Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mary Bono-Mack Draws A Challenge: Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet


Democrats have long felt that the first of the Inland Empire congressional districts that would elect a Democrat to Congress would be CA-45, most of Riverside County and mostly desert. Aside from desert, it also includes Palm Springs-- and the desert itself has bloomed. It has been turning bluer and bluer and in November the district voted for Obama over McCain, 52-47% (after giving Bush 51% in 2000 and 56% in 2004). You may recall that in 2006, progressive Democrat Dave Roth wound up with 41% of the vote and that last year Democrat Julie Bornstein garnered 43%. In fact, every single year since first being elected in 1998, incumbent Republican Mary Bono-Mack has seen her margin of victory shrink. Democrats feel that 2010 will see the end of her political career and her retirement to her husband's Florida district; she's married to extreme right wing lunatic Connie Mack.

This year, Steve Pougnet has decided to take on Bono-Mack-- and from the same perch from which her husband, Sonny Bono, originally won the seat-- the Palm Springs mayor's office. Steve was elected to the City Council in 2003 and last year be was elected mayor. Steve is not just gay, but the father of two young twins who he and his partner of 15 years adopted.

Bono-Mack is an elusive target for the energetic can-do mayor. She tends to be a rubber stamp for the GOP leadership but always manages to pick out two or three controversial issues each year on which she loudly crosses the aisle so that she can tell the moderates and independents that dominate Riverside County politics that she's one of them. And yet full-blown GOP reactionaries like Brian Bilbray, Dana Rohrabacher and even Ed Royce have been voting more frequently to support elements of Obama's programs than Bono-Mack has. She's very, very frightened to rile up the off-the-rails fringe of the GOP who are quick to turn against any Republican that takes even a baby-step towards the mainstream.

Yesterday the DCCC sent a press release to media outlets in Riverside County entitled "Mary Bono Mack Could Have Stopped AIG Bonuses" that started like this:
Americans’ outrage over AIG and Congressional Republicans’ reaction to it doesn’t match the reality of what Representative Mary Bono Mack and Republican leaders have done in Washington to block limits on outrageous pay and bonuses.
“For years, President Bush and Washington Republicans led the charge to block any effort to limit the outrageous salaries and bonuses of corporate executives,” said Jennifer Crider, Communications Director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  “When Representative Bono Mack had the chance, she voted to allow outrageous pay and bonuses, like those for AIG executives, to continue.
“It’s easy for Republicans to play to angry Americans and say they’re offended by bonuses during a firestorm, but the reality is that Representative Bono Mack's indignation rings hollow when she is part of the Republican ‘just say no’ policies that led to outrageous executive pay and bonuses.”

And it's certainly true that Bono-Mack joined every single Republican member of Congress in opposing legislation that sought to eliminate all future golden parachutes for TARP senior executives and put a stop to incentives for top executives to take unnecessary risks, as well as to crack down on future bonuses, retention awards, and incentive compensation for all TARP executives. 

If you're wondering if being gay has made a difference in how progressive or reactionary members of Congress have been, the answer is no. There are gay members, like Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), David Dreier (D-CA) and Patty McHenry (R-NC) who are arch-conservatives way on the far right of the political spectrum, and there are gay members like Barney Frank (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jared Polis (D-CO) who spend every day fighting for working families and are genuine progressive leaders. The difference isn't sexuality; it's honesty. Polis, Baldwin and Frank accept themselves and are honest about who they are with their constituents. Graham, Dreier, McConnell, and McHenry loathe themselves, hide in dark closets, and live in shame and fear that one day they will be discovered like Larry Craig (R-ID), Mark Foley (R-FL) or Ed Schrock (R-VA) and their worlds will collapse around their ears. No wonder they are such terrible legislators and so screwed up as people. Steve Pougnet fits in with the upfront, self-accepting, family-oriented members. Judging by his work on the Palm Springs City Council he'll be a grassroots-oriented congressman, working for his community, unlike Bono-Mack who is completely in the pockets of the special interests that support his career. She's taken in $544,283 from the finance/insurance/real estate sector, the very folks who have brought on the economic crisis.

Someone asked me how Bono-Mack's district has been effected by the mortgage crisis and the unwillingness of the Republicans to do anything about it except call the victims of the banksters "losers." Interestingly, the hardest hit district, in terms of foreclosures, in the entire nation, is Bono-Mack's adopted home in Florida's 14th CD (which is represented by her newest husband Connie Mack). The overwhelmingly Republican district (PVI is R+10) has had 35,134 foreclosures, highest, by far, of any congressional district in the entire country. The California district suffering the most from Republican policy failure in the mortgage crisis is Dan Lungren's (CA-03) with 17,765 foreclosures so far, making it the 15th worst in the country. CA-45, represented by Bono-Mack has had 15,328 foreclosures, 4th worst in California (after Lungren's, Calvert's and McClintock's) and 25th worst in America. Her's, though, is the only one that isn't overwhelmingly Republican. Bono-Mack followed her husband's lead on voting against the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, regardless of how devastating that is for thousands of families in both states. So let's not hear any talk about Mary Bono-Mack being a moderate or having any real independent thoughts in her head.


Long, long commutes for the exurban pioneers from the Inland Empire-- long and through ugly, boring terrain. So they've turned to a plethora of hate talk radio stations and between the drive to work and the drive home, they were always ready to vote for Republicans no matter how deeply in the hole GOP policies put them. I got a clue about how severely that's been shaken lately. In what will be extremely good news for Mayor Pougnet, a woman in Indian Wells, whose license plate was "Rush," has removed the offensive plates and broken her addiction to the drug-addled Republican Party propagandist. Except for fans of Neil, Alex and Geddy, the Rush license plate fad looks like its going the way of the hula hoop, at least outside of the old slave holding states.

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At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Secretary of State's latest stats (Feb 10, 2009) show that since October 20 last year, Democrats have picked up more than 2,000 registrations, while Republicans have picked up a grand total of 9.

Old age would appear to be working against the Republicans...

At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sick of the Republicans that I'll do whatever I can to see that they continue to dwindle to nothing. Their philosophy is bankrupt.

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hey DownWithTyranny!, great post. I have voted for each Democratic challenger to Mary Bono-Mack and am so happy that Pougnet is running.

Ever since my first trip to WAshington, DC where I met Mary in her office I've gotten a bad vibe from her as one of our 'local leaders.' She didn't care to address my concerns about the beautiful place where I was born and raised - Palm Springs - instead, it seemed that all she cared about was getting a photo op with me. She expected me to be ecstatic (I was a senior at Palm Springs High then) about the opportunity to view my pic with her website, when in fact it was she who seemed elated. At the time I wondered if she just asked me to take a photo of her as evidence that Latinas in her district visit her...;)

Anyways, having recently come out in the last 6 months, I am even more excited about Pougnet's run. I have reached out to him and met him at the Democratic Convention here in Sacramento and told him that I had already signed up to help him with his campaign.

Thank you for posting such great information that really should be part of the Progressive Democrat message - Republican Mortgage Crisis. Your facts would be/are really helpful to his campaign!

At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Lets back Steve Pougnet...NO Third party spoilers...fanatics Like Lussenheide for congress ca-45 AIP! Religious zealot. Clayton experience and same as Bono.


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