Obama—There are a lot of opportunities to help Senator Barack Obama become our next President. You can go to www.barackobama.com, and sign up, including for a local group (I belong to the Newark, Delaware, and the Chester County (PA) groups. The website should show you events in your area. You can reach out to Rob Carver (email@example.com) and ask how you can help. The national campaign is working on bringing some campaign staff into the state this month, to help out. Those of us in New Castle County may direct a bit of our attention to the Pennsylvania battleground, as we did in 2004. Stay tuned!
The Republicans have found a way around the limitations of federal campaign limits for McCain (who is taking taxpayer money for his campaign), by co-opting the Republican Governor fund, which has no donation limits. So keep sending what you can to Obama’s campaign (online works well), and look for cool fundraisers to join.
Delaware Campaigns—As with the presidential primaries, Democrats have a wealth of choices this year, and Delaware is no exception. We have many choices to make this September 9th, including for US Congress, Governor, Insurance Commissioner, and County Executive.
I serve on the endorsement committee of the PDD, Progressive Democrats of Delaware (http://www.progressivedemsdel.com/). One reason is that this election cycle I wanted to have better information to make my decisions, and to share information with you. We send out surveys to the candidates, and consider ‘how progressive’ each is. We examine their survey responses, we interview face-to-face several, and for incumbents, we examine their voting record (whether they ‘walk their talk’). Please consider donating to PDD (online is easiest), so that we can back our endorsements with checks. Money talks. PDD endorsement checks (or lack thereof) give elected officials more reason to consider taking liberal stands once in office. One sitting senator marked on her survey that she supported open government, but when asked to sign the petition to bring Senate Bill 4 to the floor she refused. PDD refused to endorse or contribute to her campaign as a result. Actions have repercussions.
I also serve on the 23rd Representative District (RD) committee. This week we sent checks totaling $4,800 to 17 candidates (Markell, Denn, Coons, Weldin-Stewart, Short, Johnson, Barbieri, Hall Long, Mackenzie, Terranova, Northington, Hartley-Nagle, Kowalko, Jacques, Viola, Boulden, and Clark), listed in decreasing order of check amounts. Thanks are due to all committee members, and to all who come to the annual spaghetti dinner, where we raise the money to make these contributions!
US Congress—There are three candidates for US Congress. I have friends who support Karen Hartley-Nagle and those who support Jerry Northington. Both have good progressive credentials. PDD and I endorse Jerry Northington. Jerry comes across initially as ‘another Michael Berg’, a single-issue (end the war) candidate. Further examination (go to http://www.northington08.com/) reveals that he is very committed to healthcare and education reform. Whomever wins the Democratic primary will have an uphill battle to unseat Mike Castle, however this is certainly the best year to unseat Republicans. If you, like me, are tired of Castle’s tired claims of being a moderate while voting for so many of Bush’s policies, including restricting the state child health insurance program (SCHIP), then you know that this race requires our help.
Governor—There are two good candidates, John Carney and Jack Markell. Both are fine people, and fine candidates. PDD and I endorse Jack Markell as the candidate best prepared to deliver needed changes to the state. Many of us feel that John Carney is too tied to the ‘old party structure’, and owes too many favors. While most candidates spend their time listing promises during the campaign, Jack has prepared a 43-page blueprint of not only his goals, but also of his methods to achieve those goals for our state. This is typical of Jack, an incredibly intelligent and principled man who is quick to roll up his sleeves to solve problems. I have witnessed first-hand his instrumental work on behalf of the Delaware Money School, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and PDD. He has earned my vote many times over.
Insurance Commissioner—There are three candidates here. Neither PDD nor I have yet endorsed. All three have strengths and all three have weaknesses. I’ll focus on strengths. Tom Savage has made a pledge—if we don’t have single-payer healthcare in Delaware at the end of his term, he will not run for re-election. That is dedication. Karen Weldin-Stewart has pledged to refuse contributions that could taint her judgment, and has worked decades in the area of insurance company receivership (overseeing firms which are in jeopardy of being unable to meet their obligations). She speaks passionately about bringing universal healthcare to Delaware. Gene Reed has served within the commission for about twenty-years, in each division. He has been working for Delaware’s consumers under both Republican and Democratic Insurance Commissioners. He has the endorsement of the state (and county) Democratic Party.
County Executive—Chris Coons is running for re-election against prior County Executive Tom Gordon. Tom lost the last election under an ethics cloud (which he plea-bargained down to a misdemeanor). In his first term, Chris has angered many county employees due to firm management. As a result, Tom Gordon has the backing of both employee unions and several unions. I join most progressives in backing Chris Coons, and hoping that Delaware rejects Tom Gordon for a second and final time. PDD has not yet endorsed a candidate in this race.
Honorable Mention—John Kowalko is running for re-election to the 25th RD. He is the most progressive Representative, and perhaps the most progressive legislator in Dover. He doesn’t yet have a Republican opponent. If he does, please pitch in. I and the PDD enthusiastically endorse John. Mike Barbieri is running for the 18th RD seat held by Republican Terry Spence. Mike is a great progressive, and came close two years ago. I and the PDD endorse Mike’s campaign. Democrats Mike Terranova and John Mackenzie are running in a primary for the 6th Senate District (SD), held by Republican Liane Sorenson. Both candidates have strengths, and neither I nor the PDD have yet endorsed either candidate. Tom Scherer is running against incumbent William Bell in the 12th County Council district. Tom is a very green candidate with a gigantic heart, running against a councilman who Tom claims has done next to nothing for his district. Consider seeking out Tom and lending a hand (and some money). State Representative Bethany Hall-Long is running for the 10th SD seat vacated by retiring Steve Amick. If the Republicans find someone to run against Bethany, she will need our help. Will someone progressive PLEASE run against 11th SD State Senator Tony DeLuca (they fellow whose claim to fame is solving the impasse which he himself created with offshore wind power)? Bryon Short is running for re-election in the 7th RD in north Wilmington, against Republican James Bowers. Short surprised Republicans last year when he captured the seat previously held by Wayne Smith, who left the House to serve as a lobbyist. Quinton Johnson is running for the 8th RD, where Bethany Hall-Long currently serves. This new candidate will need help if the Republicans put up an opponent. Democratic candidate Earl Jacques and Independent James Spencer are running against Republican Vince Lofink in the 27th RD. Earl came within 60 or so votes of victory in 2006. Earl is not the most progressive candidate, but he is shifting ‘our way’. A victory in the 27th could tilt the majority of the House to the Democratic side, which would result in the chairmanship and the majority of each committee shifting to Democrats in January.
I apologize for my Delaware-centric focus. There is only so much time in the day, and so I focus on issues closest to my home. I will later this summer point out the US Senate and House races where you can make a real difference. 2008 can bring a real change to the US Senate if we pick up enough seats. Note that the reason that the country is so dissatisfied with the Congress at this time is that, despite a resounding victory for ‘end the war’ candidates in 2006, too many Republicans in the Senate prevented the majority of Senators from being able to place a timetable and other limits on the Iraq Occupation. To help Obama be better able to push through needed reform (health care, education, foreign affairs), he needs a strongly supportive Senate and House. www.electoral-vote.com has a Hot House races and an All Senate races page with great information. Note that a friend’s college friend, Jeff Merkley, is staying ahead of Republican Gordon Smith in his race to become a US Senator from Oregon.