Today at 2pm (ET) Regina Thomas, a Georgia state Senator with a progressive voting record completely oriented towards working families who gave up her safe seat to run again John Barrow, will be a Blue America guest at Crooks and Liars. Blue America is endorsing the Savannah-based, community-oriented grandmother who's campaigning on a platform that emphasizes that the money being squandered on senseless wars in the Middle East would be better used helping ordinary American families in terms of infrastructure, education, housing, health care, aid to small businesses and job creation. Please join Regina and the Blue America crew at 2 for the q&a session and get an idea of who she is and what she stands for.
Meanwhile, I'd like to tell you a little something about John Barrow. I first met Barrow when he was running for a seat in an Athens-based congressional district that has since been gerrymandered into a Republican seat (held by extremist sociopath Paul Broun). But the year I met Barrow, he won that seat. And I helped him. At the time I worked at Warner Bros Records and he was recommended by one of our top bands, politically active guys and completely committed to progressive ideals. I donated heavily to Barrow's campaign and he was impressed enough to call me and personally tell me that he was about to go into a debate with his Republican opponent and throw the LGBT community under the bus because... it was that kind of a district. He seemed frightened. I asked him why he was calling me to tell me that. He didn't have a coherent answer. A pandering coward, he did throw gays and lesbians under the bus and he did win the seat. It was the last time we ever spoke.
He joined the Blue Dog caucus and embarked on a congressional career of scurrying across the aisle and voting with the Republicans on one important issue after another. That didn't stop them from trying to exterminate him. At the first opportunity, they put his heavily Democratic Athens base into a district that... well, that elects a raving teabagger like Paul Broun. Barrow fled to heavily Democratic Savannah and the new Democratic-leaning district there. Even though he wound up in a more Democratic district, his voting record continued turning more and more Republican and his stances changed completely from that of a liberal-to-moderate Athens city councilman-- albeit a spineless one-- to a special interests-oriented arch conservative.
When Regina Thomas looked at his record in 2008 she realized he couldn't win a Democratic primary. She decided to run against him, even if taking on an incumbent of one's own party is always the most thankless of tasks. Although labor unions had always endorsed her previous races, and although Barrow conspires with Republicans against working families on a consistent basis, labor unions almost never go up against Democratic incumbents; they endorsed Barrow. So did Barack Obama. That was the whole ballgame. The radio spot he cut for Barrow really was the whole campaign. McCain's 45% showing in GA-12 was his weakest Georgia total anywhere outside the Atlanta Metro area. Regina, with no money for getting out her message, was trying to talk to busy, hard-pressed constituents about her opponent's voting record in Washington-- sometimes on obscurely-worded votes... while Obama was telling them every day on the radio that Barrow was the man.
He was re-elected handily-- and, arrogantly, he turned further to the right. His career score at ProgressivePunch on the tough, substantive votes that closely divide the two parties is an abysmal 55.10. But since Obama saved his ass in 2008, his score has dropped to a startling 35.37. That means that for every tough vote he casts with the Democrats, he casts two with the GOP. At the urging of a growing base of local leaders, Regina jumped into the race again. And then something happened that changed everything.
The healthcare debate started breaking through the cacophony of media clutter. People in Savannah and Augusta and Statesboro and Vidalia and even Milledgeville started getting the message that not all contemporary Democrats are like FDR and JFK or even Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. The started understanding what a Blue Dog is-- as opposed to what a real Democrat is. When Barrow followed his anti-healthcare votes in committee, and his anti-healthcare procedural votes with an actual vote against healthcare his constituents were stunned-- and angry. Community leaders started turning against him. He's become a pariah in his own district-- although not among Republicans, who kind of like him. They have their own candidate though and are eager to replace Barrow with him. Barrow has delusions of running for the U.S. Senate and thinks his Republican record will win him a seat. It's a losing strategy being used this year by Charlie Melancon in Louisiana, Kendrick Meek in Florida and Artur Davis in Alabama. They're all seeking higher office by pandering to conservatives and-- with due respects to hardworking and dedicated Democrats in their states-- they're all destined for history's trash bin. This week John Barrow was on the wrong side of history. The DNC, the Congressional Black Caucus and even-- off the record, of course-- the DCCC are all pissed off at him. Rep. Corrine Brown from a neighboring district in north Florida has already told him she won't be campaigning for him this year like she has in the past.
So, today Blue America is officially endorsing Regina Thomas for the first time. You can donate to her campaign directly here. We're also unveiling a new web ad today. Please take a look (below). We're working on turning it into a 30 second TV spot that we can deploy in eastern Georgia the same way we deployed our Blanche Lincoln spots in eastern Arkansas to great effect. If you'd like to help us with that, please, after you contribute to Regina's campaign, put a little something in the Blue America PAC box too. And don't forget to come meet Regina at Crooks and Liars today at 2pm.