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Most people know by now that the Democratic Primary in Michigan's 3rd Congressional district is a matchup between former State Representative & Circuit Court Judge Steve Pestka and former Granholm staffer Trevor Thomas.  The race started off as a typical primary battle between a more progressive candidate (Thomas) vs a moderate one (Pestka), but as nearly every Democrat in West Michigan (and throughout the state) has backed Pestka, Thomas' campaign has gone completely off the rails and is now becoming destructive for Democrats' chances in general to unseat Justin Amash in November.

The bulk of Thomas' campaign has been about labeling Pestka as an anti-choice, anti-woman candidate.  The irony in that, of course, is that Pestka has the backing of nearly every female progressive that's endorsed in the race (Gretchen Whitmer, Jocelyn Benson, Kate Segal, etc...).  Yet, we see Thomas continue to cite a vague vote from 12 years ago in the State House that he claims shows Pestka tried to defund Planned Parenthood.  Of course, a minimal amount of research shows that wasn't the case and in fact Pestka voted for budgets that increased funding for Planned Parenthood during his time at the Capitol.

Seemingly tired of playing defense, the Pestka campaign released a new commercial yesterday that takes a shot back at Thomas highlighting a portion of Thomas' plan that would raise the social security retirement age.  You can see the ad for yourself here:

While the ad seems fairly straightfoward, Thomas' response, however, shows him going completely unhinged:

"GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Trevor Thomas's campaign for Congress released the following statement and fact check in response to an attack ad Steve Pestka released today. Additionally, counsel for the Thomas campaign sent notice to stations broadcasting the advertisement advising that the advertisement constitutes defamation under Michigan Law and requesting that the stations require substantiation and cease running the spots immediately. "
Defamation?  Demanding stations cease running the commercial?  Awfully strong language to use unless you are 100% sure you're in the right.  Unfortunately, once again, this is proving to be another case of Thomas' destructive campaign that only serves to embarrass himself and potentially help the Republicans come November.

The Pestka campaign was quick to release the justification for the ad, and it's very self explanatory.  The statement in question in the ad is that Thomas "supports raising the social security retirement age," and while Thomas may not like hearing it used against him, here's the statement taken from his own plan on his website (note: he has since edited the text on his website to try to downplay the statement, but this is the screencapture of his site before that took place with the statement in question underlined)

Yes, the "lie" Thomas' campaign is now alleging against Pestka's campaign, their justification for legal action to remove the commercial from the airwaves, is taken directly from Thomas' own plan.

The sad thing about Thomas' campaign is that this could and should have been a positive race focused on ensuring Democrats have the strongest candidate possible to take out far-right extremist Justin Amash in November.  Instead, Mr. Thomas is only guaranteeing that this primary becomes costly in more ways than one for the Democrats.  

Prominent Democrats have already called on Thomas to stop lying about Pestka's record during the primary, but based on this latest action it seems that not only is he unwilling to do that, but when Pestka tells the truth about Thomas' own record, he's going to continue to lie about that as well.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I met Trevor Thomas at an event earlier this year. (0+ / 0-)

    He is an impressive young man with a bright future in politics -- if he can avoid burning all his bridges in this campaign. I can understand that he did not want to drop out just because Pestka jumped in, but he must understand that he can't react this way without affecting how people see him as a possible candidate for future runs.

    Mark E. Miller // Kalamazoo Township Trustee // MI 6th District Democratic Chair

    by memiller on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 04:09:59 PM PDT

    •  Too many bridges (0+ / 0-)

      Almost no actual in-district Democratic leaders or grassroots folks support Trevor because of the caustic campaign he's run, that why the Calhoun County, Kent County and Third Congressional District Democratic Parties took the unprecedented step of endorsing Pestka in the primary and why not a single Democratic elected official has endorsed Trevor.

      West Michigan Rising the blog for progressives building our left coast

      by philgoblue on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 09:04:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is why (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You have to be very careful running negative campaigns against fellow Democrats. We always benefit from higher turnout, and the Republicans always benefit from lower turnout. Democrats attacking fellow Democrats like this only lowers turnout. Democrats attacking Republicans is another thing, but unless someone is a total blue dog it's pointless to attack them.

    Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

    by MrAnon on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 04:13:08 PM PDT

    •  ^^THIS! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In the 2012 WI-Gov race of all races, one of the Democratic candidates decided it would be cute to announce early, then send slime squads against other candidates as soon as they announced. She managed to cost Barrett some union support he didn't get back, and sank a lesser-known candidate who was excellent on most issues, but was pro-gun and mixed-choice.

      Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

      by fearlessfred14 on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 05:18:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Kathleen Falk...yeah, she's Walker's favorite Dem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I can't stand Falk for reasons you just mentioned. I have a gut feeling that, if Feingold decides to run in the 2014 WI-Gov election, Falk will try to run a slime campaign against Feingold by bringing up Feingold's "unilateral disarmament" during the 2010 WI-Sen race. Falk is probably the only prominent Wisconsin Democrat that I know of who could try to run that type of campaign against Feingold.

        Trevor Thomas is running a Kathleen Falk-type campaign in MI-3.

        "We don't have government anymore, we have an auction." -Lori Compas

        by DownstateDemocrat on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 07:46:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How Falk might try to slime other WI-Gov Dems (0+ / 0-)

          I detailed how Falk might try to slime Feingold if he ran for Governor of Wisconsin in 2014, so I'm going to detail how Falk might try to slime other potential WI-Gov 2014 candidates:

          If Ron Kind runs, Falk would almost certainly attack Kind over voting to hold Holder in contempt as a U.S. Representative.

          If Kathleen Vinehout and/or Tom Barrett run, Falk would almost certainly use the same attacks on Vinehout and Barrett that Falk used during the 2012 WI-Gov recall primary.

          If Kelda Roys and/or Mark Pocan run, Falk would almost certainly use the same attacks Roys and Pocan are currently using against each other in the WI-2 Dem primary campaign.

          I don't know of any obvious attacks Falk could use against Mahlon Mitchell, Lori Compas, Chris Larson, Peter Barca, Jon Erpenbach, and John Lehman off the top of my head. If Mitchell runs, given the fact that Mitchell himself is a labor union leader, most unions in Wisconsin would probably back Mitchell, who is far more likeable than Falk is, as soon as he enters the race, so, given the fact that Falk had significant union backing in the 2012 WI-Gov recall primary, Mitchell may be the most "Falk-proof" candidate.

          "We don't have government anymore, we have an auction." -Lori Compas

          by DownstateDemocrat on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 08:54:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Do either stand a chance against Amash? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's some fairly solid Rethug turf, and I have to believe the new borders for the 3rd would make it prohibitive for any Dem.

    •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Actually, the redistricting actually makes it a little more Democratic than it used to be.  From what I've read (and assume given the moderate/conservative leanings of the district), Pestka has a chance, Thomas does not.

      •  Many people believe Trevor is in stronger position (0+ / 0-)

        to defeat Amash than is Pestka.

        Bob Eleveld, who used to chair the Kent County Republican Party back when Republicans cared about women, explained why he thought Trevor is best able to defeat Amash. A couple of key points:

        First, I know from experience that Republicans and moderates are not going to vote for a candidate whose “strength” comes from union endorsements and the Democratic establishment.  Republicans and moderates will only vote for a Democrat who presents a new, different message that goes beyond the traditional constituencies. Trevor Thomas grew up in a union household, and he will be able to connect with the union rank-and-file on election day, but at the same time he is taking independent positions. When Trevor Thomas wins the Democratic primary without widespread interest group support, voters will know that he is not beholden to those interests, and they will appreciate that independence.

        Second, for a Democrat to win in West Michigan that Democrat must be able to appeal to voters across party lines and energize a committed base of voters. Trevor Thomas is a new kind of Democrat – socially progressive and fiscally responsible – who can appeal to people across the political spectrum. He is the only candidate in this election who has endorsements and support from Republicans and Democrats. That is important for a Democrat to be able to win in November.

        "There is a difference between being wealthy and being out of touch. One is remembering where you came from. The other is not knowing where others came from." - BoiseBlue

        by ScottyUrb on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 07:32:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's your "progressive" Dem (0+ / 0-)

          Using Republicans to bash unions and Democratic leaders.

          What a joke.

          West Michigan Rising the blog for progressives building our left coast

          by philgoblue on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 09:08:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Bashing ≠ telling the (inconvenient) truth (0+ / 0-)

            I wish we could win solely on the support of unions and active Democrats, but this is West Michigan. We need someone who can appeal to people across the spectrum. The fact that Bob is supporting Trevor tells us that Trevor is able to do that. Same can be said of Meg Goebel, daughter of the last Republican nominee to lose this seat.

            As Bob knows, Amash is an insult to the values of Gerald Ford and other great statesmen - and we need to throw him out of office. Having followed Amash since his 2008 campaign for State House, I agree wholeheartedly. Here, Bob makes a crystal-clear argument that Trevor is in prime position to beat him in the fall. Disagree if you wish, but no need to smear.

            -ScottyUrb, grandson of a 45-year union man

            "There is a difference between being wealthy and being out of touch. One is remembering where you came from. The other is not knowing where others came from." - BoiseBlue

            by ScottyUrb on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 12:12:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Pestka has a poll showing him (0+ / 0-)

        defeating Amash by 4 points and running ahead of Obama. Trevor's poll shows him getting no more than 34% and running 11 points behind Obama.

        Delusion within the Trev camp is high, but no one outside the camp believes he has a chance. Indeed, he's personally told statewide Democratic leaders that he knows he can't defeat Amash, but only wants revenge on Pestka.

        West Michigan Rising the blog for progressives building our left coast

        by philgoblue on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 09:07:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The smear campaign against Trevor is unlike (0+ / 0-)

    any I've seen in West Michigan Democratic politics.

    I've been in the 3rd for as long as I can remember, and in 2010 - when longtime Congressman Vern Ehlers retired, Democrats saw an opening. Two Democrats ran: Paul Mayhue, a longtime County Commissioner, and Pat Miles, a respected attorney. While most establishment figures, as well as myself, supported Miles, people chose to support Miles instead of smearing Mayhue. Miles won the primary but not the general.

    With redistricting, I've been drawn into the 2nd District - one so red, no Democrat is appearing on the primary ballot. I was expecting to not get involved in the primary in the 3rd. Instead I expected to wait until we saw who the nominee was, then donate/volunteer/do what I could to elect that nominee.

    What changed my mind? The smear campaign against Trevor.

    They claimed he's not from here - even though he was born in GR, raised in Marne (just two miles from the new 3rd), went to Grand Valley (one of the closest public universities to the 3rd), and worked at the local NBC affiliate. They claimed he's too young, inexperienced, and has no track record - even though he's almost 29, helped repeal DADT through his work with SLDN, and has support of many progressives. They've also claimed he can't beat Amash, even though Amash has a net negative approval rating and the new 3rd went for Obama in 2008.

    And people wonder why Democrats lose elections!

    Anyway, given the ridiculousness of these attacks against him, I knew I had to act. I could not, in good faith, allow someone to be smeared by other Democrats.

    My conscience demanded that I get involved and support Trevor.

    In the past few months, while some people have accused Trevor of smearing and lying about Pestka, those same people are smearing and lying about Trevor.

    I'd note that there is a big difference between criticizing the records of your opponent (which is what candidates should do) and smearing them (which is what candidates should NOT do). Trevor has been doing the former, but people are accusing him of the latter.

    This "Do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do" hypocrisy is why people hate politics. And it's more befitting the Party of Palin, Romney, and Amash than the party of FDR, JFK, and Obama.

    Whoever wins this primary, I will support them as much as I can; Amash is an embarrassment to the same area that once produced such statesmen as Arthur Vandenberg, Gerald Ford, and Paul Henry. But if Amash does win, it won't be because of Trevor.

    A lot of people are getting involved in politics for the first time thanks to Trevor. I just hope the smear campaign against him doesn't hurt.

    "There is a difference between being wealthy and being out of touch. One is remembering where you came from. The other is not knowing where others came from." - BoiseBlue

    by ScottyUrb on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 07:27:18 PM PDT

    •  Disclosure (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marvyt, philgoblue

      You may want to disclose that you are the "Deputy Political Director" for Mr. Thomas' campaign.  Not exactly an unbiased opinion.

    •  Puleeze (0+ / 0-)

      you work for Trevor because you were unemployed and he offered you a job.

      You're involved with a campaign that has called Steve "a Republican" and "not a real Democrat," and has said he's "anti-women" and "anti-opportunity."  How, you live with that is up to you.

      FYI: You should ask your employer why he wasn't sign the MDP pledge to back the primary winner if that's how you feel.  Why has Trev refused to pledge he would support Pestka when Steve wins?

      West Michigan Rising the blog for progressives building our left coast

      by philgoblue on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 09:11:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Let's act like Democrats. (0+ / 0-)

        If Amash offered me a job, would I take it? No. If Wal-Mart offered me a job, would I take it? No. I have standards.

        And if Trevor smeared Steve the way you accuse him of doing, do you really think I'd work for him? You really think I wouldn't have resigned by now, not wanting to be associated with such a campaign? Think about it... it would be like working for the Penn State football program: You would want nothing to do with it.

        That said, why ridicule someone who's had trouble finding work, when they're finally offered the chance to work for someone they respect? Democrats ought to be embracing opportunity, not shunning it.

        As for that pledge, if you read the pledge you will notice that candidates would be forbidden from discussing records. Why should that be so? After all, this is America. We should be encouraging a healthy debate, not stifling it. still, while Steve signed this pledge, his campaign is now violating it.

        As Democrats, we can do better than smearing fellow Democrats and attacking the unemployed.

        "There is a difference between being wealthy and being out of touch. One is remembering where you came from. The other is not knowing where others came from." - BoiseBlue

        by ScottyUrb on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 11:44:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wasn't.. (0+ / 0-)

          I wasn't trying to criticize you for working for Mr. Thomas, I was simply suggesting that you could have been more open with it in your initial post (I wouldn't have known had I not clicked on your profile).

          I'm certainly not one to ever criticize someone for taking a job these days.

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