Here in New York's 26th congressional district, we have two interesting races developing: A Democratic primary which will decide who gets the right (and/or privilege) to challenge Rep. Tom Reynolds in the 2008 elections.
Those of you who attended YearlyKos know that Iraq War Veteran Jon Powers is one Democratic candidate. I met Jon at the Orleans County Democratic Party picnic in July. I conducted an interview with him at the time for the Journal-Register. It was at that time that I extended my hand and told him that I wanted to work on his campaign.
Powers declared in June and has since traveled throughout the 26th congressional district spreading his message to people. Thanks to his hard work, he already has netted two local endorsements plus a huge national endorsement.
This week, Powers received two local Democratic Committee endorsements. First, on Tuesday, he received the Genesee County Democratic Committee endorsement.
Genesee County Democratic chair Charlie Mallow said of Powers: "I have no doubt that Jon is the most qualified candidate in this race, and the only candidate that is in touch with issues that are important to voters in rural based counties such as ours."
Then on Wednesday night, Powers visited Orleans County where he was endorsed by the Orleans County Democratic Committee. (NOTE: I am a Democrat in Orleans County. Oddly enough, at the same meeting I was appointed to the Town of Ridgeway Democratic Committee. The Democrats in Orleans County will continue to support Jon and do everything we can to get him elected.)
(Pictured, from left: Orleans County legislator-elect Gary Kent, 26th congressional district candidate Jon Powers, Orleans County Democratic Party chair Sally Rytlewski and former Legislature candidate and newspaper columnist Thom Jennings.)
Orleans County Democratic chairwoman Sally Rytlewski said of Jon: "I'm convinced that Jon Powers will bring a new kind of leadership to Washington," said Rytlewski in reference to the endorsement. "The career politicians have failed to do the job. The only way for everyday people to bring about change in Washington is by changing who we're sending to Washington."
Last month, the Powers campaign announced that General Wesley Clark had endorsed Powers in the 26th district. This is a huge national endorsement for Jon and should say a lot about Jon and the company he keeps. Gen. Clark is an admirable figure and perhaps the smartest military man of our time.
(Pictured, from left: General Wesley Clark with Iraq War Veteran and Democratic candidate in the 26th district, Jon Powers.)
When Jon declared in June, he was all by himself. Jack Davis, who ran against Reynolds twice (2004 and 2006), wasn't in the race. No one else was in the race either.
Then, Alice Kryzan entered the race. Kryzan (pronounced CRY-ZEN), is an environmental lawyer who is running on such a platform. She associated herself with the local StepItUp group and is pushing for changes in climate change and using alternative energy sources to improve the local economy in Western New York.
But Kryzan also has some "skeletons in her closet," so to speak. As acknowledged in a recent Buffalo News article about her candidacy, Kryzan defended Occidental Chemical and Hooker Chemical in the Love Canal disaster. In fact, in a 1998 article about a conference held regarding Love Canal, Kryzan was quoted as saying the Occidental and Hooker waste-disposal policies "were entirely legal and well-ahead of the industry standards of the times." She also called the Love Canal situation "hysteria" later on.
The other "skeleton," is the fact that in 2000, she contributed $250 to the Tom Reynolds campaign. (Note: She will be the forth name down in that link.) The question many of us are asking is why, in 2000, did she think he was deserving of her money but here in 2008, she wants to replace him as our representative?
There is also a possibility that the aforementioned Jack Davis may enter the race as well. He has said that in early 2008, he will make a decision. If he enters the race, Davis would have the money (he's a millionaire) to run a primary and general election campaign. The downside to Davis is that he doesn't campaign and people don't really get to know him. He also is a single issue (trade) candidate who was pretty similar to Reynolds when it came to other issues.
If you're a progressive, Powers is your candidate.
Reynolds is a flawed (and beaten) candidate. In 2006, Jack Davis could've (and perhaps should've) won against Reynolds. Reynolds had the Mark Foley scandal, which really hurt him locally. Davis was also hitting him hard on trade issues, since Reynolds is a free trader.
Reynolds has given people a strong case not to vote for him in 2008. Without fail, Reynolds voted against the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) three times. He also voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007, which prevents discrimination in the workplace based on your sexual orientation. Most recently, he voted against the energy bill put forth by the Democrats, even though he tells people on his website how to save energy!
Reynolds has served this district since 2003. In that time, he has had a very Republican voting record and has voted with the Republicans 91.7 percent of the time in this Congress.
If you're a progressive, Powers is a no brainer. He is an Iraq War veteran, he's in touch with the netroots (he told me he wants to get a meeting of all the local bloggers so that we're all in contact with each other, if we aren't already) and he is a multi-issue candidate. It would be easy for Jon to be a single issue (Iraq) candidate, but he's not. When Jon came online and conducted a Blue America chat on FireDogLake, he answered questions about alternative energy, health care, jobs and the economy, etc. In his first response in that chat , Jon said the following:
Thank you so much having me. I am excited to be here as I fully believe the netroots are returning our government to what Abe Lincoln explained as "of the people, by the people and for the people."
Then, in his second response, he showed how versatile he is:
howieklein @ 6
Jon, welcome to FDL. It’s an honor to have you here. Can you tell us how you would have been different on specific votes than Tom Reynolds?
There are many votes that I would have voted differently than Tom Reynolds as he has voted with George Bush over 90% of the time. Reynolds for the pharmaceutical companies on reimportation of prescription drugs and he also voted against bulk rates for Medicare. Obviously we also stand on different ends of the spectrum over Iraq.
Powers won't be the guy who is only an Iraq War candidate. He certainly has a lot to say about that issue, since he has seen it for himself, but he also has a lot to say about local and national issues that are affecting us.
Powers is the best candidate we could've dreamed of in New York's 26th. He has been a superb fundraiser, but still could use your help. Club 26 is a group where if you pledge $26 per month until November 2008, you get the chance to take part in monthly conference calls and you get special campaign updates. You can join Club 26 here. If you don't have deep pockets and want to pledge $5 or $10, go here to contribute.
Jon Powers will be a truly progressive candidate who will represent the ideals of the netroots very well in Congress. Please support him by contributing money to his campaign or by throwing your support behind his candidacy. He will need it for the primary and general elections next year.