Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blue America-- Sam Bennett Has Some Plans


This morning the Lehigh Valley has been in the news because a former congressman, Club For Growth president Pat Toomey, has given Arlen Specter a pass in terms of his right flank. The somewhat demented Toomey, a right wing extremist who preceded Charlie Dent as PA-15's rep, said he's not going to primary Specter (and run for governor instead). This morning we're welcoming back a dear Blue America friend, Sam Bennett, who ran against Dent in the last cycle. Join us over at FDL this morning at 11am (PT). Yesterday she told me that "After getting around 128,000 votes, which is significantly more than any other Democrat candidate has garnered in a congressional race in this district, it's become clear to me that we're moving things in the right direction." Sam spent $940,252 against Dent's $1,736,715. He spent $9.63/vote and Sam spent around 7.37/vote. Would more money have helped? "We had a lot of support from the national progressive community and we're moving in the right direction in terms of votes garnered compared to the amount of money raised," she said. "but there's a lot more work to be done." And as the vice-chair of the Lehigh County Democratic Party, there's a lot Sam can-- and plans to-- do.
I would argue that in my district-- and in others-- that when we have well-entrenched incumbents who position themselves as "moderates," thru franked mail and campaign expenditures, despite having a very unmoderate voting record, they are thought to be "moderates" in the local voters' minds. That becomes a particularly tough target for us as progressives. So what I need to do, and what I'm going to do, working with others in my district is keeping that coalition together that worked on my race-- feminists, Greens, unions, environmentalists-- and forming a federal PAC and putting up our own blog. Right now the blogosphere in my district is uniquely dominated by the regressives not the progressives. We need to turn that situation around and look for any opportunity we can to communicate to the voters at large and give progressives voices a place to be heard.

It's clear to me that to win this district I'm not the right candidate but I'm working hard with others and we've got at least one phenomenal candidate, and maybe two, so we'll be working hard to make sure there is a great progressive candidate here. In the meantime we need to continue getting Dent's voting record out to the public on a regular basis and utilizing any communication methods we can to get that information into the voters' minds.

There have been several contested votes in the House so far. Dent voted to sabotage the Paycheck Fairness Act with a parliamentary maneuver, although he later voted for it when it was clear it would pass. He the voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, something that would probably surprise most women in PA-15. He voted for a failed parliamentary maneuver to sabotage SCHIP, twice and, then, as is his deceitful modus operandi he voted with the Democrats on final passage so he could tell voters back home he was for health care for needy children, despite trying to kill the bill twice on the same day he voted for it. He's adept at putting up a confusing smokescreen as his voting record.
We've had tremendous success, particularly on the municipal level, in getting Democrats elected up and down the ticket elected for the first time. Our efforts will be coordinated with the Democratic Party, but also with the Greens, I am the first candidate that the Greens endorsed in a congressional race here. If it takes us two years, fine; if it takes us four years, fine. The key is a long term committment.

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