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My name is Clint Curtis and I’m running for US Congress in Florida’s District 24. My District is bordered by Cocoa Beach, Kennedy Space Center, Daytona Beach and Orlando. It is a district of stark contrast between the haves and the have nots. Million dollar beachfront palaces sit just a scant few miles away from thousands who subsist in grinding poverty, bereft of hope. Yes, I'm fortunate to live in a breathtakingly beautiful region of America. But there is one unsightly political feature marring an otherwise postcard landscape: our Congressman.

I write to you today not to ask for your hard-earned money. I will earn your trust before I ever hold out my hand for a nickel on Daily Kos. I’m here to ask for wealth of a different kind, one more valuable to our campaign than money: Your wisdom. You represent one of the greatest single repositories of passion, creativity, experience, and activism in the nation.

And I’ll add something else for the Beltway right-wing friendly media and conservative infotainment industry that revel in misrepresenting you: They can make fun of the netroots all they wish, take cheap shots, attack, and smear progressive bloggers like a toddler who just discovered edible finger paint. But beneath the self-righteous smirks, the childish antics, and pandering pranks of the right-wing media nobility, they’re nervous and for good reason. They have nothing remotely like you among their dwindling base of conservative support.

Up until just a few years ago I was a stereotypical, mild mannered software engineer who would have never in a million years considered running for public office. I’m just a ‘regular guy,’ a middle class citizen, working hard to make ends meet, like so many of you. And sad to say, for too many years, I bought into the myth that people like us can’t really make much a difference. But thanks to Brian Keeler, I had the opportunity to meet many of you at YearlyKos Convention 2007. And now I know more than ever why you made the difference in 2006, that we will make a bigger difference in 2008, and it’s time for me to do my part and make a difference with you! I’m in, I’m running, I can sit by no longer. No one and nothing is going to stop us.

I've been a programmer since 1985. I've worked on projects as diverse as NASA to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Department. Although I was always an independently inclined voter, for years I identified somewhat more with Republicans than Democrats. I thought they shared my values of integrity, ethics, and honesty. I still believe many of them do. But my prior trust was shattered when I came to discover what shameless depths a few bad apple Republican politicians have sunk to. You see, by chance I was put to work designing prototype software for electronic voting machines for a local company called Yang Enterprises. An upcoming diary will detail my suspicions of just how open to manipulation the code which I helped put into place running touch screen voting machines really is -- in the hands of conservatives without a conscience.

I can't say I know for a fact that the prototype designed to flip votes was implemented. It's a serious charge to make. And as Carl Sagan often said, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. I have worked very hard with the help of election integrity activists since 2004 to document flaws in our voting system. I testified under oath before the Conyer’ s Commission and passed a polygraph as to my knowledge of the attempt to develop fraudulent voting machines. But going forward, there's a simple way to be certain it doesn't happen, and that's to use methods which produce a paper trail in the event a recount is needed and to audit that paper so that any tabulation errors can be discovered and corrected. That's a no-brainer, common sense solution. And yet it seems that that simple idea is opposed virtually exclusively by GOP lawmakers.

In addition to detailing the potential for affecting the outcome of elections using electronic voting machines, I’ll be writing in the near future to elicit your expert input on how best to pursue issues which are near and dear to our collective, progressive hearts:

  • The redeployment of our troops from Iraq to guard America's borders and make America safer.
  • Achieving energy independence for America today, not 20 years from now.
  • Revitalizing NASA and returning America to a position of strength, both militarily and scientifically.
  • Providing Universal no-fault Health Care and eliminating the cost to all Americans
  • Protecting Social Security for generations to come.
  • Keeping jobs in America by requiring balanced trade and providing business incentives to American owned and operated businesses .
  • Restoring fiscal responsibility to our Budget.
  • Ensuring that all shipments into the country are secured by Americans working for American companies.

Voting irregularities aside, I just can't sit by while my future opponent, the current Representative of the District I love, makes a mockery of the laws, fair elections, and Constitutional values that has made America a shining example of freedom to the world. That opponent is Tom Feeney. He is a veritable icon of the Republican Culture of Corruption, big money special interests, and anti-science lunacy that has unscrupulously hijacked this county, my state, and our beloved country for sordid political profit -- as well as the traditional green kind. But even so, sitting on top of a mountain of sleazy cash, Mr. Feeney garnered a mere 58% of the vote in 2006 in a district he wrote up. Eight points, eight measly points in as friendly a district as you can imagine: Does that sound like a sitting duck ripe for the plucking?

Rep. Feeney was identified as among the 20 Most Corrupt Congressmen by Citizens For Responsibility And Ethics in Washington. He may have been up to his eyeballs in the Abramoff racket; we'll know soon enough if that is the case. But one documented fact that makes my blood boil and I bet yours as well, he was a critical player in halting the 2000 Florida recount. Would you believe shortly thereafter he was awarded a prize: Feeney literally created his own Congressional District, drawn piecemeal through dozens of communities by clever demographic indicators designed purely to maximize his chances of election and minimize those of any challenger?

I’m not just proud to oppose this man, I'm eager to do it.

I'm proud to run against Mr. Feeney because I support science, civil liberties, Constitutional checks and balances, and fair, open elections with paper trails and proper scrutiny by qualified, nonpartisan citizens. I'm also well aware every would-be politician that comes your way promises they will fight for our progressive values. But I’ll go one further in the spirit of the representative government our Founding Fathers envisioned: The hard-working voters and residents in my district deserve a Congressman who will represent all the people, not just a few well connected conservative businessmen or ideological extremists. When I’m elected, my door will be open to all my constituents. Because, regardless who votes for or against me, in the end I represent the people of Florida’s 24th district. That includes democrats, republicans, independents, progressives, and conservatives. Most importantly, I will represent the progressive netroots community and push our agenda through Congress. No excuses and no delays.

All citizens deserve representatives who will listen to their concerns and guard their interests. I will not turn my back on anyone in the way that Tom Feeney and the Rubber-stamp Republicans turned their back on you. This is a core progressive value: We are a nation Of the People, By the People, and For the People. That means All Of The People. That’s something the current representative of Fl-24 and the temporary occupants in your White House have forgotten. I will not.

Mr. Feeney prevailed using the revolting, anti-American tactics of Karl Rove: by pitting neighbor against neighbor, husband against wife, employer against employee. I'll defeat him by reaching out to those of all political stripes who can still be salvaged. The Curtis For Congress Campaign welcomes and encourages any former or existing conservatives who are fed up with the Tom Feeney way of doing the people’s business to join us.

And if I may put in a word for other new challengers out there, I bet there are plenty who, like me, would benefit tremendously from your people-powered wisdom. For you regulars in this exciting new media, it may seem like old hat. But for many of us peering in from the outside of this dazzling marvel you created, it can be chaotic, at times confusing, and even perplexing. Consider taking time to look up your local democratic headquarters, make a visit, meet with a progressive challenger if you're so inclined. Judge for yourselves if there’s one you would like to net-adopt, to help them with advice and pointers on how to get to know the netroots. I did: I had the benefit of one your regular contributors, Brian Keeler, to assist me in compiling this post. Do you have any idea how valuable that kind of insight is for us? I can't help but imagine how well other regulars here could serve my counterparts across the country in that same way!

Until then, our campaign greatly values your seasoned input. We have a solid game plan for a traditional approach in unseating Mr. Feeney. But when it comes to the netroots, you are the Professors and I am your pupil. How can I best utilize the staggering degree of talent and passion that exists here? What issues, either locally or nationally, would you like to discuss? What’s worked for you in the past, and what would you suggest I avoid? Can any of you suggest or develop slogans, marketing techniques, or video advertisements? How would you suggest I arrange and format our campaign blog?

In short, we at Clint Curtis for Congress want to get to know you. For only working together will we kick the worst of the Republicans to the curb, one corrupt neocon at a time!

I'm Clint Curtis, and I approve this diary on Daily Kos.

Originally posted to ClintCurtis on Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 02:59 AM PDT.

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