Thursday, November 23, 2006


Today is Thanksgiving Day, and we have a great deal for which we should be thankful.

Tim Walberg will be our next member of Congress. Yet it will also be a Democratic Congress, and the new majority will keep him in check. For this, we can be thankful.

We can be thankful that Democrats won on multiple levels, including winning state House seats (including two in Jackson County) and re-electing a governor and senator.

We can be thankful for local media which still has its eye on Congressman-elect Walberg. He won't get to pull much without someone noticing.

We can be thankful for the opportunity we have in 2008. Sharon Renier promises to run again and, with a stronger campaign (and more money), she's got a good shot at winning. Also a possibility is State Senator Mark Schauer, Democratic leader and rising star. And there are more names that will rise as we come closer. I won't make any endorsements with this blog, except to say that I'll endorse the eventual Democratic nominee.

We can be thankful for the hard-working men and women of this district, who are devoted to a fair and equitable future, with opportunity for all. For those that work to oppose harmful politics and seek a stronger America.

And we can be thankful for all the patriots of our district, state, and country-- of all parties-- who serve their country, through serving in government, serving in our armed forces, and working to benefit their communites.

I've really slacked off on the blogging lately, and that will improve. I really will have that post-election analysis sometime in the not-to-distant future, as well as new posts on what Congressman-elect Walberg does in Washington.

Until then, thank you. This blog has been quite an experience, and I look forward to continuing it through to 2008.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Day After the Election

I started to write a post-election analysis, but I just don't have the energy for it. Yesterday took out everything I've got and, despite Sharon Renier's phenomenal performance, I'm not sure if I can quite manage a post about Tim Walberg's victory. At least, not yet.

When Congressman Tim Walberg goes to Washington, I'll keep writing. This man is the face of today's Republican Party-- a party that forces out good men like Joe Schwarz and loses elections across the country. He's out of step with his district, his state, and his country, and I'll bet good money right now that he won't be going back to Congress in January of 2009.

Winning this district in 2008 (along with the White House and other races around the country) will start tomorrow. As I saw someone comment yesterday, "It ain't over 'til it's over, and then it starts all over again."

Tomorrow, I'll have two posts for you-- election analysis (sneak preview: Renier outperformed John Kerry and won places Democrats usually don't!) and a look back at my blogging (sneak preview: there's a lot I could do to improve). Then, it's back to work.

UPDATE: Right, so it's a couple days later and I still haven't written those posts. It's not that I forgot, it's that my life got busy. But they'll be up this weekend, I promise!


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Results

Wed. Morning Update:

I couldn't quite last all of Election Night, but I'm back! I've updated all of the vote totals and percentages. These are the final numbers, unless there are any unforseen recounts.

Final Update for tonight:

If I don't go now, I'll fall asleep on the keyboard. I'll be back tomorrow morning. Until then...

CNN has called its 15th House race for the Democrats, meaning that, if correct, the Democratic Party has retaken the House!

Now, will we have Congresswoman Renier, productive member of the majority, or Congressman Walberg, irrelevant member of the minority?

CNN reports, with 100% precincts reporting the following.

The Battle Creek Enquirer has different numbers (is it just Calhoun County? Or just Battle Creek? I'm not sure), which include the write-in total for Joe Schwarz.

Final Results:
Vote Totals:
Tim Walberg (R)------ 122,640
Sharon Renier (D)----- 112,623
Robert Hutchinson (L) 3,787
David Horn (UST) ---- 3,664

Tim Walberg (R)----- 51
Sharon Renier (D)---- 46
Robert Hutchinson (L) 2
David Horn (UST)---- 1

County Breakdown:

(Bold denotes county winner)

Tim Walberg (R)------ 7,744
Sharon Renier (D)----- 5,572
Robert Hutchinson (L) 247
David Horn (UST)----- 272

Tim Walberg (R)------ 18,930
Sharon Renier (D)----- 21,257
Robert Hutchinson (L) 767
David Horn (UST)----- 662

Tim Walberg (R)------ 21,133
Sharon Renier (D)----- 22,105
Robert Hutchinson (L) 538
David Horn (UST)----- 618

Tim Walberg (R)------ 9,798
Sharon Renier (D)----- 5,000
Robert Hutchinson (L) 215
David Horn (UST)----- 334

Tim Walberg (R)------ 28,138
Sharon Renier (D)----- 25,280
Robert Hutchinson (L) 794
David Horn (UST) ---- 850

Tim Walberg (R)------ 19,036
Sharon Renier (D)----- 14,344
Robert Hutchinson (L) 409
David Horn (UST)----- 439

Tim Walberg (R)------ 17,861
Sharon Renier (D)---- 19,065
Robert Hutchinson (L) 817
David Horn (UST)---- 489

There may be some delays as I try to keep up, and Blogger might go down. If so:


Election Day!

Polls close at 8:00 PM. Get out there and VOTE!

... And share your voting stories in the comments.

Just voted in Marshall (9:30am). Very big voter turn-out. The election workers were very surprised on how many people have shown up so early in the day. Go Sharon Go!
Indeed a big turn out in Sherwood as well. When I voted in the primary it was at 11:30 am and I was the 52nd voter. When I voted this morning at 8.30am I was 78!!!! The ladies were surprised at the fire hall needless to say. John, whom I work with voted in Athens and he said that he was the 174 voter and that was also around 8:30. Hopefully this is a good sign for Sharon and I will see all of you guys down at her Headquarters, although I have been invited to meet her in person at her bash in Jackson. Well best of Luck.

and I do approve of what I've said!

At 1:00 Chelsea Precinct One had over 500 voters already casting votes, that's nearly one third the registered voters. The Western Washtenaw County Dems had a little tent and were giving out donuts and hot cider. I stopped to chat and got the poll totals.

I'll be back with results as they come in. Meanwhile, a few links for you...
Am I forgetting anyone?

By the way, beyond the comments above, it looks like turnout is incredibly high across the country. Not sure what that means, except that people are participating in the process. That's wonderful!


Monday, November 06, 2006

On the eve of the Election

First, hello to all the new visitors to the site! Traffic dropped down a little over the weekend, but today it's shot right back up and I have no doubt we'll see a record number of unique visits today!

I'd encourage all of you to come back here tomorrow night as the results come in. I'll be posting updates as they become available. For more Michigan races, check out Michigan Liberal, and, of course, a traditional media outlet of your choosing.

Also, just as a side note, this is the 50th post I've made since starting the blog after the August 8th primary. Crazy. Fifty blog postings isn't much if you're a phenomenally talented blogger, but for a novice like myself, it's a milestone worth celebrating.

The big news of the day is that Congressman Joe Schwarz has filed as a write-in candidate for the 7th District race.

"This is not trying to upset the race," Matt Marsden, Schwarz's chief of staff, told the Battle Creek Enquirer. "This is not trying to pull any last minute hijinks."

Marsden said Schwarz supporters have told the congressman, R-Battle Creek, they planned to write in his name on Tuesday. However, without filing as a write-in candidate, those votes would not have been counted. And so Schwarz filed.

"There's no reason not to file the paperwork to give people a voice," Marsden said.

I'd like to take this moment to encourage everyone to vote for Sharon Renier rather than write in Joe Schwarz. There is absolutely no chance for a Schwarz upset victory over Tim Walberg, and if you sincerely wish to defeat him, you should vote for Sharon Renier.

That said, I understand exactly why he chose to do this, and I support him. If you're a Republican out there that can't bring yourself to vote for Tim Walberg, but you still can't bring yourself to vote for a Democrat, don't leave that space on the ballot blank. Write in Joe Schwarz. Similarly, if you had planned on voting for Walberg out of party loyalty, but would prefer Schwarz as your representative, write in Joe Schwarz. Congressman Schwarz is the real Republican in the race.

Sound a little odd? After all, didn't Tim Walberg's primary campaign consist of phrases like, "Joe Schwarz is a liberal" and "Joe Schwarz is a Republican In Name Only"? That was the rhetoric, but the truth was certainly different. In fact, Schwarz was endorsed by President Bush, the House Republican leadership, and all the major Republicans of the state of Michigan. Who endorsed Tim Walberg? James Dobson, the Minutemen, and the far-right US Taxpayers/Constitution Party Candidate David Horn. It's clear that Walberg would be more comfortable in a fringe party, not the GOP.

Of course, as a write-in, Schwarz has little chance to win. So what does he say about the two major-party nominees?

"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."

We shall see indeed. Now, how about Renier?
"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."
And then there's this:

Schwarz says he has made up his mind -- and he won't vote for Walberg.

The congressman contended Walberg won the primary "by blatantly distorting my record and committing character assassination."

Schwarz's campaign last month filed an extensive campaign-finance complaint, contending Walberg illegally took more than $500,000 in contributions.

Schwarz also blasted his former foe for not backing "life-saving" embryonic stem-cell research and supporting intelligent design.

But the surgeon and former state senator has played coy about endorsing Renier or another candidate.

"Sharon is a woman of good character," Schwarz said. "As far as I can tell, her positions are fairly moderate."

Tomorrow, the most important thing is that you vote. The democratic process is what matters most, and is the institution we should cherish, regardless of the candidates.

The second most important thing is that you vote for Sharon Renier.

I'd love for you all to share your voting experiences, good or bad, in the comments. I'll be promoting a few to the front page, depending on how many I get. Until then...

UPDATE: I don't expect too many election hijinks in this district, but one must always be ready for voter suppression. If you feel you're being denied your right to vote or pressured away from voting or toward voting for some candidate when you go to your polling place tomorrow, don't leave in disgust. Stay there, and call 1-888-DEM-VOTE. That number will put you in contact with someone that can help and, if necessary, send an observer to your polling place to work out the issue.

Far less important-- today has totally blown away the daily site statistics, and it's only 9:30 PM.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

"The Schwarz Factor"

Without a doubt, Congressman Joe Schwarz is well-qualified for his position and reflects the values and views of his district fairly well. But Congressman Schwarz isn't on the ballot this year, having been defeated by far-right extremist Tim Walberg.

Despite his claims of a large victory, Walberg won narrowly in a low-turnout primary. So where will all of the Schwarz voters go on November 7th?

The Jackson Citizen Patriot asks that question in today's issue.

Will they move to Schwarz's left and pick Renier, who is trying for the seat again? Or will they veer right and select Tim Walberg, who ousted Schwarz in a contentious GOP primary?

Call it the Schwarz factor.

"Those of you who voted for Joe Schwarz should feel welcome here," Gov. Jennifer Granholm said last week while stumping for Renier in Jackson. "Those bread-and-butter moderates ... have been left behind by the Republican Party."

Moderates don't have a place in the modern Republican Party. Ask Jim Webb, Ronald Reagan's Secretary of the Navy, who's running for Senate in Virginia as a Democrat. Ask Jim Marcinkowski, a former Republican who's running for the House in the 8th District as a Democrat. Ask Gil Ziegler, a former Republican candidate for Congress in the 1st District, who founded Republicans for Granholm.

And then ask Congressman Joe Schwarz about the place of moderates in the modern Republican Party.

The article continues:

Or will Schwarz supporters just stay home?

"Few people vote in the primary. People don't know who Tim Walberg is," said Ed Sarpolus, vice president of the Lansing-based polling firm EPIC/MRA. "And he's to the right of where the district is. But nobody knows Sharon Renier."

Schwarz says he has made up his mind -- and he won't vote for Walberg.

The congressman contended Walberg won the primary "by blatantly distorting my record and committing character assassination."

Schwarz's campaign last month filed an extensive campaign-finance complaint, contending Walberg illegally took more than $500,000 in contributions.

Schwarz also blasted his former foe for not backing "life-saving" embryonic stem-cell research and supporting intelligent design.

But the surgeon and former state senator has played coy about endorsing Renier or another candidate.

"Sharon is a woman of good character," Schwarz said. "As far as I can tell, her positions are fairly moderate."

(Emphasis added)

A woman of good character. Fairly moderate. In politics these days, that's about as close as you can get to a Republican endorsing a Democrat.

The 7th District is not as conservative as Tim Walberg might wish, and we've had the good fortune of being represented by a genuine moderate for the last two years. Shouldn't we continue that trend?

Sharon Renier


Saturday, November 04, 2006

More on the Fake Robo Calls

From the comments...
The number from which those calls were made was reported by the "Battle Creek Enquirer" to be 877-686-7358. That number tracked back to a company called "Western Wats" on May 24, according to the site

Western Wats is a private push polling/telemarketing/surveying company in Orem, Utah that works mostly for Republican candidates and draws a lot of business from the "Tarrance Group" a Republican consulting firm.

Search google for "western wats" and "republican" or "western wats" and "dirty tricks" and draw your own conclusions about who sponsored those calls.



Renier TV Ad

Sharon Renier's television ad has been available on her website for a while now, but I know a few people out there have had trouble getting it to play on their computers.

Finally, someone with more knowledge than I have has posted the ad on YouTube, which can be seen below:

(Thanks to Pohlitics, where I first saw the YouTube posting.)

This has been broadcast in the district, but with the small budget the Renier campaign is running on, it probably hasn't been seen by many people. Help out by sharing this video with friends, neighbors, and voters who are curious about Sharon Renier and want to hear her side, not just the NRCC and Tim Walberg's side.


Friday, November 03, 2006

News Roundup and Walberg Voting Record - 4 Days

Four days until Election Day! Regardless of who wins in the 7th District race, I think this election cycle has been good for the district. True, well-respected incumbent Republican Congressman Joe Schwarz was defeated in a brutal primary by Tim Walberg, and both Walberg and Democratic nominee Sharon Renier haven't exactly had a cordial relationship.

But this year, it's become a real race, and not just a coronation for the Republican candidate. Both our political parties function best when there's a credible opposition in every district and for every seat, and this year, with no assistance from the national Democratic Party, Sharon Renier has given new energy to the 7th District Democrats. Even if we stay in the minority, this is a fantastic development, and I hope it carries forward into future elections.

Anyway, here's the latest:
  • First Lady Laura Bush was in Battle Creek to campaign with Tim Walberg and Senate candidate Michael Bouchard. She's probably the most popular person in the Bush White House right now-- certainly more popular than Walberg's last visitor, Vice President Cheney-- and her visit is another sign that the national GOP is worried about the district.
  • Both the Renier campaign and the Walberg campaign have distanced themselves from the fake "robo calls," in which a woman impersonates Sharon Renier and makes personal attacks against Tim Walberg. Read more here and here.
  • The Jackson Citizen-Patriot endorses Tim Walberg. However, I still encourage you to read it, because the endorsement itself is telling. Rather than praise Walberg for his conservative record and "pro-life" stances, it's clear that they endorsed Walberg only because they couldn't bring themselves to endorse Renier. In their view, her rhetoric is too crude for Congress. I say, I'd rather have a crude representative that tells the truth and works for the district than a smooth, well-spoken career politician that works for the Club for Growth.
  • Retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) was in Jackson this evening, campaigning for Michigan candidates-- including Tim Walberg. Even if Frist's chances at winning the GOP presidential nomination don't look too good, he's still a powerful player. Why does he have to campaign in Jackson, the birthplace of the Republican Party?
  • WLNS gave Walberg and Renier a minute each to describe their positions. An interesting, if short, read.
Now, tonight's sample of Tim Walberg's voting record in the Michigan Legislature:
HB 5888
Department of Agriculture Budget

Outcome: Passed 86-18

Tim Walberg: NO
Roll Call 327

Passage of MEGA (Michigan Economic Development Authority) which allowed the state to provide special tax breaks to recruit new job creation

Outcome: Passed 68-35

Tim Walberg: NO
Roll Call 285

Amendment requiring that no money allocated to the Department of Labor could be used to promote a "right to work" philosophy

Outcome: Passed 83-17

Tim Walberg: NO
Roll Call 259

Now, I haven't been as consistent as I had intended to be when highlighting these votes, and tonight is the end of the series, because I think I've made my point. Walberg voted repeatedly against common-sense measures that had the support of the vast majority of the state legislature in his quest against government spending. Some might call that principled. But then there are these votes:
HCR 12
Rejection of the SOCC recommended pay raise

Tim Walberg: NO
Roll Call 4

Rejection of the SOCC recommended pay raise

Tim Walberg: NO
Roll Call 14

Tim Walberg: NO
Roll Call 15

Just to be clear, these "NO" votes were votes in support of giving himself a pay raise. Meanwhile, he voted against raising the minimum wage.

I don't know about you, but that bothers me.

In the comments, feel free to mention the Walberg votes you find most revealing, after browsing the collection the Renier campaign has made available.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Renier Denounces Fake Robo Calls

Sharon Renier (D) released a press release today. Apparently, someone's been impersonating her in the "robo calls"-- recorded phone messages-- that we've been flooded with this election.

November began in the Michigan 7th Congressional race with automated "robo" calls from a toll-free 800 number from a woman posing as Democratic candidate Sharon Renier. The calls contained nasty, unkind remarks about Renier's Republican opponent Tim Walberg.

Renier said, "Throughout the campaign I promised voters that I will not resort to these automated 'robo' calls. It disgusts me that someone or some group has stooped so low as to impersonate my voice while reciting vile comments. I did not authorize these calls, and I do not know who authorized this campaign dirty trick. I apologize to anyone who has been upset after receiving one of these filthy calls. I also call on my opponent, Tim Walberg to denounce them, especially if we find that the calls are from either Republican organizations in Washington or groups like the Club for Growth that used negative tactics in the primary against Congressman Schwarz."

The Renier campaign has contacted the Federal Elections Commission and the phone company to trace the calls.
This is a big deal. Hopefully more information will come forward soon.


Walberg The "American Taliban"?

In These Times magazine describes itself as:
In These Times is dedicated to informing and analyzing popular movements for social, environmental and economic justice; to providing a forum for discussing the politics that shape our lives; and to producing a magazine that is read by the broadest and most diverse audience possible.
Frankly, I'm not familiar with the magazine, but the most recent issue includes an article which deals with Michigan and the 7th Congressional District.

The article is titled "Middle America Confronts Its Own Taliban."

Now, before I say anything more, I want to make clear that I object to this kind of rhetoric. What the article tries to say is that Tim Walberg is part of the Religious Right movement to impose narrow, strict definitions of lifestyle. Using the name "Taliban" is just as bad as President Bush implying that a vote for Democrats is a vote for the terrorists-- it's ridiculous, and lowers the level of debate in this country.

That said, the article is interesting for the angle that it takes, and is perhaps worth reading. Here's the lead paragraph:
Overshadowed by Ned Lamont’s Aug. 8 primary win for Senate in Connecticut was an ugly ouster the same day of a moderate GOP incumbent congressman from Michigan, Joe Schwarz. In his first term in Congress, Schwarz, a doctor, backed lifting the ban on stem-cell research and raising the minimum wage. But in the low-turnout primary, he narrowly lost to Tim Walberg, a minister who took money from the anti-immigrant Minutemen and had to deny involvement in an episode of antigay vandalism at Schwarz’s campaign office. Walberg’s win is the latest by a far-right insurgency in the state. Since 2000, this small group has shoehorned attacks on abortion rights, intolerance against gays, and even racist appeals into the strategy of the state Republican Party.
I don't necessarily agree with everything, but it's interesting to read.


Bob Novak on MI-07

Robert Novak, regardless of your opinions of his politics, is a fairly well-respected political analyst, with perhaps a Republican bias in his predictions.

So what does he have to say about the Michigan 7th District? The Evans-Novak Political Report (on Human Events, "The National Conservative Weekly") says:
Michigan-7: Former State Rep. Tim Walberg (R) may have taken a victory lap too soon after defeating Rep. Joe Schwarz (R) in the primary. He is now embroiled in a scandal involving a staffer who pleaded guilty to hitting his foster child. Republicans admit that Walberg, in standing by the staffer (who has now resigned), has not handled the issue well.

The Democratic candidate in this race, organic farmer Sharon Renier, has no money and the district is heavily Republican. If this seat goes to the Democrats, it is a sign of a tsunami. Leaning Republican Retention.
A tsunami? Perhaps. Or perhaps it's a sign that Tim Walberg is so out-of-step with the Michigan 7th-- a moderately conservative district-- that the district could elect a Democrat for the first time.

Sharon Renier is probably closer to Joe Schwarz's positions than fellow-Republican Tim Walberg, and it's certainly not because Schwarz is a "liberal." This district deserves to be represented by a moderate voice.

Sharon Renier



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