If The Democratic Party Is Dying In Parts of The Country, Don't Blame Mark Clayton, Blame Steve Israel And The Beltway Insiders
The last time, which was also the first time he won, Bob Corker ran to represent Tennessee in the U.S. Senate, his Democratic opponent was notorious corporate shill and faux-Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. Nationally, 2006 was a very Democratic year. The 55 seat Republican majority disappeared and Miss McConnell stepped down to the Minority Leader slot. Not a single Senate seat held by the Democrats fell to a Republican and Democratic candidates defeated 6 Republican incumbents: Rick Santorum (PA), Mike DeWine (OH), Lincoln Chafee (RI), Jim Talent (MO), Conrad Burns (MT) and George Allen (VA). The Democrats held onto their two open seats (Minnesota and Maryland) and the one Republican open seat, Tennessee... was the only good news the GOP had that night. Bill Frist had decided to retire-- either, people speculated, to run for president or to fight against fraud charges against his shady chain of felonious hospitals-- and, on paper, it looked like it could be a Democratic pickup. There were more registered Democrats in Tennessee than Republicans and most of the state's congressmen were Democrats. Corker, mayor of Chattanooga, spent $18,622,928 and Ford, then the congressman from Memphis, and both a Blue Dog and a New Dem, spent $15,299,955.
Ford, the youngest Member of Congress when he was elected, quickly acquired an absolutely atrocious voting record-- backing the bankster's in their successful effort to repeal Glass-Steagall, joining the minority of Democrats who backed the unwarranted invasion of Iraq by Bush, voting for Bush's virulently anti-family bankruptcy bill, joining the GOP in their insane push to interfere with the Terri Schiavo case, proudly defined himself as an anti-Choice Democrat and ran against then-Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi who he attacked as being too liberal. He lost his Senate race, but with a strong 48% of the vote (859,976 votes against Corker's 929,911). On the same day, Democrat Phil Bredesen was reelected governor with 69% (1,245,992 votes).
Fast-forward one Senate term (6 years) and Corker is up for reelection. The Tennessee Democratic party, at least statewide, is moribund. It survives in Memphis and Nashville, but it's pretty much dead or on life-support in the rest of the state. In that 2006 election Democratic House incumbents were all reelected with massive margins:
Lincoln Davis- 66%
Jim Cooper- 69%
Bart Gordon- 67%
John Tanner- 73%
And Ford's replacement, Steve Cohen, won with 60%-- despite a challenge from Ford's brother Jake who was supported by Memphis' Black Ministers Association and the Ford Machine. In the Great Blue Dog Apocalypse of 2010, Tennessee's 5 Democratic congressmen was reduced to two. Lincoln Davis was slaughtered 39-57% and Gordon and Tanner both chose to retire rather than face sure defeat. Both seats fell to the GOP by very wide margins. But last week, the death throes of a once proud party actually got worse, much worse, as Mark Clayton, a right-wing vice president of the kind of a hate group normally associated with Republicans, won the Democratic primary to face Corker. The state party has since disavowed him and urged Democrats to write in someone else-- anyone else.
The party said Friday that it would do nothing to help Mark Clayton, 35, who received nearly twice as many votes as his closest challenger in Thursday’s seven-candidate primary, winning the right to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in November.
"The only time that Clayton has voted in a Democratic primary was when he was voting for himself,” the party said in a news release. “Many Democrats in Tennessee knew nothing about any of the candidates in the race, so they voted for the person at the top of the ticket. Unfortunately, none of the other Democratic candidates were able to run the race needed to gain statewide visibility or support.
“Mark Clayton is associated with a known hate group in Washington, D.C., and the Tennessee Democratic Party disavows his candidacy, will not do anything to promote or support him in any way, and urges Democrats to write-in a candidate of their choice in November.”
Clayton defended his work for Public Advocate of the United States, the pro-life, pro-marriage group in question, and said he was disappointed with the Tennessee Democratic Party’s “zero-sum politics.”
“It’s not necessarily surprising, unfortunately,” he said in a phone interview. “But that’s not the way I deal with my political opponents. I have good friends who are liberals.”
Clayton acknowledged his social conservative instincts but said he’d been deeply disappointed by the presidency of George W. Bush, the last Republican to occupy the White House.
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney gloated on Twitter about the opposition party’s failure to find a suitable candidate.
“Nice vetting job by the Dems,” Devaney wrote.
The reaction wasn’t any more sympathetic in some Democratic quarters.
“What a debacle in Tennessee,” the liberal Daily Kos website wrote Friday morning, hours before the party announced its decision. “It's not like Democrats were ever going to have a shot at unseating freshman Sen. Bob Corker, but at least our preferred candidate, actress and activist Park Overall, is a real Democrat. The guy Dems did nominate seems to be anything but.”
...The Clayton campaign’s Facebook page champions three major positions: strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution, family stances that are pro-life, and keeping the country from turning into “AN ORWELLIAN SUPER STATE.”
Sean Braisted, a Democratic Party spokesman, left the door open for a possible legal maneuver to try to get Clayton’s name off the Democratic line of the November ballot.
“The only option we are taking off the table in this situation,” he said, “is supporting Mark Clayton.”
Unfortunately, this isn't the only case of some crazy freak winning the Democratic Party nomination. Kesha Rogers, a LaRouche candidate in Texas won the Democratic nomination in the 22nd CD south of Houston, not just this year, but in 2010 as well (when she garnered no support from the Texas Democratic Party and under 30% of the November vote). She's calling for the impeachment of President Obama. And on Tuesday, another LaRouche crackpot, Bill Roberts, is trying to win the Democratic nomination in Michigan's 11th CD, where there's an actual chance for a Democratic victory in November. That's because the GOP incumbent, Thaddeus McCotter, abruptly resigned when he was caught up in an electoral fraud scandal. Like Rogers, Roberts is running on a platform of impeaching President Obama... and all the rest of the LaRouche claptrap.
Fortunately, Michigan does have a lively and active Democratic party and a viable progressive candidate running for the 11th CD nomination, Dr. Syed Taj. Like I said, this Tuesday is primary day and it looks like Dr. Taj will defeat the LaRouchie. He feels pretty confident as well, although his campaign is working as though he were running against a real opponent instead of a crackpot. Here's what he had to say about the state of this race this week:
“I am proud to be the real Democrat running to serve the 11th District. And the response we have received from the people of the 11th district has been overwhelmingly positive. In the past few months my campaign has made close to 190,000 direct voter contacts. With the help of over 125 volunteers we have shared our enthusiastic message about my plans to invest in job creation, strengthen and protect Social Security and Medicare, enhance benefits for our veterans, and conserve our environment while promoting energy independence.
“In addition to talking with so many of my friends and neighbors, I have also been proud to earn the support of numerous organizations and elected officials that represent and serve many of my fellow Michiganders. Our campaign has secured the support of the entire Michigan Democratic Congressional Delegation and Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN). We are proud to have the support of our friends in labor including the Michigan AFL-CIO, UAW Region 1 CAP, UAW Region 1-A CAP, the Michigan Nurses Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and Sheet Metal Workers Local 80. I am also proud to be endorsed by NOW-PAC and the Sierra Club.
“Further, the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, and Observer and Eccentric Newspapers have all endorsed my campaign as it is clear my proven track record of success and vision for the future are what’s need in Congress.
"Across the district we have heard that people are ready for reasoned and resolute representation and I look forward to carrying our positive campaign forward through the primary and unto November. These past few months have proven that the people of the 11th District deserve better representation in Washington, D.C. and my experience as an elected official, practicing physician, and chief of medicine are the right prescription for the 11th District.”
Back in June we asked physicians like Dr. Taj, who are running for Congress to help us understand how to improve on the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Taj's spectacular answers helped persuade us to endorse him and he'll be joining us for a live chat at Crooks and Liars in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, you can contribute to his campaign here. Here's what he told me on the day the Supreme Court declared the Affordable Care Act constitutional:
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate means that those of us that support reform of our health care system must now act to build on what has been done and improve it. For one, health care costs are a major contributor to the federal deficit that must be reigned in if we’re to put our nation on a stable fiscal foundation. The individual mandate is the centerpiece of the ACA and projected cost reductions would have been impossible without a larger insurance pool. It would have meant increasingly less take-home pay for middle class families to pay for the same or worse coverage. There's a lot we must do to improve the legislation.
The decision gives us the opportunity to keep reforming and designing a better system. Polls have shown widespread public support for a universal health care system and this is the window of opportunity for our leaders to act. A recent report by economist Gerald Friedman shows that this would “save as much as $570 billion now wasted on administrative overhead and monopoly profits.” While there are costs involved with insuring millions of uninsured and underinsured we’d save much more by eliminating middlemen and simplifying the system as a whole, especially by eliminating the incentive to deny care for larger profits. Even with its virtues, the ACA doesn't do nearly enough to bring down long-term costs or correct the deeply rooted problems of our health care system.
So is the DCCC on the case? Of course not. They are busy in Tennessee though, where they're spending money donated by Democratic donors-- who are largely pro-Choice-- on a hopeless campaign by state Senator Eric Stewart, an anti-Choice fanatic, to win back the 4th CD, the one Lincoln Davis lost to Scott DesJarlais in 2010. At the time, Davis, like Stewart a conservaDem, got 70,254 votes (39%) to DesJarlais' 103,969 (57%). Quite the reversal from the cycle before when Davis took 146,776 votes (59%) against his Republican challenger's 94,447 (38%), though it wasn't because he rode to victory on Obama's coattails. That year McCain handily defeated Obama in the 4th CD, 64-34%. And it's not like redistricting is going to help the Democrats' cause in the 4th. Under the new boundaries, McCain would have still won, but with 63% instead of 64%. So what is the DCCC looking at when they decide to back someone like Stewart in a district like TN-04? They always swear it's just about the numbers. But the numbers show an impossible situation-- completely unwinnable. And the money-- the other top factor for the DCCC... well, DesJarlais has raised $906,849 and has $591,976 on hand. Stewart has raised $367,382 (much of it with the help of the DCCC) and has a meager $152,712 on hand. Just for comparison's sake, the ad campaign the DCCC just ran for Stewart (below) and a couple dozen other mostly conservative candidates did not include any progressives and certainly didn't include Dr. Taj, yet MI-11 was won by President Obama (54-45% under the old lines, 50-48% under the new lines. And while the DCCC was helping Stewart raise $367,382, Dr. Taj raised $338,021 and isn't facing an incumbent and out-raised each of the Republican candidates trying to get their party's nomination. So what are Steve Israel and the DCCC really looking at when they make these lame decisions? Just that Stewart is an anti-Choice conservative and that Dr, Taj dares to cherish the ideals and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and that he vows to protect Women's Choice?