We all know a dangerous extremism has taken hold in rightwing American politics. There's probably noone more representative of this than the infamous Ted Nugent, who shocked the country and invited the Secret Service's ire with his jihadist rhetoric threatening President Obama and others at last weekend's NRA convention.
We've seen the DNC respond with an online video and petition targeting Mitt Romney for his refusing to denounce Nugent's attacks. However, it's interesting that these efforts actually lagged one legislative campaign in Nebraska challenging a conservative State Senator who still shows no remorse featuring Nugent at a $500/person VIP reception next month.
Check out the invite from State Senator Colby Coash for yourself:
Now, Coash represents one of the most progressive districts in the state and only got elected by specifically telling voters he would be "a progressive voice." Four years later, he's got a record that doesn't even come close to delivering on that promise. Thankfully, he also has a challenger who's ready to hold him accountable - Nebraska's leading progressive blogger, Kyle Michaelis of New Nebraska Network.
By Tuesday morning - less than 24 hours after Nugent's NRA remarks were reported - the Michaelis For Legislature campaign had already sent out the following press release to the Nebraska media:
It took more than two days for the local press to catch up with this story. But, today, the story has picked up real traction on Nebraska Watchdog and in the Lincoln Journal-Star. These reports show that Coash isn't backing down from his association with Nugent. In fact, he's doubling down with a defense of Nugent's right to free speech.
Coash Cashing In On Nugent's Hateful RhetoricDistrict 27 legislative candidate Kyle Michaelis calls upon State Senator Colby Coash to denounce the hateful political rhetoric of former rock star and gun rights fanatic Ted Nugent. Coash recently announced a $500 per person fundraising reception featuring Nugent despite his guest's long history of highly offensive verbal assaults towards elected leaders and U.S. Supreme Court justices.
Nugent escalated these attacks at this weekend's National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis, where he attacked President Barack Obama's "vile, evil, America-hating administration" and promised "I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year if Obama is re-elected." Nugent then called on NRA members to "chop their heads off in November."
Michaelis responds, "As an entertainer, Ted Nugent can get away with saying a lot of dumb things. But, Senator Coash is supposed to be a public servant and should hold himself to a higher standard. There's no place in Nebraska for Nugent's hate-filled politics."
In 2007, Nugent made national headlines delivering a vicious, obscenity-laden, on-stage rant against then-candidate Obama and his primary opponent Hillary Clinton. Holding two assault weapons in front of a cheering crowd, Nugent said Obama should "suck on my machine gun" and told Clinton to "ride one of these into the sunset." Nugent has since built a career as a rightwing commentator making similarly outrageous and insulting remarks.
"Money is a powerful force in any campaign, but it shouldn't overpower common sense, decency, and mutual respect," states Michaelis. "Senator Coash might be able to make $500 per person selling autographed pictures with Nugent but only by trading away any claim to Nebraska values."
If Coash continues endorsing rightwing extremism and the politics of hate by holding this event, the Michaelis for Legislature campaign asks that a portion of the proceeds support gun violence prevention in Lincoln and Omaha, where the fundraiser is scheduled for May 10th.
Coash told Nebraska Watchdog he has no plans to cancel the fundraiser with Nugent - which costs $100 to attend a reception and $500 to getAt least, Mitt Romney had sense enough that a campaign spokesperson acknowledged Nugent's comments were "offensive." Coash proves far more out-of-touch specifically endorsing Nugent's right to make such vicious and ugly attacks on President Obama and other elected leaders. That embrace of Nugent probably has a lot to do with the possibility of raising $20,000 for his legislative campaign from Nugent's VIP reception alone. By Nebraska standards, that's simply an unprecedented amount for one event supporting a single legisative candidate.
pictures and autographs.
"I don't agree with everything Ted Nugent says but I support his right
to say it," Coash said.
This all illustrates just how seriously Coash is taking Michaelis' challenge. It also demands a host of questions about Coash's relationship to the special interests most closely allied with Nugent's work - which we'll hopefully have an opportunity to examine before the big Nugent fudraiser on May 10th.
Coash may be right that he'll need every penny because Lincoln voters have realized he isn't the moderate - let alone "the progressive" - he pretended to be in 2008. Coash does not represent his district and certainly does not uphold Nebraska values when he's associating with and raising big bucks from Ted Nugent's politics of hate.
The Michaelis For Legislature campaign is doing what it can to spread that message. That effort is showing signs of real success in a conservative state where such a voice is the most desperately needed.
Michaelis For Legislature is fighting this fight for us all and will keep fighting all the way until November. With our support, this campaign won't just make us proud. It's going to win and send a true shockwave of progressive change throughout Nebraska politics.
Fight back against Ted Nugent in a state where he'll expect it the least. Tell Nebraskans you support their belief in campaigns guided by common sense, decency, and mutual respect rather than Nugent's lowest-common denominator antics. Support Kyle Michaelis For Legislature today!