Monday, May 26, 2008
Memorial Day Open Thread
(Arlington National Cemetery - Image)
Michigan Liberal has a running list today of those Michigan members of the armed forces who have died in operations in Iraq.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Schwarz Watch: Wayne State University?
Update: Oops. As pointed out in a comment, the decision was already made, a couple of days before I posted this. See, when I see an interesting article, I bookmark it to come back to later. This one (as with many lately) I came back to a couple of weeks later, and failed to check my facts before hand.
Congressman Schwarz was not selected. Still, everything nice I say below still stands, and I wish Schwarz luck in any future pursuits.
Don't worry, "Schwarz Watch" doesn't mean I'm planning on starting another blog. However, while not necessarily connected with Congressman Tim Walberg's adventures in Washington (and the need to end them this November), I thought this was worth mentioning. Susan Demas brought us this earlier this month:
President Joe Schwarz?(Emphasis added.)
I've mentioned it before, but it's worth repeating that I have an enormous amount of respect for Congressman Schwarz. I never voted for him, as I'm a progressive Democrat and he's a right-leaning moderate Republican-turned-independent, but he's more than qualified for just about any job he would want. More than that he is (or at least comes across as) a genuinely decent person. I started Walberg Watch in part out of disgust for the way Walberg and his friends at the Club for Growth treated an honorable public servant.
Of course, Demas brings politics into the article at the very end. It makes sense, and is also my justification for posting this story here.
Although Democrats don't think Schwarz will run as an independent in the 7th Congressional district this year, some see that as a possibility. If Schwarz were to get the WSU job, a 7th Congressional District run would be taken off the table, which would arguably benefit Democratic challenger Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek.Schwarz was quoted by Tim Skubick as saying he wouldn't run, but I'm sure there's that tiny little piece of him that wants to get back into the race. So, yeah, there is the partisan Democrat piece of me that hopes he gets the Wayne State University job to prevent him from making an independent run and splitting the anti-Walberg vote.
But mostly, I hope he gets the job because he deserves it, and, while I don't know much about these things, I think he'd be good at it.
Goodluck, Congressman Schwarz, regardless of what you choose to do.
Congressman Tim to Michigan Unemployed- "Tough!"
On Thursday, the US House voted to extend unemployment benefits an additional 26 weeks in states with severe economic problems, like our own Michigan.
The amendment passed 256-166.
Guess who voted against the amendment?
That's right, our own "compassionate conservative", Congressman Tim Walberg!
He voted against extra weeks of benefits for our own neighbors, who are struggling in the poor economy, and based on the bill, I bet it's because there was a surtax of .5% on those making over $500,000 or couples making over $1,000,000!
Well, at least we know who Tim is looking out for...I'm sure this will mean more CFG dollars for the fall campaign!
Update by Fitzy: Just to add to elviscostello's post, here's the Detroit News on the vote, via Michigan Liberal:
So... which part did Congressman Walberg disagree with? The part where Michigan's economy was hurting and there are no jobs? The part where the unemployed need some extra help to survive because there are no jobs? Or the part where we're going to pay for college for young men and women who have given everything they have for their country?
Congressman Walberg, which part did you disagree with?
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
7th District State House Races
Yesterday was the filing deadline, meaning that the candidates we already knew about-- Tim Walberg (R), Sharon Renier (D), and Mark Schauer (D)-- will be the only major-party candidates in the 7th District. I was so hoping for a GOP primary, but it appears to have been wishful thinking.
Over the next few days, I'd like to spend some time looking at the other races which might have an impact on the congressional race. It's important to remember that this isn't happening in a vacuum, and what other Democrats and Republicans running in our state do will have an impact on the contest which this blog follows. The big one, obviously, is the presidential race, followed by U.S. Senator Carl Levin's reelection bid. I hope to talk about other races, too, from county commissioners to the state Supreme Court, always through the lens of the 7th District.
Tonight, however, I'd like to begin with the Michigan House of Representatives.
The 7th Congressional District includes all or part of eight state House districts. The individuals who represent each district may not themselves live in the 7th District, but their political strength as they run for office has an impact. (Note: the Michigan Senate is not up for reelection this year, nor is the governor.)
Listed below are the state House districts which comprise the 7th Congressional District, and my (brief) take on the 2008 elections in each.
HD052 - Pam Byrnes (D)
Pam Byrnes (D-Chelsea) represents this district, which makes up the majority of Washtenaw County (essentially, everything except Ann Arbor and the far east and south-east portions). Her district, which includes areas not in the 7th, is not solidly Democratic, having been represented for a long time by Gene DeRossett (R-Manchester), who was also a candidate in the GOP primary in 2004.
In 2002, Byrnes defeated David Nacht (one-time 2008 candidate for Congress) in the Democratic primary, only to lose to DeRossett 53 to 47. When DeRossett retired/ran for Congress in 2004, Byrnes was back, winning the seat over Republican Joseph Yekulis 55 to 45. She was reelected in 2006 with about 63 percent of the vote.
So, it's a lean-Democratic area (and growth of Ann Arbor only helps), but 2006 could have been a fluke in a wave election, and 2002 and 2004 were reasonably close. Byrnes is in good shape to be reelected to her third and final term (term limits). In a situation like this, one might expect the Republicans to field a reasonably strong candidate to run, build name recognition, and come back to win in 2010. It's exactly what Byrnes did and what many others have done before.
Unfortunately for the GOP, that's not what they did. Representative Pam Byrnes (D) was the only candidate to file in the 52nd House District. What does this mean? There's now a popular Democrat who is more or less guaranteed reelection this fall. The vast majority of voters will be checking at least one box with a "D," and Byrnes will likely be working hard to convince the voters in her district to check a few more.
In 2006, Sharon Renier only won the Washtenaw County portion of the district 50 percent to 47 percent. In 2008, I'm guessing Byrnes could help us improve that margin.
HD057 - Dudley Spade (D)
The 57th District (my own district) is represented by Dudley Spade (D-Tipton). The district encompasses all of Lenawee County except for Cambridge Township in the north. Now, some history. For 16 years, a man named Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) represented Lenawee County in the state House of Representatives. It was a conservative county, and it fit him quite well and liked reelecting him. Then, in 1996, a popular WLEN radio host named Doug Spade (D-Adrian) challenged Walberg for his seat. Spade didn't win, but he performed surprisingly well.
When Walberg retired in 1998, Doug Spade was back, and won the seat. He was subsequently reelected in 2000 and 2002 by increasing margins-- he got 69.4 percent of the vote in 2002. Spade was a perfect for Lenawee County, representing its interests well while gently nudging it away from the far-right conservatism of Tim Walberg. More than that, Spade connected with the people of his district.
In 2004, Doug was term-limited out and his brother Dudley Spade ran for the same seat. It's a sign of the strength of the Spade brand that he won his first term with about 59 percent over David Abraham (R-Tecumseh) in a year where John Kerry only got 45 percent. In 2006, Spade was supposed to get a strong challenge in Jim Koehn (R-Adrian), and ended up winning about 67 percent.
Going into 2008, Spade's challenger will be Emma Jenkins (R-Adrian), who filed Monday. Jenkins hasn't held elected office since the early 1980s (on a township board), but she's active in the local GOP as a "footsoldier." Still, she lacks the name identification Abraham (a county commissioner) and Koehn (a prominent travel agent) had, and Spade is still pretty popular. Indeed, it's a bad sign for your candidacy when the worst thing you can say about your opponent is:
Jenkins said she is looking forward to carrying the party banner in this year’s election against an opponent whom she also considers a friend.Or, in other words, "I'd vote for you if you were a Republican, and I don't like that you're helping educate children!" The problem is, the people of Lenawee County aren't partisan enough for this to be a motivating factor. They might lead Republican, but they like Dudley Spade. He should win reelection pretty easily.
Depending on how popular Spade is and how good of a relationship he has with the Democratic nominee for Congress, he might have coattails similar to Byrnes. This could be a big deal, especially if Mark Schauer is really polling even with Walberg in Lenawee County. If Walberg can't count on Lenawee County, he's in trouble.
HD058 - Bruce Caswell (R)
Bruce Caswell (R-Pittsford) was first elected in 2002, representing a district spanning Hillsdale and Branch Counties, the two most reliably conservative counties in the 7th District. Caswell was elected and reelected by increasing percentages (66.9, 72.7, and 72.8 percent), but he's term-limited out for 2008.
There are four Republicans hoping to replace him-- Kenneth Kurtz (R-Coldwater), Frank Plodzik (R-Coldwater), Don Shemel (R-Coldwater), and Steve Vear (R-Hillsdale). I'll admit right now, I haven't got the foggiest idea how this primary will turn out, but if it's particularly divisive, it might give the only Democrat running a chance.
Her name is Jean Anne Kennedy-Windsor (D-Reading). I know very little about her, except that she was a candidate for uncommitted delegate at the 7th District convention earlier this year and that she was formerly known as Jean Elinor Perego. Still, I'm hopeful that she can put together a strong campaign and take advantage of Republicans who will be largely ignoring her. The better she can build the Democratic brand, the better her chances in November and the better our chances of ousting Tim Walberg.
HD062 - Mike Nofs (R)
Ah, Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek). He's the foe of Calhoun County Democrats, winning Mark Schauer's seat when he moved from the House to the Senate. He won three elections (2002, 2004, 2006) with roughly the same share of the vote (53.2, 53.4, and 53.6 percent, respectively) in a district that went to John Kerry by 50.1 percent. But while Nofs might be eying Schauer's Senate seat if Schauer wins, Nofs can't run for reelection in 2008.
This will probably be one of the hardest-fought state House districts in Michigan, with Susan Baldwin (R-Battle Creek) and Gregory Moore (R-Athens) facing Tim Nendorf (D-Battle Creek) and Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek). Being from the opposite end of the district, I don't have a good read of the primary for either party, but I have no doubt that all four are potentially strong candidates. Segal is currently chair of the Calhoun County Commission, and Nendorf is a young law student (23 years old) who has interned with Mark Schauer and Carl Levin.
Regardless of the nominees, there will be a lot of energy put into this race, which will probably drive turnout up. But then, if Schauer is the Democratic nominee, one would hope he doesn't have to worry about turnout in Calhoun County.
HD063 - Lorence Wenke (R)
Although based in Kalamazoo County (and not in the 7th District), Lorence Wenke (R) represents a portion of Calhoun County. He's the Republican who, in 2006, got a little bit of attention by pointing out that the DeVos campaign was "plain dishonest." He's also not up for reelection, after winning in 2002, 2004, and 2006 with 57, 59, and 55 percent, respectively. In 2004, John Kerry got 44 percent of the vote.
Those hoping to replace Wenke are James Bolger (R-Marshall), Jerry Vander Roest (R-Galesburg), and 2006 nominee Phyllis A. Smith (D-Vicksburg). Smith managed 45 percent against Wenke and held him to his smallest margin of victory, impressive against an incumbent. Smith is also the recording secretary for the Kalamazoo County Democratic Party, which (hopefully) indicates some party support.
Like other districts, I don't have a good read of how it might play out. However, we can once again hope for a tough GOP primary that will allow Smith to get her name out and contact voters. It's a winnable district and an open seat, and she should have some name recognition from the 2006 election. With any luck, this will be one more reason for Calhoun County Democrats to turn out in November.
HD064 - Martin Griffin (D)
Now we're into Jackson County, which has been the source of lots of excitement. Martin Griffin (D-Jackson) represents the western portion of the county and the city of Jackson, a district that had been solidly held by former Representative and 2004 congressional candidate Clark Bisbee (R-Jackson). In 2004, Rick Baxter (R-Concord Twp.) beat then-Jackson Mayor Martin Griffin 49.9 to 48.9. For those who have been paying attention, you may remember that Baxter was the state representative who said that the day they raised the minimum wage was "the worst day" of his term.
Griffin came back in 2006 to win the district about 53 percent of the vote. Baxter went on to become Tim Walberg's district director and then to leave unexpectedly, which I've covered before. He's not trying to win back his old seat, though, instead aiming for Jackson County treasurer. Baxter also serves as chairman of the Jackson County Republican Party.
So who is running against Griffin this time? Surely, after narrowly losing the seat, the GOP would recruit a top-tier challenger, right? Apparently not.
Leland Prebble (R-Spring Arbor) is the only candidate to file against Griffin. He's a retiring construction contractor, who, as far as I can find, has no previous political experience. The Citizen Patriot ran an editorial today commenting on this:
The fact that a political unknown is the only candidate Jackson County Republicans could find to run against state Rep. Martin Griffin speaks volumes about the state of local politics.Griffin is popular, well-known, and has a no-name opponent. Without knowing anything more, I'd put him about on the same level as Dudley Spade-- safe, soon-to-be reelected, and in a good position to help turn out voters who probably won't be voting for Tim Walberg.
HD065 - Mike Simpson (D)
This is another Jackson County district, covering essentially everything in the county that Griffin doesn't represent, plus tiny pieces of Lenawee and Eaton counties. This district has been changing representatives a lot lately-- Jerry Kratz (R) beats Sharon Renier (D-Munith) in 2002, then Mickey Mortimer (R) is elected in a 2003, and then Leslie Mortimer (R) is elected in 2004, beating 2002 7th Congressional District candidate Mike Simpson (D-Brooklyn) about 51 to 49. Simpson then returned in 2006 and won the district with about 53 percent.
In 2008, Simpson will be challenged by Ray Snell (R), the Blackman Township supervisor. I don't know anything about him, but he could potentially be a strong candidate. Simpson isn't helped, either, by two primary challengers-- Russell Severance (D), a 77-year-old who recently lost a school board election and tried to recall Simpson (the language wasn't approved), and Steven Godbehere (D), a paramedic. I don't know the details of either candidacy, though apparently Severance really doesn't like Simpson.
This is a district where the state House race might not offer any assistance to the Democratic nominee for the 7th District. The Republican could potentially be a strong opponent, and the eventual Democratic candidate might be weakened by the primary. But the district is Sharon Renier's home turf, and Mark Schauer has represented much of it in the state Senate.
HD071 - Rick Jones (R)
This is the last state House district which falls within the 7th Congressional District's boundaries. Since 2004, it has been represented by Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), elected in 2004 with 59 percent of the vote and reelected in 2006 with 58 percent. I don't know much about Jones (Eaton County is far away from me), nor do I know much about his challenger, Mark Eagle (D-Lansing).
Lacking any further knowledge, I'd say that Eagle has the potential to turn this into a top-tier race, but right now I'd say Jones is probably safe. Regardless of whether that's good or bad, it doesn't do anything for my primary goal, which is turning out Democratic-leaning voters for the 7th District race. Even so, Sharon Renier won Eaton County 50 to 48, which should mean there's a lot of potential for further Democratic gains.
So where does all of that leave us?
None of this, obviously, has been comprehensive. Instead, it's just been my first impressions as all the Michigan races begin to develop. Right now, I'd say that Democrats in the district are in a great position relative to their Republican counterparts. There are three Democratic incumbents (Byrnes, Spade, and Griffin) that I would say are very safe, and could help tremendously in building the Democratic brand and helping the Democratic nominee for the 7th District. There's one district (62) that will have a lot of activity and excitement anyway, which could help in a lean-Democratic year. Two districts (58 and 63) could potentially turn into hot races for their Democrats, depending on how they organize and how the GOP primaries play out. And two districts (65 and 71) I don't see having a major impact at all.
With all of this, I could be wrong. That said, I feel that right now, Byrnes, Spade, and Griffin are some of the best resources Mark Schauer or Sharon Renier could have for reaching out to local voters in areas where they can (and should) perform well. If those three can take advantage of their non-competitive races and help the 7th District nominee, we could be well on track for defeating Tim Walberg.
Hopefully, I'll have plenty of reason to write about all of these candidates and more as we get closer to November. I know that many of you aren't Democrats, and are here more out of a dislike of Walberg than a support for my party. Even so, I'd encourage you to learn more about some of the candidates I've talked about. We're Democrats, which means we're always eager to hear from you and convince you that we've got the right ideas.
Replacing Congressman Walberg is the primary objective of this blog. However, as the congressional race is connected to the other races going on around it, I don't think there's anything wrong with a little party-building.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Good News for DCCC, Bad news for Tim!
Tonight the DCCC helped turn another Red district Blue as Democrat Tim Childers has just taken Mississippi-01 from Republican Greg Davis! This district was held by Rep. Roger Wicker, and the DCCC is now 3 for 3 in byelection contests in very conservative districts...
Why is this important? Because they continue to find the formula to defeat conservative Republicans like our own Congressman Tim! If he continues to toe the CFG- Norquist-Bush/McCain line, we may see Tim return to the private sector this fall!
Tim Walberg, "Defender of Economic Freedom!"
Congratulations are in order for Congressman Tim! He has been named a "Defender of Economic Freedom", by the Club for Growth! To qualify, Tim had to score above a 90% in their rankings, and by golly, Tim scored a 92%! I guess all that CFG campaign money really paid off! Tim must've gotten the message, as he improved on his 2007 "Repork Card" score of 86%!
Tim was ranked on the following issues:
Making the Bush tax cuts permanent
Death tax repeal
Cutting and limiting government spending
Social Security reform with personal retirement accounts
Expanding free trade
Legal reform to end abusive lawsuits
Replacing the current tax code
Regulatory reform and deregulation
Congratulations, Tim! I can't wait to see what Grover "drown it in the bathtub" Norquist and his anti-government lunatics have to say about you too!
Congressman Tim hates America's Mothers!
From Dana Milbank, Washington Post...
On Wednesday (May 7) afternoon, the House had just voted, 412 to 0, to pass H. Res. 1113, "Celebrating the role of mothers in the United States and supporting the goals and ideals of Mother's Day," when Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), rose in protest.
"Mr. Speaker, I move to reconsider the vote," he announced.
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), who has two young daughters, moved to table Tiahrt's request, setting up a revote. This time, 178 Republicans cast their votes against mothers.
It has long been the custom to compare a popular piece of legislation to motherhood and apple pie. Evidently, that is no longer the standard. Worse, Republicans are now confronted with a John Kerry-esque predicament: They actually voted for motherhood before they voted against it.
Republicans, unhappy with the Democratic majority, have been using such procedural tactics as this all week to bring the House to a standstill, but the assault on mothers may have gone too far. House Minority Leader John Boehner, asked yesterday to explain why he and 177 of his colleagues switched their votes, answered: "Oh, we just wanted to make sure that everyone was on record in support of Mother's Day."
By voting against it?
Gues which local Congressman fell in line and voted against America's Mom's? That's right, our own Tim Walberg! What's next Tim, a vote against Apple Pie, Kittens and Puppies?
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Roll Call, Cook: MI-07 Is A Toss-Up
Short post tonight, but more this weekend.
There are about four major political publications that "insiders" and wanna-be "insiders" follow-- Congressional Quarterly, Roll Call, the Cook Political Report, and the Rothenberg Political Report. And, of course, as a wanna-be "insider," I check them all every now and again, plus a few others sources. All four of them rate House and Senate races along a scale from "Safe Republican" to "Safe Democrat," and levels of "likely" and "lean" between them, and "toss-up" means they haven't if today were Election Day, it could go either way.
Incumbents are almost always safe or likely, with those recently elected or facing unusually strong challengers are labeled lean. Toss-up is a rating usually reserved for competitive open seats, corrupt incumbents, or representatives in districts which heavily favor the other party. I'm sure most of you already know this, but it's worth it to emphasize the point that you've got to be in trouble if you're an incumbent rated as "toss-up."
Rothenberg rates the Michigan 7th as "Lean Republican," as does CQ. Cook and Roll Call did, too, up until recently. But from Roll Call earlier this week:
7th district(Emphasis added.)
Eric B. at Michigan Liberal brings us more:
That's one, and that alone is enough to make any incumbent cringe. Then Charlie Cook offered his take:
House Ratings Changes:(Emphasis added.)
This doesn't matter to most voters. It does, however, matter to the political insiders who run the National Republican Congressional Committee, some Club for Growth members, and local party leaders.
At what point do they conclude that Tim Walberg is a lost cause?
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
GOP Candidates "On their own"?
In what might be really bad news for Congressman Tim, The Hill.com posted the following today...
Gingrich warns GOP of ‘real disaster' this fall
By Jackie Kucinich
Posted: 05/06/08 01:57 PM [ET]
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) is calling on Republicans to seek "real change to avoid a real disaster" in the wake of another Democratic victory in a special election on Saturday.
In a letter to House Republicans posted on www.newt.org, Gingrich urges House leaders to call an “emergency meeting” of House Republicans to address what he describes as a “catastrophic collapse of trust in Republicans".
“If a majority of the House Republicans vote for real change, they should instruct Republican Leader John Boehner [Ohio] and his team to come back with a new plan by the Wednesday before the Memorial Day recess,” Gingrich wrote. “This plan should involve real change in legislative, communications, and campaign strategy and involve immediate, real action, including a complete overhaul of the Congressional Campaign Committee.”
Gingrich then outlined nine acts of “real change” including the gas tax holiday and an earmark moratorium.
Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, said, “Leader Boehner certainly agrees - and has said repeatedly -- that Republicans can only succeed this year by being agents of change and reform. The American people know that Washington is broken, and we have to convince them that we can fix it. We have been clear over the past year that we have two jobs: defining the Democrats and defining ourselves. In the coming weeks, we will be laying out Republican policies that embody the sort of changes we need.”
Democrats triumphed in a special election on Saturday in Louisiana for retired Rep. Richard Baker’s (R-La.) seat. In March, Democrats also won retired Rep. Dennis Hastert's (R-Ill.) seat in a special election.
The Gingrich letter came as no surprise to National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.), who exchanged e-mails with the former Speaker Monday night.
Excerpts of the e-mails obtained by The Hill show that Cole outlined his concerns in three points, stressing that in order to be a strong party, each individual GOP candidate would have to be able to pull their own weight. Cole’s points were discussed during the House GOP Conference meeting Tuesday morning and were echoed in Gingrich's letter.
"Whether they be incumbents or candidates running as challengers or in open seats, Republican candidates must be financially capable of running competitive races, structured to execute strategic plans that put them in a position to win, surround themselves with sound advisors and build grassroots networks that offer them the opportunity and ability to communicate, energize and turnout voters this election. When Republican candidates do not prepare and work towards victory, the NRCC will not be in a position to do it for them." Cole wrote. "To be competitive, the members of our Republican Conference must continue to support this institution with their energy and resources for the remainder of the cycle."
He also stressed the importance of having a platform and message unique from the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
"Simply relying on the message of our Presidential nominee and the failures of the Democrat Majority is not enough to convince voters that in a time of war and economic unease that Republicans should be handed victory," Cole stated.
What does this mean for Congressman Tim?
He better get his Club for Growth ducks in order, as the NRCC won't be there in the stretch. Does this mean a centrist Republican would consider a primary challenge, knowing that they could make the case that they would be more electable in November?
Also, will Tim run away from his unconditional support of Bush, Cheney and McCain?
Monday, May 05, 2008
Time Running Out for GOP Primary Challengers
In the Adrian Daily Telegram, there was an article about Congressman Walberg's appearance at the Lenawee County Republicans' Lincoln Day Dinner. It's a pretty standard article, letting Walberg repeat his regular talking points:
“It is our duty as Americans, as Republicans and as patriots to live up to the ideals of our party,” Walberg said. “People respond to leadership, but it mustn’t flow from airy slogans of hope and change.”That there was a swipe at Senator Barack Obama, and a subtle suggestion that if you vote for a Democrat, you don't love America.
“It’s as bad as you read about. It is broken,” he said. “The Democrats are working on a strategy of defeat in Iraq.”That's just a lie, plain and simple. Democrats are not working on a "strategy of defeat," and Congressman Walberg knows it.
He criticized the Democrats for favoring entitlements and working to roll back the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. He vowed to continue the fight.That's heavy spin.
“It has been a privilege to serve, and my second term will be even better,” Walberg said.... And that's wishful thinking.
As fun as that was, the part that caught my attention was this:
The congressman, who is seeking a second term in Washington, D.C., this year, is unopposed in the Republican primary at this time. The Democratic side is led by state Sen. Mark Schauer, who is opposed by Sharon Renier in the primary. State Sen. Cameron Brown, R-Fawn River Twp., urged the party faithful to support Walberg.(Emphasis added.)
It might not seem like much, but just a few words in that paragraph say a lot. David Frownfelder, the reporter for the Telegram, has covered the local GOP a lot over the last few years, and I think he knew exactly what he was doing when he added "at this time" to the end of that sentence. I don't know if he knows of anyone that's getting ready to run, but it's clear that he knows there's a lot of dissent in the 7th District Republican Party right now. The fact that Cameron Brown had to urge his party to stay loyal to Walberg says a lot.
I'll admit, I have partisan reasons for wanting to see a primary challenger. If Walberg has to defend himself, then that means he has to spend money attacking someone other than Democrats. If he has to defend himself, he will be weakened in November and, once again, will be the candidate of a divided party. And if he has to defend himself, it's much less likely that he will send his supporters to vote in the Democratic Party to cause mayhem, as Republicans seem to like doing lately.
But it's not just partisanship. It's pretty clear that I run a left-leaning blog here, and I mostly seem to attract Democratic readers. Even so, I've heard from a lot of dissatisfied Republicans in the comments and in e-mails, who can't stand Democrats like me, but prefer people like me to the guy they accidentally nominated in 2006. As I've written about before, Congressman Walberg has split the 7th District Republican Party. Republicans in the district deserve a real choice and a real chance to save their party.
There's just one problem for would-be challengers: Your time is running out. The filing deadline is May 13, which is just eight days away.
With that in mind, I have a challenge and an offer to any member of the Republican Party that is thinking about challenging Tim Walberg in the primary: come to me for help. I can publicize your name, I can put you in touch with local media, I can help you get support from the many moderate Republicans that read this blog, and I'll expect nothing in exchange. All I want is for you to publicly speak out and say that you're willing to take on Congressman Walberg, and then work as hard as you can to get on the ballot. (Clark Bisbee, I'm knocking on your door... But I'll take anyone else, too!)
The Republican Party has a proud history and has helped this country grow and develop in countless ways. It was born in Jackson, Michigan way back in 1854. Don't let it die with Tim Walberg in 2008.
Is Walberg Paying Campaign Staff?
As I mentioned in my previous post, someone sent me a MIRS article a while back with two interesting items in it. Here's the second one.
In the article, one might read:
One interesting line item was campaign staff payroll. Peters led the pack by shelling out $55,506 in employee compensation and taxes. Knollenberg spent $35,640 for campaign staff payroll.(Emphasis added.)
As I noted in the FEC disclosure posts, Walberg spent more last quarter than Schauer-- about $33,000 more. Thus far, Schauer hasn't spent a whole lot on his campaign in general, and while his staff salary amount seems a little low, there is some logic to it. Walberg spent $100,000 in a single quarter, but absolutely none of it was on staff? And yet, as the article notes, someone has been working on the campaign, mostly Walberg congressional staffers.
From what I can tell, there are two ways this works. Either A.) Walberg is making his staff work extra for the campaign and he's not paying them, or B.) Walberg is making his staff work for the campaign during business hours and is paying them with government funds.
Neither of those sound good to me.
The excuse made by Walberg's spokesperson, "All volunteering by staff members is done on their own time," seems a little unrealistic to me. An entire office being willing to do extra work for absolutely no pay, especially when congressional staff salaries aren't that great to begin with, would require an incredible amount of loyalty and devotion to Congressman Walberg. I'm just a little skeptical. Generally, when a campaign asks its staff to work without pay, it's a bad sign.
Some of you might remember a story that I wrote about in January, in which I was told that Walberg's congressional staff was asked to go the entire campaign season without taking any vacation time. From that post:
When asked whether that meant Walberg's staff would be required to help on the campaign, apparently they were told that they couldn't be required, but, if anyone wanted a job next year, they had to "do their part."(Emphasis added.)
Note that the entire story was brought to me by just one source, and in the comments, it was challenged by an anonymous commenter (and I updated the post to reflect that). I can't comment on whether or not that story was actually true, because I don't usually hear much from Walberg's staffers, disgruntled or not.
At the same time, this thing about all volunteering by staff members being done on their own time sounds eerily reminiscent of everyone having to "do their part" and make these kinds of sacrifices.
Then again, I could be wrong. Walberg's staff could be just that devoted. Maybe I'm just cynical.
A while back, someone sent me an article from subscription-only MIRS that's an interesting read. It's got a couple of items worth noting, which will be the subjects of this post and the next one.
In the article, one reads this:
Another interesting twist in the 7th is in bundling money. Last election, the free-market Club for Growth bundled more than $600,000 from donors largely outside Michigan for Walberg. This cycle, the Washington, D.C.-based Club political action committee (PAC) bundled a total of $21,785.At first read, the good-government-loving person will think, "Oh no! We don't want to replace the Club for Growth with a liberal counterpart! We want honesty and integrity!" But that's not quite the whole story.
The Club for Growth, when it bundles money, sends out solicitations to a wide network of wealthy members on behalf of the candidates it supports. So the Club is actively fundraising for Walberg. There is, in fact, a progressive counterpart, called EMILY's List. But they only support pro-choice women, so they won't be getting involved on behalf of Mark Schauer.
ActBlue works differently. It does bundle money, in that it accepts contributions from individuals and then sends them on to the candidate. However, it does not actively solicit contributions. Instead, it merely lists every single Democratic candidate running in the country. So, it's true that bloggers and liberal activists from across the country could, in fact, be supporting Mark Schauer and urging their readers to do the same. They use ActBlue as a tool for that, but ActBlue itself isn't doing anything except transfer money.
So why is ActBlue a good thing for Mark Schauer? By setting up fundraising pages for every Democrat in the country, it makes online fundraising suddenly a lot simpler for Democrats. Tim Walberg's campaign website has a PayPal page as part of his website and he spent $9,000 last quarter on services from Topfundraising.com, according to the MIRS article. Schauer... put a link to ActBlue on his website. That's a lot of money and effort saved.
This is what building a progressive infrastructure looks like, and this is the sort of thing that helps Democrats win in ridiculously Republican districts (PVI R+7).
With all of this in mind, let's look at the number the MIRS article quoted:
But it was Schauer who showed his bundling prowess, taking home $70,518 thanks to Cambridge, Mass.-based ActBlue, an online liberal fundraiser.If that's true, then about 22 percent of the money Schauer raised last quarter came in over the internet. When looking at just individual contributions, that's about 29 percent.
Is raising money on the internet inherently good for a candidate? Well, no. Money is money, and a candidate will take it via any means available. But it's also at least 29 percent of Schauer's contributions that aren't coming in the smoke-filled rooms or behind-the-scenes deals. Strong internet fundraising means that a candidate has strong support from more than big-money interests. The more raised over the internet, the more evidence there is that a candidate is "people-powered."
I just thought it was an interesting item.
Tim Walberg's First Quarter Fundraising
This was a long time ago, but in the interests of completeness... (I posted Renier's on April 14... but it's been a busy month since then.)
From Congressman Tim Walberg's report to the Federal Election Commission:
Walberg raised $265,095.70, with $177,595.70 (or about 67 percent) from individuals. Remember, this includes a fundraiser with Vice President Dick Cheney, where those that attended had to pay $500 to get in (or $1,000 for a photo with the VP). For the whole cycle, Walberg has raised about $825,000.
It's worth noting that Walberg's receipts this quarter, as with the last couple of quarters, were less than his leading Democratic challenger. This bodes badly for an incumbent. It's also worth noting that Walberg's percentage of receipts from individuals was also less than Schauer's. It's not good to be relying so much on PAC money, Congressman.
Walberg also spent more than Mark Schauer, leaving him with $604,466.54 cash-on-hand. Once again, this is less than Mark Schauer.
I know that I'm making a big deal about this, but Walberg is an incumbent member of Congress, and he's been raising money since January of 2007. Mark Schauer is not an incumbent and has only been in the race since August of 2007. Walberg is not in a strong position for an incumbent.
Some significant* contributions: Altria Group, Inc. PAC (the new, friendly name for Philip Morris-- tobacco money!), AT&T Federal PAC, ConocoPhillips Spirit PAC (oil company), Friends of John Boehner (House minority leader), GlaxoSmithKline PAC (pharmaceutical company), the NRA, Republican National Coalition for Life PAC, Right to Life MI PAC, RJ Reynolds PAC (more tobacco money!), Verizon Communications, and the usual assortment of local conservative business leaders.
Basically, it's par for the course. Walberg has the support of the big businesses and traditional Republican interest groups-- pro-gun and anti-abortion. Oh, and a bunch of listings for Club PAC, which is the Club for Growth. But I figured everyone just sort of assumed that by now.
* Note that significant is in terms of importance as I perceive it, not amount contributed.
Mark Schauer's First Quarter Fundraising
This was a long time ago, but in the interests of completeness... (I posted Renier's on April 14... but it's been a busy month since then.)
From Michigan Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer's report to the Federal Election Commission:
We all pretty much knew this, but it's worth pointing out the highlights. Schauer raised $323,549.59 in the first quarter of 2008, at about $885,000 for the whole cycle.. That's a little less than the initial report suggested, but nonetheless impressive. Of his contributions last quarter, about 75 percent came from individuals, which is good.
As far as spending goes, Schauer hasn't spent all that much, and had $751,359.11 cash-on-hand at the beginning of April. That's a lot of money for a challenger in an R+2 district.
Some significant* contributors: Lynn Rivers (former member of Congress), Doug Spade (former state representative, Lenawee County), Leonard Smigielski (Jackson County Democratic chair), Kildee for Congress, Rangel for Congress, Levin for Congress, Pam Byrnes for State Representative, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEUI, and a bunch of other unions, plus a bunch of names of bloggers that I've come to recognize from Michigan and national blogs.
The point of that? It's pretty clear that Schauer has managed to secure the establishment support and a lot of activist support. As long as he can keep all of them liking him-- unions, bloggers, local party leaders-- he'll have quite an army of supporters when it finally comes time to get out the vote.
Overall, a good quarter for Schauer. Next post, we'll see how Congressman Walberg fared.
* Note that significant is in terms of importance as I perceive it, not amount contributed.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Five Years... How Many More?
Five years ago today, the media and the Bush Administration were in a celebratory mood:
Notice how Peter Jennings describes the event:
... And it is from there tonight where the president is going to make what amounts to an end of the war in Iraq speech.Peter Jennings and Bob Woodruff mention the speech that Bush would give later in the day. The important excerpt:
Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. (Applause.) And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.(Emphasis added.)
The speech by President Bush did not include the phrase "Mission Accomplished," but the banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln was clearly visible and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told ABC's Bob Woodruff that early drafts of the speech did include the phrase.
Why am I bringing this up now?
Five years ago today, President Bush spoke to the nation to tell us that the war was basically over. On that day, 128 American soldiers had been killed. Since then, another 3,925 American soldiers have died in Iraq despite the fact that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended."
We know that Congressman Walberg has voted against bills which ask President Bush to come up with an exit strategy. Mind you, these aren't "cut and run" or "surrender" bills, despite rhetoric from some on the right, they're simply demanding some sort of strategy besides "stay the course." But Congressman Walberg is apparently satisfied with the way things are going now.
So I have a couple of questions for Congressman Walberg, on this anniversary of the "end" of the war.
This year, there have been American soldiers and marines killed in Iraq that were in eighth grade when the war started. A 19 year-old soldier killed by an IED would have been 14 when all of this started, and his biggest concern five years ago would have been starting high school.
Congressman Walberg, will the war be over in another five years? If you were in elementary school when President Bush announced that major combat operations were over, and if you enlist, is there a chance that you could be killed in Iraq?
Congressman Walberg, your granddaughter was born last Friday. When she's graduating from high school, if she or her peers choose to enlist... will they be sent to Iraq? Will their lives be in danger because of a war started by their grandparents' generation?
Tell me, Congressman Walberg, when will this end?
These are the questions that have been on my mind today.
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