Saturday, June 02, 2012

The DCCC Continues To Avoid Taking On Republican Heavyweights


The DCCC goes after small fry. In 2010 Republicans took down senior House Democrats like Jim Oberstar, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (first elected in 1974), Solomon Ortiz, Chairman of House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Readiness (first elected in 1982), Paul Kanjorski, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government-Sponsored Enterprises (first elected in 1984), Gene Taylor, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower (first elected in 1989), Rick Boucher, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet (first elected in 1982), John Spratt, Chairman of the House Budget Committee (first elected in 1982), Ike Skelton, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (first elected in 1976). Spratt was succeeded by Paul Ryan and Skelton was succeeded by Buck McKeon. Store that away for a minute.

In 2010 Blue America and MSNBC's Ed Schultz got behind a young West Point grad-- who also met his wife at West Point-- and political progressive named Justin Coussoule. He had the temerity to run against his congressman in western Ohio, John Boehner. The Democratic Party Establishment was mortified. How dare he! Justin didn't win but his vigorous, scrappy campaign made an impression... on everyone but the Democratic Party Establishment. All during the campaign, the DCCC seemed to look for ways to humiliate Coussoule and make it clear they weren't backing him, even to the point of inviting every candidate running for Congress in Ohio to an event in Coussoule's district-- except Coussoule. The DCCC ran against Boehner... everywhere but in Boehner's district. That's how they play the game. This year, they're running against arch-villain Paul Ryan everywhere but in Wisconsin's second district and against arch-villain Eric Cantor everywhere but in Virginia's 7th district. They're offering no substantive support whatsoever to either Democrat who's taken on the thankless task of opposing these two-- respectively Rob Zerban and Wayne Powell. DCCC Chair Steve Israel even went so far as the urge a major Democratic donor to cancel a fundraising event for Zerban because he wanted the money spent elsewhere. Smart young Democrats are ignoring the ossified, corrupted Beltway Dems. That's how Matt Cartwright beat Tim Holden in NEPA and how Beto O'Rourke beat Silvestre Reyes in El Paso.

And it's why Lee Rogers-- again, with no help from the DCCC whatsoever-- is starting to turn the tide against the Republican who took the chair of the House Armed Services Committee from Ike Skelton. Republicans went up against Skelton-- big time. They spent a TON of money defeating him, just like they spent a ton of money defeating John Spratt, Chairman of the House Budget Committee. But the DCCC won't spend on helping Rob Zerban defeat Ryan and stop the endless pain he has inflicted on the country since grabbing the chair of the Budget Committee. McKeon is screwing with President Obama's plans to wind down the occupation of Afghanistan and to modernize and rationalize the U.S. military. He's using his position to fight a Mormon war against LGBT men and women serving in the Armed Forces. And, although it's clear locally (see that CBS-TV report up top), the DCCC is as certain in Washington that Lee Rogers can't win as they were that Matt Cartwright and Beto O'Rourke couldn't beat the corrupt old fools they were challenging either. As CBS reported, McKeon's reelection "should be a cakewalk, but by all accounts it might be close." It will only be close if the DCCC keeps sitting on its hands.
[C]harges of nepotism, sweetheart deals, and a nasty war of words with his former district director have made the once-solid-red 25th district anyone’s game.

...In fact this year’s election may be a referendum on McKeon himself. He’s been hounded by reports that he took a sweetheart deal on a mortgage refi in 1998 from Countrywide Financial. He flatly denies the charges, and says he’s not being investigated by the House Ethics committee.

Podiatrist and surgeon Lee Rogers, a Democrat who’s running against McKeon, has a different take on the Countrywide deal.

“People look at that and they say there’s two sets of rules. There’s the rules that they’re operating by and there’s the rules that the rest of us operate by.”

Is McKeon worried his opponent’s damaging words are landing? “We’ll find out next week,” he says, “I don’t believe most people believe what’s being said.”

...McKeon’s biggest problem may be the perception that he hasn’t done enough to fight against a huge, proposed gravel and sand mine, by Cemex, a corporate giant. Rogers is attacking McKeon in a new campaign video.

“Will someone please stand up and stop the Cemex mine?…not Buck McKeon."

...Jason Schaff is executive editor of the home town newspaper-- the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. The paper declined to endorse McKeon, the 20-year incumbent, in the June 5th congressional primary, says Cemex is the most important issue to many voters in the district, but so is anger against incumbents.

“I think it goes back to the mood locally, and throughout the country about incumbents. And is 20 years too long to be in Congress?”

If the DCCC refuses to move against Boehner, Cantor, Ryan, McKeon and other GOP heavyweights, there are Democratic leaders with a different perspective. One of the very first people to endorse Rogers' race was Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Raúl Grijlava, explaining to supporters that he needs a strong, smart, effective leader like Rogers fighting along side him for ordinary working families instead of special interests, big donors and Big Business. Many of McKeon's colleagues in the California congressional delegation have reached out and endorsed Rogers, particularly Henry Waxman, Zoe Lofgren, Judy Chu, Xavier Becerra, Karen Bass, Lois Capps and Maxine Waters. At the start of the Memorial Day weekend, Bob Filner, ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, wrote "We need leaders who are willing to serve those who have served us, and that is why I am pleased to endorse Lee Rogers for Congress in California’s 25th District. Coming from a military family, I know Lee will be a strong advocate for our nation’s veterans by helping them access quality health care, higher education, and the tools they need to reintegrate into civilian life.” Alan Grayson, one of the most important progressive voices in America, asked his own supporters to get behind Lee Rogers' campaign as well and explained why:
Members of Congress can claim expertise in two things: getting elected, and getting re-elected. But they legislate on everything that the Constitution allows. So you have lawyers and businessmen conducting hearings on space exploration, lawyers and businessmen drafting legislation on mining, lawyers and businessmen voting on foreign policy resolutions.

Wouldn't it be nice to support a candidate for Congress who is a true expert in something other than campaigning? Well, you can; his name is Dr. Lee Rogers, in California's 25th Congressional district.

Dr. Rogers is a podiatrist and an award-winning medical researcher. He runs the Amputation Prevention Center in Los Angeles, and he teaches medicine. He pioneered a new protocol for diabetes patients that reduced amputations by 72%.

Back in the 1990s, I worked with someone who had a severe case of diabetes. I watched his health deteriorate over the years. The circulation in his legs weakened to the point where a foot was amputated.

It was terrible.

But if my friend were alive today, Dr. Rogers probably could save that foot.

Healthcare is now one-sixth of the US economy. Imagine how good it would be to have someone in Congress who knows it so well.

A doctor who would be in a position to improve healthcare in America? What a concept!

I'm happy that Dr. Rogers is a solid progressive. I'm happy that a Rogers victory means the defeat of Buck McKeon, who has been called the most corrupt Member of Congress. But I'm especially happy that Dr. Rogers knows something about something-- a quality that Congress sorely needs. For the good of Congress, and our health, I'd like to see Dr. Lee Rogers in Congress.

California is holding its "jungle primary" next Tuesday, where Democrats and Republicans are lumped together. To have a chance against Dirty Buck in November, Dr. Rogers has to do well on June 5. Please show your support.

It would be nice if Beltway Democrats like Steve Israel, Steny Hoyer and Debbie Wasserman Schultz would get behind dynamic and independent-minded progressive leaders like Rogers, like Rob Zerban, like Beto O'Rourke, like Darcy Burner, like Matt Cartwright... but that isn't what the prism of their career trajectories tell them to do. Thank God for the fighting spirit in folks like Grijalva and Grayson... the future of a Democratic Party for working families.

One more thing about Boehner. When the Ohio Republican Party found it inconvenient that there were so many Democrats in Montgomery County (Dayton), Boehner told them to put them into his district. He knew he had nothing to worry about from his timid pal Steve Israel. And, predictably, there isn't even a Democrat running against Boehner this year. Steve Israel should be ashamed. Instead, he's smiling... and thinking about his bright future.

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