Sunday, September 14, 2008

Why Are So Many Republican Incumbents Afraid To Debate This Year? Just Look At Their Voting Records


Ric Keller lost some weight-- and his sense of dignity and honor

Republican incumbents don't seem to want to debate. They want to wave air tire gauges over their heads and yell "Drill here now." When it comes to health care, ending the war in Iraq, getting relief for overburdened working families, real solutions to energy problems... they have nothing they want to say-- at least nothing they feel comfortable with the public hearing.

Last night I spoke with Alan Grayson, the Democrat running for Congress in Orlando. He was telling me how he went to a southern regional hotel workers union meeting a couple of days ago and that he strongly advocated for universal health care and paid vacations like they have in so many other industrialized nations. I remember that the ultra reactionary editorial board of the Orlando Sentinel had opposed him in the Democratic primary-- which he won so handily-- and that they opposed him basically because they oppose paid vacations (for others, not themselves). I asked Alan if his Republican opponent, Ric Keller, a slimy hypocrite better known for sleazy personal attacks than for ever debating issues, would challenge him on that. He only hopes he will so lucky, since how does someone asking for voters to support them explain why they oppose paid vacations and health care?

Fact of the matter, Keller's record on health care, if it gets out to low-info voters, will destroy his already slim chances to be re-elected. Already vulnerable on many issues, his consistent opposition to health care for needy children and for military veterans puts him on very shaky grounds. Keller, though, will in all likelihood agree to at least two somewhat low key debates with Alan. Many other Republicans have been ducking or minimizing getting up before the voters and going at it mano a mano.

Take Oregon's desperate Bush rubber stamp Gordon Smith for example. With his re-elect numbers sinking into oblivion and his chances of re-election nearly nonexistent he has taken to running millions of dollars of the worst negative ads anywhere in the country against Jeff Merkley, all the time refusing to commit to debates. Smith is so busy turning his corporate bribes into ads that attempt to tie Jeff to rapists that he is doing everything he can to avoid appearing with Jeff in front of audiences to discuss the issues. Jeff has agreed to a series of eight debates across the state, most of them from non-partisan civic organizations and media outfits.

It's even worse in House races which aren't as high profile as Senate races like Jeff's. Along New York's Southern Tier Eric Massa has been attempting to get another rubber stamp Bush Republican, Randy Kuhl, to participate in a series of debates they have both been invited to. Eric has agreed to all. Kuhl would rather run around doing cheap stunts for his friends at Big Oil-- who, so far, have paid him $37,600 for his services-- than accept invitations from to speak in front of his constituents at any of these forums:
1. WXXI Forum
Proposed date: Monday September 22, 2008
2. Alfred University Political Science Club
Proposed dates: Wednesday October 1, 2008 or Wednesday October 8, 2008
3. League of Women Voters
Proposed date: Thursday October 2, 2008
4. St. John's Meadows Political Forum
Proposed date: Monday October 6, 2008
5. WETM Debate at Elmira College
Proposed date: Tuesday October 21, 2008
6. League of Women Voters Elmira, NY
Proposed date: Sunday October 26, 2008
7. GRAPE Candidates' Forum
Proposed date: Friday October 3, 2008
8. 13 WHAM Candidates' Forum
Date open
9. R News at St Bonaventure University in Olean
Date open
10. R News in Rochester
Date Open

Kuhl, like so many other bought-off Big Oil shills in the Republican House caucus, claims he has no time to debate his opponent because he has to spend all his time trying to pass "Drill, Baby, Drill." But his career record on energy is one of the very worst of any member of Congress. "I think it's more important to debate this energy bill on the floor of the house and solve the problem than it is to worry about a political debate with somebody in some remote section of the district," is what he's telling the media. But what he's not telling that media is about the sickening voting record that has led directly to massive profits for Big Oil and massive debt for consumers who are being ripped off at the pump-- and will soon have to face winter hearing bills. Do you think Kuhl tells anyone he voted to oppose legislation that would have provided stricter penalties for gasoline price gouging, while outlawing market manipulation and empowering state attorneys general to enforce the law? Do you think he wants to explain his votes against expanding tax breaks for renewable energy, hybrid cars, energy efficient buildings and appliances and paying for it by reducing current tax benefits for oil and gas companies? How about his votes against extending and creating tax incentives for energy conservation and renewable energy production and paying for it by eliminating or reducing the manufacturing tax deduction for oil and gas companies? That's the real Randy Kuhl energy record-- that plus taking "contributions" from Big Oil. And that's the real reason Randy Kuhl is reusing to debate Eric Massa.

You have to feel sorry for some of these self important incumbent dullards who are petrified to face up to Democrats who will publicly cite their voting records. And when you get one as pathetic as Randy Forbes in southern Virginia, you find another factor-- a brilliant and articulate opponent running against him. How is an uninformed rubber stamp like Forbes ever going to be able to face up to someone like Andrea Miller? He's scared to death and he's doing everything he can to avoid her. In fact, when her campaign manager showed up at a public picnic yesterday to hand deliver an invitation to him to a TV debate, Forbes called the security guards to have him escorted off the property!

Forbes has taken in $531,519 so far this year, much of it from defense contractors, commercial banks, lobbyists, and other special interests while Andrea has been given $31,583, almost entirely from small grassroots donations. As long as Forbes refuses to debate her on TV he can just keep running his negative ads and distortions and never have to face up to a truly disgraceful voting record. With that in mind, DWT has just started an ActBlue page for Andrea. Anyone who donates today will be entered in a drawing to win one of six Georgie Is Out Of Here Party-in-a-Box kits. Just donate here through ActBlue.

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