Monday, July 28, 2014

Dear Nancy Pelosi-- You're Letting Steve Israel Throw Away A Winnable Seat In Michigan


If there's one district that demonstrates the venality of Steve Israel and his utter unfitness to head the DCCC, it is the race in southwest Michigan between the hereditary multimillionaire chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton, and Paul Clements, a professor at Western Michigan University, an advocate for middle class families and for environmental sanity. MI-06 has a PVI of R+1, one of only a dozen districts in the country with that rank. Five of those seats are held by Democrats and 7 are held by Republicans. For Democrats to ever think about taking back the House, they have to win those 7 seats. Steve Israel isn't contesting 4 of the 7, which should be enough of a reason for Nancy Pelosi to fire him on the spot. People often ask me why he isn't going after MI-06, since it would be a much more likely win than almost any of the Red to Blue seats he is going after.

There are several reasons, aside from just general incompetence. First of all, Upton was a member of Israel secret society, the Center Aisle Caucus which joined Blue Dogs and mainstream conservatives into a pact to never oppose each other in elections. And second is Israel's sweet little deal with the NRCC that if he doesn't target Republican leaders or committee chairs, they won't target… Steve Israel, the only member of either party in a district with a zero PVI that doesn't have a contested race.

MI-06 is the highest Democratic performing seat currently held by a Republican in Michigan; Obama in 2008 and hometown boy Mitt Romney only won by one percentage point in 2012. Despite that, Israel has decided to ignore Paul Clements and ignore MI-06 and dump money into MI-01 where an anti-Choice conservative Democrat is trying to win in an R+5 district and into MI-07 where a moderate, garden variety Democrat is trying to win in an R+3 seat. If Israel's CIA spy wins the primary in MI-11, he says he'll spend money there too-- a district with an R+4 PVI. But nothing, not a nickel in MI-06. Someone might ask, "Is Pelosi asleep at the wheel?" I would rephrase that: "Can anyone wake Pelosi up, or is it too late?"

And what makes this even worse is this poll that Israel and the DCCC saw last October, clearly showing just how vulnerable Upton is: 53% disapproval, 51% ready to elect a Democrat, 56% saying they would be even less likely to vote to reelect Upton after his vote to shut down the government and a final score of Upton- 36%, Democrat- 56%, undecided 8%. Steve Israel may be a moron (he is) but even he can read a poll this clear and obvious.

Israel is throwing money at districts between R+8 and R+19. He's not going to win even one of them-- NOT ONE. And he's throwing away MI-06 (and WA-06), primarily because he's a Blue Dog who hates progressives. Maybe Pelosi should have thought of that before reappointing him after his catastrophic losses in 2012 while Obama was being reelected and Patty Murray at the DSCC was cleaning the Republicans' clocks in impossible state after impossible state after impossible state. Israel couldn't even win the easy ones! And Pelosi is allowing him to replay the same ugly scenario this cycle.

People in southwest Michigan deserve better; people all over America deserve better. And what if Upton loses his primary to teabagger Jim Bussler a week from Tuesday? It's not likely-- but more likely than it was for David Brat to beat Eric Cantor. Last cycle, Upton won by the smallest margin of his career, and the local media has finally-- after all these years, started telling voters about what he;s been up to in Washington. Had Israel helped 2012 Democratic candidate Mike O'Brien, Upton would have probably lost-- or at least set the state for a loss this cycle. And Clements is an even better candidate than O'Brien… and a better fundraiser. Clements has already raised over half a million dollars (with 100 days to go) while O'Brien raised only $293,987 for the entire cycle, Israel telling institutional donors not to "waste" their money on either candidate.

In the past, no one would have read this kind of unfriendly editorial about Upton from the Kalamazoo Gazette. "Dear Fred," they wrote. "Knock it off. Let go of this irrational desire to dismantle the Affordable Care Act through unending legislative maneuvers. And, stop heeling to the extremes of the Republican Party."
Your obsession, the Republican party’s obsession, with attempting to dismantle the law has now resulted in a government shut down, because you and 227 other representatives voted in favor of a plan tying government spending to a one-year delay in the ACA's mandate requiring Americans to purchase health insurance.

In August, during a live chat on, you wrote in response to a reader's question about a potential government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act: "I know some of my colleagues have suggested that they will not support [a Continuing Resolution] unless the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is defunded. I think this would be a lousy idea and certainly harm the most vulnerable."

It was a lousy idea in August, and it was still a lousy idea a few days ago. And, yet, you decided to go along with it. Saying Tuesday, just hours after the shutdown, "The Affordable Care Act is not ready for primetime, but shutting down the federal government is not a solution” does nothing to ease the frustration of voters.

If shutting down the government is not the solution, then don’t vote for a measure that results in that. The American public is now being made to pay the unreasonable price of reduced services-- or no services-- for this partisanship.

Which brings us to the bigger point. There is serious work to be done, be it improving Obamacare, dealing with the budget and the debt ceiling, jobs, tax reform. There is serious work that requires serious statesmanship with a decidedly bipartisan bent.
Upton is too in thrall to the teabaggers he fears to be that statesman. It's time for him to leave. He's failed miserably on Climate Change, where as committee chair he could have done more than just bottling up solutions to the greatest problem facing mankind today, which has a great deal to do with why the Sierra Club has ignored Steve Israel and endorsed Paul Clements, the loudest voice on behalf of Climate Change solutions of any candidate for Congress this year-- and running against the Republican who the L.A. Times rated as the #1 enemy of planet earth. Please consider helping Clements keep his field operation and his grassroots outreach strong. You can contribute to his campaign directly on this page. No contribution is too small. This is one where we can make a very real and very important difference.

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