Monday, June 02, 2008

So Was Van Hollen Just As Bad As Emanuel All Along? Or Did He Just Turn Bad Along The Way? Let's Look At AZ-01


Lucas did such a good job on CVH's knife. Please click on it

I don't want to say I didn't believe Chris Van Hollen when he told me the DCCC would avoid the divisive tactics his predecessor as DCCC chair, Rahm Emanuel, had used to disadvantage progressives and grassroots candidates in hotly contested primaries. He had just taken over as chairman and I saw he had a thoroughly progressive voting record and, after the bloody internal battles precipitated by Emanuel's systemic flouting of the party rules, I sorely wanted to believe a new day was dawning. Still, I felt more secure-- at least about the crucial congressional race in Arizona's sprawling first CD-- when Van Hollen himself promised the grassroots progressive candidate in the race, Howard Shanker, that he wouldn't take sides between a clueless establishment hack and Howard. I felt even more secure when Arizona's most admired and respected Democratic congressman, Raúl Grijalva, enthusiastically endorsed Howard and started campaigning for him. It is highly irregular for the DCCC to diss a senior member of the caucus that way.

I don't know if it was a coincidence or not, but two things happened late last week. The DCCC staffer in charge of Arizona-- who had previously left the DCCC when Emanuel had decided to run it like a Stalinist fiefdom and then returned when Van Hollen took over-- left again. He left the day after the DCCC broke it's pledge to not endorse either candidate in this race and added an utterly worthless hack to the Red to Blue list. We covered it, as part of a "what's wrong with the Democrats?" piece, hours later. Go back and take a look at it and you'll see the DCCC statement and the furious reaction from grassroots Arizonans.

Last October, Blue America looked at the race to relieve the GOP of a seat occupied by indicted criminal/McCain For President co-chair Rick Renzi and endorsed Howard Shanker. The other leading candidate, a blatant shill for corporate interests, who has managed to scoop up immense amounts of money-- the excuse Van Hollen gives for endorsing her-- is Ann Kirkpatrick. She served, without distinction, as a state legislator. With not a single accomplishment to recommend her, she was appealing to the party leadership because she never showed any interest in leading-- just following-- and she never took a controversial position on anything-- the perfect little puppet for the Insiders. And that ain't Howard Shanker.

From day one Kirkpatrick has been pushed as the candidate because “she paid her dues." At one of the first debates she was asked about her positions on the war, immigration and other important issues. Her response stunned the audience. She said “I can’t answer those questions, there are people working on my position statements.” This must have had Emanuel salivating, but it isn't something one would expect Chris Van Hollen to find attractive.

Early on, she was saying that we need to “stay the course” in Iraq, again perfect from an Emanuel perspective. Eventually her handlers/pollsters/DCCC consultants convinced her to tweak her message. She is being told what to say, how to say it and recently got the “party” makeover on how she looks. Even so, she runs as a Republican-lite because her people think that’s the only way to get elected. Party Stalinists did the same thing in AZ-01 before, forcing Paul Babbit onto everybody-- even clearing the primary field for him. And he was a disaster, taking only 36% of the vote. Everyone I know in Arizona is referring to Kirkpatrick as “Paul Babbitt in a dress.”
The establishment is trying to circle the wagons because they are feeling the heat of a real grassroots campaign. That’s why the DCCC broke their promises, why Van Hollen has crossed over to the Dark Side... an independent-minded progressive like Howard Shanker, who will serve his constituents, not the special interests who donate to both hopelessly corrupt political parties. It matters not one bit to them that he has a far broader base of support, much more impressive and meaningful  credentials, far more experience, and that he is much better positioned to win the general election.

I tried getting Van Hollen on the phone but he wouldn't speak with me about this. The DCCC insists he didn't break his pledge to not endorse because... um... well, they have a few excuses. He only said he would "prefer" not to endorse, not that he wouldn't. And they insist that being on the Red to Blue page isn't really an endorsement anyway. Another high level Democratic insider who understands their arcane world far better than I do told me that "generally speaking, when candidates meet certain benchmarks and show that they're competitive, the DCCC ratifies their success by adding them to Red to Blue... this isn't really a Rahm-style muscling out of a candidate-- it has nothing to do with hurting Shanker and everything to do with getting the probable candidate ready in the fall... if and when Shanker becomes the probable candidate, you know the dccc will hop on board." I suspect that there are an awful lot of progressive candidates who have raised immensely more money than the shill in Arizona but who haven't been added to the Red to Blue non-endorsement program. I hope some of them will ask the DCCC about that.

And if you're in the DC area this week, please mosey over to the Oyster Bar at Clyde's Gallery Place (707 7th Street, NW) and join Rep. Grijalva (and me) in welcoming Howard to town (6pm, June 4). The primary isn't until September 2, so whatever donations you can spare for Howard's race, will go to good use. And, by the way, Blue America is open for business right now.


So the DCCC says they didn't endorse/endorsed Kirkpatrick because she reached certain benchmarks. On March 31, Rahm Emanuel generously decided to shower some benchmark-making dollars on her-- twice. Circular... something.

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At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Truth At Last!
I am so sick of Kirkpatrick being touted as the ONE when she would be the last candidate I would vote for. Hell,I will vote for a trained monkey rather than Kirkpatrick if she wins the primary. I will quit the Democratic Party if she wins. Screw the DCCC

At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh wow!It is refreshing to read this blog about how stupid the DCCC and its little trained humanoid, kirkpatrick are.Cripes,do they think we can't make a decision without thinking first?Are they freaking idiots?I think so if they believe Kirkpatrick is 'electable' as they like to hear themselves say.Howard Shanker is our next Congressman here in this district.Help him win against the forces of blandness.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

As a side note:
Kirkpatrick has recently received donations from Emannuel himself

FRIENDS OF RAHM EMANUEL 03/31/2008 $2,000
FRIENDS OF RAHM EMANUEL 03/31/2008 $2,000

twice in one day!!


At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I suddenly interrupted our conversation with: "What do you think of Howard Shanker?" Ann Kirkpatrick immediately said she really liked him, he's a wonderful fellow. And as she was walking away, turned back, leaned over closer to my ear, and whispered "He's made a LOT of enemies, a LOT of enemies!".... I didn't have sense enough to respond, just sat there aghast. And someone else has told me she also said that to them.
I think that's dirty politics!
If Howard has anything to say, he couches it in decent terms and always makes a good political observation-- with truth, not inuendo, attached.

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Emanuel/Van Hollen=Kirkpatrick......Shanker....Emanuel/Van Hollen=Kirkpatrick...Shanker. Is there any other but Shanker? I don't think so. Those a-holes will not tell me who to vote for. My vote is for a great candidate, a wonderful man, a great husband, a super father, and a class act Democrat. Howard Shanker gets my vote.

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gruesome Lucas!

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many times do we have to be stuck with a DCCC candidate who is just left of the rest of the conservatives in this state? What we need is a real change. This county needs a real change. We start with getting rid of those who support the war. Then we get rid of those Bush Democrats who just go along with everything the administration tells them. Then we get rid of candidates who are clones of the conservatives. Start with Kirkpatrick. Kick her back to the conservative roots she is spring up from and elect Howard Shanker. He is a great candidate compared to the rest in the selection of four. Out with Ann. In with Shanker.

At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard Shanker is one of the best candidates progressives have. He's a brilliant lawyer. He recognizes core arguments and precedents and uses them to advance a moral agenda. his environmental justice record is astonishingly good. The DCCC is running on empty, morally speaking. Their attractions for the electorate are reduced to just about nil. THeir insistence on pliable loyalists is the kind of thinking that lost the Democratic majority and threatens more losses in every election. Chris - let the progressives come to the fore and get out of the way! You'll benefit - let that motivate you if your sense of responsiblity to humanity won't do it!


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