Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two Weeks From Today We Get To See If California Voters Are Ready To Give Dishonest Incumbents The Ole Heave-Ho


They could start their own lobbying firm next year

Primary candidates all over America must be looking at Rand Paul's ability to go up against the GOP Establishment machine and just decimate Kentucky Party boss Mitch McConnell's hand picked recruited protégé and, believe me, many are thinking something along the lines of "If that doofus can do it, I can do it." I know; I spent some time on the phone talking with them yesterday. And they can't. One guy I was on the phone with, who's challenging Jerry Lewis from the right, is Eric Stone. He ran against Lewis in 2008 too, one of three Republicans on the ballot. He's not a stupid guy and he knows how corrupt Lewis is and how vulnerable he should be. But I got the distinct impression that he's waiting for someone to deliver the nomination to him on a silver platter. There was nothing-- no strategy, no energy, no passion, no hope, no life... just some paranoia that if he pops his head up out of his hole he's liable to get it smacked. I don't know why he's running. He did manage to achieve one thing-- he wrote a candidate statement for the Board of Elections. I got the feeling he has a hope-- a faint one-- that people will read the statement in their Official Voter Information Guide and decide to vote for him instead of the guy the district has been electing since 1978. Here's the statement:
The power of knowledge and wisdom; the courage and conviction to move forward the solutions necessary to propel us far past the ills plaguing our system of government are my qualifications.
Combined with:
*The skills to bring the jobs home from over 30 years of both large and small business experience are key to our local economic recovery.
*Workable plans to restore the intended purpose/form of government set forth by our Founding Fathers back from the hands of multi billion dollar, needlessly controlling “special (power over you) interest” groups.
*Proven track record to champion new business enterprise directly challenging, when it became necessary, a self-dealing government body to successfully get the job done.
*Paramount in serving you is the unwavering “NEVER SELL OUT” INTEGRITY taught to me, by example from my father, a retired WWII United States Air Force, Colonel.

Officially (Federally) recognized, licensed, hands-on experience in local government and federal deficit financing including State and Federal bureaucracy experience (both good and challenging alike) with pinpoint careful budgeting skills adhering to spending limits are all key preparations to serve you with Honor.
On the lighter side but no less important the wisdom to “ask that your vote not prosper special interests” but rather ask how much better could the lives of the people you love be if government were exclusively responsible to benefit “We The People”, then absolutely –
Definitely Vote for Eric R. Stone.

Although Eric is running against an incumbent in a year incumbents are supposed to be unpopular and against an incumbent who not only voted for the no-strings-attached Wall Street bailout-- twice, once on September 29, 2008 and then again on October 3, but also helped John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan strong-arm and bribe another 26 reluctant Republicans into voting for it-- like Charlie Dent-- who were needed to make it pass, Eric is failing to exploit any of Lewis' myriad vulnerabilities.

I had such high hopes for the teabaggers to at least be able to weed out some of the trashiest of the corrupt southern California Republicans, especially Lewis, Mary Bono-Mack and Ken Calvert. But with just two weeks to go, it looks like the only incumbent in these parts likely to fail to win renomination is a Democrat-- or at least a putative Democrat-- out-of-step Blue Dog Jane Harman, the one who bragged about being the best Republican in the Democratic Party. Like Lewis, Calvert and Bono-Mack, Harman is a conservative and a corporatist who voted for Bush's no-strings-attached Wall Street bailout. Unlike Jerry Lewis' opponent, though, Harman's-- progressive firebrand Marcy Winograd-- has been all over her for it.
"Before bailing out Wall Street, Congress should have bailed out the American people who were victimized by predatory lenders selling bad loans. Any bail out should have been tied to a moratorium on foreclosures and a "First Right to Rent" rule, requiring banks to offer homeowners facing foreclosures a chance to rent their homes at market value.

"Had the government included in the bail-out low interest loans for such homeowners, we would not be facing massive foreclosures, blighted neighborhoods, lower property values, and county coffers starved for money for social services.  Instead, Washington politicians turned their backs on struggling homeowners and turned over the keys to our treasury to the same institutions that engineered our economic decline. All of this came at lightening speed, at a dizzying pace, with little time for thought or reflection or for demands that the recipients of the bail-outs funnel money back into local economies, into low-interest loans for small businesses, the most vulnerable to collapse.  

It was a lousy deal, one with no strings attached, that was sealed overnight. When dawn came and we looked around, Wall Street was still an unregulated casino. Had I been in Congress, not only would I have taken to the floor to argue for a foreclosure freeze but also for a return to regulation and limits on how big banks could become. No bank should hold more than 10% of our national deposits.
Otherwise we're back to square one, with banks too big too fail calling the shots on Capitol Hill.

"Congressional representatives with significant stock holdings in banks involved in TARP should have recused themselves from the bail-out vote. According to the most recent financial statements, my opponent Jane Harman had anywhere from one to five million dollars invested in Goldman Sachs at the time that she voted for the bail-out. In essence, she was voting to bail out
her own portfolio at taxpayers' expense."

It's not an argument a conservative can make with a straight face. All they can do, in effect, is say they would have let the American financial system collapse, a position extreme right anti-government members of Congress-- like Mike Pence, Darrell Issa, Virginia Foxx and Michele Bachmann-- were more than delighted to take.

Last week Ben Goad, writing for the Press-Enterprise took a look at the Inland Empire GOP primaries and didn't come up with much. Certainly Mary Bono Mack had aroused more antipathy from the teabaggers than any other Republican on the West Coast. And teabaggers have vague but palpable understandings that both Calvert and Lewis are egregiously corrupt and in and out of ethics and criminal difficulties. In Calvert's case, the Fox News Special on his corruption cases didn't do him any good. Watch it if you haven't seen it already:

Goad started with Mack, who, he points out "will square off against Clay Thibodeau in her bid for an eighth term in the 45th Congressional District, which includes Moreno Valley, Hemet Murrieta and Riverside County's desert communities."
Through March, Thibodeau had raised less than $20,000 for his campaign, while Bono Mack had collected more than $1 million.

Thibodeau, an author who lives in Hemet, said he is poised to pull off an upset with help from the conservative wing of Riverside County's Republican Party.

"People vote, money doesn't," Thibodeau said. "So we went after people, not money."

...To the west, Calvert, R-Corona, faces a challenge from Chris Riggs, a commercial real estate broker from Corona. Riggs said he has already amassed significant support throughout the 44th Congressional District, which includes Riverside, Corona, Norco, and a sizable part of Orange County. Riggs, whose war chest also is dwarfed by that of his opponent, pointed to primary upsets in Utah's contested U.S. Senate seat and a congressional seat in Maryland as evidence that voters are angry at the status quo.

"People are absolutely sick and tired of incumbents," Riggs said.

To overcome his fundraising disadvantage, Riggs is looking to social networking websites and a new law allowing congressional candidates to place candidate statements in sample ballots sent out to voters. In Riverside County alone, more than 813,000 ballots are being sent out to registered voters.

"It's a cheap, effective way to reach a lot of people," said Riggs. Calvert narrowly won a ninth term two years ago, when he edged out Democrat Bill Hedrick, who is running again this year. Calvert campaign consultant Scott Hart said the nine-term incumbent is fully engaged in the primary.

"We've got to get over this hurdle first," Hart said. "We're not taking anything for granted."

Eric Stone, a Republican challenging Lewis, R-Redlands, also is banking on the sample ballot law change to get his name out. A real estate project manager from Cedarpines Park, Stone said he would bring a renewed focus on the constituents in the 41st Congressional District, which includes Redlands, the Pass, parts of the High Desert and San Bernardino County's mountains.

"Special interest groups have hijacked our system of government at their benefit and our expense," he said.

Goad might have missed something in two of the races-- enough genuine dislike for Bono-Mack and Calvert to put the earnest and hardworking Thibodeau and Riggs over the top. Thibodeau comes off very arrogant and has already drawn attention to himself as a potential ethics problem-child. Riggs, on the other hand, comes across less as a teabagger and more as a straight ahead hard core conservative. He's working hard and taking his campaign very seriously-- and counting on God to help him-- really.

Riggs calls the biggest part of the district-- western Riverside County-- "the Bible Belt of California" (and that's probably why he lives there). Why is it a big deal that mega-churches dot the landscape as if in parody? For starters, on November 23, 1993 Calvert was caught by Corona Police receiving oral sex from a heroin addicted prostitute, which is the same year he divorced his wife. Couple this with the fact that the anti-Choice crowd which dominates GOP politics in the desert feels betrayed by his recent YES votes for federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research and that he didn't join 55 far right crackpots who sponsored some kind of the Sanctity of Life Act, that Riggs would have probably written. All this has placed Calvert in as an awkward a relationship with the Sunday morning church crowd as his votes fro Bush's Wall Street bailout has put him with the teabaggers.

To further complicate matters for an incumbent who is hardly known by his constituents for anything other than his moral and ethical shortcomings, he is involved in a high-profile illegal land deal where he and his partners purchased 4.3 acres of land from a Public Agency that is part of his own Congressional District without competition, and media outlets are now reporting he has been asked to give a deposition regarding this foray into out-and-out criminality prior to election day. And the reason Calvert's high-priced consultant told Goad they're taking the primary so seriously is because Riggs, a 31 year old Christian Conservative, with a picture-perfect family-- 4th kid on the way-- (the antithesis of the hard-drinking, whore-mongering, money-grubbing and philandering Calvert-- who is known in Washington as the one Republican to make David Vitter look like a choir boy), is challenging him from the right! And, he's hammering him for all he's worth.

On the surface, Riggs’ disadvantage has been his fundraising and he's running a race that looks more like what grassroots bottoms-up Democrats do than what you'd expect from the button down, strict hierarchy party. But Riggs is smart and limited resources has him relying on the passions of volunteers to make him competitive. He landed a strategist out of Sacramento to help on principle rather than retainer. He has attorneys and accountants handling the administrative spectrum pro-bono, and has assembled a team through his connections in those mega-churches to handle his website and social media efforts (Riggs is crushing an 18 year incumbent on Facebook fans, while the hapless Calvert makes an idiot of himself daily on Twitter, clearly not his medium). Riggs' campaign reached every absentee voter home that has a published phone number last week with an aggressive auto-call, and they have managed to accumulate tens of thousands of registered Republican email addresses and have been firing pointed-- even barbed-- emails over the last few weeks. Riggs managed to get on the Faith Family Freedom & California Taxpayer Protection slates, each of which hit 40,000 high propensity Republican voter households over the last 10 days, complete with a little education on Calvert’s record on supporting the Bush Wall Street bailout.

A recent Fox News poll showing that 71% of likely Republicans voters in America, if given no information other than whether someone is an incumbent or a challenger, said they would vote for the challenger. With only 32,740 votes cast in the 2008 Republican Primary in the 44th District, out of roughly 145,000 registered Republicans, it is not a stretch to assume that the crazed, racist, pissed off teabaggers and the dedicated church going types are the ones who will be showing up on June 8th. If this is the case, Calvert just might be looking for a job on K Street sooner than he expected. Maybe he and Jane Harman could open a bipartisan lobbying firm.

Harman is home free if she can somehow manage to derail Marcy Winograd's huge momentum. Calvert, on the other hand, would probably not been able to beat Bill Hedrick this year-- even if an earnest conservative hadn't left him half dead on the side of the road. Electing Marcy Winograd and Bill Hedrick are two ways to fix what ails America so please consider a donation here at our Blue America ActBlue page.

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