In recent front page entries on OpenLeft like We Must Stop Raising Money For Blue Dogs Chris Bowers and others have done a great job of discussing mistakes being made and where the focus should be in general terms. I chipped in a late comment No No No on that particular post that I've heard myself saying a lot over the past two years.
In real terms, RIGHT NOW there are two primaries that have one obvious choice for real Democrats - Virginia's 2009 Gubernatorial primary and Florida's 2010 Senate Primary - both open seat races in bluing states.
Cross posted at OpenLeft.com
There are three contenders for the nomination of the Governor of Virgina, in basic spectrum positioning from left to right we have Fmr State Delegate Brian Moran, Fmr DNC Chair and Clinton Aide Terry McAuliffe, and State Senator Creigh Deeds.
Of course what skews the "spectrum analysis" is that McAuliffe is one of the original DLC Power Players - quick to sell out democratic values where there is money to be had. Case in point - this video highlighting McAuliffe's love of Clean Coal:
an industry created fiction. This is also the guy who was introducing Hillary Clinton as "The next president of the United States AFTER Obama had clinched the nomination. He recently had a fundraiser co-hosted by Bush 41 White House aide Ed Rogers (learn more about the event here).
McAuliffe's DNC strategy was everything we now oppose, everything Howard Dean changed for the better - out with precisely targeting our resources to only try for a select few districts, in with the 50-state strategy that gave us the majorities and President we now enjoy. He is all about the repugnant back room strong arming and deal making, an opponent of open and honest governing.
He isn't from Virginia, hasn't been active in Virginia politics (ever) and is literally trying to buy the election in every way possible - going as far as buying 400 of less than 1000 tickets to a straw poll event and giving them away to supporters, ensuring a strong showing in the poll.
Virginia has been trending blue steadily for years, shifting from two Republican Senators to two Democratic Senators with the elections of Mark Warner (2008 by a landslide) and Jim Webb (by a highly motivated electorate driven by a youtube video in 2006), a Democratic majority in the state Senate, a shrinking gap in the House of Delegates, and a number of Red-to-Blue US House pickups in 2006 and 2008(highlighted by Perriello's ousting of Virgil Goode), completed with an Obama victory. We have held the governors office since Mark Warner took office in 2002, but the current Democratic Governor is supporting a ban on stem-cell research and a number of other "anti-Democratic" issues while serving as the new Chairman of the DNC.
For those not aware, Virginia has one of the oddest "term limits" laws for Governor I've come across - you may serve as many terms as you like, as long as none of them are consecutive. Hence Kaine is term limited and the three Democrats will fight to oppose a Republican State Party apparatus that has been in disarray since the Webb/Warner Campaign.
So to me, the choice is obvious - Moran, certainly isn't perfect, but he is a proud Democrat who talks like a Democrat and supports Democratic principles is running against the DLC Man and a guy who is a nice guy, but far too conservative for my tastes - speaking like a Republican on a number of issues including Guns, Religion, and Abortion.
This choice will be made in just a few weeks and will have a huge impact on the campaigns run throughout Virginia in the 2009 State Delegate and Senate races and rolling into the 2010 Federal races. Moran was ahead a couple points in recent polling, but it is a tight race and every dime counts, want to make a difference? Donate here.
So in to 2010 in the Second race that matters RIGHT NOW. In Florida we have two prominate candidates already in the race for the Senate Seat being vacated by Mel Martinez, Representative Kendrick Meek and State Senator Dan Gelber.
Meek is the son of a beloved Congresswoman, Carrie Meek, serving in a hugely Democratic District where he has run unopposed each and every time. Yet he has raised $3.5 million with 48% coming from PACs, and spent $3 Million. Running unopposed. Paying consultants and other organizations outside his district for expensive services that make very little sense for a candidate running unopposed. I'm not saying he shouldn't campaign, I'm saying the expense of a consultant for GOTV is pretty silly among other things. For more on the money trail and the quality of Congressman Meek's character - check out this piece.
He's been in Congress since 2002 - surely he has done something meaningful in that time, right? Nope. He has authored nothing that has been signed in to law, most of his measures die in committee save for your standard "recognizing and honoring" and naming of federal buildings (post offices, etc). There is no issue for which he has been a vocal player on the national stage, no evidence he is ready to be one of the 100 members of the United States Senate.
The Senate has been in decline as more and more "mediocre" men and women have entered the body as the costs of campaigning have risen dramatically. The Florida Senate race could cost upwards of $10 million, even $20 million... Meek brings something to the table in this regard, he is strongly supported by the Clinton's, with former President Bill Clinton having twice made trips down to raise funds for his campaign. Several organizations have made early endorsements of Meek, including SEIU helping to push him forward - without much review of the other candidates and campaigns more than 20 months from the election.
Can Kendrick Meek, This Guy, out raise State Senator Dan Gelber in the primary? Probably. The more reason you should help Gelber - who has been a champion fighting tooth and nail in a vastly outnumbered Florida State Legislature against the Governor and Majority GOP. Here is a fantastic mash-up video:
real leadership in action, a powerful progressive voice unafraid to be attacked by the media or opponents for speaking what he believes. THAT is what we need.
The Primary in Florida is over a year away, but winning campaigns are built on early money and steady money - something PAC/Corporate powered candidates and incumbents rely on - take the time to learn about these candidates and races, and when you come to the same conclusion I have, and I am confident you will, GET INVOLVED NOW, not 6 months from now, not 2 weeks before the primary when your dollar is worth so much less. You can contribute to Dan Gelber's campaign here.
Back in October I wrote this about the value of a Dollar through the life of a campaign. This is the time to act - give $50 a month, $20 a month, whatever you can afford to give and support great candidates and make them the candidates the national media and blogosphere rave about later. Here's a fun way to do it a man I met along the campaign trail does...he finds candidates he likes and every time they do something he likes, he puts a one of five dollar bill in a jar, every time they do something he dislikes he takes a bill out, the last week of the quarter when all those fund raising emails come in, he adds up whats in the jar and sends it (via credit card) to the candidate. Suddenly your spare change is a political weapon.
This has been a long diary and few will read it all I'm sure, but I hope at least a couple people will get this far and think about their actions over the next few months while most are resting on their laurels or throwing good money at bad candidates. These two candidates are far different men, but each represents a contrast from his opponent(s) that is very stark - the difference between just "more democrats" and BETTER DEMOCRATS. Can TMac win the General in Virginia? Yes, I think so - he will have absurd amounts of money and a crippled opposition. What will happen next? Pretty much the same thing that happened when President Clinton took the White House, Party Building will collapse, seats in the legislature will erode and we will get more bans on stem cells and set backs in equal rights for the state of Virginia.
In Florida, a strong, proud progressive campaign state wide hasn't been seen in a long time, coupled with the gains made over the last 2 cycles and the number of open seats (Governor, Adam Putnam's House Seat, Meek's House Seat, and likely more retirements over the next year), we could see a real shift in the state, and likely that whatever happens here will get national media attention throughout the campaign season.
To have a voice like Gelber's joining the strong voice of Freshman Congressman Alan Grayson would be a fantastic addition to the national dialogue. The choice really is ours.