Friday, February 19, 2010

Mitchell Howie Makes The Move-- A Progressive Challenger For Congress


My district's Representative is 76 and ailing... and retiring. McCain only got 12% of the vote around here-- although that must have come from some other part of the district. Republicans don't bother to run serious campaigns here; the Democratic primary is virtually the election. In 2008 Diane Watson took 88% of the vote. In 2006 and 2004 the GOP hadn't bothered trying. Last night she endorsed 100%-- maybe 300% Karen Bass to follow her. Bass was Speaker of the state Assembly. I'm sure she'll make a decent enough congresswoman; all my friends who know her tell me she's very sharp and very progressive.

Now, in Northern Alabama the electoral dynamic is very, very different. Congress' worst Blue Dog, Parker Griffith, after spending the year voting with the GOP more often than not, finally jumped the fence and came out as a Republican three days before Christmas-- a real lump of coal for northern Alabama... and Democrats nationwide. Progressives, on the other hand, were hardly fazed. We were very much aware that Griffith voted against health care reform and clean energy. He voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which was named for a woman from his state. He even went so far as to promise a vote against Nancy Pelosi for Speaker and implied she should be committed. On the 22nd of December, Griffith made his love for Republican ideology official and cast his lot with the GOP.

In the competition to ensure that Parker Griffith is no longer employed, North Alabama has now been presented with three Democratic candidates who will face one another in a June 1st primary. Taze Shephard was elected to the Alabama Board of Education in the early 90’s, but his biggest claim to fame is being the grandson of segregationist Alabama Senator John Sparkman. When I called his office after he announced, it was as cold as a Republican's and they told me they'd get back to me; they haven't. Conservatives never do. Also in the race is longtime political consultant and former lobbyist Steve Raby. Aside from Raby’s establishment credentials (he has gone so far as to acknowledge that he is the “establishment candidate"), he’s got a rather peculiar donor history, which I worked with the folks at Left in Alabama to spotlight.
[H]e's given lot's of money to Repubs. Opensecrets shows that since 1996 Stephen Raby has contributed $33,950 to Republican causes and $73,950 to Democratic causes. He has contributed to both the State Democratic Executive Committee of Alabama and the Republican Party of Alabama. In the 2008 cycle he contributed to both Mike Rogers, R ($2,000) and Josh Segall, D ($500 $1,000*) in the AL-03 contest. He not only contributed to all the Republican Senators and Representatives from Alabama, but to the likes of Duncan Hunter, Curt Weldon, Lisa Murkowski and Kit Bond. Raby's last Republican contribution was $2,300 to Richard Shelby in 2008.

Judging from the first two candidates in the field, we can see how Alabama’s Fifth District got stuck with a turncoat like Parker Griffith. Luckily, there is a better option.

Wednesday, Huntsville Attorney Mitchell Howie filed qualifying papers to get on the ballot. Here is a video of him addressing the Madison County Democratic Executive Committee last week:

Howie’s grandfather was a doctor in Huntsville during the civil rights struggle and had one of the first integrated waiting rooms in the area, where black and white children, who were treated regardless of whether or not their parents could afford the care, played together openly. Howie’s grandparents also often posted bail for civil rights protesters arrested in sit-ins, resulting in death threats for the family at the time.

After law school in Houston, a stint on a Democratic legislator's staff in the Texas State House, and five years of active duty service in the United States Air Force, Mitchell Howie returned to Huntsville to start his own law practice. One idea he has proposed in his campaign is the establishment of a Green TVA. Stating that the Tennessee Valley Authority revolutionized North Alabama in the New Deal era, Howie believes that similar efforts should be undertaken to develop clean energy technology in North Alabama. Doing so, he hopes, will bring jobs to the district and create innovative technologies that will benefit the country as a whole. For a Southern Democrat and economic populist, Howie takes some fairly progressive positions such as being pro-choice (he says he personally is against abortion, but doesn’t think that government should have a say in decisions between a patient and her doctor), in favor of health care reform, and staunchly supporting a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell."

If you would like to support Mitchell Howie, donations can be made at ActBlue, or you can email

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At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To say that Howie "returned" to North Alabama is a bit of a misnomer: he any never lived there until 9 month ago. He ain't even licensed to practice law in this state. He's a Texas boy. You think think carpetbagger can get more than a 1,000 votes, and that's not considering his liberal agenda. Howie is a self-promoter looking to recruit stupid folks for his lawfirm. There ain't nothing else to Mitchell Howie.

At 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When your grandpa lived there most of his life, your grandma still lives there and 6 of their 8 kids still live there, one of which is your Mom, I think you can call Huntsville home. Mitchell Howie has deep roots in Alabama. Why don't you look at his issues instead of talking about stuff you apparently know nothing about?

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous#1 is proof the status quo is scared of Mitchell Howie.

At 5:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There have been some pretty funny things written about this congressional race - but this blog is the funniest - not even freakin close. Parker Griffith, voted with the Republicans (WOW-you must be on crack). A Green TVA (yeah, that will play well here), our energy cost will already go sky-high with cap and tax - now a green tva.

I will be telling every democrat I know they should vote for Howie. I am sure he is a great guy, and I love the fact that he served our country - but he should really save himself the time and money and just gracefully get behind one of the other two candidates on the Dem side. But here's hoping that he doesn't - GO HOWIE, you can do it!

At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoever you are making negative comments about Mitch Howie did not do your homework. I have know Mitch personally all the way back to 1968 at Huntsville Jr. High & graduated from Huntsville High 1972
with him. Just those years alone stand for themselves along with his years as living & practicing law here. His entire family roots are in Madison County, back many, many years. He is what he says he is & what he supports. Mitch has always been involved with issues of Madison County & supportative of the area as a Attorney, Citizen, Family Man & a True Friend.
People like you that speak negative comments no matter who it is should seek out the real person before blasting them.


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