Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Two Polls, Two House Seats-- Bad News For Progressives In Florida And Massachusetts


Richard Tisei prefers males but on almost every issue he'll vote as badly as Allen West

Everybody wants to see Allen West defeated, right? Sure, West is a deranged bag of wind, a divisive teabagger and a war criminal whose presence in Congress is a rebuke to democracy itself. He has nothing particular to do with government policy and his influence even on the GOP is, at best, minimal, but symbolically he's one of the monsters who embody the derailment of the Republican Party-- along with Bachmann, Steve King, Akin, Gohmert, Virginia Foxx...

First the good news: current polls show West losing his seat next month. After redistricting made the 22nd bluer (now a 57-43% Obama district), he fled north to the new 18th (now a 51-48% Obama district). The new district starts just above West Palm Beach at Palm Beach Gardens and follows the I-95 through Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce. Much of it was part of the old 16th district, which had been represented by Mark Foley before Rahm Emanuel was able to replace him with lifelong Republican-turned-Blue Dog Tim Mahoney. Mahoney voted with the Republicans on most crucial rollcalls and acted like a Republican as well, having had several extramarital affairs, including with a staffer, in his one sad term. I had dinner with Foley the other day and he told me flatly that West would be reelected. Recent polls say otherwise. And it isn't even that close. In one poll West is down by 4 points and in a more recent-- and more solid-- one, he's down by 9.

The bad news is that the DCCC-- who remembers when Steve Israel took over and said he was "just like Rahm but without the potty mouth"-- recruited another lifelong Republican for the seat. Patrick Murphy isn't much of anything... just his wheeler-dealer father, Thomas Murphy's boy. Thomas is financing and running the campaign. Until he ponied up $250,000 to start his own personal SuperPAC, American Sunrise, for the sole purpose of spending unlimited money to buy his son a career in politics, his biggest political contribution ever had been $25,000 to the RNC. Now that they see the family business' future with the Democrats, Thomas (and Patrick) have been donating heavily to the most corrupt, ethics-free Democrat they could find in the state of Florida, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. So, the good news: no more Allen West; the bad news: Patrick Murphy, who has already hooked up with the New Dems-- basically our fathers' Republican Party.

Most of the polling news out of Massachusetts is just dandy. Barney Frank's open seat in the 4th CD is clearly going to Joseph Kennedy III, not to anti-Choice/anti-Medicare kook Sean Bielat and Elizabeth Warren is pulling away from Republican incumbent Scott Brown. Here are the half dozen most recent public polls in the Senate race:

But there's a bad poll that was released by the Boston Globe yesterday as well. It shows conservative Republican Richard Tisei pulling ahead of dedicated progressive John Tierney. The poll, which shows almost a third of the voters undecided, has Tisei at 37% and Tierney at 31%. Massive amounts of dark money are pouring into the district on behalf of Tisei, the GOP hopeful that they can use a victory there to stave off a Democratic takeover of the House. Ironically, Tisei, a long time hypocritical closet case who voted against the LGBT community while sneaking around in dark places, is being helped by one untrustworthy gay group, the Victory Fund, eager to suck up to wealthy gay donors who aren't necessarily committed to progressive economic policies. The Victory Fund has given Tisei cover as though he were part of the mainstream, when, in fact, he's another puppet of Paul Ryan's Austerity Agenda... but a gay puppet. 

Massachusetts's congressional delegation has been Republican-free for over two decades. Tierney whose lifetime Progressive Punch score is in the top 10 of all Members of Congress (95.42-- stronger than Lynn Woolsey's, Jesse Jackson's, Donna Edwards' or Keith Ellison's)-- and has a perfect 100% on LGBT issues, far better, in fact, than Tisei's-- has run into trouble because his wife's brothers are a couple of crooks who were running an illegal gambling ring. 
Tierney’s vulnerabilities, combined with Tisei’s relatively moderate stances on many issues, have made the Sixth Congressional District race one of the most competitive in Massachusetts and the most closely watched nationally. If elected, Tisei would be the first openly gay Republican congressman to disclose his sexual orientation before being elected.

National Republicans are targeting Tierney with attack ads that demand he “man up and tell the truth-- the whole truth” about the gambling operation. Tierney’s wife, Patrice, spent a month in federal prison last year after pleading guilty to “willful blindness” while managing a bank account for one of her brothers involved in the gambling ring, and for helping that brother file false tax returns. John Tierney has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and has said he had no knowledge of any illegal activity. But the poll indicates his image has been tarnished. In 2010, Tierney won handily with 57 percent of the vote.
But Tierney, like many congressmembers, has coasted to reelection so many times that his campaign chops are in bad shape. It's as though he forgot how to do electoral politics, having put all his time and energy into policy. 

Some Massachusetts voters are asking if it would really be "that bad" to have a Republican in their state's delegation. Well, aside from helping keep Boehner and Cantor in control of Congress, let's take a look at just one issue that came up this week. It's the 36th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which limits women’s healthcare rights and which Tisei's party is hell-bent on extending. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), the co-chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Tierney is a member in good standing, issued this statement yesterday:
“In 1976, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment that limits women’s healthcare coverage and puts politics between a woman and her doctor.

“Our country has changed since 1976, but many members of Congress continue to push an agenda that harms women by limiting their healthcare coverage if they receive Medicaid. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives’ Republican leadership has continued this trend. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has used his position to push for a budget that would weaken many existing programs and institutions that support and protect women.

“In fact, since Republicans took control in 2010 the Ryan Congress has voted against women’s issues 55 times-- almost once each week. These include 17 votes allowing health insurance companies to discriminate against women; 11 votes cutting women’s access to preventive care; 10 votes restricting abortion rights or access to legal abortion; and 3 votes blocking access to reproductive and maternal care services. Rep. Ryan’s budget includes other measures that would limit women’s healthcare coverage even more.

“Politicians should never take away a woman’s right to make her own health decisions or withhold her healthcare coverage just because of the type of insurance she carries. Politics should never stand between a woman and her health decisions.”
The Victory Fund and their far right allies don't care about women's Choice. It's not their issue. But women in Massachusetts-- and men who like them-- need to think what replacing John Tierney, whose record on Choice is impeccable, with someone like Tisei, who may like sleeping with other men but is otherwise just as bad as the rest of his deranged political party, especially when it comes to women's issues.

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