If It Wasn't For You Meddling Kids…

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 18:28

Over the past two days, at Open Left we have received some interesting responses to two our of latest efforts, Blue Majority's Endorsement of Al Franken (conducted in concert with Dailykos, MyDD and Swing State Project), and the Bush Dog campaign formally initiated this morning by Matt. Most of the response has been overwhelmingly positive, as 118 people have donated to Al Franken so far, and as numerous activists, blogs and organizations sign on to the Bush Dog campaign. There has, however, been some dissent online, centering around the idea that Matt and I are outsiders "meddling" in other people's affairs. One Ohio blogger writes (emphasis in original):

I wasn't around the blogs during last years primary mess but I'm still learning to hate the national blogs. Matt Stoller, Chris Bowers, and the other members of Open Left have decided to launch a campaign against the following Democratic members of the House of Representatives that they've dubbed the "Bush Dogs", a play on the Blue Dogs.(…)

As you can see the list includes two Ohio Rep.'s, Zack Space and Charlie Wilson.

Now it's one thing for people who know the district to complain, it's another for someone that knows absolutely nothing to start meddling around. Sure Space and Wilson haven't always voted the way we've wanted but have they looked at their districts?

And a Minnesota blogger writes:

Christ but I am pissed. We're half a year from the caucuses and out-of-staters from our own movement butt in and tell us who to support? How could this have possibly passed any sane netivist's radar? How is this one iota different than the DSCC fucking with last year's primary?

Chris Bowers invited me into his BlogAds group, and I have always thought well of him. I never dreamed that he or one of his groups would barge into Minnesota and screw with our process. Never.(…)

No more. I just decided to endorse Mike Ciresi. And if Chris Bowers' Blue Majority/Act Blue wants to butt into any other primary races between qualified progressives anywhere else in the country, I'll be endorsing the other candidate in those races as well even though I feel strongly that outsiders shouldn't butt into primaries unless one or more of the candidates really bite.

Considering the comments to the later post in particular, these are not the only two bloggers upset with an out of state activist like me "meddling" in elections and with Democratic members of the US House elsewhere in the country. Even apart from me, these are complaints that I see pop up in many elections concerning many groups. Since I see these complaints often, and since I do not think they are very well founded, I would like to take some time to address all of these issues raised here as clearly and concisely as I can:

Chris Bowers :: If It Wasn't For You Meddling Kids…
  1. All Americans are impacted by all federal votes. The United States Congress is a national legislative body, and the laws that it passes, or does not pass, affect the entire nation. The notion that I should only engage in electoral activism within those federal elections in which I am eligible to vote (PA-Sen, PA-02) is to deny that I, and indeed all American, are impacted by the votes of every member of the US House and US Senate. Let me put it this way: as soon as how the legislative actions of Senators and Representatives for whom I cannot vote stop affecting me, I'll stop engaging in electoral activism outside of my home districts.

  2. There are many ways to know a district. I may not be from Ohio or Minnesota, but being from a district does not provide you with a special insight on how to read public opinion surveys in that district. Currently, there are only twelve congressional districts in the entire country where either a majority or a plurality of voters in that district are opposed to the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq:

    None of these districts are held by Democrats. So, one thing I know about every Bush Dog is that by voting to allow the Iraq war to continue without a mandated troop reduction, they are voting against the wishes of their constituents. I also know that the numbers in support of FISA are even lower, and so once again the Democrats supporting that legislation are doing so against the wishes of the voters of their districts. Since Bush Dogs are defined as those Democrats who voted to allow the Iraq war to continue without a mandated troop withdrawal, and who voted to give Alberto Gonzales warrant-less wiretapping powers over all Americans, without even visiting the districts in question, I know that the majority of the voters there are opposed to how the Bush Dogs voted on these matters. I doubt spending an extended period of time in either state would change my mind on that matter, or my ability to read public opinion surveys.

  3. The people-powered, progressive movement had already endorsed Franken. Before any decisions were made to add Al Franken to the Blue Majority page, 46,000 Americans had already voted on who to endorse in the Minnesota Democratic primary. Those 46,000 Americans were the donors to Al Fraken and Mike Ciresi. By a margin of 45,000 to 1,000, the donors picked Al Franken. A large number of small donors has always been one of the hallmarks of a people-powered, progressive movement candidate, and in the Minnesota Senate race, there is a clear, glaring discrepancy in who small donors have chosen. In fact, while Al Franken boasts donors from every county in Minnesota, and every state in America, as of this writing, Mike Ciresi has not even contacted Act Blue so that it is possible for others to raise funds for him. I am not going to say anything negative about Mike Ciresi's issue stances, and I will happily help him out if he were to win the Minnesota Democratic Senate primary. However, if his campaign was interested in the people-powered, progressive movement helping him out, the least he could have done was make sure he was signed up on Act Blue. All it requires is being a federally registered candidate, and then asking Act Blue to include you.

    Blue Majority has always sided with people-powered candidates in Democratic primaries, even when ideology was not clearly an issue. We did so in the Montana and Virginia Senate races last year, for example, even though many argued that Harris Miller was more progressive than Jim Webb, and even though I don't think it was clear that Tester was to the left of Morrison. Others may disagree, but I thought the key in both cases is that Tester and Webb were more populist and more people-powered than their primary opponents. The same pattern holds true in Minnesota, as Al Franken is clearly the people-powered candidate in the Minnesota Senate campaign.  If anything, we are late to the game when it comes to this people-powered candidate. The movement made the endorsement long before we jumped aboard.

Ending the conservative governing majority in Washington, and replacing it with a progressive governing majority, requires national activism and a national movement. As such, I endorse the national, progressive, people-powered movement, since I believe it is our best chance to succeed in that aim. Further, I believe that our actions, both on Open Left and on Blue Majority, are reflective of that. Both the Bush Dog campaign and the candidacy of Al Franken are demonstrative of national activism and a national, people-powered, progressive movement.

If people disagree with the actions we take on Blue Majority and Open Left, I hope that they would do so because they disagree with the substance of the actions, not just because Matt and I are from different parts of America than Minnesota or Ohio. After all, people in Minnesota and Ohio are affected by the legislative actions of my representatives, Senator Arlen Specter, Senator Bob Casey Jr., and Congressman Chaka Fattah. As such, I see so reason why people in Minnesota and Ohio should not engage in activism advocating for the election or defeat of those candidates, not to mention attempts to change the voting behavior of "my" congresscritters more to their liking. To do so would not be an example of "meddling" outsiders, but rather reflective of the simple fact that we are all Americans.

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Some thoughts (4.00 / 6)
Initially, I was going to post a somewhat critical comment in Stoller's initial piece on the Bush Dog campaign (over at Daily Kos) stating that it would be detrimental to our electoral prospects.

Then I thought about it: this campaign isn't about kicking out current representatives - after all, only a few on the list represent solidly Democratic districts where we could theoretically support a primary candidate. It'd be foolhardy to think that someone like Nick Lampson in TX-22 would be replaced with someone more progressive. Instead, it's about putting pressure on these politicians to live up to the basic ideals that the Democratic Party purports to stand by (hell, some of them are basic principles of this country, when it comes to matters like FISA). That's really all there is to it; it has nothing to do with know-nothing out-of-staters butting in.

I think any griping over this campaign is overdone. It's long past time to stop Bush Dogs from enabling a lame duck president. Of course, if Democratic strategists paid any attention to how Bush governed in Texas, they'd see it's a similar strategy - peel off conservative Democrats who are in the majority to push through measures that go much further ideologically.

That is it precisely (0.00 / 0)
In almost every case, the goal is to make existing Democratic reps better, and end the conservative governing majority. In only a few cases, and those happen to be swing or blue districts, are primary challenges openly being discussed. In no cases are we advocating for Republicans to replace these Dems.

[ Parent ]
"Bush dogs" campaign (4.00 / 1)
I think the national blogosphere's efforts against Democrats in really blue districts/state have been very effective because since Lamont, these out-of-touch Democrats realize they could be successfully primaried.

That's why Tauscher has gone left from her DLC-days.  Even though Lieberman won reelection, it scared the crap out of Dems in liberal districts. 

But if you are a Nick Lampson, or a Jim Matheson, you know that you have nothing to fear or gain from the open left.  Sure, it would be nice to get some money via the internet, but they are in such Republican districts that they would prefer to overreact right than left.

Matheson made front page news for voting for the bill that abolished FISA, and it was positive.  He was touting out independent he is from Pelosi, which is a main campaign theme.

Local people are far more effective in Red districts/states to put the pressure on than these national campaigns.

Truth over balance, progress over ideology

[ Parent ]
Not quite (4.00 / 1)
As Chris demonstrates, even Nick Lampson's constituents want the Iraq war to end and do not want Gonzales deciding to spy on them without Judicial oversight.

They may not fear a democratic primary, but they can easily be defeated for re-election because their own supporters stay home on election day.

They voted stupidly from both a strategic and moral standpoint. 

[ Parent ]
I'm impressed (4.00 / 1)
That kind of irrational vitriol generally means you're doing something right.

I assume that these two people and others who agree will be objecting to all out of state money and all endorsements and support from national organizations. Like the DCCC, DSCC, DNC, unions, EMILY's List, Sierra Club, etc.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

I was around in the Ohio primary fight (4.00 / 1)
It could be said I had a role in it. But that is the difference between the netroots and the institutional Democrats, we expect that primaries should be fought everywhere and we should play hard.

During the epic Ohio senate primary online, I was on the opposing side of many of my friends -- but we're still friends. Primaries are a good thing.

I have a current campaign I'm working on that is even more of a barfight (my state assemblyman is challenging the state senate caucus chair in the primary). But you know something, it has turned into an entirely wonderful affair for everyone involved (except her, she's going to lose). The interest in the race is allowing all the Dem clubs to raise record amounts at their events, there was crazy huge interest in Dem Party elections, and today's paper pointed out this primary is presenting SF his a historic choice for broadband policy.

IMHO, the problem with primaries is that they are seen as recalls where there needs to be a firing offense. This creates a situation where accountability is seen as step one towards a firing. It shouldn't be that way. Accountability is a good thing. Primaries aren't recall campaigns. Lower-D democracy should be encouraged.

I've been a participant and investor and activist in almost every single people-powered campaign for years. I love it. It should be encouraged. We need more of it. But mostly, we need more infrastructure and that is what the Bush Dog campaign is doing.

Finally, when it comes to knowing districts, out of the few red districts on the above map, I actually 100% believe that Matheson could be far more aggressive (I was a consultant when he won the seat in 2000).

On twitter: @BobBrigham

far more aggressive (0.00 / 0)
"I actually 100% believe that Matheson could be far more aggressive (I was a consultant when he won the seat in 2000)."

What do you mean by far more aggressive?  I assume you mean anti-Bush/liberal?  Matheson's 2000 district is completely different from his 2002-2012 district.  It went from being 23 square miles (all inside purpling Salt Lake County) to the size of Alabama. 

I interned for Jim and think he is a good guy, but I disagree with him on the votes everyone here is upset about.

Truth over balance, progress over ideology

[ Parent ]
if you interned for him (0.00 / 0)
You know his name goes back since probably before you were born. It isn't just the numbers, it is the situation.

On twitter: @BobBrigham

[ Parent ]
The Matheson name is good (0.00 / 0)
...but not gold.  His brother ran for Governor with the jr. name on it in 2004 and got beat by 10 points because the other guy was a famous jr. who was a GOPer. 

I think Jim shouldn't have voted for the FISA bill and I think he could be more aggressive on the Iraq war, but he actually believes in what he is voting for.  That's why he had that amendment to keep the date certain classified.

Truth over balance, progress over ideology

[ Parent ]
OL vs the DSCC (4.00 / 1)
Here's another point:

How is this one iota different than the DSCC fucking with last year's primary?

The DSCC is an official arm of the Democratic party. OpenLeft is a website run by three progressive Democratic activists.

And then there's the amount of weight they pull, so it's not just apples and oranges, it's like giant state-fair prize-winning apples vs baby clementine tangerines. Or something.

I will say though that I have picked up some resentment towards the Franken camp from activists I know in MN. He's allegedly not always up for listening to the little people, which has soured some on his campaign, and probably exacerbates concerns over out-of-state funding, backing, etc.

Also, donations driven in part by celebrity don't necessarily signify "activist support." I have the same issue w/using donations as a metric for "activist excitement" about the current presidential candidates.

Me | My Work | Future Majority

And therefore should not be involved in primaries (0.00 / 0)
> The DSCC is an official arm of the Democratic party.

And since it is intended to represent ALL Democrats it should stay out of primaries. 


For me personally it doesn't matter: after the Lieberman standing ovation I decided that I would terminate all contributions to the DSCC and DCCC (still thinking about the DNC) and give only to campaigns directly.  But IMHO the DSCC and its ilk need to think seriously about whether they exist to serve Democrats or Democratic Party insiders.

[ Parent ]
Thanks (4.00 / 1)
I really appreciate #3, because while I totally support the Blue Majority project, your initial post really didn't explain why this race deserved an endorsement now. 

45,000 to 1,000 matters, but to what extent is that the dreaded "star power" over substance? 

Bush Dog Blues (0.00 / 0)
Chris: You are absolutely right about all of this, but it makes me feel sad and unspeakably tired to realize that in addition to supporting our candidates who are running against Republicans, we also must do battle with so many candidates in our own party.

Perhaps if I knew a little more about your plans, it would be easier to contemplate the coming months. What do you think will be necessary? Do you see this as an all-out war or only as some persuasive re-educating? Will we have to "primary" all or most of them? Will we have enough left over to support the non Bush Dog Democrats also running for office?

We were successful in '06 at least partly because we directed our efforts to electing a limited group of progressives who had a reasonable chance of winning.

I guess the activities eventually will be pared down to what seems possible, but right now it's an overwhelming list.

Primary challenges send loud messages (0.00 / 0)
Ask Jane Harmon or Elaine Tauscher.  Marcy Winograd got the message across to Jane and she has been good on the issues since. Elaine seems to be tacking leftward no doubt from a fear of a primary challenge from her left.

A primary challenge is a way for activists to get the candidates attention away from their beltway handlers.  It is a way to get a candidate to address issues that are unimportant to the cocktail weenie conventional wisdom insiders whose ideas permeate DC like a bad stench. It forces them to deal with their constituents or end up going home. 

Give Me A Break (0.00 / 0)
I agree with your first and second points, but your argument about Franken is ridiculous.  Of course he has more donors - he's been running for a lot longer than Ciresi.

The whole point of this "people-powered" thing is that the local folks and blogs get excited about a candidate and then the national blogs pick up on that.  That's how Paul Hackett was justified, that's how Lamont was justified, and that's how Tester was justified up until your little revisionist history here.  Now you're trying to circumvent any local input on local candidates, which is fine.  Just don't come crying the next time a Cegelis / Duckworth fight doesn't go your way, because you're doing the same damn thing that you spent half of 2006 bitching about.

uh oh (4.00 / 1)
I hated the Cegelis/Duckworth flamewars on MyDD. I don't want to relive that one.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]
Ridiculous? (0.00 / 0)
45K to 1K is not some minor discrepancy.  It would be more ridiculous to disregard that gaping difference.  You can argue that Franken doesn't generate excitement, fine, but clearly neither does Ciresi. 

The better argument against Franken goes to his initial support of the Iraq war.

[ Parent ]
Sure (0.00 / 0)
I'm not saying that Franken isn't, in the end, going to be the most widely-supported candidate.  He's a famous national figure, for Chrissake.  But he clearly doesn't have the wide and overwhelming support of Minnesotans in general or in the blogs there, which has been the standard for national endorsement in the past.  It's also just ridiculous to me to think that the best way Democrats could be directing their money is to a primary between two rich guys who are both fine on the issues.

If we want to play in a primary we should play in one with a Bush Dog.  If we want to use our money the most effectively we should donate to targeted Republican seats.  Directing any national effort toward the MN Senate primary is just an absurd waste of resources.

[ Parent ]
I don't think endorsing Franken is wise (4.00 / 1)
I am all for going after the Bush dogs, but I think it's better to stay out of primaries in other people's states unless one of the candidates is clearly awful (like Morrison compared to Tester). I gave to Hackett when he ran for Congress but didn't get involved in Hackett v. Brown, for instance.

I really don't feel that I am in a position to know who is the best candidate for MN Senate. I actually got a fundraising call from the Franken campaign earlier this summer, and I declined. I'll be donating to the winner of that primary for sure.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

Being Right Is Good, But Doing Right Is Better (4.00 / 3)
I agree that these objections are pretty much ill-founded.  But it's a lot harder to convince folks of this than it is to think about ways to minimize such complaints in the first place.

I'm planning to expand on this more in a diary I hope to post tomorrow morning, but I think that a national battleground district poll (using something similar to the Democracy Corps 70-district targetting model and a variation on the MyDD poll approach) could form part of the backbone of a collaborative organizing strategy that would bring the netroots activists toghether, rather than creating addition divisions that then have to argue over, even if we are right.

It really is important for us to prioritize strengthening our own progressive online community.  We should be smart enough to avoid creating unnecessary divisions.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

the nuts and bolts of voters to the polls (0.00 / 0)
Paul, these macro ideas and discussions are great and important and you guys are doing a stupendous job of framing the progrssive ideals and the importance of meessaging and Democratic branding.  The Bush dog campaign is essential.

But, I was wondering, on the micro level, what new innovations and tools the movement is considering to actually gets voter's to the polls.  In 2004 I witnessed GOP volunteers (Rochester, MI) use palm pilots to blue tooth each other updates of voter turnout.  One volunteer was out in the field, knocking on doors, calling etc.  The other stayed by the voting list and updated their 'database' as voters got crossed off the list.  Are there innovations we can employ with cell phone technology and text messaging and secure limited access websites to bring into the 21st century how we get our voter's to the polls?  Is there a task force at the DNC brainstorming ideas (stop laughing)on new innovations to get voter's to the polls?  Wouldn't primary season, I don't know, be an excellant way to test prototype models in select precints to see what new methods were the most effective for the fall campaign? 

[ Parent ]
Why Ask Me? (0.00 / 0)
I'm not wired into the DNC. Honest!

Of course Dems should be doing the sorts of things you suggest.  And absolutely, primary season would be a great test period.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Angry blogger responds (0.00 / 0)
Chris, you're conflating two dissimilar things, Bush Dogs and Franken v Ciresi. That's a cheap way of ducking much of my criticism.

You're misrepresenting what is going on here. This is a VERY EARLY endorsement, and Ciresi's campaign has been slow in starting up. Historically stronger candidates are often the last to enter a race, or are you saying Al Gore still can't jump into the presidential race now because he waited too long?

You have in no way made transparent your decision making process on Franken. Your math on donors is deceptive and deliberately misleading for innumerable reasons. The two candidates are dead even in the polls. Given Ciresi's late start, it's obvious Franken started early and has been playing catch up. Good for him. I like an even primary race as it builds interest in the eventual nominee.

Criticisms nos. 4 through 399: you'd have to be a Minnesotan to understand or appreciate them. This is OUR choice, our DECISION, not yours. I think you conflated Bush Dogs with this issue to confuse things, and to imply that Ciresi is a Bush Dog. No one in Minnesota told you Franken was superior to Ciresi other than out of personal partisanship. The blogs here haven't endorsed because there has been no reason to: both candidates are outstanding and worthy of support.

Up until this endorsement, I was lazy and took your word on things. No longer. Now I see that you're just another Beltway-style player. This isn't a race that needs the attention of the Netroots, and netizens would do well to watch this race as we will win regardless of which of these guys ends up being our nominee.

Stop fucking with Minnesota politics. If you can't stay out of Minnesota, go after Bush Dogs like Peterson and Walz, but don't insult us by acting like Franken is measurably superior to Ciresi. No Minnesota blogger told you that, you just made that up after the fact to justify your support for a celebrity candidate. Until you butted in I had no intention of endorsing anyone, but my email leads me to believe that you've just pushed many MN bloggers to endorse Ciresi to demonstrate their independence from outside agitators.

Am I being unfair? Much less so than you're being. A mensch would pull back and reconsider. A biased consultant would just keep arguing. By any logic you should reconsider this endorsement in light of the feedback you're getting.

Reconsider, or at least table this endorsement until you have thought it out more coherently. Your failure to research Mike Ciresi is your problem, not ours.

Withdraw your endorsement and I'll withdraw mine. In this race, bloggers have two champions, and shouldn't have to publicly pick between them at this early date.

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

With All Due Respect (4.00 / 1)
One thing you're overlooking is that Franken would instantly be a high-profile progressive voice in the Senate--something we don't have a great abundance of. I can understand why this might not matter to folks in Minnesota.  But this is something that matters to all progressives nationwide.

Thus, even if we were to grant all your points for the sake of argument, there would still be a strong argument for endorsing Franken.  As you yourself admit, there is no compelling reason to support Ciresi over Franken.  But for progressives nationwide, there is a compelling reason to support Franken.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
With all due respect (0.00 / 0)
why do you think that wouldn't be true with Mike Ciresi. You may not know him, but I guarantee that everyone of our U.S. Senators already knows who he is. He is an important guy, but not a celebrity.

My point is not to take sides. My endorsement of Ciresi is my protest against Bowers' endorsement of Franken. My preference would be for NO ENDORSEMENTS of either candidate this early.

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

[ Parent ]
And We NEED Progressive Celebrities In The Senate (0.00 / 0)
He [Ciresi] is an important guy, but not a celebrity.

We need someone capable of getting as much face time on national tv as John McCain or Joe Lieberman.

Case closed.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
So is that a vote (0.00 / 0)
for ALWAYS endorsing the celebrity candidate?

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

[ Parent ]
Not At All (0.00 / 0)
But right now we have NO progressive equivalent to McCain or Lieberman.  We don't even have a progressive equivalent to Biden.  We need that, desperately.

And since you yourself don't even claim that Franken is inferior in any substantive way, that makes it a very easy call.

In fact, I am generally opposed to celebrity politics.  A celebrity really needs to know their stuff, just like anyone else.  But when celebrities do know their stuff--and plenty of them, such as Ed Begley Jr, Ted Danson, Alexandra Paul, etc. do--then it's a tremendous asset, and we are just fools to ignore it.

Franken has been political active and engaged for a long, long time.  He is not a dabbler.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
As a Minnesotan (0.00 / 0)
Chris: I appreciate your "fucking around" in our politics, keep it up.

Mark: Coleman is a vulnerable seat and this race will bring in national level players (ain't that why I was stuck in traffic the other day while GWB came shillin' for Norm?).  Why waste your time attacking someone for backing a candidate other than the one you prefer, when you could be trying to tell us all why Mike Ciresi is a better choice than Al Franken?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Read my remarks (0.00 / 0)
My endorsement of Ciresi is a reaction to BM/AB's endorsement of Franken, nothing more. I was looking forward to a well fought primary that would strengthen the eventual winner.

I'm not here to argue for Ciresi. Talk to any Minnesotan and you'll find he's respected. That's why he and Franken have the same poll numbers.

Minnesotans have been slow to take sides because this is a tough race to pick, and until these guys debate we don't know how Al will do against Coleman. If you want an argument for Ciresi, it's that he'll tear Norm up. The guy won a $6 billion judgment against Big Tobacco and no one else in the world can say that.

I'm also staking my name to this debate. Spitball, what can you tell us to let us know that you're not fronting for Franken? Let's be real here -- you're commenting anonymously. You could be Norm Coleman's kid for all I know.

I may be mad, but I am not doing this casually. This is tortuous interference where none was called for. Give your money to a Tim Walz or Collin Peterson challenger if you want to help Minnesotans, but don't piss on a good guy just because you PREFER the other guy.

Both would make great U.S. Senators. So why is BM/AB taking sides?

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

[ Parent ]
Disclosure (0.00 / 0)
My name: David Okar

I belong to no party.

While we are in a doubtful state of mind - how do I know that your screen name is actually your name, anyway?  You could be Mike Ciresi's butler for all I know....

I don't think I'm "fronting" for anyone - but in the name of disclosure, I sent $25 to Franken last week. I am certainly no relation to Mr. Coleman - but that does not mean I can't see that his will be a campaign funded and aided from outside the state of Minnesota. To me, the choice is not Coleman or the Democratic nominee, its the Democratic nominee, or an alternative party candidate.  In that scenario, the "Anyone But Coleman" campaign will fall far short - I already know why I won't vote for Coleman.  Based on what I've seen, read, and heard, Franken is already making a case as to why he should get my vote, if Ciresi can make the same kind of argument - and not simply point to his success in the court-room- I'll be listening.

I'm not a native Minnesotan, but I've been here long enough to be familiar with Ciresi.  With regard to the tobacco companies - he was a hired gun and was very well-paid for his services.  I don't think it says much about how he will campaign outside of the court-room.

You are right - Franken is the "outsider" (carpet-bagger if you must) and I think its great that Ciresi will have a challenge in the primary - he'll need the practice.  From what I've seen, he's not a very strong campaigner. That's the main reason I sent Franken the token donation - the stir things up and get the race going.  Plus, I think he'll be puttin' most of that cash towards campaigning against Coleman, so it won't hurt Ciresi.

I don't see how the endorsement in question derails a strong, well-fought primary.  If anything - it has kick-started it - right here, right now.

Good talking to you.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Thank you (0.00 / 0)
I understand the occasional need for anonymity. As for me, if I'm not who I say I am, I've been fooling a lot of people online for a long time now.

Blue Majority IS the netroots. I don't know of any other online organizations that do what Chris Bowers is doing. I support him for his work and accomplishments. My sole contention is that it makes no sense to pick between friends.

Mike Ciresi is our friend. Al Franken is our friend. I've met both gentlemen and I find it very hard to pick between them.

But now Chris is funneling money to Al. He's never even met Mike, but more Minnesotans know Mike than know Al. Yes, more people know of Al than Mike, but most of those people don't live in Minnesota.

It hasn't started yet, but it won't be long before MN media start saying things like "the Net supported Al Franken," or "Mike Ciresi, who has yet to gain support among bloggers." Until Blue Majority's endorsement, neither of those statements were true.

Like it or not, what Blue Majority does reflects on all of us, and Blue Majority is disrespecting the right of Minnesotans to choose for themselves.

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

[ Parent ]
I see your point, (0.00 / 0)
but consider all of that to be the "heat in the kitchen", if you get my drift.

Don't get me wrong, I think MN would be well served by either Ciresi or Franken. Perhaps, I'm still a bit burnt by Hatch's loss to Pawlenty - he had great credentials, but was such a poor campaigner that it ended badly. (there are other reasons behind that loss, but that's not the topic). That's my main concern about Ciresi - little charisma and almost zero national identity.

My main concern is that this not get bogged down in Minnesota by another conflict between endorsements and primary results.  The worst case scenario is Ciresi in the race as an alternative candidate and Franken as the DFL.

My dream is that Tammy Lee gets in for the Independence Party and helps the DFL candidate dissect Coleman all the way to election day. 

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
I don't like endorsements (0.00 / 0)
at all, and I know that sets me apart from many DFLers. But Ciresi's the guy who's already won an endorsement so I think you've got to give him a slight edge over Franken in that department.

My dislike of endorsements is so great, in fact, that even after endorsing Mike the other day in response to this Franken endorsement, I'd still probably switch my allegiance to Franken IF Ciresi were to be endorsed and Franken stayed in the race.

If the DFL-endorsed candidates keep getting defeated in the primary, maybe the DFL will wise up and stop with these arrogant endorsements that treat 90% of DFLers like Blue Majority is treating the DFL.

I'm sure this sounds very complicated to non-Minnesotans, another reason I'm so shocked that so many out-of-staters seem to think they're entitled to try to impact our primary pick when they don't even understand our caucus/endorsement/primary system.

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

[ Parent ]
WTF? (0.00 / 0)
Withdraw your endorsement and I'll withdraw mine.

Not helping your case there, dude. The big kingmaker, huh? I support Franken for the same reasons Paul and others do. You like Ciresi, more power to you and the default response is even more respect for your considered opinions, being a Minnesotan.

No prob with Mike Ciresi, but this bartering crap is not atttractive.

[ Parent ]
If this stands (0.00 / 0)
it's not Ciresi's credibility at stake, and my credibility isn't relevant except to those who would rather snipe at me than address the central issue which is Blue Majority's credibility.

The sooner BM supporters understand that, the quicker you'll see what the real problem is. Are you fighting to make the party more progressive? Or are you investing your money in a kingmaking operation?

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

[ Parent ]
Republicrats (0.00 / 0)
Always hard to accept that the only difference between our two political monopolies iswho they get their money from. No you do not have any right to interfere in another another state's politics. You do not live in that state and as much as you kid yourself you do not share in all of their interests or needs. I voted for Harold Ford Jr. in spite of people like you not because of you simply bevcause I couldnt see rewarding the Republicans with another pat on the back for the terrible management of the country the last 6 years. You are using federlism to justify the creating of a central government and party when in realty federlism exists to give local authorities some autonomy because they best know how to deal with local needs. You do not understand what the people of Minnesota need any more than I do, and if these so called "grass roots" campaigns continue to impose their beliefs on the rest of America I will definitely be voting for the god awful Republicans simply till you guys get a clue. "Oh but the war, the war" face the truth, this party you love so much voted for the war. Democrats only now oppose it to use sheep like you to put them back into power so that they can once again start undeclared wars on countries like Serbia. Look for Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, or possibly even Venezuela to be in Hilary's gun sights if she takes office. If you really cared about the people of Minnesota or any other state in the Union you would stop propping up this decaying relic of the 1930's and establish a new political party that REALLY advocates peace and and the welfare of human life.

I really don't know if this will float (0.00 / 0)
In general while I agree with you, in specifics I can't.  I live in OH-18, Space isn't great and he pisses me off.  BUT he is better at 80% voting with us than the alternative of someone that would vote with us 5% of the time.  Wilson down in the 6th should be doing a bit better than he is since that's Stricklands old seat.  To be 100% honest if the rest of the blue dog districts are similar to OH6 and OH18, then it would be better to flood their offices with calls and faxes than to work on primary fights. 

You Misunderstand (0.00 / 0)
This isn't about running primaries against all these guys.  That could certainly happen with one or more of them, but it's not the point.

The point is to get them to start voting with the party (a) on the most crucial of votes (b) when their districts would actually support them doing so.

And to stop going all Lieberman on the party.

Thus, flooding them with calls and faxes would be great.  It's not an either/or thing.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Wilson (0.00 / 0)
Charlie Wilson got 61% of the vote without the benefit of a scandal to help the vote count.  Sure, part of this may have been because the district's congressman, Ted Strickland, was being elected Governor in the same election but this was an easy election. 

FWIW, Wilson represents about half of the southern border of Ohio, a district wrapping around West Virginia and actually extending a bit more than half way across the state to also border a little of Kentucky.  It even sneaks "above" WV to border some of PA.  The most Democratic part of the district includes old industrial towns like Youngstown.  Is this "Beam Me Up Scotty" territory? (Trafficante)  This was a 50/50 district at the Presidential level in both 2000 and 2004 but obviously not at the congressional level.  Wilson is 64.  Has some money from his businesses (funeral parlor, furniture store) and used it.

He prominently displays a "Blue Dog Democrat" emblem at the bottom of the front page of his web site. 

I'm researching Wilson right now to try to get a handle on him.  He's certainly not ex-military and he certainly has some leeway to vote more liberally. 

[ Parent ]
I just looked, and Mike Ciresi now has an ActBlue page.

Did he set it up in a timely manner? No, but it's 13 months before the general election, and many Minnesotans would like still another strong candidate to jump into this race so we may not even know who all our candidates are yet.

Sorry I'm still angry about this, but you're hurting Democrats in Minnesota and I cannot acquiesce to that. You owe it to your own community to come up with a better rationalization than "Mike Ciresi doesn't even have an ActBlue page."

Mike Ciresi has early union endorsements, Al Franken doesn't. Does that make Franken anti-labor? No, it just means Ciresi has called in his chits and Franken doesn't have any. It doesn't make Ciresi better, anymore than Franken's early emphasis on getting large numbers of small donors makes Franken better than Ciresi.

More transparency on this please. To date the only individual's name on this endorsement is Chris Bowers'. Was this a unilateral decision, or were others involved? Why won't you tell us?

What's going on here, really?

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

On Franken and unions (0.00 / 0)
Mark -

What are you talking about? There are only two labor endorsements in this race so far and Franken has them both. I tend to agree with your broader point, but don't distort the facts to make them fit it.


[ Parent ]
Thanks (0.00 / 0)
I was just coming back to correct that but had been busy trying to find that information. Franken lists no endorsements on his site and I just flat out misremembered the endorsements, only that the Steelworkers honked me off with theirs. My irritation with the Steelworkers was over their timing, not their choice, and I misremembered.

FWIW, my old union was folded into the Steelworkers many years ago, but unions have not been quick to use the internet to make it easier to track these things. I was disappointed at YK that all the labor caucuses I attended were more about "what should we do" as opposed to "here's what we've been doing."

I've been posting quickly and bouncing between four different threads today and need to slow down a bit. This whole thing has me feeling like it's me against the A-listers, and when you're arguing on behalf of a principle more than a candidate, that's tiring.

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

[ Parent ]
Thanks (0.00 / 0)
If I'm reading those links correctly, Franken doesn't have an endorsement page, and you have to catch the blog entries when they're announced.

No wonder I couldn't find them!

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

[ Parent ]
And again... (0.00 / 0)

Here is that first link for you again. Take another look at the page.



[ Parent ]
Where is the link to that page? (0.00 / 0)
The contributions header is lit, but if I go to contributions there is no link to that page, or am I still missing something?

Thanks for the link but I can't find the front page or any link to that site page on Franken's website.

FWIW, Ciresi's endorsements are here. If you're from Minnesota, it's pretty obvious the early endorsements from elected officials are evenly split, with Ciresi's endorsement from Congresswoman McCollum balancing out the union endorsements.

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

[ Parent ]
More on misdirection: item #2 (0.00 / 0)
Franken was an early war supporter. Ciresi was an early war critic.

Please reconcile those facts with your map and explain how that map supports this endorsement.

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

Take It Down A Notch/Reframe (0.00 / 0)
Hi --

I'm from Minnesota - lifelong resident, acolyate/former student of Wellstone, and major league progressive blogmeister (which means I read both OpenLeft and Norwegianity everyday...). Now that I've dispensed with my street cred, here are my thoughts about why the negative reaction:

1) Minnesota already has experienced people from other parts of the country picking the heir apparent for this Senate seat. Rove and Cheney told Tim Pawlenty to stop running for Senate and run for governor, so Norm Coleman could run and win. Local republican were pretty pissed, as they should have been. Our state, our candidate.

2) Franken - to many progressives in MN - is seen here as a carpetbagger - a national guy with roots here who has only moved back to continue his celebrity but in the political vein (which has a lot to do with his grief over and commitment to Wellstone - laudable, to be sure). Ciresi has been here forever and has fought the good fight for many years. This is truly an issue in the campaign and important to Minnesotans.

3)  It is really early in the campaign cycle here - we don't have the Iowa primaries, etc. to rile folks up. Ciresi is hanging on to his money and waiting. We'd like to give both of them a chance to make their case and get their web presence up and going. Ciresi isn't ignoring the blogosphere, he's very early in his campaign. Franken has to make himself known here - he's an unknown and thus is starting early. In fact, the famous MN State Fair is usually the opening salvo for many candidates. And it just opened yesterday. Right now, Franken's running against Coleman. There isn't any public debate yet between Franken and Ciresi.

4) On the national front - of course folks around the country care about who gets elected in MN - it could swing the Senate, should be a progressive voice to replace Wellstone, and be someone to advocate nationally on progressive concerns. On this note, I agree with the Wege - give Ciresi some time to develop a blog/netroots presence. Don't prematurely guess his motives. It's not like anyone has lawn signs for either guy yet - it's too premature to throw the national endorsement weight of the blogosphere behind Franken. He's using a 'national race' strategy, because he's had no local presence here since he left high school. That's how he has to build his visibility. people here already know Ciresi.

5) Ciresi has taken on Big Tobacco and won. Completely kicked their asses - he deserves much respect for that and has been around a long time. Give him time and do your homework. He knows how to fight entrenched power interests - lots of political experience. Franken has NONE. This is another concern for Minnesota voters.

now - I'm not endorsing either one. I will happily vote for whomever wins. I can't stand Coleman for so many reasons. I agree that the blogosphere's support of the MN DFL candidate should be in the mix, that the candidate should reflect progressive values, and that our next Senator should be a national beacon. But, let us take the time to do our progressive organizing locally before you anoint who we all should get behind.

The good news in all of it? It's like living in Minneapolis - your mayoral candidates are always BOTH super liberal lefties...not a bad problem to have. Whomever ends up running against Coleman will be a far better choice than BushBoy....

oh, and Wege is right - Franken supported the Iraq War. Which WAY sucks and is a total strike against him in my book. Bet he's sorry now....

Perhaps in all of this, we should claim this as a teachable moment for the ActBlue/blogosphere....work with local political dynamics collaboratively to be more strategic in the nationally oriented blogosphere about how to deal with the dynamics and practices of local races. Perhaps this was a well-intentioned mistake and learning how to improve the overall blogosphere's impact on the endorsement front is totally worth considering. The long view is that we want to clean house and kick the Rethugs out for a good long time. We need to continually and collectively refine our strategy. Maybe that means Wege needs to stop doing the invective thing and we all could hash out what a better way to go with this endorsement process is.

I am up for learning from this and letting it have a more constructive long-term impact (nationally and in MN) rather than escalating a pissing match.

Jackie M.

Still Jumping the Gun (0.00 / 0)
While Al Franken seems like a fine candidate, there are still questions like

* does Al believe that we have the wrong strategy by using war or does he believe that Bush just implimented war poorly

* SINGLE PAYER universal health care not just universal health care

* public financing of campaigns

* total transparency in government with no earmarks

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer is still considering running with excellent progressive credentials and Mike Ciresi is also running with progressive credentials. Why just Al?

How dare you pick for us Minnesota Progressives! We are still in the process of deciding and after the "DLC" we are not in the mood to have others pick for us. So now add both Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer and Mike Ciresi or justify your decision better than "I was not contacted"! Now you know that Minnesota Progressives have not yet chosen, so fix it!

Minnesota Politics (0.00 / 0)
I really am Grace Kelly, posting under my real name. I am on the state executive committee of Democratic-Farm-Labor party, which is what the Democratic party is called here. I was elected to represent "Peace First Progressive Values" when we caucused. Above all, my responsibility to ensure that process stays open and fair, and that all progresives, all Democrats and all independent supporters will want to work hard together for a final candidate. Truly when it seems that not all candidates have even declared, outside endorsement is pre-mature and does not help us. Truly progressives and progressive blogs have not chosen a representative, because there are two declared candidates and one undeclared candidate, with important questions and issues yet to be answered. This is OUR representative, who will probably be a lifetime choice. We want to make that choice very carefully. As far as you all at a national level need to know, any of these candidates will be excellent choices. The process of "how" people are chosen is very important to us, for we mount huge grassroots efforts dependent on strong commitment and enthusiasm from all people involved. So I ask as a bona fide progressive and MNBlue progressive blogger, ask that you treat all the candidates the same. For the sake of allowing all of us Minnesota Democrats (DFLers) and Minnesota Progressives to enthiastically build a grassroots campaign after the endorsement.

FWIW (0.00 / 0)
Grace really is Grace Kelly and I should know because we've argued more than once. I'm glad to have her on my side in this even if she is a tool of the oppressive DFL hegemony. [joke]

When Democrats fight, they win elections.

[ Parent ]
Chris (0.00 / 0)
you've got a right to get involved anywhere you want to. However, you have at least a few people posting in this thread who are active in Minnesota DFL politics and you couldn't even offer any of them the courtesy of a response. That's a shame.


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