Thursday, March 31, 2011

Two Democratic Women Who Lost In November Are Running Again: Ann Kuster (NH) And Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ)


Perhaps you'll recall that last year Blue America endorsed Ann McLane Kuster in a fierce primary battle against a Joe Lieberman type conservative in the New Hampshire primary for the seat that had opened up when Paul Hodes vacated the seat to run for the Senate. Ann trounced her cash-rich Establishment-backed opponent 71-29%. We also endorsed her in the general election against Republican corporate shill and rubber stamp Charlie base-- whose campaign was partially financed by Beijing-- but she lost by a heartbreaking 3,000 votes. Bass has been as awful a congressman as we expected, consistently voting against the interests of his own constituents and in favor of corporate demands and the right-wing ideological agenda. We expect to endorse Ann again when she officially throws her hat into the ring.

Not so with another Democratic Party candidate across the country in Arizona, also an Ann. This one, Ann Kirkpatrick, lost her seat to teabag extremist Paul Gosar in November after running up one of the most worst voting records of any Democrat in Congress. But she wants the seat back.
"It's clear to me, now that Paul Gosar has a record, that he is toeing the party line rather than serving the district," she said. "The real key for me is the number of people who I've been hearing from in the district-- and this is Democrats, independents, Republicans and even folks who are actively involved in the 'tea party'-- that they feel he is deeply out-of-touch with the district."

Kirkpatrick said she hopes the 2012 political climate will be more hospitable to her candidacy because it is a presidential year and likely will have a bigger turnout.

When Kirkpatrick first ran in 2008 for the sprawling open seat that takes up most of the state she took 56%-- 155,791 votes (as opposed to 109,924 for his GOP opponent). She won 6 of the district's 8 counties with the biggest, Yavapai, being a virtual tie-- 45,014 for her and 45,487 for her opponent). Last year, her confusing voting record-- she stuck with the Republicans whenever it mattered most-- depressed Democratic turnout and the results were astonishing. Gosar won even more GOP votes than Hay, the character she first ran against-- 112,816 but over 50,000 of her initial supporters evaporated. She only managed to get 99,233 votes, a pathetic result of a pathetic 2 years in Congress. She only won 3 counties of the 8-- and was trounced by Gosar 47,449- 27,179 in Yavapai.

There is no path to victory for Kirkpatrick in Arizona. The Democratic activists and the base hate her and all the corporate cash the DCCC will dump into the district will be wasted. This is the repulsive hallmark of Steve Israel as DCCC chair. The Democrats would be better off finding a real Democrat who represents the interests of working families in one of the nation's poorest districts rather than some corporate shill whose one claim to fame is that she isn't as bad as the teabagger in office. Ann Kirkpatrick is a loser and Steve Israel is a loser for recruiting her again and a loser for falling back on a tired, self-defeating formula that encompasses his own conservative worldview. At least the Sierra Club, which endorsed her in 2008, is unlikely to make the same mistake twice.
Between a vote to swap federal lands to allow mining near Superior, and the vote against the climate bill, the Sierra Club is not pleased... "Her district will feel the effects of climate change significantly, especially in the greater Grand Canyon area," said Grand Canyon Chapter Director Sandy Bahr. "Reduced flows in our rivers and streams is only one of many issues. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the higher temperatures will result in even more dead trees and more significant forest fires." 

..."There are certainly a lot of progressive Democrats who are disappointed by her votes at this point," said Democrat Avtar Khalsa. But those sentiments appear to stop somewhere near the city limits, with farther-flung Democrats more supportive. 

 ..."I basically think that Ann Kirkpatrick should return to her Republican roots," said Democrat Debbie Leavitt, referencing Kirkpatrick's childhood in a home that was politically divided. "I don't think she should be allowed to continue pretending to be a Democrat." 
Others spoke on parallel tracks, including one of her more generous donors in Flagstaff. 
"I am very disappointed in her promise versus performance on environmental issues," said William Putnam of Lowell Observatory. 

Perhaps some local Democrats didn't fully understand who they were electing, said city councilwoman Karla Brewster. 
"The people I've talked to are angry ... and believed she would be more liberal than she has been voting," Brewster said. "In talking to Ann myself, I've believed she would be more moderate." 
...Democrat Bill Breed supported Kirkpatrick and congressional candidate Howard Shanker last year, before siding with Shanker. 
"She doesn't vote like a Democrat," he said of Kirkpatrick.

UPDATE: And A Third

This time it's anti-Choice fanatic and arch-conservative Kathy Dahlkemper, who lost last November after two pathetic years in office, who wants to try to reclaim her old seat representing the Erie area (PA-3). In 2008 she had narrowly edged out incumbent Phil English 146,846 (51%) to 139,757 (49%) with a big win in Erie County (71,332 votes, 57%), a close win in Mercer and losses Butler and the 4 smaller counties. Last November, after an excruciating 2 years of aisle-crossing and trying to please Republican voters while screwing Democrats and having given her own base no real reason to bother coming to the polls, she lost the seat to a rich car salesman, teabagger Mike Kelly 111,909 (56%) to 88,924 (44%). Over 60,000 of her voters sat it out, while GOP drop off from the presidential year was less than half that. Her vote in Erie County went down by over 30,000 and she lost Mercer and every other county. Steve Israel and the DCCC may think recruited Dahlkemper ticks off some boxes but she has no path to victory-- short of the Republican legislature and Republican district redrawing (enlarging) the district to make it more Democratic. That's not going to happen.
"Is this the best way for me to continue to serve the community that I love so much? I'm trying to make the best decision for me and my (former) constituents,'' she said.

Dahlkemper, 53, said it's difficult to say when she will decide. But she said she couldn't wait too long because of the need to raise campaign funds and get her message out.

She announced in October 2007 when she ran in the 2008 election cycle. "Waiting until fall would put me or anyone else at a great disadvantage,'' she said.

Dahlkemper confirmed that she's talked to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee about a possible run.

Bill Cole, the Erie County Democratic Party chairman, said he also asked Dahlkemper in a recent phone conversation about her future political plans.

"Though she has not made a firm commitment to running, she was going to do some exploratory activities to see whether she'd run again-- kind of test the waters, to see how people felt,'' Cole said.

...The political environment could be better for a Democratic congressional candidate in 2012 than it was in 2010 because President Barack Obama will be seeking re-election, said Robert Speel, associate political-science professor at Penn State Behrend.

That could boost voter turnout among Democrats and help a Dahlkemper candidacy, he said.

"We'll have to see President Obama's popularity at the time of next year's election, but right now, I would say she probably would have a better chance of winning next year than she had last year,'' he said.

Dahlkemper said she thinks running during a presidential year would help.

"Hopefully, the Democrats will be more engaged and enthused than they were in the 2010 election," she said. "I think that they are already showing signs of that.''

Dahlkemper offers pretty much the same weak tea to Democratic voters that Republicans do: "We're not as bad as they are." Obama nearly tied McCain in the 3rd district in 2008-- but he still lost. And that was when there was Hope and Change in the wind. Now all there is is an alternative to a pack of mad dogs running the GOP.

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