Thursday, April 22, 2010

Speaker John Boehner?


To find a "better"-- in every sense of the term-- House Speaker than Nancy Pelosi, you either have to go back in history from way before my time or you have to take some mighty powerful psychedelics. The idea of replacing the most progressive Speaker in any of our lifetimes with one as reactionary-- not to mention corrupt-- as John Boehner is... well, just unthinkable. But when you look at the DCCC Front Line list of their most vulnerable incumbents... well, with a few exceptions-- Alan Grayson (D-FL), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), Dan Maffei (D-NY), Mark Schauer (D-MI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Gary Peters (D-MI), Steve Kagen (D-WI), Jim Himes (D-CT)-- who could even root for this motley crew of Blue Dogs and aisle-crossing cowards?

So... the best thing would be to play offense and help elect some progressives in open red seats, beat some Blue Dogs in primaries and then make sure they win in the general election in November, and, best of all, take on some Republicans and beat them outright. Blue America has been trying to help with all three tactics. Our main GOP incumbents so far have been Virginia Foxx (NC) and Ken Calvert (CA), where we have excellent progressive challengers in Billy Kennedy and Bill Hedrick. This week we added a third candidate, in the toughest race of all: Justin Coussoule, taking on the would-be Speaker, John Boehner, in western Ohio.

Justin will join us today (at 4pm, EST) at Crooks and Liars for a live session. You'll find an exceptional young man, a West Point graduate and former Army officer, married for 10 years and the father of two young children. An attorney, he worked as a legislative assistant for outstanding progressive Rep. Maurice Hinchey, started and ran a small business and currently works for Procter & Gamble.

On Monday he did a guest post about John Boehner's role in trying to make sure we can't ever hold Wall Street accountable. Read it; it'll give you some background about how he thinks and where he's coming from. On other issues, Justin comes across as a populist looking out for regular American families:
At the core of our national character is the belief that we all are entitled to a fair opportunity to achieve the American dream. Embedded in that belief is the notion that we all benefit and achieve as a society when we further the ideal of succeeding together. I believe that implicit in each of the topics above, including strengthening the middle class, preserving our economic and national security, reversing climate change, and reforming health care, is the American value that we all succeed or fail together and we must work to ensure we all have the opportunity to lift ourselves up.
And when Justin says "all," he isn't excluding anyone based on race, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation.

His strong stand against Boehner's obstructionism of financial reform has drawn the attention of one of America's most knowledgeable spokespeople for reform, Barney Frank, who was one of the first members of Congress to endorse Justin's campaign.
I support ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and finding ways to simplify the tax code to prevent the wealthiest corporations from exploiting tax loopholes.... I support re-regulating Wall Street to protect middle-class families from predatory loan practices and from paying for another bailout for banks whose irresponsible greed and lack of oversight directly led to the financial meltdown and Great Recession of 2008-09.
That was Justin. This was Barney, chairman of the House Financial Service Committee and voted, year after year, the smartest man in Congress by the Washingtonian this morning:
"I am pleased to endorse Justin Coussoule as someone who understands the necessity of passing financial regulatory reform to avoid repeating the current economic situation. Justin's support for this is especially important because his opponent, John Boehner, led House Republicans last year to vote unanimously to kill any kind of financial reform."

No one's kidding themselves that winning in a district that was gerrymandered specifically to be a safe seat for a Republican is going to be easy. But it isn't beyond hope either. Boehner has never faced a serious opponent since he slipped into office in 1990 by winning a primary against a typical Republican incumbent, "Buz" Lukens, who was caught on camera arranging to have sex with a 16-year-old girl. (Lukens later went to jail for fondling a House staffer in an elevator, and Boehner went on to make a name for himself as the go-between for GOP congressmen and the tobacco industry and was once caught on the floor of the House handing out lobbyist checks to his colleagues during a vote! He hasn't served time yet.)

Ohio's congressional 8th District, population-wise mostly Butler County, has a PVI of R+12 and Bush won with over 60% both times. Obama did slightly better than Gore or Kerry, but just slightly. In 2008 Boehner was re-elected 68-32%. OK, that was the bad news. The good news is that in just the first six weeks of his campaign, Justin has raised more money than any previous Democratic challenger, built a full-time campaign staff, enlisted the support of over 150 volunteers throughout the district (and growing), reached out to thousands of voters and aggressively courted attention and support from the local, state and national parties, labor unions, opinion leaders, blogs and traditional media outlets and contributors, big and small. In short, the Coussoule campaign is doing what no Democrat has ever done against Boehner-- wage an actual political campaign intent on winning the election.

And although that R+12 looks forbidding, that doesn't reflect registration figures or demographic trends. The district has become more racially, ethnically and religiously diverse, more educated and more Democratic in voter registration. As more minorities and city dwellers from the Cincinnati and Dayton metro areas have moved in, the voters have elected increasing numbers of Democratic township trustees, mayors and county officials.

And the 8th is overwhelmingly independent, not Republican. Independent registration (220,000) exceeds both Democratic registration (104,000) and Republican registration (99,000) by a margin of 2 to 1. Winning with Independent voters is the key to electoral success in the 8th District. As a veteran, businessperson and churchgoing family man, campaigning for economic fairness and growth, Justin can appeal to Independent voters in a way that no previous Democratic challenger to Boehner has ever done.

And Boehner is not well-liked. If there is a real anti-incumbent wave building, no one is as vulnerable as John Boehner, He's been in office for 20 years and is seeking his 11th term. He's entirely focused on his role as party leader and on Inside the Beltway political games, spending the majority of his time away from the District. (In 2009 alone he hosted 119 golf outings, mostly in the Deep South.) During the past few years his constituents have begun to take notice of Boehner’s absenteeism and neglect. 

Nationally and within the 8th District people consider Boehner to be the quintessential Washington insider, beholden to the monied interests of Wall Street bankers and K Street lobbyists, and ignorant of or indifferent to the struggles of Main Street and the working middle class. That spells a real opportunity, and Justin has every intention of exploiting it.

The poll from April 2009 in the chart below shows that Americans were feeling that Obama had reached out to the GOP congressional leaders (i.e., Boehner and his deputy dogs Pence and Cantor) to work in a bipartisan spirit but that Boehner had not reciprocated.

It's gotten even worse since then, and exactly one year later, this month, in another poll Boehner received the lowest favorability rating (just 12%) of any elected official evaluated by respondents.  Boehner’s favorable rating was lower than the President, Congress in general, the Democratic leadership, the Senate minority leader and even the IRS.  And the poll was conducted by none other than Fox News. The poll results only confirm 8th District voters’ frustration with Boehner’s now legendary rants, emotional outbursts, degrading remarks and unprofessional conduct.

A reflection of that is that Boehner is facing two mainstream conservatives in a primary challenge and two teabaggers in the general, one a Libertarian and one the Constitutional Party nominee. The Tea Party itself is a big deal in western Ohio and the one thing they all remember about Boehner is that he voted for the bank bailout twice and twisted other Republicans' arms to vote for it after it failed to pass the first time. Without Boehner, the bill would never have passed. Teabaggers-- basically angry Republican activists-- voting for the third-party candidates or staying away, or even voting for Justin, could help defeat Boehner.

But it's going to be the strong grassroots campaign that Justin is planning that will make the real difference. I hope you'll join Blue America in donating what you feel you can to the Coussoule campaign.

UPDATE: We just got a letter to voters in Ohio from Alan Grayson

Dear Ohio:

You have a choice.

You can elect a Congressman who spent five years as a West Point graduate in the service of our country, or you can elect a Congressman who spent eight weeks in the military and then quit.

You can elect a Congressman who will fight the lobbyists, or you can elect a Congressman who handed out tobacco lobby checks on the Floor of the House, when the House was voting on a tobacco bill.

You can elect a Congressman who will prevent bailouts, or you can elect a Congressman who bailed out of the stock market minutes after he attended an emergency meeting with the Treasury Secretary and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

You can elect a Congressman who will work hard to create jobs, or you can elect a Congressman who works hard on his tan.

You can elect a Congressman who will spend his time working hard to improve your lives, or you can elect a Congressman who will spend his time playing golf.

It's your choice. I know whom I'd choose. And it ain't the guy in the white shorts:

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At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone Barney Frank endorses is not the right man for the job. but if in any case you are for the job take Barney off the list of endorsments if you wish to get the job. Barney Frank is one of the major players in the recession we are in right now and if you will run against him you might stand the chance to win an election.

At 10:01 PM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

Does anyone know the key to that farrago of nonsense in the post above mine? "Major players in the recession"? What Fox hymn book is this member of the Anon hill clan reading from?

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liberals hate america

At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Marvin said...

awesome! beat that orange bastard John Boehner. I cannot stand that guy. He's one of the worst politicians in DC and that's really saying something.

The country will be better off when the entire Republican Party is a thing of the past.

At 6:25 AM, Blogger soconnor889 said...

You mi8ght think that Liberals hate America. Tha's false. but whatis true is that Coservatives Love America, but hate Americans.

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

barney frank ha you all are losers he cant beat john in your dreams liberal pigs

At 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liberals love America,conservatives love themselves.

At 6:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait until November. Washington is going to get an enema! We going to vote the dung out of congress!! I want to watch them take that mallet out of Pelosi's hand and tell her to sit her ass down somewhere. Obama will no longer have any political teeth, thank God!

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Ragnar Danneskjöld said...

No offense, but anything that Barney Franks likes, is not in the best interest of the US

At 8:50 PM, Blogger need4trth said...

BEAT BOEHNER.......Man we are hoping you break this Republican con-man's back. Boehner is a disgusting poor excuse for an elected official. This guy is wrong for America. Use that piece about him passing out big tobacco's checks on the floor of the house of representative.
Beat this creep. Boehner needs to be FIRED

At 8:52 PM, Blogger need4trth said...

All the best man. Praying for your victory man. Beat Boehner.

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm contributing to help Justin beat Boehner from elsewhere in Ohio. Boehner is a disgrace to all Ohioans. When a lot of things need to be fixed in our country all he says is no, no, no (and says it badly). No better ideas - just no, no, no. What a jerk and embarrassment. Maybe the orange man can make the professional golf tour - r r.


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