Tuesday, August 21, 2007



Sunday Blue America stirred up quite a controversy by endorsing our old friend, Steve Porter, for Congress in Pennsylvania's 3rd CD. Like last year he's running against rubber stamp Republican Phil English. But he's also running against whomever wins the Democratic primary, a primary Dr. Porter has twice won in the past. He won't be competing in the primary this year; he's disgusted with the Inside the Beltway Establishment and has decided to run as an independent. Many Blue America members cheered him on and others were certain that was a bad move that would guarantee another victory for the odious English. I highly recommend Sunday's very lively discussion with Steve Porter at FDL.

In the course of this, I was unkind to one of the Democrats running, Kyle Foust. He wrote and asked for an opportunity to give me his side of the story. "I take great offense to being called a 'hack politician, a Democratic rubber stamp wanna-be,'" he wrote. "I am a life long Democrat and the son of a former County Chairman and former County Councilman. I take my Democratic roots seriously and I hold the issues of the Democratic Party close to my heart." Here's the letter I wrote back to him:
We spoke on the phone a couple months ago when you called and told me about your plans to run for Congress. I speak to candidates on behalf of our PAC all the time, several a week, every week. Let me be frank: as highly as Steve Porter recommended you and as eager as I was to get behind your campaign I was, to put it mildly, severely underwhelmed by your grasp of the issues and your attitude towards the problems and opportunities facing the country and the Democratic Party. That is no excuse for name-calling and I feel badly that I referred to you as a hack and a rubber stamp wanna-be. I apologize for the name calling. I won't do it again.

This morning Kyle followed up with another letter and I asked him if it would be OK with him if I posted it here at DWT and he said sure:

Thank you the your reply and your apology. The apology wasn't needed. I'll be honest, though. When Republicans call me names, it rolls off my back, but when Democrats and/or progressives do it, it hurts a little. Being in the public eye, however, exposes you to such things and I've grown somewhat accustomed.

I just wanted an opportunity to set the record straight a bit about how "real" of a Democrat I was. I saw your blog about Chris Carney and any comparison to him (to me) is way off base. I've built a solid reputation here in Erie County as someone who can work with Republicans while remaining true to my Democratic roots. As an old social science education graduate, I have a great appreciation for this Country and what the Republicans are, unfortunately, doing to it. I plan on going to Washington to help fix that.

However, I am no ideologue. I first got elected, and I continue to enjoy widespread support because I vote for things that are in the best interests of all my constituents; liberals, conservatives, Dems, and R's combined. I don't believe I can force my own ideology on the public anymore than I want some right wing nut forcing his or her ideology on me. Somewhere in the middle is where reasonable people meet to solve disputes and find solutions to problems. That is where I tend to me.

Having said that, I am a proud Democrat and I don't apologize for that to any one or any group. My Republican friends know this and respect this. They support me (along with many Democrats) because they know I have the public's interest in mind, not my party's.

When we spoke on the phone, it doesn't surprise me that I "underwhelmed" you with my responses. There are two reasons for that. One, I was just beginning the process of having to identify, more clearly, what my policy positions were. My responses to you, I'm sure, reflected that.I am no policy expert but I think I have a pretty solid inner compass to help me find my way. The second reason our phone call may not have been as positive as it could have been is that I am a very guarded person about my feelings to strangers. I really didn't know much about you or Firedog at the time. The last thing I wanted was to say something inarticulate and then have it posted on the web so that Phil English could use it later on in a commercial or whatever. This guy is a pathologically vicious campaigner and I don't want to hand him any material. The Republicans have already come at me to bloody me up so I know they'll use whatever they can get.

You were correct about one thing in your blog about me-- I do oppose public financing for elections. We have great social problems in this country that need to be solved; health care, drug addiction, domestic abuse, public education, just to name an important few. We need to marshal our resources toward those problems and the solutions for them. I don't want to subsidize the slander that goes into elections. I argued with Steve Porter over this issue and reminded him that public financing will not eliminate a persons incentive to influence policymakers, it will only change the means by which it is done. We need to elect people who have the will and the backbone to resist such pressure and do what is right. As I've said earlier, I've developed a pretty solid reputation as someone who has done that locally and, if I'm fortunate enough, I plan on conducting myself in a similar fashion in DC.

Thanks again for your reply and your apology. Take care.


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