Saturday, February 04, 2012

Run, Trevor, Run-- Hope In Western Michigan


With John Waltz challenging Fred Upton, Lance Enderle taking on Mike Rogers, Syed Taj challenging Thaddeus McCotter and Henry Yanez opposing Candice Miller, Michigan is looking at a plethora of opportunities for progressive, grassroots candidates this year. And now there's talk of another race by a grassroots activist taking on Justin Amash in the Grand Rapids/Battle Creek area (MI-3). Amash is a far-right Tea Party freshman who is furiously striving to be the next Rep. Ron Paul-- and in the worst sense of the Paulist legacy. Interesting strategy at a time when Michigan voters have had it with the teabaggers and surveys show steadily declining support for their ideas and tactics.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the Lansing apparently don’t care much for Amash; GOP redistricters weren't kind to him and MI-3 is more Democratic than it was when he was elected in 2010. There are rumors that this was "encouraged" by Boehner and Cantor who are angry that Amash strayed from Republican orthodoxy too frequently. He even managed to piss off the National Rifle Association so much that they ended up pulling their money and calling Amash a “liar.” And, for an incumbent, Amash is having trouble finding contributors to back him. His latest fiance report shows him with just $136,000 in cash on hand.  Another congressional millionaire, he's looking at the prospect of self-funding. His family cashed in by  importing goods from foreign countries like China only to slap on a company logo that says: "Michigan Industrial Tools." This was an ad from 2010 with ideas likely to resonate more forcefully this year:

Yesterday we looked at how the DCCC and Inside-the-Beltway Democrats are encouraging a conservative corporate shill in Florida, Patrick Murphy (a rich "ex"-Republican) to run against progressive activist Dave Lutrin. With despised Blue Dog Heath Shuler (NC) retiring from Congress in the face of a strong challenge from progressive Cecil Bothwell, the DCCC rushed to recruit a bunch of conservatives to challenge Bothwell, like Shuler's chief of staff Hayden Rogers. So how are the DCCC and the Michigan Democratic Establishment taking advantage of Amash's vulnerabilities? My sources tell me they’re looking for a “safe” candidate-- not the guy who might actually be electable and have the authenticity to pull some anti-Amash folks and maybe even turn some heads among a largely automotive, working-class populous. 

We were enthused a month or so ago to hear rumors that a fighting progressive, Trevor Thomas, was looking at a run. Trevor grew up in the district; his parents worked 30 years each on factory lines, including General Motors and Delphi plants. A source close to his team reports that he picked up legendary consultant Mark Mellman who is already in the field with a poll measuring his chances.

Trevor, who spent five years as a producer and reporter at WOOD-TV and WGVU-TV in Grand Rapids, went on to work for Governor Jennifer Granholm and later helped lead the national effort to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell."  And he’s done his legwork, meeting with local electeds in the district since November and charting a well-thought out, early grassroots plan to win.

But Democrats are hung up on his pro-Choice position (many of the Democratic electeds in west Michigan are as anti-Choice as Republicans) and they're afraid to find out how his being openly gay will play out. They must have missed The Advocate story calling Grand Rapids one of the gayest cities in America.

Here's where we call bullshit. Our sources tell us that local Democrats, no doubt backed by the DCCC, are looking at a pro-life, multi-millionaire conservative who will run on the Democratic ticket. They think he’s a safe alternative, but most folks admit they don’t believe he has the fire to mount a decent campaign. This election is going to be about fighting for the middle class. And, we need candidates who are from the middle class to make the case to voters. That's Trevor Thomas.

There is even talk that Republicans are directly involved in helping to set the Democratic ticket. They don't like Amash, but won't set up a primary challenge. And, there's a history of Republicans dividing and helping pick the Democratic candidate.  When then-Congressman Gerry Ford was named Vice President and a special election was held, some GOP-ers backed a conservative democrat running on an anti-Nixon message. That Democrat won, only to lose two years later when the GOP put up a Republican with broader support.

Through a friend, I’m told Trevor will spend this weekend thinking about it after looking at some of the data collected and meeting with his team. But he may very well be squeezed out by local folks opting to go with someone who won’t take the tough votes progressives need in Congress. That’s wrong and we need to spread the word-- now.

We need to show Trevor we have his back. DWT is pushing him to run; he spoke at this past Netroot’s Nation with AmericaBlog’s Joe Sudbay on the DREAM Act and Don’t Ask repeal. He doesn’t come from wealth and he damn well will represent what progressives believe.  And he’ll fight like hell all the way to the end. The Democratic congressional caucus is old-- really old-- much older than the Republican congressional caucus. The need for fresh, inspired younger Members is glaring... screaming. Trevor Thomas is part of what the future of the Democratic Party looks like and what the United States of America looks like. He'll make western Michigan proud and he should run for this seat.

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At 7:06 AM, Anonymous Harris said...

There's a lot in Trevor to like, but he faces something of an uphill climb. Financially, the race for MI-3 has become more expensive with the addition of Calhoun county (Battle Creek), forcing campaigns to wage a two-media market war. Secondly, in partisan races outside Grand Rapids, the region tends to be socially conservative, D or R,a function of underlying Catholic (principally Polish) and conservative Protestant (Dutch) communities. Winning coalitions must tap both these communities to win. Then there is experience. Progressives have tried to run in MI-3 before, none have gained much traction.

As to the City -- shifts are underway in Grand Rapids, notably the creation of a safe (and progressive) state house seat, but this will not be vacant until 2016. Our City Commission races also have glimmers of progressive leadership, particularly in the Second Ward. Likewise, the School Board has a strong progressive cast to it, as well, many having enjoyed the support of Progressive Women's Alliance -- I think that this would be the likely pool for candidates to actually emerge.


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