Sunday, August 31, 2008

Obama-Biden In Battle Creek

Obama-Biden in Battle Creek:

Please join us for this special event in Battle Creek:

An Evening On the Road for Change
with Barack Obama and Joe Biden

Brown Stadium at Bailey Park
1392 Capital Avenue NE
Battle Creek, MI

Sunday, August 31st
Gates Open: 5:00 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required but an RSVP is encouraged. Space is available on a first come, first served basis. Please RSVP using the form to the right.

For security reasons, do not bring bags and please limit personal items. No signs or banners permitted.

Parking is very limited. Please carpool or take public transportation if possible.

I'll be there, and I'll have photos and thoughts either late tonight or tomorrow morning. For on-the-ground reports, check out the Battle Creek Enquirer's Twittering reporters.

Meanwhile, share your thoughts and-- if you go-- your experience. It's not every day that a major presidential contender and his vice president come to Michigan's 7th District. It's even rarer when you can get in without having to pay $500 per plate.

UPDATE (1:48am Sept. 01, 2008): I'm back from Battle Creek, with two memory cards full of photos and video, a notebook full of scribbles, and a pounding headache, the result of a beautiful, sunny, hot, cloudless day. I'll have lots of photos and more thoughts tomorrow, but for now, I'll leave you with a couple of images from the day/evening:

That's all for tonight. I'm going to bed now.

UPDATE II: I'm not in bed quite yet. I had one fun fact to share.

Today, 16,000 people saw Barack Obama and Joe Biden in Battle Creek. It was, basically, a normal crowd for a candidate that's got a lot of enthusiasm behind him. His big days are times like the 75,000 in Portland or the 80,000 in Denver. In 2004, President George W. Bush managed a crowd of 10,000 in Battle Creek.

Today, John McCain also had a big crowd, but rather than a routine, normal size, it was his biggest ever, thanks to his vice presidential bounce. How big was it? 17,000.

Crowd size isn't everything, no, but it's not nothing, either.

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NRCC To Spend $832,000

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced in July that it would be reserving $1.5 million in advertising time in Michigan's 7th District. The brings us the response from the National Republican Congressional Committee:
The Republicans' campaign arm in the House has reserved another round of television ads to prop up their vulnerable GOP colleagues this fall.


With this latest round of reservations, the NRCC will be playing defense in 21 of the 26 races where the committee has secured airtime. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has secured time in many of these districts - a strong sign that the party in power could pad its majority in the House this fall.


In Michigan, the NRCC has reserved $618,000 to protect veteran Rep. Joe Knollenberg and $832,000 to help freshman Rep. Tim Walberg.
(Emphasis added.)

There's really not much more to say here. The GOP is playing defense, and, for now, has decided that Tim Walberg is worth fighting to protect. But when the DCCC has more cash-on-hand than the NRCC ($56,456,584 to $14,233,074 as of the end of July), they'll be able to push hard across all 21 districts that the NRCC is defending and more. When faced with limited resources, I still say there's a chance the Republican leaders may choose to protect an older incumbent (and longtime friend) over the freshman from Michigan.

Of course, Walberg has the Club for Growth and now Freedom's Watch on his side, so there'll still be plenty of money available to rush to his defense.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Walberg On Michigan Business Success: "Bummer"

A lot of people don't know much about a man named Homer Stryker, but they should. Raised in Athens, Michigan, he was a teacher, a World War I soldier, a doctor, and an inventor. As an orthopedic surgeon in Kalamazoo, he began building devices that improved the comfort of the patients he was treating. The company he founded-- Stryker Corp.-- has grown into a Fortune 500 company and a leader in medical technologies.

But best of all, they're still in Kalamazoo, Michigan. With nearly 19,000 employees worldwide, the world headquarters and much of the manufacturing is still in Michigan.

This is the perfect Michigan success story. It shows that Michigan businesses can thrive and be successful and stay in Michigan. It shows that hard work and creativity can lead to great results. This is the sort of success story politicians should be talking about all the time.

So what does Tim Walberg say about it while touring a hospital?

Matt Davis, a Marshall Realtor and Walberg supporter, noted the room contained a bed made by Stryker Corp. of Kalamazoo.

Walberg said he'd had surgery in 2007 at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.

"I looked at the bed and it said 'Stryker,'" Walberg said. "Bummer."

(Emphasis added.)

"Bummer." That's his reaction to a Michigan success story. Why?
Jon Stryker, one of three billionaire grandchildren of Stryker's founder, has in recent years funded numerous liberal causes, and his Coalition for Progress has contributed to Schauer's 2008 campaign.
Yup. Tim Walberg doesn't like Stryker because one of the grandchildren of the founder is a Democrat. And it's true-- Jon Stryker has spent a lot of money on his political activities. It's much like the many members of the Club for Growth, who funded the congressman's 2006 campaign.

To his credit, Walberg eventually acknowledged that he was wrong:
In the end, Walberg noted that the company is a separate entity and said, "If Stryker makes the best hospital bed, that's the one I want to be in."
But an initial reaction says a lot. In the comments on the Battle Creek Enquirer article, user DSMi59 wrote:
His comment about Stryker and it's politics is a good guage of how he values Michigan businesses. It isn't the business he appreciates, one who chooses staying in Michigan and making local employment possible, it's that Stryker supports the wrong political party. He resents being in a hospital bed manufactured in his own state. Bummer, indeed!
And Michigan Liberal's Eric B. wrote:
He could have said that he was proud to have been in a bed made by the nation's best workers, right here in Michigan, in one of the nation's best hospitals. He could have said that. Didn't.
Congressman Walberg, perceptions mean a lot, and as a public figure, you're in a position that attracts a lot of attention. "Bummer" doesn't convince businesses to stay in Michigan. It's possible that we're all being a little too sensitive, but seriously, "bummer"? That's the most intelligent thing you can think of?

For the record, I've got no problem buying cabinetry from Merillat, despite the numerous times that the Merillat name shows up in Walberg's FEC filing. For that matter, Battle Creek Unlimited still does plenty of great things for that city, so don't judge them harshly just because their CEO contributed $500 to Tim Walberg's re-election campaign.

Business is business, and politics is politics. In a state like Michigan, I don't care who you vote for, as long as you're providing jobs and helping your community. It's too bad Tim Walberg doesn't feel the same way.

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Friday Walberg Motorcycle Tour Stops

As Congressman Tim Walberg continues his "motorcycle tour," in which he rides across the 7th District on his Harley Davidson motorcycle (listening to constituents, but, of course, not campaigning for re-election-- despite the prominent sticker on his motorcycle), he'll be making stops in Jackson County tomorrow:

Stops will include:

• Brooklyn Village Hall, 121 Main St., 10 a.m.

• Parma Village Hall, 117 W. Main St., 1:30 p.m.

• Springport Village Hall, 137 W. Main St., 3:30 p.m.

The stops will be among 27 scheduled in the seven counties of the 7th District.

I have yet to find the full 27-stop schedule, but I'd encourage readers to visit Congressman Walberg at one of these stops. It's a great opportunity to ask him questions, like:
  • Congressman Walberg, the motorcycle thing is all well and good, but many of us can't afford a $17,000 "Road King" from Harley Davidson. Why did you vote against Amtrak, public transportation, and releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, all of which could help save energy or lower prices?
  • You've mocked the "Use It or Lose It" plan put forward by the Democrats as a gimmick, and that it won't produce more oil. If oil companies can't produce on that land, why do you think they should be able to keep it?
  • You've received $32,500 from electric utilities and the oil and gas industry this cycle alone. How much do those contributions influence the policies you support?
  • Do you support any legislation that would bring short-term energy savings? Drilling for more oil doesn't count as "short-term."
If you get a chance to ask Congressman Walberg a question, I'd love to hear about it. Maybe he'll impress me with his thoughtful responses.

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Obama, Biden Visit Battle Creek On Sunday

It's not exactly news about the 7th District race, but it is happening in Battle Creek and state Senator Mark Schauer will be there, so it qualifies for this blog.
It's been confirmed. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has scheduled a rally for Sunday in Battle Creek.

Interim City Manager Ken Tsuchiyama said Wednesday he was contacted Tuesday evening by the Illinois senator's campaign, and the group toured C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek on Wednesday morning.

While no time has been determined, Obama's stop in the Cereal City has been confirmed by campaign officials.

Liz Kerr, communications director for the Michigan Democratic Party, said the Illinois senator will be joined by his running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, and state Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Bedford Township.

Even if you're a Republican, I'd encourage you to look into this and see if you can attend. It's not every day that you get to see the man who may be our next president in person. And, hey, maybe he might just change your mind.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

LSJ: Walberg Wrong On Amtrak

As officials in Jackson discuss a high-speed rail system to Ann Arbor and Detroit, it's important to remember Congressman Tim Walberg's previous positions on funding public transportation. After voting against a public transportation investment bill and a bill to reauthorize and fund Amtrak, can Jackson County expect his support for a commuter rail system?

With all of this in mind, the Lansing State Journal took Walberg and Republican Congressman Mike Rogers (MI-08) to task today for their anti-Amtrak votes.
More people in Michigan are taking to Amtrak trains to get around. Ridership increases from October 2007 to July 2008 ranged between 5.9 percent and 7.2 percent on the three lines in the Great Lakes State.

But Michigan wouldn't have three Amtrak routes had state government not struck a deal with Amtrak to subsidize those routes a few years back. For the coming fiscal year starting Oct. 1, Michigan again plans to pump $7.9 million into Amtrak service to mid-Michigan, among other places.

Yet mid-Michigan Congressmen Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, and Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, voted against a federal Amtrak funding bill in June.

Talk about working at cross purposes.
Rogers, Walberg and the rest of Congress should continue to seek rail reform. But it does not serve Michigan's interests to be voting against Amtrak in the meantime.
The editorial (rightly) points out some of Amtrak's flaws, but they make a strong case that voting "no" on Amtrak without a viable alternative in mind makes no sense. Since Tim Walberg has yet to offer anything besides an oil company give-away energy plan, I very much doubt that he had reform on his mind when he voted against Amtrak.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

EPIC-MRA Poll: Walberg 43, Schauer 40

UPDATE: Full poll results are at the bottom, via WXYZ.

For the Detroit News, EPIC-MRA brings us a new poll:
Walberg of Tipton leads Schauer, a state senator from Battle Creek by 43-40 percent, which is within the poll's 4.9-point error margin. A decisive 14 percent of voters in the district are undecided.


The Knollenberg-Peters poll was conducted from Aug. 21-23; the Walberg-Schauer survey was done from Aug. 20-22. Each was conducted among 400 likely voters.


Walberg, 57, and Schauer, 47, are battling over a district that includes all of five counties -- Eaton, Jackson, Lenawee, Hillsdale and Branch -- and most of Calhoun and Washtenaw counties.

Voters, by 43-32 percent, give Walberg negative ratings for his job performance.

Pollster Porn said a finding in the poll shows Schauer must go on the attack if he is to win. When voters were read the biographies of both candidates, they favored Walberg 46-44 percent.

"Schauer needs to run an aggressive, hard-hitting campaign against Walberg," Porn said. "If Schauer thinks he can run a positive campaign, that will not be enough for that district, because it is too Republican. He needs to contrast with the Walberg record."

Walberg knocked off a less conservative Republican incumbent, Joe Schwarz, in 2006, and some Democratic strategists believe he is too conservative for a majority of voters in the district.

B.J. Neidhardt, Schauer's campaign manager, said the poll numbers come as Walberg has had a TV ad up since Aug. 6, while his candidate has yet to air an air.

"The numbers show voters aren't buying what Congressman Walberg is selling," Neidhardt said.

(Emphasis added.)

The Schauer campaign sent out a press release:

Walberg trails in fundraising, losing ground after several weeks of paid advertising

BATTLE CREEK—Tonight a new poll released by EPIC-MRA for Detroit News/WXYZ indicated that the race between state Senator Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek) and Congressman Tim Walberg in Michigan's 7th Congressional district was a statistical dead heat. The news represents a huge fall in standing for Walberg, who has been advertising on television for more than three weeks and spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars communicating with voters through automated robocalls, on the radio, in newspaper inserts, and in the mailbox.

"This poll reflects the momentum we've been seeing on the ground for the past several months," said B.J. Neidhardt, Campaign Manager for Mark Schauer's campaign. "People simply aren't buying what Tim Walberg is selling, and Mark has the message and the momentum to win this race in November."

The independent poll released tonight showed a statistical dead heat with Schauer at 40% and Walberg at 43%, well within the 4.9% margin of error. The complete story can be found at:


In the second quarter, Schauer's campaign out-raised incumbent Tim Walberg for the fourth straight filing period, bringing in more than $427,000. Over the course of the campaign, Schauer has brought in more than $1.33 million and raised more than Tim Walberg's total contributions for the entire 2006 election cycle.


• The previous EPIC-MRA poll, released in March, showed Tim Walberg leading 51-40.

# # #
This really does look bad for Walberg. He's still leading, and, contrary to the Schauer press release, it's not a "dead heat," but it is within the margin of error. That's a lot closer than it should be for an incumbent in a lean-Republican district. It's certainly a lot closer than the internal poll the Walberg campaign released last month.

As the Schauer campaign points out, this also comes after a few weeks of Walberg being on the air, yet he's losing ground against a challenger who has yet to really advertise. Both sides are the beneficiaries (and victims) of independent attacks.

Perhaps more significant than the Walberg-Schauer result is the job performance result. Recall:
Voters, by 43-32 percent, give Walberg negative ratings for his job performance.
That's ridiculously awful. A net 11 point disapproval means that even the Republican base is disappointed in him. I'd be interested to see where Schauer stands on name identification. If it's still relatively low, combined with Walberg's negative ratings, then we can expect to see the race tighten further. Maybe this isn't a conservative district after all!


Via WXYZ, the full results.

Overall, would you say that things in the United States are generally headed in the right direction, or have things pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?

8% Right direction
78% Wrong track
14% Undecided/Don’t know/Refused

How about in Michigan – Do you think that things in Michigan are generally headed in the right direction, or are things pretty seriously off on the wrong track?

10% Right direction
82% Wrong track
8% Undecided/Don’t know/Refused

Now, I would like to read a list of several political figures. For each one, please tell me if you recognize the name, and whether you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of that person.

George W. Bush
- Favorable - 32%
- Unfavorable - 61%

Jennifer Granholm
- Favorable - 40%
- Unfavorable - 52%

Barack Obama
- Favorable - 44%
- Unfavorable - 36%

John McCain
- Favorable - 46%
- Unfavorable - 34%

Mark Schauer
- Favorable - 25%
- Unfavorable - 15%

Tim Walberg
- Favorable - 39%
- Unfavorable - 29%

Overall, how would you rate the job being done by George W. Bush as President -- would you give him a positive rating of excellent or pretty good, or a negative rating of just fair or poor?

Overall, how would you rate the job being done by Jennifer Granholm as Michigan’s Governor – would you give her a positive rating of excellent or pretty good, or a negative rating of just fair or poor?


How would you rate the job being done by Tim Walberg in the United States Congress – would you give him a positive rating of excellent or pretty good, or a negative rating of just fair or poor?


Over the next six months to a year, do you think Michigan’s economy will improve, get worse, or remain about the same?

18% Improve
29% Get worse
48% Remain about the same
5% Undecided/Don’t know/Refused

In the election for President, if the election were held today, would you vote for John McCain the Republican, Barack Obama the Democrat, Ralph Nader the Independent, or Bob Barr the Libertarian?


If the November general election for U.S. Senate were held today, would you vote for Jack Hoogendyk the Republican, Carl Levin the Democrat, Harley Mikkelson of the Green Party, Michael Nikitin of the U.S. Taxpayers Party, Scotty Boman the Libertarian, or Doug Dern of the Natural Law Party?


If the election for U.S. Congress were held today, would you vote for Mark Schauer the Democrat, Tim Walberg the Republican, Lynn Meadow of the Green Party, or Ken Proctor the Libertarian?


Now I would like to read a brief description of the two major party candidates running for congress.

Tim Walberg is 57 years old and the incumbent Republican. He was born on the south side of Chicago. After graduating from high school he became a member of the U.S. Forest Service. To pay his way through college, he worked as a union steel mill worker, attended Western Illinois University, Taylor University, Moody Bible Institute, where he was trained as a minister, and Wheaton College Graduate School, where he earned his B.S. and M.A. degrees. He was a pastor for 10 years, then served in the Michigan House of Representatives from Lenawee County for 18 years. In the 2006, he defeated the incumbent Republican by campaigning on a platform of support for President Bush’s war on terror and opposition to pork barrel spending. Walberg is a social and economic conservative, taking a strong pro-life position on abortion and supporting traditional marriage. He and his wife Sue have been married for 34 years, raised three children and live in Tipton in Lenawee County.

Mark Schauer is 47 years old and the Democratic leader of the Michigan State Senate, representing Calhoun and Jackson Counties since 2003. Before that, he served in the Michigan House of Representatives. Born in Howell, he was his class Valedictorian and then graduated with honors from Albion College. He worked as an urban planner for Calhoun County while continuing his college education, earning Masters Degrees in Public Administration from Western Michigan and Political Science from Michigan State. He worked for and later became the Director of the Community Action Agency in Battle Creek, was a founding member of the Battle Creek Habitat for Humanity, and an active supporter of the Food Bank. He has been a strong advocate of quality schools, early childhood development, job training, economic development, access to quality health care, and he is pro-choice on the abortion issue. He and his wife Christine live in Battle Creek with his three step children.

After hearing these descriptions, let me ask you again, if the election for U.S. Congress were held today, would you vote for Mark Schauer the Democrat, Tim Walberg the Republican, Lynn Meadow of the Green Party, or Ken Proctor the Libertarian?


There's a lot to digest there.

UPDATE II: Fixed typos.

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Schauer Endorsed By Ex-Republican DeWeese

Everyone remembers the 2006 Republican primary, in which Tim Walberg defeated incumbent Republican Congressman Joe Schwarz. But two years earlier, the 2004 GOP primary was just as hard-fought a race, drawing six legitimate Republican candidates, all of whom at some point had a plausible chance of winning.

That race ended with Joe Schwarz squeaking by with a narrow plurality:
Joe Schwarz (R), 28%
Brad Smith (R), 22%
Tim Walberg (R), 18%
Clark Bisbee (R), 14%
Gene DeRossett (R), 11%
Paul DeWeese (R), 7%
We all, of course, know what happened with Schwarz and Walberg two years later. Clark Bisbee considered challenging Walberg in the primary this year, but decided against it, and:
Other names being floated are the two other also-rans in the '04 primary, former Reps. Gene DeROSSETT and Paul DeWEESE.
Neither, of course, decided to join the race. Indeed, Paul DeWeese decided instead to join the Democratic Party:
Former Rep. Paul DeWeese of Williamston, a one-time Republican Senate and congressional candidate, said he's changed parties and is now a Democrat.

For a number of years, the emergency room physician said he's watched a growing disconnect between the needs of people and the Republican Party's narrow "bankrupt ideology."
(Emphasis added.)

Now, we get this news from Schauer for Congress:

Says Schauer will fight to fix broken healthcare system, make Michigan more competitive

BATTLE CREEK—Today former state Rep. Paul DeWeese, a one-time Republican from Williamston, announced that he was endorsing Mark Schauer for Congress in the 7th district race. The emergency room physician announced he was leaving the Republican Party earlier this spring.

"The people of Mid-Michigan are ready for change, and Mark Schauer is exactly the kind of leader we need right now to make this state more competitive," said DeWeese. "Unlike his opponent, Mark would never vote against healthcare for kids, and he would never tell his constituents that people without health insurance should seek basic treatment in the emergency room. You don't have to be an ER doctor to understand that this only drives up costs for everyone else in the system. The 7th district deserves a Congressman who will fight to fix our broken healthcare system, and Mark is the best man for the job."

In August 2007, Congressman Walberg voted against the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007 (HR 3162), legislation to expand the current State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $47.8 billion and bring 5 million additional children into the program. In March of this year, Walberg claimed at a town hall meeting in Hillsdale that those who cannot afford to go to the doctor have sufficient access to medical care because anyone can obtain treatment at an emergency room.

"I appreciate Paul's support and look forward to welcoming even more Democrats, Independents and Republicans to join our team this year," said Schauer. "Together, we can turn Michigan's economy around, one job at a time."

# # #
(Emphasis added.)

I think it's important to make clear just how significant this might be. DeWeese was certainly a moderate Republican, and as a state Representative, he didn't actually live in the 7th District. At the same time, he's a known quantity to 7th District Republicans, and especially to moderates who are wary of Walberg but not yet sure about Schauer.

And also, it never hurts to have a well-known emergency room doctor say that you're better on health care than your opponent. The town hall the press release mentions contains a heated exchange between a questioner and Congressman Walberg. You can listen to the whole thing here (low-quality .mp3), but here's the important part:
Walberg: ... That’s an issue, and I suggest that health savings accounts aren’t the only way to go, but I also suggest that we need to find ways, like associated health plans, giving the same tax breaks to individuals to purchase health insurance that we give to businesses…

Question: But many people have no money to purchase. You have the poor who have only enough money maybe to buy food. You can’t close the door. They can’t save money…

Walberg: Then wouldn’t it be good to take the government as much out of the way… of standing in the way of people having jobs so they would have incomes so they could afford health care. That’s the strong economics, because right now, everybody in the United States has some health care, maybe even the emergency room.

Question: No they don’t.

Walberg: [Losing patience] Everyone can walk into an emergency room and receive basic health care.

[Crowd noise]

Question: It doesn’t work that way. This community, this community really does pay for …

Walberg: I have a doctor in this row that knows it does work that way.

Someone in crowd: She might know a doctor!

Question: … Well, I’m a nurse practitioner. But we have a… in this community we do have, the community comes together for a free clinic. We put that together, […] it’s an excellent resource for people that do not have insurance. But, not every community has that. Not everybody comes together like that. What I’m saying is, that as a nation, we need to come together to provide basic health care for everyone...
This, of course, is a partial transcript, with a lot more before and after, and I probably made a few mistakes through there. Even so, this is a fairly good account of the discussion.

From this, we see that Tim Walberg's health care plan is, basically, the same "Every man for himself!" strategy he brings to other issues. And if you're still too poor to receive quality health care, well, you can just use the emergency room and drive up the costs for the rest of us.

That's not smart economics, and that's not smart health care. Walberg's system has no room for preventative care, which saves lives and money. It leaves emergency rooms-- the part of the hospital you want working most smoothly-- overcrowded and overwhelmed. And it leaves the rest of us to pay for it anyway.

I'm glad to see former state Representative and Dr. DeWeese endorse Mark Schauer. Are there any other doctors out there interested in endorsing?

Dr. Schwarz?

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Walberg: Saddam Hussein Funded 9/11 Attacks

I'm trying to find out when this interview aired, but it was on the Bart Hawley Show on JTV:

Many thanks to YouTube user SeventhDem for the video.

As I said, I'm not sure when this aired, but this is at least twice now that Congressman Tim Walberg has linked the government of Saddam Hussein in Iraq to the tragedy of September 11th, 2001. This time, he specifically states that Saddam Hussein funded terrorist operations. This is, in fact, not true. This claim was debunked four years ago by the 9/11 Commission. Indeed, the former director of the CIA says that the claim never made sense:
"It never made any sense. We could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al Qaeda for 9/11 or any operational act against America. Period."
Let me repeat this. The terrorist group Al Qaeda planned and carried out the attacks of September 11, 2001. The government of Iraq and then-President Saddam Hussein had no collaborative relationship with Al Qaeda. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.

Setting aside the "fantasy world" explanation I offered yesterday, it's clear that Tim Walberg is deliberately trying to distort the facts to justify his support of the war in Iraq.

Earlier today, the Battle Creek Enquirer carried an article titled "Walberg Clarifies His Comment," in which the congressman is supposed to have explained what he meant when he said that Iraq and September 11 were linked. Except, here's the only "clarification" they offered:

When asked about the comment, Walberg said:

"The fact is I strongly believe that terrorism must be defeated here and abroad. Al-Qaida was and is a threat to our family's security — they have proven that."

Lacking in any other explanation, I'm forced to conclude that Congressman Walberg stands by his claim that Saddam Hussein helped carry out the attacks of September 11, 2001.

In other news, someone who attended one of Congressman Walberg's campaign events informed me that Walberg flip-flopped-- he now supports a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. This is a dramatically different position than he had taken before, voting against such timetables throughout last year.

If this policy switch turns out to be true (I'll have to wait until I see media reports), I'll be eager to see how he explains to his supporters why he supports "timetables for defeat."

UPDATE: I'm told that this video clip was from Tuesday, August 19, 2008. That was four days after he made similar false statements on WKHM's Greg O'Connor Show and was the subject of a Schauer for Congress press release and a post by Chris Gautz of the Jackson Citizen Patriot on his blog.

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Walberg Lenawee Kickoff Disappointing?

A short post now, then I've got a much more important post coming up next.

Today, Congressman Walberg held his Lenawee County Campaign Kickoff:


Friday, August 22, 2008

Join us at Next Diesel
1571 W. Beecher Rd.
Adrian, MI 49221

Congressman Walberg as well as several community leaders will be speaking.

Come on out, pick up your yard sign, and show your support for your Congressman!

Recall that Lenawee County is Walberg's home county. He's lived in Tipton for years, knows everybody, and won the county with 55 percent of the vote against Sharon Renier, won it with 69 percent in the 2006 GOP primary against Joe Schwarz, and won it with 57 percent in a six-way primary in 2004. In other words, this is his base.

I spoke earlier with someone who attended Walberg's kickoff rally. How many people showed up?


Including staff.

Contrast this with Mark Schauer's town hall in Adrian a couple of weeks before the primary, which had somewhere between 60 and 70 people attend.

Walberg's still got the advantage, but he can only draw a crowd of 10 in Lenawee County? If that's true, then he's got plenty of reasons to be worried about November.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tim Walberg's Fantasy World

The ran a story a few days ago that's interesting in the context of the debate over offshore drilling for oil. Without commenting on the merits of drilling offshore, they noted that a number of proponents of drilling like to make the claim that facilities in the Gulf of Mexico went through Hurricanes Katrina and Rita without any damage and without "one drop of oil spilt," according to Senator Trent Lott (R-MS).

So, if the oil rigs could survive hurricanes without any environmental damage, obviously offshore drilling is completely safe, and environmentalists who oppose it are being unreasonable.

The problem with these assertions? Well, they're wrong. As the Politico explains:
The U.S. Minerals Management Service, however, did a study of the damage Katrina and Rita did to offshore oil wells and came to a different conclusion. It found that the two storms caused a combined 124 spills with a volume of 17,700 barrels—or roughly 750,000 gallons. That's no Exxon Valdez -- in fact, the MMS had kind words for the rigs' performances -- but it's not nothing either.
The article also cites pieces by CBS News and Media Matters which debunk the claim.

Among the proponents of drilling that the Politico mentions? Congressman Tim Walberg:
Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) said on Friday that the Gulf rigs went "through Katrina with no spills -- with derricks being washed up on shore and yet the environment has not been hurt and we've been benefited by it."
(Emphasis added.)

The problem here isn't the policy Walberg supports. There are a lot of reasons not to support his oil-company-give-away policy, but in this case, 750,000 gallons of oil spilled during Katrina and Rita aren't going to convince many voters.

Instead, the problem is what the story indicates about Tim Walberg as a person and as a politician. He's basing his policies and his rhetoric on what he wishes was true, not based on the actual facts. Rather than taking positions based on what's happening, he's following his rigid ideology and creating for himself a world that fits it. His hard line, conservative positions make perfect sense in the fantasy world he's constructed.

Offshore drilling is a lot easier to support if you pretend that there's no environmental risk and if you pretend the Chinese are drilling for oil off the coast of Florida.

Continuing the war in Iraq is a lot easier if you pretend that Iraq is as safe as Detroit.

Going to war to begin with makes more sense if you pretend that Iraq was behind September 11.

Environmental issues are a lot easier if you pretend that global climate change isn't real.

Unfortunately, Tim Walberg's facts don't quite match the ones the rest of us have to live with.

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Schauer Campaign Video: "The Things People Say"

From my inbox last night:
Dear [---],

In case you missed it, Tim Walberg did an interview with WKHM in Jackson last week. When the topic of Iraq came up during the conversation, Walberg said, "There was clear connections in Iraq to Saddam Hussein to what went on on 9/11."

Apparently the Congressman didn't get the memo that President Bush admitted this wasn't true in 2003, or that the bipartisan 9/11 Commission de-bunked this myth more than four years ago.

This got me thinking about some of the other shocking comments Tim Walberg has made over the past year that show how out of touch he is with the 7th district. We put this video together to highlight some of his extreme viewpoints:

And, here's the video, called "The Things People Say":

I'm more than a little embarrassed that I'm represented by this man...

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Walberg Increases Internet Operation

I've repeated a number of times that the internet is still the best untapped resource for political campaigns to reach out to supporters and win over undecided voters. Mark Schauer has been doing a fantastic job, with a number of innovative ideas and embracing dynamic content. Up until the primary, Tim Walberg's attempts at using the internet were disappointing.

This may be changing. Tim Walberg's campaign has significantly increased his internet operation, now with a website, a blog, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, and a YouTube channel. So far, this is impressive-- though, it's worth noting that Mark Schauer had all of these long before Walberg, with the exception of the Twitter feed.

So does this mean that Tim Walberg is pulling even with Mark Schauer on the internet? Well, no, not yet.

On the brand new Walberg for Congress blog, there is exactly one post as of today. It's very nice, with photos and whatnot, but it came last Wednesday, and so far, there hasn't been any indication of any more activity. Contrast this with the Schauer blog, where Senator Schauer and his communications director have something new to say every day, including information that might actually be useful for supporters.

On the Walberg for Congress YouTube channel, there is only one video, the first Walberg campaign ad. That's fine, because it'll get greater exposure for your ad and its message. But Mark Schauer's YouTube page has 16 videos so far. Of those, eight are of Schauer speaking directly to viewers and to voters, and another six are of public appearances where he's speaking about policy. Rather than five scripted lines and a motorcycle, Schauer is talking about the issues that people care about, and he's effectively using the medium.

The point this, of course, is to show that Walberg's internet operation is still lacking compared to Schauer's. But it doesn't have to be. As much as I want to see Mark Schauer elected, I'd also like to see candidates in both parties effectively use technology to reach voters. Schauer's team is doing that. Walberg's team has all of the pieces in place, but hasn't bothered to use them yet. If they do, then we could have an exciting race on our hands.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Walberg: Iraq, 9/11 Connected

... Sigh. Today, on WKHM:

Greg O'Connor: Tim, give me a little history lesson because somebody asked me this question earlier in the week. What's the difference – Russia invading Georgia and us invading Iraq?

Tim Walberg: Well, the difference is that there was clear connections in Iraq to Saddam Hussein to what went on on 9/11.
Audio here.

Okay. Tim Walberg isn't stupid. Really, he's not. But apparently he thinks you are.

Iraq and the regime of Saddam Hussein had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001. Nothing. But Walberg thinks you're stupid enough to fall for it.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Freedom's Watch Robocalls; Schauer Challenges Walberg

This afternoon, a little after 3:00pm, I received a phone call... from Freedom's Watch. It was a robocall, repeating the same talking points from the deceptive and largely false radio ad they've been running (minus the RAND study citation).

These things are annoying, and frankly, I hope that bring out the robocalls this early in the election backfires on them. Nobody I've talked to has said that they like or appreciate these kinds of calls. At least when it's a person and when it's a campaign, you can voice your displeasure and be taken off the call list. These invade your privacy and threaten to repeat with no possible recourse.

Then, I got this press release in my inbox:
Congressional candidate says it's time to hang up on divisive political tactics

BATTLE CREEK—Today Congressional candidate Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek) sent a letter inviting Congressman Tim Walberg to join him in a pledge not to make political robocalls to voters in the 7th district for the remainder of the 2008 campaign. He also asked the Congressman to agree to publicly ask third party groups not to use robocalls for the rest of the race.

"People are tired of divisive political tactics, and out of respect for the democratic process, I think we should agree to offer voters something different by not bothering them with robocalls this year," said Schauer. "With all of the challenges facing our state, businesses and workers deserve an honest and open exchange of ideas between the two of us about our respective plans for turning Michigan's economy around. I hope the Congressman will accept my challenge and agree to hang up on robocalls."

Today the independent political group Freedom's Watch began making negative robocalls in the 7th district attacking Sen. Schauer's position on domestic drilling. The calls falsely claim that Schauer opposes drilling, even though he has offered public support for responsible drilling on numerous occasions.

"To set the record straight, I support responsible domestic drilling, both onshore and off," said Schauer. "Just this week I announced legislation that is specifically intended to spur oil production in Michigan. As I have said all along, what we need is a comprehensive energy strategy that includes protecting the Great Lakes, curbing speculation, temporarily releasing a portion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for short-term relief at the pump, exploring safe nuclear alternatives, ending tax breaks for Big Oil, and investing in renewable energy technology to create green collar jobs in Michigan."

# # #
Thank you, Senator Schauer, for rejecting these sorts of attacks and this waste of time.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Walberg Blog Comments Project

Subscribers to the Walberg Watch Weekly E-mail Updates list already know a little bit about this. Obviously, this is a reason why you should subscribe.

Suppose you're an undecided voter. You don't know a lot about Tim Walberg, but you've gotten his glossy flyers in the mail. You've seen Mark Schauer's name somewhere, but really, you don't know much about either of them. What do you do?

For many, you type "Tim Walberg" and "Mark Schauer" into Google. Focusing on Walberg, what do you get? The first five results are all either pro-Walberg or neutral-- Walberg's House website, Walberg's blog, Wikipedia, Walberg for Congress, and a National Journal profile. (The old Walberg Watch address comes in at number nine, while the new Walberg Watch is rapidly rising, now nearing the top of the second page).

Many people will probably stick to those five results, too. Of those results, only the Wikipedia article even comes close to offering different points of view, but only in the context of controversies that have arisen for Walberg. It doesn't keep up with current issues.

So how do we fix that? How do we make sure that Walberg's side of the story isn't the only one being seen? One way, of course, is for Walberg Watch to rise in the Google page ranking, and that's happening slowly on its own. But, oddly enough, Tim Walberg gave us another way of getting opposing viewpoints into the top Google rankings, albeit not directly.

I'm talking about Congressman Walberg's official House of Representatives blog. It's usually the second result in a Google search, and it's featured prominently on Walberg's House website. Often, it's not much more than just reposting of press releases, but it has a comments feature that, to Walberg's credit, is fairly accepting of progressive views. Does everyone read the comments? No. But some people do, and that means it's an avenue for reaching more people.

With all of this in mind, I’ve got a project for Walberg Watch readers and the Michigan blogosphere.


Tim Walberg and his press office state their positions and policy proposals without being challenged. They ignore evidence that doesn’t fit their chosen positions and highlight columnists and editorials that fit their views only. Indeed, they sometimes posts assertions that are misleading at best and outright untruths at worst. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—this is politics, after all, and everyone is guilty of spin—but going unchallenged is unacceptable.

Let’s fix that. Whenever Walberg’s blog makes a misleading statement, let’s make sure the first comment calls them out on it. Whenever he cites Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity to justify his economic policies, let’s counter with real, honest-to-God economists. We talk about holding our elected officials accountable. This is one more way to hold them to the fire.


Someone is bound to ask, “But, Fitzy, what’s the point?” After all, the number of people that actually read Congressman Walberg’s blog isn’t that high, and the number that follow through to the comments is even smaller. Is this a good way of using the resources of the progressive netroots?

I say, yes, it is. If done effectively, it shows the organizing strength of progressives in a place that Walberg and his staff will see it, and in a place where other observers also have an opportunity to see it. It gives us a chance to practice and refine our arguments and, maybe, be challenged ourselves with counterpoints that we haven’t considered, which will make us better at this when we’re canvassing or phone banking. There’s nothing wrong with some good, old-fashioned political discourse. And it doesn’t cost us anything more than a few minutes every week.

And hey, we might even reach a couple of undecided voters.

But, Wait...

Walberg’s staff will just delete our comments, right? That’s what you’re thinking, isn’t it? It’s true, the comment system is such that new comments have to be approved before they’re posted, but they’ve been fairly accepting of opposing viewpoints. I’ve even had comments make it on that have been critical (though civil) of his conduct. This is one of the few redeeming qualities of Congressman Walberg.

But, yeah, Walberg’s office might start deleting our comments, leaving this whole project dead. What happens then? Well, we complain about how Tim Walberg silences dissent and isn’t willing to listen to well-reasoned arguments. So what if we wasted a couple of hours? In the end, it’s not that big of a deal. And it’s worth trying, because 1.) we could actually reach a couple of voters and 2.) democracy is about direct feedback from those represented to the representative.


Every Wednesday, I’ll choose three recent Tim Walberg blog posts, and post them on Walberg Watch, Michigan Liberal, and Blogging for Michigan. With each, I’ll point out a few potential flaws—places where the truth is stretched or conclusions reached are questionable—and, if I remember anything off the top of my head, I’ll throw in links to articles that I think might be helpful.

This is where you come in. Chances are, you’ve read something recently on a given issue that perfectly refutes what Walberg says. Share a link to the article, editorial, or blog post in the comments, and then go and comment on Walberg’s post. We can discuss the best arguments in the comments, and then a few people can fill Walberg’s post with their ideas. If you haven’t got time to comment on his post yourself, just give us the link, and someone else will do it. If you see someone complain about Walberg elsewhere in the blogosphere, tell them about the project.

The next week, I’ll post an update on the previous week’s projects and link to the new posts of the week. The process repeats.


I want to make a few things clear before this goes forward. The purpose of this is not to harass Tim Walberg and fill his blog with inflammatory messages. Frankly, that’s just dumb. We want to convince undecided voters and prove that our arguments are better. I heard someone call Walberg a “fascist neocon ideologue” a few weeks ago, and that does nothing but alienate people.

In other words, don’t be an asshole about it. When Walberg says something that’s wrong, don’t respond with “How stupid do you think we are?” Instead, respond with, “But, Congressman, the Detroit Free Press recently ran a story saying that...” I know that progressives are capable of well-reasoned, well-articulated, insightful arguments. Imagine if the comments on Tim Walberg’s blog were filled with those. It would embarrass him and make us look great.

Also, I’ll add that this isn’t limited to just residents of Michigan’s 7th Congressional District. Walberg’s votes have the potential to hurt the entire country, and he’s constantly an embarrassment to the people of Michigan. If you think he’s wrong, make sure he knows it.

Obviously, if there’s no interest in this, I’ll drop the project. But the internet offers so many phenomenal ways to communicate directly with your representative and make your voice heard. Why not use as many of them as possible?

Walberg Blog Comments Project - Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Here are the posts for today:

1. South-Central Michigan Residents Speak Out On High Gas Prices, by Tim Walberg (Aug. 8, 2008)

This is a collection of quotes from 7th District residents talking about how high gas prices are impacting their daily lives. Some of the stories are touching and painful, and, of course, none of them would be helped by Walberg’s “Oil Company Give-Away” drilling plan. What would help? It wouldn’t solve all the problems, but releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (which Walberg opposed) would lower prices. There is already one dissenting comment, noting that domestically-produced oil will still be sold on the world market, and won’t help Americans all that much. This is a point which can be further emphasized.

2. Nationwide Editorials Decry Democrats’ Latest Speculator Gimmick, by Walberg Press Office (Jul. 31, 2008)

Walberg’s office offers a series of links to newspaper editorials criticizing the Democratic strategy on high gas prices. Surely we can find some editorials that label the Walberg/Republican plan as the pointless idea we all know it is, right?

3. Washington Post debunks myths about offshore drilling, by Walberg Press Office (Aug. 12, 2008)

This is a big one. They cite a Washington Post editorial that claims to refute progressive arguments against offshore drilling. It’s worth noting that the same editorial also says that drilling offshore would have no immediate impact on gas prices, and that it specifically states that they support protecting ANWR, where Walberg wants to drill there. Further, where the article notes the need for a long-term, comprehensive plan, Walberg has opposed Democratic bills that would invest in alternative energies (example here). And add in his opposition to conservation through public transportation and other areas. Oh, and how about Paul Krugman’s recent op-ed reminding us about global climate change—which Walberg doesn’t believe in.

So, let’s get to it. How do we refute these? And who wants to be the first to comment?

And, of course, for you Republican lurkers out there, if we fall short on any of these, I assure you, it’s not some failing of the progressive movement. Rather, it means that we’re just not trying hard enough... yet.

As of July 09, 2008, I have been working with the Schauer for Congress campaign in Lenawee County. My thoughts and writings are my own opinions, and I do not speak for Senator Schauer or anyone else in his organization.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Schauer Introduces Energy Plan in Michigan Senate

While Tim Walberg is staging a protest in Washington, D.C. and waving his energy plan around on television, Democratic challenger and state Senator Mark Schauer introduced a bill in the Michigan Senate to do what he can do to increase energy production and create jobs:
Highlights of Schauer’s “Drill Responsibly-Create New Energy Jobs” include:
  • Demand responsible oil production in currently leased land
  • If no production in five years, land goes back to state to be re-leased
  • Financial penalties for stockpiling land to profit from reserves without producing
  • No new leases unless current ones are used
  • Modernize lease system to make sure taxpayers and consumers benefit from production
  • Switch from the outdated 1/6 royalty system to a 50/50 "working interest" model - as the federal government and other countries are moving toward. Other states like Alaska, Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Louisiana all make more compensation for their taxpayers from production
  • Create fund where additional revenue is used to transition to renewable energy projects and job creation

According to Legislative Service Bureau estimates, there are approximately 4,187 active leases in Michigan on which oil is not being produced, 1,667 pending leases on which oil is not being produced, and only 3,773 that are actually producing oil. This legislation would force companies to make use of the resources they have or allow them to go to companies who will.

As far as I can tell, the text of Schauer's bill isn't online yet. I'll add a link as soon as I can find it. We'll have to wait another day for more in-district media coverage, but the Chicago Tribune gives us this AP article:
LANSING, Mich. - Oil and gas companies would pay Michigan higher royalty fees when leasing government-owned land under a plan by a top Democrat who wants to spend the extra revenue on renewable energy projects.


The "use-it-or-lose-it" approach is needed because oil companies are claiming leases as assets but letting the land sit dormant, said the proposal's sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Mark Schauer of Battle Creek. There are more than 4,000 active leases in Michigan where oil or gas isn't being produced, he said.

"They're making money on Wall Street, but they're not generating oil and not increasing supplies to reduce the cost at the pump," Schauer said.
I don't know enough about the proposal yet to speak intelligently on it. Chris Gautz at the Citizen Patriot seems to think investing the money in environmentally-friendly energy research isn't allowed by the state constitution, but I'm not sure if that's true or not.

Even so, this is a good contrast to the Walberg energy plan, which is a "give everything to the oil companies" plan. It'll be interesting to see the coverage this gets moving forward.

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$40,000 DCCC Radio Ad Buy

Last week, I wrote about the factually inaccurate Freedom's Watch radio ad attacking Mark Schauer, and that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee would be responding. You can listen to their response.

Is this a serious ad buy? I'd say so:
The committee is looking toward New York, where they scored big gains in 2006, with a small buy against Rep. Randy Kuhl; to Missouri, with a sizable $26,000 purchase in Republican Rep. Sam Graves' district; to Michigan, where Rep. Tim Walberg will be hit with the biggest buy, at almost $40,000; and even in Idaho, where cheap television rates mean the $11,000 spent against freshman Rep. Bill Sali could go a long way.
(Emphasis added.)

They're spending $175,000 across ten districts. Spending $40,000 in Michigan's 7th alone is significant. If you've heard either the Freedom's Watch ad or the DCCC ad, feel free to share what station and when in the comments.

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Two Years Old

Today, Walberg Watch turned two years old.

Also today, Walberg Watch's owner and primary blogger experienced some computer meltdowns.

This caused considerable frustration, but it's getting better now.

Thank you for two great years. Hopefully, I've only got 85 days left.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Green Party Nominates Lynn Meadows

Back in July, the Green Party of Michigan held its convention in Marshall, Michigan. As is often the case with minor parties, I completely forgot about it. Nevertheless, it is still worth reporting that at their meeting, they nominated Chelsea resident Lynn Meadows for Michigan's 7th Congressional District.

From what I can tell, Meadows is actually a fairly big name in the MI Greens, as the chair of the Tamarack Greens and having been their Secretary of State nominee in 2006. For that office, she won 70,218 votes statewide, or about 1.9 percent of the vote. Across the 7th District, she stayed fairly consistent, right around the two percent mark.

So how will she fare as a congressional candidate? As the Secretary of State candidate, she out-performed the rest of the Green ticket in 2006-- their nominees for Senate and Governor each got less than one percent. However, she was also the only minor party candidate running for that office, which meant that the 1.9 percent that she earned included those who were simply dissatisfied with the Republican and Democratic Parties and wanted to voice their frustration in a low-profile race.

The Green Party did not field a candidate in 2006, but in 2004, nominee Jason Seagraves took 1.3 percent of the vote, or 3,996 votes.

It'll be interesting to see if Meadows runs a strong campaign this year. I'm not expecting her to break two percent, but, then again, that's still two percent in what could be a very close race.

With this and Schauer's primary victory, we have our final November ballot:

Tim Walberg (R-inc.)
Mark Schauer (D)
Ken Proctor (L)
Lynn Meadows (G)

As of July 09, 2008, I have been working with the Schauer for Congress campaign in Lenawee County. My thoughts and writings are my own opinions, and I do not speak for Senator Schauer or anyone else in his organization.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Walberg Releases First TV Ad

On the same day that "Freedom's Watch" released a radio ad attacking Mark Schauer on energy policy, Congressman Tim Walberg released a television ad touting his own energy "plan":

First, I think Tim Walberg is the first person I've ever seen wear an orange polo shirt while riding a motorcycle. I don't have anything against motorcycles, I just feel like if you're going to do it, especially on television, you should have a little style! It just looks as awkward as, say, John Kerry hunting.

Besides that silliness, it's an ad that plays to the base while trying to come across as moderate. It's pretty light on content, but hey, that's a television ad.

The big question is about timing. It's a logical time to release an ad-- right after the Democratic primary, to frame himself early before the general election coverage heats up. But it coincides exactly with the release of the "Freedom's Watch" ad and deals with the same subject. Energy is a big issue and the release of both ads makes sense. Even so, it's a little suspicious.

The Walberg for Congress campaign and the "Freedom's Watch" group are not allowed to coordinate their message and spending like that. It's illegal, and it's something that Walberg has been accused of in the past. Joe Schwarz filed an FEC complaint against Tim Walberg for doing exactly that with the Club for Growth in 2006:
The FEC complaint contends the Club for Growth coordinated expenditures from its political action committee and 527 organization, listing common political strategists and pollsters who were paid by the Club for Growth, Walberg and three other campaigns: Senate candidate Steve Laffey in Rhode Island, and congressional candidates Sharron Angle in Nevada and Bill Sali in Idaho.
And "Freedom's Watch" isn't exactly clear of such accusations, either. During a special election in Louisiana this year, the group aired an ad whose script appeared to be written by the NRCC. That was called an "innocent mistake," but, if actually written by the NRCC, is absolutely illegal.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that anyone has broken the law. I'm saying that this is something to watch closely as both Walberg and "Freedom's Watch" release more ads.

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DCCC to Respond to Attacks

Following the "Freedom's Watch" radio ads, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will respond:

The DCCC Independent Expenditure (IE) today announced it will launch radio ads across the country responding to Freedom’s Watch latest bogus claims. Freedom’s Watch has put more deceptive radio ads on the air as part of the shady, soft money group’s plan to try to defeat Democratic congressional candidates.

Freedom’s Watch is operating as the cash-strapped NRCC’s de facto independent expenditure campaign. The organization has close ties to President George Bush and Senator John McCain and is funded, staffed, and guided by a “who’s who” of Republican operatives known for their win-at-all-cost tactics, including Karl Rove.

Michigan's 7th District is one of the 10 districts on the list. It's good to see someone call them out on their lies and distortions.

The DCCC also has a website exposing "Freedom's Watch" and it's unsavory backers.

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Independent Group Releases Attack Ad

That didn't take long...

"Freedom's Watch" is a 501(c)(4) group (website and DCCC counter-website) which has appeared this election year, mostly bashing Democrats and run by ex-Bush administration officials. Today, they released this radio ad:
"70% of Americans are in favor of exploring for off shore oil, but Mark Schauer says no. Mark Schauer is against a bill that would expand domestic oil exploration, build new refineries, and increase wind energy. And he's endorsed by a liberal special interest group in favor of high gas prices. Schauer said expanding the search for
domestic oil wont do anything to lower gas prices, but a RAND study said that the US has at least three times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. Michigan is in a one state recession, we are losing jobs, families are struggling. As an elected official, Mark Schauer can do something, but he refuses to explore for oil here in the US. Call
Mark Schauer at (517) 373-2426 and tell him to support domestic oil exploration and support American jobs. Paid for by Freedom's Watch."
Audio file here.

Notice that they managed to work the word "liberal" in there. Will "" be replaced by ""?

That sounds like a tough attack that might stick, except that we get this from Schauer in the Daily Telegram yesterday:
State Sen. Mark Schauer said Monday there needs to be compromise from both sides of the aisle on providing opportunities to assist Michigan’s economy.

“I support the efforts of Congress to break the logjam and work toward a bipartisan resolution toward the energy crisis,” Schauer said.

The state senator said the Republican from Tipton does not know how to reach a consensus in working toward energy solutions.

“Tim is there (protesting in Washington) apparently because they haven’t taken up his bill,” Schauer said. “He has voted against seven specific bills since February that would have provided real solutions to the energy crises we face. What Walberg is proposing will not bring relief to the economy in neither the short- or long-term.”

“I support offshore drilling,” Schauer said when asked about alternative actions to help relieve fuel prices. He said there is land available in both the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska that can be drilled, and that the option was in one of the bills Walberg voted against.

“What I will not support is drilling in the Great Lakes,” Schauer said. “We are one accident from devastating our natural resources.”
(Emphasis added.)

In other words, Schauer supports offshore drilling, just not opening up everything, everywhere, the way Walberg does. If Tim Walberg thought there was oil in the Grand Canyon, I'm sure he'd toss out the tourists and start drilling.

Unfortunately, in these sorts of debates, it's often the side that shouts the loudest that wins. Even so, Schauer has the much more reasonable position, and he's right when he says this isn't something we can drill our way out of.

UPDATE: In addition to fixing a couple of typos, I wanted to point something else out. The ad says:
As an elected official, Mark Schauer can do something, but he refuses to explore for oil here in the US.
So, wait a second... Schauer currently serves in the state Senate, which means that he can do something, but only in the state of Michigan. When we're talking about offshore drilling, we mean in the Atlantic or the Pacific, and, since Michigan doesn't have coastline on either of those (at least, the last time I checked), he can't do anything about drilling offshore in his current job.

That is, unless Freedom's Watch wants to drill in the Great Lakes. But everyone except for Tim Walberg agrees that drilling there is a horrible idea.

UPDATE II: Eric B. at Michigan Liberal also responds, doing the research that was next on my list of things to do:

Lies, plain and simple. Here is the RAND study citied. Please note that it's called "Oil shale development in the United States." That's because the the "proven reserves" the RAND study is talking about are all locked up in oil shale ... not lying about somewhere off shore or in Alaska.

You're probably wondering about oil shale, and why we haven't developed it. I mean, we have a lot of it. It's remained undeveloped since the 70s for the same reason why the United States has lost and not built refining capacity ... purely economic reasons. Processing oil shale into something usable is incredibly expensive, requires a great deal of energy (because it requires a great deal of heat), and because it's very water intensive (and most of the shale is where there isn't a great deal of water).

This is a deceptive ad. It cites a study that's not talking about offshore drilling to attack Schauer on offshore drilling, even though Schauer already supports reasonable offshore drilling.

Ahh! If this is what it'll be like until November, I might go a little crazy.

Someone, please, please, please, write a letter to the editor refuting this crap, before it goes unchallenged for too long.

As of July 09, 2008, I have been working with the Schauer for Congress campaign in Lenawee County. My thoughts and writings are my own opinions, and I do not speak for Senator Schauer or anyone else in his organization.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Primary Election Results Thread - Schauer Wins

I'm finally home for the results. I'll be updating the results as I get them:

Michigan's 7th District - Democratic Party

342 of 342 Precincts Reporting (100%)

Sharon Renier - 9,034 - 34%
Mark Schauer - 17,268 - 66%

Michigan Secretary of State
Battle Creek Enquirer
Lansing State Journal
Daily Telegram
Detroit News

UPDATE: For county-by-county results:

Branch County (.xls file) (Renier 310, Schauer 242; Walberg 4,909)
Calhoun County (Renier 1,131, Schauer 6,538; Walberg 6,023)
Eaton County (Renier 1,340, Schauer 1,852; Walberg 6,331)
Hillsdale County (Renier 416, Schauer 325; Walberg 4,550)
Jackson County
Lenawee County
Washtenaw County

UPDATE II: For those curious, in the 2006 primary, the total Democratic vote was 19,753. Renier won with 10,402.

UPDATE III: As counties finish counting, they're updating the Michigan Secretary of State page with totals. I'm adding in final results in each county, with the county winner in italics.

UPDATE IV: The Schauer campaign claims victory:
Congressional candidate will challenge Bush Republican Tim Walberg in Michigan's 7th district

BATTLE CREEK—Today voters in south central Michigan elected Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek) as the Democratic nominee in Michigan's 7th congressional district. He will challenge incumbent Congressman Tim Walberg in the general election on November 4.

Following his victory this evening, Sen. Schauer issued the following statement:

"Tonight marks the starting gun for our sprint to changing Washington in November. Voters now have a clear choice between someone who will roll up their sleeves to help turn Michigan's economy around, one job at a time, and the current Congressman who is making things worse. I have a strong record of working with Democrats and Republicans to save and create jobs, I'll support an energy plan that puts the needs of consumers ahead of record profits for Big Oil companies, and I'll get started on day one fixing what's broken in Washington."

The Cook Political Report and Roll Call have both ranked this race as a tossup, which is their most competitive category. In a recent interview with the Detroit News, David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report said, "Walberg continues to be in grave danger of losing his seat."
UPDATE V: From the Jackson Citizen Patriot, Schauer and Renier react:
"This is just one step toward winning this seat back," Schauer said. "We need to take this seat back from someone who is extremely out of touch with this district and with the needs of our state."
Renier, of Munith, said her apparent defeat is a loss for the people of Michigan.
"I believe people are sheeples and they will go wherever they think the feed is the sweetest," she said. "They will stand out in the rain but they don't realize that the big bad wolf is coming and that's too bad for them."
I understand that Sharon is frustrated, and I have nothing but respect for her and for the passion she brought to the race in 2004, 2006, and this year. I only hope that she eventually realizes that Senator Schauer is a solid progressive, a strong candidate, and a much better alternative than Tim Walberg.

I'm done for the night. Democrats have a nominee.

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Primary Election Open Thread

Polls have been open since 7:00am and close at 8:00pm. For information on voting, click here. To find your polling place, click here.

I might be a little late with results tonight, but you can see them yourself here.

Share your primary election story. Did you vote for Walberg, Renier, or Schauer? If you're in Jackson County, who do you want to win the county clerk race? In Lenawee County, how about the sheriff's race? In Calhoun County, what do you think will happen in the state representatives candidates' primary?

This is an exciting day. I'll be voting soon myself.

UPDATE: For those interested, the Schauer campaign is holding a post-election party in Delta Township:
WHO: Mark Schauer
7th district supporters and volunteers

WHAT: Democratic Primary Election Party

WHEN: TODAY, August 5
Party begins at 8:30 p.m.
Schauer to speak at 9:30 p.m.

6409 Centurion Drive
Lansing, MI

WHY: The winner of the Democratic primary will take on Congressman Tim Walberg in the general election for Michigan's 7th Congressional district on November 4.
I'm not able to make it, but if any loyal readers are interested in going and reporting back, that'd be a great use of the "Submit Content" feature. No word yet about a Renier party.

I'm actually going to go vote now.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Sharon Renier's Pre-Primary Fundraising

In addition to filing her second quarter report, Sharon Renier also filed a pre-primary report. The following represents the period from June 30 to July 16, 2008:

Column A
This Period
Column B
11. Contributions (other than loans) From:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other than Political Committees
(i) Itemized1990.00
(ii) Unitemized465.00
(iii) Total Of Contributions From Individuals2455.0010082.00
(b) Political Party Commitees0.000.00
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACS)0.000.00
(d) The Candidate0.000.00
(e) Total Contributions (11(a)(iii) + (b) + (c))2455.0010082.00
12. Transfers From Other Authorized Committees0.000.00
13. Loans
(a) Made Or Guaranteed By The Candidate2800.002800.00
(b) All Other Loans0.000.00
(c) Total Loans ((a) + (b))2800.002800.00
14. Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 0.000.00
15. Other Receipts0.000.00
16. Total Receipts (11(e) + 12 + 13(c) + 14 + 15) 5255.0012882.00
17. Operating Expenditures4578.2722259.45
18. Transfers to Other Authorized Committees0.000.00
19. Loan Repayments:
(a) Of Loans Made or Guaranteed by the Candidate0.00200.00
(b) Of All Other Loans0.000.00
(c) Total Loan Repayments ((a) + (b)) 0.00200.00
20. Refunds of Contributions To:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other Than Political Committees0.000.00
(b) Political Party Committees0.000.00
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACs) 0.000.00
(d) Total Contribution Refunds (28(a) + (b) + (c)) 0.000.00
21. Other Disbursements0.000.00
22. Total Disbursements (17 + 18 + 19(c) + 20(d) + 21) 4578.2722459.45
23. Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period-673.27
24. Total Receipts This Period (line 16) 5255.0012882.00
25. Subtotal (23 + 24) 4581.73
26. Total Disbursements This Period (line 22) 4578.2722459.45
27. Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period (25 - 26) 3.46

As of July 16, 2008, Sharon Renier had $3.46 cash-on-hand.

Itemized receipts can be found here. She raised $1,740.00 through entry fees for "Votestock '08," and she contributed $2,800 to herself. She also received one $250 contribution from a supporter, and $465 worth of unitemized (under $200) contributions.

Her disbursements can be found here. Most of Renier's spending was on "Votestock"-related fun, but she also had eight $5.00 overdraft fees from the bank handling her campaign funds. In other words, on eight occasions, she was spending money she didn't have.

There's a part of me that admires Renier's commitment to getting money out of politics. At the same time, this sort of thing makes one doubt the sincerity of her campaign. Is she really interested in winning? 'Cause she can't do anything to change the country if she's not elected, and she won't be elected if she can't get her message out. That requires money.

The primary is tomorrow.

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