I work for a small nonprofit that does economic development work in the rural areas of Washington State. We focus on projects that promote sustainable agriculture and alternative energy in addition to providing jobs and building the muscle of local communities.
We've written a lot of great grants and seen no decisions yet. It's going very slowly - we assume because the USDA is not fully staffed up yet and there is still a lot of confusion. It's unfortunate because the work is very important, people are ready to go and the Administration needs to show that they are doing what they said they'd do.
I think we will see several unlikely pick-ups in the Mountain and rural West.
The race I am following is George Fearing's race in WA-04, a large district in central Washington. The seat is currently held by the vile Doc Hastings, who has been a consistent supporter of Bush's policies, an ineffective representative for his constituents and famously useless on the House Ethics Committee during the DeLay and Abramoff scandal.
The last time the district had a Democratic representative was in 1994, when Jay Inslee lost that seat in the Republican landslide. Inslee moved west and won in a different Congressional district (WA-01) in 1996.
Fearing's campaign has been run very well this year; Hastings has been tied closely to Bush and has not bothered to campaign much; there was a large GOTV campaign in the Latino areas of the district; and George is a great candidate. Take a look:
I have been concerned about McCain as an opponent were he to make it through the Republican nomination process. So this is great news. I don't think either of the other front-runners will be difficult to take on.
So, one at a time down. Guiliani will be fun to go after.
I've made it a practice to ask people who follow politics closely who they supported in 2004 and pretty much every single time, half the people at the table will say, "Clark".
I think, like me, people who pay attention saw Clark on CNN - on the run-up to the Iraq War and then after it started - talking about Iraq in the only terms that made any sense. Everyone else had either drunk the kool-aid or were just following along drooling over the fireworks.
Then we learned more about him - his integrity, his incredible personal heroism and thoughtfulness, his degree in Economics and . . .
Then, after he withdrew, his continual fighting for good candidates through 2004 and then 2006.
BUT this timing thing. . . Clark (and Gert) have got to get right!
I was at YearlyKos when Markos introduced Clark at Clark's party by saying that he and Jerome were backing Clark prior to their backing of Dean. They finally had to switch over because Clark wouldn't get in.
Can you imagine what the world would have been like if Clark had gotten into the 2004 race earlier with the backing of Kos and Jerome?
In Washington State, we are talking about taking the 50-State strategy down a level and working on a 49-LD strategy - LD being Legislative District in case other states don't use that term.
Our closest Congressional race in WA-08, which Darcy Burner lost by less than 3 points, is a case in point. We didn't have any Democrats running in one of the LD's in her district so no Democrats were out campaigning there. Darcy's campaign ran a reasonably good field operation but without the help of the local Democrats, we didn't hit enough houses in that portion of the district. Plus we need to get even the more rural, redder LD's listening to the Democratic message at the local level even if it takes a while to get any Democratic legislators elected in those areas.
I think of James Webb as a transformative candidate. He is apparently fearless, articulate, accomplished outside the political world and has taken on the issue of "economic fairness for the working class" as witness his appearance on Lou Dobbs' show on CNN the day after the election and his post-election article in the Wall Street Journal a week later.
Webb doesn't have the history in Congress or at the state level but he has a varied bio as lawyer, novelist, journalist, and consultant and has excelled at each.
He is articulate and fearless about bringing up real issues. If you haven't seen his post-election op ed at the WSJ, it's an important article. I suspect it will have signaled a welcome turn-around in the national discussion of class issues.
That took me a while to get my head around. But, that also means he may be the best person around to pull in some of that group of Republicans who have voted against their own interests. I suspect he can talk their language.
I sometimes refer to you as our Karl Rove - because you are as smart as he seems to be and have the same ability to focus both on the strategic and the tactical.
As someone once said in comparing George Soros to Richard Mellon Scaife, the difference is our guy is trying to promote democracy, not destroy it. Same can be said of how you use your immense abilities compared to similar abilities in Rove.