Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"The Road To 60 Goes Through Oregon and Minnesota"

Todd Beeton (MyDD):
Now that we're almost 40 days out from election day, a clear path to 60 votes in the senate (that is, including Lieberman, although my preference would be to make him irrelevant) has emerged. A consensus has developed that the following 9 races provide the best opportunities for Democratic pick ups in the Senate (per BruinKid's senate analysis, they're listed in order from most likely pickup to least):
  1. Virginia (Mark Warner)
  2. New Hampshire (Jeanne Shaheen)
  3. New Mexico (Tom Udall)
  4. Colorado (Mark Udall)
  5. North Carolina (Kay Hagan)
  6. Alaska (Mark Begich)
  7. Oregon (Jeff Merkley)
  8. Minnesota (Al Franken)
  9. Mississippi - B (Ronnie Musgrove)
Of these 9 senate challengers, the top 4 are virtual locks on victory -- and hence not fundraising priorities, while still three others, Kay Hagan, Mark Begich and Ronnie Musgrove, are already on our Road to 60 ActBlue page. So, we felt it was time to take the name of our senate fundraising page a bit more literally and fill out the rest of those 9 by adding the two remaining candidates to the page: Jeff Merkley in Oregon and Al Franken in Minnesota.

These two states are varying degrees of blue and really, by all rights, should be represented by Democrats in the Senate. Both states already have 1 Democratic senator each, it's time we sent some Democrats to join them.

Jeff Merkley, the Speaker of the Oregon House, is widely considered to be one of the challengers this cycle who truly fulfills the MORE and BETTER Democrats philosophy of the netroots. Merkley made this crystal clear in his interview with Sam Stein of The Huffington Post earlier this year, in which he laid out his differences with Barack Obama (FISA, NAFTA...) and how he feels Democrats should have been treating Republican obstructionism these last several years (filibuster!) Today, Merkley has released a strong statement opposing the administration's proposed bailout and urging Sen. Smith to do the same:

"Republicans in Washington are demanding a blank check to fix the mess they created and that is completely unacceptable," said Jeff Merkley. "Real families are hurting in this economy and George Bush is only concerned about CEOs on Wall Street. Gordon Smith rubber-stamped the Bush policies that led to this mess, and I urge him to reject any blank check that puts special interests on Wall Street ahead of families on Main Street." [...]

"Gordon Smith says, 'don't play the blame game' - what he really means is 'don't hold me accountable'. Oregonians need new leadership in Washington and that starts with rejecting the failed policies and philosophies of Gordon Smith and the Republican party in November," said Merkley. "In the meantime, Smith must stop giving blank checks to the Bush Administration - he did it with the Iraq war, and he shouldn't do it now."

One of the reasons helping Merkley's campaign is so crucial is that this race is one of the tightest in the country. A recent internal Merkley poll showed him up by 2 and the latest Rasmussen poll shows him within 1 point of Smith, his strongest performance to date (just look at the Pollster.com trend estimate to see Merkley's increasing polling strength.) What's become clear in the polling is that as the campaign has gone on, Smith's job approval ratings have plummeted to below 40%. To help Jeff Merkley continue to hammer away at Smith and not let him use his accrued warchest to regain the advantage in this race, please donate to his campaign at our Road To 60 Act Blue page.

Al Franken has had a bumpy ride this summer as incumbent Senator Norm Coleman has landed some shots using his past as a comedian and satirist against him, but even with the occasional controversy, Franken has made this one of the closest races in the country. The new Rasmussen Reports poll out today shows Franken within just 1 point of Coleman (see also Pollster trend estimate.) Like Merkley, Franken -- also a MORE and BETTER Democrat -- has released a strong statement opposing the bailout:

Six years after President Bush asked Congress to give him a blank check for war in Iraq, he's asking for a blank check to bail out Wall Street. But with at least $700 billion of taxpayer money on the line, this time we know better. It is simply unacceptable to hand this much money to the Treasury Secretary and then just sit and hope we see it again. If we're putting our tax dollars -- $2,000 for every Minnesota taxpayer -- on the line, we should demand independent oversight to make sure our money is being used well. A good start would be telling CEOs of companies involved with this bailout that in the public sector, there's no such thing as a golden parachute -- so all excessive compensation, bonuses, and severance agreements are hereby cancelled. But we also need to restore the regulatory framework dismantled with George W. Bush in the White House and Norm Coleman in the Senate so that this doesn't happen again. And after eight years of an economic policy that's put Wall Street first and ignored Main Street, we need real relief for struggling homeowners and better regulation of financial products -- that's why I'm calling for a moratorium on foreclosures of primary residences and a Financial Products Safety Commission with similar duties and powers to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. We need to take action to avoid economic disaster - but the era of putting powerful special interests first and ignoring Minnesota's middle class has got to end.

As Josh noted earlier, Norm Coleman's thoughts on the bailout are delusional at best. As I read these statements I can't help but think of the importance of the 'Better' half of the More and Better formulation. We are always saying we want Democrats with a spine, Democrats who stand up for our values, Democrats for whom compromise doesn't mean doing what the Republicans want. And now this year, we have a real possibility of adding two more of just that kind of Democrat to the Senate.

Help send Jeff Merkley and Al Franken to the Senate at our new and improved Road To 60 ActBlue page.



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