CA-11: Thoughts from the Campaign Trail

(cross posted at Daily Kos)

By Rep. Jane Harman

I traveled to Stockton, in California's Central Valley, on Columbus Day to campaign with Democratic House candidate Jerry McNerney.  

Jerry is running in California's 11th Congressional District against incumbent Republican Richard Pombo, who many consider his party's poster-boy for destructive anti-environmental policies.  Pombo and I entered Congress together in 1992, and since then he has done everything in his power to undermine 40 years of federal environmental protections.  

As Chair of the House Resources Committee, Pombo has used his perch to gut the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air and Water Acts, and other environmental laws.  Jerry McNerney is an engineer in clean and alternative energy production and a small businessman in the emerging energy technology field.  He'll protect our natural resources, and believes that a healthy environment and economy go hand-in-hand.

But I traveled to Stockton to join Jerry at the University of the Pacific's School of International Studies not to discuss the environment, but national security policy.  Here, too, on this extremely complex topic, Jerry can more than hold his own.  Even though he hasn't yet been elected to Congress, he is more informed on security issues than many of my House colleagues.

There's more...

Dem-controlled House: likely leadership battles

The way things are moving, the Dems are (by some margin) more likely than not going to control the 110th House.

So it's worthwhile raising one or two of the personnel issues that will be facing the party in that event.

So far, we've got a likely election for Majority Leader between Hoyer and Murtha; and Rahmbo has said he's quitting the DCCC Chair at the end of this Congress, supposedly to spend more time with his family (oh yes...).

What about the rest of the posts?

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Democratic House: tussle hots up for leadership spots

If the Dems win control of the House on November 7, prepare for all-in leadership musical chairs starting November 8.

Sign of the future: the much trumpeted deal by which the DNC will devote part of its 06 campaign spend to 40 House races.

Rahmbo and Howie haven't been speaking - and, according the Hill, amongst others,

There is dispute over whether it took House Democratic Caucus Chairman James Clyburn's (S.C.) intervention to broker the deal...

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Racial Politics This Week -- A Roundup

This week in minority politics, brought to you by Jack and Jill Politics typed to you to the sounds of The Joint, the reggae channel on XM Radio. Let's dive right into some playa-hating, shall we?

Losers This Week:

Al Wynn, whose greasy shell game involving possibly illegal corporate donations to his Maryland Congressional campaign was exposed on MyDD.  Fortunately, there's another candidate for this seat who also happens to be African-American: Donna Edwards. If you live in her district in Maryland, get out and make sure a progressive candidate who will care more for constituents than corporations wins this time. Wynn doesn't deserve to win.

John Bolton, who has brought a not very unique blend of racism, aggression and blunt ideological stupidity to his tenure as U.N. Ambassador got the bum rush from Sen. Lincoln Chafee. During Senate hearings, Chafee probed Bolton's thoughts that "shaping the Middle East" is "one" of the significant challenges of our time. Shouldn't the people living in the Middle East shape their own destiny? I thought Manifest Destiny went out of fashion in the 19th century? Looks like Bolton may be looking for a new job come Jan.

Condi Riceblows any remaining credibility with Black women between the ages of 25-55 or really any thinking American with her head-scratching statements in popular Essence magazine comparing critics of the Iraq war to those who tacitly supported slavery during the Civil War. Repugnant, reactionary, desperate and disgraceful.

There's more...

Tips for the Establishment: How To Defeat Movement Candidates

In a brilliant post over at Dailykos, mcjoan provides what should have been the obvious solution to all those various Democratic incumbents and establishment favorites who have recently become threatened by the progressive movement in Democratic primaries. Instead of demonizing and spewing bile toward the progressive movement, you will find victory easier to come by and unity easier to achieve if you do what all good politicians do: listen to your constituents. During her primary fight with Marcy Winograd, Jane Harman braved the lion's den by posting a diary and listening to readers on Dailykos during her primary, thereby showing her opponents and the progressive movement respect. By way of stark contrast, Joe Lieberman his supporters have treated their opponents with nothing but disdain, insults, and threats Seriously, could you even imagine Joe Lieberman posting on a major blog, especially after everything he and his supporters have said about the blogosphere and the netroots? There is no respect there at all. Further, while Joe Lieberman turns even further to the right and attack opponents of the Vietnam war, Jane Harman steps up and becomes an outspoken critic of Bush on intelligence matters. As mcjoan writes:A good Democrat, Senator Lieberman, is loyal to his party and to his ideals. This can be achieved when the Democratic representative respects dissenting views and does not operate from a sense of entitlement.

A good Democratic representative respects the will of his constituents even when he disagrees with their views. He listens and responds. He explains his views and respects those that oppose him. He does not accuse his constituency of undermining the security of the nation because they disagree with him and the Republican president.

A good Democratic Senator does not accuse his fellow Senators of imperiling the nation's security by opposing the president. There are many examples of good Democrats who disagree with the Democratic base on the Iraq Debacle. One of them is your Congressional colleague Jane Harman, once ironically known as the "Joe Lieberman of the House." It is clear now that that labeling Harman as that is false and unfair. Would that we could have called you the Jane Harman of the Senate. It was not to be. There is, I believe, an important reason for this difference in approach. Joe Lieberman and his most outspoken supporters in the punditry rose to power within the Democratic Party and the media by distancing themselves from progressive Democrats through repeated Sista Souljah moves, by endlessly playing the electability card (despite repeatedly losing elections), and by constantly closing Daou's triangle by adopting the stance the media loves above all else: the "I Yousta be a liberal" stance where a Democrat explains why Republican complaints about Democrats are all true. What Lieberman and his supporters cannot stomach is that these same attacks against progressives that brought him to media stardom now serve as the core rationale for why the people-powered progressive movement wants to bring him down (I mean, who would have ever thought that being demonized causes you to dislike the person doing the demonizing?). They also can't seem to stomach that you have to earn power among voters by listening to them, having responsive constituent services, and by actually representing their hopes and dreams. The reason Lieberman's supporters are demonizing rather than listening is because manipulating the corporate media through demonizing members of their own party is the only path toward power that they understand.

It is a relief to me that Jane Harman showed she was not that type of politician. Whatever conservative, liberal or otherwise positions she may hold, she is not willing to demonize and sell-out her own constituency in the corporate media in order to further her own power within the national political discourse or Washington D.C. Other establishment types threatened by the progressive movement should follow Harman's path. The days when you gain power by adopting the "I yousta be a liberal" stance are over. It is time to listen to your opponents and your constituents and show them that you respect them. Do not facilitate Republican narratives about them. Do not demonize them. Take Harman's path (and not just by posting a diary on Dailykos), and not only will you prevent most primary challenges from ever becoming as serious as Ned Lamont's has become in Connecticut, but you will also have a more unified Democratic Party and an activist base that is much more willing to help you out when the going gets tough against Republicans in general elections. Take my advice: if you feel threatened by the progressive movement, then open up talks with them. If you continue to take an aristocratic, demonizing approach, then expect a lot more campaigns like the Connecticut Senate primary in the future, along with a more divided Democratic Party, and a less energetic activist base.

I leave the choice up to the establishment.

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