Friday, August 31, 2007

Fitzy's Endorsement-- I Support...

... Primaries!

Nope, this isn't a candidate endorsement, but rather an endorsement of the process. I wanted to take an opportunity to share a few thoughts and set down some ground rules for Walberg Watch between now and the primary in August 2008.

This can be a great time for us, but only if we do it right.

I've tried to write this post three of four ways now, and nothing seems quite right. I started this blog in 2006 after the primary had already passed, meaning I didn't have to blog about the race between Renier, Strack, Campbell, and Ream. My readers came in three types: staunch Democrats, disaffected Schwarz voters, and pro-Walberg trolls. The third group went away after a while, so I focused on writing for the first two.

Now, it's different. Bloggers and readers alike are still fairly united in our goal of defeating Tim Walberg, but now the Democratic nomination has to be decided first. Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing! It means we've got a lot of talented people eager to stand up against Tim Walberg's rigidly conservative ideology. But it also comes with a whole new dynamic for this blog.

For me, it means I've got to learn a whole new type of blogging, in which I try to critically analyze people that are on my side. I don't want to burn any bridges with a potential nominee, but I also want to put forth the facts and provide some service to the voters. I'm still trying to figure out how to do that.

In my interview with Mark Schauer (transcript coming sometime early next week, I promise), I faced that challenge. Without a doubt, a lot of people will be upset I wasn't tougher on him. But I don't want to play the game of "gotcha" politics. I want to allow him, Jim Berryman, Sharon Renier, and anyone else a chance to make their case, and then let voters make up their minds. I'll ask questions to get more information, and I'll do that to the best of my ability. If you don't think I do a good enough job, forgive me for being new at this, and give me a chance next time around.

That's the fine line that I have to walk and that the other Walberg Watch bloggers face. But for those of you that read and comment here (and that will vote in a little less than a year), you have responsibilities, too.

You need to keep an open mind. Be willing to take a deep breath and say, "I might have been wrong about him/her."

You need to be willing to listen to others.

You need to argue your position well. Don't just make an assertion, but offer some facts.

You need to be respectful. Don't accuse people of being trolls because they disagree with you, don't speculate on their "real" identities. And most of all, don't forget that we're all on the same side.

Arguing is an important part of the democratic process and the Democratic Party. We're Democrats, which means we can disagree with each other on thirty different issues before lunchtime. An open and frank discussion is vital to the process. But when it turns into bashing each other, you've stopped discussing. People are convinced by persuasive arguments, not by the loudest guy in the room.

I usually don't delete comments, and so far, nothing has gotten to the point where I've felt that necessary. But I'm trying to pre-emptively put some rules in place. Simply put, be nice to each other! That won't hurt democracy, I promise!

Primaries are great! They give candidates a chance to practice on a friendly audience, test their messages, and build organizations. We should forget about who's going to win the nomination, and use this time to build up our candidates, not tear them down.

Do you think Candidate X has some problem that would prevent him/her from winning? Get out there and do something to help him/her out! Contact the candidates and share your concerns in a constructive way. Educate them on issues or tactics. Tell them what message will appeal to voters, and help them overcome their negatives.

Do everything you can do to make sure every candidate in the race has a strong chance to beat Walberg, and when the primary comes, make your decision on whom to support. It is possible to be satisfied no matter what the outcome, even if your guy doesn't get the nomination.

That's my post for tonight. I'm taking the weekend off to enjoy the opening of the college football season and some time with friends and family. Plenty more will be coming next week.

UPDATE: Just one other item to round out the rant for tonight. I wanted to share this Sitemeter chart of Walberg Watch traffic over the last 12 months. This was taken from 11:55 PM, just before September started. Compare August of 2007 to August of 2006...

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Chris Simmons Off The Air

I haven't given this nearly as much time as I should have, but some of you might remember Chris Simmons. He's a radio host on Battle Creek's conservative talk radio station WBCK, and he gets Congressman Tim Walberg to appear from time to time (most recently, on August 9th-- you can find the audio here).

Walberg must enjoy their little chats, because it's a friendly audience. It gives him a chance to complain about the "Democrat majority" without being challenged on any factual points, implying that those mean, nasty Democrats want to take away your cars and force you to ride bicycles everywhere. (Really, I'm not joking, that's what he implies in the first segment of the August 9th interview. In fact, the first caller spoke of the "socialists in our government." Yeah.)

Although he runs a biased program, Simmons is a good interviewer. He presents himself professionally as an objective reporter. But there's a problem: he's not.

Chris Simmons is also Tim Walberg's field representative in Calhoun and Branch Counties. That's right-- Chris Simmons is a member of Walberg's staff. Can anyone say "conflict of interest"?

But that's not going to be a problem anymore, at least not for a little while. Simmons has decided he wants to run for a Battle Creek City Commission seat, and his unfair advantage was immediately recognized by his opponents:

Following his filing as a Battle Creek City Commission candidate on Aug. 14, Chris Simmons announced this week he is taking a leave of absence as the host of WBCK’s radio shows “Hotline” and “The Saturday Morning Show.”

Simmons was last on the air on Aug. 18, according to WBCK General Manager and Program Director Tim Collins.

Simmons, 34, also is a field representative for U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton. Simmons is running for the nonpartisan Ward 1 seat against Robert Sutherby, owner of the Nationwide Insurance agency in downtown Battle Creek, and Jarrite Wine-Jackson, client service specialist with Employment Group.

The Federal Communications Commission requires radio stations to afford equal opportunity to all candidates in an election.

After Simmons filed as a candidate, officials with Jackson’s campaign said they filed a formal request with the station to remove Simmons from the air during the campaign.

A follow-up request for compensatory air time has not yet been filed, campaign officials said.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

David Nacht Is Out

This comment was left on Walberg Watch:
david has left a new comment on your post "Questions For Mark Schauer":

This is David Nacht. I am withdrawing from the race because I do not believe I have a realistic likelihood to defeat Sen. Mark Schauer in a Democratic Primary. I cannot in good faith ask for donations to support such a long odds effort.

I want to thank my wife and sons, my parents, my friends, volunteers and staff for the support over the past several months. Over 300 people made generous financial contributions. These will be returned to the donors on a pro-rata basis.

I intend to do whatever I can to assist the Democratic nominee in this race.

I am humbled by the outpuring of support. I have learned a great deal in the past several months. I will continue to be active in civic life, although I look forward to spending more time with my loved ones.

David Nacht
I was looking forward to seeing David in action next year, but he has to do what he feels is best. Thank you, David, for your hard work and enthusiasm in taking the fight to Tim Walberg.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Recall Is Over

I just got an e-mail from Jim Carr, leader of the effort to recall Congressman Tim Walberg.
The court hearing this morning in Lenawee County surprised me but then I am more of an optimist than a realist. I am attaching a copying of the remarks that I made to the judge during the hearing, that appeared to fall on deaf ears.

Walberg's attorney presented his continuing campaign citing constitutional issues which the judge accepted with little or no comment. Rendering his decision, his eyes were on Walberg's attorney and he smiled occasionally as he ruled for the relief that they had requested. He did mention my arguments in a sentence or two, but as he read from his own notes, it was evident to me that he had his decision already made before I made my presentation.

The recall is over! I am contacting everyone that has petitions or discs with petition copies on them and asking them to dispose of them and cease any activity regarding this effort. I believe it is unrealistic and unfair to ask people to circulate petitions which, while legally sanctioned by the state of Michigan, will not be counted when sufficient signatures are turned in to the Secretary of State.
The recall ended before it ever got a chance to begin. Here are Jim Carr's remarks from this morning:

Harvey A. Koselka, Judge

1. My name is James R. Carr. I am a defendant in this procedure, since I authored the recall petition which began this action.

2. I am representing myself.

3. I wish to address the court on the requested issuance of a writ of mandamus, sought by the plaintiff in order to render the recall of Congressman Timothy Walberg moot.

4. The recall petition was mailed by thisdefendant to the County Clerk of Lenawee County, State of Michigan, in accordance with the provisions of Michigan Election Law, Act 116 of 1954, Section 168.149, Representative in Congress recall.

5. Michigan Election Law, Act 116 of 1954, Section 952 establishes a schedule of timeliness for the petitioner. The time limits are specific and cited here:

Petition mailed to Lenawee County Clerk: July 8, 2007

Congressman Walberg notified by letter: July 10, 2007

Board of Election Commissioners clarity meeting: July 23, 2007. This meeting had the sole purpose of approving or rejecting the language of the recall petition.

The board and this defendant were counfounded when presented with a sheaf of documents, challenging the board’s right to hear the petition and presenting contentions that the action could not be heard. The clarity issue was touched upon but only to cite the various Michigan constitution sections pertinent to the action.

The provisions of Michigan election law cited by plaintiff in his compendium of arguments presented in documentation on July 23, 2007 indicated that this defendant has complied with such provisions. The thrust of plaintiff’s argument was not the clarity issue but rather the improper introduction of the constitutionality of the recall itself.

A hearing, following the laws of the State of Michigan now, according to the plaintiff, became a constitutional issue, rather than a clarity hearing. It was evident by the demeanor of the Board of Election Commissioners that they too were bewildered and quickly adjourned the hearing for two weeks while they studied the documentation presented by the legal representative of Congressman Walberg.

I would like to direct to the court’s attention to the provisions of Section 952, which permits a period of not less than 10 days nor more than 20 days after submission of the recall petition to determine the clarity of each reason for the recall.

Since a decision on the clarity was postponed for 14 days, the time limitation of 20 days was not followed. The penalty for the lack of a decision of clarity reads as follows: “. . . Sec. 952 (3): .Failure of the board of county election commissioners to comply with this subsection shall constitute a determination that each reason for the recall stated in the petition is of sufficient clarity to enable the officer whose recall is being sought and the electors to identify the course of conduct that is the basis for the recall.”

Subsequently, on August 6, 2007, the clarity hearing was reconvened and the clarity of the language of the petition was approved.

The date on the filing of this complaint is August 15, which represents 10 days after the reconvened hearing of the Board of Election Commissioners. Notice must be taken of the tardiness involved in this entire procedure.

Michigan State Law was the guidance sought and followed by the recall petitioner. When the time limitations are applied, as quoted above, providing one uses the 20 day limitation, July 30, 2007, would have been the final day of the time limit in Section 952. Therefore, this complaint should have been filed on or before August 10, 2007, to this court, presenting arguments against clarity. This was not done and, it is believed by this petitioner, that plaintiff relinquished his rights to appeal the matter to this court.

Additionally, if one were to use the July 23, 2007 hearing, which was the initial meeting of the Board of Election Commissioners, when the decision should be been announced, then plaintiff had until August 2, 2007, to appeal the clarity matter to circuit court.

Regardless of which date is used for computing the time element, this hearing does not comply with the time limits cited in the applicable sections of the Michigan Election Law.

One other element of this Michigan Law, Sec. 952, (7) reads: QUOTE A petition that is determined to be of sufficient clarity under the subsection (1) or, if the determination under subsection (1) is appealed pursuant to subsection (6), a petition that is determined by the circuit court to be of sufficient clarity is valid for 180 days following the last determination of sufficient clarity under this section. UNQUOTE The invoking of this provision of the law depends upon the final determination of this complaint.

I would like to address the issue of appropriate jurisdiction. Plaintiff argues that the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution does not apply and provided the Board with an exceptional amount of legal research, none of which applies directly to the clarity issue but rather to the constitutionality of such a recall petition.

Plaintiff further contends that the Michigan State law is unconstitutional and therefore a writ of mandamus should be issued to set aside the decision of the Lenawee County board of election commissioners.

This defendant contends that this is not the proper jurisdiction for this action. To use the decision of clarity as a vehicle to present such contentions, for, if this court were to rule on the constitutional issue, it would be “making law” rather than deciding what the cited law directs.

Additionally, it is the opinion of this defendant that such action belongs more appropriately in the federal courts, or, more properly, presented to the Congress of the United States in the form of an amendment to the United States Constitution, which then would be submitted to the states of our union to accept or reject such an amendment.

Finally, a more relevant jurisdiction for this writ of mandamus would be the federal courts in a complaint against the secretary of state of the State of Michigan, whose responsibility will be to accept the recall petitions, direct their processing, determining the total number of signatures, and finally, setting a date for the recall election.

In summary:

1. The legality of the recall petition and its timely submission to the board of election commissioners was proper.

2. The challenge by the plaintiff as to the constitutionality of the petition served only to confuse the members of the Lenawee County Board of Election Commissioners.

3. The filing of this complaint, requesting a writ of mandamus, which, as I understand it, should not be used in the place of appeals, which is exactly what Michigan state law directs to the plaintiff if he is dissatisfied with the decision of the Board of Election Commissioners.

4. This defendant requests that the court dismiss this complaint and invoke the provisions of Paragraph (7), Section 168.952, extending the recall period of time from 90 days to 180 days to collect the necessary signatures.

5. Are there any questions?
I'm sure we'll be seeing media reports on this in the next two days or so.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Questions For Mark Schauer

This is going to be an exciting week for Walberg Watch. In addition to plenty of Walberg-related content and the next installment of the "Better Know A County" series, I'll be conducting the first candidate interviews. All four Democratic campaigns-- Berryman, Nacht, Renier, and Schauer-- have either approached me about this or been contacted by me, and I hope to get a chance to talk to all of them in the coming weeks.

But someone had to come first, and it ended up being the latest candidate to enter the race, Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer. I'll be speaking with him later this week. If you've got any questions you'd like me to ask, leave them in the comments.

Just remember, I won't be asking him anything like "When did you stop beating your wife?" If you really want your question to be answered, make sure it's a serious, fair question.

UPDATE [August 30, 11:33AM]: Thank you to everyone that offered questions. I'll be speaking with Senator Schauer this afternoon and, in order to prepare, I'm not going to take any more questions. Remember, if I don't ask your question, it doesn't mean I hate you. If anything, it probably means we didn't have time to talk about it or it means that I felt the issue was addressed by some other question I ask.

I may also re-word some questions to get the same information, but in a less confrontational way. For instance, I received these "questions" on the diary I posted at Swing State Project:
I have a few questions

1. You lied to your party, your caucus and your constituents in your on the record statement when you promised that you would not seek this elected position until you had served your full term as a Senator. This proves you can not be trusted

2. You lied on two separate occasions about having polling numbers that does not exist. He even claimed that the DCCC polled for him when they did not. By the way there is no such thing as intern polling for congressional race.

3. He voted in opposition in every case for refroms that would save hard working Michigan families from having to pay higher taxes?

4. You failed to secure Majority in the Senate in 2006 despite racking up major debt for your party?

5. What make you fit for Washington Mr. Schauer?
The user who posted that seems to have opened an account for the sole purpose of making that comment. In other words, it was probably a Republican troll. I might ask about polling and his time in the state Senate, but I most certainly will not phrase things in the same manner. I don't know if you've noticed, but even when I'm writing about Tim Walberg, I try to maintain at least a certain level of civility. If I were interviewing Walberg today, I would treat him with the respect any man in public office deserves.

So. I'll hopefully have a transcript of the conversation some time tonight or tomorrow.

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Walberg Is "Too Busy" For Us

Last week, the Jackson Citizen Patriot had a story about Congressman Tim Walberg's new blog:

Anonymous bloggers aren't the only ones writing about the legislative work of U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg.

Walberg recently launched a Web journal on his official Congressional Web site,

Walberg has written two of the 10 articles since the site launched Aug. 9. The rest were from his press office.

But what about those of us that've been blogging about Walberg before August 9th?

Since taking office in January, Walberg's activities have been tracked by anonymous bloggers at a Web site called "Walberg Watch."

[Walberg chief of staff Joe] Wicks said Walberg, R-Tipton, is too busy to pay attention to the blog, at

Too busy? Bummer. But I suppose life goes on...

It's interesting, though, that Congressman Walberg is too busy for this blog, but he spends plenty of time writing for the website, blogging for The Hill (here, here, here, here, and here) and reaching out to conservative bloggers. But then, once you throw in his Congressional Prayer Caucus, I'm surprised he even has time to vote on legislation! He's obviously a very busy man.

So, Congressman Walberg, if you're reading this (which you apparently aren't), I understand. But if you ever do stop by, we'd love to ask you a few questions.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Walberg Dissembles with Bush Aide in Tow

Today's Jackson Citizen Patriot provides another example of why Tim Walberg is not our man in Washington. His most recent claim is that he voted against the 2007 farm bill because it ostensibly raises taxes on manufacturers. Strangely, as someone who pays quite a bit of attention to the news and follows these issues, I have not heard one iota of a complaint from Michigan manufacturers on the farm bill. John Engler, the former governor who is now head of the national manufacturing lobby, hasn't uttered a word as well. And, of course, Democrats say it's not true.

Oh well, I guess I should be used to this by now. Walberg peddles the usual B.S. that Club for Growth feeds him. Further proof of how ineffective he is. I'm sure the farmers are none too happy.
"When you put on a 600 percent tax increase on any company in Michigan,
something's going to happen," Walberg said. "I'm not going to say all the jobs
will go, but surely some of them will."

Spoken like a true economist. Somebody save us from this guy.

New Poll On 7th District Race

UPDATE: I missed this on my first read of the article, but an anonymous commenter was kind enough to point out what I had missed: a .pdf file of the poll. I've got to agree with the commenter, the Enquirer article wasn't nearly as good as it could have been, given the data available.

I'm going to take a few minutes to digest all the numbers, and then I'll have a new update.


UPDATE II: I've changed the title of the post. The poll doesn't so much show the district "turning blue," but it does have valuable-- and encouraging-- data.

Really, just ignore the original post below. The poll was conducted by the Glengariff Group, Inc. July 24-28, 2007, so Mark Schauer isn't mentioned. It has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Here are some significant findings:

Job Approval

President George W. Bush: Approve-- 25% Disapprove-- 74%
Congress: Approve-- 15% Disapprove-- 85%

Favorable/Unfavorable/Never Heard Of

Tim Walberg: 42% - 33% - 25%
Joe Schwarz: 43% - 25% - 32%
Jim Berryman: 15% - 12% - 73%
David Nacht: 4% - 8% - 88%
Sharon Renier: 11% - 9% - 80%

Walberg Re-Elect

Re-Elect Tim Walberg: 22.8%
Consider Someone New: 35.7%
Definitely Someone New: 18.7%

Generic Congressional Ballot
(Note: NOT a party identification, as suggested in the Enquirer article.)

Democratic Candidate: 36%
Republican Candidate: 29%
Independent Candidate: 12%

If a candidate supported President Bush's "stay the course" policy in Iraq, would you:

Strongly Support: 22.8%
Somewhat Support: 14.5%
Somewhat Oppose: 9.2%
Strongly Oppose: 47.8%

Hypothetical General Election

Two-Way Race
Schwarz (D): 43.9%
Walberg (R): 40.5%

Three-Way Race
Walberg (R): 37.4%
Schwarz (I): 23.5%
Berryman (D): 23.4%

Hypothetical Democratic Primary

Schwarz: 46.4%
Renier: 12.0%
Nacht: 7.1%

(Note: Berryman doesn't appear to have been offered as an option.)

There's more in there, too, but this is a lot of data I've listed, and what I believe are the most important findings. Now, my thoughts:

This is a very Schwarz-centered poll, meaning that either Schwarz asked for it to "test the waters," or someone urging Schwarz to run commissioned the poll. There's nothing anywhere in the document I saw stating who commissioned it.

Also, it's worth noting that Jim Berryman was not listed when the Democratic primary was polled with Schwarz as a candidate. Is that based on the assumption that Berryman would drop out in favor of Schwarz? It's possible.

Also worth noting is the bit about Iraq. As long as Walberg stands by Bush, it hurts him with a majority of the electorate. Any Democratic candidate would be wise to make an anti-war message central to his or her campaign.

Overall, Democrats appear to be in good shape, though the other candidates will have to work hard on name recognition. If they can define themselves with the voters, rather than letting Tim Walberg label them as evil "liberals," they could easily build upon that generic ballot lead.

Of course, a lot of this changes with Mark Schauer's entrance into the race.


The Battle Creek Enquirer is reporting on a new poll conducted by the Glengariff Group, Inc. of Michigan's 7th District. I'd love to see a copy of the poll and its results, if there's anyone out there reading that would be willing to share. From the Enquirer article, there were three items polled: the presidential race (Clinton vs. Giuliani only), one congressional match-up (Schwarz as a Democrat vs. Walberg), and partisan self-identification.

Presidential results:
Giuliani, the former Republican mayor of New York, would edge out in the 7th District U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., 45 percent to 43 percent, the poll showed.
Congressional results:
If Schwarz, a Battle Creek Republican, were to run as a Democrat, the poll shows him beating U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, 44 percent to 41 percent.
Now, those are two hypothetical scenarios that really don't have a lot of value, in my opinion. Clinton and Giuliani have yet to win their respective nominations, and a lot can happen before either of them do. As for the hypothetical Schwarz-as-a-Democrat, it is significant because it shows that someone-- perhaps Schwarz himself-- is interested enough to do polling.

The surprising result from the poll, however, was this:
The poll, taken July 24 to 28, showed 36 percent of voters in the seven-county district identified as Democrats, 29 percent as Republicans and 12 percent independent.
If the poll is accurate, the district went from solidly Republican to lean-Democratic.


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Walberg Exploits Tragedy For Politics

Most of you have probably heard about the tragic deaths of three college students in New Jersey and the controversy that has ensued. One of the six suspects, Jose Carranza, was found to be an illegal immigrant from Peru. He had been out on bail for other crimes when the murders took place.

As would be expected, the cable news channels jumped on the story, examining the New Jersey laws that could have prevented this. In New Jersey, immigration officials are notified after the conviction, not after the arrest, of an illegal immigrant. This may change in the near future and, admittedly, could perhaps have prevented this one incident.

The media coverage is understandable, if a little inappropriate. However, I didn't expect Congressman Tim Walberg to mention it:
Washington, Aug 24 - Though the immigration debate may have cooled for now in Congress, immigration issues continue to affect most Americans every day.

On August 4, four young college students were held at gunpoint in Newark, New Jersey by an illegal immigrant. Three of the students were killed, while the fourth escaped with injuries.

Sadly, news broke that the shooter came to America illegally from Peru, and, despite prior arrests in 2007, including one for the rape of a young girl, the shooter was not forced to leave American soil. This is simply unacceptable, yet communities across our country are forced to deal with similar situations involving illegal immigrants every day in their schools, hospitals, police stations, etc.

Illegal immigration poses an unacceptable threat to our national security and must not be allowed to continue. It is my belief that any and all attempts to enact immigration reform must not include amnesty for illegal immigrants.
I simply cannot believe that he brought this up. How do you go from three tragic deaths to "national security" to "reform must not include amnesty"? Reading what he writes, one would get the idea that there are roaming gangs of illegal immigrants planning to attack, and the only way to prevent it would be defeating the "guest-worker program"!

Walberg implies that illegal immigrants are a primary source of violent crime in this country, but that is simply not true:
"The misperception that immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, are responsible for higher crime rates is deeply rooted in American public opinion and is sustained by media anecdotes and popular myth," said Ruben G. Rumbaut, a sociology professor at the University of California-Irvine. "This perception is not supported empirically. In fact, it is refuted by the preponderance of scientific evidence."

The incarceration rate of U.S.- born men 18 to 39 years old in 2000 was 3.5 percent — five times higher than the incarceration rate of their immigrant counterparts, the study found.

The report — which analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau, police records and other sources — also shows that a large increase in illegal immigrants has not resulted in a rise in crime. Since 1994, violent crime in the United States has declined 34 percent, and property crime has fallen 26 percent. At the same time, the illegal immigrant population has doubled to around 12 million.
Tim Walberg's position on illegal immigration is a valid opinion, which I can agree or disagree with. But when he cites one tragic incident, involving one person out of 12 million, and embraces false, potentially racist stereotypes, he crosses the line.

There are plenty of violent criminals in this country legally, and most of them were born here. Crime is a serious problem that needs our government's attention, but it's dishonest to try to blame illegal immigrants.

Men and women are murdered every day in this country, and each time it happens, it's a tragedy. Those deaths and other crimes justify more police, or tougher sentencing, or working toward better education and economic opportunity.

They do not justify tougher immigration laws or border patrol. That is simply an unrelated issue. Congressman Walberg ought to apologize.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Recall Court Challenge

The attempt to recall Congressman Tim Walberg continues... From the Adrian Daily Telegram:
ADRIAN — A hearing on a court challenge to the recall effort against 7th District Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, is shaping up to be a one-sided constitutional argument.

Recall leader James R. Carr of Jackson said he will not be available for a Sept. 4 hearing scheduled in Lenawee County Circuit Court. And he is not planning to argue the case before a judge anyway.
Carr says that as far as he's concerned, he's following Michigan law to the letter. It's Walberg that needs to present an argument, because it's him that doesn't think state law applies.
Lenawee County Prosecutor Irving Shaw is defending the Lenawee County Election Commission in the lawsuit filed last week on Walberg’s behalf. But Shaw said he and the election commission have no position on the constitutional issues raised by Lansing attorney Eric Doster.

The election commission took no stand on whether the United States Constitution allows the recall of members of Congress when it approved Carr’s petition language on Aug. 6.

“All the state law and one attorney general opinion says is the (election) commission discharges its duty when it determines whether a recall petition language is clear,” Shaw said. The election commission has no authority to decide legal questions on conflicts of state and federal laws, he said.

The county election commission will follow whatever direction is given by the court, Shaw said.
In other words, Walberg will present his case-- that state law and the Tenth Amendment do not apply in this situation-- and the judge will rule solely on the merits of that argument.

And since Carr can't make it to the September 4 hearing:
Doster said Wednesday he is asking Judge Harvey A. Koselka to move up the hearing date on the motion for a preliminary injunction to allow Carr to attend but is opposed to any delays.

“I want this expedited. I want this decided yesterday, and Mr. Carr wants it decided yesterday,” Doster said.

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Walberg Against Family Planning Services

The Battle Creek Enquirer reported today on the same vote I mentioned last week:

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, supported an amendment to the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill (HR 3043) that would have cut off Title X federal funding to Planned Parenthood, including its South Central Michigan chapter serving Calhoun and six other counties.

Walberg said in a weekly e-mail report that because Planned Parenthood performs abortions for its clients, he was opposed to any federal government support of such organizations.

(Emphasis added.)

Ah, "pro-life" Tim Walberg felt compelled to vote for the amendment because he doesn't want to fund abortions. Except, there's a problem. As the article continues:
Title X funding, however, supports family planning services such as contraceptives, sexually transmitted infection treatments, breast and cervical screenings, pregnancy tests and education programs, said Megan Zapinski, public affairs manager at Planned Parenthood of South Central Michigan.

“Title X does not cover any abortions,” she said. “Nothing comes from the government for that. ... This (funding) is all to prevent unintended pregnancies.”

Abortions provided by Planned Parenthood are paid for by the client, the insurance provider or through private donations, said Meg Smillie, chief operating officer at the South Central Michigan chapter.

The amendment was defeated in July. Walberg voted against the final version of the bill last week.

“The overall bill was too expensive,” said Walberg spokesman Matt Lahr.
It's not like Walberg's ideology gets in the way of the facts or anything.

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Schauer Blogs About His Announcement

In a few moments, Senator Schauer should be posting here on Walberg Watch about the announcement reported below.

UPDATE: Here's what Senator Schauer had to say to Walberg Watch, its bloggers, and its readers:

Today I created a committee to become a candidate for the 7th Congressional district. I did so because Tim Walberg is the wrong person for this district, and he’s not working for us in Washington. And I did so because I believe that my passion for public service can make a real difference in Washington for the people and issues I care about.

As you’ve noted in thorough detail on this site, Walberg continually obeys the extreme Republican agenda in DC, instead of the practical views of the constituents who depend on him. He has voted against a minimum wage increase, but for privatizing social security. He opposed expanding health care to more than 4 million uninsured kids, and he refused to support recommendations from the 9/11 commission that would help keep us safe. He didn't have a problem putting out a press release claiming credit for critical local funding, but couldn't bring himself to actually vote for the bill.

The people of the 7th district deserve better.

I’ve always put my community first and done whatever it takes to make sure we get results for south central Michigan, so I won’t stand for anyone who abandons our district time and time again. I will continue serving as state Senate Democratic Leader and fight to the finish the effort to put Michigan on sound financial footing for the future. In fact, the encouragement I've received and support I’ve been offered from my constituents, friends and colleagues is what makes this effort possible. I also owe so much to my amazing wife, Christine, and my understanding family for being willing to accept the sacrifices that this kind of undertaking will require.

With that said, I believe I am the strongest candidate to take this seat back from Tim Walberg. No one will work harder than me, and no one will knock more doors than I will. When the national Republican machine kicks in to try to save this seat, I’ll take them on and win because I have a history of building the kind of broad, bipartisan coalitions necessary to win in tough Republican districts. My experience raising the level of funds a race like this demands will make sure we can stay competitive with the deep pockets of the Club for Growth and others.

There are honorable public servants and friends who have also expressed interest in this race. I have a great deal of respect for each one of them, and I’ll work hard to make sure we all come together to achieve our shared goal – replacing this incumbent. I have a proven track record of bringing people together, and that’s what I would do with Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in this district, because one thing the current Congressman doesn’t seem to understand is that this job means you represent everyone. You're not there just for the folks who think exactly like you do, or the special interests that fund your campaign, or George W. Bush and his cronies in DC. The interests of the district, the state and the nation come first.

Thanks again for all that you do and all you're going to do throughout this campaign. Your great research and the time you spend raising awareness of the importance of this race and the failures of the incumbent are not going unnoticed. I plan to be a regular visitor to this site and look forward to working together to return this seat to the people of the 7th district.
Thanks for stopping by, Senator.

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Mark Schauer Is Running

From the AP:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer said Thursday he will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg in the 2008 election after declining earlier overtures to enter the race.

"Tim Walberg is not doing the job," Schauer told The Associated Press on Thursday. "He is serving a very narrow interest. He's really been a servant of the Bush-Cheney administration and the extreme special interests in Washington."


Schauer filed paperwork to run in the 7th District, which includes parts of seven counties in south-central Michigan. It has been targeted by Democrats because Walberg, of Tipton, failed to capture 50 percent of the vote in last year's election.

Schauer, who had pledged to Senate Democrats to serve out his full four-year term as minority leader through 2010, said he will keep being the Democratic leader while running for Congress. He said he changed his mind about running after being approached by both rank-and-file constituents and party leaders.

The push by others for him to join the race "almost became deafening," Schauer said.

Now that Senator Schauer is in, the "should he run" debate is clearly over. Let's move forward through this primary in a civil, open, and honest way. This is our chance to learn more about all of the candidates, hear what they have to say, and decide which among them would be the best suited for defeating Tim Walberg and serving in the United States House of Representatives.

We're Democrats, which means sometimes we suffer from "circular-firing-squad" syndrome. Let's try to avoid that and remember than any one of the four declared candidates would be an improvement on what we have now.

Four viable candidates, all of them better than Walberg. This is exciting!

UPDATE: Here's the press release:


Creates candidate committee for possible 7th Congressional District race

BATTLE CREEK - State Senate Democratic Leader Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek), today created a candidate committee for a 7th Congressional district bid. The filing is an important first step in becoming an official candidate in the race.

"The people of Michigan's 7th district deserve a Congressman who will put their best interests ahead of his own, or that of special interests," said Schauer. "Unfortunately, the incumbent has been more concerned with the extreme agenda of George W. Bush and Washington Republicans, but that type of party politics doesn't reflect the values of our district, and it needs to change."

Schauer has a long history of serving south central Michigan. He was elected to represent Battle Creek in the State House of Representatives in 1996. After serving three terms, he was elected to the 19th State Senate district covering Calhoun and Jackson counties in 2002. Schauer has worked to help companies such as Kellogg's, Duncan Aviation, Sparton Corporation and Eaton Aerospace retain and add local jobs. Schauer also partnered with former Congressman Joe Schwarz to help save the Battle Creek Air National Guard base.

Prior to his service in the Michigan Legislature, Schauer was a Battle Creek City Commissioner and worked as the executive director of the Community Action Agency of South Central Michigan. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Albion College, a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University and a Masters Degree in Political Science from Michigan State University where he is also all-but-dissertation in Political Science & Urban Studies. He is married to Christine and has three stepchildren.

"The needs of the communities I serve have always been my top priority," said Schauer. "I will continue to work towards securing jobs, improving health care, and creating better educational opportunities in my current role or as a candidate for Congress."

A number of critics have pointed out that the current Congressman has failed working families by voting against an increase in the minimum wage, even though he supported a 38 percent salary increase for himself while a state representative. He has also opposed expanding health care to more than 4.1 million uninsured children and advocated for the privatization of social security. He recently went so far as to vote against a budget bill, yet tried to take credit for local projects included in the legislation.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tim Walberg and the Club for Growth

Data below has been updated. On the advice of an anonymous commenter, I have reposted this. After all, you can't repeat yourself enough on this. It's clear that Tim Walberg works for the Club for Growth, not Michigan's 7th District.

Congress is on its break for the month of August, but there's still plenty to talk about. Today, I'd like to take a closer look at Congressman Tim Walberg's relationship with the Club for Growth.

The Club for Growth is not a nice organization. They claim to stand for lower taxes, pro-business policies, and "economic freedom." In practice, they stand for purging the Republican Party of those that don't follow their rigid ideology. Here's what former Congressman Joe Schwarz said of their role in the 2006 primary:
The effort was funded, probably to the tune of $1 million or so, by the Club for Growth, a Washington outfit supported by plutocrats nationwide who apparently have nothing better to do with their money than give it to an organization that stands for nothing -- though it says it's "anti-tax" -- and likes to play in elections in which it has no logical interest.
And it wasn't just Joe Schwarz. Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) also saw a Club for Growth challenger in 2006. But most interesting, perhaps, was in 2004. The Club challenged Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) in the primary, with their hand-picked candidate Pat Toomey (now president of the Club) losing in a close, 51-49 election.

Senator Specter, of course, has served Pennsylvania as a Republican in the Senate for nearly 30 years. He even supports a flat-tax system-- a favorite of conservatives-- but that's not enough for the Club for Growth. Their ideological purity tests somehow determined that conservative Arlen Specter wasn't good enough.

But let's get back to Tim Walberg. What did the Club for Growth do for him?

First, there are the independent expenditures.

The Club for Growth spent $191,952 on behalf of Tim Walberg. I had to check that number a few times because the FEC listed so many expenditures, I was afraid I might have missed one-- and I still might have. (Fun facts: The largest expenditure was $110,727 for an ad buy; the smallest was just $2.00 for "internet communication.")

The Club for Growth spent $326,994 against Congressmen Joe Schwarz. That was probably those ads you might have seen claiming Schwarz was "a liberal."

What about Walberg himself? He spent $1,225,137 out of $1,260,111 raised for the campaign. That's a lot of money. Where did it come from?

Well, some of it counts the independent expenditures of the Club and other PACs. But of his individual contributions-- $947,745-- much of that came from Club for Growth members. See, the Club will send out fundraising letters to all of their members encouraging them to give directly to the candidates. Tim Walberg doesn't really have supporters across the country. Instead, he has a bunch of rich people send him $2,000 checks because he's on the Club for Growth's endorsement list. It's a nifty set-up he's got there.

So how much of that $950,000 came from Club for Growth members? It's hard to say. But Walberg did have 73 percent of his contributions come from out-of-state. So that's something.

So what does that kind of money buy you? Well, for the Club for Growth, it buys you a reliable voice in Congress. It's just too bad that voice doesn't represent the 7th District.

The Club for Growth issues "Key Vote Alerts" whenever an issue comes before Congress that they've chosen to care about. In each alert, they offer the proper instructions for their followers in Congress. That is, they state whether one should vote "yes" or "no." I've created a table to track these:

Club for Growth Key Votes

Bill/Amendment CFG Position Walberg Vote
HR 800 No No
Sessions Amdt HR 1401 Yes Yes
Ryan Sub. Amdt H Con Res 99 Yes Yes
HR 401 No No Vote Taken
HR 1257 No No
Campbell/Ryan Letter Sign Signed
Bachus/Biggert Amdt HR 1427 Yes Yes
HR 1252 No No
Amdt #57 HR 2638 Yes Yes
HR 2734 Co-sponsor Original Sponsor
Amdt #10 HR 2771 Yes Yes
Campbell Amdt HR 2829 Yes Yes
P-F-H Amdt HR 2829 (Fairness Doctrine) Yes Yes
"Fairness" Amdt HR 2419 Yes No
Rule for HR 2419 No No
HR 2419 No No
HR 3221 and HR 2776 No and No No and No

Now, there are two blank spots on that table, corresponding with the "Vote Alerts" here and here. I can't seem to find how Walberg voted on those in any of the usual databases I search. If anyone else can find what I'm missing, I'd appreciate it.

UPDATE: A very kind anonymous commenter found those two missing votes for me, and the table above has been updated, as has the analysis below.

After removing HR 401, which has yet to be voted on, there have been 17 Club for Growth "Key Vote Alerts." Tim Walberg voted with the Club 16 out of 17 times, or 94.1 percent of the time. In contrast, Walberg voted with the House Republican Caucus just 90.7 percent.

Clearly, Congressman Tim Walberg has been just about the best representative that money can buy.

What would you do if you could buy a member of the United States House of Representatives?

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Monday, August 20, 2007

A Lesson from Virginia

Submitted by TheMaverick09, cross-posted from To Play the King.

In the '70s, independents started aligning with the GOP. In the '80s, a slew of conservative Democrats (led by now former Sen. Chuck Robb) wooed them back. The '90s saw the Republicans take advantage of the Democrats moving slightly too far left to win four out of five major races. Now the Democrats are on their own winning streak, thanks to putting on a more practical governing face and a Republican Party that's lost touch with the independents.
Michigan Democrats could learn a great deal from the Virginia political landscape as detailed by NBC news analyst Chuck Todd in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal.

The lesson for Michigan Democrats is two-fold: First, recognize the political importance of the independent voter in deciding the outcome of elections. I argue that the independent voter will be especially relevant in the 2008 election because the Republican Party has taken such polarizing positions on critical issues such as stem-cell research, the war in Iraq, the environment and health care. Second, the Democratic Party in Michigan must remember that its candidates for office represent a “practical governing face” and not a partisan governing face.

At this early stage of the political discussion for 2008 it is clear there is a real swing toward Democratic candidates. With this swing will come pressure on candidates to accept the entire platform of the Democratic Party and then present him/herself as the “best Democrat” among the candidates. This tendency will prove a dangerous position for a would-be Democratic nominee in 7th Congressional District of Michigan.

For a number of years now, the 7th has been viewed as a staunchly conservative district and that is simply untrue. A general election victory is only achievable with broad voter appeal. In general elections, the majority of voters look to the candidate and the qualities he brings to the office and do not simply vote for someone based on their political affiliation. There is something to be said for cross-over appeal.

Mr. Todd offers up Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia as an example of an elected official who has never failed to appeal to his district’s independent voters.
What's fascinating is that from a 30-year perspective, Mr. Warner hasn't lost touch with Virginia ideologically. The two parties ebbed and flowed past him, while he's continued to appeal to independent voters. Over the past four decades, they've traded dominance in statewide elections, with one party or the other winning three or four major races in a row. In this state, each party has been able to hold the upper hand, through the support of independent voters, for about a decade at a time.
The Democratic candidate for the 7th Congressional seat must follow a mold similar to Senator Warner if the party wishes to win and maintain this seat. The candidate should be intelligent, secure in his/her convictions, possess an understanding of his entire district and not be beholden to a rigid party platform. More importantly, we must have a candidate capable of appealing to the independent voters. Some of these independent voters have always been fiercely independent. However, in 2008 many independent voters will be moderate Republicans disgusted with the direction their party has taken of late. These newly independent voters will not be comfortable supporting an anointed partisan who fails to understand the broad spectrum of political issues that are important to them.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Branch County - Better Know A County

Michigan is often divided along regional lines-- East, West, and North. The 7th Congressional District serves as a bridge between East and West, stretching from Ann Arbor to Battle Creek, and from the Lansing area south to the state line. It's not often that those in one part of the district visit (or even think about) those on the opposite end.

Let's get to know each other.

Branch County

Branch County serves as the southwest corner of the 7th District and as the smallest-population county. From Wikipedia:
As of the census² of 2000, there were 45,787 people, 16,349 households, and 11,575 families residing in the county. The population density was 35/km² (90/mi²). There were 19,822 housing units at an average density of 15/km² (39/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 93.37% White, 2.63% Black or African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.42% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.39% from other races, and 1.69% from two or more races. 2.98% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Branch County was named for John Branch, the Secretary of Navy in Andrew Jackson's administration, making it one of the Cabinet Counties. (Jackson was president when Michigan became a state.) Branch County also had a vessel of the United States Navy named for it, the USS Branch County, a World War II tank landing ship.


The county seat of Branch County, Coldwater is the largest city of Branch County, at 12,697 at the 2000 census. It was hometown to Harriet Quimby, the first woman to get a pilot's license in the United States.


From his official website, Congressman Tim Walberg visited Branch County for a Farm Bill listening session in April and visited the Tibbits Opera House in Coldwater in February. From what I can find, these have been Walberg's only visits to the county so far this year.

Walberg also had one appropriations request for Branch County, which he announced in June. The request was a $217,632 grant for the Branch Area Transit Authority, which was to be spent on buses, radio equipment, and facilities upgrades.

The chairman of the Democratic Party in Branch County is Jerry Fair, while the Republicans are led by Ken Delaney.

Branch County Election Results

2006 General Election:

Tim Walberg (R): 7,744 (55.3%)
Sharon Renier (D): 5,572 (39.8%)
Joe Schwarz (Write-in): 169 (1.2%)

Jennifer Granholm (D): 6,901 (47.98%)
Dick DeVos (R): 7,248 (50.39%)


Branch County Government
Branch County Tourism Bureau
Attractions and Entertainment
Festivals and Events
City of Coldwater
City of Bronson
The Coldwater Daily Reporter

Next time: Calhoun County!

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The Forest from the Trees

(Cross-posted from To Play the King, Submitted by TheMaverick09).

We should keep in mind the big political picture for 2008. Animosity-laden posts of late are really unproductive and only serve to undermine the success of Democrats in the 7th. The questioning of blogger’s motives and conspiratorial quips is ridiculous.

The Democratic candidates in the 7th District present an interesting aspect of the 2008 election. However, the infighting is beginning to resemble the inner-party squabble that has kept Democratic candidates from defeating Republicans and, in the past, prevented a Democratic majority.

I fear our conversation has lost its focus. I see the 7th District race as more of a test for the Democratic Party and the extent to which we are capable, at a state and national level, of making smart candidate choices and properly allocating resources behind the most viable candidate in the race?. The blogosphere is an important new addition to politics and campaigns and is destined to reshape politics forever. However, Democrats ought to keep in mind that politics is a science. And when it comes to the 7th Congressional race and how the 08 election is shaping up, certain candidates will be stronger than others. No matter how passionate one may be about one candidate or another, there will be one who is the best bet to oust the Republicans. It is also a fact that a messy and expensive primary race does not help the cause. I have said it before and I will say it again and again, in many cases primary races serve only to hurt a party when it comes to the general election.

My hope is the conversation here is not founded only in emotion, wild speculation and calls for censorship of opinions. Rather, lets try to elevate the conversation and have discussions in the Netroots based on political science and strategy. In doing so, the party will be better able to help clear the way for a Democrat who is most likely to defeat Walberg.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why Walberg's No Good

I'm resposting this past Sunday's post at To Play the King to remind us all of who we're up against.

Tim Walberg stands side by side with President Bush on almost every issue and couldn't be more proud to do so. This rubber stamping is never more evident than when it comes to the War in Iraq.

To trust Tim Walberg to exercise good judgment on the Iraq war is folly. While he claims to supports the war, he clearly does not support the troops fighting in this conflict.

Case in point: U.S. military leadership has been unambiguously clear about the danger of the armed forces reaching a critical breaking point. Troops are stretched dangerously thin and many are serving their third tour in the combat zone. Furthermore, we are finding more and more veterans affected by PTSD when they come home and are not receiving adequate treatment in the short time before being redeployed.

H.R. 3159, as passed by the House on August 2, would allow our troops a longer break between tours of duty. The legislation would "mandate minimum periods of rest and recuperation for units and members of the regular and reserve components of the Armed Forces between deployments for Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom."

Walberg voted NO on this legislation. It is safe to assume that while the 7th District's congressman is in favor of The War, he is opposed to giving our troops the time they need to mentally and physically recover from the rigors of combat. He is opposed to legislation that would guarantee that our troops have time with their families to reconnect and make sure their family lives are in order. He is opposed to legislation that would give children and spouses time to reconnect with a parent who serves this fine country overseas.

This cavalier attitude toward national security is a disgusting and unforgivable betrayal of our men and women in uniform. He ought to ask what kind of family values deny troops a guaranteed amount of time with their loved ones before packing up their Kevlar and heading back into the combat zone. I would challenge Walberg to ask any veteran or active service member if they would object to a break before returning to war. Ask any of them if it would be of benefit to them personally – and to our military -- to have this time? Ask them if this break would make them more effective in the field upon their return? I doubt there would be any NO votes on that question.

Tim, it's a break, pal. You weren't ending their service in the military or heaven forbid ending the war. The bill was just giving the troops a little breather. But then again, I guess someone who has never been shot at and only poses with guns wouldn't understand why someone in combat might need a designated break before heading back in.

Below is a brief summary of the bill passed in the House despite Republican Tim Walberg's opposition.

Roll Call Vote 796. H R 3159 RECORDED VOTE 2-Aug-2007 1:53 PM



















Explanation (from Library of Congress):

Prohibits units and members of the regular Armed Forces from being deployed for Operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom (including participation in the NATO International Security Assistance Force ( Afghanistan)) unless the period between deployments is equal to or longer than the period of the previous deployment. Expresses the sense of Congress that the optimal minimum period between such deployments should be equal to or longer than twice the period of the previous deployment.

Prohibits units and members of the reserves from being deployed for such Operations (including such NATO participation) if the unit or member has been deployed within three preceding years. Expresses the sense of Congress that units and members of the reserves should not be mobilized continuously for more than one year, and that the optimal minimum period between such deployments should be five years.

Authorizes the: (1) President to waive such limitations after certifying to Congress that the deployment is necessary to meet an operational emergency posing a threat to vital national security interests; or (2) chief of staff of the military department concerned (including the Coast Guard) to waive such limitations with respect to a member who has voluntarily requested mobilization.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

The Focus is on Walberg

From an anonymous poster at WalbergWatch and To Play the King.:

I think everyone-especially when they post here, needs to remember that the focus is beating Walberg.

I like Mark Schauer and think he is doing a good job in the Senate.

I think Jim Berryman was a good State Senator and fought a good fight against Smith in '98.

As Republican's go, I think Joe Schwarz was a good Congressman and if he switched parties would do an excellent job.

So, ironically, after so many years of wandering the wilderness of nobody to run or having a nobody run against "Do Nothing Nick"-Reiner, Crittendon, etc, we seem to have too many qualified candidates to run against Walberg.

The logical thought then, seems, to boil it down to who is doing what now.

Sen. Schauer is a sitting Senator, currently serving the largest poplulation centers in the 7th. Then, along with that, the complex and important role of leading one of the four caucus' and (presumably) preparing the caucus for both the 2010/12 re-districting fight and 2010 election.

Jim Berryman is fighting for teachers benefits with the MEA.

Joe Schwarz is working on Health Care issues and (I assume) continuing his medical practice.

We can debate the relative importance of Congress/State Senate, but it is irresponsible to suggest that either isn't or is more important than the other. Maybe to you, one is bigger than the other, but they are both big. It matters who is serving and the policys they promote.

At the end of the day, I return to my opening line, focus on beating Walberg.

If Berryman continues to run or Schwarz jumps in as a Dem, then I think it is probably better to have Schauer stay in the Senate. Both Berryman and Schwarz are credible, realistic alternatives to Walberg.

Ultimately, I think any of the 3 (S,S,B) can beat Walberg, but lets say Schauer does. Then we are left with a special election in the 19th.

Would Simpson run? Griffin? Whomever-hopefully-the Dems in Calhoun have elected to replace Nofs?

The bets on all of the above are long. All are/would be important to keeping the Dems in charge of the State House.

What would likely happen? Probably the first of an 8 year run in the Senate for Mike Nofs.

Now, how bad can that be? Well, doing the math on the Senate today, the Dems have 17 seats. Ultimately, when the budget and the rest of the important decisions are made in Lansing, the Senate Republicans have two marginal seats-Kahn and Richardville. Both will have to be very careful how they vote btwn now and the next election. So, they are the most likely to join with the Dems on a "mission critical" vote (Education, taxes, cuts, etc.) With the two of them today, that gives you 19, with the Lt. Gov breaking a tie.

Take the 19th/Schauer off the table, put in Nofs, and you drop to 18. Or, to put it another way-wave goodbye to getting anything done during the last two years of the Granholm administration.

I like Schauer. I like what he is doing, but I would also like him to stay in the Senate.

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Odds and Ends

I've got a few things today that didn't seem like they were worth an entire post themselves, so I'll combine 'em.

Bush Approval

There was a diary at which had maps showing President Bush's estimated approval rating by state, congressional district, and county. Here's the map for congressional districts, July 2007, and here's the map from November 2004. The 7th District is looking a lot bluer lately.

This matters, of course, because Congressman Tim Walberg has made it clear that he stands with President Bush on nearly every controversial issue. If folks don't like Bush in the district, let's remind them that Walberg's been right there with him on everything.

Walberg Recall

The Battle Creek Enquirer reports on Tim Walberg's lawsuit to stop the recall. At the risk of seeming like I'm bragging, I do believe Walberg Watch reported on the lawsuit before anyone else!

Francis Pepper

The latest blogger to join Walberg Watch-- Francis Pepper-- seemed to cause quite a stir with his first two posts, and there were some very negative comments. I'd like to address all that now.

I really doubt that Francis is a Republican troll planted here to help Walberg. From what he's written elsewhere and from private communications with me, I think he's sincere in his desire to see a Democrat elected. Now, he's been vocal about his feelings that Senator Mark Schauer shouldn't run. Similarly, Doug has been vocal in his support for Jim Berryman. My policy has been that this blog won't take a position, but individuals are welcome to share their views.

I knew that when I asked him to join the blog, and I thought he might shake things up a bit by saying things a lot of us-- including myself-- might disagree with. We ought to be talking about who would be the best candidate, and we ought to be examining every aspect of them. Now, Francis has been vocal on this on several different websites, but he's not just "the anti-Schauer guy."

All I ask is that you give him a chance. He might surprise you.

If you don't think Mark Schauer's being given fair treatment, I'd love to add another blogger to make the case. For that matter, if anyone wants to join the blog to advocate on behalf of any candidate (besides Tim Walberg), I'm all for adding new voices. Just so long as you can write about more than just Candidate X, too.

Ah geez. That was longer than I wanted it to be.

Better Know A County

I was thinking earlier about how little some parts of the district have in common with others. What kind of interest might there be in a "Better Know A County" series of posts? More importantly than that, could I get any local insight from folks around the district? I hate to admit it, but I don't spend a lot of time in Branch or Hillsdale counties, for instance.

Something Fun

It's the end of the week, and I'm done with being serious. I want something totally, completely non-political to bring in the weekend. So here's a YouTube video of one of the finest musical groups I've ever seen: the Northwestern University Kazoo Choir.

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Planned Parenthood and Tim Walberg

I had missed this vote, but, thankfully, others were paying attention.

Congressman Tim Walberg has done a very good job of casting himself as a "pro-life crusader," but rarely do we get a chance to see what that really means. We got that chance on HR 3043, the Health and Human Services Appropriations Act, a bill on which Congressman Walberg voted No.

Prior to final passage, Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) attempted to add an amendment:
Amendment No. 67 offered by Mr. Pence:

At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:

Sec. __X. None of the funds made available under this Act shall be available to Planned Parenthood for any purpose under title X of the Public Health Services Act.

Planned Parenthood, of course, is a regular target of the religious right. Among other things, they provide abortion services which, though many have moral qualms, is a perfectly legal service. But that's not all Planned Parenthood provides. As Lori Lamerand from Planned Parenthood's Mid-Michigan Alliance explains:

His appalling vote would have wiped out financial assistance at our health center in Jackson for some of our most fundamental services, such as annual exams, cancer screening and birth control for our low-income patients.

Fortunately, the amendment failed. But it's beyond ironic that Rep. Walberg claims to be so concerned about abortion rates when he voted to restrict the very funds to help women prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion. In fact, it's unconscionable.

(Emphasis added.)

"Pro-life" Tim Walberg? Apparently not...

As is noted above, the Pence Amendment failed, 189 to 231. How many people could it have affected? From Planned Parenthood of Georgia:
Each year, more than five million women receive comprehensive family planning services at family planning clinics that are funded by Title X. These women are predominantly poor and uninsured -- two-thirds have incomes at or below the federal poverty level. Title X provides a critical safety net for these women, and without it, many women would go without the health care they need and deserve. For many of these women, Planned Parenthood is the only provider they know and trust.
Rather than try to offer my own thoughts, I'll go back to Lori Lamerand:
Planned Parenthood knows firsthand the positive impact that federal family-planning funds have on the lives of low-income women and families. Women and couples can plan strong, healthy families when they have access to affordable birth control and the information they need to make responsible decisions. This is just common sense -- but I guess Rep. Tim Walberg never got the memo.

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