Right now, in the 11th Congressional District of California - the seat currently held by Delay's corrupt buddy Richard Pombo - there are three Democrats running in the primary: Jerry McNerney
, Steve Filson
, and Steven Thomas. I wasn't able to find a website for Thomas. But practically speaking, I am going to concentrate on the race between McNerney and Filson and I want to tell you why McNerney comes out better, in my opinion, by leaps and bounds. My reasoning has to do with three factors: political courage, progressive values and credentials, and grassroots battle.
Let me say something first though. I know Jerry McNerney in person. I've met him, he knows my name, and he is a terrific person. He is candid, straightforward, kind, and friendly. Anyway, so let's begin. (below the fold)
In 2004, Jerry McNerney got a call from his son who was serving in Afghanistan. His son told him that there were no Democratic candidates running against Richard Pombo in the 11th Congressional District. Now, before I go any further. Stop. Think. The Democratic party could not find and recruit a candidate. More likely, the establishment did not want to go through the trouble of recruiting a candidate who would, you know, "lose anyway" to Pombo. The Democratic establishment lacked the courage to fight for every inch of the ground before giving it up.
Jerry McNerney decided that he was going to step forward and fill in that courage void. He ran as a write-in candidate in the primary. After the first count, he did not have enough votes to get on the November 2004 ballot, but he was close. So he decided to ask for a recount. In our rotten system, he had to take out a second mortgage on his house to pay the $10,000 recount fee that resulted in him picking up enough votes - just one more than required - to get on the ballot.
McNerney had no party support. He had no money. He had nothing, except a lot of good people who were willing to stand their ground and fight. And he was going to stand with them and fight. He had the courage to stand up and represent the aspirations of people who were tired of lying down and taking it, people who were tired of Democrats giving up before a battle even began. He was and is the Democrat with the courage.
PROGRESSIVE VALUES AND CREDENTIALS
I believe that one's values and public stands on the issues of the day is very much indicative of one's courage to stand up for them. Let's start with looking at McNerney's issues page
Iraq and Foreign Policy: Right off the bat, the word "Iraq" is not even mentioned in Filson's "platform." McNerney, on the other hand, plenty of material
on it. He is unequivocally opposed to the war of distraction and choice. Filson? Not a single word. Not one. At a time when we are losing people every day, at a time when this is affecting ordinary Americans. Silence from Filson. Well at least from his website. Call me stupid, but I think this has something to do with that pesky courage thing, you know, the lack of which makes you think, "ooh, I'm in a red district; I better not say anything about that!" McNerney also stakes out comprehensive, progressive positions
on foreign policy. Despite being a former Navy pilot, "foreign policy" seems to be a foreign term to Filson.
McNerney has a comprehensive page addressing jobs (help small businesses, make healthcare costs lower), outsourcing, balancing the budget, taxes (stop Bush's giveaway to rich), corporate welfare, fair trade, and infrastructure. On all of them, he lays out a progressive vision and policy strategy brilliantly. Filson has a position too. "Cutting spending," as I said above.
McNerney is a wind energy expert, and he has an extensive principled and practical energy plan to produce 20% of America's energy from clean, renewable sources by 2020. Read more about his positions on his policy page
. Filson: "Reverse our dependence on oil through investments in renewable fuels and research and development of alternative energy sources and raising fuel efficiency standards." That is the entirety of Filson's stand on energy policy.
McNerney fully advocates universal healthcare, and will accept nothing less. Read his position
. Filson? Yeah, let "Medicare negotiate lower drug prices to make prescriptions more affordable for our seniors and needy." That is it.
In fact Filson's platform page has only a few concrete things he stands for: let Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices, universal preschool and a "more affordable college tuition", "investments in renewable fuels and research," inspecting cargo, and cutting spending. That's it. Yeah, he has a bunch of condemnations of Pombo on that page, and he makes a blanket "fight for fairness" statement, but nothing when it comes to substance.
Issue after issue (you can read more), McNerney takes principled progressive stands and Filson is practically silent. The spelling out of his positions so clearly makes one thing clear: McNerney is a proud progressive, and is not afraid of his own shadow. Filson - at this moment at least - seems to be avoiding taking principled stands consistent with progressive values.
THE GRASSROOTS VS. THE ESTABLISHMENT
Jerry McNerney's candidacy was in 2004, and is now, a result of a grassroots insurgency that rejected the party establishment's power structure. The DCCC (aka establishment) brought in Filson for two reasons: they saw (from Jerry) that Pombo could and should be challenged, and they wanted somebody who would be beholden to the party hiararchy. Filson is a big campaign donor and friend of Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D- 10th CD), who is no friend of either grassroots or progressives, and recently made clear
that she didn't like Dean for telling the truth about Iraq. Go to the DCCC's website and you will see Filson more prominently showcased with a picture and a biography, but not the other two candidates. You will hear a lot of Filson's supporters say that you need Filson because, "McNerney can't win." Hmm... sounds like the same thing the establishment spewed about another certain outsider. Filson, for better or for worse, is the candidate the party establishment put up to stop Jerry McNerney and the grassroots insurgency within the party. At least, I have enough reason to believe so. I hope I'm wrong.
McNerney's campaign, I say again, has been entirely a project of the grassroots. People from all over the bay area - DFA people, California for Democracy people, progressive people - have beeen working their butts off for McNerney. We got McNerney on Dean Dozen in 2004, and we plan to do so again. Today, McNerney has the endorsements of San Joaquin Central Labor Council - who decided to give the proverbial finger to the establishment in favor of the grassroots, and the Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley
- a club I am proud to be a party of. McNerney will not be beholden to anything but ordinary Americans and the values he proudly stands for.
Now that I have spelled out the case for Jerry McNerney for the 11th CD of California because of his courage, his progressive credentials and strength, and his grassroots energy, will you please help Jerry? Visit JerryMcNerney.org, and help and contribute if you are in the area. If you are not, and can spare a few bucks, please please donate