Thursday, January 17, 2008



Ric Keller-- very vulnerable

Republican Ric Keller is the congressman from Disneyland and I've noticed that the DCCC says they're targeting his district this year. Makes sense; the 8th CD has been trending bluer and bluer, his steady pattern and ethical misbehavior is finally catching up with him and the Orlando-area district is definitely ripe for a Democratic takeover. But there's a problem. In 2006 the Democratic candidate, Charlie Stuart, took 46% of the vote. He wants to run against Keller again this year. And the problem? Stuart is a reactionary Dixiecrat whose attitudes are more in line with the GOP than with what actual Democrats are looking for. For starters, he's been against a woman's right to choice and he's been in favor of, or at best ambivalent about, Bush's irresponsible occupation of Iraq. He's a supremely flawed candidate who thinks campaigning against gay equality is a winning issue and, looking at where he stands, he should probably be challenging Keller in a Republican primary rather than trying to run as a Democrat.

He's failed at everything he's ever put his hand to, except marrying the daughter of an extremely wealthy-- albeit corrupt-- farmer (owner of the Larson Dairy, best known for illegally selling cows stuffed with massive doses of antibiotics). He calls himself a "marketing consultant" and a "successful small businessman" but, in fact, like Bush, he's a nothing at all-- just someone who lucked into a great deal of money and is now looking for something to do. His brother, a prominent-- and reactionary-- Orlando Republican and the head of that city's Chamber of Commerce, was a major contributor to his last campaign. Oy.

The question of whether or not Stuart is actually a Democrat is not just based on his family connections or even his positions on issues. When he ran last time he promised voters he would not vote for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker, not because she had taken impeachment off the table but because he felt she was "too liberal."

Yeah, the DCCC says they're targeting FL-08. Yeah, Ric Keller is a corrupt car-wreck of an incumbent with scandals coming out of every inch of his career, but unless the Democratic Party comes up with a serious candidate, this will be another wasted opportunity.

Last summer, when I was investigating Republican Congressman Lil' Patrick McHenry's involvement in a spectacular triple gay Republican homicide/[suicide?] in Orlando, I got to know some of the reporters at the Orlando Sentinel. I got back in touch with them to ask why there has been virtually no in depth reporting on such a hot congressional race and why both Keller and Stuart get such an easy ride from the paper. "Well, Keller... he's a Republican. They get easy rides [giggles]... And Stuart... well, Jane Healy is the editorial page editor and she's got a lot of say-so and they say she went to school with Stuart and makes sure the paper goes easy on him." Wow! And oops.

Is there any alternative? My reporter pals told me to expect a couple of primary challengers for Keller-- wing-nuts Todd Long and Bob Hering, neither of whom has much of a chance. They thought I would like the environmental activist running as a Democrat, Corbett Kroehler and suggested I also look into an attorney/activist they think is the sleeper for the Democrats, the only one who could actually defeat Stuart and then Keller, Alan Grayson. Jane over at FDL suggested I read the recent Vanity Fair article about how Grayson is going after Halliburton and other contractors and war-profiteers who are ripping off tax-payers in Iraq.
Grayson spends most of his days and many of his evenings on a lonely legal campaign to redress colossal frauds against American taxpayers by private contractors operating in Iraq. He calls it "the crime of the century."

His obvious adversaries are the contracting corporations themselves-- especially Halliburton, the giant oil-services conglomerate where Vice President Dick Cheney spent the latter half of the 1990s as C.E.O., and its former subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, now known simply as KBR. But he says his efforts to take on those organizations have earned him another enemy: the United States Department of Justice.

Over the past 16 years, Grayson has litigated dozens of cases of contractor fraud. In many of these, he has found the Justice Department to be an ally in exposing wrongdoing. But in cases that involve the Iraq war, the D.O.J. has taken extraordinary steps to stand in his way. Behind its machinations, he believes, is a scandal of epic proportions-- one that may come to haunt the legacy of the Bush administration long after it is gone.

Maybe we need to invite this guy over for a Blue America q&a. He sounds like a real Democrat issues-wise. He's not pandering to the Republican-lite crowd at all and as for being a fighter... well hit that Vanity Fair link and read the story if you want to know if he's a fighter or not. Let me look into this some more and we'll see how far we want to take it.

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At 1:15 PM, Blogger Jet said...

I met Alan Grayson in August of 2006, and I find him genuinely progressive. Pro choice, pro people and pro peace, he is brilliant, dedicated and kind. He's listed up on the DFA Grassroots All Star page.

Go throw him a vote if you can. I'd like nothing better than to build a netroots buzz around this guy, he is truly worthy of it.

At 7:15 AM, Anonymous kissimeenow said...

I too met Grayson last summer. I found him to be a VERY strange guy in person...guy totally gave my wife the creeps. While I did like for some of his policy positions, he COMPLETELY turned me off with his abortion mailing featuring a coathanger. I agree Keller must go, but there has got to be someone better than Grayson.

At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Jet said...

Yeah, a coat-hanger, and all it implies IS disgusting. It's disgusting that young girls and women had to resort to hellish back-bedroom surgery by the untrained in order to enforce a choice about their own body.

I was eleven when Roe v. Wade was passed, so as a sexually active person, I never faced the coat-hanger choice of others, something my mother, a lifelong active Democrat, worked hard for and was thankful about. She knew, as all women did, that the status quo was frightening and deadly.

The coat-hanger symbolizes that this was my choice before Roe, which is that my body was not under my domain. This is all the more reason to vote for Grayson as a pro-choice candidate. Waiting until we lose choice to try to save it is too late. Its symbolism is ugly because the reality of losing choice is ugly. Sometimes we can’t avoid our history.

At 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I listened to a debate this month (5/08) between Grayson and Stuart.
Grayson actually helped to write the Responsible Plan for Ending the War in Iraq. (I may have the title wrong).
He seems brilliant, very well educated, and very progressive. Stuart struck me as saying many of the right things, but I didn't feel he was going to be nearly as progressive as Grayson, and I didn't get the feeling that Stuart really wanted to push back too hard on the things Bush had done, with the exception of S-CHIP. Both Staurt and Grayson supported S-CHIP.

At 11:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I found the "coathanger" mailings disturbing as well. I think there might be a more tactful way to get the point across. I guess it would be similar if the anti-abortionists sent a mailer around with fetuses in the trash can. A very disturbing image indeed but yet an unfortunate, harsh reality.


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