Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dan Maffei Wants To Take On Teabagger Ann Marie Buerkle Again... But First He Has To Persuade Democrats He Deserves Their Nomination


Yesterday we mentioned that, by overwhelming numbers, the Democrats who lost last November were either Blue Dogs (more than half of them lost their seats) or their conservative allies. There were, however a tiny handful of progressives who also got swept up in the carnage, half a dozen Democrats who did NOT deserve to lose their seats but whose districts are so red that the Tea Party rage and the right-wing momentum impacted them as well. We've mentioned that Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) are both running for Congress again next year. Yesterday, Dan Maffei, one of the more conservative Democrats to have lost in 2010, made it official-- he's challenging deranged teabagger Ann Marie Buerkle to a rematch.

Their contest for New York's 25th CD, centered in Syracuse, was the closest election of the year and Buerkle squeezed by with a 648 vote margin-- 104,602- 103,954. Maffei lost because of a swing towards the crazy teabagger in the traditionally Republican suburbs of Rochester. In 2008 Maffei had won the Monroe County section of the district 26,883 (58%) to 19,179 (41%) but last year the Monroe precincts gave Buerkle the lift she needed-- 20,790 (55%) to 17,106 (45%). She picked up over a thousand Republican voters in the county at the same time that Maffei lost over 9,000! The biggest county on the district, by far, is Onondaga (Syracuse) and Maffei still won that one handily-- 76,046 (54%) to 65,632 (46%) but, even there in the most Democratic part of the district, it was a disappointing turn out. In fact in 2008, Maffei had taken 112,856 (56%) and his GOP opponent had only gotten 81,312 (40%). So while Maffei's falloff from 2008 was almost 37,000 votes, Buerkle's falloff from the presidential year to the midterm was only just over 15,000 votes. The two smaller, more rural and Republican, counties voted against Maffei both times but in 2008 he managed to get 47% in Wayne and 42% in Cayuga. Last year Wayne only gave him 37% of its vote and Cayuga 35%.

Clearly, Maffei needs to win back the suburban Rochester swing voters in Monroe County and turn out the disillusioned Democratic base in Onondaga. His dull and uninspiring , centrist message isn't going to get many progressives excited. He'll be counting on Obama's presence at the top of the ticket for Onondaga and he'll be counting on Buerkle's political psychosis for the swing suburbanites. She's been one of the most insane of the radical teabaggers among the House freshmen. Although she represents a swing district equally divided between Democrats and Republicans her voting record is to the right of most right-wing Confederate lunatics from the deepest red districts in the bowels of the South. Her ProgressivePunch score is a dismal 1.64, not just the worst of any New York congressmember, but tied (with two Mississippi KKK freaks, Gregg Harper and Steven Palazzo) for the 14th worst in the entire Congress. Buerkle's voting record is to the right of Darrell Issa's, Mike Pence's, Patrick McHenry's, Eric Cantor's, Paul Ryan's Taliban Dan Webster's, Allen West's, Steve King's, Virginia Foxx's, Louie Gohmert's, Mean Jean Schmidt's... getting the picture? From a political perspective, she's stark raving mad. As Maffei pointed out, "Buerkle has had eight months to show some sort of willingness to compromise and get things done for the district or the country, and she remains as radical as ever."
Buerkle was among 66 Republicans who voted earlier this month against a compromise to raise the debt limit and cut more than $2.1 trillion in federal spending over 10 years.

"It seems like it has been a long time since we were working on how to get things done-- not to shut things down and put the United States literally on the brink of default," Maffei said. "It’s an opportunity I have to represent the people of Central New York again. We cannot continue to allow someone as radical and extreme as Buerkle to do so. I represent a much more moderate point of view."

Buerkle, reached Tuesday afternoon on a trip to Israel, declined to comment about a rematch with Maffei.

Ironically, the congressmembers touring Israel are reassuring Israel that they, unlike the hard-pressed working families of central New York, will feel NONE of the impact of the financial hardtimes disrupting the U.S. and the rest of the world. American aid will see to that.

This is the letter Maffei sent supporters Tuesday morning making his announcement:
Since January a shock wave of Tea Party driven partisanship and inflexibility has rolled across Congress. When I lost my election last November by 648 votes, I hoped that such a close result would convince our new Congresswoman to put aside her radical ideology, and set about finding ways to bring people together and create new opportunities for Central New Yorkers. Instead, she has marched in lockstep with her Tea Party friends, and voted time and again with the special interests who spent so many hundreds of thousands of dollars on the attack ads that helped her win. 

Rep. Buerkle’s actions, now that she is in power, have clearly shown her dangerous priorities. She has already voted to end Medicare as we know it while protecting tax breaks for oil companies and billionaires. She has made her right-wing social agenda her priority while ignoring the real needs in this District for infrastructure funding and public education. And she was part of the extreme group that refused any compromise, and nearly plunged the nation into economic catastrophe.

Over the past 9 months I have done a great deal of listening to friends, neighbors and former constituents across Central New York about what they feel about the direction of the country, and whether I should be a candidate in 2012. The overwhelming refrain has been that it’s time for Congress to stop wasting time, and start working together to solve the very real problems that we face.

Sometimes, people are so frustrated that they are tempted to throw up their hands in disgust and walk away. I understand this feeling. But I know that there is a bright future in front of us as long as we don’t give up on Central New York, America, or ourselves. Working together, we can do better! That is why I am running for Congress in 2012. Our campaign will offer the people of Central New York a better future than the divisive politics of Ann Marie Buerkle.

People have had enough, and they want and deserve a representative who will offer solutions to modernize our infrastructure, to protect seniors and our middle class, and to get our deficit under control while jump-starting our economy. I have always worked hard to find solutions, and have been successful at doing so both inside and outside of government. The people that know me best know how passionate I am for the future of my home and birthplace, Central New York, and that passion gives me great energy. But I can't change things without your help. I am running for Congress and I ask for your active support.

If Maffei gets the Democratic nomination it will be another example of a conservative Democrat-- he's a member of Rahm Emanuel's sell-out New Democratic Coalition-- duking it out against a reactionary Republican. There's no real upside for normal working families. Is he better than Buerkle? Sure. She's an F. He's a C or a D. Oh boy! When he was defeated he went to work against the interests of working families at the right-wing think tank, Third Way, working on repatriating corporate profits at lower tax rates, one of the most regressive proposals floating around Washington circles. And, as the National Journal points out he's a dedicated "moderate."
In the House, he emphasized his moderate stripes and nonideological pragmatism. He joined the New Democrat Coalition, a group of moderate Democrats. He got seats on the Financial Services and Judiciary committees.

He says he keeps a photograph of hard-charging Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff and former Illinois lawmaker, in his office closet as a reminder of the need to raise money.

The other Democrat hoping for the nomination is Brianne Murphy, a 30 year old Syracuse labor attorney. Tom Buckel, who is considerably more progressive than Maffei, was thinking of running for the seat but decided to run for the state Supreme Court instead. Tom told me that Brianne has a compelling personal story. He was right. She's an amazing, passionate candidate who is so lively, intellectually curious and animated that she makes Maffei seem like Mr. Potatohead. I spoke with her last night and my first impression was that she would make an incredible candidate against Buerkle. She told me that people across central New York are looking for "an advocate for their interests in Washington; and a fresh voice that isn’t beholden to any special interests."
"Growing up in Syracuse, raised by a single mother who supported our family with a good, union job and with some help from the government, and now as an employment attorney, I know firsthand the challenges that working families in Central New York are facing.

"I know how important it is that we support working- and middle-class families with strong public policies that create good jobs. I know the values my mother instilled in me-- promoting the common good, supporting our children, and advancing equality-- and won’t be afraid to fight for them in Washington. I believe we must win back the economic debate by fighting for policies that will create the good jobs of the future. I plan to do that in Congress."

New Yorkers will be lucky if she's part of their delegation to Congress-- and everyone else in the country looking for social justice and a muscular approach to old fashioned economic fairness will be as well. She's worth checking out-- especially if you live in the Syracuse area. In 2008 Blue America endorsed Dan Maffei and helped him raise money after he assured us of his progressive agenda. What a disappointment he turned out to be! We didn't re-endorse him in 2010. This year we'll be looking closely at endorsing his primary opponent. For now, if you want to help Brianne's campaign, you can do it here.

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At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a single complaint about a single thing Maffei voted wrong on in Congress. Please explain how he was such a "disappointment" based on the actual things he said or did - or failed to do - while in Congress.

At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me with this? This cannot have been written by anyone who actually lives in the district. Dan Maffei is not a "conservative Democrat." My sense on the ground here is that people were relieved that Dan would run again - he is far and away our best chance to take that seat back, and I don't know anyone on the left who was unhappy with Dan for anything other than not hanging on to win it. He has been strong on the issues people care about here, and very accessible to activists. Brianne Murphy only moved back to Syracuse to run - she doesn't even know any of the committee members, a large percentage of whom have long standing relationships with Dan Maffei. This is really unhelpful to the effort to take back this seat. Dan is distinctly to the left of this district, and the grassroots people who actually live here know that and appreciate it. The mere fact that it was possible for Buerkle to win this one in the first place should tell you that this is not a deep blue district.

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At 6:48 PM, Blogger 1968 said...

agree that Dan Maffei is far and away the best person to beat that loony batshit buerkle. And, yes, he is 100% progressive, and also very very smart. I grew up with him and went to grade school, middle school adn high school with him. Incredibly hard worker, decent, adn, drumroll please...humble, in the right way. We have to ALL get behind him and push him over the top. I wanat to see him win by 10 percentage points. At least. We are going to send that crazy freak buerkle back to her cave.


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