Are Some Republicans Just So Horrible That You Have To Support Crappy Democratic Opponents?
Ryan & West-- if you don't know which one is a greater threat, you qualify for the veal pen
The DCCC has been pretty successful in getting "independent" Beltway organizations to fight their battles for them. Perfect example: what progressive could possibly look at Patrick Murphy-- a wealthy, lifelong Republican who was contributing money to Mitt Romney's campaign not all that long ago but who switched party registration in order to win a seat in Congress-- and think, "oh, yes, I want to support him and contribute my money to him?" Saturday one of the top Democratic Party officials in the state of Florida, a progressive, called me to talk about another congressional race. Afterwards I asked her what she thought about Murphy. "Oh, he's awesome," was her response. I asked her why. She suddenly realized who she was talking to and backtracked a little. "Well," she said, "he can certainly raise a lot of money." Yes, that's awesome! She admitted he was likely to vote with the Republicans an awful lot-- particularly against progressive approaches to economic issues.
That, of course, isn't something the DCCC cares about. Progressive approaches to economic issues? God forbid! They don't even care if the vulnerable Democrats they spend all their money on vote against key Democratic values like equality. So protecting families from the ravages of rich CEOs (and rich CEOs who are donors, no less?). Don't be naive.
They've been successful in turning Allen West, the radical, fascist-oriented loudmouth Patrick Murphy is running against, into a universal bête noire for the progressive community. Forget for a moment that West is a war criminal and that he's a favorite of the right-wing corporate media (although we'll come back to that in a moment). Let's look at his actual voting record in Congress. It sucks. He's exactly tied-- at 5.07-- with another deranged teabagger freshman, Tom Reed (R-NY) at the 294th most progressive voter in Congress this session. 5.07 is pretty horrible. But John Boehner is the 432nd most progressive voter (at zero). And in between Allen West and John Boehner... dozens and dozens and dozens of Republicans more dedicated to destroying the American way of life, from partisan hack obstructionists like Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (0.81), Oversight Committee Chairman/chief witch-hunter Darrell Issa (.081), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (1.41), Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (2.21), Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (2.40), Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (2.45), and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (3.47) to the real drooling teabagger crackpots Frank Guinta (1.35), Sandy Adams (1.60), Patrick McHenry (1.63), Marsha Blackburn (2.13) and racist psychopath Tom Rooney (2.67). 137 Republicans have worse voting records than Allen West. And many are in highly competitive races being ignored by the DCCC-- Paul Ryan and Buck McKeon being just two of the most glaring.
So why has the DCCC worked so hard to get progressive groups to pony up for Patrick Murphy? Is because his district is so ripe for the taking? West (and Murphy) both moved to the new 18th CD, a district Obama won over McCain in 2008-- 51-48%... and that exact same margin by which Obama beat McCain in WI-1, Paul Ryan's district. It's slightly better than Obama's margin over McCain in CA-25, McKeon's district, where McKeon also only managed 48%. In fact there are lots of districts that are as promising or more promising for Democratic challengers than FL-18. So is it the money? Debbie Wasserman Schultz's excuse for not helping Rob Zerban challenge Ryan is because Ryan has too much money (he has raised $4,240,334 by June 30th)-- but she's all gung-ho on helping Murphy against Allen West. West had raised $9,950,244 as of the June 30th deadline and there's no reason to think he won't continue raising massive sums from the teabaggy grassroots who love his psychotic pronouncements. (Largely because mainstream conservatives in both parties support him and because the DCCC is heavily pushing him on their donor base, Murphy has raised a very substantial $2,277,550.) Meanwhile with NO help from the DCCC-- in fact with Steve Israel urging big money Democratic donors to not give to Zerban, he raised $1,176,707.
So what do we have here? The DCCC is doing backflips to elect a mainstream Republican disguised as a Democrat in a swing district while ignoring-- at best-- a progressive Democrat who's running against a far more dangerous Republican. Is Ryan more dangerous than West? Do I really have to explain that to any DWT readers? Wall Street has every intention of making sure that Ryan has a long and powerful career, if not as president than as high up the ladder as they can push him. He's already the Budget Chairman and has put Medicare and Social Security the table for discussion, something no Republican has succeeded in doing since either program was started. Think about that for a moment. Allen West, on the other hand is a circus clown who will never have a serious political career (unless he moves to Paraguay or Bavaria). Yes, he rallies the Republican base... but he also rallies the Democratic base-- and more important, when Independents see him ranting and raving they can't help wonder what has happened to the Republican Party. He may actually do the progressive cause more good than harm when he goes on TV!
But the question remains, should progressives and progressive groups put their limited resources into supporting crappy Democrats running against "really bad" Republicans? The conservative, corporately financed New Dems have already embraced and endorsed Patrick Murphy. He's their kind of "Democrat." Progressives like Raúl Grijalva, Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore have endorsed Rob Zerban and once the Progressive Caucus begins endorsing candidates next week, I imagine Zerban will be high on their list. It's inconceivable to me that any serious progressive group would commit resources to helping elect a conservative like Murphy rather than a progressive like Zerban. But that's what the DCCC has persuaded may of the most clueless Inside-the-Beltway members of the Veal Pen to do. What a disgrace!
The DSCC has a similar strategy-- if smoother-- in asking for help in Nebraska for arch conservative Bob Kerrey, in Indiana for wretched Blue Dog Joe Donnelly and in Virginia for conservative Tim Kaine, three Democrats expected to spend much of their time-- were any to get into the Senate-- on the other side of the aisle. Wouldn't scarce resources be better spent on progressives like Elizabeth Warren (MA), Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Mazie Hirono (HI) or on actual moderates like Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Richard Carmona (AZ) and Martin Heinrich (NM)? Or protecting an endangered progressive like Sherrod Brown (OH) or even decent moderates like Bill Nelson (FL) and Debbie Stabbenow (MI)?
And back on the House side, instead of following the DCCC down the toilet again this year, backing conservative Democrats who were rejected by Democratic voters and left-leaning independents in 2010, progressives should be bolstering progressives running against Republican monsters. So not a Patrick Murphy up against Allen West, but a Rob Zerban battling Paul Ryan, a Lee Rogers up against Buck McKeon, a Patsy Keever fighting Patrick McHenry, Wayne Powell in his fight against Eric Cantor... These are all uphill races, but all-- despite insidious DCCC whisperings to the contrary-- viable. Ryan, McKeon, McHenry, Cantor are all quantifiably worse than Allen West and all could be beaten if we had a DCCC with the will to take them on. But we don't. "Ex"- Blue Dog Steve Israel, a truly vile careerist with ridiculous pretentions to be Speaker, doesn't want independent-minded, anti-corruption, reformists and progressives inside the Democratic caucus. He wants people like Patrick Murphy instead... his kind of people.
If you would like to see a more independent and reformist Democratic Party and a more progressive Congress serving ordinary working families instead of narrow corporate interests, stop donating to the DCCC right now and direct your contributions directly to proven progressives like these people running for the House and these people running for the Senate.