Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Why the netroots should pay attention to CA-11

UPDATED 11/05/2005: #2 has been changed to accurately reflect the votes cast in the district for Barbara Boxer.

(Cross-posted at MyDD and Needlenose)

1) Richard Pombo needs to go.

He's at the at the center of the pervasive culture of corruption in the Republican Party and he's completely beholden to business interests that want to destroy our environment.

2) Pombo is vulnerable.

His approval rating is in the mid-30's, Barbara Boxer received 60% 50.2% of the vote in CA-11 in 2004, and the DCCC is targeting the race.

3) The Democratic Primary gives us a chance to define what we believe.

The Primary is pitting a progressive, grassroots candidate (Jerry McNerney) against a self-described moderate candidate (Steve Filson) who has little grassroots support and whose strongest backer is DLC Vice Chair Ellen Tauscher. Jerry McNerney is running on a populist message that includes a firm line on the quagmire in Iraq. Steve Filson has not come out strong on the issue and is instead simply trying to claim the mantel of a candidate anointed by Washington insiders to take on Pombo (See Exhibit 1, but also Exhibit 2).

4) The Democratic Primary gives us a chance to define who we are in non-ideological terms.

Who gets to decide who should fight Pombo, big wigs in DC or the Democrats in the district? Does a candidate have to prove that he represents constituencies, or is it enough for him to show he can raise money? (See the 4th-9th paragraph of this post and point #2 here). When it comes to standing up for one's convictions, do actions speak louder than words? And do we let the DLC speak in our name or do we show everyone that there are Democrats who stand up and fight for what we believe in?

5) The netroots can have a disproportionate effect on the race.

The netroots are huge in the Bay Area, but I see little organizational momentum outside of the DFA-affiliates. I'm not going to need to fight to get Barbara Lee re-elected in Berkeley, and I have little inclination to work for Feinstein. A lot of us are in the same boat, and this race is close enough and important enough to become a focal point of local organizing. True, there will be other races for people to work on. But there seems to be an understanding among the netroots that taking back the House in 2006 is a priority. Well let us Bay Area netroots-types do what we can in our own backyard to take back our Party and our Congress.

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