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So I watched in unsurprised disappointment the Senate Finance Committee voting on Tuesday and came away agreeing that 60 Democrats is not sufficient. Despite calls from bloggers "Primary Him!" this is, at present, just not realistic.  Many Congesspersons, and moreso Senators, are nearly impossible to defeat in their home states and districts.  Besides having their own war chests, they get the support of the DSCC and DCCC.

The DSCC and DCCC look strategically at who is running and where they think it would be best to "invest" in candidate races.  But many loyal progressives and Democrats have vowed not to fund the DSCC and DCCC because they have a penchant for funding Democrats who are not adhering to the party platform and in fact, working against it.

So I thought, why not a PSCC or a PCCC?

From the DSCC Website

Our Mission
Our mission is to elect Democrats to the United States Senate. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is the only organization solely dedicated to electing more Democrats to the United States Senate. From grassroots organizing to candidate recruitment to providing campaign funds for tight races, the DSCC is working hard all year, every year to increase the number of Democratic Senators.

This says they are the only organization solely dedicated to electing more Democrats to the US Senate.  Does  that mean there is room for another?  Here's my version:

Our Mission
Our mission is to elect Progressive Democrats to the United States Senate. The Progressive Senatorial Campaign Committee is the only organization solely dedicated to electing more Progressive Democrats to the United States Senate. From grassroots organizing to candidate recruitment to providing campaign funds for tight races, the PSCC is working hard all year, every year to increase the number of Progressive Democratic Senators.

Sweet, huh?

BUT, you say, what about ActBlue?

ActBlue is an indisputable ally in the fight.  It's fantastic for individual campaign contributions and candidates will need to use them no matter what.  But ActBlue can only raise funds for existing candidates.  It cannot and does not recruit candidates.  It does not strategize about where pick-ups are possible.  It lacks the "punch" of being able to say "This quarter the PSCC raised 15 million."  It lacks the ability to deliver consequences for the stupidity we've seen all summer and into the fall with regard to health care.  NOT donating to DSCC and DCCC matters but it doesn't matter much.  Ultimately, it doesn't do what we want it to do which is force them to support candidates that don't actively work against the stated Democratic platform.  At best withholding money from DSCC and DCCC forces them to make decisions that may not benefit the party overall.

Here's a practical example: Joe Sestak. He's running against Specter despite the lack of establishment backing (and indeed, attempts at dissuasion from running!).  Think about that for a second.  He had an impressive war chest and his decision to run (and his ability to be taken seriously)  is BECAUSE he has money and support from grassroots organizations like unions in PA.  And guess what? The credible challenge to his seat had forced Senator Specter LEFT, so much so that he's Tweeting his support for the public option!  That's what I'm talking about.

So the issue is CREDIBLE CHALLENGES. Because let's face it. The ONLY important thing to these congresscritters is that they keep their jobs. It's NOT the lobbyist money that's corrupting this process. The lobbyist money is simply a MEANS to an end and that end is: KEEP YOUR JOB.

Let's take another example: Olympia Snowe, R-ME.  Yes, she needs to be an historical blip in the Senate.  As "reasonable" as she can be on some issues, she's causing real problems for us now and we need to be RID of her.  I believe she's opening the door for that RIGHT NOW with a position on Health Reform that is so out of line with her constituents'.  Her seat could be vulnerable to a reasonable Democratic challenger (maybe not as far left as Schumer but Ms. Snowe is definitely to the right of her state. She's only still there because no one will challenge her as an incumbent).  We can be fairly sure the RSCC would be reluctant to invest in her either because she is sort of a pariah in the party or because they consider her seat safe and her position immutable. At best a challenge supported by the PSCC could oust her for someone more reliable. At "worst", the RSCC would be forced to spend money to defend the seat. With all these advantages we have in ME, ask yourself: who in Maine has the ability to credibly challenge her?  And do you think the DSCC will court anyone from Maine to do it or even put money into that race should someone emerge on his/her own? Of course, the answers are: "nobody" and "hell no". What a shame. The PSCC could be courting strong Democrats from ME and give them the support and backing they need to run a credible race against her, if we decided it was a good shot.

Imagine for a moment what other Senators or Congressmen we could be courting RIGHT NOW if we had a working fund and active support ready to go for the right candidates? Is there a State Senator in Nevada who dreams of running but thinks he'd never be able to compete with Reid?  What about rising stars in your state who may be shying away from running because they don't have organizational support and the funding they feel they need to go for it, especially against an incumbent?  

Being organized enough to create the infrastructure to recruit, advance and support credible primary opponents is what we lack right now. It's the last piece of the puzzle in the progressive movement.


The right has or will soon be able to copy the innovations Democrats pioneered over the last several years: the use of the internet, the use of online fundraising, Obama's strategies and grassroots efforts....It's time to stay one step (or two) ahead of the game and make sure we have a way to oust or challenge unacceptable Democrats.  Big tents are nice but we've got lots of critical work to do in this country and time is of the essence.

I think regardless of how this health care issue comes out, we need to be thinking about the next moves we are going to make as progressives and how we can push the party in the direction it should be going and how to get more progressive candidates into office.  Kos says "more and better Democrats".  We've mastered MORE and have come to the general conclusion that now it's time to focus on BETTER. But HOW? No organized plan has been suggested. Until now.  I believe it's time to stop throwing tantrums and holding our breath and issuing threats into the woods and actually DO SOMETHING that will move us in the direction of the results we seek.  We know what works to get results (credible challenges to seats). It's time to get organized to make sure we can deliver consistently. We've seen Specter in the face of a credible challenge and we've seen what happens when people like Joe "Your Lie" Wilson and Michele "Don't Mind Me I'm BatShit Crazy" Bachman end up on the wrong side of progressive attention. Why not organize and institutionalize it?

With teams of volunteers with the skills, talents and energy of just the people I've come to know and love on this board, I believe we could actually do it. There are folks from all walks of life on this board (and beyond) with all ranges of interests talents and abilities. Some folks here love polling and statistics. Others love media and branding. Others have experience in fundraising.  Others have great ability to strategize.  Together, in teams, we could pull this off and actually get something done.

Originally posted to mdmslle on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 06:38 AM PDT.


so....what do you think?

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| 17 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Seriously (4+ / 0-)

    I'm tired of shouting. I want to be able to do what Trumka did: wield power and produce a credible, meaningful threat.

    If you guys seriously think this is a good idea, maybe we can start a working group to explore the idea further. Email me.

  •  A Peogressive Emily's List would be better!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I for one have told the DSCC and DCCC that I will not give another dime to candidates like Baucus, Lincoln and Conrad. But, I think another party demands infrastructure and admin costs, that could be used to research good candidates and hold them to their campaign promises. A site that outlines each of their platforms, and checks off their successes and failures. So, that when the dems run again, all the information is there for the taking. Others need ammunition to bring down the liars on both sides of the aisle and that is worth funding. Huffpost, Kos, Firedoglake really need to stay ahead of the phonies, identify the insincere and expose the phonies.

    •  it wouldnt be another party. still dems. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leftist vegetarian patriot

      but we HAVE info available.  what we dont have is the ability to challenge someone who, say, doesnt keep their promises or whatever.

      we HAVE organizations that can create ads and expose incumbent's lies. But then what? unless there's someone to run against them (and that often depends on funding and support) they will win again and again.

  •  I'm in. First we need lawyers, familiar with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    FEC and election law in general. Sounds like you're talking about national races, there will be a shitload of papers to file. Just off the top of my head, we'll probably want to incorporate, probably in Delaware. We may have to registering as a lobbying group just to talk to incumbents while raising money; again we need serious law-dogs.

    Once we've filed national papers, there's stuff we need to do, any committee needs rules, an organization and a plan. But first, the lawyers. Who do you know?

    All evil needs to succeed is for good people to say "the votes aren't there in the Senate."

    by Jacques on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 07:11:54 AM PDT

    •  Well I do know a few lawyers. (0+ / 0-)

      I think maybe we could try setting up a working group with them and talk about feasibility.

      If you want to keep updated on this, please feel free to email me and let's see where this can go.

      Also let others know about the idea if you can.

  •  I like the idea, with one caveat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    I'd hate to see us make the Club for Growth mistake. If we think a progressive has a reasonable shot at winning, we should absolutely put up a progressive. But there are (I think) districts in which only a ConservaDem may have a real shot, and I would prefer to save those for last, after we've won in the rest of the country.  

    My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
    --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

    by leftist vegetarian patriot on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 07:37:48 AM PDT

    •  i agree wholeheartedly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leftist vegetarian patriot

      i dont believe a progressive can win in every district (I live in such a district)

      I think our job should be to identify which districts might be able to swing a bit left if they had a good candidate and some support. A perfect example is my home district FL-12 represented by adam putnam. A democrat can win this district with the right support and funding but it wont be schumer; it'll be more like Bill Nelson (who incidentally I think could be moved leftward if he had a progressive challenger...the swing area of my state is moving leftward)

      Totally agree with you!

  •  I've never had any problem with primarying (0+ / 0-)

    bad Dems. But the success of something like this is very much dependent on the people running the organization.  In the wrong hands, it hurts more than it helps, and suffice it to say, there is a tremendous lack of political campaign experience* in the blogosphere, which shows up when bloggers attempt campaign or issue advocacy. There are so many times when everyone rushes to praise something that is a terrible idea.

    * Volunteering and being a field organizer is all well and good, but it's not the same as being on senior staff or assisting senior staff. And I'm referring to campaign experience outside of blogosphere outreach.

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