I have gotten somewhat tired of hearing the woes of Dems this cycle from folks reading Politico and assuming the majorities will all but evaporate. There's an intentional ignorance in the traditional media to forget about open Senate seats ripe for pickup in New Hampshire, Missouri, Ohio and Kentucky, and competitive seats in North Carolina and elsewhere. For a variety of reasons, there hasn't been as much attention on the House, where I'm focusing on CA-45, a district where Obama won and we have a candidate that can do the same.
CNN has a profile up about Steve Pougnet, the openly gay mayor of Palm Springs, CA who is running to take down Mary Bono Mack, the Republican incumbent. Steve, who I profiled earlier here, would be the first married, openly gay parent elected two Congress (he and his partner are raising twins, Julia and Beckham).
Photo credit: The Advocate
In the piece, Mary is portrayed as she would wish us to believe, a moderate Republican in the mold of Susan Collins:
California's 45th congressional district has never been represented by a Democrat, but the majority party is looking to give six-term Rep. Mary Bono Mack a run for her money.
The district, which includes Palm Springs and the slice of rural southern California just to the city's east, has seen a population growth of 28 percent since 2000. Hispanics now make up 41 percent of the population. As such, an electorate that overwhelmingly voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 handed President Obama a 5-point victory two years ago.
As her constituency shifted toward the middle of the political spectrum, Bono Mack shifted across party lines to vote with the Democrats on some key pieces of legislation. In 2007, she was one of 82 Republicans to vote in favor of raising the minimum wage. In 2008, she voted in favor of the financial industry bailout known as TARP. And in June, she was one of eight Republicans to support the Democrat's "cap and trade" energy bill.
To unpack a coupla things, being one of 82 Republicans in favor of raising the minimum wage in 2007 in contrast to an unpopular President's opposition isn't exactly a profile-in-courage. Nor is voting in favor of TARP along with dozens of other Republicans, including neoconservatives like Roy Blunt. The piece continues with some contrasts:
Palm Spring's large gay community has made equal rights a key issue in the race. Bono Mack has not taken a stance on Proposition 8 but has twice voted against constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Pougnet, who is openly gay, supports repealing Prop. 8, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
The district shares a border with Arizona and is within 50 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, which has thrust immigration reform into the spotlight as well. Pougnet opposes Arizona's controversial immigration law, the strictest parts of which have been temporarily blocked by a federal judge. Bono Mack has stopped short of endorsing Arizona's legislation, but said the state's citizens voted for the law because the Obama administration has "failed to act" on immigration.
Bono Mack also voted against repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, refuses to co-sponsor ENDA or say how she'll vote on the measure, and supported the Largent Amendment in 1999 to ban same-sex adoption in the District of Columbia. She also opposed the stimulus, a health care public option, the financial reform bill, and even voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. People tell me Bono Mack is one of the "decent" ones, and it shocks them when I point out how rank-and-file she is.
Meanwhile, Steve just released his first ad this week pointing out these contrasts:
The buy is 1000 points on Palm Springs broadcast and a large cable buy in the Los Angeles media market, which is supplement by a large English and Spanish radio buy. The campaign tells me Pougnet is the first House challenger to be up on broadcast and cable this cycle.
Because a large part of the district is in Los Angeles media market and the expense of staying on the air there, and that the Pougnet campaign is at a financial disadvantage, they could use a few bucks to introduce Steve to the rest of the district. I threw in $10 myself this morning.
While national Democrats focus on protecting every seat- including anti-LGBT Blue Dogs- let's focus on building progressive, pro-equality majorities by going on offense.