Thursday, April 06, 2006



The next primaries coming up that have caught my attention are on May 2nd in Indiana. Indiana has 9 congressional districts and 7 of them are held my right-wing extremist Republicans. The easiest race is in the 8th CD, western Indiana, where heroic and much admired Evansville Sheriff Brad Ellsworth is challenging the delusional lunatic who represents the district now, John Hostettler. Like all 7 Indiana Republicans, Hostettler is pure rubber-stamp. Brad has no primary challenger and Democrats, independents and even moderate Republicans are uniting behind him. Hostettler squeaked by with 53% of the vote in 2004. Brad, basically a conservative Democrat by national standards, seems to have a great chance to take the seat.

The most interesting race is for the seat currently held by freshman Republican Michael Sodrel. Sodrel is so far right that he's considered one of the looniest whackos on Capitol Hill. He gets a perfect zero on almost every important issue that came up in Congress since he was elected. Every single time it came up he supported corporate welfare against the interests of workers and consumers; he voted wrong on every single piece of tax legislation; wrong on issues involving health care, family planning, housing, justice, government checks on corporate power, labor rights, human rights, civil justice, and, of course, on all issues of war and peace. Sodrel has a perfect zero on all those categories of issues. He goes beyond rubber-stamp into the very definition of partisan hack and extremist fruitcake. His watertight connections to convicted Republican bribe-taker Randy "Duke" Cunningham as well as to GOP crime syndicate leaders like Tom DeLay, Roy Blunt and John Boehner make his ethics look very shady (although he hasn't been indicted for any crimes). Now what makes this race so interesting is that he is the only congressman who won with less than half the votes. A third party candidate threw him the election over the Democratic incumbent Baron Hill. And this year Hill is back in southern Indiana's 9th CD as a challenger.

But there's a twist. Hill is a MAJOR priority for the Inside-the-Beltway power establishment and for Rahm Emanuel's anti-grassroots DCCC. And Hill is pretty... moderate. His record on some of the key issues that separate the two parties is spotty. His campaign website, like most good little DCCC shills' websites, avoids discussing issues. Making this race really interesting is that Hill and the DCCC are fighting an intrepid grassroots idealist, a 100% progressive activist named Gretchen Clearwater. For people who complain that politicians from the two D.C. parties are too similar and just sort of morph into each other in too many ways, Gretchen is as good as it gets. If Hill's website avoids controversy entirely, Gretchen grabs it by the horns and wrestles it to the ground. She's ready to join Russ Feingold in censuring (or John Conyers in impeaching!) Most DCCC hacks don't even mention Iraq or if they do, they almost never take a stand that is different from what a Republican would say. If every Democrat took the kind of stand Gretchen takes on her website, the Democrats would sweep Congress:

I am committed to bringing about a resolution in Iraq and to bringing our soldiers home. Questioning this war is the responsible thing to do. It is the only way the war will end. My conscience will not let me stand idly by as thousands of people are wounded and killed.
There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This administration has circumvented the Geneva Convention by redefining torture and evading responsibility for countless abuses. This is not the way to spread democracy. Our soldiers are sent to battle without the weapons and armor needed to protect them on the front lines. When they come home they are denied their hard-earned medical benefits.
Our National Guardsmen should be home for emergencies such as Hurricane Katrina. Their services are being misused. Our troops are fighting for an unknown time and for unknown goals. I will support legislation such as HR 55, the Homeward Bound bill - which sets a time line for return and mechanisms that would help fund Iraq's recovery.

And on issue after issue, that's what you get. If she wins the primary, next November IN-09 voters will have a clear choice between a right-wing rubber-stamp Republican and a proud progressive true blue Democrat. You want to get involved? It's not too late. Go here to volunteer for Gretchen's campaign.

The 6th CD in east-central Indiana (around Muncie and Richmond) is currently held by Mike Pence someone so extreme and so right-wing that he almost makes Tom DeLay look like a moderate! The only time Pence is not a rubber-stamp is on the rare occasion that the GOP position isn't whacko enough! As horrible as Pence is-- and, frankly, it just doesn't get any worse-- that's how good his Democratic opponent, Barry Welsh, is. Like Gretchen, he faces all the toughest issues head on-- and comes up on the correct side each time. Listen to what he has to say about a woman's right to choice and about same-sex marriage:

I am the pastor of a church, and when someone comes to me with an unwanted pregnancy situation, I do not council for abortion under any circumstances, and I do not judge people that make that choice.
Sometimes pregnancies are terminated due to medical necessity, sometimes pregnancies are terminated due to rape or incest or both, and sometimes pregnancies are terminated by choice. No matter the reason, I know that there are psychological implications when this choice is made, and I do not believe in compounding that mental burden with social torment.
Congressman Pence and I both agree that abortion is not the personal choice of either of us, we disagree on making criminals of those that are faced with this difficult decision. Until an individual is faced with that choice, it is easy to say what one would do, so I choose not to judge. Marriage is a sacrament of our faith and is Biblically between a man and a woman. But I also understand that just because I do not believe in same sex marriage, does not mean that people should be denied civil rights.

Like Gretchen, he's amazing on all the issues, from "We support our troops by bringing them home as quickly as possible" to "Congress had no trouble voting for their own cost of living wage, but then forget about those that are struggling just to survive. I propose a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage in the first year, and a fifty-cent raise in the second year." This is the kind of guy I want to see in Congress-- not the Rahm Emanuel empty suits who smell like Republicans but an honest to goodness commonsense progressive!

The other district that looks like fertile ground for a Democrat is the 2nd CD in north-central Indiana from Michigan City, South Bend and Elkhart down to Kokomo. It will probably be a re-match between moderate Democrat Joe Donnelly and ultra right-wing kook Chris Chicola. A lock-step Republican zombie, Chicola couldn't be more of a rubber-stamper if he tried. He's a symbol for everything that is wrong with Republican misgovernment in Washington and maybe that's why decided to target him-- along with only 3 other equally abysmal Republicans-- with his very own TV spot, which you can watch by clicking here. There is also a progressive Democrat in the primary, Steve Francis, who sounds great on all the issues.

The races in the other districts would need a major Democratic tsunami for any changes from red to blue. CD 3 in the northeast of the state (from Goshen to Fort Wayne) is represented by Mark Souder, another entrenched rubber-stamper (though not as far off the cliff of insanity as Sodrel or Pence-- but almost). There appear to be 4 Democrats vying for the opportunity to challenge him: Kevin Boyd, a progressive pastor who looks GREAT on the issues, Tom Hayhurst, whose slick website smells DCCC all the way (no positions on issues), and 2 guys with no websites Thomas Schrader and Edward Smith.

The 4th CD is just west of Indianapolis and includes Lafayette, Greenwood and Bedford. Stephen Buyer-- another garden variety far right maniac and rubber-stamp corporate asskisser-- is the incumbent. The 3 Democrats fighting it out in the primary are Rick Cornstuble, a retired school teacher and a moderate, Dave Sanders, a biodefense researcher and national security policy expert, also a moderate, and Darin Kinser, who has no website.

The 5th CD is the home of one of the worst jackasses in Congress, Republican loon and wild extremist Dan Burton. This certifiably-insane person goes beyond rubber-stamp. If we are ever to see a real fascist/KKK take-over of this country this is one of the nuts to watch. The Democrats who want to take him on are Katherine Carr, a middle class retiree with a solid analysis of what Bush and the rubber-stamp Congress have done to screw things up in our country, Mike Clements, a handsome young fella with no issues on his DCCC-smelling website, and a couple of guys with no websites, Tom Williams and Mike Brown.

I asked the Art Deptartment to do a picture with Gretchen and Barry because they both seem so awesome but Sophie and Sadie go to sleep around 7 and Adam passed out drunk and only stuck Gretchen into the art. Anyone who's keeping score-- we like Barry Welsh too.

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At 6:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great analysis! Would be awesome to cross post this on DailyKos, myDD, etc...

At 6:17 AM, Blogger Andrew Kaduk said...

My windy friend (and I do mean that in a nice way, I thoroughly enjoy your even-handed approach as you dissect and comment on our current one-party system, regardless the fact our core political views differ somewhat),

You have made some very good points concerning Indiana politics (which is hard to do, they are pretty screwed up). However, I must take issue with the manner in which you refer to some of IN's incumbents. These party-liners are NOT "far right" as you would indicate. "Religious zealots" may be an accurate label, but these a-holes are in bed with power and that's it. They literally only have the best interest of themselves in mind when casting votes...which makes REAL Republicans (like me) cringe at the sight of them. Just because they are "conservative" socially does NOT make them Republicans. Do I need to repeat it again? These guys have repeatedly voted for federal expansion every time they have been afforded the opportunity, which makes them more like "morons" than "Republicans." Worse yet, the Republican party seems to want to engage in a theocratic gang-bang with evangelical retards like Pat Robertson and his flocks of idiots...I just don't buy into it. I would like to know when Jesus sent that letter to President Bush asking him to destroy the Republican party by garnishing it with gasoline and tossing a lit match over his shoulder on the way out the door. I realize it's not entirely his fault, Newt and all of his despot sheep that rode a tidal wave of public disillusionment to power in '94 actually started this hullabaloo....mixing Jesus and politics (I hope Jesus has lots of mouthwash on hand...he's gonna need it). I certainly would be upset if some of these scumbag RINO a-holes were using me as an excuse to beat up on people and strong arm policy.

Real Republicans wouldn't do that...but there aren't many of us left these days.

At 5:05 PM, Blogger LP Mike Sylvester said...

Many of the real Republicans have had to jump shop and are now Libertarians...

Mike Sylvester

At 6:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to Gretchen Clearwater! We need more women with the heart and soul she has to stand up for how to make our little part of the world better. Check out VOTE BLOOMINGTON! Keep up on her website
And never, never give up! Or give your vote to someone who will never help YOU!

At 6:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gretchen is now hosting an online forum for people to ask her directly about her stance on different issues. I'm sure she'd love to answer you questions there.


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