This is the second part of two posts analyzing Virginia's 2009 gubernatorial election. The previous part can be found here.
When Democrats nominated State Senator Creigh Deeds, they nominated a rural, moderate Democrat designed to win the small towns and rural regions of western Virginia. In an ideal situation, Mr. Deeds would have carved out a coalition similar to former Governor Mark Warner's.
In 2001, Mr. Warner won a 5.13% victory over Attorney General Mark Earley, based largely upon rural support in western Virginia.
Mr. Warner is famous among Democrats for this achievement (remember, this was just two months after 9/11). He went on to become a successful and very popular governor; in 2008, Mr. Warner ran for Senate and won double his opponent's vote. Since Mr. Warner, no other Democratic candidate has ever built a coalition similar to his.
In the next few weeks, the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham clean energy bill will come up for consideration on the Senate floor. While we do not yet know what is in and what is out of the bill, the NRDC Action fund has begun a campaign to ensure that Senators hear from their constituents on this vitally important legislation.
Faced with what they're calling a "broken" system, a band of Senate Democratic newcomers are vowing to change the way the world's greatest deliberative body does business. These "young turks" -- "young" being relative in a body in which 60 is considered middle-aged -- are pushing to revamp the decades-old rules that govern the Senate.
Their targets include long-held senatorial courtesies such as the "hold" and the seniority system that awards chairmen's gavels solely on tenure. Ultimately, some want to modify or eliminate the most potent of all senatorial weapons: the filibuster.
Some of the older Senators don't like it:
Calling the newcomers' approach "grossly misguided," Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), who is 92 and the longest-serving lawmaker in the history of Congress, said the Senate is designed to protect the rights of all, not just those who won the last election.
"Extended deliberation and debate -- when employed judiciously -- protect every senator, and the interest of their constituency, and are essential to the protection of the liberties of a free people," Byrd, who was first elected in 1958, wrote in a letter to colleagues last month.
"I think the Senate needs to operate more fairly and efficiently than it does today," said Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.), a Democrat elected in 2006.
"We've had frequent discussions between our two classes as to ways we think we can add to traditions of the Senate and make sure we get our work done," said Cardin.
Among Senators not included in the most recent update to the filibuster reform vote count, at least Ben Cardin, Debbie Stabenow, and Mark Warner appear to be involved in these discussions. That pushes the number of Senators publicly favoring, or at least considering, some sort of filibuster reform to at least 25, and as many as 30. The full details of the count can be seen in the extended entry.
At this point, at long as Democrats maintain control of the Senate in 2011, the question no longer seems to be "if" there will be procedural reform, but what sort of reform will happen. Even though I have only been about to find 30 public statements in favor of reform, there are probably a lot more than 25-30 Democratic Senators in the reform camp, given the following four factors:
All potential Democratic Majority Leaders (Durbin, Reid and Schumer) have endorsed "some sort" of reform (although Durbin favors a 51-vote Senate);
Freshman Dems are frequently meeting to try and hash out some sort of reform but only 10 of the 22 freshman have made it known publicly that they are involved in these discussions;
Even those opposed to eliminating the filibuster, such as Feingold and Byrd, are still in favor of ending the "painless" filibuster and forcing talk-a-thons;
There really isn't any public group of Democratic Senators coherently arguing against changing Senate procedural rules. The question isn't if reform will happen, but rather what shape reform will take.
As long as we're going to dump most of our money into wars and the military and Wall Street and health insurance bailouts, students are going to have to go into debt to afford college. But it would cost the students less and the government less, if private companies were not permitted to act as middlemen profiting off public loans to students.
One of the companies so profiting, Sallie Mae, is based here in Virginia and funnels millions of dollars from its profits into lobbying to make sure the free money keeps flowing. Senators Warner and Webb have chosen to side with the parasites rather than the students, but disguised their choice as one of concern for jobs, the jobs of the loan sharks who could find respectable work in a better educated society. I grew up in Reston, where Sallie Mae's jobs are, and I know there are people there who will find a way to publicly say thank you for Sallie Mae's help in driving our nation deeper into ignorance and debt.
Of all the various blocs and gangs that have been formed in Congress this year, Senators Bayh, Conrad, Feinstein, Lieberman and Warner have managed to form the most regressive one yet. Currently, these five Democrats are demanding that Speaker Pelosi hand over all relevant Congressional power to an independent commission that will be allowed to slash and partially privatize Social Security and Medicare, or else they will allow the United States to default on its debt.
Senators from both parties on Tuesday put new pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to turn the power to trim entitlement benefits over to an independent commission.
Seven members of the Senate Budget Committee threatened during a Tuesday hearing to withhold their support for critical legislation to raise the debt ceiling if the bill calling for the creation of a bipartisan fiscal reform commission were not attached. (...)
(...) Congress is under pressure to raise the cap on what the federal government can borrow by mid-December. If the debt ceiling is not raised above its current $12.1 trillion mark by then, the government will exceed its borrowing limits and will be forced to default on the debt. Economists have warned that the inevitable result would be a lowering of the U.S. credit rating, triggering substantial increases in the interest rates the government is already paying.
But before Tuesday's hearing was over, Sens. Conrad, Gregg, Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) publicly vowed to vote against raising the debt ceiling if a budget reform commission bill doesn't come along with it.
The Republican threats don't matter, since only Democrats are needed to pass the bill.
Let's review the threat that these five Democrats are making:
They will allow the United States to default on its debt, which will vastly increase the overall amount we have to pay on our debt
Speaker Nancy Pelosi turns over Congressional power on Social Security and Medicare to an unelected commission that will almost certainly propose deep cuts in Social Security and Medicare entitlements. Keep in mind that if deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare pass under a Democratic trifecta, the party would be doomed at the ballot box for years to come.
This is completely insane, and there is no choice but to call this bluff.
Let's see these five Democratic Senators explain to the entire nation why they allowed the country to default on its debt. No matter how safe their seats appear to be, no Senator is going to win reelection after making the entire country default on its debt Their rationale does not matter. Being blamed for making the country default on its debt-especially after all five of these Democrats voted in favor of the Wall Street bailout and are demanding that Social Security and Medicare be cut-will be the effective end of their political careers.
Go for it, guys. Form your national suicide pact. Tell the country that you are demanding deep cuts in Social Security and Medicare, or else you will personally cause the United States debt to double. Let's see how well that message plays on the air.
Last week, the Virginia Organizing Project (VOP) and Democracy for America (DFA) took to the metro with Representative Gerry Connelly, well, a cutout of him anyway. Volunteers asked passing metro riders if they would like to take a picture with the cutout for fun, and make a call to Representative Connolly and Senator Warner in support of a public option and a health care reform bill. The event made for some great hangin-with-Connolly interviews (with some unexpected street-side musical accompaniment)...
Newt Gingrich on the House floor during the health care debate -- March 16, 1994:
I agree with my friend, the gentleman from Missouri [Mr. Gephardt]. I want to reach out in a bipartisan way to pass the bill. I praise the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Bilirakis] and the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Rowland] for a bipartisan bill. I praise the gentleman from Iowa [Mr. Grandy] and the gentleman from Tennessee [Mr. Cooper] for a bipartisan bill. They are starting in the right direction to reach out.
How did that work out?
So why is Sen. Mark Warner one of the many Democrats playing right into Newt Gingrich's hands? From Lowell Feld, who interviewed Warner this weekend for Blue Virginia:
Senator Warner appears committed to at least attempting bipartisanship (what he likes to call "radical centrism"), at least with a few "moderate" Republicans like Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME), Charles Grassley (IA), and Michael Enzi (WY). Warner makes a strong case for getting a health care reform bill that's at leaest somewhat bipartisan so it can't easily be dismissed as "Democratic health care reform." Also, Warner wants health care reform that has enough bipartisan buy-in that it actually lasts.
When I was a law student at UVA, I campaigned for Mark Warner during his successful 2001 gubernatorial run -- and actually campaigned for him in 1996 during his first Senate run too. So I have a warm spot for him.
But this is ridiculous.
First, this strategy plays right into the hands of Gingrich and others who want to kill the public option and kill reform.
Second, announcing the need for "bipartisanship" during the stimulus fight gave away Democrats' leverage in negotiations -- it told Republicans they might as well drag their feet because Democrats wouldn't pass a bill until they agreed.
That resulted in a worse stimulus than just forcing Republicans to vote on a Democratic plan. States like Virginia got less money than needed -- and now the watered-down elements of the stimulus are held against Democrats, not Republicans. If we pass a water-down health care reform, and consumers feel screwed, which party will they blame?
And third, why on earth would Warner walk away from a Democratic branded health care plan if it was good for the public? If Republicans want to be the party of no health care reform, ceding the ground to Democrats -- fine. Let them wander the wilderness for a couple more decades.
Democratic politicians, please -- stop playing right into the hands of Gingrich and other reform opponents. Stand on principle. Follow Sen. Jay Rockefeller's lead. Say that if Republicans won't do the public's work, Democrats will do it without Republican votes if that's what it takes.
As we pondered the possibilities two weeks ago, the first one to throw out Mark Warner's name was existenz:
How about Mark Warner? He is definitely an up-and-coming Democrat. I could see him as the nominee in eight years. He's also as close to a lock on his race as we've got, with the added bonus that he is from Virginia. I'd pick Warner if he has speech-making chops. Otherwise Schweitzer.
How are Warner's speechifying skills anyway?
This move would seem to formally shut the door on Warner-as-VP talk. Not that he was on the short list, but some were suggesting it despite the fact that Warner is a near lock to win his Senate campaign in Virginia. The big primetime speech might be worth an extra fraction of a point in Virginia which could prove to be the state that puts Obama over the top.
The selection of ex-VA Gov. Mark Warner to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention comes on the heels of a secret, last-minute effort to convince Warner to submit his name and record for vice presidential vetting.
Sources close to Warner say that the Virginia Senate candidate was subject to fairly intense pressure by Obama advisers to allow the team of Eric Holder and Caroline Kennedy to open an account and begin their work.
One of the best local blogospheres in the country - Virginia's - emerged in 2005 out of the draft Clark campaign. Lowell Feld started the site Raising Kaine to support Tim Kaine for Governor, since Kaine was seen as a successor to Mark Warner, a Democrat who had governed effectively and progressively in the state. Kaine eventually won the race, and then the Virginia netroots and Feld went on to help Jim Webb defeat George Allen. This group has been part of turning that entire state blue, and they are quite tolerant of conservative Democrats.
So it's worth noting that the blog refers to itself as RK at this point, and has firmly turned against Kaine.
Amidst all the discussions about Barack Obama's potential running mate, the single most important consideration is being consistently overlooked.
The office of vice-president exists so that the president can be swiftly replaced in the event of his death, removal or incapacitation. Indeed, this is why we have vice-presidents. These individuals are only a heartbeat away from the most powerful office in the world.
This is such a stark consideration that it really ought to narrow things down somewhat regarding whom Obama should choose. Far too many discussions that I have observed treat the "running mate" as some kind of special electoral buddy, whose primary responsibility is to somehow grab votes that Obama could not secure on his own. Much of the reasoning behind the purported electoral impact of the running mate is ill-founded, speculative and secondary to our principal goal of electing representatives that we believe in.
I'm at the Jefferson/Jackson dinner in Richmond, after having snuck in with a media pass with Todd Beeton of MyDD fame. The Obama team is more organized, with giant letters spelling Obama on either side of the room and outside. There are Clinton signs and supporters, but nothing close to the presence that Obama has.
Jerome Armstrong is here, doing streaming video for Mark Warner, who has plastered the Stuart Siegel Center with signs. This state is going to be an easy win for Obama; Ben Smith has the goods.
The math is really pretty simple, and Patashnik mentions it: Black voters, in 2004, made up 33 perceent of the Democratic primary electorate. Obama has been getting more than 80 percent of the black vote virtually everywhere, a lot more in some places. So working off that conservative 80 percent figure, he only needs 36 percent of the white vote. That's a Deep South margin.
But the Democratic primary voters in Virginia aren't the rural white voters, and Obama is, obviously, a powerful crossover candidate, if you'd even call him that. He won the white vote in California. More than a quarter of the Democratic primary voters in Virginia live in two congressional districts, which are the inner D.C. suburbs. Many more live in the next ring of suburbs. And the third highest turnout district is in heavily African-American Richmond. Democratic turnout gets sparser as you go south and west. (There are delegates to be had down south, but that's another story.)
In the 2006 primary between Jim Webb and Harris Miller, there was basically no participation from African-Americans, with the primary decided by the liberal white voters in the DC suburbs. Throw in a third of the electorate going 80% for Obama, and you get what Smith notices is a 52-37 lead.
The next few days are set up for a clear Obama delegate lead. Rumors are coming in of a route of Clinton in Washington.
Boy, the Virginia debates yesterday were entertaining, sorry I missed those until catching up with them late in the day. I can't resist entering in, even though lots of good points have already been made, because I'm really hoping someone from Virginia will call me a cupcake.
Before the questions to my manhood begin, though, I will say at the start that while I wish Warner was the economic populist that Jim Webb is, and while some of his views on foreign policy make me uncomfortable, I am happy he's running. He is the Democrats' strongest candidate, he might even win easily which would free up DSCC money for other candidates. I also believe that there is a huge difference the overall political dynamics to have, say, 55 or 57 Senators vs. 51 or 52, even if some of those Democrats are more conservative than I would like. It just gives all of us more leverage, and gives Democratic leaders more confidence in pushing an overtly Democratic agenda. And it is certainly true that Virginia, while moving steadily our way, is certainly no left-of-center state, so electing someone a lot more progressive than Warner would be tough.
Beyond Chris' great post here, I want to just pile on and emphasize something that really annoys me when some Democrats argue that bloggers should keep their nose out of their state or their district's races: as a general rule, campaigns hit virtually everybody in the country engaged in politics for help in their races, but when we have a criticism we should butt out?
National bloggers, of course, get asked to raise money and recruit volunteers for candidates outside their district. But look at all the ways people outside of a state are asked to help:
-I'm on the board of, or have consulted for, a bunch of national PACs who make endorsements. I've been asked to help candidates get endorsements all the time.
-I know a lot of donors, and am constantly being asked to help raise money for candidates.
-When I get home, I have direct mail appeals up the ying-yang for candidates around the country
-My dinner is interrupted frequently by callers from candidates around the country
-My inbox at work, and my e-mail account, is full of invites for fundraisers from candidates.
You want national bloggers, donors and activists to help in your campaigns, and yet it seems that if those people dare to question a candidate on an issue or on their rhetoric, all of a sudden we hear: "Hey, stay out of our state."
In the argument that has ensued between Matt and Raising Kaine over Mark Warner, an extreme pet peeve of mine has appeared. From Raising Kaine:
1. Warner's a "centrist" or not a "partisan" - that's not an insult here in Virginia, that's a compliment. And it's why Mark Warner is BY FAR the most popular politician in Virginia. Because he cares about Virginia above party and ideological purity. Unfortunately, certain bloggers seem to have their priorities a bit confused.
2. We really DO love Mark Warner here in Virginia. Perhaps if people like Matt Stoller would spend less time bashing fellow Democrats and demanding ideological purity, we'd all be better off.
OK, how can someone write, in the first bullet point, that rising above partisanship is a good thing and that Matt has his priorities out of order for being too partisan, and then, in the very next sentence, say that Matt criticizes Democrats too much? How can Stoller be too partisan and not love his country enough, and also spend too much time criticizing his party? This makes him both too partisan and not partisan enough.
This is a common response to progressive Democratic criticism of centrists. First, centrist non-partisans are better patriots than us lefty Dems, because we put party and ideology above country (although I am not sure how loving your country isn't a type of ideology, but whatever). Then, we should learn to stop the circular firing squad, and criticize Republicans and conservatives instead, actions which I suppose are not demonstrative of a lack of patriotism.
"I am very loyal to the Democratic Party, but I have a loyalty higher than that to my party. That is to my state and my country," he said.
I love being told that I hate America by Republicans. when the conservative Republican owner of my favorite neighborhood bar told me that two and a half years ago, I left the bar and have never returned. As you might imagine, I love it even more when other Democrats tell me the same thing.
Progressive disagreeing with centrists is not the same thing as demanding ideological purity. It means we disagree. It means we want different public policies enacted into law. And since politics is fundamentally about which public policies are and are not enacted into law, pretending those disagreements do not exist is a bizarre way to approach politics. If we didn't point out where we disagree on public policy, what would be the point of being in politics at all?
One can still be a partisan and criticize Democrats. Personally, during my more than three years of blogging, I have criticized Democrats far, far more than I have criticized Republicans. In general elections, I critique Democratic strategy. In primary elections, I critique policy positions of candidates with whom I disagree. In legislative battles, I critique both Democratic strategy and proposed legislation with which I disagree. The reason I do this is because I do not talk to swing voters. I talk to Democratic and progressive activists, and don't know what purpose I would be serving if I was yet one more voice saying something with which we all already agreed. I want to make Democrats and progressives more effective, and so I criticize them. The key is to never criticize Democrats and progressives in the same manner that Republicans and conservatives criticize Democrats and progressives. This is something that I think Matt does very well. Anyway, if you want to criticize people for attacking Democrats, I'm pretty sure I have far more articles doing just that than Matt, so at least lump me in when you make those attacks.
When Democrats won the 2006 elections, no matter how much work progressives did to help make that possible, it really pissed me off when our pundits immediately told me that the Democratic victory was not a victory for me, too. Remember how bloggers, partisans, progressives, liberals, and the grassroots did not play a role in the 2006 Democratic victory? We were told after the election, time and time again, by pundits and elected officials from within our own party how it was not our victory, too. To be perfectly honest, at times it made me wonder if I could have by $5,000,000, Iraq war messaging, and one million voter contacts on search engines all back. And seriously, if I wasn't part of your victory, if progressives, the grassroots, bloggers, partisans, and liberals did not win in 2006, then why should I, as a partisan, a liberal, a progressive, a blogger and a grassroots activist not criticize you when you take office? Apparently, I didn't win, so obviously I should be unhappy with the Democratic victory.
In the end, the reason why progressive and partisan Democrats are criticized in contradictory ways about both being too partisan and not partisan enough, or about being too ideological and not loving out country enough, is because there is still a large sentiment among centrist and "bi-partisan" Democrats that our views are not valuable to the party. If they did consider our views valuable, their criticisms of us would at least make sense. A criticism of progressives that makes sense is to argue that our views are wrong, not that we are too ideological and that we don't love our country enough, which is itself an ideology. A criticism of partisans that would make sense is to argue that partisanship is bad, not that we criticize Democrats too much. Obviously contradictory responses to our views are simply dismissals of people you think don't matter and views that you think don't matter. It is basically like an authority figure shutting down questioning of their actions simply by saying "because I said so." If you cared about our views and thought they were valuable, then you would at least bother crafting a response that is internally coherent, even if it is based on principles over which we disagree.
So there, I said it. And for the record, I also think that Mark Warner will win the Senate seat, and I am very happy that he will do so. Having him in this race will probably not only allows us to win Virginia, but at least a couple other seats as well, considering the pressure it will put on Republicans. However, I also think he will vote against the majority of Democrats in the Senate far more often than many people online think. Mainly that centers around his views on foreign policy, which seem pretty right-wing to me, but I wouldn't be surprised if it happens on social and domestic issues, too. I thought Jon Tester and Jim Webb would vote much better than they have, and I don't intend to be surprised again. Not a single Democrat from a House district with a PVI of greater than R +3.5 voted against FISA, for example. Of all the Democrats who voted against FISA, Jerry McNerney is the Democrat from the most right-wing district, and CA-11 isn't very right-wing the fact is that Democrats from even moderately red districts tend to vote pretty poorly, both because conservatives are recruited for those seats and because there is still a faulty perception among Democratic elites that America is fundamentally conservative. As a progressive Democrat, those are things I aim to change, and you better believe that I will criticize fellow Democrats quite a bit in so doing.
I agree with the point you're trying to make in the last few sentences, but there were a lot of nay votes on 836 from Dems in districts redder than CA-11: D. Moore (R+4), Kagen (R+4), Spratt (R+6), Mollohan (R+6), Boyda (R+7), Holden (R+7), and Boucher (R+7) (plus a non-vote from Ike Skelton at R+11).
Good to know that there are at least some Dems from "red districts" who voted "no."
Mark Warner has annouced he's in the Senate race with this disgusting Lieberman-esque video. Running for Governor is a different game than running for Senate; as Governor, social issues are much less important, foreign policy ideas are irrelevant, and the national infrastructure of the parties don't matter. It's really just about local competence, which is why Mitt Romney and George Pataki were easily reelected Republicans but could never move to the Senate in their states.
Warner's a centrist, not a partisan, and my guess is that this will turn a lot of people off who had previously 'loved' Mark Warner. If the Republicans can find a candidate, I think he's going to have a bumpier ride than expected. He'll still win, in all likelihood, but he's going to be a bad Senator.
But those were delicious chocolate fountains.
UPDATE: I'm getting the question of why I think he'll be a bad Senator. One, he made his initial forture by entering a spectrum auction almost no one knew about it except big telecom companies and Congressional staffers. At the time he was a Congressional staffer [UPDATE: Warner had been a staffer, but wasn't at the time he started his telecom business]. This is a classic case of 'honest graft'. I don't like politicians who make their money by legally stealing public assets, because they tend to think that public policy that reduces incentives for stealing public assets is not particularly wise. And two, his foreign policy ideas on Iran and Venezuela are crazy.
UPDATE AGAIN: Lowell Feld is extremely angry, and it was not my intent to provoke bitterness. The chocolate foundation dig was a bad joke, and I apologized to Jerome for it. My primary concern on Warner is that 'centrism' might be a cover to perpetuate an economic system that privileges the corporate interests that are already too strong in the Democratic Party. That said, Warner is extremely good on net neutrality, and he has fought big telecom companies so he does know the score in business. I could be wrong, I'm going to be interested to see how he handles populism.
I stand by my skepticism, as I'll note that he did not mention the word Iraq, alluding once to a 'mismanaged war', but did talk about disliking partisanship several times. Nevertheless, the tone of my post was probably off, and I'm keeping an open mind. He is relatively new to dealing with foreign affairs. My apologies, Lowell, I didn't mean to offend, only to offer the other side of the coin. Both of us agree that he's probably going to win, and Virginia candidates I know are excited because of the coattails he brings.
In Virginia, Mark Warner has announced that he is running… for something:
This year's ICS was a terrific success and and what could beat that surprise visit from Mark Warner and his announcement that this time next week, he was "going to be a candidate for public office!"
Since I doubt he will run for US House, jump in the presidential campaign, or start a five-year campaign to primary Jim Webb in 2012, the options for Warner appear to be running for US Senate in 2008, or running for Virginia Governor in 2009. My guess is that this early announcement means he is running for Senate, as the Virginia Gubernatorial election is more than two years away. That is fine with me, since it would basically assure a Democratic pickup in Virginia.
A political logjam in Nebraska that has forced a slew of potential U.S. Senate candidates to tread water for months will begin breaking Monday, when Chuck Hagel formally announces he will not seek re-election.
Democrat Bob Kerrey, Republican Mike Johanns and others likely will begin unveiling their plans for the 2008 race in the coming weeks or, possibly, days.
No matter who runs on the Republican side, Bob Kerrey could potentially win this seat. I hope he runs, because I would like to see as much pressure on Republicans in as many seats as possible around the country. Kerrey would cause further headaches for already severely pressured Republicans.
In Idaho, according to Survey USA, Larry LaRocco can make a competitive race out of it, depending on who the Republican nominee is. While well-known Republicans Mike Simpson and Dirk Kempthorne would apparently start with huge leads on LaRocco, there is no guarantee at all that either would run or, if they did run, that they would win the Republican nomination. Against four other Republicans, LaRocco is either close or statistically tied. So, it appears that Democrats can even be competitive in Idaho now, but it will depend largely on who the Republican nominee is.
Getting the right matchup in all three of these seats will help us toward our broader goal of more and better Democrats. This is the case even if any of the Democrats in question are not viewed as among the "better Democrat" category by some. I would argue, for example, that no matter what some int he blogosphere might think of him, Bob Casey Jr.'s extremely strong showing during the 2006 campaign freed up a lot of Democratic resources for closer wins in Rhode Island, Virginia, Montana and Missouri. In the same vein, added pressure in the form of nearly guaranteed pickups (Warner in Virginia), surprisingly competitive elections (LaRocco in Idaho) or conservative Democratic candidates for an open seat in a conservative state like Nebraska (Kerrey), will all help out candidates like Merkley or Novick in Oregon (both progressives), Franken or Ciresi in Minnesota (same story), Allen in Maine, or the eventual Democratic nominee in New Hampshire (I think Jay Buckey would be a good progressive there). Further, key primary challenges in places in Connecticut can not only help Democrats become better, but can also breed more Democrats nationwide by finally convincing them to run against the war. More Democrats can lead to better Democrats, and better Democrats can lead to more Democrats. I point this out as one way of explaining why I have no problem engaging in numerous primary challenges on behalf of progressives, while simultaneously backing conservative Democrats in general elections against Republicans. More and better Democrats is not an either / or process for progressives, and I am happy to work on the "better" just as I am happy to work on the "more."