Caveat: this excellent post was written by MBNYC. I'm posting it with his permission.
There have been a number of diaries posted here recently about a special election (and a related fundraiser/blograiser) scheduled to take place in New York's Seventh Senatorial District on February 6th. The contenders are Craig Johnson, the Democrat, and Maureen O'Connell, a Republican. A Democratic win in this election is considered predictive of whether the state Senate will flip to the Democrats for the first time, essentially, since 1932. The state Senate, which Theodore Roosevelt quipped was 'constitutionally Republican', is colloquially known here as 'the place where good legislation goes to die'.
More after the jump....
The question that must present itself to people outside of New York State is this: what stake, if any, does someone in California or Michigan (for example) have in this race, and why should it matter to you that the Democrat wins?
There are several strategic reasons why this race is important, and why netroots interest and participation in the effort to elect Craig Johnson is critical.
New York Matters
New York State, the third-largest in the Union, matters. It matters because this state is the seat of a disproportionate share of Fortune 500 companies, who are subject – as former attorney general, and now governor, Eliot Spitzer proved – to the regulatory reach of our state government. The laws passed by the New York State legislature directly affect how your bank handles your money, your retirement funds, your college savings account. These laws also affect the nation's largest media companies, insurers, law firms, advertising agencies, hedge funds, mutual funds, and the glittering crown jewel at the heart of it all, the New York Stock Exchange. If you're interested in a Progressive economic framework, this race matters to you, because the policies made here will very likely affect how you work, what you watch, and what you buy.
Eliot Spitzer Matters
New York's new governor, Eliot Spitzer, is one of the bright shining stars of the new Progressive movement. Governor Spitzer's stated goal, the one that he won 69% of the vote with, is the Progressive reform of New York State. There is a national component to that, one that Eliot raised during the campaign: just as the New Deal began here, New York can again serve as a huge Progressive laboratory to demonstrate to the rest of the country that Progressive government works. It's worth noting that New York is the largest state with a Democratic governor, and that Republicans at the national level have a vested interest in seeing Eliot fail. Successful Progressive reform in New York is the greatest long-term strategic challenge to conservative dominance of the basic discussion of what government can do and should do. If you're interested in that discussion, this race matters to you.
The Netroots Matter
Kos wrote a book on Crashing the Gate. In this state, the gates have been crashed. To put it very bluntly: not very many Kossacks can call the Chair of their local state party whenever they see fit, or the Executive Director, and get those calls taken. I can. So can Lipris, so can NYBri. The point here is not to brag about influence, but to make a very simple observation: the New York State Democratic Party is listening to us, to you, and paying attention to our, your concerns. Your support is critical to making something work that's never been tried before: an alliance between the established party, the grassroots, and the netroots. What's happening in New York is unprecedented in scope and depth and, for want of a better term, intimacy. New York has a thriving local blogging scene, it should be mentioned, pioneered first on Liza Sabater's The Daily Gotham, an infrastructure which is fully involved in this effort. If you believe in the transformative power of the Progressive netroots and grassroots, you have a stake in this alliance, and a stake in this fight.
The Issues Agenda Matters
Maureen O'Connell is one of those republicans that seem to pop up in unexpected places; on the one hand, they affect 'moderation', on the other, their voting record skews hard to the right. In her case, she's strongly anti-choice, going so far as to vote for legislation that would jail abortion providers, a position which is deeply alien in this state. Unsurprisingly, she's proven unwilling to debate on choice (or, for that matter, workers' rights, also an area in which she's anything but moderate). Her web site mentions neither issue. Considering that New York has the most liberal laws in the entire nation safeguarding a woman's right to choose, making this a destination state for women constrained in their reproductive freedom elsewhere, if you care about a woman's right to choose, this is your fight.
We – myself, NYBri, Lipris, Liza, all the other New York Kossacks involved here, Eliot Spitzer, the New York blogs, the state party, the grassroots, everybody – want you involved in this fight. We're asking for your support, not just because we need it, but because we want you on board. We want you to be able to go to your own state party, your own Democratic representatives, and say "This is happening in New York, and it works. Why not here?"
The state Dems, the grassroots, and the netroots are conducting several ambitious efforts to get Craig Johnson elected. If you're in New York, your help is needed on the ground. Details are here and here.
If you're outside of New York, you can take part in something very exciting that we've all put together: A blograiser for Craig Johnson we're calling Raise New York. Modeled on NYBri's own blograiser (in itself a sign of how things have changed in New York), the basic idea is to bring the fundraising power of the netroots to bear to elect Craig Johnson, who would, by the by, be NYBri's colleague when the latter gets elected next year, and he will be.
Even if you can't physically be there on February 1st, you can still take part, because we're going to liveblog the thing here, on The Albany Project, and on my own blog, The Daily Gotham. A special treat: it looks like that will be Eliot's first direct engagement with the netroots, because he's going to be there. We're going to make this the most networked, most open, most on event we can, and get all those social networks we have here in New York – including ten of the top one hundred bloggers – into one physical or virtual space.
So here's the closer: we need your help, because this is your fight, too, no matter where you live. Can we count on you?