Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Winning at Any Cost

I tried to post a comment on Rick's blog to no avail. So here's my comment to his post on IL-06 fundraising numbers...

Rick, I'm really disappointed in this post.

How exactly does this help get Democrats elected in November or contribute to this race? Christine's put the infrastructure in place to get her message out. She won't be carpet bombing the district with media and mail, but instead will reach thousands of people in the district directly. Surely you know this. You said you hesitated to post this. Yet you chose to post anyway. What is the purpose? What constructive end can this lead to but helping those intent on undermining her campaign?

Cegelis raised more money in Q4 than in Q3 despite the entire weight of the DCCC working to force her out of the race. She raised more money in January 2006 than ever before, and she's the sixth highest fundraiser on ActBlue, with only one candidate - Paul Hackett - having raised more money through their service. She has over 2000 donors in her network, and hundreds of volunteers - and most importantly - the organization to mobilize them in a coordinated fashion.

You are just as aware of this as I am, yet you chose to portray her cause as hopeless when you know it is not. You even portray Lindy Scot as better positioned, even though he has no organization in place, no campaign staff, doesn't even have an office, and the majority of his funds come from his own personal loans. Cegelis debt, as you must be aware, is owed to no one but herself, effectively giving her $40K more on hand than the $185 you give her credit for.

I'm tired of those who "don't have a dog in this fight" feigning neutrality. If you are going to back a candidate, as I have, then take a stand and quit with the passive/aggressive posting. Take the lead from those residents of the district that feel so strongly about the candidates in the race that they council voting Republican should one of them win. The depth of feeling is that strong in my district. The seeds of animosity were not planted by Cegelis, and the venom you speak of has been directed both ways. Calling Cegelis' chances of victory "absent a miracle" is nothing more than the venom you decry served in polite wrapper, and only serves to fuel the divisivness you claim to want no part of.

Infrastructure costs money and takes time to build. Paid unearned media doesn't win primaries, but is easy to buy. All the money spent on media and paid canvassers is not equivalent to a person who's hosted the candidate in their living room, or a neighbor talking to their neighbor about a candidate they like - or a candidate they don’t.

If all we are interested in as a party is winning at any cost - willing to give up our core Democratic values and undermine a candidate who sparked a Democratic rebirth in DuPage - then we are a party that stands for little more than the same old same old, and who's seats in Congress have been sold off to the highest bidder. No honest change will ever be accomplished in Washington as long as we allow ourselves to judge candidates and base our party's support on nothing but a candidate's bottom line and how large their contributor network. You know how easily manipulated this can be and how quickly doors can be opened - or closed. I'd rather our party judge candidates on the content of their character and their potential as a Congressperson than back candidates based on how "electable" they appear or how deep their friend's pockets.

Christine is a candidate of character and great potential. She raised two kids in the district, she works in the district, she started a business in the district, and she's worked closely with the major employers in the district. She knows the issues first hand because she's one of us. She's a real progressive and a solid Democrat who's positions are well developed and on the record. She's running not only for herself, but for her neighbors, and to lay the infrastructure for Democrats who may run after her. She holds her fundraisers in the district in people's homes and local restaurants, not Chicago law firms, and would never think of holding a fundraiser at a lobbyist firm in DC; especially when ethics and the corrupt influence of money in politics is abundantly on display by the majority party.

Can you really support a candidate who doesn't understand what the bankruptcy bill entails, what the underlying structure of NCLB entails, or who thinks depleted uranium is not an issue since we're not using it on our own troops? Are you really willing to believe fundraising is more important than having deep ties to the community and willing to sacrifice honest interaction with residents in order to buy more media? Are you cynical enough to put an attractive bio and electability ahead of deep ties to the district and first hand understanding of key issues?

Do you want to win this badly? As a leader in the local party who has worked very hard to advance the Democratic cause locally I can only hope what your answer is.

Sigh. Truly disappointed.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Depleted Uranium in IL-06 Race

I missed the York Township Democrats candidate forum yesterday held in Villa Park. There is only so many times I can hear the candidates say the same answers to the same questions. But again, I picked the wrong one to miss as there seem to have been some good questions on deeper issues.

One of the most eye opening ones, in my opinion, was the questions directed at the candidates regarding depleted uranium used in Iraq. The question showed quite a difference in the candidates, especially given specific responses by Cegelis, Duckworth, and Scott.

The details below are part of a report posted at SoapBlox Chicago by Gary Kleppe, who attended the event:
The most telling difference between these candidates came during a question on depleted uranium. Duckworth saw this only as a security issue, talking about the need to keep such weapons under the control of US forces. Scott said that the Bush administration should not be above the law and the war should not be used to excuse wrongdoing. And then Cegelis hit the ball out of the park:
I was reading about [depleted uranium] before we actually went in this second time -- because we used it in the first Gulf War. And then there is a very high rate of leukemia and cancer with the Iraqi people and the Iraqi children. I know that's something we should be concerned about. And now we have exposed our troops to it as well, and as they come back we are probably going to see, just as we did in Vietnam, a lot of our veterans coming home with diseases that we don't understand how they got. And I don't want to see our Veterans Administration saying, well, it couldn't have been the Agent Orange, or it couldn't have been the depleted uranium, it must be something that happened to you after you got here, so that we don't have to cover it. That is something I am very concerned about, and we need to be looking at that as a campaign issue, we need to be looking at it as Congressional oversight. We need to hold this government's feet to the fire to make sure that anything that happens, that we know that we are taking care of the soldiers as they come home, the veterans as they come home. But also, we also need to know, what exactly are the health risks and how exposing that to the Iraqi people, how has that hurt them as well.

A follow-up, which was essentially the same question again, was asked, and found Duckworth evidently unable to see the other side:
We're not actually firing stable rounds at our own troops... our troops are not exposed to depleted uranium. It's actually part of the weapons system that they're not exposed to at all.

I wasn't there to hear this, but my reaction upon reading it was shock. Of course we're not using it on our own troops. That's not the point. We're not shooting at tanks with this stuff. Our troops and Iraqi civilians are being exposed to it. But my reaction seemed to have not been lost on the room. Gary continues:
A woman behind me said, "What about the Iraqis?" but not loud enough for the candidates to hear. I also thought about the evidence linking depleted uranium to so-called Gulf War Syndrome. Could troops who use this stuff as weaponry and who have to live in the country really avoid exposure to the stuff? And Duckworth's characterization of DU as being used to penetrate tank armor also made me wonder. Isn't the Iraqi resistance fighting a guerilla war? Since when do they have tanks?
But anyway, Duckworth continued:
So that's not the factual thing you need to take a quick look at. There were leftover depleted uranium as a contaminant following the first gulf war from when we actually used those rounds to blow up Iraq tanks. So there's a difference there.

Scott then responded:
Here's where we differ. Although we're not using uranium against our own troops, and they're not being exposed to it, human beings, Iraqi men, women, and children, are being exposed to it. This is a human rights issue. We should have a policy that seeks the well-being of all people. So yes, I would try to stop it.



And Cegelis had the final word on this:

Yes, it concerns me greatly, any child that is born with birth defects.... I've actually walked with a woman whose daughter died of leukemia here in the United States. And I don't believe that an Iraqi mother hurts any less if their child dies of leukemia than an American mother. So yes, I would work to stop the use of depleted uranium.

I'm so very proud that I support a candidate like Cegelis who understands the issues, even issues like depleted uranium, and can relate them to people on such a personal level. You can support Christine too, by getting involved in her campaign.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Time for Us to Support Cegelis

That's it. I've had it. Last Sunday I sat at a candidate forum in Lombard and watched Tammy Duckworth answer a question, given to all the candidates but obviously directed at her, that asked where the candidate's fundraising was coming from and how residents would know that they weren't beholden to any outside big-donor interests. She answered forcefully, if not a bit defensively, that no one got her to run and that she would be beholden to no one but district residents.

Then I read this:
When the invitation went out, Tuesday's fund-raiser for Democratic House candidate Tammy Duckworth was to be held in the office of a Washington lobbying firm. On Monday, the location was switched -- after I mentioned where it was going to be in a column that ran that morning. Sunlight, the saying goes, is a strong disinfectant.

[...]

The new locale for the Duckworth funder was Democratic National Committee headquarters, where the Democratic House political operation is based. Emanuel decided to switch venues. Duckworth spokesman Billy Weinberg said "in this current atmosphere ... it was the right thing to do."

In the immortal words of Popeye: "That's all I can stands. I can't stands no more." Progressive Democrats, Reform Democrats, Liberal Democrats, Residents of the Blogosphere, lend me you ears (eyes?). It's time to put our donations where our mouths are and support one of our own: Christine Cegelis.

Cegelis is gaining momentum in the district. Last night she earned the Independent Voters of Illinois endorsement. This past weekend showed me that she is the candidate to beat, and the candidate who sees building the party as an important part of her campaign. As I wrote last weekend:
In a county like DuPage where there is little in the way of Democratic infrastructure and not one office is held by a Democrat, Cegelis knew she was blazing a trail. She was running to win, but also running to attract other Democrats into the process. She was walking point and not only did she know it, but she was inspired by it. If others could see the groundswell of Democratic fervor for her campaign in traditionally Republican DuPage, she knew others would follow and run for County Board, Coroner, Sheriff, and school board.

So I'm done waxing eloquently. I'm personally asking for you to donate to the Cegelis campaign.

There's a whole lot of printing going on right now. Flyers, door hangers and yard signs cost money. Money that could pay for more staff, more phone banking, and more GOTV come the primary. Cegelis herself and scores of volunteers are out in the community every day knocking on doors and meeting their neighbors. Let's put something in their hands to give them.

I'm guessing between yard signs, flyers and door hangers the printing bill for the campaign is going to be around $8,000. That's not much for a few hundred small donors. So I've set up an ActBlue page to chart donations to the printing of materials. And I'm asking you personally to help me elect a person I know will represent me and the residents of my district, as well as work for the reforms we are always railing for here in the Blogospheres.

Please donate to the cause. Support Christine Cegelis today.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Driving Christine: Part IV

In Part I, we went along to the latest in a string of "Coffee with Christine" events, where ordinary Americans became engaged again in their democracy. You can read Part 1.

In Part 2, we went to the Brat House, and enjoyed a campaign event reminiscent of the pre-television age when candidates actually interacted directly with the voters. You can read Part 2 here.

In Part 3, we get to meet the Blogfather himself, then travel to a candidate forum with all three candidates at a local synagogue. You can read Part 3 here.

In this final installment, we discuss the future of our Democracy, infrastructure and planting seeds.

The overriding theme from this weekend at all the events was that the Cegelis campaign had one goal in mind: to involve people in their government. But as we talked in the car between events, it became quickly apparent she wanted to not only win, but build the infrastructure for others to win. She wanted to make not only our government better, but to leave our party better for her efforts.

In a county like DuPage where there is little in the way of Democratic infrastructure and not one office is held by a Democrat, Cegelis knew she was blazing a trail. She was running to win, but also running to attract other Democrats into the process. She was walking point and not only did she know it, but she was inspired by it. If others could see the groundswell of Democratic fervor for her campaign in traditionally Republican DuPage, she knew others would follow and run for County Board, Coroner, Sheriff, and school board.

It struck me just how genuine she was. She's not the typical kiss the baby glad-hander who looks through you as they shake your hand like a cold fish and work their way to the door. The campaign wasn't about her. Her campaign, as she says at all her stops, was about making our country better for her boys. It was about the many people she'd met who were counting on her. It was about the people who had spent countless hours knocking on doors, planning events, calling people, and stuffing envelopes. She was humbled that so many people would put such faith in her, and work so hard for her. She would return the effort for their sakes, not because they could write her a $2,100 check, but because they were her neighbors and saw themselves in her.

We talked often about our faith and the influence it played on our views on life in general. The depth of her commitment to God and her faith really struck me. I actually felt ashamed at one point as I thought of myself as a person of strong faith. But on a personal level, Christine showed me what strong faith meant. As we spoke of the passing of our fathers, and how this had effected our outlook on life and politics, Christine repeatedly noted that she felt God worked through the seeds we planted in life. To her, a run for Congress was an outgrowth of this philosophy.

I felt patriotic this weekend. I felt like I was actually doing something to reclaim my government. I felt involved in a way I never had before, even when I was involved with the Dean campaign. And I'm not alone in this feeling. As Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur said when she visited a couple weeks ago:
"You can't fake this kind of enthusiasm and energy."

I went into this weekend biased and came out convinced. Christine Cegelis is winning. She's winning people over with her genuine desire to change government for the better. She's winning people over by listening to them, talking with them, going to their homes, their local ma & pa restaurants, their local events, and their district forums. She's winning because she shows up, early and often. She's winning because she's one of us, and we can all win through her.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Big Dog's Cegelis Finance Post

From Big Dog in the comments on my Driving Christine: Part II post:
Here's a constructive suggestion: Since the biggest hit your Candidate has ever taken was on the issue of fundraising, how about concentrating your posts on dispelling that 'myth',assuming it is one?

Below I'll quickly post some information taken from the constructive critism:

I'm not going to go off and say fundraising isn't an issue. It is. But the Cegelis campaign is a different kind of campaign funded by small donors giving $20 and their weekends in volunteer service. But it seems the die hards don't see this as the winning strategy us true believer do. So here's a comparison for you.

I had emailed back and forth with Archpundit - the Illinois version of Kos - and he suggested I should get a true comparison of numbers instead of comparing Cegelis to incumbents running for Congress. So I looked at Melissa Bean's numbers from for the same quarter - Q3 2003 - the year prior to the general, as I did for Cegelis':
Contributions:
Cegelis Q3 2005: $52.1K
Bean Q3 2003: $38.3K

Cash on hand:
Cegelis Q3 2005: $48.9K
Bean Q3 2003: $33.6K

Cash on hand minus debts:
Cegelis Q3 2005: $9.8K
Bean Q3 2003: $20.8K

So essentially, both candidates by conventional wisdom are struggling financially. What changed for Bean? DCCC support. What will change for Cegelis? Continued undermining of her campaign by the DCCC or a grassroots push to level the playing field for Cegelis?

As far as expenses, here's what I wrote previously:
Average of All Dem Expenditures = $69.03
Average w/o Guiterrez = $75.05
Cegelis = $46.4
Roskam = $105.9
The biggest spending Democrat was Rahm Emanuel: $146.5K

So of course the fundraising isn't what I'm sure the campaign would like to see. But it's also not as bad as Cegelis' opponents would have you think, especially in light of the fact that Melissa Bean was in not much of a different situation and she wasn't going against the DCCC and the entire Beltway Democratic party bosses.

I doubt this is going to satisfy you Big Dog, but it's the best a guy on a blog can do right now. The only way we are going to reclaim our government is to stop focusing solely on the bottom line and support quality local candidates like Cegelis who are from the district, raised kids in the district, worked and started a business in the district, worked with the major employers in the district, know the district and its issues first hand, and will be beholden to no one but the people who wrote $20 checks and volunteered for their campaign.

In my district, that's Christine Cegelis. She's one of us. Instead of jumping on the "negative fundraising" talking point, help me to reclaim my district for a true progressive Democrat, and volunteer or donate to her campaign today.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Driving Christine: Part II

In Part I, I wrote about the latest in a string of "Coffee with Christine" events, where ordinary Americans became engaged again in their democracy. You can read about that here.

In this "Driving Christine," I'll write about what I thought was going to be the typical fundraising dinner for Cegelis. Instead the event seemed more like I had traveled back in time to an era when people got together at their local ma and pa restaurant, laughed together, sang songs together, and came together as a community to celebrate one of their neighbors.

The evening event was held at "The Brat House" in downtown Westmont, a typical ma and pa restaurant in a vintage 1930's storefront. From the big storefront with the name in gold leaf on the windows and the hand-painted murals on the walls, it was obvious that this wasn't one of your modern day cookie-cutter establishments. Instead this is the type of place I remember going to as a kid where you knew the owners and they knew you, and as a kid they always gave you ice cream no matter what your parents said.

In the corner by the door was an older gentlemen playing Umpa music in the background. There were people dancing, singing along, and making connections with people they hadn't met before. There were families and the retired, old and young, and what seemed every age in from 3 to 83. The place was packed, and I was lucky that someone from the campaign had saved Christine and I a place to sit.

The event began in earnest when an elderly member of the audience commandeered the microphone, and along with the Umpa guy, started to sing "Getting to know you" from The King and I. By the second chorus the whole place had begun to sing along, and although embarrassed a bit, Christine herself was in full voice by the end of the song. People roared with laughter at this, and the entire event seemed to morph into some hilarious combination of political rally held at an Oktoberfest. After a good laugh, Christine thanked everyone for coming, gave her short stump speech, and then sent people to get their food.

Throughout dinner, people milled about meeting people and Christine. It was a loud and spirited event, filled with joking, hugging, laughing and genuine interaction. I found myself thinking often if this was the way campaigning used to be done in the pre-televison age, when people actually gathered in their communities to not only meet, but socialize with the candidates vying for their vote. I realized quickly that this was not a dry, forced, boring campaign dinner with a bunch of boring speeches sandwiched in between dinner courses, but instead more like a family event where people ate buffet style (the food was really good), sat and talked, and enjoyed each other's company.

One of the highlights of the evening - as well as one of the most hilarious moments - was when a group of people got up and along with Umpa man on organ, sang the "Christine Cegelis Campaign Song" they had written. They even passed out the lyrics so everyone could sing along. It was karaoke at its finest! Led by a group of students from Glenbard East, the song was sung to the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching In." Here's just a taste:
Chorus:
Vote for Christine!
Vote for Christine!
She fights for truth and justice too
She came real close in twenty oh-four
This year she'll win for me and you!

The whole place was singing along by the end, and some in the audience who actually knew how to sing (as opposed to myself and those at my table) started shouting out call backs to the lyrics. Some people were in tears they were laughing so hard. Others were harmonizing (I guess you'd call it that), and still others were waving their glasses along. All I could think (besides man I can't sing) is this is blog gold.

So after the karaoke session, one of the campaign organizers spoke and noted that the way Christine was going to win was through their support in their neighborhoods by talking to their neighbors. She then broke everyone in the place up according to their township, sat them together at tables, and got them talking about what they could do in their own backyards. People were still laughing and joking, but now they were meeting others in their community they could work with.

Just like the Coffee earlier in the day, the theme of involving people in their democracy became the overriding goal of the event. People left this event with closer ties to their neighbors, a network of fellow Democrats they can talk to, and a goal toward which they can work. Regardless of how this election comes out, this is only going to help build the local party.

On the drive back to the office it was apparent that this was a good day and Christine was walking on air. I asked how she was holding up and she said that this was the fun part of the campaign that she enjoyed the most. In the quiet of the car ride, she told me that it was events like this where she got to meet and get to know people that meant the most to her. One of her most cherished memories of her campaign is that two of her supporters had met at one of her events and were now engaged.

Just like my last post, I wish all of you reading this could been there. Help Cegelis represent her neighbors. Volunteer or donate to her campaign today.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Driving Christine: Part I

A friend of mine is a volunteer for the Cegelis campaign helping to coordinate campaign events and often driving Christine to them. But this weekend she was out of town and asked me to drive Christine. So today and tomorrow I have the privilege of taking Christine Cegelis to all her events for the weekend. I'll blog about the events and any other conversation I can over the next few days.

For Part I, we're off to a Coffee with Christine.

One of the events that originally got me involved with the Cegelis campaign was a neighbor who distributed signs for her campaign last election. It was through my neighbor that I learned of Christine Cegelis - he through another neighbor. Many people in the district have met Christine, often at her coffees. The concept of these is similar to a house party in that residents of the district open their house to their neighbors for the candidate for a get together.

The difference for Cegelis is that these coffees are started by people who've often met Christine - many times at another coffee - and invite their neighbors to their home to introduce Christine to them. Since she's been at this a while, the network of people who introduce Christine has grown to the point that Christine may attended one or two of these on any given day.

Today was no different. Carol Stream residents Roberta and Beryle opened their home to Cegelis and invited their neighbors. I asked Roberta why she was hosting a coffee:
“I thought this was a great opportunity to meet some of the people in my development. If I didn’t reach out to my neighbors, who would? Plus this way I’d meet other Democrats in my complex. It’s good to see people in the winter, do a little entertaining, and introduce them to Christine on a Saturday.”

In a room full of 20 neighbors, Christine Cegelis did her short stump speech, then opened the floor to questions. At first those in attendance were timid, and the questions generic. What's you position on the war, the economy, health care, etc. But then I noted something special happen. When it became apparent that Christine was not just rattling off talking points, but actually looking to discuss the issues, often citing her positions or her feelings or her personal connections, people began to open up.

The body language changed. The questions became more a basis for discussion and debate. People couldn't wait to make their point, give their opinion, and chime into the discussion. The whole even became less about Q&A of the candidate and more about a discussion about how can we fix our government. The conversation was not just between Christine and the questioner, but between neighbors.

What suddenly struck me as I was furiously typing was that the questions and the responses weren't what was important about this event. Forget for a second that this was a Cegelis event. What was happening was people were talking with their neighbors about their government and their place within it. It was an inspiring and empowering event and in a short time discussion took place on topics of global terrorism, Bush's preemptive doctrine, telecommunications and rights to privacy, NCLB, Title 1 and related local school district issues, how to beat Roskam and the Republicans in general, campaign finance reform, outsourcing of jobs and H1-B Visas, our position in the world, religion and government, Congressional oversight, moral leadership, UN relations and Bolton, Depleted Uranium and its effects.

Now remember, this was not a blog discussion. These people weren't political junkies, but normal residents who knew an issue or two and were often shocked to learn of the requirements of NCLB or that there was even something such as depleted uranium in use by US troops. It was a discussion starter, and got these people talking in a way they as neighbors never had before.

One of the last questions before I had to pull Christine out to go to another event was "What can we do as ordinary citizens to fix our government?" Christine's answer:
Get involved. Volunteer. Donate to a political cause or candidate. Write your elected officials. And talk to your neighbors.

I had expected to attend a pretty generic event. In the end, how ordinary citizens can fix their government is what the event was about.

As Christine began to leave the room, I saw every person in the standing room only living room moving to the coffee table to take a volunteer sheet to sign up. Every one. That just impressed the hell out of me. Whether or not they will actually follow through remains to be seen. But at least for this afternoon, ordinary people had the idea to participate in their democracy again. This is the only way we will ever reclaim our government from priveledge, money and special interests.

I wish all of you reading this could been there. It was transformational for me, and only makes me want to work even harder to make Cegelis my Congresswoman. Help Cegelis reclaim our government. Volunteer or donate to her campaign today.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

IL-06 Candidate Forums: Elk Grove

Tonight the Elk Grove township Dems had their candidate forum. My friend who attended the event reports that this forum was much more low key and informal an affair than Addison's earlier in the week. The moderator asked the questions with Scott and Cegelis taking turns to answer. Everyone was smiling, friendly, yet asking serious questions. Nothing new in the issues area, but good substance and questions. My friend thought this was the best forum yet with the best substance in both questions and answers. Then came the candidate Q&A session and this question:
Could I just ask: Was Tammy Duckworth invited tonight?

The moderator answered:
Either she of someone from her campaign declined our invitation with no reason given.

My friend said this drew chuckles from the crowd. Seriously, this is becoming a pattern.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Cegelis & Scott Show Up

From Jeff Berkowitz' blog, we learn of the upcoming broadcast:
"Public Affairs," with Democratic 6th CD Primary Candidates IT Consultant and 2004 6th CD Democratic Nominee Christine Cegelis [D-Rolling Meadows] and Wheaton College Professor Lindy Scott [D-Wheaton] is airing this week in 34 Chicago metro suburbs on Comcast Cable

[...]

Christine Cegelis and Professor Lindy Scott, 6th CD Democratic Primary Candidates, debate and discuss with Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter Jeff Berkowitz various domestic, foreign and social policy issues, including immigration, spending, taxes, the War, diplomacy, Guns, Abortion, Major Duckworth, religion, airports, jobs and much more.

[...]

Public Affairs invited the three 6th CD Democratic Primary candidates to participate in this show. Candidates Christine Cegelis [D-Rolling Meadows] and Professor Lindy Scott [D-Wheaton] accepted, and Candidate Major L. Tammy Duckworth [D-Hoffman Estates] indicated she could not attend, but might do so later in the primary campaign season.

For show times, click the link.

UPDATE: Just heard from a friend who was at the Addison Township Dems forum tonight. Duckworth went first because she had a prior commitment and had to leave early. Lindy Scott, who went last, said (paraphrase):

"Who can beat Roskam? You have to look at each of us and go to the forums and see each of us, if all three of the candidates are there. For instance, take Tammy Duckworth. Unfortunately I have to say this without her present as she's already left because she's a fine intelligent strong woman, but she doesn't live in the district, she's not from the district, she doesn't know the district, and she says she won't move into the district even if she's elected. Now that might not be a big deal, but do you think Roskam is ever going to let that drop? He's going to pounce on it and pound on it and pound on it and pound on it."

You know how much people in DuPage county and the district hate to have somebody in Cook County telling them what they should do - whether it's Rahm Emanuel or Barack Obama or anybody else.


Later during the Q&A, came this commen during a question to Cegelis:

Well, we know you weren't going anywhere because even two days after your loss in the last election, there you were, you showed up at our meeting (Addison Township Democrats) just like always.

And I decided at the last minute not to go. Damn.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Robo Poll Mispronounces "Cegelis"

From Austin Mayor's first hand account we learn of another suspicious poll in the works:
Tonight I received a robocall from the DCCC-funded 6th District campaign regarding the Democratic primary. The first question asked whether I was in the military or a military veteran. Press "1" for "yes." And the second question was, "Who would you vote for if the primary was held today?"

The machine then listed the three Democratic candidates for Congress -- and completely mispronounced Christine Cegelis' last name.

Now I grant that "Cegelis" is not a common name, but it took me about two seconds on Google to find out how to say it correctly.

I wonder how long it will be until another error prone poll is leaked challenging Cegelis strength - her support in the community. Don't they get that Cegelis' support comes from the community in which they are calling? Didn't they realize that such a robo-call stood a good chance of calling one of her supporters - in this case a prominent Illinois blogger who documented it?

Cegelis' community support is real. Don't let this old-school corrupt political tactic stand. Volunteer or contribute to the Cegelis campaign today.

Cegelis Excitement Builds

What a weekend for the Cegelis campaign! The past weekend showed that people are starting to see Christine Cegelis for the candidate she is. With a major endorsement, two exciting campaign events, the senior most woman in Congress singing Christine's praises, an interview with Walter Jacobson on Fox Chicago, and a wonderful post by Stephen Yellin, the weekend showed the excitement the Cegelis campaign is building among district residents and the Democratic activist base.

Details from the exciting weekend after the jump:

On Friday, the Progressive Democrats of America endorsed Cegelis:

The political beliefs of Christine Cegelis combine broad, progressive ideals with the kind of pragmatic wisdom that the people of her district need. Her elevation to the House of Representatives would be a tremendous boon not only to the Sixth District of Illinois, but to the entire country. Progressive Democrats of America warmly and enthusiastically endorses Christine Cegelis in this race.

In PDA's email announcing the endorsement, they call on they called on their PDA activists to support and defend Cegelis:

The reason Party bosses are opposing Cegelis is they fear another independent progressive in Congress. Cegelis is a progressive Democrat: she's anti-war, pro-choice, pro-renewable energy and opposes NAFTA-like trade deals. She supports a definite timetable for the quick and safe withdrawal of troops. The DCCC prefers candidates who are centrist and pro business, and they want their recruits to be veterans who are moderate on the war.

PDA members should not tolerate this insulting and counterproductive attack on Cegelis. It is an attack on the progressive potential of the Democratic Party. Cegelis has a realistic chance to add another Democratic seat to our Congress. We urge you to go all out for Cegelis. Yesterday PDA officially endorsed Cegelis, and the most helpful thing we can do right now is give to Cegelis generously and immediately to propel her to victory in the March primary.

Then on Saturday, the Cegelis campaign hosted a luncheon in the morning and town hall event at the International Association of Machinists Union Hall in the afternoon withCongresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), the senior-most Democratic woman in Congress. And Congresswoman Kaptur though Christine Cegelis should be in the Congress with her:
Christine Cegelis is the type of person we need in Congress. She is already asking the right questions. Her focus and understanding of issues key to your community is what will enable her to win the primary and in November.

Congresswoman Kaptur went on to praise Cegelis for her first hand understanding of the issues vital to the district:
Christine understands health insurance. The nation and state governments could do something about this issue if people like Christine who started a business and understands what it takes to pay for it or who have been have been without it, have a genuine understanding of the issue.

Our dependence on oil is a problem and the automotive industry is hemorrhaging jobs. What can America do to make our country energy independent? In my family we have an oil furnace and are converting it to bio diesel. This then puts money in the pockets of the local farmers. The whole area of new fuels that Christine talks about is part of our future. She understands the issue and is leading the way to bring this future industry to her district. We need to empower every American again through energy independence. Christine has focused on the use of alternative sources of energy as America's future is in alternative energy. Christine is on record supporting it. Maybe when Christine is elected to Congress maybe we can work on this together.

Then on Sunday, major media coverage on Fox Chicago Perspective hosted by Walter Jacobson & Jack Conaty. The show aired LIVE from 8-9am on Fox Chicago. From the Cegelis blog:
Sunday morning I had an early morning interview on Fox Chicago Perspective, a news and opinion show with Walter Jacobson and Jack Conaty. The show gave me an opportunity to talk about our campaign to all of Chicagoland. I told Jack of my view that this is a local race, based on local issues. All of the insider candidates Washington can bring my way won’t take away the value of the grassroots network we’ve built from scratch here in District 6. I enjoyed getting that message out on Fox.

That afternoon, "MrLiberal" wonder student Stephen Yellin, decided it was time for bloggers to fall in line - with Christine:
In short, Roskam can be beaten. The district is winnable, and especially so with the wind at our backs for 2006. More importantly, the district can be won by Christine Cegelis. I'm not going to go and criticize the DCCC for backing Tammy Duckworth over Christine in the primary; too much typing has been done on that subject already. Rather, I want to present a couple of key reasons why we should positively support Christine, and why she can and will win with our support. It boils down to this:

Christine is one of us

"One of us" can have many different connotations; in Christine's case, it is definitely so. She is a progressive, an average American and a blogger - in short she fits the profile of so many of us here who write our hearts out online. She has written 12 diaries here and elsewhere, and has made sure to answer questions herself.

[...]

Christine can truly become "our candidate", one that as a Congresswoman will remember that it was the average American - people like us - who got her to Congress.

Imagine having a Representative speaking the same words she's said before on C-SPAN, and having them in the Congressional Record.

Imagine have a Representative from the "Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party" as a freshman, a citizen-legislator who will fight for the future of this country with nothing to lose.

And imagine a Representative who took a chance, made a leap and reached the stars, all because she cared about the future her children would have.

If you care about that dream, that future, then you should care about Christine Cegelis. I hope you'll support her as I have, and help her get into Congress in 2006.

People are beginning to see the potential of Christine Cegelis. As Congresswoman Kaptur noted:
When you have a person like Christine asking where will the jobs of our future come from, someone who had to struggle, who's worked, who knows what is means to make a budget work, knows what it's like to raise kids, start a business, you know she understands the issues. This is the type of person we need in Congress.

Christine is one of us. With our help - either through volunteering for her campaign or your donation - she will be someone who truly represents us in Congress.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Kaptur Campaigns for Cegelis

Today I spent the afternoon at the International Association of Machinists Union Hall in the north-east part of IL-06. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), the senior-most Democratic woman in Congress with a record of supporting labor issues, was there to attend a "Conversation with Christine" on job creation and labor issues. All I have to say about Congresswoman Kaptur is wow! I think she is the type of person we need in Congress. And Congresswoman Kaptur thinks Christine Cegelis should be in the House with her:
Christine Cegelis is the type of person we need in Congress. She is already asking the right questions. Her focus and understanding of issues key to your community is what will enable her to win the primary and in November.


Below I'll do my best to present my notes from the event covering the Congresswoman's talk given to a room full of Cegelis supporters. What follows is my best recollection, often paraphrased, of her remarks which were unscripted:

Congresswoman Kaptur began by praising the supporters who came to the event:
America needs change. Congress needs change. But we need change not by people who want to buy an election. We need change by people who count votes, not just dollars.

Liberty requires eternal vigilance. It requires we give something of our personal life because freedom isn’t free. Christine can not win without you. Some of the people who worked on my campaign when I first was elected are still some of my closest friends to this day. The people in this room who gave up their time on a Saturday are truly members of the Cegelis family. Thanks for caring about our country enough to send one of your own to our nation’s capital.

Next Congresswoman Kaptur focused on the disconnect between Congress and ordinary Americans, focusing on how money and privilege have taken their toll on our government:
In DC were in trouble. We were just talking about the number of hungry people in America. It's an enormous tasks for food banks just to feed people. In my church we packed more basics and food baskets than ever before. There is something very serious going on in this country. Unless we elect people like Christine who understand what it is like to struggle day to day we will never change in DC.

This was met with much applause. She then cited examples from the failures of Hurricane Katrina and the "misguided" senior prescription drug bill as failures of Congress to represent the people. To hammer the illustration home, it was red meat time as she spoke of our President's background of privilege:
The President is from my generation, He didn’t have to struggle. He didn’t get good grades. Daddy took care of him. He failed at his business. Daddy bailed him out. He did not have to go through what Christine and ordinary Americans have had to go through. We have people in charge who have never had to struggle. They just don’t get it. Bush never had to multi-task in his life, but he’s in charge of the country. Somebody always bailed him out. We need Christine’s voice to help redirect our ship of state.

Regarding jobs, Bush never left United States in his first years in office. In his first year he brought the President of Mexico to my congressional district. I was a leading opponent of NAFTA at the time. Isn’t that interesting. His father helped negotiate the deal. Now with 1 million jobs lost and Mexico's workers wages cut in half, he doesn’t want to see the results. He doesn’t want to see the millions who have been disadvantaged by benefiting those who trade instead of those who work.

The Congresswoman next spoke of the increasing disenfranchisement of ordinary citizens due to money in politics:
We need people in Congress to offset the arrogance and blindness of the Executive branch. The seats in Congress become more precious because it's all we have left. I’ve been asked to run for state wide audience. What scares me about this is the money involved. That isn’t what our country should be about. Every young personal who follows the rules and works hard should be able to be a Senator, a Representative, a Governor, or a President. Fewer and fewer and fewer people of our experience are given the privilege of serving their country in this way.

Campaign financing and the fact that it’s moved inside the halls of government has polluted our Congress. What we have now is a Plutocracy not a Democracy. That’s not how it was suppose to be. When you have a person like Christine asking where will the jobs of our future come from, someone who had to struggle, who’s worked, who knows what is means to make a budget work, knows what it's like to raise kids, start a business, you know she understands the issues. This is the type of person we need in Congress. What do people really know about production, the market, the issues, if all they know is privilege? You can run a country into the ground and put it $8 billion in debt as we've seen. We need people who can offset this disconnect between privileged and ordinary Americans.

Much applause ensued as she tipped to Cegelis. Praise for Cegelis' understanding and leadership on the issues followed. I much of this as I was distracted by some media people present:
Christine understands health insurance. The nation and state governments could do something about this issue if people like Christine who started a business and understands what it takes to pay for it or who have been have been without it, have a genuine understanding of the issue.

Our dependence on oil is a problem and the automotive industry is hemorrhaging jobs. What can America do to make our country energy independent? In my family we have an oil furnace and are converting it to bio diesel. This then puts money in the pockets of the local farmers. The whole area of new fuels that Christine talks about is part of our future. She understands the issue and is leading the way to bring this future industry to her district. We need to empower every American again through energy independence. Christine has focused on the use of alternative sources of energy as America’s future is in alternative energy. Christine is on record supporting it. Maybe when Christine is elected to Congress maybe we can work on this together.

Congresswoman Kaptur's closing summed up just what this primary is about:
Together by electing the right people to Congress, who ask the right questions first, who are children of struggle, and who understand first hand the issues of their district, we can change Congress for the better. People like Christine are the people we need in Congress. That’s why I’m so proud to be here today in support of Christine Cegelis.

This recieved a standing ovation that lasted what seemed five minutes. The event and the Congresswoman were wonderful. Take Congresswoman Kaptur's advice. Support Christine Cegelis by volunteering some of your time or contributing to her campaign today.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Progressive Democrats Endorse Cegelis

So the Progressive Democrats of America endorsed Cegelis. And this is surprising how? A national progressive organization backed a candidate consistently on the record supporting progressive issues. I'm shocked. I'm surprised. I'm stunned. I'm not.

From the PDA website:
Christine Cegelis is a progressive to be admired. She speaks eloquently of her opposition to the Iraq occupation, and of the need for the United States to join the global community by joining the community of nations in support of the Kyoto Protocol. The issues closest to her political heart, the issues that matter most to the sixth district, center on job creation and the establishment of a robust economy for her constituents.

[...]

The political beliefs of Christine Cegelis combine broad, progressive ideals with the kind of pragmatic wisdom that the people of her district need. Her elevation to the House of Representatives would be a tremendous boon not only to the Sixth District of Illinois, but to the entire country. Progressive Democrats of America warmly and enthusiastically endorses Christine Cegelis in this race.

This is the difference for me between Cegelis and Duckworth. The Duckworth campaign seems content to hold orchestrated media events talking at residents about their candidate's recent understanding of the issues. The Cegelis campaign openly engages district residents displaying a command of the issues in an honest interaction with district residents. Duckworth supporters say she has some good positions, but they don't know what they are. Cegelis is an on the record and endorsed by true progressives.

More from the PDA email newsletter:
APPEAL TO PDA ACTIVISTS: DEFEND PROGRESSIVE FRONT-RUNNER AGAINST BELTWAY BETRAYAL
You might expect Beltway Democrats to be lining up enthusiastically behind Cegelis in this great opportunity to capture a Chicago suburban area Congressional seat. Instead, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has recruited a candidate to oppose Cegelis for the Democratic nomination.

The reason Party bosses are opposing Cegelis is they fear another independent progressive in Congress. Cegelis is a progressive Democrat: she’s anti-war, pro-choice, pro-renewable energy and opposes NAFTA-like trade deals. She supports a definite timetable for the quick and safe withdrawal of troops. The DCCC prefers candidates who are centrist and pro business, and they want their recruits to be veterans who are moderate on the war.

PDA members should not tolerate this insulting and counterproductive attack on Cegelis. It is an attack on the progressive potential of the Democratic Party. Cegelis has a realistic chance to add another Democratic seat to our Congress. We urge you to go all out for Cegelis. Yesterday PDA officially endorsed Cegelis, and the most helpful thing we can do right now is give to Cegelis generously and immediately to propel her to victory in the March primary.

So how was Duckworth given her endorsement:
Wednesday, Duckworth won the endorsement of the Illinois AFL-CIO, which backed Cegelis two years ago. Illinois AFL-CIO President Margaret Blackshere told me Thursday that calls from Durbin to union activists helped Duckworth clinch the endorsement.

Contrast this with the way Cegelis earned PDA's endorsement:
To receive national PDA endorsement, a candidate must be endorsed by each PDA Chapter that has representation in the geographic area covered by the office the candidate seeks. For example, a candidate for House of Representatives would be officially endorsed by the Spokescouncil only if each Chapter with members in the Congressional District involved endorsed the candidate.

So Duckworth's endorsement is the result of political connections calling in favors and Cegelis' endorsement is the result of local members in the district voting for her. "Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do" seems appropriate right now. The PDA newsletter sums it up best:
PDA supporters are urged to go all out to help Christine Cegelis, not only to elect an outstanding candidate, but also to show the Beltway Democrats that their effort to block progressives within the party won't be tolerated. We must help raise significant funds for her, to offset the heavy Democratic spending that's been promised against her. Please send whatever you can afford, whether it's $15, $50, $500, or the maximum $2100. Click here and give on-line.

This is probably the most important political contribution you can make in the current election cycle. With the help of PDA supporters, Cegelis will win the primary and go on to defeat Tom Delay's former staffer in November. The alternative -- letting an unqualified, inexperienced candidate become the Democratic nominee for this open seat -- would result in a Democratic defeat in November, with Tom Delay getting an additional seat in Congress, one that he will personally control.

This is about the heart and soul of how our party does business. Help support a real progressive Democrat and donate to Cegelis today.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Union Endorses the Non-Union Candidate

So the AFL-CIO endorsed Duckworth. And this is surprising how? The biggest Democratic machine backing union backed the Chicago machine candidate. I'm shocked. I'm surprised. I'm stunned. I'm not.

What does surprise me is that the AFL-CIO is endorsing the only candidate who hasn't been a member of a union, let alone been an active proponent of labor politically, but instead backed a candidate who has no clearly defined or articulated positions on labor. I bet that might surprise the rank and file a bit.

Cegelis has been a union member and comes from a union family. In 2004 she received widespread union support, including an endorsement from the AFL-CIO. Cegelis hasn't changed her views to position herself politically; she hasn't shrunk from her outspoken support for labor and union issues to curry favor. She's on the record consistently opposing CAFTA, advocating for raising the minimum wage, and opposing changes in overtime pay eligibility. Cegelis' views on labor are not only known, but demonstrated through actions and not just well crafted words written by a publicist. But more importantly, her actions have no strings attached to them.

Foundationally, Cegelis' campaign is about helping ordinary everyday Americans reclaim the American Dream. Key to the American Dream is the American middle class success. And key to the middle class has been organized labor. The two are not separate and she knows it:
America’s economic stability rests on the strength of our middle class and the strength of our middle class rests on how we can make the American Dream a reality for everyone.

[...]

As globalization causes increasing numbers of American jobs to be outsourced, the Bush Administration pushed CAFTA through Congress. CAFTA and other free trade agreements bring increasing job losses at a time when we can least afford it. Our Republican leadership has expanded the H-1B visa program to foreign workers -- bringing workers in from outside our country to train and perform jobs once held by Americans. That means foreign workers are being trained in America for jobs that will then be shifted overseas. As a consultant at area corporations, I have seen first-hand the jobs lost to the H-1B program and the outsourcing that is a direct result. These are good-paying jobs that are not replaced here. In Congress, I will oppose CAFTA and other similar free-trade agreements and I will vote to reduce the number of H-1B visas draining jobs from our industries.

My grandfather was a union steel worker, and I am proud of the strong work ethic and fight for workers’ rights he exemplified. If I am elected to Congress, I plan to fight hard to protect the rights unions have won for all workers including collective bargaining, overtime pay, and sick leave. I will fight to continue to work towards equal pay enforcement, and to make the minimum wage a livable minimum wage. It will take resolve to reclaim our American Dream, and it’s a battle I’m prepared to take on.

Since Cegelis was a union member and comes from a union family she understands first hand the issues important to union members and working families in the district. She's not just talking the talk. She's walking the walk. And she's walked that walk in many a local union hall in the district. Just like she'll be doing this weekend.

This Saturday, Cegelis will host a conversation on labor and employment issues - at a union hall where she's spoken to gatherings of union members before:
Christine will team up with Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) in an event highlighting labor and job creation issues. Please plan to join us and add your voice to a spirited discussion of these critical issues facing District 6. In 2005, DuPage County posted its first job loss numbers in more than 50 years, according to the Daily Herald. As many area companies announce layoffs and outsourcing is on the rise, solutions and fresh ideas are needed.

So together with the senior most woman in Congress known for her support of labor, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Cegelis will discuss labor issues with district residents and union members at the International Association of Machinists Hall. That's a demonstration of genuine command of the issue and honest interaction with district residents, not just an orchestrated media endorsement event.

The machine wants you to believe Cegelis can't win. Prove them wrong here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Walter Jacobson & Jack Conaty Interview Cegelis

Christine Cegelis will be interviewed on Fox Chicago Perspective hosted by Walter Jacobson & Jack Conaty. The show will be LIVE from 8-9am on Fox Chicago. Can you believe I just linked to Fox?

Last Sunday, Christine taped a show with Jeff Berkowitz, the host of Chicagoland's premier local-access political talk show 'Public Affairs.' The show should air in the near future and I'll provide the information as soon as I hear about it.

Monday, January 09, 2006

IL-06: A Handle on the Issues?

Yesterday, Mark Brown in the Sun Times had some coverage of Duckworth's reach out and touch the media campaign from her press conference on that current buring topic, the Alternative Minimum Tax. Funny thing is, even though the AMT was the topic that warranted the coverage (of two reporters), here's the thrust of the article:
Duckworth, not the complaining type, did mention one little problem she was having when we talked last March. Her new right leg kept falling off.

[...]

It's not exactly what I'd envisioned when I'd enlisted as a charter member in the Tammy Duckworth fan club for her then-looming battle with the Pentagon over amputee rights, but there's no turning back now.

In case you had missed it, this was a press conference on the AMT. What, you expect a candidate running for Congress to know the issues? Come on, all you need is a compelling personality with no record or residency in the district. So did her AMT position get any coverage? Sure, down in paragraph 17 & 18 of a 20 paragraph puff piece:
Her presentation on the alternative minimum tax was a little dense, although she'd clearly studied up and knew more about the issue than the two reporters (me included) who were there to cover her.

If she manages to survive a tough Democratic primary fight with Christine Cegelis, the party's nominee two years ago, and Lindy Scott, a Wheaton College professor, she'll need to tune up her candidacy considerably before squaring off with presumed GOP nominee Sen. Peter Roskam.

So of the two journalists who showed up, one at least who names himself as "a charter member in the Tammy Duckworth fan club" calls her presentation "a little dense" and notes she'll need to "tune up her candidacy considerably" to take on Roskam. But she's the stronger candidate?

Duckworth had a similar experience at a recent township democratic meeting:
She had talked about health care as a problem, and I asked what solution she favored, specifically whether she would support H. R. 676, the single-payer bill. She said yes, she would support it, and then touted her own idea which is a national version of Gov. Blagojevich's plan to provide health insurance for children. Obviously, this would be unnecessary if we had single-payer, which would cover all ages. Maybe she meant the latter plan as a next best thing if we can't have single-payer. But maybe she didn't know what single-payer is and answered anyway.
 
Another YTDO member, whom we'll call "WHISKEY" since that's his nom de blog, asked her about the Bankruptcy Bill which Melissa Bean voted for. She talked about how it was unfair for companies in financial trouble to take away employees' pensions. A good answer to the wrong question.

Cegelis knows the issues. She knows the people at the local level. She lives in the district. All she needs is our help to keep the playing field level with Rahm's anointed candidate who's going to get this kind of puff media. As Cegelis noted at the YTDO meeting:
We need representatives who are not beholden to outside interests. I am willing to make the tough stands and decisions because of my belief in doing the right thing, but also because I won’t owe this seat to anyone but my constituents.

Here's Cegelis' donate page to contribute to a candidate who knows the issues and won't owe the seat to anyone but the people of her district. We can make a difference in this race.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Duckworth Meets the Locals

This past Thursday candidates for IL-06 spent some time at the York Township Democratic Organization meeting. York Township covers a large part of the district and YTDO was less than outgoing in it's reception to Duckworth entering the IL-06 race, having spent the better part of the last two years supporting regular attendee Christine Cegelis. So what kind of impression did she make on members:
Though YTDO has opposed the idea of Duckworth's candidacy, everybody was friendly and welcoming. And while Duckworth probably didn't persuade anybody present to defect to her camp, she did make an overall favorable impression. [...]
 
But there were a few, er, Major oddities.
 
[...]
 
She had talked about health care as a problem, and I asked what solution she favored, specifically whether she would support H. R. 676, the single-payer bill. She said yes, she would support it, and then touted her own idea which is a national version of Gov. Blagojevich's plan to provide health insurance for children. Obviously, this would be unnecessary if we had single-payer, which would cover all ages. Maybe she meant the latter plan as a next best thing if we can't have single-payer. But maybe she didn't know what single-payer is and answered anyway.
 
Another YTDO member, whom we'll call "WHISKEY" since that's his nom de blog, asked her about the Bankruptcy Bill which Melissa Bean voted for. She talked about how it was unfair for companies in financial trouble to take away employees' pensions. A good answer to the wrong question.
 
What to make of this? Is it an honest slip, the kind of brain fart that happens to the best of us? Or is it a Major gaffe, the result of someone who's had too much coaching and not done enough independent thinking on the issues?

Here's "Whiskey's" take:
She came across as very credible, a good candidate, but she really had a hard time answering the questions about her status as a resident in the 8th congressional district (the hated Melissa Bean's district). [...]

I asked her two questions that she handled pretty well. My first was whether she'd vote for CAFTA, she said no. My second was whether she'd support the bankruptcy bill that passed last year (and that punishes peopl for filing for bankruptcy for medical bills). I made sure to mention that 'her' representative voted for both of those pieces of heinous legislation, the former at the urging of Rahm Emanuel.

Afterwards, Christine got up and did a very good job presenting herself, saying that she knew most of the people in the room (ahem, Ms. Duckworth)...

So in the end, Duckworth came across to a tough room as anticipated: a well spoken charasmatic candidate who is new to politics and doesn't quite know all the issues important to the district or nationally just yet. Cramming is hard work, but I'm sure she'll get better. But as Gary noted earlier, she didn't win many converts. As Gary puts it:
I do think Christine Cegelis is handing this the right way:
 
Quote:
We need representatives who are not beholden to outside interests. I am willing to make the tough stands and decisions because of my belief in doing the right thing, but also because I won’t owe this seat to anyone but my constituents.

Amen, and while Duckworth can adopt Cegelis' positions, she can't cover up the fact that her campaign is built on money from interests who are going to expect a return on their investment.
 
Per Duckworth, her next campaign event is a press conference on the Alternative Minimum Tax. Why this particular topic, I have no idea, unless she's trying to establish credentials as a policy wonk.

Amen indeed. Why the AMT now is another interesting question as that isn't really current news at the moment. I think it's less policy wonk development as keeping her name in the media by holding press conferences.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

IL-06: Who's Got a Blog?

I'm a big believer in the potential of blogs. So I noticed the lack of a blog back when Duckworth's campaign launched her website. But I thought, it's just a quickie website to go along with her well orchestrated campaign roll out. Well, nearly a month later there's still no blog and I'm not the only one who's noticed:
The most interest in campaign blogging among Illinois candidates is in the 6th District, which has a competitive Democratic primary. Two of the three candidates, 2004 Democratic nominee Christine Cegelis and Lindy Scott, have blogs. Tammy Duckworth, who announced her candidacy just a day before the filing deadline, does not have a blog at her campaign site.

This is another reason why I am concerned about Duckworth's campaign, and the unprecidented backing of Rham Emanuel her campaign has recieved. DLCers and DC Democrats - like Emanuel - seem not to be the biggest fans of the Blogosphere. Since I believe the Blogosphere has the ability to level the playing field for Democrats, help organize local Democrats, communicate directly with Democratic voters, and build Democratic community both on-line and off, the lack of support for the Blogosphere, much beyond viewing it as a cash machine, is troubling. A blog would have required little effort by Duckworth's campaign to put in place. It would have been viewed as an attempt to interact with the local Democratic community and larger Blogosphere. Instead her campaign handlers have chosen not to engage the Blogosphere.

Cegelis, on the other hand, has reached out to bloggers. She's had a blog since early on in her campaign and has a record of posting on mainstay lefty blogs like dKos. She's reached out to local bloggers, inviting them to participate with conference calls with mainstream bloggers and participating in calls set up by local bloggers. Her campaign has a blog where she posts herself, and her campaign hopes to bring in staff to post regularly as well. She values the input of bloggers in the Democratic process, viewing their roll as being an important element for inclusion of citizens in their government:
Cegelis felt the beauty of blogs was to develop a clear idea of what needs to change. What direction do we need to go. What is politician's vision focus on. In DuPage she saw this as a key function as the Republican machine has been in place for 30-plus years. Every local Republican meeting gets 200-300 people in attendance. Democratic organization are just beginning to build, but they are decades behind. She felt blogs where a way to speed this process and help organize locally. She felt this was part of the importance of her run against Hyde in 2004 - the process. An Democratic organization needs to be built to beat the Republicans. This wasn't going to happen overnight, let alone one election cycle. Cegelis thought being a part of this process was one of the most important parts of her campaign.

Cegelis wants to engage the Blogosphere in discussion of issues important to the district and our country. Duckworth's campaign has chosen to communicate through a media blitz. I don't know which way is better, but I do know which I prefer. I can get a better idea of how a candidate will vote from a candidate who embraces the interaction of the Blogosphere than I can through a candidate who's talking points are just repeated over and over in the media. Cegelis may not post as often as we blog addicts might like, but she's at least supportive of the medium we've embraced and attempting to interacting with the on-line Democratic community. Her openness towards the Blogospher demonstrates her desire for an inclusive Democratic process in ways paid media never could.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A History of Backing the Wrong Candidate

One of the biggest complaints leveled against Duckworth's entry into IL-06 hasn't been directed against her, but at the DCCC. It's no longer open for debate that the DCCC is involving itself under Emanuel's direction to an unprecidented extent in backing Duckworth. But the move by the DCCC to back "electable" candidates in favor of local candidates like Cegelis does have a history. And it's not a pretty one. From Roll Call (subscription required):
In recent years, the DCCC has had mixed results in races where it was perceived to have a favored nominee in a contested primary.

In the previous cycle, banker Christine Jennings (D) was the preferred candidate of national party leaders to take on Rep. Katherine Harris (R) in Florida’s 13th district. However, Jennings failed to win the Democratic primary, losing to attorney Jan Schneider, who had been the party’s nominee in 2002.

In 2002, the DCCC leaders took some heat for their open support of Bettendorf Mayor Anne Hutchinson (D) in Iowa’s 1st district primary. While she won the primary, she was defeated handily in the general election. That same year national Democrats’ preferred nominee in Pennsylvania’s 18th district also unexpectedly lost the primary.

In 2000, the last time the DCCC issued any formal primary endorsements, the party-backed candidate lost the primary in a neighboring western Pennsylvania district, setting up the GOP pickup of the seat that fall.

That same year, the party also suffered a major defeat when it endorsed against Fanwood Mayor Maryanne Connelly, who eventually won the Democratic primary in New Jersey’s 7th district.

One Democratic consultant observed that there already is more evidence of DCCC involvement in the 6th district race than in any previous contested primary in recent memory.

“I would say what’s happening in Illinois is outsized compared to what happened in any of those other races,” the consultant said. “Already they’ve done as much or more in a contested primary situation than I’ve ever seen.”

The part in bold (emphasis mine) is what concerns me. The DCCC's backing of Duckworth follows the same failed 'war hero' narrative that was completely destroyed by the GOP for both Kerry and Cleland, and has already been deemed 'breathtakingly cynical' in the Chicago Tribune for the DCCC's exploitation of Duckworth's "wounds."

I've written this before, but this lack of support for Cegelis sets up a lose/lose for the district Democrats:
If Duckworth runs and wins:
This will be a blow to Democrats in the district who have used the Cegelis campaign as a rallying point as they work to build the local Democratic party. Such a win will most likely be viewed as a hostile take over of the district by Chicago Democrats and have a lasting effect on those most active in the district, as a bitter primary will hurt a race in which every vote will be needed to win.

If Duckworth runs and loses:
Roskam will jump all over this and run with the "Cegelis' own party wouldn't support her" narrative. Just as was done to Dean in his primary, Roskam will use this to falsely paint Cegelis as radically on the fringe of her own party. The primary would be essentially a complete vote of no confidence by the Party for Cegelis, making what is already going to be a difficult race for any Democrat that much more difficult for her. How will Rahm and the DCCC support Cegelis then after working against her in the primary?

Either way the DCCC is going to waste resources that we need in the General, create division, and tick off the base, all in one swift move. And based on their past track record, I'm not not that confident anything good can come out of this other than for the likes of the GOP and Roskam.