Monday, January 29, 2018

Can An "Ex"-Republican Blue Dog Defeat An Actual Democrat In The Omaha Congressional Primary?


Ostensibly they're both Democrats-- similarly to the way Chicagoland Blue Dog Dan Lipinski and progressive reformer Marie Newman are both Democrats. But in this Omaha case there's an even starker contrast. As far as we know, Lipinski wasn't ever an actual Republican. Brad Ashford, on the other hand was a Republican . He served in the Legislature from 1987 to 1995 and again from 2007 to 2015. He was a registered Republican and opportunistically, he switched his registration to the Democratic Party when he was termed out of his seat in the legislature and decided to run for Congress. In 1994, as a Republican state Senator he ran for the congressional seat in the Republican primary and was defeated by Jon Christensen, the congressman who came home one day and found GOP then-rising star John Shadegg porking his wife and got into several fistfights with him, first in his own bed and letter I'm the House cloakroom.

More recently, Ashford, the most right-wing Blue Dog in Congress for his one miserable term, served as a Hillary super-delegate to the Democratic National Convention, despite his district having gone to Bernie. Douglas County backed Bernie 54-46% and Sarpy Count backed Bernie 59.6% to 40.4%. But that's just one example of Ashford being out of touch with the Democratic voters in his district. He started his political career as working for the clownish conservative Roman Hruska (R-NE), best known for defending Nixon's Supreme Court nominee,G. Harrold Carswell, with a lame anti-Semitic statement: "Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos." Ashford went to work for him after he made that statement.

In the current race, Ashford has no issues page on his website, so no one can be sure where he stands on any issues. An anti-healthcare Blue Dog, he likely does not want to be compared with Kara, who is very clear on her website about where she stands:
It’s time for our country to acknowledge that quality healthcare and access to health insurance is an American right. Families deserve to be able to get the medical treatment and medications they need, when they need them, without breaking the bank.

We must ensure that no mother ever weighs the costs before taking her children to the emergency room when they are in the need of immediate care. No father should ever forgo life-saving medication because he is afraid of being unable to pay the medical bills. No family should ever need to claim bankruptcy because they had the audacity to live after an accident or illness.

Our country should move toward the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. We need to force big business and the pharmaceutical industry to offer more competitive prices.
Goal ThermometerYesterday the Omaha World-Herald compared Ashford with the actual Democrat in the race, Kara Eastman. As you know, the DCCC, which claims-- falsely-- that it doesn't interfere in primaries, has backed Ashford (as have the New Dems and Blue Dogs, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party) Blue America has endorsed Kara and if you'd like to contribute to her campaign, just click on the ActBlue "Primary A Blue Dog" thermometer on the right. Recently Kara's race was featured in the Lee Fang-Ryan Grim blockbuster about how the DCCC rigs primaries. She was also the subject of a short Frank Schaeffer film (up top). "Democratic voters in Nebraska’s 2nd District," wrote Roseann Moring, someone who is clearly skewering her "reporting" in favor of Ashford, "could use the May 15 primary as an opportunity to weigh in on the national party debate over whether Democrats should take a no-compromises approach to support of abortion rights. The two Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives, former congressman Brad Ashford and nonprofit executive Kara Eastman, both support abortion rights. [What a joke! Ashford may be claiming otherwise now but he's been an anti-Choice Blue Dog for his whole short career as a "Democrat."] But Ashford supports some restrictions on abortion while Eastman supports none. And beyond that, the issue highlights the two candidates’ differing approaches to getting things done. Ashford says he has made a career of brokering compromises and working with the other side, while Eastman argues that some issues are too important to compromise on."
Eastman has been trying to position herself to the left of Ashford on several issues, and abortion is no exception. She floated the issue in October when she tweeted that Ashford had “voted against women’s healthcare choices” when he was a state senator in 2009.

The 2009 bill she was referring to was introduced as a measure that would have required women to view an ultrasound, if one is performed.

The law that Ashford voted for was a compromise measure, which clarified that a woman would not be required to view the ultrasound.

The legislative bill might be familiar to Omahans who were paying attention during last year’s mayoral election. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders drew intense criticism around the country for supporting Democratic mayoral candidate Heath Mello, who had voted for that same bill and who opposes abortion.

That grew into a national debate over whether the Democratic Party should support candidates who oppose abortion rights.

Ari Kohen, an associate professor of political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said the primary election will be an opportunity for Democratic voters with strong feelings about abortion to promote their positions.

“Obviously the Mello election in particular showed us that people in Nebraska care a lot about this issue and people care about it on both sides, like they do across the country,” he said.

But ultimately, Kohen said, the differing positions by Ashford and Eastman would likely lead to nearly identical outcomes on the kinds of votes that Congress generally takes on abortion.

In 2009, Ashford was a state senator and the chairman of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

He said the measure involving ultrasounds was a compromise intended to stop what he saw as unconstitutional legislation from advancing.

“I thought about it a lot and tried to carve out something that would be fair and preserve a woman’s right to health care,” he said.

Ashford has long supported abortion rights, even when he was a registered Republican. And in his two years in Congress, he voted with Planned Parenthood 100 percent of the time, according to VoteSmart.

But he said he would be open to restrictions on abortions in the “latter terms” of pregnancy and some restrictions on minors seeking an abortion, such as a requirement that they obtain parental consent.

Eastman said, if elected, that wouldn’t be her approach. Eastman said she would not support any restrictions on abortions.

“It’s really easy as legislators, as politicians, to say we’re going to compromise about a law,” she said. “But the reality is, the people who are being compromised are women.”

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At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

democrats from Nebraska are notorious for being actual republicans. See: Ben Nelson et al.


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