Tuesday, February 28, 2012

There's More Going On In Michigan Today Than Just A Primary Between GOP Extremists


Folks across the country are talking about the Republican Presidential primary in Michigan today and the attacks on women by Republicans on the stump. From contraception to maternity care, to a women's right to make choices about her own body the GOP is waging a War Against Women-- and I wish I could say every single Democrat was standing firm against this insanity. I wish. We've been keeping you updated about our friend Trevor Thomas, who is running against Tea Party Congressmen Justin Amash. Trevor is a fighting progressive and supports and is willing to fight for a women's right to choose.  

As Blogging for Michigan and EclectaBlog highlighted on Friday, Governor Jennifer Granholm endorsed Thomas at a time when there is so much anti-women sentiment out there right now:

"This endorsement comes at a crucial moment as the country is engaged in a 1960s debate about women's reproductive freedom and the availability (and even the obtainability!) of contraceptives. Granholm's bona fides with regards to the issues affecting American women will appeal to Democrats and Independents alike, giving them assurance that Thomas is on their side. Granholm, an Emily's List endorsee, has championed the rights of women and groups that support reproductive rights like Planned Parenthood. Thomas, a pro-Choice candidate, will be a stark contrast to the anti-woman, anti-Choice, "take-our-country-back(wards)" approach of Republican Justin Amash."

Today we now know Trevor will have a challenger for the Democratic nomination. Steve Pestka, who has started talking to the local media about his campaign, may be a nominal Democrats... but not when it comes to equality for women. This guy is an anti-Choice fanatic of the Bart Stupak school of misogyny. MIRS, the Michigan political news service, reported:

"Former [state] Rep. Steve PESTKA is considering a run against U.S. Rep. Justin AMASH (R-Kentwood) in the 3rd Congressional District, making him the second Democrat with interest in the West Michigan-based seat. 

"Pestka served in the House from 1999-2003. He lost a hotly contested state Senate race against former Sen. Bill HARDIMAN in 2002 and was appointed to the circuit court bench shortly thereafter by then-Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM. 

"We have an opportunity to win this time," Pestka said. "I'm sure Justin Amash is a fine individual, but his voting record does not represent Kent County. His past votes deserve a challenge and a discussion and we're thinking seriously about getting in." (MIRS, February 27, 2012)

We reported earlier this month about rumors that folks with the local Grand Rapids establishment were looking at an anti-Choice, multimillionaire conservative who'd run on the Democratic ticket. It's now clear they found Pestka. They apparently miss the fact that this election is going to be about the working and middle class families hurting right now-- not millionaires like Pestka and Amash-- and it's quickly now turning to the rights of women.

Trevor is the fighting progressive we need. He comes from a working class family and he has a record of helping to pass major federal legislation, namely the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But he needs our help to be the nominee against Amash. As we know, early dollars are critical. Let's help spread the word and work to stop this faux-Democratic challenge and stand by our party's platform to help protect women now. Please consider a contribution at our ActBlue page.

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At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This shameful attack is nothing more than a weak hit job, as a lifelong resident of West Michigan I can tell you that nobody identifies the values of West Michigan Dems better than Steve Pestka. Trevor Thomas seems like a likable guy, but he should focus on living/working with this community before moving back and running for office. Serve your community for 20 years Trevor, then you will be qualified to run for congress and represent this district like Steve Pestka is.

At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Option 1: A lifelong resident of West Michigan, former assistant county prosecutor, County Commissioner, chairman of the Kent County Democratic Party, State Representative, Circuit Court Judge. Distinguished graduate of the year 2004 Grand Rapids Community College. Over 30 years of public service, an unblemished record of integrity, and honor.

Option 2: A first time political candidate, new resident of Kent County (moved back in August)

The choice is clear.

i suppose it cannot be taken as a surprise that as opposed to comparing qualifications, this article has chosen to smear and misrepresent a man who has dedicated his professional life to Kent County and it's residents. Not a surprising course of action, though terribly disappointing. Integrity must always overcome deceit.

At 8:33 PM, Anonymous William Harris said...

Curiosity gets the better of me: in what way is Trevor fighting, or has fought for West Michigan? By all lights his campaign is pretty green, offering little to date in the way of political engagement with Amash (n.b. his web site offers values not issues). He has clearly put together a nice team, but do they look like, do they connect with the actual district? Let's just say that for a campaign based on "for us all" minority representation lags. This is the natural product of young or first-time campaigns. Amash's first run in 2008 looked a lot like this, too.

But this is not a post-graduate seminar, or the chance to demonstrate one's progressive creds. Take a look again at the task at hand: two metropolitan regions, a democratic base that is racially diverse, strength in cities and support in suburbs. This will be both a media intensive campaign (including all matter of social media) as well as require a robust, motivated, well-organized ground game. You can not do it with your own cohort. And by all lights, such a campaign will have a final budet well into seven figures.

In short, as any one on the ground knows that this campaign is going to take work.

So again the question, in what way is Trevor actually fighting, actually engaging, actually demonstrating that he has the smarts to win?

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of thoughts:
1.This does seem like a bit of an attack on a viable candidate. Having said that, if you're a person who cares about womens' rights I think this post brings up some issues that one might want to investigate.

2. I thought Trevor Thomas grew up in West Michigan. Some of the commenters here are acting like he just moved in and ran for office. Did Pestka go to college or ever spend a year or so away from West Michigan? I think commenting on someone just moving back is irrelevant if they grew up here, went to school here, and worked here.

3. Issues are important. People commenting about Trevor's lack of issues focused discussion have a point, but if you know someone's values and trust that person based on their values you probably know how they will vote and what they will stand for. The question is really, do you trust someone who says I'll vote for x or y without really saying what they stand for or do you trust someone who has the same core beliefs as you. Personally, my closest relationships are based on common values and beliefs. My guess is that Trevor may not be as "green" as you say you are in terms of introducing himself to people in a believable way. If he fails to deliver on explaining policy and issues he will be in trouble, but if he delivers later he may also have the benefit of a perceived personal tie by the 3rds constituents.

All just observations. As a young professional in West Michigan I am actually relieved to see a campaign that isn't just run on rule this and rule that, but more on simple core values. It doesn't mean I will vote for him if he fails to put forth a concise and effective plan for achieving results if elected, but I feel like his campaign has the embers that COULD (not will for sure) start a very bright and powerful fire.

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous William Harris said...

In reply to Anonymous:

I do see the sparks in the Thomas campaign. Idealism and risk-taking make up a large part of politics; this is not for the play-it-safe crowd. there is a matter of scale here, however, that needs consideration. On races such as a congressional run, the candidate cannot execute the campaign by himself and the network of immediate friends. Instead you end up asking others to devote their time and ideals on your behalf.

So for me, the big question is less about age than whether the campaign is up for the task. Idealism? Got it. How about the ability to execute? In a word, is he a fighter?

To judge by his video and his radio interview, he's a little too nice. I get the Jerry Ford reference in the video, but that's not really serious. For those of us who have knocked on the doors and taken our licks -- well I for one, would like to hear more about his progressive values. The campaign has yet to find its voice, and it needs to. Fast.


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