Excitement in North Carolina
Noah's brother and sister-in-law live in northwest North Carolina's Piedmont area, the 5th CD, which manages to skirt cities and encompass the suburbs of Winston-Salem and the outer suburbs of Charlotte. The congressional district, which is overwhelmingly Republican (PVI is R +15 and McCain, while losing the state, won the 5th with a hefty 61% of the vote) and overwhelmingly white. It includes Mt. Airy, the model for Andy Griffith's Mayberry. When far right fanatic Richard Burr gave up his House seat to run for John Edwards' abandoned Senate seat, Virginia Foxx-- a kooky state Senator best known as the nut job who sponsored a constitutional amendment targeting gays and legislation to hurt women's Choice, Hispanic immigrants and public education-- stumbled into a close run-off victory with a fringe maniac billing himself as "the black Jesse Helms." In Congress Foxx has been one of the 3 or 4 most outspokenly anti-gay members and the ideological heir to Jesse Helms' backward bigotry across the board. She hasn't had a credible challenger since she was elected. Until now.
Yesterday Noah's sister-in-law told us about a progressive radio host on WATA-AM, Billy Kennedy, who has all but announced that he's taking on Foxx, widely viewed as an embarrassment to all but the hardest core rednecks and KKK boosters in the area. Billy's father was a beloved local minister-- old fashioned Christians who saw Jesus as a figure of love and acceptance rather than the current version that seems to have reinterpreted the Gospels along very different lines-- and the mayor of Black Mountain. Billy is a farmer and a carpenter and his sympathies lie with working people rather than with bankers and corporate managers. He recognizes that Washington-- a city crawling with lobbyists-- is completely out of touch with working peoples' lives and values. "Politicians," he explains, "will say anything to get elected. But once they're there, they spend their time taking money from lobbyists and handing out taxpayer money to corporate interests. Enough is enough! Everyday Americans need someone in Washington to put an end to the greed."
That someone is clearly not Virginia Foxx. As much as she has tried to curry favor with the teabaggers, they have run from her embrace and, in fact, a lifelong Republican teabagger, Brad Smith-- a self-proclaimed devotee of Glenn Beck's-- is running as a third party candidate. If he can draw 10% of the Republican faithful away from the controversial Foxx, Kennedy will probably win. Remember, polls are showing that 3-way races could prove deadly to Republican incumbents like Foxx. As I mentioned in November when I first heard that Smith was taking on the wild-eyed hellion, there is no list existent of the half dozen most lunatic fringe members of Congress that doesn't include this homophobic sociopath. I have literally been in strategy sessions where Democrats have said that her bizarre and extremist presence in Congress does them more good than harm and that there's no reason to run any candidates against her since she is probably the single least effect member of Congress and a warning signal to moderates across party lines that, at its core, the Republican Party offers nothing but extremism, fanaticism and a world turned upside down by ignorance, hatred and fear.
Talking about why voters in the 5th should replace Foxx, Kennedy is clear he has no intention of getting drawn into her wedge-issue style of campaigning.
Dishonest politicians try to divide us and pit us against each other in order to win an election on wedge issues. Politicians of both political parties emphasize wedge issues so they can distract us and avoid talking about the serious problems we face. It is a tactic used to confuse us in order to hide how they really vote about bread and butter issues.
More and better jobs, a commitment to Medicare and Social Security, real discussions about whether or not we should commit our young people and our nation to war, health care reform, and the failure of bailouts and subsidies to corporations are not wedge issues.
I will not run a wedge campaign. I want to focus on what all of us can do to improve our lives. I plan to listen to my constituents and hear what’s important to them because I respect other people’s points of view. I will not allow my opponent to play “gotcha” politics on these questions of individual liberty.
I want to make it clear. I support freedom and equal rights for all people. I will protect all individual constitutional rights, without allowing politicians to pick and choose which Amendments deserve to be taken seriously.
Even when a candidate or political party wins an election through the use of a wedge issue, once they arrive in Washington they do nothing to further its cause. That is when it becomes painfully clear that the candidate never had any real commitment to the issue itself. The candidate simply used the issue to try to fool the people and win the election at any cost.
I will not be distracted from what is most important to voters!
And if Smith falters and North Carolina voters can get past partisan labels-- and Fox propaganda-- they may well find Kennedy's populist message far more attractive than what the Republicans have been offering. For him, serving in Congress means serving his community, not serving himself and not serving the special interests.
Ever since 9th Grade civics, we’ve all known the way Washington is supposed to work. We elect representatives who go to Congress to pass laws for the good of the citizens. But as adults, we’ve all learned why things have gone terribly wrong and aren’t working.
Partisan bickering, Wall Street bailouts, and the people who were elected to do the people’s business are spending their time, instead, hobnobbing with wealthy CEOs and paid lobbyists while trading our futures for campaign contributions. The same people who give politicians millions of dollars in "campaign contributions" are the very folks Congress is supposed to be
keeping an eye on so they don’t continue to steal the country blind!
Washington isn’t working because people there are greedy. They’ve forgotten what real Americans learn every day of our working lives that we expect real value for the money we pay. So we’re paying taxes, and not getting value back for our dollar. Instead of working on real reform in banking or health care or farm policy, Congress wastes time debating toothless laws, written by lobbyists, for the very industries the laws are meant to regulate.
I believe we must replace the culture of corruption in Washington with a renewed culture of service. That’s why my campaign will tithe 10 percent of our volunteer hours directly to local charities.
I’ve worked all my life. I haven’t spent time rubbing elbows with celebrities and paid lobbyists, and I don’t intend to start now. This country has real problems that affect my family and my neighbors’ families, and I want to go to Washington to work on real solutions.
That's the kind of populism that should be sweeping across America rather than the right-wing version built on fear, racism and hatred. He worries that Obama's stimulus bill last year might not have been big enough to rescue the country from 8 years of corporate-dominated GOP rule we saw under Bush. And he points out that Foxx was a loud no vote. "She is more concerned about her reelection than helping people. She actively discourages any government attempt to stimulate development. This may explain why only three of 12 counties in the 5th District are targeted for new broadband infrastructure and access funding. We need a representative in Washington who helps bring jobs back home, not someone who actively discourages that! ... [Foxx] cheer leads a business culture where the rich and well-connected get richer while employees, shareholders and customers get left in the dirt."
If you'd like to help Billy Kennedy get his message out to Piedmont voters, you can donate to his campaign directly through ActBlue. Needless to say, the DCCC hasn't recognized this race and probably won't until Kennedy has the word "Congressman-elect" in front of his name.
Meanwhile, the big race in North Carolina this year is for Burr's Senate seat. Widely-- and correctly-- viewed as one of the Senate's worst corporate hacks, Burr is not popular and his poll numbers show him vulnerable, especially if he's up against popular-- and populist-- Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. But the Democratic Party Insiders in DC-- in the form of the DSCC-- feel one woman senator from North Carolina is all the state can handle and they're trying to push her out of the race in favor of corporate shill Cal Cunningham. Corporate shill? Who says? Glad you asked.
Last week Burr, held a fundraiser with Karl Rove. And over the weekend Cunningham sent a fundraising email attacking Burr for his event with "the Washington insiders and corporate elites." That sounds nice and populist, right?
Problem is, it’s pretty hypocritical, not to mention cynical, of Cunningham since the day before Burr’s event, Cunningham’s hands were in those very same pockets at a fundraiser he held at a high-powered Washington lobbying firm. His campaign is spinning it as a "meet and greet" but we all know what that means (same as this one).
The "meet & greet" was at the offices of sleazy corporate lobbyists Mehlman, Vogel, & Castagnetti, and hosted by Kelly Bingel & Jonathon Jones. The firm’s client roster reads like a who’s who of the groups that have fought to kill healthcare reform: AHIP, Pharma, Humana, and major pharmaceutical companies.
Host Kelly Bingel is a partner at the firm, and previously was Blanche Lincoln’s Chief of Staff. The other host, Jonathon Jones, touts his work on, among other things, the Bankruptcy Reform Bill and the Medicare Part D gift to Big Pharma. To cap it off, Jones “worked on a daily basis with the Democratic Leadership Council” and helped create Third Way.
These guys see a natural ally in Cunningham, but the last thing we need in the Senate are more Lincolns, Liebermen and Bayhs. We need people who will fight Big Business, not work to water down bills for their corporate benefactors. Elaine Marshall has been a strong supporter of healthcare reform and looks like a true populist, not a pretender. She’s taking on Wall Street banks that defrauded North Carolina retirees and toughened lobbying laws in Raleigh.
Elaine is currently crushing Cal Cunningham in the polls, but the DC elite will do whatever it takes to get their man in office. Please consider helping out her campaign by spreading the word about this important primary election.