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Hot flashes are usually a private matter. Alison Teal shares hers.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Friends –

O.K. So it was close to an earthquake. It was at least a good sized wave. And it just keeps getting better. In May, when we sent you a note asking you to make a leap of faith and commit to helping candidates we would identify, it seemed like a little project that might have some impact on the margin. By June, when we had identified ten candidates and asked you to actually write checks, many of you did. And by this morning, we were together part of something really important. When we started, no candidate on our list was rated as better than Toss Up by Charlie Cook and there was only one of those. One was Lean Republican, three were Likely Republican and the five others were not even on the list. None of the races was on a targeted list supported by the DCCC. We hoped to encourage candidates who we thought could have an impact on the country now and in the future. All of these candidates and their campaigns gave us reason to be proud. They will give us a base for the future in many districts where we have not really had a presence.

And, today three of them are members of Congress, and two are in recounts or "too close to call." The unsettling truth is that even when the Republicans nominate really terrible people (Bachman in MN6, Sali in ID1, Musgrave in CO4, Lamborn in CO5), they still win where there is a sufficient Republican registration advantage.
We can all be proud to have helped move eight of these candidates within striking distance while forcing the Republicans to spend many millions of dollars and time and effort on races that they had not thought would even be contests. However, we are deeply disappointed that some of the real star quality candidates lost and, at least for us, the consolation is that they will be a continuing presence in their communities and, we hope, candidates in the future.

Jay Fawcett,CO5, www.fawcett4congress.com/ the late addition to our list lost badly. Let's not go back to Colorado Springs in the future. It got really ugly at the end -- a death threat and vandalized office yesterday and repeated trashing of cars with Fawcett bumper strips. Actually, maybe that’s a reason we have to go back.

Gabrielle Giffords AZ8, giffordsforcongress.com/ will be in DC in January when the new Congress convenes.

Larry Grant, ID1, www.grantforcongress.com/ lost. The wave was not an earthquake, the Republicans spent heavily, and he lost 50/45 with the balance to an independent candidate.

Paul Hodes (NH1) www.hodesforcongress.com/ will be in DC in January when the new Congress convenes.

Christine Jennings, FL 13, www.christinejenningsforcongress.com/ is behind by 373 votes out of about 237,831 votes cast. There is a dispute about voting procedures and may be a recount. This is likely to be a Republican seat.

Scott Kleeb, NE3, www.scottkleeb.com/ sadly lost. He needed an earthquake and got a wave, 54/45. He is a potential rising star in the Democratic Party and part of a new group of Western Democrats that should be encouraged and supported.

Angie Paccione, CO4, www.angie2006.com/ sadly lost 46/43 with the balance to a minor party candidate. The National Republican Congressional Committee ended up spending over $2,000,000 on this race. She is another potential star in a rising Western Democratic Party.

Dan Seals, IL10, www.dansealsforcongress.com/ lost. He was never able to tie Kirk closely enough to Bush because of Kirk's voting record which is perceived to be moderate and the incredible amount of money it would have taken. Illinois was kind of weird when you also see that Tammy Duckworth lost in a race for an open seat where the DCCC spent millions.

Gary Trauner, WY-AL, www.traunerforcongress.com/ has not been called. Fewer than 800 votes separate the two candidates.

Tim Walz, MN1,www.timwalz.org/ will be in Washington in January when the new Congress convenes.

Patty Wetterling, MN6, www.pattywetterling.com/ lost fairly badly, 50/42. This is worth some study because she is really an attractive candidate and it seemed like a winnable race. The worst news is that her opponent is both radically rightwing and personally appealing. She, Bachmann, will be as much of a star for the crazy religious Right as we think Wetterling, in a quiet, effective way would be for us.

Sam Brown sbrown@centennialpartners.com
Alison Teal alisonteal@tealdesigns.com and www.hotflashesfromthecampaigntrail.blogspt.com
Chuck McLean cmclean@drgi.com
Friends –

O.K. So it was close to an earthquake. It was at least a good sized wave. And it just keeps getting better. In May, when we sent you a note asking you to make a leap of faith and commit to helping candidates we would identify, it seemed like a little project that might have some impact on the margin. By June, when we had identified ten candidates and asked you to actually write checks, many of you did. And by this morning, we were together part of something really important. When we started, no candidate on our list was rated as better than Toss Up by Charlie Cook and there was only one of those. One was Lean Republican, three were Likely Republican and the five others were not even on the list. None of the races was on a targeted list supported by the DCCC. We hoped to encourage candidates who we thought could have an impact on the country now and in the future. All of these candidates and their campaigns gave us reason to be proud. They will give us a base for the future in many districts where we have not really had a presence.

And, today three of them are members of Congress, and two are in recounts or "too close to call." The unsettling truth is that even when the Republicans nominate really terrible people (Bachman in MN6, Sali in ID1, Musgrave in CO4, Lamborn in CO5), they still win where there is a sufficient Republican registration advantage.
We can all be proud to have helped move eight of these candidates within striking distance while forcing the Republicans to spend many millions of dollars and time and effort on races that they had not thought would even be contests. However, we are deeply disappointed that some of the real star quality candidates lost and, at least for us, the consolation is that they will be a continuing presence in their communities and, we hope, candidates in the future.

Jay Fawcett,CO5, www.fawcett4congress.com/ the late addition to our list lost badly. Let's not go back to Colorado Springs in the future. It got really ugly at the end -- a death threat and vandalized office yesterday and repeated trashing of cars with Fawcett bumper strips. Actually, maybe that’s a reason we have to go back.

Gabrielle Giffords AZ8, giffordsforcongress.com/ will be in DC in January when the new Congress convenes.

Larry Grant, ID1, www.grantforcongress.com/ lost. The wave was not an earthquake, the Republicans spent heavily, and he lost 50/45 with the balance to an independent candidate.

Paul Hodes (NH1) www.hodesforcongress.com/ will be in DC in January when the new Congress convenes.

Christine Jennings, FL 13, www.christinejenningsforcongress.com/ is behind by 373 votes out of about 237,831 votes cast. There is a dispute about voting procedures and may be a recount. This is likely to be a Republican seat.

Scott Kleeb, NE3, www.scottkleeb.com/ sadly lost. He needed an earthquake and got a wave, 54/45. He is a potential rising star in the Democratic Party and part of a new group of Western Democrats that should be encouraged and supported.

Angie Paccione, CO4, www.angie2006.com/ sadly lost 46/43 with the balance to a minor party candidate. The National Republican Congressional Committee ended up spending over $2,000,000 on this race. She is another potential star in a rising Western Democratic Party.

Dan Seals, IL10, www.dansealsforcongress.com/ lost. He was never able to tie Kirk closely enough to Bush because of Kirk's voting record which is perceived to be moderate and the incredible amount of money it would have taken. Illinois was kind of weird when you also see that Tammy Duckworth lost in a race for an open seat where the DCCC spent millions.

Gary Trauner, WY-AL, www.traunerforcongress.com/ has not been called. Fewer than 800 votes separate the two candidates.

Tim Walz, MN1,www.timwalz.org/ will be in Washington in January when the new Congress convenes.

Patty Wetterling, MN6, www.pattywetterling.com/ lost fairly badly, 50/42. This is worth some study because she is really an attractive candidate and it seemed like a winnable race. The worst news is that her opponent is both radically rightwing and personally appealing. She, Bachmann, will be as much of a star for the crazy religious Right as we think Wetterling, in a quiet, effective way would be for us.

Sam Brown sbrown@centennialpartners.com
Alison Teal alisonteal@tealdesigns.com and www.hotflashesfromthecampaigntrail.blogspt.com
Chuck McLean cmclean@drgi.com

Monday, November 06, 2006

One more day. But it is not going to be a revolution.

Yesterday, a few days late, we got the "October surprise" -- Saddam is guilty. I doubt that this has legs with the voters even though it is now Bush's major talking point. The fact that the verdict was met not with dancing in the streets but with increased sectarian violence should remind people again that getting rid of Saddam is not the same as bringing peace and democracy to the region. I choose to think that people are not so stupid as to be taken in by this. H.L. Mencken observed that "No one in this world, . . .has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby." I think he is wrong but we will know more tomorrow.

There are two disturbing polls in the last two days. A Pew poll released yesterday shows a tightening race on the generic ballot question. That is the one where pollsters ask "If you had to vote today for a Republican or a Democrat, for whom would you vote?" or some variation on that question. A week ago the Pew poll was at 50/39. Yesterday it was at 47/43. ABC/Washington Post and USAToday/Gallup polls show the race at 51/44 and 51/45. The bad news is that the Pew poll has been particularly reliable in the past and it shows momentum going quickly in the wrong direction. Kohut, the Pew pollster said in an interview yesterday that it was not that sentiment had changed but that the Republican voters were more motivated and that shows up as an increase in the percentage among likely voters. However, this generic question is not so important as what is happening in particular districts. There are some we should win (against Pombo and Bilbray in California or Pryce in Ohio) but the candidates in these districts are not strong. There are some where the Republicans have been totally blind-sided by strong Democratic candidates in traditional Republican strongholds. Below is the final summary on the eleven races you have supported. Last week one of the campaign managers told a reporter "the only reason they are still in the race is because of early money received from 'angels' who dropped out of the sky". So thank you angels.

We all think that what we have done together has been fun. We hope you do too and that tomorrow it will matter.

Jay Fawcett, CO5, www.fawcett4congress.com/ This is a particularly fluid race. Some think it is a toss up and that the impact of the resignation of Ted Haggard yesterday will further alienate Republican voters and keep them home. Others point out that, to win in the district Fawcett has to get 90+% of the Democratic vote, about 25% of the Republican vote and 70% of the independents. That is a pretty steep requirement. Cheney was in the district on Friday where he said that electing Fawcett "would hurt America's chances in the war on terror and would bring higher taxes and slower economic growth to the country". Who would have guessed that sending an Air Force Academy graduate and retired officer would bring joy to the heart of Osama? Yesterday I read a comment that said roughly "if Democrats win thirty or more seats that is not a wave of support - waves recede. Thirty or more is an earthquake where there is a permanent shift in the underlying structure". I agree, and if we win this one it will be the sign of a major earthquake, not a wave of support.

Gabrielle Giffords, AZ8, giffordsforcongress.com/ will be in DC in January when the new Congress convenes.

Larry Grant, ID1, www.grantforcongress.com/ Cheney has been to this district twice. There is no new polling data and the last one showed a dead heat. Again, the need to get really big numbers of Republican votes in order to win suggests that it remains an uphill slog. But you have to love that the Republicans are spending the VP's time, and their money and anxiety on a district they thought was solidly theirs. Grant has run a terrific campaign and has benefited from the excesses of his opponent. Another earthquake race.

Paul Hodes, NH1, www.hodesforcongress.com/ finally climbed to the "toss up" column in Congressional Quarterly and was cited by the NYT yesterday as a bellwether race. This is one we can win. Polls close at 7:00 EST.

Christine Jennings, FL 13, www.christinejenningsforcongress.com/ now leads narrowly in the polls. The campaign against her by her self-funded opponent is so nasty it seems to be helping Jennings. She could win.

Scott Kleeb, NE3, www.scottkleeb.com/ The strength of this campaign forced a visit from Bush yesterday. The Republicans and the Club for Growth have also spent heavily on negative ads attacking Kleeb. For its part the DCCC also has directed dollars into the district largely on negative ads attacking Smith. Kleeb has run only positive ads. Another earthquake race but one that would not be a race at all if it were not for the strength of the candidate and the campaign.

Angie Paccione, CO4, www.angie2006.com/ is now running dead even in a poll from the same firm that showed her down by ten points two weeks ago. Bush was in the district for the second time on Saturday. Republicans have now spent $1.7 million on this race. Democrats welcomed Bush to the District and Paccione said that "if she (Musgrave) wants to tie herself to an unpopular President that's her problem." Bush's approval in the district is at about 40%. Interestingly, Bush did not spend time talking about Musgrave's signature issue of gay marriage. Although Ted Haggard has frequently been to the White House he didn't get an invite to Greeley for the rally.

Dan Seals, IL10, www.dansealsforcongress.com/ has no new data after the dust-up about the Kirk staff member letter and the Mikva lawsuit. This is a race where Seals has run a good race but it may not be enough. Kirk has distanced himself from the President and Seals has not had the money in a very expensive market to hang the President around Kirk's neck.

Gary Trauner, WY-AL, www.traunerforcongress.com/ has been the target of negative advertising, push polls (Would you be more or less likely to vote for him if you knew that Trauner is "pro-abortion and would legalize euthanasia?") and the repeated kind ministrations of the Veep. Trauner has followed a strategy of being relentlessly positive in the face of a relentlessly negative opponent. The Casper Star-Tribune, on the heels of yet another Cheney visit, endorsed Trauner yesterday. Again, an earthquake race but one that will be won, if it is, by the strength of the candidate and the campaign.

Tim Walz, MN1,www.timwalz.org/ has been endorsed by the newspapers in most cities in his district -- Mankato, Worthington, Winona and Albert Lea -- as well as by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. But Gutknect retains a good reputation for constituent services and delivering for the district. If Walz has succeeded in making this a race about the war and national issues, he wins. If it is all local, he loses.

Patty Wetterling, MN6, www.pattywetterling.com/ has not been going well in the last several days. In the polls she has been ahead by as much as 8% but the dynamic now seems to have switched and, although there are no new public polls, the growing consensus among pundits is that Bachmann is leading. It is unimaginable that Wetterling, who is such an attractive candidate and is running against such a jerk -- but an attractive, personable jerk -- could lose. But it appears that, when faced with two seemingly o.k. candidates, each of whom has pretty relentlessly attacked the other, Republicans will fall back to being Republicans. This has been a messy, expensive race and is likely to be a cliff hanger tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dear Friends -

Well, here we are less than a week from the election. Charlie Cook has now caught up with Chuck, Sam and me and says there are more than 60 races in play -- which is what we have been saying since January. Yes, January. Yesterday he changed the ratings on Paccione in CO4 (Lean R to Tossup), Fawcett in CO5 (Likely R to Lean R), Walz in MN 1 (Lean R to Tossup), Kleeb in NE3 (Likely R to Lean R), Hodes in NH2 (Lean R to Tossup), Trauner in WY (Lean R to Tossup). So six of the eleven candidates we have been supporting moved one step closer yesterday. Four of the other five moved earlier: Giffords in AZ8 and Jennings in FL13 to Lean D, Grant in ID1 to Lean R, and Wetterling in MN6 to Tossup. Poor Dan Seals is still stuck at Likely R according to Cook. He also said, "Every day, every hour, we keep waiting to see whether something will alter the trajectory of this election, which now seems headed toward costing the GOP at least four -- more likely, five or six -- Senate seats, as well as at least 20, and perhaps as many as 35 or more, House seats." For a race-by-race update on the races we have been supporting see below or check at hotflashesfromthecampaigntrail.blogspot.com. But first please bear with me while I paint a less rosy scenario.

I have written before about the impact of the Republican Get Out the Vote (GOTV) operation that gives them an effective edge of 2-4% in any race. So all those places where the margin is within this range could end up in the R column. This is most of the close races. I have also written about inherent advantage of incumbency with many people hating the Congress but loving their member of Congress. And I have written about the structural advantage the Republicans have through past redistricting which effectively takes many seats out of play (although not as many as they thought). Recently a Republican strategist was quoted in Time as saying, "There are 41 districts held by a Democrat that Bush carried, and 14 seats held by Republicans that Kerry carried. You see it in the open seats, where Bush carried 18 of the Republican open seats and Kerry carried two. So we're fighting on better turf." And one particularly disturbing factor is that Republican requests for and returned absentee ballots in many districts are running at higher levels than in 2004. In some districts up to 35% will vote prior to election day by either absentee ballot or early voting at designated polling places. So a part of the game is already behind us regardless of the dynamic of the next week. If you add up all these factors, it is hard to share the conclusion that we will control the House and maybe the Senate. My own view is that some of this unwarranted optimism has actually backfired and is motivating the Republican base to vote and making the Democratic voter more lethargic. We could still lose this one.

But within that grim picture there are many bright spots. A recent Newsweek poll concludes that many of the nastiest attack ads may be either ineffectual or backfiring. And that revulsion seems to be stronger to Republican ads than Democratic ads. This may play out particularly in districts like CO4 where the attacks on Angie Paccione have been way over the top. The Republican National Campaign Committee (RNCC) is now spending heavily in Districts that were, only a couple of weeks ago, thought to be safe for them. This suggests they have internal polling saying they need to shore up these Districts. Bush's approval ratings seem to be steady in the high ‘30’s, which is lower than Clinton in 1994. Bush's campaign schedule is taking him to unlikely places (see below) and the public's view of Congress is even more negative than their view of the President, which should work against incumbents. Finally, the DCCC and the DSCC are both outraising the Republicans. A recent article noted that business interests have steadily increased the share of their contributions that go to Democrats. So they at least feel the need to hedge their bets. Finally, on the ground, the energy level in all these districts is very high.

For those of you who are really political junkies I suggest you keep an eye on the following races as a bellweather. Early poll closing in Indiana and Kentucky at 6:00 EST should give us some sense of what is going on. The Ellsworth/Hostettler, Hill/Sodrel and Donnelly/Chocola races in Indiana (all listed as Toss up against incumbent R's) and the Yarmuth/Northrup and the Davis/Lucas (Toss up) and Lewis/Weaver (Lean R) races in Kentucky will give an early read. Virginia closes at 7:00 and the Webb/Allen race will give a good sense of where the Senate is going.

Your contributions to these races now total $362,000. Thanks to all of you. If you can do more, all of the races below will use it well, but it needs to be done on the web. And soon. Please, let us know if you contribute.

Jay Fawcett, CO5, www.fawcett4congress.com/ The most recent poll in this district is a set back for Fawcett. The same firm that showed them in a tie at 37% earlier this month now has Lamborn leading 47/40 with a margin of 5%. So an optimist could say that it could actually be Lamborn at 42 and Fawcett at 45. But down that path lies madness. The Republicans -- and Lamborn -- are running a series of really despicable attack ads. Cheney is in Colorado Springs on Friday. A respected local academic speculated that all the talk of a possible Democratic victory had fired up the Republican base. One encouraging element in both the Colorado races is that the Democratic candidate for Governor is running strong and there is no Senate race so without a strong Republican at the top of the ticket we may be better able to get out our voters. But that is a thin reed.

Gabrielle Giffords AZ8, giffordsforcongress.com/ still appears to be a lock. Her opponent is attacking on a land deal. The Arizona Daily Star says the charge is "false based on city records and interviews with city officials." Her opponent refuses to pull the ad. Some people have no shame. But it appears that Graf will have many years as a private citizen to contemplate his sins. Giffords is in good shape and needs no contributions.

Larry Grant, ID1, www.grantforcongress.com/ is in a statistical dead heat according to a poll this week. Sali leads 39/37 but there is a huge undecided. The Idaho Statesman noted that "Democrats haven't won a governor's race since 1990 or a seat in Congress since 1992, but a call for change nationally is reaching Idaho. Coupled with Republican candidates who inspire negative feelings, Democrats have a shot." The Republicans and their allies, the Club for Growth and the National Right to Life Committee have spent about $600K in the district. Cheney is in the district this week for Sali. Remember the words of the GOP speaker of the Idaho House about Sali, "that idiot is just an idiot." So Cheney will fit right in.

Paul Hodes (NH1) www.hodesforcongress.com/ is, at long last, in the toss up column with Cook. CQ still hasn't caught on. The DCCC has come in big time spending approximately $1M on media for Hodes. They, at last, get it. Hodes fundraising is going well allowing them to increase their media buys and, with some DCCC dollars, he should have a robust GOTV effort. After staying aloof through the whole campaign, Governor Lynch is finally on board, which is great news since he’ll probably pull over 70% next Tuesday. A new poll has Hodes up 50/47 with very good "solid support" numbers and strong numbers among those who say they are certain to vote.

Christine Jennings, FL 13, www.christinejenningsforcongress.com/ has had substantial fundraising success. But she has done it the hard way with contributions under the legal limit. Her opponent has taken the easy route -- he has given $5.4 million to himself. This triggered the so-called "millionaire's rule" which allows Jennings to accept up to $6300 from an individual rather than the usual limit of $2100. This race, which is closing in on $10M, is within striking distance of being the most expensive congressional race in history. The DCCC is spending serious money here. In the polls, it is a statistical dead heat. Remember this is Kathryn Harris' old district so both the Republican GOTV operation and the voter suppression operation are likely to be in full force. It would be sweet indeed to win this seat.

Scott Kleeb, NE3, www.scottkleeb.com/ has also been the subject of several national articles including in the NYT. The NRCC has bought ads in the district and W himself is coming to Scottsbluff and Kearney on Sunday. There is no question that this is a race the Republicans could never imagine would be close. Yesterday the Kearney Hub, a major newspaper in the district, endorsed Kleeb with an editorial titled "Third District needs someone to command a larger stage" describing him as a "a Nebraska cowboy with a Yale PhD." Momentum is clearly with Kleeb but that may not be enough. The Senate race here trumps all other news in spending, in visibility and in national attention. It appears that Nelson will win but his margin will be in the East and he is not likely to carry the third district so there is little boost for Kleeb. In anticipation of the President's visit Kleeb issued a press release welcoming him to the Third District and saying that he hoped he would be invited to the events. Not likely.

Angie Paccione, CO4, www.angie2006.com/ is caught in dueling polls one showing her marginally ahead, one slightly behind. The most recent shows her up 48/45. The same firm's earlier poll showed her down by 6%. The NRCC has dumped big dollars into the race after polling the district earlier in October. But the DCCC is shifting money from the CO7 where Perlmutter appears to be in good shape to CO4 to support Paccione. Meanwhile the President will be in the district on Saturday. Unlike some of the other races (such as NE3 where the President is probably an asset for the Republican), the Paccione campaign thinks his visit ties nicely to their theme that Musgrave is in lockstep with the President and out-of-touch with Colorado. It is thought that a lower than anticipated absentee vote spurred the President’s visit. The GOTV operation appears to be strong and Paccione is still buying media. This will be a nail-biter.

Dan Seals, IL10, www.dansealsforcongress.com/ has a new poll from Majority Watch showing him leading 48/46. More than 700 people showed up for their lone debate. The DCCC is now engaged and is supporting direct mail efforts and is doing e-mail fundraising. Obama is there on Monday for a GOTV rally. The "dish" for the week is that a staffer for Kirk, the incumbent, sent a letter to Tel Aviv University saying that the support for Seals by the Chair of the Tel Aviv University American Council, Robert Schrayer, could have a "bad effect" on the University and that "revenge is a dish best served cold." Today Abner Mikva, who held the seat in the 10th for many years requested a federal investigation since the note "may have violated state and federal law that criminalizes intimidate, threatening or coercing members of the public in an attempt to thwart the free expression of their vote." Makes you love Chicago.

Gary Trauner, WY-AL, www.traunerforcongress.com/ is behind Barbara Cubin by only 44/40 in a poll commissioned by the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle of Cheyenne. And the last portion of the polling, conducted after the confrontation in which she told the wheel chair bound Libertarian candidate that "if you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face" showed a drop in her numbers. This week an old friend and journalist here in Washington said that whenever people who cover Congress discuss the members that Cubin is always in the running for stupidest member. Sure seems like it. Trauner could still pull this one out but it remains a long shot.

Tim Walz, MN1,www.timwalz.org/ is a dead heat in the polls. Kerry was supposed to be in the District this weekend but, after yesterday, he discovered that he had conflicting appointments and won't be campaigning for a few days. But he has raised real money for Walz and the campaign has nearly matched the incumbent in money raised. Polling shows him down 50/47, within the margin of error. The campaign here is an energetic one and the GOTV operation should be solid. But it is very hard to defeat an incumbent who poses as a moderate.

Patty Wetterling, MN6, www.pattywetterling.com/ is up in one poll, down a bit in another. All the polls show this race a dead heat. This is a conservative district but it is hard to imagine that it is so far to the right that it would elect a wingnut like Michelle Bachman. Wetterling has outraised Bachman almost two to one in a very expensive race (about $6M total so far), not counting the $1.5M the RNCC has spent for Bachman or the $330K the DCCC has spent for Wetterling. This is a race we should win, but there is no guarantee we will.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Here is an update on all of our candidates from my husband Sam Brown:

We have a real shot at substantially changing Congress, but three weeks before the election the outcome could still swing widely. On October 13, Charlie Cook from National Journal, one of the most respected analysts, headlined his article, "Category 5 Hurricane Heads for the House GOP." He says things could change but projects large Democratic gains. Yesterday he backtracked substantially with an article headlined "Range of Possibilities" that focused on the many ways it could go wrong. I would like to take comfort in the October 13th piece where he said "I think a 30-seat gain today for the Democrats is more likely to occur than a 15-seat gain." Our colleague Chuck McLean shares Cook's view. But yesterday's more measured tone feels more like what we think from our travels and conversations with candidates and voters -- and our own experience over the last thirty plus years. All the talk about the national mood simply gets lost when you look at races one by one. We all know the "we hate Congress, but we love our member of Congress" problem. But even where the local congressperson is not a beloved figure, there is still the power of incumbency including the incredible fundraising advantage that it brings. It is hand to hand combat that will determine the outcome. Cook cites a conference call from James Carville in which he argued that "the Democratic Party should expand beyond just the top targeted races. . . . the party should help fund the previously ignored Democratic challengers in second and third tier districts - the next 30 to 50 Republican held seats - to fully capitalize on this environment and help those candidates maximize their chances of winning." This is, of course, precisely what we all have been doing for the past six months. Cook goes on to say, "If things don't change, GOP incumbents, who never even contemplated having a difficult race, may well lose this year." From Cooks' lips to God's ear.

The incredible generosity of so many of you has resulted in more than $335,000 for these races, none of which were on the DCCC lists when we started our effort together. Now Giffords is thought to be a lock in the AZ8, Hodes is at least tied in NH2, Jennings is leading in FL13, Wetterling is ahead in the MN6, and every other race has moved from limbo to the broad category of "seats in play." While these campaigns are now raising large dollars, the money they got through your generosity helped get them to the place where they showed up on other people's radar. Now, in the last three weeks the need for money is still great but the time is late. If you can contribute more to some or all of these candidates, please do it on line. And if you do, please let us know by writing to either Alison (alisonteal@tealdesigns.com) or to me. Below are summaries of the current state of play in each campaign. Also remember that you can read Alison's comments at www.hotflashesfromthecampaigntrail.blogspot.com.

Jay Fawcett, CO5, www.fawcett4congress.com/ is running an amazing race. In the polls he is tied with the Republican in a district that, on registration alone, should give big margins to the Republican. He has only a little cash on hand, $106,000, but that is more than his opponent has. The Republican leadership in the district has walked away from their candidate and Fawcett might actually win. The Denver Post endorsed him over the weekend. If we win this one it will mean that we are winning at least thirty seats. The DCCC put Fawcett on the Emerging Candidates list for "candidates who have taken traditionally non-competitive districts and, through the strength of their campaigns, put themselves in a position to win in November." This race is still a long-shot, but one to watch as a harbinger of what happens nationally.

Gabrielle Giffords AZ8, giffordsforcongress.com/ is now regarded as likely to win her election. A nasty Republican primary resulted in the nomination of a far-right candidate who does not fit this moderate district. She has outraised her opponent more than 2:1, has more cash on hand and there is no chance the Republican Party will throw money at this race. Not on any national list in July, she will win in November.

Larry Grant, ID1, www.grantforcongress.com/ was placed on the DCCC list of emerging races. Certainly this district has been as non-competitive as it gets, with Bush beating Kerry by a margin of 38 points. Grant has received newspaper endorsements including from the Spokane Spokesman Review which has a very large circulation in the district. Also, amusingly he has been endorsed by Esquire so maybe he will get some of the traditional Republican guy vote. The most important sign is that, after doing polling, the National Republican Campaign Committee just made a $377,000 media buy in the district. This is a huge commitment and suggests they know the race is very much in play. The only poll shows Grant down by six points which is a terrific movement as compared to previous election results. This is an open, but previously -- and for many years predictably -- Republican seat. I don't know that Grant can overcome the effect of the RNCC expenditures but his opponent is so loathsome that maybe not even an overwhelming registration and financing advantage can elect him. Still likely Republican but, with the right wind blowing, Grant could win.

Paul Hodes (NH1) www.hodesforcongress.com/ has a Becker Institute poll showing him ahead by 9 points. We would all like to believe it, but a hefty dose of skepticism is in order. The margin is almost certainly much closer than that, although virtually every poll shows Bass at below 50% approval which is regarded as a danger sign for an incumbent. Hodes is a prolific fundraiser and has outraised the Republican incumbent. Both Cook and CQ have this race as one where the Republican candidate is favored, which is where it has been mired since June. It would not be surprising to see a ratings change (to "Toss up" from "Republican Leans/Favored") and it is now possible that Hodes can win here. This one will really depend on the national mood. Bush's ratings in this district are in the very low 30's. If Democrats are really motivated, Republicans inclined to stay at home and the NRCC doesn't spend $500,000 or more in the next several weeks, this is a place where we could defeat a Republican incumbent. I think it is closer to toss up than Republican leaning.

Christine Jennings, FL13, www.christinejenningsforcongress.com/ is in a tough spot. Her opponent for the open seat vacated by Katherine Harris is a self-funder who has raised/given $4.9 million, including $1.6M of his own money in the general election. The history of self-funders is not one that would make you think it is a good investment. Since 2000 just 3 of 48 self-funders have been elected -- and two of those were well-known former officials, Frank Lautenberg and Lamar Alexander. Jennings has done very well, having raised $1.3 million. But an almost 4:1 financing margin is tough to overcome in a traditionally Republican district. But she holds a narrow lead in the polls and Buchanan is running 11 points behind Bush's 2004 numbers. Turn out will be key here. Meanwhile Harris is trailing so badly in the Senate race that Republicans have been referring to her as Hurricane Katherine. She destroys everything in her path. Maybe out of the wreckage we get a new Democratic member of Congress.

Scott Kleeb, NE3, www.scottkleeb.com/ is running a credible campaign in a nearly-impossible district -- and has some results to show for it. Once again, the DCCC has put this on a list of "emerging campaigns" but it takes a lot of emerging to win in a district that has not elected a Democrat since the Depression and where Bush clobbered Kerry by way more than 2:1 (Congressional District level information was not available earlier but some sites say the margin may have been as much as 4:1) . Nonetheless the quality of the candidate and the campaign are closing the margin that overwhelming Republican registration gives his opponent. Last week the Omaha World Herald endorsed Kleeb. They have NEVER endorsed a Democrat in the Third District. Today Congressional Quarterly changed the rating on this race from Safe Republican to Republican Favored with the comment that “Kleeb’s upstart effort, provides the Democrats at least a glimmer of hope for what would be a candidate for “upset of the year.” Kleeb has been outraised by Smith but, because he didn't face a primary, he has about the same amount of cash on hand (317Smith/255Kleeb). We have a particular interest in this campaign since our daughter Teal is working/volunteering full time in Kearney. The campaign for Senate in NE is no campaign at all and Nelson should coast to victory which will certainly help Kleeb. If it is a perfect storm, Kleeb can win.

Angie Paccione, CO4, www.angie2006.com/ is in one of the nastiest races in the country. Those of you who watch TV ads in other contested districts may think it couldn't be nastier than the ads you see. But it is. Musgrave and the RNCC have run more than $920,000 of negative advertising and it has knocked the props out from under Paccione's numbers. Six weeks ago this looked like a strong bid for a Democratic pick up against an incumbent. But Paccione is now down as much as ten points in credible polls. Just when it looked the worst for her Pat Stryker, a Colorado philanthropist and good guy, put $775,000 into ads against Musgrave. Day before yesterday the main issue raised by Musgrave was whether Paccione should have been able to charge bills for a hair stylist as a campaign expense. Not exactly Iraq, incompetence and health care as issues, but a nasty little way of suggesting that there was some abuse of campaign funds. This one will be ugly to the end with voters holding their noses and voting for someone. But in this district a nastiness stand-off reelects the Republican. If Paccione can make it a race about Musgrave's positions, she can win. But she can't win a mud-wrestling contest, even is she is bigger and stronger. Fortunately the Denver Post weighed in with an endorsement of Paccione citing her record as a state legislator and criticizing the foul campaign run against her. We really like Paccione and will be very sorry if she loses, but it is uphill now. Football fans may remember John Elway's famous "now we've got 'em where we want 'em" when down by six points on their own two yard line with less than two minutes to go. The Broncos then won the game. Last week that was the mood in the Paccione campaign. It will take a hell of a drive but it's not over yet.

Dan Seals, IL10, www.dansealsforcongress.com/ is in a district where he might win with the right national mood. His opponent portrays himself as a moderate and Seals is hanging Bush around his neck. But Kirk has outraised Seals by more than 2.5:1. And that margin worsens because the cash on hand is nearly 3:1. Seals is such an attractive, intelligent candidate and so much what the future of the party might be that he really needs to win. There is only one public poll and it shows Seals behind 46/44 -- well within the margin of error. But neither party is spending money in the District which suggests there is a Republican poll showing they don't need to. I hope that is wrong. CQ changed the rating on this race, in August, to "Republican Favored" from Safe Republican and Cook has long had it in this same category. This is a district where registration favors the Democrat but beating an incumbent who sits on the Appropriations Committee will not be easy. Unfortunately, saying Seals needs to win is not the same as "will win." Unlike many of the other districts, this is one where registration and voting history generally favor a Democrat and where there is no strong extreme Republican base to get out the vote. So if Seals gets out the Democratic vote and Republicans stay at home, he wins. And with many polls showing that Republicans are less motivated this year than in past years and that Democrats are highly motivated, this could happen. I think it is closer to a toss up than most analysts do.

Gary Trauner, WY-AL, www.traunerforcongress.com/ was down last week by 7 points in the only poll in the district, with a huge undecided. Cubin, at 44%, is well below the 50% that is regarded as the danger point for incumbents. Trauner has matched Cubin in fundraising and cash on hand. CQ moved the race from "Republican favored" to Leans Republican. The DCCC added Trauner to the Emerging candidates list. The Democratic governor, whose reelection is assured, will be working for Trauner's election. When asked last week why he didn't call a press conference this week he said, "You want an honest answer? Because everybody's hunting this week and nobody would read it. Hunting season started the 15th." Unfortunately for Trauner, Freudenthal's likely win probably won't have coattails. Once again we have a particular interest because our son, Nicholas, is working/volunteering full time on this campaign. It remains a long shot, but the Governor's influence and popularity if he really campaigns hard for Trauner, combined with Trauner's energy and intelligence may pull it out. It is still a long shot.

Tim Walz, MN1,www.timwalz.org/ is a dead heat in the polls. Today CQ had an article headlined, "Walz a Legit Barrier to Gutknecht in 1st District". This morning the DCCC announced that this is the first "second/third tier" race in which they will make an investment. And his wife gave birth to a new baby last week. So all the winds seem to be blowing the right direction here. However Gutknecht has a half a million dollars more money in the bank, huge name recognition and a generally good reputation in the district. It will not be easy to knock him off. But if Walz loses it will not be for lack of energy. I think the incumbent still has to be favored, but it could easily go our way.

Patty Wetterling, MN6, www.pattywetterling.com/ is a race we should win. It is listed as a toss up by analysts, but that understates the difficulty of the race. This is very culturally conservative district and Michele Bachmann, the Republican, although a certifiable wingnut, is very attractive and personable and apparently she carries a concealed weapon -- or at least has a permit to do so. So stand back. Wetterling's long time advocacy for child safety is particularly important in light of the Foley scandal and her visibility as the spokesman for the Democratic Party last week was helpful. Most recent polls show her with a lead of 5-8%. With a decent election day effort, Wetterling should win.

Sam Brown

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Jay Fawcett
Colorado – 5th Congressional District

We’ve added one more race to our previous ten -- in Colorado Springs. Yeah. Colorado Springs. The name brings shivers to a Democrat. This is the heart of the beast and the impossible looks like it could happen.

According to The Denver Post, Democrat Jay Fawcett and Republican state Senator Doug Lamborn are neck to neck in one of the nation's toughest races. Who would have guessed?

Jay Fawcett is nothing if not courageous. Well actually, courageous and persistent. Last summer when he began calling about his race, I just dismissed it as delusional raving. After all, no Democrat has ever held the seat since it was created 32 years ago. The retiring Congressman Joel Hefley, a reliable vote for the President – except when Hefley thought the President was too liberal -- seemed to accurately reflect the district. This is the home of Jim Dobson’s Focus On the Family. They and other right wing “Christian” groups employ 3000 people in Colorado Springs doing everything from TV production and distribution to political analysis. I suppose they also do occasional acts of charitable good works although you can’t find much about this on their web sites. What you can find is lots of opportunities to make contributions and apparently a lot of people do.

But when Sam and I had lunch with Fawcett, he didn’t seem delusional. In fact he seemed quite focused and thoughtful. And very persistent. We kept telling him that we had a list of ten candidates and he wasn’t on it. He kept calling. And he kept calling.

But it turns out that he was doing much more than calling us. He was making a really credible run in a very difficult district. He certainly fits the demographic: Air Force Academy graduate; decorated career Air Force officer with service in the first Gulf War; faculty member at the Air Force Academy, small business man, family man, white and heterosexual. “It’s hard for people to believe I don’t have an ‘R’ beside my name,” Fawcett laughs.

But this is a really Republican district with the fourth largest concentration of vets in the country. The Republicans were so certain of keeping it that they felt they could have a real family brawl and still win. Or so it seemed. In September, Lamborn, the winner of the Republican primary was denounced by the retiring Hefley as “sleazy” and “dishonest” and Hefley has declined to endorse him.
“Republicans in the district don’t know how to campaign anymore because they haven’t had to in years and now they just take it for granted,” says Fawcetts’ campaign manager Wanda James. “They’ve been totally thrown off by a real campaigner. Fawcett shows up at events in full navy dress and men come up to him and ask if his gun is loaded. Fawcett says ‘None of your damn business.’ And then they walk away saying ‘Wow. I guess he’s one of us.’”

Lamborn is another one of those candidates that give real purpose to life –the purpose being to defeat him. Don’t take my word for it, here is what the Denver Post said in their endorsement of Fawcett last week:
“During twelve years in the state legislature, Lamborn focused way too much of his time on such harebrained issues as cross-dressing teachers and swapping the names of Park County's Mount Democrat and Republican Mountain because Mount Democrat is taller.
Lamborn is off in Neverland. He's pledged not to vote for new taxes no matter what, with no exceptions for war-time spending obligations or economic necessity. He seeks to model himself after Ronald Reagan, but of course Reagan was far more pragmatic.”


Meanwhile Fawcett has not been allowing himself or his campaign to be defined by the right wing social agenda, saying aggressively that “people are rejecting the social agenda of who hates gays more, religious issues, social issues. . .that’s clearly not what is important to people”. So he doesn’t shy away from the Planned Parenthood endorsement nor from the endorsements from the many unions who are supporting him. Fawcett knows that people are deeply concerned about Iraq and he says “It appears that we are not staying the course; rather we have allowed ourselves to get off course.” And his extensive comments on Iraq make it clear that he does not think this Administration has a clue about how to get back on course.

The Post endorsement on Saturday said, in part, “We gladly endorsed Joel Hefley in 2004, but the survivor of a six-way Republican primary, Doug Lamborn, isn’t in his league. We urge voters in the 5th to send Fawcett to Congress instead.” So do we. But urging is not enough.

On October 10th a Mason Dixon poll commissioned by the Denver Post called the race a tie at 37%. The Cook Report now has this on its list of competitive races (albeit Republican favored) and there is loose talk of money from the DCCC, but no check has arrived. This is a very inexpensive race since the media market is Colorado Springs which costs less than a tenth of the Denver market, about $49/point (that is one percent of the population for one impression). Since campaigns generally try to buy 1000-1200 points per week (and frequently fall short of that level) it means that Fawcett can run a very credible campaign with a television buy of only about $150,000 from now to election.

So please add Fawcett to your list. This victory would be so sweet. Send something.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jay Fawcett is now one of eleven candidates for whom we have been raising money. Thanks to the generosity of many of you we have so far sent more than $325,000 to these candidates.


Candidate District Checks To:
Jay Fawcett * 5th district of Colorado * Fawcett for Congress
Gabrielle Giffords * 8th district of Arizona * Giffords for Congress
Larry Grant * 1st District of Idaho * Grant for Congress
Paul Hodes * 2nd District of New Hampshire * Paul Hodes for Congress
Christine Jennings * 13th District of Florida * Christine Jennings for Congress
Scott Kleeb * 3rd District of Nebraska * Kleeb For Congress
Angie Paccione * 4th District Of Colorado * Angie Peccione for Congress
Dan Seals * 10th District of Illinois * Dan Seals for Congress
Gary Trauner * Wyoming (statewide race) * Trauner for Congress
Tim Walz * 1st District of Minnesota * Tim Walz for Congress
Patty Wetterling * 6th District of Minnesota * Patty Wetterling for Congress

If you can help with any or all of these candidates -- and haven't already -- please send checks plus one copy of the attached disclosure form to me at the address below. Complete only the lines marked with an asterisk on the disclosure form and then sign at the bottom. We will copy and complete the form for each committee and submit it with your check along with forms and checks from others

Send to: Alison Teal and Sam Brown, 2320 Pomona Avenue, Martinez, CA 94553 and Sam's office will forward them promptly to the campaigns. Sam and I have taken a substantial amount of the time of some of the candidates and their campaign managers and I want to be sure they know it was not wasted. If you choose to contribute by credit card on the web site please let me know so that, for this same reason, I can be sure the campaign knows where it came from.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Paul Hodes
New Hampshire – 2nd Congressional District

“A spine is a terrible thing to waste. When I go to Washington, I’m bringing my backbone with me,” says Paul Hodes. It’s his campaign mantra. “Grammatically it should be ‘taking my backbone with me,’” he laughs, “but I’m a fan of alliteration.”

Sam and I arrived at Hodes’ Concord headquarters on one of those crisp autumn days so beautiful it brings tears to your eyes – a far cry from previous political visits when we battled the famous snows of New Hampshire. In the winter of 1968 I spent what seemed like three years shivering in Concord and eating every day at one of two depressing restaurants. Today, the town is awash in trendy shops and restaurants. New Hampshire’s demographics are changing. Before, the state’s growth was mostly from Massachusetts tax refugees. Today, the influx of people is predominantly older and more liberal -- people seeking a more congenial life style in a beautiful environment.

The campaign storefront is active and welcoming with a ping-pong table in the basement where people can release stress. Piles of yard signs and bumper strips are right inside the front door instead of hidden in some back room where many campaigns inexplicably keep them for some sort of controlled distribution.

This is the second time Hodes has run against the six-term Republican incumbent Charlie Bass, but things have changed dramatically since the 2004 race. Hodes has excellent, experienced and energetic staff and he has raised significant money. In fact he’s raised more in-state money than any congressional candidate ever. That’s not easy in New Hampshire, where voters are not accustomed to giving – and not just to politicians. The state has one of the lowest records of charitable giving in the country. Instead, New Hampshire voters are accustomed to having outside money pour into the state every four years. They are used to being courted in their living rooms, personally spoken to by every presidential candidate and virtually carried to the polls. There’s no other way to say it: these are spoiled voters.

An accomplished guitar player and performer since his Dartmouth years, Hodes is a natural campaigner and a terrific fundraiser. He has no hesitation making the money calls and spends every spare moment doing so. “Can you make a contribution? Yes, I know it’s the sixth call. Okay, if you can’t make a contribution, then how about a check?”

“I’m an actor and musician. I’m used to being turned down about 90% of the time,” laughs Hodes. He and his wife are founding members of the musical group Peggosus that helped pioneer rock-and-roll for children and families. They’ve released six recordings, earning a number of Parent’s Choice Awards. They also founded the recording company Big Round Records, initially the vehicle for their own music.

“People want to give money because they want a change in Congress,” says Dana Houle, Hodes’s impressive, articulate campaign manager. “New Hampshire’s voters are sophisticated. They understand the constitution and they believe in a balance of powers. Bush lost his credibility here with Katrina. People are wondering whose managing the store. Moderate Republicans are saying ‘I haven’t changed, the party has.’”

Bush’s favorable ratings are in the low 30s. On the campaign trail, the repeated concerns of voters are Iraq and health care. The conservative voters seem to be consistent. They want the government out of their wallets, their bedrooms and their gun closets. This is a state of hunters. Gun crime is low and gun safety high.

Hodes started his career working as an assistant AG for David Souter. He is now a partner in the law firm founded by Bill Shaheen, manager of Al Gore’s New Hampshire campaign and husband of former governor Jeanne Shaheen. So Hodes’ credentials are impeccable and his connections in the state’s party are deep.

A month ago Hodes wasn’t in the top fifty challenges in the United States. Now he’s in the top thirty. He’s on the DCCC’s (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) Red to Blue list (seats currently held by Republicans that are in play). And the Cook Report has changed the rating from “likely Republican” to “leans Republican”.

“The Boston TV market at 1.5 million a week is prohibitively expensive so we decided we’d go with cable TV or radio. We chose cable. Our theory was dominate what you can dominate,” said Hodes. “Best would be if we could get enough money to dominate both.” The Republicans are certain to throw an enormous amount into TV in the last few weeks and most of it is bound to be negative advertising. Right now the only negative ad out there is just saying Hodes is not one of them like Bass is. The camera then catches Hodes in a really unattractive close up still. “Instead of a lump of dough, I look like a half-baked lump of dough,” he laughs.

Hodes has a new TV ad focusing on the war. It shows footage of Bass saying, “sure, I support the president’s role in Iraq, and I think it was the right thing to do. Now, we’re in control.”

Hodes then responds: "Yeah. If you believe that, I've got some oceanfront property in Arizona I’d like to sell you."

* * * * * * * * * *

Paul Hodes is one of ten candidates for whom we have been raising money. Thanks to the generosity of many of you we have so far sent more than $325,000 to these candidates.

Candidate District Checks To:

Gabrielle Giffords * 8th district of Arizona * Giffords for Congress
Larry Grant * 1st District of Idaho * Grant for Congress
Paul Hodes * 2nd District of New Hampshire * Paul Hodes for Congress
Christine Jennings * 13th District of Florida * Christine Jennings for Congress
Scott Kleeb * 3rd District of Nebraska * Kleeb For Congress
Angie Paccione * 4th District Of Colorado * Angie Peccione for Congress
Dan Seals * 10th District of Illinois * Dan Seals for Congress
Gary Trauner * Wyoming (statewide race) * Trauner for Congress
Tim Walz * 1st District of Minnesota * Tim Walz for Congress
Patty Wetterling * 6th District of Minnesota * Patty Wetterling for Congress

If you can help with any or all of these candidates -- and haven't already -- please send checks plus one copy of the attached disclosure form to me at the address below. Complete only the lines marked with an asterisk on the disclosure form and then sign at the bottom. We will copy and complete the form for each committee and submit it with your check along with forms and checks from others

Send to: Alison Teal and Sam Brown, 2320 Pomona Avenue, Martinez, CA 94553 and Sam's office will forward them promptly to the campaigns. Sam and I have taken a substantial amount of the time of some of the candidates and their campaign managers and I want to be sure they know it was not wasted. If you choose to contribute by credit card on the web site please let me know so that, for this same reason, I can be sure the campaign knows where it came from.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Tim Walz
Minnesota - 1st Congressional District

The day was dreary and rainy. We sipped our afternoon coffees slowly, each of us drifting into our own thoughts, slightly dozing but with open eyes. A gust of wind drew us out of our reverie as the door of the Mankato headquarters was thrown back and Tim Walz bounded into the room in a blue knit shirt and khakis, the wind at his back. The wind seems always to be at the back of this round-faced, burly, fast-talking dynamo. (Walz winces at the word “burly” which is often used to describe him. He used to be a runner but campaigning has left little time for that. “We've told him it means ‘really built’,” says his campaign manager Kerry Greeley.) His speech is as fast and punchy as any New Yorker’s but his style and rhetoric are totally midwestern. Born and bred in Nebraska, Walz and his wife Gwen moved to Mankato, Minnesota in 1996 in order to pursue careers in teaching and coaching. Walz teaches geography and coaches football at Mankato West High School. As his TV ad says he’s a “coach to the state champs, teacher of the year, (and) Command Sergeant Major retiring four years late after a tour supporting the war in Afghanistan. (The ad begins brilliantly, by the way, with Walz jogging behind his football players out of the dark locker-room tunnel into the light of the football field.)

Walz hopes to deny Gil Gutknecht a seventh term in Washington. He’s had an uphill struggle with name recognition against a six-term congressman, but things are turning around for this soldier, hunter, teacher. This is a guy who runs rather than walks in a parade and darts from side to side of the crowd shaking as many hands as he can reach.

His campaign is sophisticated and filled with volunteers, including help from Wes Clark, John Kerry, John Murtha, Max Cleland, Garrison Keillor, and Al Franken. The district is marginally Republican but it is also the district where Bush has the lowest approval level of any district in Minnesota.
In August he electrified the Minnesota State Democratic Convention with a stem-winder of a speech. He knocked their socks off. He doesn’t mince words.

“The genius of this country was founded on a system of checks and balances but it never counted on a spineless rubber stamp congress.

“You see a lot of politicians today that like to stand in front of soldiers all the time. My job is to make sure I go to Washington and stand behind each and every one of them.

“People say that the pendulum will swing again; that it will all work out. I say we’ve got to get our hands bloody to pull that pendulum back to the middle”

He’s outspoken about most everything from the war to gay rights: [I don’t] "see a reason to deny gay marriage. . . The best thing that ever happened to me was to get married and I don't see a reason to deny that to anyone. So I'm pretty consistent on that, of where government should not be in our lives." But he also fits in with his constituency. He is one of only a few candidates A-rated by the NRA and also endorsed by the Sierra Club. “Hey, I’m a teacher. I can always go back and teach.”

Recently Walz spoke to a group of bikers opposed to helmet laws who were not initially sympathetic to his views on gay rights and other issues. “It’s just not smart to infringe on other peoples’ personal rights. Take away other peoples and pretty soon, it will be yours.” There was a pause during which Walz thought he’d lost his audience, then, slowly, the bikers began to clap.

At a recent picnic, Al Franken read from the GOP's Contract With America "On September 27th, 1994, on the steps the Capitol, they said this: 'If we break the contract, throw us out,' " Franken said.
The crowd roared and Franken yelled: "Sounds like a plan to me!"
Walz’s TV ad ends with what we hope is prophetic:
“Sometimes an everyday person comes along and helps put the impossible within our reach.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Tim Walz is one of ten candidates for whom we have been raising money. Thanks to the generosity of many of you we have so far sent more than $295,000 to these candidates.

Candidate District Checks To:

Gabrielle Giffords * 8th district of Arizona * Giffords for Congress
Larry Grant * 1st District of Idaho * Grant for Congress
Paul Hodes * 2nd District of New Hampshire * Paul Hodes for Congress
Christine Jennings * 13th District of Florida * Christine Jennings for Congress
Scott Kleeb * 3rd District of Nebraska * Kleeb For Congress
Angie Paccione * 4th District Of Colorado Angie * Peccione for Congress
Dan Seals * 10th District of Illinois * Dan Seals for Congress
Gary Trauner * Wyoming (statewide race) * Trauner for Congress
Tim Walz * 1st District of Minnesota * Tim Walz for Congress
Patty Wetterling * 6th District of Minnesota * Patty Wetterling for Congress

If you can help with any or all of these candidates -- and haven't already -- please send checks plus one copy of the attached disclosure form to me at the address below. Complete only the lines marked with an asterisk on the disclosure form and then sign at the bottom. We will copy and complete the form for each committee and submit it with your check along with forms and checks from others

Send to: Sam Brown and Alison Teal, 2320 Pomona Avenue, Martinez, CA 94553 and Sam's office will forward them promptly to the campaigns. Sam and I have taken a substantial amount of the time of some of the candidates and their campaign managers and I want to be sure they know it was not wasted. If you choose to contribute by credit card on the web site please let me know so that, for this same reason, I can be sure the campaign knows where it came from.
Tim Walz
Minnesota - 1st Congressional District

The day was dreary and rainy. We sipped our afternoon coffees slowly, each of us drifting into our own thoughts, slightly dozing but with open eyes. A gust of wind drew us out of our reverie as the door of the Mankato headquarters was thrown back and Tim Walz bounded into the room in a blue knit shirt and khakis, the wind at his back. The wind seems always to be at the back of this round-faced, burly, fast-talking dynamo. (Walz winces at the word “burly” which is often used to describe him. He used to be a runner but campaigning has left little time for that. “We've told him it means ‘really built’,” says his campaign manager Kerry Greeley.) His speech is as fast and punchy as any New Yorker’s but his style and rhetoric are totally midwestern. Born and bred in Nebraska, Walz and his wife Gwen moved to Mankato, Minnesota in 1996 in order to pursue careers in teaching and coaching. Walz teaches geography and coaches football at Mankato West High School. As his TV ad says he’s a “coach to the state champs, teacher of the year, (and) Command Sergeant Major retiring four years late after a tour supporting the war in Afghanistan. (The ad begins brilliantly, by the way, with Walz jogging behind his football players out of the dark locker-room tunnel into the light of the football field.)

Walz hopes to deny Gil Gutknecht a seventh term in Washington. He’s had an uphill struggle with name recognition against a six-term congressman, but things are turning around for this soldier, hunter, teacher. This is a guy who runs rather than walks in a parade and darts from side to side of the crowd shaking as many hands as he can reach.

His campaign is sophisticated and filled with volunteers, including help from Wes Clark, John Kerry, John Murtha, Max Cleland, Garrison Keillor, and Al Franken. The district is marginally Republican but it is also the district where Bush has the lowest approval level of any district in Minnesota.
In August he electrified the Minnesota State Democratic Convention with a stem-winder of a speech. He knocked their socks off. He doesn’t mince words.

“The genius of this country was founded on a system of checks and balances but it never counted on a spineless rubber stamp congress.

“You see a lot of politicians today that like to stand in front of soldiers all the time. My job is to make sure I go to Washington and stand behind each and every one of them.

“People say that the pendulum will swing again; that it will all work out. I say we’ve got to get our hands bloody to pull that pendulum back to the middle”

He’s outspoken about most everything from the war to gay rights: [I don’t] "see a reason to deny gay marriage. . . The best thing that ever happened to me was to get married and I don't see a reason to deny that to anyone. So I'm pretty consistent on that, of where government should not be in our lives." But he also fits in with his constituency. He is one of only a few candidates A-rated by the NRA and also endorsed by the Sierra Club. “Hey, I’m a teacher. I can always go back and teach.”

Recently Walz spoke to a group of bikers opposed to helmet laws who were not initially sympathetic to his views on gay rights and other issues. “It’s just not smart to infringe on other peoples’ personal rights. Take away other peoples and pretty soon, it will be yours.” There was a pause during which Walz thought he’d lost his audience, then, slowly, the bikers began to clap.

At a recent picnic, Al Franken read from the GOP's Contract With America "On September 27th, 1994, on the steps the Capitol, they said this: 'If we break the contract, throw us out,' " Franken said.
The crowd roared and Franken yelled: "Sounds like a plan to me!"
Walz’s TV ad ends with what we hope is prophetic:
“Sometimes an everyday person comes along and helps put the impossible within our reach.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Tim Walz is one of ten candidates for whom we have been raising money. Thanks to the generosity of many of you we have so far sent more than $295,000 to these candidates.

Candidate District Checks To:

Gabrielle Giffords * 8th district of Arizona * Giffords for Congress
Larry Grant * 1st District of Idaho * Grant for Congress
Paul Hodes * 2nd District of New Hampshire * Paul Hodes for Congress
Christine Jennings * 13th District of Florida * Christine Jennings for Congress
Scott Kleeb * 3rd District of Nebraska * Kleeb For Congress
Angie Paccione * 4th District Of Colorado Angie * Peccione for Congress
Dan Seals * 10th District of Illinois * Dan Seals for Congress
Gary Trauner * Wyoming (statewide race) * Trauner for Congress
Tim Walz * 1st District of Minnesota * Tim Walz for Congress
Patty Wetterling * 6th District of Minnesota * Patty Wetterling for Congress

If you can help with any or all of these candidates -- and haven't already -- please send checks plus one copy of the attached disclosure form to me at the address below. Complete only the lines marked with an asterisk on the disclosure form and then sign at the bottom. We will copy and complete the form for each committee and submit it with your check along with forms and checks from others

Send to: Sam Brown and Alison Teal, 2320 Pomona Avenue, Martinez, CA 94553 and Sam's office will forward them promptly to the campaigns. Sam and I have taken a substantial amount of the time of some of the candidates and their campaign managers and I want to be sure they know it was not wasted. If you choose to contribute by credit card on the web site please let me know so that, for this same reason, I can be sure the campaign knows where it came from.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Patty Wetterling
Minnesota – 6th Congressional District

On October 22, 1989, a masked man snatched Democratic congressional candidate Patty Wetterling’s son Jacob off a street in St. Joseph Minnesota at gunpoint. He was eleven years old. The largest manhunt in the history of Minnesota was launched but days turned into weeks, months and then years. He and his abductor have never been found. It is unimaginable how life goes on after such an unspeakable tragedy.

To be honest, Sam and I were nervous about our choice to make Wetterling’s campaign one of the ten we are working for. We were afraid she might be a single-issue person. And who could blame her if she were?

We were scheduled to meet her at a little mall in the river city of Anoka on a cloudy Saturday morning. The “Wetterling for U.S. Congress” sign was just under the “Tattoo and Piercing Parlor” sign but without directions. We wandered around back and asked a man getting out of the Teddy Bear Management LLP pickup truck if he knew where the headquarters were.

“Yup,” he said.

“Could you direct us to them?”

“Yup,” he said and paused again.

“Now would be a good time,” I said.

“You betcha,” he said. Really. I’m not making this up.

Any reservations we had about Patty Wetterling immediately disappeared. This bespeckled, five-foot-one-inch, middle–aged woman with shaggy, blond hair has a sense of decency, honesty, and commitment that goes straight to your heart. She was transformed from a contented stay-at-home mother of four into a community activist and politician by her son’s abduction. “Jacob’s kidnapping caused a schism in our lives. Then one morning I woke up and said ‘I’m not going to let the bad guys win. This is a land of hope and opportunity and we’re not offering that anymore. I’m not going to give the kidnappers anything else. They can’t have the world that I believe in.’ I see my politics now as a continuation of my journey -- from where I’ve been to where I want to take us. I’m doing it in my own way; one person, one family, one law at a time.” She is not a zealot, just a woman formed by her experience.

Her journey began when she and her husband founded the Jacob Wetterling foundation, a non-profit dedicated to education about child safety. In 1994 President Clinton signed the Jacob Wetterling Act requiring sex offenders to register their addresses before moving into a community. Since then Patty Wetterling has been involved in community strengthening activity. “Reagan asked ‘Are you better off now than you were before’, I’m asking ‘Are you more secure now than you were before?’” says Wetterling. “You can’t have security without local community support and solid infra-structures. Fear is eating away at the very fiber of who we are. It saddens me how the rest of the world perceives us. I started in politics because of Jacob. Now it’s for all our children and grandchildren.”

Because of her past bipartisan work, her name recognition is enormous – 94%. “I’ve been looking for that other 6%,” Wetterling laughs.

Her opponent, Michelle Bachman, is another of the proudly pro-life, anti-gay, pro-gun Republican far right-wingers that the west has in abundance this year. Some say she is Minnesota’s answer to Colorado’s Marilyn Musgrave. Even the Club for Growth supported one of her primary opponents because Bachman was too far right for them. “I don’t know what my opponent stands for, I just know what she stands against,” says Wetterling.

Bachman is a good-looking, slick politician. Once the right gets hold of her, they’ll elevate her to Ann Coulter popularity. She will be a congressional leader on all the right wing wacko issues.

Bachmann began in politics as a protester of Planned Parenthood. (Not surprisingly Planned Parenthood has endorsed Wetterling.) She blindly supports Bush on Iraq. (Wetterling early on called for withdrawal from Iraq by a date certain.) Bachmann’s family business has about 30 employees, and does not offer health insurance, nor does she provide health insurance for her campaign employees.
As a state senator, Bachmann voted against funding police overtime costs and law enforcement grants, against legislation extending the Statute of Limitations in sexual abuse cases, against a bill to increase penalties for sex offenders and drug dealers, against a bill protecting children from extreme neglect, against more resources for law enforcement to crack down on meth trafficking, against funding for emergency management. Bachman is in favor of eliminating the department of education. She voted to cut K-12 and higher education funding, voted against the emergency fuel assistance for schools even though it was only three percent of the projected $924 million budget surplus. Bachmann home schools her children and was quoted at a meeting on the lawn of the state capital of home-schooling parents as saying “thank you for not sending your kids to those Godless public schools where they teach communism”. She has also said that she believes gay marriage is the number one problem in the country today and she calls gays “Satanists”.

“My goal is just to keep her talking. The battle is clear. It’s hope versus hate,” says Wetterling.

Since Wetterling has long been an advocate of child safety, the Foley scandal has made this race even more important.
Although upset by Foley’s actions, Wetterling is even more angry at the house leadership: “My repeated message has always been, somebody knows something and you beg that person to come forward,” Wetterling said. “This is a case, in reality, where people did know and did nothing, and it’s heartbreaking.”
* * * * * * * * * *

Patty Wetterling is one of ten candidates for whom we have been raising money. Thanks to the generosity of many of you we have so far sent more than $295,000 to these candidates. These races are getting closer. Please do what you can.

Candidate District Checks To:
Gabrielle Giffords * 8th district of Arizona * Giffords for Congress
Larry Grant * 1st District of Idaho * Grant for Congress
Paul Hodes * 2nd District of New Hampshire * Paul Hodes for Congress
Christine Jennings * 13th District of Florida * Christine Jennings for Congress
Scott Kleeb * 3rd District of Nebraska * Kleeb For Congress
Angie Paccione * 4th District Of Colorado * Angie Peccione for Congress
Dan Seals * 10th District of Illinois * Dan Seals for Congress
Gary Trauner * Wyoming (statewide race) * Trauner for Congress
Tim Walz * 1st District of Minnesota * Tim Walz for Congress
Patty Wetterling * 6th District of Minnesota * Patty Wetterling for Congress

If you can help with any or all of these candidates -- and haven't already -- please send checks plus one copy of the attached disclosure form to me at the address below. Complete only the lines marked with an asterisk on the disclosure form and then sign at the bottom. We will copy and complete the form for each committee and submit it with your check along with forms and checks from others

Send to: Sam Brown and Alison Teal, 2320 Pomona Avenue, Martinez, CA 94553 and Sam's office will forward them promptly to the campaigns. Sam and I have taken a substantial amount of the time of some of the candidates and their campaign managers and I want to be sure they know it was not wasted. If you choose to contribute by credit card on the web site please let me know so that, for this same reason, I can be sure the campaign knows where it came from.

Form:
Federal Law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for individuals whose contributions to a candidate exceed $200 for an election.

*Name_________________________________________

*Address _______________________________________

*City_____________________ State _____ Zip _________

*Employer ______________________________

*Occupation ____________________________
(If you are retired, please enter N/A under Employer and Retired under Occupation; if a homemaker, please enter N/A - Homemaker; if self-employed, please enter "Self-Employed" under Employer and describe your line of work under Occupation).

Name of Candidate Committee: _____________

Amount of contribution: _____________

¬¬¬¬I confirm that the following statements are true and accurate:
- I am not a foreign national who lacks permanent residence in the United States.
- This contribution is made from my own funds, and not those of another.
- This contribution is not made from the funds of a corporation or labor organization.
- I am at least eighteen years old.

SIGNED ____________________

*Required by Federal Law
Contributions to candidates for Federal Office are not tax deductible.



Alison Teal
alisonteal@tealdesigns.com
http://hotflashesfromthecampaigntrail.blogspot.com/
202-271-9200

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The grimly prophetic words of WB Yeats reverberate in my bones:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

UPDATE ON THE SCOTT KLEEB CAMPAIGN

Good news for the Scott Kleeb campaign in western Nebraska's 3rd District. A new poll indicates he’s becoming truly competitive with the Republican candidate Adrian Smith. Kleeb believes voters are searching for an independent voice and he’s playing up that angle of the campaign: “Kleeb, a registered Democrat with an Independent Voice”. This plays well in the sprawling, rural farmland where Republicans outnumber Democrats almost 2 to 1 and since 1935, have controlled the seat for all but two years. 
(Kleeb says “I’m a bull rider and a Democrat. Which do you think is more difficult to be in Western Nebraska?”

Sporting red t-shirts and jackets, Kleeb’s campaign workers could be mistaken for Cornhusker football supporters (“Go Big Red”). At a debate this last week, all the Kleeb supporters were dressed in their usual red which seemed to confuse the organizers at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. When they asked the Kleeb supporters to sit on one side of the room and the Smith supporters on the other, they were astonished to see about 2/3rds of the people move to the Kleeb side.

Most of the debate centered around the candidates’ positions on the federal farm bill, rural development, health care, college tuition, taxes and immigration. But
Smith also jabbed at Kleeb for being a carpetbagger. (Kleeb was raised on U.S. military bases overseas, where his parents were teachers, but he spent summers on his grandparents’ ranch near Broken Bow, NE.) Kleeb responds to this well by saying he isn’t ashamed that his parents dedicated their lives to teaching soldiers and their children at overseas army bases. For me it is reminiscent of when Sam was running for Treasurer of Colorado where he was also confronted with the carpetbagger issue. “The day I was born was an important day for my mother,” Sam said, “And I felt I should be with her on such a significant occasion even if it couldn’t be in Colorado.”

Later in the debate
 Kleeb said quality jobs are the key to attracting young people back to rural areas, Smith cleverly responded, “It’s not every day we can open up a congressional seat to encourage young people to return to Nebraska.”
 (Kleeb is 31.) 
On more serious issues, Kleeb criticized Smith for taking contributions from Club for Growth whose leaders have called for an end to farm subsidies.

And the best news is a new poll conducted by national polling firm Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates September 20-21 showing that the 3rd District congressional race is up for grabs. When asked whom they would support “if the election were held today,” 41 percent of definite voters said they would vote for Adrian Smith and 37 percent said they would vote for Scott Kleeb. The margin of error for the entire sample is ±4.87%. Of course that margin goes both ways, but it appears that seat may really be play.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

DAN SEALS
ILLINOIS – 10th Congressional District

Chicago may be my favorite American city and I’d probably live there if it weren’t for the months between November and April. I always remember comedian Richard Jeni’s line about how Chicago got started. “A bunch of people in New York said, ‘Gee, I'm enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just isn't cold enough. Let's go west.’”

Growing up in Omaha, Chicago was the big city, not New York or L.A. and I still think it’s one of the most underrated cities in the world. Everything about it is all American; its architecture, its food, its teams, its comedy, its music . . . and its politics are pure mother’s milk. “In most places in the country, voting is looked upon as a right and a duty, but in Chicago it's a sport,” said Dick Gregory. Chicago is truly America’s pulse, the “city of big shoulders”.

We headed north to the 10th congressional district to watch Democratic candidate Dan Seals at work. The district has 650,000 people -- a combination of some of suburban Chicago’s wealthiest and poorest; fiscally conservative and socially moderate. The polished lawns of Glencoe blossomed with “Seals for Congress” signs. We were headed for an afternoon event on the lawn of a picket-fence Victorian house -- modest compared to the other Venti-sized, gated houses of Lake Forest. The Sunday afternoon was unexpectedly cold and rainy. People were chilly and damp but they still crowded onto the porch or stood with umbrellas on the lawn to hear Seals.

Seals commands a room – or a porch in this case. He has a Jimmy Stewart charm and style with a Barack Obama message and delivery and he’s getting the same intense local support that Obama had in 2004. Like Obama, he’s young, attractive, articulate and African American. Like Obama he did well in school – MA from SAIS and MBA from University of Chicago. And until about six weeks ago, they both had two daughters. Now Seals has a third.

The 10th is a Democratic district, with a partisan performance index of D+3.6. This makes it one of the most Democratic districts in the country held by a Republican. (In this case, Mark Kirk.) Kirk talks like a moderate but votes like a conservative, supporting Tom Delay 90% of the time. Kirk did oppose the President on stem cell research but, as Seals says, “The difference between me and Kirk is that I’d vote for the leadership that supported it.” Kirk’s money comes mostly from big oil and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Here are some quotes from Seal’s stump speech:

“They say ‘stay the course”, in Iraq. But this is a civil war. We’ve had a democracy for 230 years and you go to Florida and see we still haven’t gotten it right. How could they get it right in just a few years?

“There’s 30,000 dollars of national debt for every man, woman and child in this country, and we owe it to places like China. Now how can you take a hard line with China when you have to borrow from them?

“Sixteen percent of America, forty-six million people are without access to health care. If that were an education statistic, it would be treated as a national scandal.

“We give tax dollar subsidies to big oil and yet they have record profits. I think they’re ready to leave the nest and fly on their own and we can put that money into research and national security.”

The Republicans are active and powerful in the district but many don’t feel represented. In the highly educated and affluent Winnetka, there are a lot of Republicans who are concerned about the burgeoning national debt and don’t want the Jerry Falwells running the nation.

This is a race with a very wealthy and well-educated electorate, which frequently means higher than usual turn out in the off-year elections. Seals has attracted support from the Party’s elite including Barack Obama, Rham Emmanuel and others who have been to his district. But he has not yet made the DCCC “Red to Blue” list. This seems odd since his district is more reliably democratic than the seat held by Melissa Bean, the incumbent Democrat in the adjacent district. Perhaps it’s because Kirk, the incumbent, is regarded as an attractive Republican moderate, although his voting record on the war and the economy belie that. In the past, Kirk has run well ahead of his party in the district and that, coupled with his incumbency and his overwhelming dollar advantage may explain the lack of national party support for Seals. (Seals has raised over a million dollars but Kirk remains well ahead in cash on hand.) However the DCCC targets the Seals campaign as an “emerging race” and we hope that that -- along with your help -- will begin to close the financial gap. This year there’s a real chance that Democrats and Independents as well as disenfranchised Republicans will be the ones to turn out on election day. Please give whatever you can.

Just as the rain subsided, Seals ended his stump speech. “If you liked what you heard, we hope you’ll vote on November 7th . . . if you didn’t like it, we hope you’ll vote on November 8th.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Dan Seals is one of ten candidates for whom we have been raising money. Thanks to the generosity of many of you we have so far sent more than $280,000 to these candidates.

Candidate * District * Checks To:

Gabrielle Giffords * 8th district of Arizona * Giffords for Congress
Larry Grant * 1st District of Idaho * Grant for Congress
Paul Hodes * 2nd District of New Hampshire * Paul Hodes for Congress
Christine Jennings * 13th District of Florida * Christine Jennings for Congress
Scott Kleeb * 3rd District of Nebraska * Kleeb For Congress
Angie Paccione * 4th District Of Colorado * Angie Peccione for Congress
Dan Seals * 10th District of Illinois * Dan Seals for Congress
Gary Trauner * Wyoming (statewide race) * Trauner for Congress
Tim Walz * 1st District of Minnesota * Tim Walz for Congress
Patty Wetterling * 6th District of Minnesota * Patty Wetterling for Congress

If you can help with any or all of these candidates -- and haven't already -- please send checks plus one copy of the attached disclosure form to me at the address below. Complete only the lines marked with an asterisk on the disclosure form and then sign at the bottom. We will copy and complete the form for each committee and submit it with your check along with forms and checks from others

Send to: Alison Teal, 2320 Pomona Avenue, Martinez, CA 94553 and Sam's office will forward them promptly to the campaigns. Sam and I have taken a substantial amount of the time of some of the candidates and their campaign managers and I want to be sure they know it was not wasted. If you choose to contribute by credit card on the web site please let me know so that, for this same reason, I can be sure the campaign knows where it came from.
DAN SEALS
ILLINOIS – 10th Congressional District

Chicago may be my favorite American city and I’d probably live there if it weren’t for the months between November and April. I always remember comedian Richard Jeni’s line about how Chicago got started. “A bunch of people in New York said, ‘Gee, I'm enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just isn't cold enough. Let's go west.’”

Growing up in Omaha, Chicago was the big city, not New York or L.A. and I still think it’s one of the most underrated cities in the world. Everything about it is all American; its architecture, its food, its teams, its comedy, its music . . . and its politics are pure mother’s milk. “In most places in the country, voting is looked upon as a right and a duty, but in Chicago it's a sport,” said Dick Gregory. Chicago is truly America’s pulse, the “city of big shoulders”.

We headed north to the 10th congressional district to watch Democratic candidate Dan Seals at work. The district has 650,000 people -- a combination of some of suburban Chicago’s wealthiest and poorest; fiscally conservative and socially moderate. The polished lawns of Glencoe blossomed with “Seals for Congress” signs. We were headed for an afternoon event on the lawn of a picket-fence Victorian house -- modest compared to the other Venti-sized, gated houses of Lake Forest. The Sunday afternoon was unexpectedly cold and rainy. People were chilly and damp but they still crowded onto the porch or stood with umbrellas on the lawn to hear Seals.

Seals commands a room – or a porch in this case. He has a Jimmy Stewart charm and style with a Barack Obama message and delivery and he’s getting the same intense local support that Obama had in 2004. Like Obama, he’s young, attractive, articulate and African American. Like Obama he did well in school – MA from SAIS and MBA from University of Chicago. And until about six weeks ago, they both had two daughters. Now Seals has a third.

The 10th is a Democratic district, with a partisan performance index of D+3.6. This makes it one of the most Democratic districts in the country held by a Republican. (In this case, Mark Kirk.) Kirk talks like a moderate but votes like a conservative, supporting Tom Delay 90% of the time. Kirk did oppose the President on stem cell research but, as Seals says, “The difference between me and Kirk is that I’d vote for the leadership that supported it.” Kirk’s money comes mostly from big oil and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
Here are some quotes from Seal’s stump speech:

“They say ‘stay the course”, in Iraq. But this is a civil war. We’ve had a democracy for 230 years and you go to Florida and see we still haven’t gotten it right. How could they get it right in just a few years?

“There’s 30,000 dollars of national debt for every man, woman and child in this country, and we owe it to places like China. Now how can you take a hard line with China when you have to borrow from them?”

“Sixteen percent of America, forty-six million people are without access to health care. If that were an education statistic, it would be treated as a national scandal.

“We give tax dollar subsidies to big oil and yet they have record profits. I think they’re ready to leave the nest and fly on their own and we can put that money into research and national security.”

The Republicans are active and powerful in the district but many don’t feel represented. In the highly educated and affluent Winnetka, there are a lot of Republicans who are concerned about the burgeoning national debt and don’t want the Jerry Falwells running the nation.

This is a race with a very wealthy and well-educated electorate, which frequently means higher than usual turn out in the off-year elections. Seals has attracted support from the Party’s elite including Barack Obama, Rham Emmanuel and others who have been to his district. But he has not yet made the DCCC “Red to Blue” list. This seems odd since his district is more reliably democratic than the seat held by Melissa Bean, the incumbent Democrat in the adjacent district. Perhaps it’s because Kirk, the incumbent, is regarded as an attractive Republican moderate, although his voting record on the war and the economy belie that. In the past, Kirk has run well ahead of his party in the district and that, coupled with his incumbency and his overwhelming dollar advantage may explain the lack of national party support for Seals. (Seals has raised over a million dollars but Kirk remains well ahead in cash on hand.) However the DCCC targets the Seals' campaign as an “emerging race” and we hope that that -- along with your help -- will begin to close the financial gap. This year there’s a real chance that Democrats and Independents as well as disenfranchised Republicans will be the ones to turn out on election day. Please give whatever you can.

Just as the rain subsided, Seals ended his stump speech. “If you liked what you heard, we hope you’ll vote on November 7th . . . if you didn’t like it, we hope you’ll vote on November 8th.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Dan Seals is one of ten candidates for whom we have been raising money. Thanks to the generosity of many of you we have so far sent more than $280,000 to these candidates.

Candidate * District * Checks To:

Gabrielle Giffords * 8th district of Arizona * Giffords for Congress
Larry Grant * 1st District of Idaho * Grant for Congress
Paul Hodes * 2nd District of New Hampshire * Paul Hodes for Congress
Christine Jennings * 13th District of Florida * Christine Jennings for Congress
Scott Kleeb * 3rd District of Nebraska * Kleeb For Congress
Angie Paccione * 4th District Of Colorado * Angie Peccione for Congress
Dan Seals * 10th District of Illinois * Dan Seals for Congress
Gary Trauner * Wyoming (statewide race) * Trauner for Congress
Tim Walz * 1st District of Minnesota * Tim Walz for Congress
Patty Wetterling * 6th District of Minnesota * Patty Wetterling for Congress

If you can help with any or all of these candidates -- and haven't already -- please send checks plus one copy of the attached disclosure form to me at the address below. Complete only the lines marked with an asterisk on the disclosure form and then sign at the bottom. We will copy and complete the form for each committee and submit it with your check along with forms and checks from others

Send to: Alison Teal, 2320 Pomona Avenue, Martinez, CA 94553 and Sam's office will forward them promptly to the campaigns. Sam and I have taken a substantial amount of the time of some of the candidates and their campaign managers and I want to be sure they know it was not wasted. If you choose to contribute by credit card on the web site please let me know so that, for this same reason, I can be sure the campaign knows where it came from.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Gary Trauner
Wyoming

The landscape on the drive to Cheyenne, Wyoming is sprinkled only with tumbleweed and sagebrush; occasional clusters of trees seem like oases surrounded by parched brown scrub grass. “Sheep country,” said Sam, pointing to the fencing with grids of wire on the lower halves. “I thought it was just cattle, cowboys and coal.” The sheep themselves were not in evidence. Nothing was in evidence – other than a sign that said “Parking” which pointed to the side of the road. “Parking for what?” I asked.

We drove under one of those endless western skies, speeding by a huge metal profile of a buffalo high on a bluff, and past the signs warning that I 25 will be closed in the event of high winds. Enormous gates on each side of the highway indicate they mean what they say. Wyoming is the cowboy state and its residents are much prouder of their history with Buffalo Bill and Custer than they are of native son Jackson Pollock. This is a part of the country where metallic yellow ribbons abound on truck and car bumpers; the home state of Matthew Shepard and Dick Cheney.

The diagonal street parking was free, so we parked right next to the historic Plains Hotel and went in to its café to have lunch with Gary Trauner, Wyoming’s Democratic candidate for congress.

Trauner has that squeaky-clean look that comes with balding heads. He’s attractive and personable, dressed in jeans, cowboy boots and a flannel shirt; the uniform of Wyoming. Over Rueben and club sandwiches Sam and I talked to him about his campaign, his beliefs and his chances. I immediately liked him because he let me share his sweet-potato fries; something I could never order for myself.

This is conservative country but Wyoming does have a Democratic governor and the congressional incumbent, Barbara Cubin, seems to be one of the least respected members of congress. Her last campaign was vicious but the competition (a trust-funder with no real campaign) was simply not credible.

Trauner campaigns in small towns 4-7 days a week, stopping in the radio stations and local newspapers but mostly going door-to-door. He says he hasn’t spent this much time away from his wife since they met and yet, when he calls her, she’s always enthusiastic and happy. “What’s wrong with this picture?” he laughs. “But really, it’s because we both feel this is exactly what I should be doing. We’ve had some personal tragedies in our lives and, well, this may sound corny, but we both really want to make a difference.” He’s a hard and energetic worker and that comes across. He’s already knocked on nearly 15,000 doors. In his talking with people, the major issue of concern is health care, followed by the national debt, energy, public lands and immigration. A typical recent newspaper story on public land sales -- which are very unpopular among a broad cross-section of Wyoming voters -- quoted him as saying “The (Republicans) have not been fiscally conservative ... they've been fiscally irresponsible and they're looking anywhere they can to find a couple of bucks. No Wyoming family would sell their furniture to make their mortgage payment and they don't want their public lands sold to pay off the country's debt.” This common sense speaking resonates with the feel of the west.



The question he is repeatedly asked is “How do you know you’re not going to become part of them?” The “them” is Washington. The feeling in Wyoming is Washington versus us the real people. And the incumbent is often seen as “them”.


Barbara Cubin has a reputation for not showing up for votes and not being good with her constituents. One example is the Martin’s Cove issue. The Church of the Latter Day Saints, a strong constituency in southwest Wyoming, had wanted to buy Martin’s Cove, a parcel of public land. At first Cubin had supported the Mormons’ cause, but when environmentalists protested, she wavered. In the end, she just didn’t show up for the vote. It was seen as reflecting a lack of character.

Trauner says, “Basically Wyoming people believe that you ought to show up and do your job. And if you don’t, there’s no excuse. Voters say almost wistfully that they think things just aren’t working on a national level.” On social issues where some disagree with Trauner’s stands, his best argument is that the government should stay out of personal decisions and this strikes us as an approach that will play well among conservatives in the West. It allowed former Senator Alan K. Simpson to be pro-choice. On estate and dividends taxes he will be a reliable Democratic vote. On many issues he will be a moderate, which is very much reflective of his constituency.

Trauner’s button touches the Wyoming nerve:
Honesty

Integrity

Hard Work

Gary S. Trauner


This is a race that can be won. The candidate is a businessman and family man (wife, two children 12 and 6) smart and aggressive. He moved to Wyoming 16 years ago, and lives in Teton County where Jackson Hole is. This might have posed a problem since there is resentment about the wealth and fame of Jackson, but Trauner’s strong grass-roots approach can, we believe, overcome that. He is not a self-funder.

Trauner has attracted a strong, experienced Wyoming campaign staff. His campaign manager, Linda Stoval, was instrumental in the Democratic governor’s successful race. Whatever the controversy about the DNC 50-state strategy among political junkies, it is paying off in Wyoming, which now has a three person staff – up from one -- that will be of vital importance in this state-wide race. Although the registration heavily favors Republicans (59%) the Democratic vote in 2004 would be enough to win the race with a lower off-year turnout – if the field staff can get out the vote. Recent polls that show Trauner within four points of Cubin also show Bush and Cheney with very big positive ratings (Bush 57%, Cheney 58%) but with 55% saying the country is on the “wrong track.” So, unlike the races in many states, this is not a place where a referendum on Bush is a winning strategy. Trauner will win or lose on his head to head match up with Cubin, not on the national disgust with Bush.

PACs connected with the committees on which she serves fund the incumbent’s campaign heavily. Trauner figures he will need $1 million to run a good campaign. In the last race the Democratic nominee was outspent $360,000 to $960,000. At last report, Trauner had raised $394,000 and had $234,000 on hand, Cubin had raised $624,000 and had $173,000 on hand. Trauner out-raised his opponent in the last quarter. This is a race where a few dollars go a long ways.



Checks should be made out to:
Trauner For Congress

Please mail checks to:
Sam Brown/Alison Teal Brown
2320 Pomona Avenue
Martinez, CA 94553

Alison Teal
alisonteal@tealdesigns.com
http://hotflashesfromthecampaigntrail.blogspot.com/
202-271-9200

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