Thursday, May 24, 2007

Establishment Dems create easy challenge lists

As I have stated before and as my actions have demonstrated, I am a liberal first and a Democrat second. The vast majority of the time the philosophy intersects with the party, but when it is not, I support liberal ideas over the political party. The most significant liberal policy goal in my mind is to redeploy US forces from Iraq and fix the decision process and the intellectually constrained framework of our current foreign policy debate. This mindset is why I have long encouraged netroots backed primary challengers to numerous Democrats in the 2008 cycle. I supported Ned Lamont against Joe Lieberman for the same reason.

I just want to thank some of the spineless Democratic establishment for making the collective research and targeting decisions for people who share similar attitudes as me in which Democratic primaries we should be supporting aggressive challengers. In the Senate, the simplifying vote so far has been the Reid-Feingold vote with the following Democrats voting against establishing a priority of withdrawal by a certain deadline:

Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Levin (D-MI)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Tester (D-MT)
Webb (D-VA)

I am disappointed in a couple of these senators, including Tester and Webb and expected better from a couple of more of the older senators.

Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) are up for re-election in 2008 and they come from solidly blue states. Jack Reed has no politically coherent reason to vote against Reid-Feingold as he comes from the most Democratic state in the Union. Rockefeller (D-WV) is coming from a purplish state but the strongest probable Republican challenger, Congresswoman Shelly Capito , has declined to challenge him.

Levin and Reed should be aggressively challenged because if we can find a non-corrupt, reasonably competent progressive candidate, they can, if they beat the incumbent Democrat, hold the seat blue against any probable Republican challenge. Sen. Rockefeller is a much harder decision to make as the state of West Virginia is slowly trending red and there is a decent probability that a successful primary challenger may lose the seat to a reasonably competent Republican campaign. The same applies to Sen. Baucus of Montana, for although the state is trending blue at the non-presidential level, there is a degree of risk involved if the primary challenger is successful in losing the seat in the general.

Politicians respond to incentives. A series of strong, aggressive primary challengers that are based on a premise that standing up to the Republican Party's hostage tactics is a good idea will send a strong and behavior changing message to a significant part of the elected national Democratic Party that still thinks that we are in the mid-90s. Times have changed, and it is time to get with this new version of reality.

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