Saturday, July 13, 2013

Carl Sciortino Faces A Democrat Who Thinks Keystone XL And Citizens United Are Just Fine


Brownsberger wants to stand out-- even if only as the worst candidate in the race

A Republican isn't going to win Ed Markey's old House seat, MA-05. The district is very blue. Last year Markey was reelected 254,128 (76%) to 82,286 (24%). The district is composed of 24 townships. Markey rocked every one of them. Obama beat former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney 65-33%. The PVI is D+14. Republicans don't win in D+14 districts. The whole ball game in MA-05 is the primary. Will a progressive Democrat win or will a middle-of-the-road or conservative Democrat win? Blue America endorsed state Rep. Carl Sciortino early because he has a perfectly progressive record in the legislature and, more important, because he's an effective leader on tough issues-- a guy with courage, smarts and heart.

So far there are at least 4 others in the primary, Karen Spilka, Katherine Clark, Peter Koutoujian and Will Brownberger. Last week we looked at the atrocious candidate EMILY's List dug up, Katherine Clark, who doesn't stand for anything but craven careerism and domestic spying. Will Brownsberger is an even worse candidate, an opportunistic self-satisfied conservative masquerading as a Democrat in a deep blue district. There's nothing about Brownsberger's sick, right-wing platform that indicates he's a progressive-- although he does eat kale salad and claims to be "semi-vegetarian," whatever that is.
In the WBUR interview, he defended the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision, which helped clear the way for unlimited corporate spending in political campaigns, on free speech grounds.

And he said he would not favor any congressional intervention to block the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf Coast, arguing that the project is little more than a footnote in the fight against climate change.

The state senator is aware that his positions on those two issues could sink him in the solidly Democratic 5th Congressional District, which bends through the suburbs north and west of Boston.

But he’s betting that a tell-it-like-it-is approach can distinguish him in a crowded field. Indeed, he seems to be staking his campaign on the notion.

...Brownsberger’s atypical positions have already created the first kerfuffle of the campaign.

Last week, WBUR reported that he was the only state senator to vote against a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision.

Democratic rival Peter Koutoujian, the Middlesex sheriff, pounced with a statement arguing that Brownsberger’s “support for the Citizens United decision should be troubling to anyone who is fed up with the tidal wave of special interest money that this Supreme Court ruling has unleashed.”

The other three Democrats in the race-- state Sens. Katherine Clark and Karen Spilka, who voted for the resolution Brownsberger opposed, and state Rep. Carl Sciortino, who backed a similar measure in the House-- all tell WBUR they favor a repeal of the decision.

Brownsberger argues that the Citizens United decision is in keeping with the country’s free speech tradition.

He says he doesn’t like the idea of third parties swamping elections with big expenditures-- he’s endorsed a “People’s Pledge” among the candidates, designed to discourage just that sort of spending.

But corporations have the First Amendment right to play in elections, he says. And in the end, he argues, the public has a responsibility to sort through the advertising and arrive at the right decision.

“The 99 percent,” he said, “have 99 percent of the vote.”

Brownsberger maintains that direct contributions to candidates are a more corrupting influence than outside spending. And that, he says, is why he doesn’t accept donations from lobbyists or political action committees. Last week, he challenged his opponents to join him in swearing off those donations as part of an enhanced “People’s Pledge.”

Peter Ubertaccio, a political science professor at Stonehill College, says selling a nuanced approach to campaign finance reform will be difficult.

“Those two words together-- Citizens United-- are visceral,” he said. “People have a very powerful response them. And political campaigns are not public policy seminars.”

...The pipeline, Brownsberger acknowledged, would allow for the extraction of more Canadian oil. But “the truth is what causes climate change is not taking oil out of the ground, it’s burning it,” he said.

“The problem is us,” he said. “The problem is not the oil industry.”

If Congress wants to get serious, he suggested, it should impose a carbon tax designed to reduce consumption of oil.

Brownsberger, if all alone on Citizens United, is not quite so isolated on the Keystone pipeline.

That may have something to do with the fact that organized labor, viewed as an important constituency in race, sees jobs in the construction of the pipeline.

Eric Hyers, the campaign manager for Spilka [who is also extremely conservative and an anti-immigrant fanatic with an ugly, bigoted record], emphasized in a statement that her “number one priority is creating jobs” before adding that “she is concerned about the environmental impact of this project and will continue to study it with the rest of the delegation.”

...Sciortino’s campaign said he is opposed to the pipeline. And the candidate, who is attempting to position himself as the true liberal in the race, broke sharply from Brownsberger on Keystone and Citizens United.

“These issues show a clear difference between us,” said Sciortino, “and the difference between someone who calls themselves a progressive at election time and a progressive leader who knows what it takes to protect the environment and keep corporate money out of campaigns.”

It’s the sort of stark contrast Brownsberger will have to avoid, analysts say, if he’s to succeed in the congressional race.
The date of the primary hasn't been set yet, but late October would be a good guess at this point. We should know next week. If you'd like to help Carl beat this pack of clowns, you can contribute to his campaign here.

And, Senator Dipshit, no, is not the same thing as lobbyist and profiteer Grover Norquist.

UPDATE: The Date Of The Primary Has Been Announced

Ed Markey was sworn in as a U.S. Senator this morning and the date of the primary was immediately announced. Carl:
We have a date!

It's just been announced that our Special Primary Election Day will be on Tuesday, October 15th.

That's just 3 months from today, and the summer is going to go by fast!

There is a lot of work to be done between now and then, and I'm going to need your help.

I hope you will join us at our new office at 23 Forrest Street in Medford Square (the old Markey field office) this coming Saturday, July 20th at 10:00 a.m. to help us get started-- that's when we'll begin gathering petition signatures. We need your help to find 2,000 registered voters to sign in order to get my name on the ballot.

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At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Mike the Mad Biologist said...

Brownsberger is my representative, and, when hundreds of residents in district were displaced by the Boston Marathon bombings, it never even occurred to him to check in on residents. Hard to support a guy who doesn't even know his own district.

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

What makes you say that Karen Spilka is so conservative? And Spilka and Clark have both now come out in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Not sure if those are new stances for them for the election. But good to see that's something they realize they need to take a stance on.


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