Friday, June 27, 2008



It is rare that a congressional incumbent loses a primary battle. In 2006 it happened twice-- mainstream conservative Republican Joe Schwarz lost to raving right-wing maniac Tim Walberg in Michigan and controversial Cynthia McKinney-- a victim of a media pile on-- was beaten by Hank Johnson. Schwarz v Walberg was a completely ideological and the McKinney v Johnson race had a different dynamic.

So far in 2008 there have been 3 incumbents beaten in primaries: progressive leader Donna Edwards vanquished a corrupt Insider in Maryland and two mainstream conservative Republicans, Wayne Gilchrest and Chris Cannon, were beaten by extreme right fanatics, Andy Harris and Jason Chaffetz, respectively in Maryland and Utah.

This morning's CQPolitics lists 8 more primaries in this cycle with potential upsets. First and foremost, of course, is the challenge underfunded grassroots progressive state Senator Regina Thomas is giving the most reactionary Democrat in the entire House, Blue Dog John Barrow in GA-12. According to CQ "racial demographics are a factor in this sprawling east Georgia district, which includes areas in and around Augusta and Savannah. Two-term Democratic Rep. John Barrow, who is white, faces a primary challenge from state Sen. Regina Thomas, who is African-American and is seeking to galvanize support from black residents who make up 45 percent of the district’s population... Challenger Thomas may be further hindered on the money front." Barrow is a special interests rep, taking massive contributions from every big corporation looking to buy a vote. Most recently, for example, he was a recipient of a great deal of money from the telecom industry looking for enough Democrats to cross the aisle and vote like Republicans to grant their criminal executives retroactive immunity. Barrow helped provide them with the margin they needed-- and helped fill his warchest. He has more than $1.3 million dollars on hand. Regina has only the $38,000 that have been donated to her through ActBlue. She isn't worried because her electoral career has never been about money and she has always won in the Savannah area by running grassroots campaigns.

The other hot primary in Georgia, on July 15, like Regina v Barrow, is on the GOP side, where extreme right wing loon Paul Broun, with one of the most breathtakingly fascist voting records in Congress, is being challenged by state Rep. Barry Fleming who says Broun far enough to the right. His voting Progressive Punch voting score is 0.55 (out of 100), making him the 435th most progressive member of Congress (out of 435). In other words, he is further right than any other member of Congress from Georgia or anywhere else. And he's being challenged for not being a "true conservative." Yes, these people are bat-shit crazy. (Broun even joined 16 other die hard psycho-paths to vote against the Americans With Disabilities Act this week.) Democrats in the district are hoping that the spectacle of the two far right nuts, Broun and Fleming battling for the far right, will turn voters off enough in GA-10 so that Iraq War vet Bobby Saxon beats whichever damaged Repug washes up to face him in November.

August 5 features a contentious Democratic primary in Detroit (MI-13) where the incumbent, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, is the mother of the controversial and wildly unpopular mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick. She has to face two well-know challengers trying to hold her accountable for her son, state Sen. Martha Scott and former state Rep. Mary Waters.

Two days later there is a really important race in Memphis, where progressive incumbent Steve Cohen is facing a challenge from the right. Nikki Tinker supporters have run an anti-semitic, anti-white, and typically Republican campaign against Cohen.
But Cohen faces a greater degree of difficulty than Republican Davis across the state, in the form of his district’s demographics. Cohen, who is white, represents a district where about three-fifths of the residents are black. The district had been represented by black Democrats, the father-son combo of Harold E. Ford (1975-97) and Harold Ford Jr. (1997-2007), for the previous 32 years. Some black activists argued Cohen, the only major white candidate in the 2006 primary, won only because the black vote was fractured among multiple candidates.

That proposition will be tested in this year’s primary in which Cohen has drawn four African-American opponents — including airline executive Nikki Tinker, his closest competitor in 2006, when she took 25 percent of the Democratic vote. Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus have already donated to Tinker’s campaign. But Cohen has the advantage of incumbency and strong support from prominent members of the local black community, as well as some leading black colleagues in Washington, such as Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel of New York.

In the eastern part of Tennessee (TN-01) a couple of wing nuts are also having a primary. Far right freshman David Davis is being challenged by Johnson City Mayor Phil Roe, who nearly beat him in 2006 and has been pointing out that he reeks of corruption, taking money from every special interest under the sun and then voting for whatever they like. This is true of 95% of Republicans and nearly a third of the Democrats. But people in the district can only vote against (of for) one member of Congress and it would be a good sign if Davis is defeated. Needless to say, he's loaded with cash.

The August 12 primary in Colorado features a three way race pitting extremist kook Doug Lamborn against 2 other right-wing Republicans. It doesn't matter who wins. Although it would be great to see someone as extremist as Lamborn be driven out of politics.

August 26 has a major primary in Alaska which Phil Munger covered for us in great detail on Monday. Basically it looks like one of Congress' most corrupt Republicans, Don Young, who has been in the seat since 1973, will be defeated by an equally conservative but even stupider Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell. Parnell, though, is supported by the popular governor, Sarah Palin and that is probably the death knell for Young's ill-starred career. On the same day Democratic insider Ethan Berkowitz faces grassroots progressive Diane Benson and the winner of that race win go up against either Young or Parnell. Rahm Emanuel and the most corrupt elements of the Democratic Party in DC are behind Berkowitz.

Primary season wraps up on September 6 with another corrupt member of Congress trying to hold on to his seat, this time a Democrat, William Jefferson in New Orleans. "Jefferson is seeking re-election even though he faces 16 federal bribery and corruption charges related to his business dealings with companies seeking contracts in Africa. His trial is tentatively scheduled to begin on Dec. 2." In 2006 he managed to survive a challenge from fellow Democrats with the cynical help of Republicans from Meterie. It is unclear-- like almost everything regarding Louisiana politics, who will be running against Jefferson in September.

It is clear that there are two progressive Democrats who need our help, Congressman Steve Cohen and state Senator Regina Thomas. I urge you to donate generously to both of them but there is a special incentive today. A generous DWT reader has offered to match all donations for Regina up to $500 at the Blue America ActBlue page. Please give. Barrow has been one of Bush's most reliable votes on keeping the war going and on all the little tricks Bush has pulled, like granting retroactive immunity to his cronies.

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At 10:46 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

As a former Memphian, thanks to the plug for Cohen.

Thought you might like this as well:

"Cohen calls Cheney a barnacle.

"WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., questioning Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee, sought to clarify whether Cheney is part of the executive or legislative branch of the federal government.

Quoting a 1961 opinion from the Justice Department, David Addington said that the vice president "belongs neither to the executive nor to the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter…"

Cohen: "But he's attached to the legislative branch?…So he's kind of a barnacle…"


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