[Cross-posted from Down With Tyranny]
Progressives have had a mixed year in terms of primaries. We had four big losses-- Norman Solomon in California, Ilya Sheyman in Illinois, Cecil Bothwell in North Carolina and Eric Griego in New Mexico-- and five big wins-- David Gill in Illinois, Patsy Keever in North Carolina, Matt Cartwright in Pennsylvania, Beto O'Rourke in Texas, and Nate Shinagawa in New York. Here's the schedule for the key primaries still unfolding that we're watching:
Darcy Burner (WA-1)- August 7
Syed Taj (MI-11)- August 7
Trevor Thomas (MI-3)- August 7
Chris Donovan (CT-5)- August 14
Nick Ruiz (FL-7)- August 14
Matt Heinz (AZ-2)- August 28
Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3)- August 28
The three primaries in Washington and Michigan are two weeks from yesterday! And all three look good, though none are in the bag. Darcy Burner's main opponent in a five-way race for a new district stretching from Seattle's technology-forward suburbs to the agricultural areas up towards the Canadian border, is a quintessential self-entitled one-percenter, Suzan DelBene. DelBene is the Mitt Romney of the Democratic congressional cycle-- a serial business failure in every way but one: she made lots of money for herself as she caused nothing but economic devastation around her. Everyone in America now knows that multimillionaire Mitt Romney is engulfed in a scandal because he didn't release his tax returns and refuses to disclose his assets and finances; multimillionaire Suzan DelBene similarly refused to file her 2011 financial disclosure despite the fact that federal law required it. If she's the nominee, the Republicans will have an easy time beating her because of that alone. Polling against the crazed GOP candidate has consistently shown that DelBene would lose to him and that only Darcy has a chance to keep the seat blue.
But DelBene and (especially) her husband are loaded and they're determined to buy the nomination. DelBene has put more of her own money into the race than any other Democrat anywhere in America... and is running over a million dollars in self-funded TV ads against Darcy right now. She's outspending the other 4 candidates combined 4 to 1! Because of her money she's the favorite of the Inside-the-Beltway corrupt Establishment and has been endorsed by the New Dems (basically, the Blue Dogs without the white KKK sheets). It must be driving her insane that Darcy has been ahead in every single public and private poll of the district's Democratic voters. The DCCC, slimy as always, has asked donors to keep out of the race -- in effect leaving DelBene and her self-funding with the overwhelming money advantage. Daily Kos' Orange to Blue PAC, Blue America, DFA and the PCCC have pitched in for Darcy.
Michigan also has its primary two weeks from tomorrow, and we have two hot races, although there are other important ones as well (including in MI-14 where two incumbents face off, progressive and underfunded Hansen Clarke vs right-of-center Gary Peters and in MI-13 where progressive icon John Conyers is battling to save his seat against 3 Democratic state legislators and a school board trustee). Michigan's 3rd district (Grand Rapids/Battle Creek) has a hot primary between a young and super-accomplished activist, Trevor Thomas, and a rich old hack, Steve Pestka, who, as a state legislator consistently voted with the Republicans against Choice and to defund Planned Parenthood. He doesn't even allow for an exception in his anti-Choice mania for women who have been raped or when there is incest involved! He's the worst of what the old-time Democratic Party is still trying to foist on voters. Although he has some corrupt institutional support, 74% of his money ($590,118) comes by way of writing checks to himself. He's heavily invested in Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, Occidental Petroleum and Devon Energy which is currently planning a controversial fracking project in Michigan. Pestka has failing grades from the League of Conservation Voters. Trevor pointed out that it doesn't make sense to "say you're concerned about high gas prices, or tax loopholes, or our environment when you're personally holding investments in Exxon." Pestka's campaign stinks to high heaven and Amash would make mincemeat out of him in no time flat.
In terms of contributions from real voters, Thomas is beating him handily and polls show that if there's a big turnout Thomas will win the primary. A big turnout in a summer primary is never easy and we're asking for anyone who can afford it to send Trevor last minute contributions for his get-out-the-vote efforts.
We've also talked a bit about the contest in MI-11 where Thad McCotter's hasty resignation has opened up a Republican-held seat to the Democrats. Under the new boundaries Obama would have beaten McCain in this district 50-48%. Dr. Syed Taj is unlikely to ever get real chummy with Michele Bachmann, but he's a distinguished physician with fantastic ideas for how to improve ObamaCare. Dr. Taj is a strong across-the-board progressive champion and in the primary he's facing a bizarre sociopath, Bill Roberts, who brazenly calls himself a LaRouche activist and is obsessed with impeaching President Obama. (Yes, we're talking about a Democratic primary.) This is the header from his website:
The following week, the action shifts east and south, to Connecticut and Florida. Chris Donovan, Speaker of the Connecticut House is a real threat to the corrupt Beltway Establishment. He's the embodiment of everything they fear-- with a record of achievement to prove it. Donovan defines what it means to be a champion of regular American working families-- and he's running against two self-entitled careerist hacks who are eager to immerse themselves in the sewers of Washington. One is the son of a wealthy lobbyist and the other is a grotesque ConservaDem bolstered by EMILY's List who, thankfully, has never accomplished any of her goals-- all of which were to cut services to working families while giving tax breaks to her wealthy financial supporters.
Also on August 14 there are two big match-ups in FL-7, one between Republicans and one between Democrats. Oddly, both have teabaggers! On the GOP side, old time Republican hack, John Mica-- one of Boehner's stooges-- faces off against the Member of Congress considered the stupidest person on the Hill, teabagger Sandy Adams. On the Democratic side Blue America's first endorsee of the cycle, Nicholas Ruiz, is facing a strange Tea Party Democrat, Jason Kendall. Grassroots Democrats everywhere are looking for elected officials equal to the challenge of today's Republican Party, and, alas, Obama, Hoyer, Reid, Wasserman-Schultz and Israel just aren't going to cut it in this climate. There's a time for magnanimity, timidity and bipartisan statesmanship-- and there's a time for kicking their asses. It's time to kick their asses-- which is why people are so excited about Nick Ruiz. We've been in these circumstances before as a people, when we were faced with the debauchery of the early 20th century and the subsequent implosion, followed by FDR's appearance in the 1930s and that's why FDR and the progressives of that time had such a tremendous impact on our country. After Bush, for whatever reason, Obama and the conservative consensus that rules Congress, didn't rise to the occasion. This is the time when we need more tribunes for working families who won't hesitate in standing up for Americans values and progressive principles and will never sell out to the one percent. Nick Ruiz is the embodiment of that kind of candidate.
The two teabaggers are likely to lose their primaries and then it will be a tough contest in November between Mica, who the district is pretty sick of, and Nick Ruiz, the independent-minded progressive who will get to Congress owing nothing to the corrupt conservative Democratic Beltway hierarchy.
And that brings us to the end of August-- the 28th-- when Arizona moves front and center. Blue America has two candidates, both in the southern part of the state with districts that split Tucson-- incumbent Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3) and challenger (and state Rep) Dr. Matt Heinz (AZ-2). Raúl is the nexus of the progressive movement inside Congress... and the power of the one percent has arrayed against him again. This time-- knowing they probably can't beat him in a general election-- they're throwing their money behind a fake Democrat, a conservative shill Amanda Aguirre who's getting tons of PAC support from health insurance companies, corporate agriculture (BCBS and CropLife America) and Canadian mining operation, Rosemont Copper. And she's got George Braun, a Republican Party operative, running her campaign. Raul spends his time and energy working for us, not working the phones for campaign contributions, the way most incumbents do. If you can, please consider stepping up for him now. He's the only incumbent member of the House endorsed by Blue America this cycle. While stumping for him in Tucson, Jim Hightower reminded voters that "they're not coming after Raúl... they're coming after YOU!"
Corporate interests have been successful in getting conservatives elected as Democrats in Arizona and they certainly succeeded in the other Tuscon district, where Ron Barber got elected and immediately started voting with the GOP, first to gut all the environmental legislation ever passed and then to gut Eric Holder as part of Darrell Issa's deranged anti-Obama witch hunt. This isn't the kind of Democrat anyone needs and, luckily, a progressive state Rep., Matt Heinz, looks like he can beat Barber next month. During an interview with Piers Morgan, Barber said in response to the recent Colorado tragedy that “between now and the election, I really believe that very little is going to be said about major policy issues.” Barber can’t talk the talk or walk the walk. He will not tackle hard issues that require a strong advocate-- issues like gun control, the environment and equality. That's why Democrats and independents are so excited about Matt. All Barber can do is hope people think he's Gabby Giffords.