COLEEN ROWLEY FOR CONGRESS
I get so frustrated when I see all these learned analyses of the coming midterm elections that zero in-- using business-as-usual predictors-- on the seats that can change hands. And I'm not even a candidate! I spent a lot of time on the phone with one congressional candidate who says the DCCC won't lift a hand to help him although he has no primary opponent and he is challenging a Republican who is likely to be indicted on bribery charges. I had to explain to him that Rahm Emanuel is too busy with his irrational war on Christine Cegelis and other grassroots and progressive Democrats to pay any attention to a race like his.
But the race I was thinking about today was another one entirely, one that I just can't understand being written off or ignored by prognosticators, let alone netroots activists. Minnesota's 2nd congressional district is not some hopelessly red hell; far from it. It's a moderate suburban district south of Minneapolis and St Paul that was created in 2002, at which time the current congressman, John Kline, whose positions on almost every issue are far to the right of his constituents, beat moderate Democrat Bill Luther. 2002 was a very GOP year across Minnesota but Kline is far from secure. (A recent poll shows only a third of the voters in the district are ready to re-elect him.) And the best news of all is that the Democrat challenging him is one of the best anywhere in the country, Coleen Rowley. 2002 was also a banner year for Rowley, something far more singular and rare than being elected to Congress. She was named TIME Magazine "Person of the Year". Rowley was chief counsel of the FBI's Minneapolis field office, when, in a 13-page memo, she outlined how FBI headquarters thwarted agents' attempts to investigate Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged 20th hijacker. She testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June about the FBI bureaucracy that frustrates agents' attempts at innovative investigation and mires them in paperwork.
Rowley is a clear-headed, solution-oriented, common-sense progressive with a great shot at ousting an out-of-touch right-winger with questionable relationships to some of the people in the very center of the Republican financial scandals in DC. "Right-winger?" you ask. Isn't Minnesota famous for being a moderate state? Well, it is-- except for John Kline. The DCCC usually compares how Congressmen voted in relation to Tom DeLay to show how extremist they are-- the closer to DeLay the more extremist. Kline's score is actually worse than DeLay's!! ProgressivePunch's analysis of Kline's voting record shows him to be more extreme than DeLay! In Minnesota? His 2.13 overall score indicates that in the combined House and Senate there are only 19 members as reactionary as Kline! His rankings are miserable on every single one of the 14 major categories legislators are rated on and, in fact, he is FAR BELOW-- far more reactionary than-- even his Republican colleagues' averages. For a number of major issues he is the #1 most far right extremist in the whole United States Congress. Not one Republican beats him in right-wing fanaticism when it comes to Labor Rights, Housing, or Fair Taxation. Coleen Rowley is actually running against someone further off the cliff of right-wing nuttiness tha Tom DeLay!
I know it drives the DCCC Inside-the-Beltway power elite up a wall, but I love candidates who are clear and passionate on their websites and make the reader want to run out and get an absentee ballot so they'll be sure someone like Kenneth Blackwell or Katherine Harris won't count their vote wrong. And Rowley's website is completely awesome in that way-- no corporate bells and whistles, but really excellent content. After you read it you feel like you know her-- and want her in Congress! When Rahm Emanuel is counseling Democratic candidates to keep it general and not take any specific stands on anything controversial, especially not on Iraq, Rowley's piece on how to get us out of the war should be what ALL Democrats should be talking about. And she's just as clear about her plans to ameliorate the health care mess Bush and his congressional allies have consistently exacerbated.
Last year Rowley visited Cindy Sheehan down in Crawford right around the same time I did. When she went on HARD BALL there was some other vicious right-wing nincompoop on instead of that Matthews asshole-- a woman or drag queen named Nora O'Donnell and Kos' August 23 diary shows a candidate who really knows how to handle herself with strength and poise the wing-nuts fear.
Rowley was the very first candidate to whom I sent a check this year. And today I am starting an ACT BLUE Page for her here at DWT to make it convenient for anyone who would like to help elect a real American heroine to Congress and help her replace a worse than garden variety right-wing nutcase.