Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Thoughts on Jim Berryman

I promised my thoughts on former Adrian Mayor and former State Senator Jim Berryman's entry into the race.

First, to preface this: Walberg Watch will not make an endorsement for the 2008 Democratic primary. So far, we have three candidates that have stated their intent. I am satisfied with this field-- all three of them would be an improvement over Congressman Walberg-- but would also welcome the entry of a fourth, fifth, or sixth candidate, provided they brought something new to the field, and were serious about their objective.

This blog will work to help elect the Democratic nominee-- whomever that is. I would, however, welcome all potential candidates (and other public figures not running) to contribute their thoughts. Blogs can become an extraordinary way to share information and ideas, and I think everyone will benefit from that.

Now, as for yesterday's announcement...

As a Lenawee County resident, I've heard about Jim Berryman for years, even though I didn't live in the county while he held public office. He's the Uniserv director for the teachers at my town's schools, most people remember him, and no one that I've talked to has a strong dislike of the man. That's good, and it's something that Tim Walberg doesn't have, even here in Lenawee County.

Berryman offers the resumé that Sharon Renier and David Nacht don't have. A business owner, mayor of a city, member of the Michigan Senate, and active in the community, Berryman is the sort of candidate that looks great. Oddly enough, his record is similar to that of former Congressman Joe Schwarz-- doctor, then mayor of Battle Creek, then the state Senate.

He's got the experience to mount a legitimate challenge, and, without a doubt, he has the connections to put together a good campaign team and a good congressional office. And perhaps most important for modern campaigning, he seems ready to raise the big money-- up to $3 million, he says.

Those are some definite positives right there.

I've taken the time to speak with a few people I know who have met Berryman professionally, and it's been interesting. One, for example, sounded like the president of the Jim Berryman fan club, and had nothing but praise. Another seemed to have had a personality clash with Berryman at some point, and was hoping that he wouldn't be the nominee (but that he was still preferable to Tim Walberg). But for the most part, he comes across with a net positive.

Does that mean he'll be the nominee? Well, no. It means, he has a legitimate shot at becoming the nominee, but he's got to prove himself to the voters first. I wish him luck in that, just as I wish the others luck as well.

But even if he doesn't win the nomination, Berryman's entry into the race is a good thing. It brings a great deal of attention to the Democratic side of the 2008 election, attention which was sadly lacking the previous two election cycles. With that attention and with Berryman's experience, it forces all the candidates to campaign on a higher level than has happened previously, with solid ideas and serious fundraising.

If Berryman raises lots of cash, other candidates will have to get to work in order to be competitive, and that helps in two ways. First, it sets the stage for the general election, where money will be needed to compete with Tim Walberg. Second, it energizes the Democrats in the district. I'm not a fan of nasty primaries, but if Jim Berryman, David Nacht, and Sharon Renier get into an ad war, it'll remind Democrats in the district that they've got a shot at winning.

The right combination of money and energy wins elections. In 2006, Sharon Renier was absolutely motivated to win, but she fell short because she lacked the campaign apparatus to transfer her energy to the general public. In 2008, hopefully this will be different.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

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I'd bet my left foot Berryman would have supported this bill, which Walberg and 72 other republicans voted against. It is another symbolic bill, meant to draw attention to issues dealing with child care in this country. I guess Walberg has a problem with children being raised by anyone other than their mother, so why would he have any compassion for a working mom or a single parent...

Her is the text:



1st Session

H. CON. RES. 112


Whereas approximately 63 percent of the Nation's children under 5 are in nonparental care during part or all of the day while their parents work;

Whereas the early care and education industry employs more than 2,300,000 workers;

Whereas the average salary of early care and education workers is $18,180 per year, and only 1

/3 have health insurance and even fewer have a pension plan;

Whereas the quality of early care and education programs is directly linked to the quality of early childhood educators;

Whereas the turnover rate of early childhood program staff is roughly 30 percent per year, and low wages and lack of benefits, among other factors, make it difficult to retain high quality educators who have the consistent, caring relationships with young children that are important to children's development;

Whereas the compensation of early childhood program staff should be commensurate with the importance of the job of helping the young children of the Nation develop their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills, and to help them be ready for school;

Whereas providing adequate compensation to early childhood program staff should be a priority, and resources may be allocated to improve the compensation of early childhood educators to ensure that quality care and education are accessible for all families;

Whereas additional training and education for the early care and education workforce is critical to ensuring high-quality early learning environments;

Whereas child care workers should receive compensation commensurate with such training and experience; and

Whereas the Center for the Child Care Workforce, a project of the American Federation of Teachers Educational Foundation, with support by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and other early childhood organizations, recognizes May 1 as National Child Care Worthy Wage Day: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That the Congress supports the goals and ideas of National Child Care Worthy Wage Day, and urges public officials and the general public to honor early childhood care and education staff and programs in their communities and to work together to resolve the early childhood care and education staff compensation crisis.
Passed the House of Representatives May 1, 2007.
Someone in the Democratic Party needs to tell Sharon Renier to stay on her organic farm for this election.
Jim Berryman is just another liberal looking for a job... you really need to check his record in the Senate, this guy is no moderate! We're talking gun control, abortion on demand, and higher taxes... and here he starts out talking about the corporate welfare giant called MEGA - great you see how well that's been working... 7 1/2 percent unemployment... what a joke...
Well, I'd rather have a liberal looking for a job than a right-wing, gun-totin', lower-taxin', warmonger--all of which fits our Mr. Tim.
At this point, I'd just prefer someone reasonable and realtively competent. The depths of Walberg's ineptness is truly astonishing and it's bringing us all down.
what is the Congressman lacking? bi-partisan legislation with Patrick Kennedy, an understanding to develop and encourage alternative fuels, taking a reasonable approach to the Farm Bill by making sure our family farmers are protected, standing up to the Bush administration on the onerous No Child Left Behind legislation? ...or standing up to his leadership when he thinks the Bush administration has gone too far in warrantless eavesdropping (only 23 R's joined the D's) in passing this amendment (
what is the Congressman lacking? bi-partisan legislation with Patrick Kennedy, an understanding to develop and encourage alternative fuels, taking a reasonable approach to the Farm Bill by making sure our family farmers are protected, standing up to the Bush administration on the onerous No Child Left Behind legislation? ...or standing up to his leadership when he thinks the Bush administration has gone too far in warrantless eavesdropping (only 23 R's joined the D's) in passing this amendment (

Let's look at Congressman Walberg for a moment.

First, there is the positive. On certain issues, he has shown a backbone, and voted differently than his party leadership. He doesn't support NCLB, which is good, but I'm not convinced that his way is better. He has shown willingness to work with Democrats in a few issues, as with Patrick Kennedy.

But one or two instances of bipartisanship and a few good votes doesn't make up for voting several times to prolong the war in Iraq, voting against raising the minimum wage, voting against bills that would improve oversight and prevent corruption... and so on.

The pattern that emerges, to me, is that he blindly supports the Bush Administration's foreign policy (which worries me) and that he doesn't have the interests of ordinary people in the 7th District in mind.

He even votes against symbolic legislation, for reasons I really don't understand. What's wrong with "World Water Day" or honoring Rachel Carson? What's wrong with "National Child Care Worthy Wage Day"?

So, I oppose Walberg on ideological grounds. I would like to be represented by a moderate or progressive, who can see the value in some of the legislation Walberg has voted against.

But that's not all. I'm not comfortable with his Grover Norquist attitude of never, ever voting for tax increases. Real conservatives are able to admit that sometimes, you've got to raise taxes to balance a budget. Conservatism isn't about spending less, it's about spending responsibly.

I'm not comfortable with a representative who said that politics could be "an intentional ministry," and who seems to have no problem mixing his faith with public policy. Faith helps to guide your decisions, but I'm worried when it becomes the only thing that guides your decisions.

I'm not comfortable with the way the man demonizes me. Not me, Fitzy the blogger, but my politics. I'm a liberal, and Timothy Walberg made that sound like one step away from Satan during the 2006 campaign.

I'm not comfortable with a representative that got a majority of his high-dollar campaign contributions from outside the state of Michigan. The elitist members of the Club for Growth, around the country, donated money to him not because they thought he would represent our interests, but because they knew he would represent their interests.

You might think that Tim Walberg is a fine congressman, and that's your opinion. I think that he's entirely wrong for the district, and a couple moments of bipartisanship won't change that.
You hit the nail on the head Fitzy. Walberg represents everything wrong with politics today. His alignment with CFG and other right-wing wacko organizations make him one of the worst practictioners of public service today.

What he did to Joe Schwarz was unconscienceable. He claims to be a man of faith, but doesn't practice it with the way he "demonizes" those who are different from him.

He has shown utter neglect for the Western half of the district, doesn't care about anyone west of 127 and only looks after those in his comfort zone in Lenawee and Hillsdale. He has placed a radio personality as his mouthpiece in lieu of honest representation. He has no backbone and little character.

Basically, he's not good enough to represent us and won't for much longer. His election was a fluke, because the GOP is so screwed up and voters were apathetic.

Don't for a second get sucked into Walberg's rhetoric on education and NCLB. Yes, he is not supportive of NCLB, but look at his past comments on education.

He wants to abolish the Department of Education and claims the federal government has no role educating is citizens. In his capacity as a state legislator, he voted against funding for schools and colleges. He has repeadedly pushed for government funding of religious schools (which is what Hoekstra's a-plus bill does) and even vouchers for people who home school their kids.

To contrast that, most in the education field oppose NCLB for very different reasons. NCLB might just be the largest increases in education funding in the history of this nation. It was propsed by W and rammed through a republican senate and house. The thing educators hate are the crazy, new mandates which schools must fulfill to get that money.

Be careful when applauding what Walberg does. While he may be attacking some of the same problems we all would like fixed, he is usually trying to push the issue in the opposite direction as the rest of us.
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