NO SAFE REPUBLICAN SEATS-- AND THAT MEANS WE NEED TO LOOK AT ANDREA MILLER'S RACE AGAINST RUBBER STAMP RANDY FORBES
Few people would have classified Bush rubber stamp Randy Forbes as a vulnerable incumbent. In 2006 his southeast Virginia district-- recently gerrymandered to decrease the African-American population from 39% to 33%-- returned him with 76% of the vote. In 2004 Kerry only managed 43% of the vote. So this morning when I saw an e-mail on the November Victory list from VA-04 Democratic candidate Andrea Miller I was ready to write it off as just another idealistic lost cause. But there was something about how she wrote it-- and then something about how she wrote her website-- that made me look into the race a little more and, eventually, led to me calling her on the phone. First, the e-mail that alerted me to the campaign:
It's official. Yesterday I was voted the Democratic Nominee for the Virginia 4th Congressional District. At the last minute Party conservatives in my home Democratic Committee put up a "fake" candidate. He had no political experience whatsoever, did not even bother to register with the FEC and told people he was running because he wanted to retire and needed something to do.
I have a dynamite political team (TruBlu Politics) who also worked on the Donna Edwards campaign. I arrived at the convention with a 6' banner, rally signs, palm cards, business cards, bookmarks and 10 people working on my team. The good doctor showed up with a one page flyer listing 5 issues.
While I didn't really stack the convention, I had met over 80% of the people in the room and they responded to the fact that I had a thorough knowledge of the issues, the needs of my district and my opponent's weaknesses. One person actually asked if I thought it would be a problem being perceived as a radical running in a conservative district. I told her that there was a time when the idea of women voting was a radical idea and that remark brought the house down.
Let's all hang in there. I believe we can make it work. Now I'm working to gather 4,000 volunteers both in-state and out to really work the district.
Andrea, a mother of three, an educator, and a small business owner, has never run for office before. But a short phone conversation knocked my socks off! She is on fire and a ball of can-do energy. She very much reminded me of Donna Edwards. Andrea is the regional coordinator for MoveOn in her area. Her grasp of the facts and figures and issues is as thorough as it gets, something you would expect from a MoveOn activist-- if not, alas, from a Democratic congressional candidate. But Andrea is hardly a cookie cutter DCCC/Rahm Emanuel creation. Her outspoken positions on core Democratic issues-- from the Iraq war, reproductive rights, and universal single payer healthcare to her powerful championing of net neutrality-- is the kind of stuff that drives multimillionaire Establishment creeps like Emanuel bonkers. Her bio, unlike Emanuel's, is the bio of the kind of congressional representative we should aspire to. "As a parent, as a teacher and as a progressive social activist, Andrea is firmly committed to social justice as the door to peace, prosperity and national security." Sounds very much like the kind of person I want to see serving in the U.S. Congress.
Now, about Forbes' electoral vulnerability. VA-04 has a PVI of R+5, not nearly as red as the Mississippi district just won by Travis Childers (PVI R+10). Nor is it as red as LA-06, just won by Don Cazayoux. It's exactly as red as IL-14, the district that just replaced Denny Hastert with Bill Foster (instead of garden variety Republican millionaire Jim Oberweis). In the presidential primary, motivated and enthusiastic Obama supporters so dominated the election in VA-04 that he wound up with 4 times as many delegates as Hillary did (and wound up with 72.69% of the district's votes). In the GOP primary Huckabee narrowly edged McCain 22,770 to 22,104. In all 48,722 Republicans voted. Obama alone drew 68,325 (of the 93,992 who voted Democrat in VA-04). In 2001 Governor Mark Warner carried VA-04 by a substantial margin, 91,585 to 78,546 (and he'll be on the ballot with Andrea in November). So how did Forbes wind up with 76% of the vote in 2006? The moribund Democratic Party in the district didn't bother to run a candidate. In fact, the last time the Democratic Party actually tried to win the congressional seat was in 2001 when state Senator Louise Lucas ran and nearly beat Forbes (52-48%). The GOP promptly redistricted Lucas out of this previously Democratic stronghold and Forbes has held it, virtually unopposed, ever since-- until now. It's important to remember that Forbes has amassed a breathtakingly radical right voting record, one of the worst on a broad array of issues of concern to Virginia voters. Voters looking for someone to hold accountable for the policies that have led to high energy and gasoline prices, to the mortgage meltdown, to the growing chasm between the very rich and the rest of us and to the endless occupation of Iraq, need look no further than Forbes who has rubber stamped every disastrous initiative and proposal Bush has sent down the pike. VA-04 is a mainstream, moderate typically American congressional district but it's being represented in Congress by a right wing extremist whose views are completely out of touch with his constituents. If you'd like to help replace him with the extraordinary Andrea Miller, please consider giving her a hand here.