Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Unstable Republican Jumps Into A Wisconsin Primary Against Kelly Westlund-- And He Has A Pig Named Barney Frank


Mike Krsiean (left) with his 700 pound Berkshire Boar (right), who he's named Barney Frank

Mike Krsiean is a Republican crackpot who envisions himself in Congress. His attempts to run as a Republican and as an independent have failed-- and failed miserably-- so he's decided to run as an anti-Choice/pro-gun "Democrat" pushing the Republican austerity agenda enumerated in Paul Ryan's budget. And he's taking his garden variety GOP ideas to a Democratic primary against progressive Kelly Westlund. Not that he's that garden variety. Even some of his fellow-right wingers find him and his conspiracy theories off the charts. And I wonder if he's the only member of the JFPO-- Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership-- to run for Congress. From an admirer: Krsiean says his "goal is to help steer the Democratic Party toward the right and constitutional integrity. Much like Ron Paul did within the Republican party… [I]f socialists can invade the Republican party and destroy unity, why can’t a constitutionalist invade the Democratic party and stir things up a bit and possibly take a primary?" I know he hates the Republican incumbent, Sean Duffy, but I haven't heard anyone ever refer to that particular reactionary Paul Ryan-clone as a socialist before.

Fortunately for residents of Wausau, Superior, Stevens Point and the rest of WI-07 in northwest Wisconsin, the Democrats are fielding one of the best candidates they have anywhere, Kelly Westlund, a young woman Blue America endorsed last year. As we noted at the time, Kelly has been an outspoken advocate for increasing the minimum wage and for expanding opportunity so that anyone can succeed based on talent and merit, not their family net worth or their ability to exploit tax loopholes. Her other Republican opponent, the one running as a Republican, Sean Duffy, refuses to support raising the minimum wage to a living wage for working people, and made a splash on the national stage by whining that he struggles to get by on his salary of a mere $174,000/year. Is it any wonder he is incapable of relating to the trials and problems of ordinary working Americans?

Kelly served on the Ashland City Council from 2011-2014. As a small business owner, she runs a consulting firm that partners with local farms, small businesses, local governments, and civic organizations to work on economic and community development projects. Westlund previously served as executive director for the Alliance for Sustainability and was an adjunct professor of sustainable community development at her alma mater, Northland College.

Last week, Norman Lear's organization, People for the American Way, announced their endorsement as well. PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager: “Kelly Westlund is a fighter for fairness and equality, and she’s a strong voice for Wisconsin’s working families. Kelly is fighting for a  Congress that represents all people instead of just millionaires and corporations."

Yesterday, we spoke with her about one of the points she's been making in her campaign, the oppressive and dysfunctional nature of how American electoral campaigns are financed. "I've always been optimistic," she told us, "about the potential for positive change-- a political process that engages people in government to build a more equal and just society. Always up for a challenge, I like to go straight to the root of the problem. And when it comes to politics, money is the problem." Let me quote her verbatim:
I jumped into this race with my eyes wide open. I knew it would take a lot of money to win. But I come from a swing district with an average household income of less than $40k per year. There's an expectation that candidates come to the table with money in hand. I came to the table with a network of waitresses, teachers, farmers, and students-- not exactly millionaires on their best days.

But some candidates can be competitive, even if they don't have access to hundreds of thousands of dollars within the first few weeks of the campaig.

As a former City Councilor, nonprofit executive, and small business owner, I had all the qualifications. But qualifications didn't seem to matter. Instead, I was expected have significant wealth or immediate access to it. In too many cases, after all, that's what it takes to win.

It's no wonder the wealthy few have so much influence on our political process. No wonder working-class people aren't represented in Congress when both parties embrace a framework that translates wealth to political power.

It's wrong, whichever side of the aisle you're on.

Always the hard-nosed optimist, I'm working hard to show that there's a better way to do politics. I'm standing with workers, talking to voters, and taking the fight to my Tea Party congressman.

It's working. We have a solid team in place and the momentum is building every day. Polls show he's vulnerable. I'm viable, organized, and determined to lead by example. I know that we can do better, and I intend to do my part.

Having to raise funds while I'm running for office on campaign finance reform? The irony isn't lost on me. But we can't change the conversation-- in government OR political parties-- until we have different people sitting at the table.
At this link you'll find every post where we ever mentioned Kelly's name. And at this link you'll find an opportunity to seamlessly contribute to Kelly's grassroots campaign against the two Republicans running against her, pig rancher Mike Krsiean from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership and Sean Duffy from the Holy Church of Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand Devotion. The second link's the more important one.

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