Saturday, February 15, 2014

Primary In Oklahoma City


Al McAffrey and Tom Guild

When our old pal, Andrew Rice, resigned his Oklahoma City state Senate seat, state Rep. Al McAffrey won it. It's one of the most progressive pockets in a deep red state and McAffrey's accession was both good and bad. Symbolically, it was awesome to have an openly gay man in the Oklahoma Senate. Many Republicans saw, for the first time, that gays have neither cloven hooves nor horns. On a more substantive basis, it was less wonderful. McAffrey is a lot less progressive than Rice and a lot less progressive than his district. As we've pointed out before, being openly gay doesn't equate to being progressive. Usually it does on LGBT issues, but often it doesn't on the 99% of issues that have nothing directly to do with LGBT issues. Mark Pocan (D-WI) is openly gay and has the single most progressive voting record in Congress-- across the board, and especially on issues impacting working families and economic equality. Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY) and Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ) are also opening gay but their records are abysmal, the two worst of any Democratic freshmen in Congress-- especially on issues impacting working families and economic equality.

McAffrey, a funeral director from Sulphur, has a lot more in common with Maloney and Sinema than with Pocan. He's got a corporatist reputation for voting with Republicans and against Democrats for crap like tax rebates for sports teams and regressive taxes like increasing drivers' license fees. One of the most prominent members of the Oklahoma City LGBT community told me he's not even that great on their issues! "He brags about being the first openly gay member of the state legislature, but when it came to issues regarding marriage equality passing the senate floor… he didn't speak up in the way you would expect from a leader. The marriage amendment in 2013 passed without objection." So why am I bothering to tell you about an obscure state Senator in Oklahoma? McAffrey is challenging progressive Tom Guild for the open seat that Jim Lankford is abandoning in a bid for a career in the U.S. Senate.

McAffrey's corporate credentials will probably get him some DCCC interest-- at least during the primary-- but Oklahomans probably remember last cycle when he said about his current opponent "We need Tom in Congress" and called him "a progressive leader that will fight day in and day out to protect Social Security, preserve Medicare, strengthen public education, expand job creation and ensure that our government is working for the people of Oklahoma."

These are half a dozen issues that distinguish between real live progressives and garden variety Democratic Party politicians. We know how Tom Guild feels about each of these issues-- because he's told us:
"I support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 and indexing it to the cost of living. This will help hard working Americans make ends meet and ensure that the minimum wage keeps pace with the rate of inflation in the future."

"I  support a major public investment in jobs, such as repairing crumbling schools and highways, wiring the country with high-speed Internet, and ensuring that states have the resources needed to keep teachers, police, and firefighters working. We can grow our economy, strengthen our nation by repairing our infrastructure, and create valuable jobs to move our country forward by making a major public investment in jobs."

"I support adding trillions to Social Security’s current surplus by 'scrapping the cap' so that millionaires and billionaires pay Social Security taxes on more than just the first $113,000 of their income. This will ensure the vibrancy of Social Security for many additional decades into the future, and ensure that our senior citizens live in dignity and not in poverty in their golden years.

"The federal government currently lends to banks at very low interest rates. I support a plan to extend those low rates to student loans. Making big profits on student loans is unseemly and adds to the tremendous burden that many students graduating from American colleges and their families currently bear. Students should be treated at least as well as banks, who benefit by extremely low interest rates."

"I support reforming our voting system by implementing 'same-day voter registration' nationwide. We need to do everything we can to ensure that all Americans are able to participate in our democracy. Reforming our system would increase voter participation, and allow those of all races and every economic status an equal opportunity to choose our elected leaders."

"I support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. This would bring millions of people in the United States out of the shadows, give them a bigger stake in our country’s future, have a tremendous positive effect on growing our economy, value diversity and ensure equal opportunity, and lower future budget deficits by trillions of dollars."

"Legal restraints should be placed on the NSA spying program to ensure that the privacy of ordinary Americans is not violated without sufficient and reasonable legal restraints. We need to restore the constitutional balance between national security and the cherished right to privacy enshrined in our Constitution. As the venerated Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says,'The right of the people to be secure…against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated…except upon probable cause…particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized.' Unrestricted and unrestrained power concentrated in the government to the seize personal information of Americans, who have not been reasonably suspected of any crime, leads inevitably to a system where government overreach, abuse of power, and mischief are invited and encouraged. We are a government of laws and not of men. The NSA and the folks in Washington, DC need to keep that in mind when they balance the competing values of security and privacy."

What about state Senator McAffrey?

Blue America is proud to have endorsed Tom Guild to replace James Lankford as congressman from OK-05, not because he's a Democrat and Lankford is a Republican, but because Guild is committed to progressive values and policy solutions that serve the needs of American working families. Today would be a good day to support his efforts by contributing, whatever you can afford, to his grassroots campaign here on the Blue America page.

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