Monday, March 03, 2008

Walberg, Cheney, and 2008 Power Rankings

I've fallen off a bit on blogging, so I'm going to try to fit as much into this post as I can.

Recently, loyal Republicans around the 7th District received something like this in the mail:
(Click to enlarge.)

[Edit March 07, 2008: I realized just now that I forgot to black out the street address of the couple who are hosting the fundraiser. That was just sloppiness on my part. While I might disagree with their politics, they don't need to have their address posted on a political blog. Fred and Arlene, if this caused any trouble for you, I sincerely apologize. I'm mostly hoping that no one noticed it before.]

Now, it turns out some loyal Republicans in the district aren't all that loyal to Tim Walberg, or else they wouldn't be sending me their invitations. But that's a subject for many, many future posts.

A lot of people, myself included, can't stand the money in politics. It takes a ridiculous amount of money to run for office and actually win, and, as painful as it is, fundraising is the main measure of viability for a candidate. Except, if the candidate wins, he's beholden to the rich contributors that made it possible. It's not the kind of representative government the Founding Fathers had in mind.

But, as frustrating as it is, that's how the system works. And if you can afford to buy influence, why not take advantage of it?

So suppose you're a Republican donor who got one of these invitations in the mail. You've just been asked to hand over $500 per person or $1,000 for a photo of you and Vice President Cheney. Besides that very expensive souvenir, what kind of influence can you expect to be buying?

Let's set aside, for the moment, that Vice President Dick Cheney has a favorable job rating from only 22 percent of Americans (with a negative 71 percent). Instead, let's focus on Walberg. From his "annual report," Walberg makes it sound like he does a lot. Is it worth it to contribute to him?

To Republicans looking for influence, it turns out Tim Walberg is a bad choice.

The website ranks every member of Congress by their influence, with leaders in the majority at the top, majority members in the upper middle, minority leaders in the middle, and minority members toward the bottom. So it's not reasonable to expect Congressman Walberg to be incredibly powerful.

When he was ranked last year, just a couple of months into his term, he was tied for 423rd most powerful member of the House of Representatives. That's out of 435 members total. Basically, there's nowhere to go but up, right?

Wrong. Tim Walberg dropped to 424th most powerful member of the House of Representatives, the lowest of Michigan's delegation. Another way to think of it: Tim Walberg is the 12th least powerful man in Washington.

This raises a natural question: who are the other 11? Well, here's the list, with potential reasons for why they're less powerful than Tim Walberg:
  • Rep. Walberg (R-MI-7), 424
  • Rep. Smith (R-NE-3), 425 - Freshman; another CfGer
  • Rep. Inglis (R-SC-4), 426 - "Freshman"
  • Rep. McCarthy (R-CA-22), 427 - Freshman
  • Rep. Doolittle (R-CA-4), 428 - Under investigation (Abramoff)
  • Rep. Bilirakis (R-FL-9), 429 - Freshman
  • Rep. Davis (R-TN-1), 430 - Freshman; only two bills, including one to create "American Eagle Day."
  • Rep. Broun (R-GA-10), 431 - Only elected in July 2007
  • Rep. Wittman (R-VA-1), 432 - Only elected in November 2007
  • Rep. Latta (R-OH-5), 433 - Only elected in December 2007
  • Rep. Jefferson (D-LA-2), 434 - Indicted for bribery
  • Rep. Renzi (R-AZ-1), 435 - Recently indicted on 35 counts
In other words, Walberg is more powerful than the ones who have broken the law, the ones who only just got elected, and the other freshmen who haven't done... anything. Yes, Tim Walberg sure is a rising star.

Fun fact: Luis Fortuno, Republican Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico, is ranked higher (421) than Tim Walberg, despite not being able to vote on final passage of bills.

I'm not a big Republican donor, and if I had $1,000, I certainly wouldn't spend it on a political candidate. But to me, it seems like for the folks that can afford it, $1,000 for Tim Walberg is a bad investment. Why spend money on the bottom of the barrel, especially when he's alienated his own party?

My advice to GOP contributors in the 7th District is to not go to the fundraiser, it just isn't worth it. And it's not like I have an agenda or anything.

My advice to Democrats, meanwhile, is to invest in a Democratic candidate. Be it Renier or Schauer, Democrats have a great shot at taking the seat. It's worth the investment. Will $20 buy you access? No. But it will get you a representative who can accomplish... something. (Or, donate to the eventual nominee in the upper-right corner of Walberg Watch.)

On that note, some other folks are also encouraging you to donate.

The Schauer campaign sent out a fundraising e-mail related to the Cheney fundraiser:

We promised you when we started this campaign that members of this email list would be among the first to learn about breaking news in our effort to replace Tim Walberg. Well, we're delivering by passing along the secret email below from Dick Cheney to worried Walberg supporters about his upcoming trip to the 7th district. Walberg's message of the status quo is not resonating with people, so it looks like he's calling in the big guns. If you want to help fight back and give him a nice warm welcome, visit We'll keep you posted as we get more details on the incumbent's desperate attempt to keep his job, while his constituents keep losing theirs.

To: Worried Walberg Backers

I'm going to be appearing at "an undisclosed location" somewhere in Michigan's 7th District on Friday, March 7, to help bail out Tim Walberg. He has shown blind loyalty to my agenda since the day he arrived in Washington. (I would say the "Bush agenda" but really, who are we kidding?). Without him, we wouldn't have been able to stay the course in Iraq or keep denying millions of children health care. And if he gets beat, who's going to keep preaching about fair trade while we sneak Michigan jobs overseas under a cloak of darkness?

Those suckers in Michigan don't even know how to craft an energy plan the right way. They're actually talking about state initiatives right out in the open – no secret meetings, no classified memos, no unnamed group of corporate executives pulling the strings. Believe it or not, they actually think the purpose of a long-term strategy is to create jobs, protect our air and water, and even reduce – not raise – costs to consumers. We can't let Walberg fall victim to people with those kinds of priorities who don't even see the value in a secretive government.

The one thing that is surely no secret is how horrible Walberg has been at something we pride ourselves on – raising heaps of campaign cash. Looks like the people there just aren't buying what he's selling, so I'll have to swoop in to sell it for him. Discretely, of course.

Don't worry, though, I've still got some pretty generous connections (the boys at Halliburton STILL owe me big). And the Club for Growth's not going to let their investment lose without a fight. Ah, just remembering the CFG's tactics and hit job on Schwarz gives me a warm fuzzy feeling in the place where my heart used to be. So get ready Michigan – you may not yet know exactly where or when, but Cheney's riding in to the rescue again.


Dick Cheney (The REAL Commander-in-Chief)


Okay, okay, obviously the message above is a joke, but the event and the date are not:

"Cheney to stump for Walberg in Marshall"
It's kind of silly, but it gets the point across.

The websites Michigan Liberal and Blogging for Michigan are also running a counter-Cheney pro-Schauer fundraiser:
Parents take your children inside! Mr. 20% is coming to town!

In less than a week, the real President Vice President will be here to help Temmeh Walberg raise some cash. You know things are bad for Republicans when they have to call on Dick Cheney to boost their popularity. Apparently, Walberg's Wacko Club for Growth Conservatism isn't well liked in his moderate district.

Cheney will be in Marshall next Friday, to attend an invitation-only fundraiser for Walberg. To celebrate Walberg's downward mobility, the Michigan Progressivesphere is having an invitation-only fundraiser of our own for CD-07 candidate Mark Schauer.

And you're all invited!

Simply jump on over to the Act Blue page we've set up for Mark, and drop some coin in his bucket.

Labels: , , ,

Anyone else have a problem with Blogging for Michigan and Michigan Liberal annoiting Schauer? From MIRs:

Et Tu, MichLib?
Senate Minority Leader Mark SCHAUER (D-Battle Creek) professed his love to MIRS for Michigan Liberal and Blogging for Michigan and the feeling is more than mutual. The sites are ganging up to raise Schauer some cash since incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim WALBERG (R-Tipton) is getting a big boost from a fundraiser this week in Marshall with Vice President Dick CHENEY.

The Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) came out swinging against Walberg today, saying his vote against the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act (H.R. 5351) is one against "lower gas prices and reduced America's dependence on foreign oil.

"Among the values shared by Cheney and Walberg is a commitment giving tax breaks to Big Oil companies at the expense of Michigan families' pocketbooks and jobs," a press release said.

MDP Chair Mark BREWER went even further and poked fun at the veep:

"I don't know how you could be more out of touch with Michigan families than to vote against a bill that would both lower gas prices and bring jobs to Michigan. Even all the money the Oil Man in Chief will bring to town for Walberg can't hide that kind of blind, special interest loyalty and indifference to his district."

The liberal blogs, who claim Cheney's visit is a sign of weakness for Walberg, are devoting multiple posts to fundraising ("Mark! Mark! He's Our Man!") But as of Sunday, there were only three pledges made toward their goal of 25.

Evidently, Munith farmer Sharon RENIER, who came within 4 points of beating Walberg in the 7th District in 2006, doesn't rate. Renier also struck out in support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which didn't give her a dime last time around.

The DCCC has already endorsed Schauer, as they did former Lottery Commissioner Gary PETERS in the 9th District, helping to shove former nominee Nancy SKINNER from the race. (See "Will The DCCC Pony Up For Schauer?," 2/20/08).

The DCCC isn't supposed to play favorites, but it wants to pad the new Democratic majority. However, aren't the netroots supposed to champion the progressive underdog?
Why do you assume that if a candidate is getting support from the DCCC they aren't progressive enough for the netroots. Even though Schauer is not my representative, based on the stories on MichLib and BFM, he seems plenty progressive for this netroots activist.

Same with Gary Peters. Gary is a true progressive, even though Nancy Skinner tried to paint him otherwise.

We all will be well served by Peters and Schauer. They both are right on the issues and doing a fantastic job raising the money required to beat incumbents, in the case of Knollenberg, an 8-term incumbent.
Schauer has also held $1000/head fundraisers including one at the home of former Kellogg VP Joe Stewart in Battle Creek a few months ago so it is rather hypocritical to criticize Walberg for this. Love him or hate him at least people who go to this Walberg event get to meet someone interesting. What do you get at a $1000 Schauer fundraiser? You get to meet Mark Schauer. Whoopy-frickin'-doo. Also, taking a look at Schauer’s fundraising reports we see that it is by no means a grassroots campaign. A vast majority of his money comes in large chunks from big unions and liberal PACs.
"Schauer has also held $1000/head fundraisers including one at the home of former Kellogg VP Joe Stewart in Battle Creek a few months ago"

Actually, I heard Mark missed that fund-raiser as that night was the all night marathon at the Capitol which accomplished nothing anyway.
I got this event announcement today to protest Dick Cheney's fundraiser:

Join Michigan Citizen Action and Progress Michigan on March 7, 2008 to learn more about Rep. Walberg's voting record. Rep. Walberg has opposed funding for children's health care and other human-needs services, but continues to support Bush's endless war in Iraq.

Rep. Walberg's voting record has hurt Michigan families, particularly those who live in the seventh Congressional District by siding with the Upside Down priorities of the Bush/Cheney Administration.

Please join Michigan Citizen Action and other coalition partners at the Brooks Memorial Fountain Park in Marshall, Michigan at 1 p.m. for a press conference and demonstration to educate the public and media about the harmful policies towards Michigan families championed by Rep. Walberg.
Walberg earned only a 17 out of a possible 100+ from the Humane Society's Legislative Fund Scorecard.

He wasn't a co-sponsor on the Horse Slaughter, or the Fur Labeling bills. He voted against the Wild Horses bill and Polar Bear amendement. He did support the Animal Fighting bill.
Was there any press coverage of the protests to Cheney's visit? I haven't seen anything.
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