Thursday, August 31, 2006

Vote for Sharon Renier - Michigan First! Endorsement

Just a brief post today-- Head on over to Michigan Liberal to vote for Sharon Renier for the Michigan First! endorsement. (Out of fairness, here's Matt Ferguson's brief descriptions of each candidate.)

Right now, Renier is far from leading, but I'm sure we can turn that around. With current standings, ten more votes, and she's in third place. Twenty-one votes, and she's tied for the lead. But I think we can manage quite a bit more than that.

What will the Michigan First! endorsement get her? Thousands of dollars? Worldwide attention? The momentum to defeat Tim Walberg?

Well, maybe. It'll get her a reserved space on Michigan Liberal with her photo and links to her website and donation page. While no cash contribution is offered by the website, it'll make it easier to donate to her, and indicate to others that she has the support of Michigan bloggers and activists. More than that, it's just one more thing she can brag about. And let's face it, it sounds pretty good to say she received the Michigan First! endorsement!

Go vote (voting ends Monday), and help take one more step forward toward electing Sharon Renier and defeating Tim Walberg. You need an account on Michigan Liberal to vote, but you really ought to have one already. It's a great resource.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Republicans for Granholm

No, I haven't forgotten about this blog... I've been a bit busy lately, but regular posting will resume soon.

Thursday saw the announcement by former congressional candidate Gil Ziegler of a new organization to support Governor Granholm's reelection this fall. Why is this important? Because Gil Ziegler was a Republican candidate for Congress, and the name of the organization is Republicans for Granholm.

But why is Ziegler supporting Granholm?

Ziegler said he disagrees with Republicans in Washington and Lansing who oppose embryonic stem cell research and who have turned many social issues into political litmus tests.

"I'm going to disappoint some people in the Republican Party. But those are the extremists in our party who want to block stem cell research and who turned out of office a good man like U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz," Ziegler said. He was referring to the 7th District incumbent who lost the GOP primary earlier this month to Tim Walberg, who said Schwarz was too liberal.

(emphasis added)

More and more Republicans are realizing that their party has been taken over by the far right. What once was a party devoted to fiscal responsibility and limited government has become a party of men like Tim Walberg, whose extreme social positions divide the country today. Rather than seeking to run an effective, responsible government, they seek to polarize voters with wedge issues.

Politics in America will improve when the GOP returns to the "sensible center," and Democrats and Republicans can honestly debate the issues. Until then, moderate Republicans who feel abandoned by their party should remember that there's a Democratic alternative.

Republicans for Granholm

Jennifer Granholm for Governor
Sharon Renier for Congress


Monday, August 14, 2006

Walberg and Renier On The Issues

Just before the primary, the Adrian Daily Telegram provided issue positions for both Republican candidates and all four Democratic candidates. Taken from direct answers given from the candidates, it's interesting to see the contrast between Tim Walberg and Sharon Renier.

Below, the positions given to the newspaper (emphasis added):
Abortion: Candidates were asked for their positions on abortion.

TIM WALBERG, Republican challenger: Describes himself as 100 percent pro-life, saying “I believe that all life is a gift from God and should be treated that way.” Has been endorsed by numerous Right to Life groups.

SHARON RENIER, Democrat: Says she believes women should have a choice, but wants abortion to be as rare as possible. Renier says she has a different perspective on the issue than other candidates because she is a woman.

Environmental and energy policy: Candidates were asked whether they support tax breaks and incentives for alternative fuels like ethanol, and whether they support drilling for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.

WALBERG: Says he supports tax breaks for alternative fuels, saying “I’m committed to giving tax breaks to all citizens, including business.” Supports drilling in ANWR and says it can be done “discreetly and safely.”

RENIER: Says she “absolutely” believes in tax breaks for alternative energy, and also wants to look at incentives to homeowners who use efficient technologies to reduce energy usage. Opposes drilling in ANWR, saying: “Can’t we just leave our hands off something?”

Iraq: Candidates were asked for their opinions on the war in Iraq, specifically the withdrawal of American troops.

WALBERG: Says America’s leadership should be able to work toward withdrawal in a clearly defined, but secret, way, so as not to aid the enemy by fully disclosing the plan. Believes troop removal should not occur until American goals in Iraq are accomplished. Says completing U.S. objectives will send a “statement to all death spots in the world” and “honor those who have died fighting.”

RENIER: Believes the U.S. needs to begin pulling troops out of Iraq and allowing the Iraqis to concentrate on rebuilding their country. Favors a staggered plan of withdrawal.

Canadian trash: The candidates were asked if they believe Congress should intervene in the importation of Canadian trash to Michigan landfills.

WALBERG: Says that “there should only be an intervention from Congress in the perspective of dealing with the safety, security and health standards of people.” Believes international importation of trash is a detail in the process of free commerce and trade.

RENIER: Wants to see policies adopted where garbage that is generated must be disposed of locally.

Death penalty: The candidates were asked if they support the death penalty as it is used today in federal cases.

WALBERG: Says that “I support the death penalty under clear circumstances.”

RENIER: Does not support the death penalty.

Gun control: Candidates were asked to describe their positions on gun rights.

WALBERG: Says he supports the Second Amendment and believes it was written to protect the rights of individuals. Has been endorsed by the Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund.

RENIER: Says she is a card-carrying NRA member who supports gun rights.

Immigration: Candidates were asked to describe their opinions on immigration reform and say whether they had heard any national proposals with which they generally agreed.

WALBERG: Says the proposal passed by the U.S. House of Representatives has been the closest to his ideal plan. First, Walberg says, borders need to be secured. No amnesty will be offered, but the legal immigration process must remain open. Immigrants must have clear documentation. “As we find them, then we must deal with the illegals that are here and deal with the employers that knowingly hire illegal aliens,” he says.

RENIER: Says she has not heard the right proposal yet. Says employers that hire illegal aliens should be punished; that both the northern and southern borders should be secured, and does not oppose the use of the National Guard; and that she supports developing worker programs to let people legally cross the border for work. Does not support amnesty.

Gay marriage: Candidates were asked whether they support the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would change the Constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

WALBERG: Supports the Federal Marriage Amendment, saying he doesn’t think “the Constitution should be easily altered,” but believes in this instance it is necessary to “control the activist courts.”

RENIER: Wants the government removed completely from defining marriage. Does not support any marriage-defining legislation.

Social Security: The candidates were asked for their thoughts on Social Security and whether they believe in President Bush’s proposals for partial privatization of the system.

WALBERG: Supports the president’s plan, including privatization of a portion of Social Security contributions.

RENIER: Does not support privatization.

Fiscal policy: Candidates were asked if they believe the Bush tax cuts should be made permanent.

WALBERG: Says the tax cuts should be extended and made permanent.

RENIER: Says the cuts should be repealed.

Illegal drugs: The candidates were asked if they support the legalization of illegal drugs or the liberalization of current drug laws.

WALBERG: Does not support legalization or liberalization.

RENIER: Says she supports legalization proposals because “the war on drugs doesn’t work.”

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Jack Lessenberry on Walberg

In the Toledo Blade today, columnist Jack Lessenberry shares his observations on the 7th District race, Schwarz's loss, and Tim Walberg.

I always hate it when bloggers quote from a newspaper article and then include no original commentary or thought. But I think Jack Lessenberry, a talented writer, captures the situation quite well.

Below, some excerpts:
LANSING, Mich. - Jim Blanchard, the former governor of Michigan, is as partisan a Democrat as they come. But last week, he did something he once would have found impossible to imagine.

He recorded a "phone blast," an automatic call that was sent to thousands of homes in the Seventh Congressional District, which extends from Ann Arbor to Battle Creek.
That call urged voters to support … U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, a Republican, for Congress in Tuesday's primary.

"Joe's a good guy, intelligent, a moderate guy," Mr. Blanchard said. "I knew Tim Walberg when he was in the Legislature," he added. The congressman's opponent, a former preacher and Bible salesman, was a rigid partisan "best known for voting no on everything. There is no way [Mr. Walberg] should be in Congress," the former governor said. "I am still a Democrat but this is a solidly Republican district, and Michigan's future is at stake."
(emphasis added)

I disagree that it's a "solidly Republican district," not with Tim Walberg as the nominee. But it is nonetheless remarkable that Blanchard came out against Walberg in the primary.

Later in the editorial...
Twenty years ago, when Jim Blanchard was re-elected governor and Joe Schwarz, then a young physician, was first elected to the state Senate, the idea that a narrow ideologue could defeat a respected congressman would have been unimaginable.
And if there is any remaining doubt that there is no room for moderates in the Michigan GOP, across the state, in prosperous Oakland County, another Republican congressman faced a different kind of challenge. If Joe Schwarz was too liberal for the Seventh District, 73-year-old U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg was seen as too conservative for his, especially on cultural issues.

He was challenged in the Republican primary by Pan Godchaux, a well-regarded school board member and former state legislator. Not only did she have high name recognition, she openly sought and received support from Democrats.
Godchaux, of course, lost by a wide margin, showing again that the Michigan Republican Party is dominated by the fringe elements that supported Tim Walberg.

Lessenberry closes with a nice little twist.
Electoral Footnote: The Club for Growth may think taxes are evil, but most millage requests around the state were approved in this week's voting, suggesting that even cash-strapped voters will pay up for services they need and approve.

And in Southeast Michigan, SMART, the area-wide bus service, had its funding approved by an unexpected landslide. That may reflect higher gas prices - but also perhaps an increasing willingness to think about mass transit solutions.
Clearly, Tim Walberg and the Club for Growth's narrow vision for government isn't what the voters really want.


Schwarz on the Walberg-Renier Race

Following his loss in the August 8th primary, Congressman Joe Schwarz was interviewed by the Battle Creek Enquirer on his plans after leaving public office. It's an interesting article and worth reading in full, but one section in particular interests me:

For now, though, he'll be able to take a step back from that world, with a campaign no longer on the immediate horizon. Instead, he is in the role of observer. He offered his take on the Nov. 7 general election, which will find his rival in the primary, Tim Walberg, facing off against Democrat Sharon Renier, whom Schwarz bested in the 2004 general election.

"I got to know her a little bit two years ago," he said of Renier. "She's pretty bright and has a good grasp of a lot of issues — not all issues, but a lot of them. She's a very credible candidate."

Though Schwarz was gracious in defeat on Tuesday, he took a few swipes at Walberg on Wednesday.

"Tim Walberg is conservative in the extreme, and is not particularly well versed in a number of issues that he's going to have to bone up on," Schwarz said. "National security, homeland security, the military, health care come to mind right off the top of the head. Economic development also.

"We'll see how he performs."

(emphasis added)

Is this just a final post-primary swipe at Walberg? Perhaps. But it's unusual to see Congressman Schwarz have nothing but kind words for Democrat Sharon Renier and then go out of his way to criticize Tim Walberg. Why would he do this?

Because Schwarz, like the 29,000 other Republicans that did not vote for Walberg, saw that Tim Walberg campaigned on a narrow message and has no real plans for other issues. Walberg's primary message was, "I'm against gay marriage and abortion, against the income tax, and against 'liberal' Joe Schwarz." But what would he do for our district?


Michigan's 7th Congressional District

Michigan's 7th Congressional District (indeed, the entire state) is gerrymandering as an art form. It looks like a simple, fair design, following the county boundaries for the most part, and avoiding the wild twists and turns seen in other states.

Despite its appearance, the district has been designed to protect Republican incumbents. Conservative-leaning counties line the southern portion of the district, and the border is careful to include conservative suburbs of Ann Arbor and Lansing without including the progressive cities themselves. Battle Creek and Jackson (the "bluest" cities of the district) are offset by more conservative areas, ensuring that these cities do not add to Democratic margins in other districts.

However, the design is not perfect; it is not an overwhelmingly Republican district. Senator John Kerry won 44.9 percent of the vote. Congressman Joe Schwarz drew only 58 percent of the vote against an underfunded and forgotten Sharon Renier in 2004.

Demographic information via Michigan Liberal:

Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 21,113 3.2%
White 591,101 88.5%
Black or African American 37,403 5.6%
American Indian/Alaska Native 2,701 0.4%
Asian 5,331 0.8%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 147 0.0%
Some Other Race 660 0.1%
Two or more races 9,086 1.4%
Not Hispanic or Latino 646,429 96.8%

Households: 250,574

Less than $10,000 16,655 6.6%
10,000 to $19,999 29,268 11.7%
20,000 to $29,999 31,773 12.7%
30,000 to $39,999 31,479 12.6%
40,000 to $49,999 28,948 11.6%
50,000 to $59,999 25,629 10.2%
60,000 to $74,999 30,615 12.2%
75,000 to $99,999 28,988 11.6%
100,000 to $149,999 19,650 7.8%
150,000 to $199,999 3,794 1.5%
200,000 or more 3,775 1.5%

Employed civilian population 16 years and over: 318,845

Agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting 4,760 1.5%
Mining 5,411 1.7%
Construction 18,458 5.8%
Manufacturing 78,423 24.6%
Wholesale trade 9,129 2.9%
Retail trade 36,800 11.5%
Transportation and warehousing 10,103 3.2%
Utilities 3,685 1.2%
Information 5,457 1.7%
Finance, insurance, real estate 15,281 4.8%
Professional services 10,967 3.4%
Management services 7,833 2.5%
Educational services 29,053 9.1%
Health care and social assistance 35,698 11.2%
Arts, entertainment and recreation 3,219 1.0%
Accommodation and food services 17,519 5.5%
Other services 14,825 4.6%
Public administration 17,334 5.4%


The Election Begins

(Photo: Tim Walberg in The Daily Telegram)

Even lifelong Democrats admitted that Congressman Joe Schwarz was a rare kind of Republican. Progressives and liberals can disagree with him on just about anything, have passionate debates, and then walk away respecting their opponent. He was a Michigan Republican in the mold of former Governor William Miliken and former President Gerald Ford. Principled, dedicated public servants that work for the benefit of their communities. (Photo: Joe Schwarz)

The Republican primary on August 8th showed that the Republican Party of today doesn’t have room for men like Joe Schwarz. Instead, outside interests have turned it into a party where ideological purity is more important than good government. It is a party where anyone that does not follow President Bush and the official party doctrine is forced out and labeled an enemy. It is now a party that supports men like Tim Walberg.

  • Tim Walberg, who opposes the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.
  • Tim Walberg, who panders to radically conservative elements of the pro-life movement.
  • Tim Walberg, who would blindly follow President Bush into unnecessary wars.
  • Tim Walberg, who opposes common-sense government spending.

  • Join us in rejecting Tim Walberg’s radical conservative beliefs. Vote for a dedicated individual who will represent the entire district, not just the fringe elements of one party. On November 7th, vote to send Sharon Renier to Congress.

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    (Image: Sharon Renier)

    This blog is not currently affiliated with or authorized by Sharon Renier or the Democratic Party. Instead, it is operated by residents of Michigan's 7th District who do not wish to see Tim Walberg elected.



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