s messages against the incumbent.

I called for fixing the problems with the Iowa caucuses and learned that the Nevada Democratic Party adopted slightly better caucus rules than ours. (Unfortunately, precinct chairs in Nevada were poorly-trained, and the caucuses were a fiasco in many precincts.)

I was disappointed when Edwards dropped out of the presidential race, even though I knew he had no chance of winning the nomination.

February 2008

What started out as a routine illness put me in the hospital for a week. Things might have taken a very bad turn if I had waited longer before seeing a doctor. I told the story here: My health insurance may have saved my life.

Noneed4thneed discussed the connection between anti-tax zealots and local roads that are in terrible condition.

Renewable Rich sounded the alarm about attempts by state legislators to define nuclear power as a form of renewable energy. Fortunately, that bill was not approved.

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women supported a bill that would make it easier for working mothers to breastfeed. Unfortunately, the bill did not make it out of committee in the Iowa House.

Senator Tom Harkin stayed neutral in the Clinton-Obama contest and said the Democratic Party should eliminate superdelegates from the presidential nominating process.

I was already getting tired of safe incumbent Harkin’s repeated fundraising appeals, and there were dozens more to come before the year was over.

Democracy for America endorsed Ed Fallon in the third district Congressional primary.

Boswell was among 21 House Democrats who worked with Republicans to do George Bush’s bidding on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But he stepped up his constituent outreach by helping my suburb, Windsor Heights, secure a unique zip code.

Fourth district Congressional candidate Kurt Meyer started posting diaries occasionally at Bleeding Heartland.

Secretary of State Mauro ran into opposition from Chet Culver over his efforts to require that all voting machines use paper ballots. However, the governor soon got behind a plan to eliminate touchscreen voting machines.

I argued that a new law requiring all Iowa children to be tested for lead is worth the cost, not only because lead harms children. It seems that exposure to lead may diminish the functioning of the aging brain decades later.

Iowa joined California’s lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency “for its legal action which denied states’ rights to adopt vehicle emissions standards to regulate global warming emissions.”

Iowa State Senator Matt McCoy paid a fine to settle an ethics investigation.

Noneed4thneed alerted us to a corporate-funded advertising campaign targeting five first-term Iowa House Democrats. (Four of the five won re-election in November, but Art Staed lost by a heartbreaking 13 votes.)

I reflected on a year without Steve Gilliard, whose News Blog I used to read daily.

March 2008

Governor Culver rejected federal funds that had strings attached to require “abstinence only” sex education.

The Republican 501(c)4 group Iowa Future Fund ran untruthful ads against Culver without disclosing its donors, but Iowa law does not require political ads to be true.

In a party-line vote, the Iowa House rejected a Republican effort to bring a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage up for debate.

Tom Harkin introduced the Complete Streets Act of 2008 in the Senate.

Congressman Steve King of the fifth district made his infamous comment about how terrorists would be “dancing in the streets” if Obama were elected president.

The National Republican Congressional Committee’s list of top House targets did not include any of Iowa’s Democratic-held seats.

Ed Fallon came out against new coal-fired power plants proposed for Marshalltown and Waterloo, while Boswell declined to take a position on the issue.

Boswell used his franking privilege to send glossy campaign-style flyers to voters in the third district, and the Des Moines Register called him on it.

Boswell defended his vote for the bankruptcy bill, which was unpopular with many liberal Democrats.

Boswell also changed his stand on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and touted his record on supporting the middle class.

A national LGBT rights group endorsed Fallon.

Boswell’s campaign sent out a mass e-mail saying Fallon is “no Democrat.”

I explained why I thought Fallon would be a more effective representative than Boswell.

Fourth district Congressional candidate William Meyers started posting diaries here and continued to do so throughout the primary campaign.

Noneed4thneed encouraged Bleeding Heartland readers to support first-term Democrats in the Iowa legislature who were targets of a corporate-funded advertising campaign.

A report from Families USA estimated how many Iowans die prematurely because they lack health insurance.

I wrote about the disparities in c-section rates in Iowa, depending on where a woman lives and in which hospital she births.

Speaking of babies, I gave some reasons to use cloth diapers.

April 2008

A Polk County judge ordered Secretary of State Mauro to stop providing voter information in languages other than English, proving that the English-only bill Governor Tom Vilsack signed in 2002 was more than symbolic.

Chet Culver signed the law banning touchscreen voting machines in Iowa.

Our state’s Republican representatives in the U.S. House, Steve King and Tom Latham, voted against a federal bill on verified voting.

After reviewing voter records, the Des Moines Register concluded that very few ineligible voters participated in the Iowa caucuses.

The U.S. House approved a “plain language” bill sponsored by Congressman Bruce Braley of the first district.

I discussed how much money in earmarks each member of Iowa’s Congressional delegation secured in 2007.

The Iowa legislature approved a major new transportation bill without putting additional funds into public transit or stipulating that road money be spent on fixing existing infrastructure.

I urged Culver to veto a bill seeking more study of the livestock odor problem instead of action, but he signed it.

The legislature also approved a ban on smoking in most public places, with a few exemptions, such as casino gambling rooms.

I suggested 10 ways for smokers to stop whining about the smoking ban.

Mrs panstreppon speculated about the political ambitions of Bruce Rastetter, a businessman and funder of the anti-Democratic 501(c)4 group Iowa Future Fund. The Iowa Future Fund had been running television ads attacking Chet Culver.

Mrs panstreppon also wrote about the new Republican 501(c)4 group Iowa Progress Project, which was created to replace the Iowa Future Fund.

The Des Moines Register razzed Culver for staying at Bill Knapp’s Florida condo without paying the full market rental rate.

I wrote a four-part series on the Boswell campaign’s efforts to question Fallon’s ethics and explored the differences between Fallon and Boswell on farm issues.

Progressive Kick created an entertaining website highlighting Boswell’s voting record in Congress.

Fallon blasted Boswell’s vote for the Military Commissions Act, which gave the president the authority to determine what interrogation techniques are “torture.”

Boswell’s campaign sent out positive direct-mail pieces on the economy, Iraq and health care. His campaign also sent two direct-mail pieces in one week highlighting Fallon’s support for Ralph Nader in 2000. I transcribed them here and here.

Polk County voters rejected a plan to borrow money to build a new courthouse.

A sign that the housing bubble had well and truly burst: Iowa’s largest home-builder ceased operations and laid off its entire staff.

Mixed-use developments are good for people, business and the environment.

I weighed in on a local hot topic when Pizza Hut fired a Des Moines delivery driver who shot an alleged armed robber. (The restaurant chain does not allow drivers to carry guns.)

In honor of cesarean awareness month I wrote about how to avoid having an unnecessary surgical birth.

I advised readers to drink tap water, but not from plastic bottles and to avoid using baby bottles containing bisphenol-A.

On the last day of the month the Iowa Utilities Board approved an application to build a new coal-fired power plant near Marshalltown.

May 2008

I was extremely disappointed that the Democrats on the Iowa Utilities Board voted to approve a new coal-fired power plant.

I weighed in on why Hillary Clinton lost Iowa and eventually the nomination.

An article by Joe Trippi got me speculating on whether John Edwards should have stayed in the presidential race longer.

Tom Harkin gave some reasons to be concerned about John McCain, and I added ten more reasons not to vote for the Republican nominee.

I discussed why John and Jackie Norris were important early Obama supporters in Iowa and pondered which presidential candidate had the best celebrity supporters.

The removal of Lurita Doan as head of the General Services Administration reminded me of one of Bruce Braley’s finest moments in Congress.

Governor Culver signed into law a bill that establishes a statewide 1-cent sales tax for school infrastructure.

Prevention First discussed the Healthy Families project’s successful attempt to persuade state legislators to increase funding for family planning.

Sadly, no prominent Iowa Democrat stood up for repealing Iowa’s English-only law.

I welcomed the prospect of a court challenge against the smoking ban exemption granted to casinos.

A Des Moines Register report on the Culver administration’s alleged horsetrading with lobbyists was troubling.

In the fourth district primary, Becky Greenwald introduced herself to Democrats as “the girl next door.”

As the third district Democratic primary race heated up, Fallon highlighted his early opposition to the war in Iraq and portrayed himself as “new energy for Iowa.” He also urged Boswell (a Clinton supporter) to endorse Obama for president.

Fallon and Boswell clashed over ethanol, and Fallon called for a moratorium on new confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Boswell refused all invitations to debate Fallon.

He highlighted Al Gore’s endorsement in direct mail and reminded voters that Fallon backed Nader.

Noneed4thneed argued that Boswell is not a loyal Democrat on the issues that matter most.

A 527 group bankrolled by a central Iowa developer accused Fallon of not protecting kids from sex offenders, not supporting ethanol producers, and not protecting kids from sex offenders (yes, there were two dishonest direct-mail pieces on Fallon’s vote against residency restrictions for sex offenders).

The Southeast Iowa Lutheran Synod showed real leadership on global warming.

The Union of Concerned Scientists and the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production published damning reports on conventional livestock production in the U.S.

An editorial by James Howard Kunstler on “Driving Toward Disaster” inspired this post on how to reduce Americans’ vehicle-miles traveled by car.

In honor of asthma awareness month, I suggested 10 ways to combat asthma.

I paid tribute to my friend and fellow activist LaVon Griffieon on Mother’s Day.

I gave parents some ideas about good books to read to children.

June 2008

June 3 was primary day in Iowa. I wrote up Boswell’s final radio ad as well as his campaign’s pathetic attempt to portray Fallon as unconcerned about meth.

I received two push-polls targeting Iowa House district 59 candidate Jerry Sullivan.

On election day Becky Greenwald easily won the four-way primary in the fourth Congressional district, while Boswell easily defeated Fallon in the third district. Mariannette Miller-Meeks narrowly won the Republican primary in the second district. Christopher Reed barely edged out two Republican rivals for the chance to get crushed by Tom Harkin.

Although Boswell wiped out Fallon by 20 points, I still believe the primary challenge was worth the effort. (At least my suburb got its own zip code.)

I urged unsuccessful fourth district candidate William Meyers not to make the mistake of running for Congress as an independent.

After Republicans nominated Miller-Meeks and Democrats nominated Greenwald, I again discussed some reasons why Iowa has never elected a woman to Congress.

I was confident that the third district Congressional race would not be competitive in the general election.

Dubuque and the Quad Cities moved one step close to passenger rail, thanks to work by Bruce Braley on the House Transportation Committee.

Activists for organized labor in Iowa were still mad at Chet Culver two months after he vetoed a bill that would have expanded collective bargaining rights.

I started making the case for supporting fifth district Democratic candidate Rob Hubler against “Jackass Award” winner Steve King.

Meanwhile, King chastised Scott McClellan for revealing misconduct inside the Bush White House.

Bleeding Heartland readers weighed in on potential future leaders in the Iowa Democratic Party.

Chris Woods examined the relationship between climate change and the Iowa floods and offered his take on how Iowa should pay for flood recovery.

I advocated an investigation into why the Des Moines levee that failed was never fixed after the 1993 floods.

I was taken aback by some conservative bloggers’ views on flood relief and discussed our disagreements here and here.

Also in connection with the historic flooding, I urged readers not to use chlorine bleach to clean flood-damaged surfaces and not to use DEET-based mosquito repellents.

Noneed4thneed called attention to a report on how special interests spent big money to influence Iowa lawmakers.

The Iowa Values Fund seems not to have been good value for the taxpayers’ money.

I disagreed with Iowa Utilities Board members who argued that meeting future electricity needs will require more coal or nuclear power.

Less than three weeks after winning the primary, Leonard Boswell voted with House Republicans to approve the new version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Chris Woods explained what was wrong with the FISA “compromise.”

Iowa Voter informed us that Chuck Grassley misled a town hall meeting audience on FISA. I linked to a bunch of commentaries on Obama and the FISA bill.

Opponents of the public smoking ban annoyed me when they called the new law “Soviet”  or “fascist.” Anyway, fears about the smoking ban’s impact on business were unfounded.

The US Department of Agriculture in effect told honeybees to drop dead.

I learned from noneed4thneed that Marshalltown passed an ordinance to reduce the use of plastic bags.

After reading a diary by nyceve on how insurance companies punish women who have had cesarean births, I posted more advice for pregnant women seeking to reduce their risk of having a c-section.

I had some friendly advice for Obama volunteers on how to talk to non-supporters about Obama.

I posted my take on what any Democrat should do if you get push-polled or message-tested.

July 2008

News that the Obama campaign would be running the GOTV operation in Iowa made me worried about the potential effect on down-ticket Democrats. (Sadly, the election results validated several of my concerns.)

AlanF cross-posted this excellent piece on tips for volunteers who knock on doors for a political candidate.

I offered readers five reasons to get involved in state legislative races.

Senator Tom Harkin held an online voting contest to determine which Democratic statehouse candidates would receive contributions from his campaign fund.

Second district incumbent Dave Loebsack signed on to a letter urging Congress to address transportation issues in forthcoming legislation on climate change.

Relations between Senator Chuck Grassley and social conservatives in the Republican Party of Iowa had seen better days. Some of the tension stemmed from Grassley’s inquiry into the tax-exempt status of some television-based ministries.

Leonard Boswell spent two weeks in the hospital after having surgery.

Becky Greenwald criticized fourth district incumbent Tom Latham for his loyal Republican voting record on Iraq and other issues.

I argued that Greenwald had a real chance to beat Latham, but the incumbent’s money advantage would be her biggest obstacle.

Latham put up a statewide radio ad on the need for more off-shore oil drilling.

I contrasted Bruce Braley’s record of delivering for his constituents with Steve King’s.

King kept making offensive comments regularly and showed that he has no interest in genuine Congressional oversight.

SW Iowa Guy, a fifth district resident, gave us a window onto a conference call with King.

Joe Trippi signed on as a consultant to Rob Hubler’s campaign.

A particularly horrible Associated Press story on how “Pet owners prefer McCain over Obama” inspired this post on confounding variables in opinion polling.

I posted Four comments and a question on the bad blood between Culver and organized labor.

Markos Moulitsas bashed me on the front page of Daily Kos.

I shared some thoughts on a new advocacy group seeking to repeal Iowa’s public smoking ban.

Iowa environmental groups encouraged state regulators to make utilities do more on energy efficiency.

I went over some reasons to buy local.

One of my occasional posts on parenting laid out some reasons to “wear your baby”.

August 2008

The revelation of John Edwards’ affair stirred up conflicting feelings for me, as for many other former Edwards volunteers. I posted ten words I thought I would never write and a precinct captain’s reflections on the Edwards story.

Edwards’ political career may be over, but his presidential campaign’s slogan lived on.

After getting more fundraising appeals from Tom Harkin (whose Republican challenger had only a few hundred bucks in the bank), I advocated a Use it or Lose it campaign to encourage safe Democratic incumbents to give more money to Democratic campaign committees.

Jason Rosenbaum asked readers to contact their representatives in Congress on health care.

Former Republican Congressman Jim Leach endorsed Obama for president. Leach later addressed the Democratic National Convention and headlined numerous “Republicans for Obama” events.

I suggested five ways Bleeding Heartland readers could help Rob Hubler’s campaign against Steve King.

Giant chickens started showing up outside King’s campaign events after he refused to debate Hubler.

I felt a special legislative session to deal with flood relief was warranted, but it never happened.

The Cedar Rapids-based Rebuild and Grow organization offered its own flood recovery action plan.

The Iowa Fiscal Partnership released a report on why property tax cuts are the wrong approach for flood relief.

Chuck Grassley made some shameful comments favorably contrasting flood victims in Iowa to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Unfortunately, conventional agriculture interests trumped environmental concerns on the state’s flood recovery panel.

I posted some thoughts on how to reform the Democratic presidential nominating process.

I was impressed after attending one of the Obama campaign’s outreach events for women.

I argued that Joe Biden would be a good surrogate for Obama.

A conservative baby-sitter helped introduce my five-year-old to the concept of political pluralism.

Comparing the presidential campaigns’ ground games, I became convinced that Obama’s small-town outreach would crush McCain’s.

I posted a few questions on factors that could skew polls of the Obama-McCain race.

Caught up in the excitement of the Democratic National Convention, I finally gave some money to Obama’s campaign.

I was immediately convinced that Sarah Palin would become McCain’s gift to Democrats and noted that not all evangelical conservatives were thrilled with her candidacy.

Chet Culver criticized labor practices at the Agriprocessors meat-packing plant in a newspaper editorial, and the company responded.

I discussed another failure of employer-based health insurance as Whirlpool “filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to cut the medical benefits of thousands of retired Maytag workers.”

A well-known political scientist at the University of Iowa took his own life while under criminal investigation for allegedly giving students higher grades in exchange for sexual favors.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa warned about a proposed Bush administration regulation that would restrict access to contraception. (The administration implemented that new rule in December.)

I was annoyed that my son’s public school encouraged parents to buy Tyson chicken products.

Marvin Pomerantz, one of the most influential Iowa Republicans in the last 40 years, passed away.

September 2008

As September began I was thankful Iowa’s first Congressional district was not competitive, freeing me of the responsibility to write most posts on the idiot who ran against Bruce Braley.

Obama started running radio ads on abortion in Iowa and several other states.

American007 posted this excellent summary of Sarah Palin’s record in Wasilla.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer headlined Tom Harkin’s Steak Fry, but Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge gave the most memorable speech of the day.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put IA-04 on the list of “emerging races” and declared IA-05 a “race to watch.”

EMILY’s List finally endorsed Becky Greenwald two days after I posted this piece wondering why they hadn’t done so already.

The following week Greenwald went up on tv with a biographical ad that depleted her campaign coffers while doing little to boost her support.

Tom Latham’s first television ad highlighted his big “achievement” on health care: co-sponsoring a bill that never made it out of committee. Greenwald’s campaign exposed Latham’s real record on health care in a press release, but unfortunately lacked the cash to put up a response on television.

I saw Latham’s ad as proof that he expected a big Democratic wave and was positioning himself accordingly on traditionally “Democratic” issues.

Tom Harkin posted this diary on McCain’s “crusade against renewable fuels.”

There was plenty of hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle when the U.S. House passed an energy bill designed to give Democrats cover on the offshore oil drilling issue.

I again encouraged readers to get involved in the Iowa statehouse races.

While the presidential election still looked like a tossup, I discussed what would happen if neither candidate received 270 electoral votes.

I made the case for voting early here and here.

Annoyed by the fundraising appeals I kept getting from safe Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell, I asked Bleeding Heartland readers to tell Boswell to give more to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

I argued that Democrats can win and hold districts like Iowa’s fifth. (Unfortunately, Hubler was not among the Democratic challengers who won deep-red Congressional seats this year, most notably in Maryland’s first and Colorado’s fourth districts.)

As a Democratic wave election appeared more likely, I wondered which Democratic pickups would shock us the most. (As it turned out, the most surprising pickup was probably in Virginia’s fifth Congressional district. We also had surprisingly narrow losses in California’s fourth and 44th districts.)

I thought labor unions were right to focus their political spending on the Iowa statehouse races and withhold contributions to Chet Culver’s re-election campaign for now.

The Sierra Club created an online petition for Iowans urging energy providers to invest in clean sources for electricity generation, not coal.

Environmental groups called on utilities to do more to save energy.

Renewable Rich summarized a report showing how clean energy can create thousands of new jobs in Iowa.

I went over some ways to improve the Iowa caucus system.

A grassroots group in Cedar Rapids organized volunteers every weekend for flood recovery work.

An advocate for factory farms stepped down from the state Environmental Protection Commission.

Former John Deere employees filed a class-action lawsuit in Des Moines that underscored the failures of our employer-based health insurance system.

I called for ending Iowa’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to water quality.

I had a feeling that the Wall Street bailout was a terrible idea and “a trap that will enrich a bunch of people while doing little to help the overall economy.”

There was a highly contentious election for the Des Moines school board, followed by an ill-advised attempt to censure the black sheep of the board. I found the lack of oversight on the Des Moines School Board disturbing.

A newspaper article on an abstinence club at my old high school inspired this post on why even abstaining teens need comprehensive sex eduction.

I explained why Iowa native Justin Roberts is our family’s favorite children’s musician.

October 2008

All three Iowa Democrats in the U.S. House voted for the second version of the Wall Street bailout package, while Iowa’s two Republicans voted no. The bailout became a central issue in Tom Latham’s campaign advertising after Becky Greenwald unwisely said she would have voted for the revised bailout package. Senators Harkin and Grassley both voted for the bailout.

I offered some advice to disappointed party activists on What to do when you don’t care for your party’s nominee. Bleeding Heartland user lorih followed up by explaining why she started volunteering for Obama despite her deep disappointment that Clinton did not win the nomination.

I continued to speculate on factors that might affect the accuracy of polls on the presidential race.

The third quarter Federal Election Commission filings showed all the incumbents in Iowa’s Congressional delegation with big money leads over their challengers, foreshadowing the double-digit victories all the incumbents posted a few weeks later.

I kept urging our safe Democratic incumbents to “Use it or Lose it” by donating some of their excess campaign cash to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Although I considered the second district race uncompetitive, I covered some key issues and events in Dave Loebsack’s campaign against Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

Again I examined the reasons underlying Iowa’s failure to elect a woman to Congress.

Bleeding Heartland supported the Obama campaign’s strong push for Iowa Democrats to vote early (including an early voting RV tour). As it turned out, strong early voting saved several Democratic statehouse incumbents.

Tom Latham debated Becky Greenwald twice on the radio during October; I analyzed the candidates’ performance in the debates here and here.

Latham ran tv ads pounding Greenwald on the bailout, while the Democrat (lacking money for tv) had to make do with web ads and press releases highlighting Latham’s record on various issues.

Not long after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee upgraded the races in IA-04 and IA-05, I urged Bleeding Heartland readers to get serious about expanding the field by supporting under-funded longshot Democratic Congressional challengers.

Steve King continued to embarrass himself and all Iowans.

Although the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped for, I have no regrets about encouraging Democrats to back Rob Hubler’s campaign.

Speaking of longshots, little-known Republican Senate candidate Christopher Reed blew it in his only debate with Tom Harkin.

Harkin gave more cash to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. His campaign also launched a contest where Iowans could nominate county party organizations that deserved extra money for GOTV efforts. (Marion, Muscatine and Linn counties ended up winning.)

Mark Langgin urged Bleeding Heartland readers to support Democratic candidates for the Iowa House in light of a Republican focus on the House races.

The Republican 501(c)4 group American Future Fund exploited loopholes in rules governing political advocacy groups in order to run campaign advertising in targeted Iowa House districts.

The perils of leaving any Republican unopposed were exposed when news emerged that an incumbent Iowa senator with no Democratic challenger had previously been charged with a prostitution-related crime.

The Iowa Democratic Party kept producing videos on why McCain would be bad for Iowa.

I was puzzled by John McCain and Sarah Palin’s visits to Iowa late in the campaign, despite poll after poll showing Obama above 50 percent in Iowa, with a double-digit lead over McCain. In fact, a series of missteps by McCain got me wondering whether the Republicans should have nominated Mitt Romney.

The not-so-classy McCain used the Iowa floods in his campaign’s robocalls and direct-mail pieces.

Polk County Democratic activists gained national attention by holding a clothing drive for the DAV across the street from a Palin rally in Des Moines.

I went over some tips for phone bankers trying to recruit volunteers.

I supported a referendum on taking the word “idiot” out of the Iowa Constitution. (There was no organized opposition to that referendum, and it passed easily.)

For the first time in my life, the Des Moines Register endorsed the full slate of Iowa Democrats running for Congress. Ed Fallon urged his supporters to vote for Boswell in an e-mail that linked to the Register’s incredibly lukewarm endorsement of the incumbent.

Obama made one last stop in Des Moines shortly before election day.

Iowa Voter noted that the Brennan Center gave Iowa high marks for election readiness.

Jason Rosenbaum contributed this guest post on why health care reform matters. Rosenbaum was involved with the Health Care for America Now Coalition, which kept up the grassroots pressure on Senator Chuck Grassley to support universal health care.

I attended a commitment ceremony for a same-sex couple who had gotten married in California a few months earlier.

November 2008

Obama won Iowa convincingly, but his 9-point margin was smaller than the 17-point lead he had in the final Des Moines Register poll of the campaign.

Democratic gains down-ticket were somewhat disappointing in Iowa, as in quite a few other states.

I looked at some reasons why Becky Greenwald lost to Tom Latham by more than 20 points in the fourth Congressional district.

It was weeks before recounts finally confirmed net Democratic gains of three seats in the Iowa House and two seats in the Iowa Senate.

Unsuccessful Congressional candidate Rob Hubler criticized the statewide GOTV effort in an e-mail to supporters. Hubler’s son lost an Iowa House race by only a few hundred votes in the Council Bluffs area.

I was particularly disappointed when Democrat Jerry Sullivan lost in my own district by fewer than 100 votes. He had been the target of negative advertising as well as last-minute robocalls and lit drops.

In the good news column, Democratic incumbent Eric Palmer won re-election in his House district despite Republican attempts to disenfranchise Grinnell College students who voted by absentee ballot.

Jackie Norris accepted an offer to become Michelle Obama’s chief of staff.

The presidential election results convinced Josh Goodman of that Iowa is now the best bellwether state.

Likely future Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal reached out to social conservatives while visiting Iowa.

Meanwhile, the divided Republican Party of Iowa began work on turning the party’s electoral fortunes around by replacing its leaders in the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate.

I suspect Democrats would benefit if Iowa Republicans take the advice of a leading social conservative.

Some Iowa Democrats grumble about Governor Culver, but I argued here that their discontent will not rise to the level of a primary challenge in 2010.

Bruce Braley played an active and visible role in Henry Waxman’s successful campaign to be named chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Stranded Wind sounded the alarm about the risk of famine in 2009.

A blogger’s struggle to pay medical bills inspired this post on the need for comprehensive health care reform. Our immoral and ineffective health care system was also the subject of this post.

I was surprised to learn that the Blog Gender Analyzer thinks I’m a man, a topic I explored further in this post at MyDD.

Wisconsin rejected an application to build a new coal-fired power plant, prompting the Iowa Environmental Council to call on Iowa policy-makers to follow the lead of “neighboring states to the west, north, and now east, which have concluded that clean energy makes more economic sense than coal.”

I owned up to a few things I got wrong and right during the long presidential campaign.

December 2008

Tom Vilsack’s nomination for Secretary of Agriculture was big news in Iowa. I covered the reaction to that appointment here and here.

The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Varnum v Brien, a same-sex marriage case. jpmassar walked us through some of the legal issues at hand, and I discussed the political implications of the court ruling expected sometime next year.

A week later I posted a recap and analysis of the Varnum v Brien hearing and reaction to it.

Deteriorating revenue projections prompted Governor Culver to impose two rounds of budget cuts. I discussed the merits of some approaches to balancing the budget here.

Culver’s announcement of $100 million in budget cuts the same day he had scheduled a $5,000 a head fundraiser inspired me to make the case for “clean elections” campaign financing.

Speaking of election reform, Sean Flaherty and I wrote about the importance of “verified voting.”

The Democratic leadership in the state legislature released the committee assignments for the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate.

I discussed Congressional Quarterly and Progressive Punch rankings for the members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation in 2008.

Bruce Braley announced plans to form a Populist Caucus and landed a spot on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee.

I examined how the post-census reapportionment is likely to play out in the 2012 U.S. House races in Iowa.

Organic farming is carbon sequestration we can believe in.

There is no such thing as “clean coal.”

Bleeding Heartland user American007 won our election prediction contest.

I wondered whether it matters who ends up running the Republican Party in Iowa and nationwide.

Let’s Take A Stand

Cross posted at

This month we won a historic electoral victory. But our work didn’t end on election day – it only started.

As President-elect Obama said on election night:

“This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.”

The time to make real, lasting change is upon us.

Now we must repair the damage inflicted by eight years of Republican misrule, and put our country back on track. As progressives, we must fight to ensure that the Democrats in control of our government respect the voters and enact policies that put the American people first.

The first 100 days of our new government could very well determine America’s path for years to come. To make sure our voices are heard, 21st Century Democrats has drafted a petition outlining our priorities to the Democratic leadership. The petition was based on feedback from our membership, and our desire to see progressive activism extend beyond the election and into

This is a critical time for our country. We can’t sit back and let the Republicans in Washington push the Democrats to the right. We’d like to as everyone to take a moment to check out our Progressive Priorities 2009 petition, and share it with your friends. Your signing the petition will let our leadership know that we want progressive change, not a Republican-lite government.


PA-05: McCracken for Congress — Working the Final Week to Take Back Our Future

The campaign schedule has been pretty intense over the last week and will continue to be so until the BIG day on Tuesday, November 4th.   I want to congratulate everyone for putting so much effort into this year’s election, not just for an individual campaign, but for the entire Democratic ticket.  I’ve seen people in every community throughout the 5th district working to make sure the message is getting out.  

I want to remind everyone it is important that we finish strong.   Don’t take anything for granted, ignore the polls and work like the polls show our candidates 5 points down.  Remember, while all indications show Barack Obama will be our next president, if we believe the polls, Al Gore would be concluding his second term or we would be working to re-elect President John Kerry right now.

On a personal note specifically dealing with our campaign for the United State Congress, I want to assure everyone that I am working as hard as I can heading into the final week of the campaign.   Back in January when Kelly and I decided we would enter the race we knew that 2008 would be a difficult year for our family.  We’ve missed opportunities to do things as a family but we knew solving the problems besieging our nation required a sacrifice.  What is encouraging is watching the work everyone is doing and seeing people giving of their time and donating their personal skills to bring a positive result on November 4th.

For the final week, I ask that everyone keep in mind what the real goal is.  The real goal isn’t just to win an election, what we are working for in 2008 is to take back our future.   I’ve been stressing to voters the last couple of weeks to realize over the last 8 years poor decisions in Washington have put the future for our children and grandchildren in jeopardy.  The one issue more apparent than any other is the outrageous deficit and debt that George W. Bush will leave behind when he moves out of the White House in January.

My Republican opponent constantly says the “Bush tax cuts are our tax cuts” when the real truth is the Bush debt is our debt.  The only way we are going to get our future back is by voting for the right people on November 4th who will make the tough decisions to put our country back in order.   It all starts with making our federal government fiscally strong so we can invest in our nation and make the lives of all our citizens better.   Sacrifice will be necessary, but in the end our country will be better.

A Very Important Endorsement:

I am please to announce that my candidacy has received the endorsement of the Veterans and Military Families for Progress.  In the letter informing our campaign of the endorsement the organization stated “Veterans and Military Families for Progress has chosen to endorse your campaign.  We do this in recognition of your support of veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, and military family issues.  We hope that in some way our endorsement provides you an electoral advantage and ultimately ensures your election to the Pennsylvania Fifth Congressional District seat”.

This is a very important endorsement to receive from a prestigious organization that is dedicated to supporting the issues important of the active military and their families along with our veterans.  This is an endorsement our campaign can be very proud to receive.

Campaign Commercial:

We are getting our message of fiscal responsibility out to the people of this district.  We have a plan to right the ship and move in a new direction that includes balancing the budget, paying down the debt and investing here at home.  

We can’t afford any more of the “borrow and spend” mentality that has gotten us in this situation.  This debt is a national security issue and we intend to confront it with the experience and even-handedness it requires.

Review of the Past Week on the Campaign Trail:

I participated in 4 more candidate debates this week.  We started off Monday evening with a 2 hour debate from Mansfield University in Tioga County that was broadcast live on PCN.   Tuesday and Wednesday brought debates in smaller venues with stop in Bellefonte on Tuesday and an event on Wednesday in Lewistown.   On Thursday all 3 candidates participated in a live 1 hour debate broadcast live on WPSU-TV.

The one thing I’ve taken out of all these debates that I’ve participated in, some just with my Republican opponent and others that also included the Libertarian candidate, is I am on the right side of the issues that affect the majority of the people in the 5th district.  When you list off the issues we are regularly asked about in the debates — Fiscal Responsibility, Health Care Reform, Social Security, Public Education Policy, Energy Policy and the Iraq War, the stances I take which mostly mirrors the rest of the Democratic Party platform are in line with what I am hearing from voters in the 5th district.   We won’t know until next week if what I’m saying is really resonating with the voters in the 5th district but I feel confident that our message is strong and voters are listening.  

Saturday finished the week with a strong day of campaigning.  I started out the day at 1 PM in Emporium, Cameron County for the fall Democratic luncheon.   I then made a 70 mile dash to Lock Haven to attend a 3 PM GOTV rally headlined by Gov. Ed Rendell.   I shared the stage with Rep. Mike Hanna, Obama campaign rep. Jayson Harpster, Clinton County Commissioners Joel Long and Adam Coleman, Lock Haven Mayor Rick Vilello and Clinton County Democratic Chairman Dave Wallace.   Then it was on to a 5 PM appearance in Boalsburg at the Centre County Democratic Fall banquet with Gov. Rendell and all the Democratic candidates representing Centre County.  The long day ended with a final stop after 7 PM in Lewistown for the Mifflin County Democratic Fall banquet.  

Schedule for Upcoming Week:

Monday — 6 PM —  Meeting with Federal Credit Union Members — Hampton Inn DuBois

Tuesday  — 8 AM — Radio Interview WRSC

Tuesday — 9:30 AM — Tour of AccuWeather

Tuesday — 6:30 PM — Debate in New Bethlehem / Clarion County sponsored by League of Women Voters

Wednesday — 7 PM — Penn State Political Science Debate — West Hall Commons Building — Main Campus

Thursday — 8 AM — Radio Interview — DuBois  

Thursday — 7 PM — WPSU Radio Debate

Friday — 8 AM — Radio Interview with Jerry Fisher — State College

Saturday — Time TBD — GOTV Rally in Clarion County

Sunday — Time TBD — GOTV Rally in State College

— Keep talking with people about the 5,000 Friends to Flip the Fifth project. We can win the 5th District Congressional District for the first time in 32 years but we need to be organizing our forces heading into the final weeks. The only way to turn this country around is to send people to Washington who will make the tough decisions. The choice in the 5th district is clear. My opponent regularly states that he supports the fiscal policies of the Bush administration AKA “the Bush tax cuts” and will continue them — More of the Same. While I continue to stress that we must balance the budget, built a surplus and pay down the debt.

In order to get the message out to voters we will need to advertise which costs money. Please contact your family and friends and urge them to financially support our campaign as we move into the final weeks. Donations can be made online through or by direct mail to McCracken for Congress, PO Box 332, Clearfield PA 16830.

Mark B. McCracken

Your Candidate For Congress


This diary is cross-posted at McCracken’s campaign blog, PA’s Blue Fifth

Mark McCracken for Congress

ActBlue page

IA-04: Latham goes negative, touts opposition to bailout (updated)

UPDATE: The DCCC  added IA-04 to the Red to Blue list on October 14 and moved IA-05 up from Races to Watch to Emerging Races.

There have been no public polls in the race between Republican incumbent Tom Latham and Becky Greenwald in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district, and neither candidate has released any results from internal polling.

However, Latham may be increasingly concerned about holding this D+0 district amid what looks like a landslide victory for Barack Obama in Iowa.

Until this week, Latham’s campaign messaging touted his record and mostly ignored his challenger. But on Monday he went negative, issuing this statement blasting Greenwald’s support for the recent bailout package. (She came out against the first bailout bill the House considered but supported the version that cleared the Senate before coming up for a House vote.)

Latham voted against both bailout bills, one of very few times he’s ever refused to support something the Bush administration wanted. For months, Greenwald has been hitting him on his lockstep Republican voting record. He is clearly grateful to have this issue to separate him from the White House and Republican leadership in Congress.

Last week Latham and Greenwald held two radio debates, and Latham brought up his no votes on the bailout at every opportunity. I commented at Bleeding Heartland that the bailout was the only thing that kept the second debate from being a rout for Greenwald.

During and after the debates, Greenwald brought up Latham’s consistent Republican voting record on lots of issues, including the deregulation of the banking sector which has contributed to the current economic problems. She also linked Latham to John McCain’s failed approach on health care reform and hammered him for supporting a privatization scheme for Social Security.

Latham denies he has backed privatizing Social Security, but to paraphrase Josh Marshall, he uses classic Republican “bamboozlement” language on this issue. He has supported private investment accounts, which could be devastating to seniors’ income in a bear market.

Greenwald has challenged Latham to televised debates as well. He declined one invitation and is dragging his feet on rescheduling an Iowa Public Television debate that was postponed while Congress was considering the bailout.

The third quarter financial reports for Latham and Greenwald are not available at Open Secrets yet. As of June 30, Latham had a big cash on hand advantage, in part because he sits on the House Appropriations Committee and in part because Greenwald had to get through a four-way Democratic primary (she won with more than 50 percent of the vote).

Greenwald’s summer fundraising must have been reasonably strong, because she went up on tv in September, got the endorsement of EMILY’s List, and was put on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Emerging Races” list.

No doubt Latham still has a money edge, because he has been advertising more extensively on tv and radio throughout the district. His first two television commercials focused on a bill he co-authored to address the nursing shortage and the need to “crack down on Wall Street greed” and help Main Street businesses.

Most House race rankings still put IA-04 in the “likely Republican” category, but this is a district to watch, especially in light of the big Democratic gains in voter registration and Obama’s double-digit statewide lead over McCain, confirmed by at least ten polls.

If Latham does hold on to his seat, I think he should send Nancy Pelosi a thank-you note. Here’s Latham’s voting record on corporate subsidies. Here’s Latham’s voting record that relates to government checks on corporate power. Here’s Latham’s voting record on corporate tax breaks in general (including sub-categories on tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and for the wealthiest individuals).

Yet despite his long record of standing with corporations rather than middle-class taxpayers, the bailout has allowed Latham to position himself this way going into the home stretch of the campaign:

“Reckless Wall Street CEO’s made a mess and they asked Iowans to pay to clean it up,” noted Latham for Congress spokesperson Matt Hinch. “Tom Latham stood up in Congress and protected Iowans by twice voting no on this massive Wall Street bailout. Tom Latham believes that, as a matter of principle, it is wrong to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to reward, benefit and bailout those on Wall Street who created this mess.”

Highlights of Becky Greenwald’s endorsed Wall Street bailout plan includes:

* The largest corporate welfare proposal in U.S. history all at taxpayer expense;

* Gives the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and Wall Street veteran and former Goldman Sachs CEO, Henry Paulson a no-strings checkbook with $700 billion in taxpayer funds to spend as he sees fit;

* The Washington Post reports that there is a strong possibility of conflicts of interest, since the same companies who created the mess on Wall Street will, “be managing the assets while also selling their own troubled securities to the government.”;

* Taxpayer funded pork in the bill included tax breaks for rum, sports entities, television and the manufacturer of wooden arrows for children;

* And, no guarantee by Secretary Paulson that his plan will actually work.

“Becky Greenwald would reward the same greedy CEO’s who caused this crisis,” continued Hinch. “Becky Greenwald would spend $700 billion of Iowans’ money to fix Wall Street mistakes and greed. No accountability and no guarantee it will even work. It’s clear that Iowans can’t trust Becky Greenwald with our tax dollars.”

I don’t know whether this tactic will work for Latham, but I do know that if he were very confident, he would be sticking to a positive message.