Sunday, May 28, 2017

Better Than Electing More Backbenchers-- How About An Actual Leader? From Pennsylvania!


Suburban Philly's PA-07-- one of the country's most bizarrely gerrymandered districts-- was once the Delaware County district. Joe Sestak was the congressman. But Republicans cut out many of the African-American and minority neighborhoods and wound up drawing an embarrassing-looking hodgepodge that twists and turns from Valley Forge Park through Radnor, Wayne Marple Township, Springfield, Upper Providence and Chester Heights up and down and all around, avoiding as many Democrats as possible while heading out from Delaware and Montgomery counties into GOP bastions in Chester, Berks and even Lancaster County. It's a purple district that still has some swing to it but it leans Republican and the current congressman is a garden variety knee-jerk conservative, Pat Meehan. Many of the voters there, though, just unable to cast their ballots for Trump and Hillary won the district 49.3% to 47.0%, out-performing Obama when he faced Romney there in 2012.

After the DCCC decided to sabotage the progressive Democrat running there in 2016, Mary Ellen Balchunis-- who had had the temerity to beat their handpicked shill in a primary (74-26%)-- they basically just gave Meehan a free pass to reelection, a real class act by Pelosi and Lujan. He won 59.7% to 40.3%, outspending Balchunis $2,155,483 to $198,954.

This cycle, the DCCC is doing what they always do: search for wealthy Republican-lite, self-funders and "ex"-Republicans. They do this all over the country and they seem to be trying to hide their choices from Democratic activists so as to not draw the withering fire they know will follow. So far there are at least half a dozen Democrats running in what promises to be a fierce primary. It isn't clear who the DCCC supports but one, Elizabeth Moro, is an "ex"-Republican and she fits their profile. Most of the candidates son't live in the district and have nothing to do with it, like Dan Muroff, who was last seen running for a Philly congressional seat, which is where he lives. Other candidates include Paul-David Perry II, Molly Sheehan, John McGinty. Mary Ellen is thinking about running again and so is another sterling progressive, our old friend, state Senator Daylin Leach, who lives in the Montgomery County part of the district.

Last week, the Philadelphia News broke the story that Daylin may give it a shot. There are several people in the district-- and in Washington-- trying to recruit him to run. Jonathan Tamari announced to the paper's readers that "State Sen. Daylin Leach, an outspoken liberal who once called President Trump a 'fascist, loofah-faced, shit-gibbon' is considering challenging Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan next year, potentially setting up a clash of two well-known political figures as Democrats try to capitalize on the left’s anti-Trump fervor."

Daylin told me he's leaning towards a run and I gather he said the same thing to Tamari.
Leach said constituents had encouraged him to run as a check on the president.

“I was reluctant to take on that large of a project, frankly, but as things have unfolded I have become increasingly concerned that we are facing way beyond what is the normal angst that one feels when there’s a president of the other party,” Leach said. “We are actually facing an existential threat to many of the basic rights we enjoy in this country and to our way of life in a lot of ways.”

Leach, 55, said he wanted to be “thoughtful” about his decision and hoped to decide on a run by the first week of June.

“I still go back and forth, sort of on a daily basis,” he said.

Leach would join a crowded field. Five Democrats have already filed papers to run against the four-term Republican congressman, and even more have said they are considering jumping in, said David Landau, chairman of the Delaware County Democrats.

One, Philadelphia ward leader Dan Muroff, touted an endorsement last week by former Gov. Ed Rendell [something a normal Democrat might be embarrassed to share voluntarily].

Some Democrats immediately raised concerns about Leach’s potential candidacy. Several said they think the liberal senator-- who drew international attention when he tweeted the profane insult at Trump in February-- could win a primary, but struggle with a more moderate electorate in the general election. Republicans hold a voter registration advantage in the district, 49 percent to 36 percent, so any Democrat would likely need crossover votes.

Leach argued that voters will be more concerned with resisting Trump than typical conservative vs. liberal ideology.

“This is going to be an election about authenticity and about what kind of America you want to see-- not in terms of what the tax rate should be, but in terms of, ‘Do we have freedom of the press? Do we treat all religions the same? Do we adhere to the rule of law?’ ” he said.
Leach is exactly the kind of strong, principled, values-driven Democrat the party needs as a candidate. The DCCC usually shies away from candidates with records... but voters don't. His record in the state legislature is outstanding and he has been one of the Senate's most effective champions of women's rights. He has also fought hard for reform of the marijuana laws and for redistricting reform. He's going to be making up his mind in the next week or so but this morning he told me that "I've been saying for months that given the utter insanity of the Trump administration, we all have a moral obligation to do all we can to resist and rescue our country. The one thing we need more than anything is some actual checks and balances, which in this case means a Democratic Congress in 2018. I am giving careful thought to whether or not I am the best candidate for PA-07. If I conclude that I am, I will do everything I can to fight for the progressive values that are risk in so many ways today. If I run, it's because this is no time to abandon our battle against climate change, or our fight for free college, paid family leave, a $15 minimum wage and criminal justice reform. Our problems are too serious to take a vacation from addressing them while some narcissistic plutocrat destroys everything we've fought for."

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At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What he said about tRump is by far the best description I have ever heard. I hope he decides to ru. We need more people who aren't afraid to speak their minds. Sick of everyone being intimated and afraid to speak up!


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