Friday, August 31, 2007
Fitzy's Endorsement-- I Support...
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...
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:
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.
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":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.
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 recall ended before it ever got a chance to begin. Here are Jim Carr's remarks from this morning:
LENAWEE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HEARINGI'm sure we'll be seeing media reports on this in the next two days or so.
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 questionsThe 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.
Walberg Is "Too Busy" For Us
Last week, the Jackson Citizen Patriot had a story about Congressman Tim Walberg's new blog:
But what about those of us that've been blogging about Walberg before August 9th?
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 TownHall.com, 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.
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,
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:
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%
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
Schwarz (D): 43.9%
Walberg (R): 40.5%
Walberg (R): 37.4%
Schwarz (I): 23.5%
Berryman (D): 23.4%
Hypothetical Democratic Primary
(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.
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.
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.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:
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.
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.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.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.
Walberg Against Family Planning Services
The Battle Creek Enquirer reported today on the same vote I mentioned last week:
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.It's not like Walberg's ideology gets in the way of the facts or anything.
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.Thanks for stopping by, Senator.
Mark Schauer Is Running
From the AP:
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:
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:
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?
Monday, August 20, 2007
A Lesson from Virginia
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There was a diary at DailyKos.com 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.
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!
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.
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.
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: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:
"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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