Thursday, February 21, 2013

Toi Hutchinson-- Knowing Where To Draw The Line


Keeping the focus on the bad guy, Debbie Halvorson

Yesterday, in the midst of the unraveling of Breitbart's Friends of Hamas silliness, a tweet flew by my feed making fun of some right-wing numbskull for accusing Chuck Hagel of being a puppy killer. No one likes a puppy killer. It reminded me of some distinctively non right-wing numbskullery from a couple weeks ago by some over enthusiastic Robin Kelly supporters who felt the best way to advance their candidate would be to destroy her primary opponent, not the self-described conservative Debbie Halvorson but the fellow-progressive Toi Hutchinson. I kept getting e-mails from a formerly trusted liberal SuperPAC claiming that the NRA, which was working to defeat Hutchinson, a co-sponsor of a bill in the Illinois state Senate to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, was backing Halvorson. They knew it wasn't true. But it fit their agenda... regardless of how ugly and Republican the tactic is.

One of them told me Toi was also a puppy killer. Just like she hadn't actually ever voted for anything the NRA wanted, it turns out she had never actually killed a puppy, at least not in front of any witnesses. In fact, she was the lead sponsor of a bill to ban puppy mills, the exact opposite of what she was being accused of, which came down to filling in a misleading NRA questionnaire. Another candidate who got that questionnaire, a gun-owner himself, told me when he read three questions, he laughed and ripped it up and threw it in the garbage. In retrospect, it's what Toi Hutchinson should have done instead. I think she knows that now and I think she knows that that's why Robin Kelly is probably going to Congress and why she withdrew from the race and endorsed Robin.

Endorsed Robin? Not Debbie Halvorson? How could she not endorse Debbie Halvorson? Their pictures are all over the TV together. And the NRA loves them both, right? No, that isn't true. The NRA is backing Halvorson and it has always been backing Halvorson. The NRA, which rated Halvorson an A-plus and Hutchinson an A-minus, changed its mind about Hutchinson as soon as they saw what she was actually up to-- fighting their agenda.

After Hutchinson faced the reality that staying in the race could only result in splintering the progressive vote and allowing Halvorson to slip into the seat, she withdrew and urged her supporters to get behind Robin Kelly. I know because the day before she announced it, she called me and asked Blue America to help Robin win. She told me how crucial it is to stop Halvorson. The next morning at 6AM, we endorsed Robin Kelly.

But the attacks on Toi, the puppy killing NRA backer, had been so passionate and so ferocious that she was marked in the minds of many non-right-wing numbskulls as someone worthy of scorn. Some refuse to believe she endorsed Robin or that she "meant" it. Great strategy for building a progressive movement! I know some former Republicans-- who even admit they voted for Bush-- who have seen the light and are now dedicated progressives. I'm not talking about opportunistic trash like Charlie Crist and Patrick Murphy; I mean real stalwarts out there fighting the good fight who saw the error of their ways. I welcome them and celebrate them. Even if Toi Hutchinson checked off some bad boxes on a bad questionnaire she should have tossed, she did all the right things when it counted-- as a legislator.

Not every progressive group has jumped into the same bag. Here's the message TruthBTold sent out to their members this week. I thought it was pretty savvy:
The 2nd Congressional race in Chicago, Illinois, had all the symptoms of a system gone a foul. With over 20 candidates in the race and hardly any of them with real political experiences, it looked as though the contested open seat would turn into a full-fledged circus. But with less than two weeks left, the contestants have swindled down to less than 10 after Patrick Brutus has withdrawn his candidacy and given the thumbs up to Robin Kelly, who appears to be the crowd's favorite now.

It seems that the many candidates who've taken themselves out of the race, mostly have endorsed Kelly. Front runner, Toi Hutchinson suspended her goal of being the next Congresswoman of the 2nd District from Illinois on this past Sunday, insisted her loyal voters support Robin Kelly as well. Toi has shown amazing professionalism and her family, friends and supporters have stood beside her during the last few months since entering the race.

Now Hutchinson can immerse herself in continuing her efforts to be a terrific state senator, bringing real world results to her district. Hutchinson ran a great campaign and inspired the voters of the 2nd District to look carefully at the issues facing their far south side communities. Toi wanted to focus on jobs and economic development and equal housing, but her lack of funds contributed to her deciding to put her advanced political aspirations in the freezer for a later date.

Most people think the Bloomberg Super PAC, coming to Chicago and tossing over 2 million dollars to persuade voters is dirty and destructive politics. It's evil and very divisive. This is probably one reason why Hutchinson also decided to exit the race; it's very difficult for her or anyone to compete against millions of dollars being flooded into the state of Illinois, all for Kelly's election efforts only. And the PAC doesn't have to mention Kelly's name one bit, just keep beating down the leading contenders and voters will focus on the better of the political survivors. Toi should be admired for being smart enough to know right from wrong. Even though others do not!

The following are statements from Toi Hutchinson, Robin Kelly, Toni Preckwinkle and Jan Schakowsky:

• Senator Toi Hutchinson: “I am ending my campaign for Congress and throwing my support behind Robin Kelly. I urge those who have been supporting me to now work hard for Robin. I have said from day one that this campaign is not about me or any one person; it’s about moving America forward and standing with President Obama to create new jobs and safer communities."

• Robin Kelly: Today is a good day for the Second Congressional District. While Senator Hutchinson and I haven’t agreed on everything, we have a strong mutual respect, share a passion for public service and dedication to the people in Chicago and the Southland. I’m pleased to have her on our team.”

• Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President: “Robin Kelly and Toi Hutchinson are both very strong, independent woman and public servants. I consider them both friends of mine. During Debbie Halvorson’s one term in Congress, she opposed President Obama on dozens of issues including critical Wall St. reform and extending benefits for the long term unemployed. I’m proud of Toi for agreeing to put voters before her own ambitions. She is young and has a bright future ahead of her. I did not want to see her campaign close with negative attacks at a time when Robin is surging with momentum to capture the Democratic nomination for Congress.”

• Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky: “This election is too important for our party to remain divided. I’m thrilled that Senator Hutchinson has joined me today in supporting Kelly’s campaign for Congress. Senator Hutchinson is a strong leader with a bright future. I applaud her for doing what is best for the Democratic Party.”

Robin Kelly has also been endorsed by most of the old-school elected operatives, who's attempts to attach themselves to Kelly's appeared winning campaign, only to remain relevant and active a few more years, all while doing very little for the Black community they serve throughout Chicago's South and West side.

At least none of our liberal friends dressed Toi up like this

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