All posts by cranberrylib

CA-02: Real People fuel Jeff Morris’s campaign

As we all know, you can’t win an election without a good candidate. But behind every good candidate are good people working their tails off. And in a grassroots campaign, every blade of grass makes a difference.

Jeff Morris has run what can only be called an insurgency campaign in California’s 2nd Congressional District, challenging 22-year incumbent and Republican party-liner Wally Herger. Jeff’s campaign has been run entirely by volunteers. Only one very low-paid staff member. Not one big corporate donation. A little bit of PAC support, but from PACs that a progressive can be proud of. The fact that it’s a people-powered grassroots campaign was recently described with great clarity by a local newspaper:

When Wally Herger campaigns, his catering bills run in the thousands of dollars.

When Jeff Morris campaigns, he eats at McDonald’s.

Herger’s top donations are contributions from political action committees of companies in the insurance and financial sector and from agribusiness, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks and sorts federal campaign finance data.

Morris’ contributions are nearly all from individual donors.

Not only did Wally receive his money (and lots of it) from corporate special interests, he then turned around and gave that money to other Republicans in other districts:

While Morris spends most of the money he’s raised on campaign fliers and campaign travel expenses like gas and meals at McDonald’s, Burger King and eateries in Redding and Chico, Herger is doling out money to his Republican peers.

This election cycle, Herger has given around $689,000 to Republican groups and candidates around the nation.

A $572,000 cut of that has gone to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Among Wally’s friends are former Representative John Doolittle, who has been tied to the Abramoff scandal. Wally has become so complacent in his gerrymandered district that he donated to Doolittle’s defense fund, not caring what that might say about him or his values.

These are values that his constituents do not agree with, at least not according to these comments to a local newspaper article:

Wally’s senority is allowing him to move further and further from those who elect him (if that’s possible), and closer and closer to the Power Elite inside the Washington Beltway. The same Elite who have put us in the mess(s) we are in today.


It doesn’t matter how much money a candidtate has in thier war chest…it matters on the principals for which they stand. We need to vote for a change now. We need a representative that will work hard for us. We can no longer sit idle and and watch our politicians drive this country into the ground.


Talk about special interest Herger! What a corporate puppet!


Funny how “fiscal conservative” Herger voted for all the Republican pork over Bush term and then some. Just what did Wally get for us???? The debt. Thanks Wally for all your borrow and spend on pork for other Republican districts.


Jeff Morris, on the other hand, has exhibited the difference between paying lip service to the district’s needs and actually doing something to help the people of the district.

Morris has served on the California State Association of Counties, acted as the rural county representative of CSAC, and been chairman of various committees all of which focus on rural agricultural needs.

Daily Democrat, Woodland (endorsing Morris)

While sitting on the Trinity County Committee board of supervisors, Morris helped save a failing hospital, which shows he knows how to work under pressure and fix financial crises – California could certainly use some help like that. Trinity County was one of the counties hit hardest by the summer fires. Morris’ efficiency in dealing with the situation displays his knowledge of sustainable practices, which is something the university strives for.

The Orion, Chico State University (endorsing Morris)

During Wally’s recent campaign swing through Trinity County, he visited the Weaverville Community Forest – a landmark forest management project – and was visibly impressed. He praised community members for their vision in bringing the project together. “What’s so exciting is you’re doing it yourselves,” he remarked. “I really think that’s what’s making it work.”

Later, Herger’s website posted a message praising the project and claiming that it was made possible by a federal law he had supported.

The message was partially right — the Weaverville Community Forest is a great success and a model for sustainable local forestry programs nationwide. But Wally’s message left out some important facts:

• Jeff Morris was a member of the steering committee that created the Community Forest project. Jeff spent countless hours working to make the Weaverville Community Forest a success. A letter to the editor in a local paper summed it up nicely:

Sorry Wally, Trinity County Supervisor Jeff Morris has already broken the throne in. Jeff Morris owns it. Jeff Morris owns the vision that brought this thing to life. Jeff Morris owns the right to the lit billboard of fame that you seek to usurp. How dare you come to Weaverville and set foot in our community forest, you political hack.

• Herger’s “support” for the Weaverville Community Forest consisted of showing up at work and voting “yes” — he neither drafted nor sponsored the relevant bills. While District 2 is in dire need of leadership on sustainable forestry and other projects to jump-start the local economy, Herger was content to sit back and let others — including Jeff Morris — do the hard work required to produce real results.

Ten years ago, Wally was involved in a different plan (the Quincy Library Group legislation) designed to implement a consensus forest management proposal on lands in the Plumas, Lassen, and Tahoe National Forests. However, that plan has never gotten fully off the ground due to disputes among the Forest Service, national environmental groups, and local constituents.

While the Quincy Library Group plan has been mired in litigation, Jeff Morris and the other members of the WCF steering committee were able to initiate their plan, build consensus among opposing viewpoints, and hammer out the first-of-its-kind federal-local stewardship agreement that made the Weaverville Community Forest a reality. In just two years, the initiative has been so successful that it is viewed as a model for community-managed forest health nationwide, and may soon be expanded locally to include 13,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in the Weaverville Basin.

This is a great example of Jeff’s ability to work with all kinds of people to bring good results to his district.

The message I’m hoping that the voters in District 2 send to Wally on November 4 is this: he may have figured out how to manipulate the kind of power that money will buy, but he has absolutely failed to figure out how to harness the power of the people.

For the first time in years, the north state has in Jeff Morris a man with intelligence, independence (no more following the party line in lockstep) and a real concern for the problems we have. Wally Herger is so entrenched with the Bush/Republican doctrine he might as well just move to Washington, D.C. We here in the north state seldom see or hear from him.

Margaret Earnest, Anderson

It’s time to send Herger back to his ranch and elect Jeff Morris as our representative. Morris will represent all of us and not just special interests.

Warren Swanson, Redding

Herger has cruised from election to election without so much as lifting a finger. He has been hip to hip with Bush and his failed politics for the last eight years. Why do we think he will suddenly have the capacity to think and problem solve in a fresh, innovative way now, when he has had no habit to do that for 22 years?

It’s like we the voters are in a dysfunctional relationship, where we stay with someone who is not good for us, but is familiar at least, and so, oh well, we keep voting for him, thinking it will get better. Well it won’t. People don’t change like that. I urge you to be awake when you vote, be very thoughtful, party lines be damned. I believe Jeff Morris is our guy. Let’s do it!

Candace Palmo, Weaverville

Jeff told me he recently ran into someone at the grocery store who he had known since kindergarten but hadn’t seen since high school. The man told Jeff that he now lives in Sutter County and that he’s been working hard to tell his friends and neighbors that Jeff Morris is the right candidate for District 2. This is the beautiful thing about this district, and it’s one of the main reasons that I’ve been writing so much about my brother this year. When you grow up in District 2, you usually are growing up in a small town. People in small towns are like family. And they may leave, but they don’t go far. These are tight-knit communities where everyone knows everyone else. So if you’re someone like Wally who hasn’t been around except in election years, everyone knows it.

Jeff’s friends might not be major donors, but Jeff doesn’t need money to win this election — he needs votes. In the primary, we saw that every single vote counts. Here’s where you come in: I’m asking every single person reading this today to forward it (or any other good information about Jeff Morris) to 10 friends and ask them to send it to their friends. Yes, it’s only 2 days to the election, but in that time, if we can reach a few hundred more voters, that effort might make the difference. I’d like to think that Jeff is going to win by a landslide, but I’m a realist. We need every vote we can get, and yes, we need your help.

Unlike a national campaign (or a campaign that the national power brokers are paying attention to), there are no pollsters, pundits or other so-called experts to tell us how this race is going to turn out. This campaign is flying under the radar. It’s really just Jeff Morris and his supporters versus Wally Herger and his corporate funders. In my opinion, we have the power, because it’s the people who vote, not the monied power brokers. One email or phone call from you could be the deciding factor. Please help us spread the word about Jeff in the next few days. Help us to help Wally retire. Help us to reclaim District 2 for a candidate who actually gives a damn. You’ll be in good company if you do.

(cross-posted at DailyKos)

CA-02: Deep district roots fuel Jeff Morris’s campaign

I’ve been posting quite a bit about Jeff Morris, who is running a tough campaign against Wally Herger in California’s Second Congressional District. This post is going to be a bit different, because I want to talk about Jeff on a personal level.

Jeff is my brother. But that doesn’t mean that we have always agreed. In fact, there have been times in our lives when we were at each other’s throats like cats and dogs, Sunni and Shia, Yankees and Red Sox. That’s all water long under the bridge, but my point is this: I would not be writing these posts if I didn’t honestly believe that he’s the best man for the job.

I thought it would be fun to share some family history so that you can better understand the forces that shaped Jeff Morris into the public servant he is today.

My brothers and I come from a family of regular folks — not rich people, by any means. Our parents were both lucky enough to have decent educations, but they struggled financially when we were kids. Our mom comes from a family of foresters and educators; our dad’s family is made up primarily of civic-minded people and small business owners. I’m proud of what our family has accomplished in rural Northern California over the years, and it’s pretty obvious that their approach to life shaped my brother Jeff.

We are sixth generation Trinity County residents. Our great-great-grandparents and their children were ranchers. Our grandfather Leonard went to business school and was elected the Trinity County Clerk/Recorder in 1935 at the age of 24. He served three terms, then started a local company to manufacture ship fenders for the Navy out of fir saplings from the Trinity forests. The company employed more than 30 locals during World War II. In 1945, Granddad and a partner bought a building on Weaverville’s Main Street, from which they sold furniture, appliances, and various household items. Morris & Sebring, later known as Morris Hardware and then Morris & Co., was a cornerstone of the local Main Street commercial and historical district for nearly half a century.

Our grandmother Florence grew up on a working ranch and was a talented artist. As an adult, she worked with Granddad in the family business while raising three children and maintaining active membership in a variety of local community organizations, including the Historical Society, Chamber of Commerce, and Art Center. An article from the Trinity Journal described her as “the driving force behind a community paint-up project in 1957 — a project still talked about in the area as an example of what community cooperation can accomplish. She was named one of the county’s outstanding citizens by the Redding Record Searchlight that year for her efforts.”

Florence and Leonard’s children inherited the family gene for hard work and community service. Our uncle took over the family business when Granddad retired and later helped form Trinity County’s Public Utilities District. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, our dad was a primary organizer of community efforts to gain wilderness status for large portions of the rugged Trinity Alps, which are an essential part of Trinity County’s tourism economy. This effort was supported by the Trinity County Board of Supervisors with widespread community backing. My grandmother’s testimony at a Congressional hearing on the topic was picked up by national newspapers.

When you grow up with that kind of activity around you, it rubs off. You know in your bones what it is to care for a place and its people. You see first-hand that community is important. You get a taste for hard work. You understand that when regular people do that hard work together, they can accomplish amazing things.

Jeff’s childhood personality is nicely summed up in this recent letter to a local paper:

I watched Jeff Morris grow up with my children. As a young boy he shared and played well with others. If squabbles ensued, he often was the one who negotiated peace and got things going again.

Now, as an adult, he still has those same basic qualities. In addition, he is also intelligent and well educated and has the strength of character to get things done.

Like many young people in the area, Jeff left Trinity County to go to school. Later, after a stint with a legislative tracking and information service, Jeff spent 6 years as an advertising executive for the late great Tower Records — no surprise, since our family was very musical. Jeff met his wife Judy when she doing marketing for Billboard Magazine. A backstage passes romance ensued.

They could have stayed in the big city and done what most people do — work, buy a house, be cogs in the system. Instead, Jeff and Judy returned to Weaverville in 1999 and opened a coffee house / music store / performance space on Main Street, just 2 doors down from Morris & Co. The business was a huge hit with the townspeople and became a center where locals gather to get their caffeine fix, hear live music, share news with their neighbors, and build community. While running their business, Jeff was elected to the Trinity County Board of Supervisors (a position previously held by our mother in the 1980s).

Judy was Jeff’s partner in their small business, while serving as President of the Chamber of Commerce. She also worked on the start-up of a local micro-enterprise program through Trinity County’s Economic Development Office. The program’s goal was to help qualified applicants create home-based businesses in the community through outreach and training.

When Jeff announced that he would be leaving the Board of Supervisors for his Congressional run, Judy threw her hat into the ring to succeed him. (Her opponent in November’s run-off has since dropped out of the race, nearly ensuring her victory.)

Jeff decided to run for the House of Representatives after the incumbent, Wally Herger, showed up at a local town hall meeting and refused to answer certain questions from his constituents. “I don’t want to talk about that,” he said to several members of the audience. What kind of representative doesn’t want to talk about the things that worry his constituents?! It was at that point that the family mantle of community service really slipped over Jeff’s shoulders. It was at that point that he stood up and said “Enough!”

Jeff Morris learned about the grassroots in Trinity County, but I’m glad that the district sees that Jeff is not just about Trinity County. If there are those who are still not convinced, I’d like to show them the odometer on Jeff’s car. He’s spent months traveling the district, talking to the locals and listening to their issues. I’d remind them that Jeff served as vice-chair of the California State Association of Counties’ Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Committee, was elected to one of two rural-county seats on the association’s executive committee and appointed chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee.

I’d also like to tell them about our mom, who grew up near Dunsmuir; our youngest brother, who went to college in Chico; our uncle, who lives in Etna; our cousins, who live in Anderson; and our family friends who live in Yuba City. I’d like to tell them that Redding was the place we went to buy clothes, take piano lessons, and see world-class musicians perform at the Civic Auditorium. Our roots are deep in the district, and have been for years.

Jeff is running a superb race (and he’s doing it on a shoestring) — I’d be impressed even if I wasn’t related to him — but it’s not over yet. As we all know, the last few days of a campaign can be crucial. Jeff could really use your support.

Go to to find out how you can help. If you can’t donate, volunteer. If you can’t volunteer, post a blog entry about Jeff or write a letter to your local paper. And if you don’t like to write, pick up the phone and tell your friends about Jeff Morris — a strong new voice for Northern California.

(cross-posted at DailyKos)

CA-02: Herger channels Bush, Giuliani, et al. in local debate

Democrat Jeff Morris and incumbent Republican Wally Herger met again this week to debate the future of California’s 2nd Congressional District.

The video is available here. Wally looks slick as can be, comfortable with the camera, clearly well-practiced, as well he should after 22 interminable years in office. If you like professional politicians with fancy suits and enormous war chests, Wally’s your guy. Me, I like my candidates with some substance and ideas. If they don’t shop at Neiman Marcus, so much the better.

I originally listened to the radio broadcast streaming online, so if either candidate was sweating profusely or wandering aimlessly around the stage, I wouldn’t have known about it. What I did notice was the way in which Wally Herger appeared to have no original thoughts of his own. Was I listening to Herger? Bush? McCain? The ghost of James Watt? Often, it was impossible to tell.  

Of course, the debate started out with the economy. The candidates re-hashed the positions that they had taken in their first debate, with no real surprises.

This was followed by a question about water, the ever-present California mega-topic, framed as “food or fish, which would you choose?”

MORRIS: I don’t think it’s necessarily a question of “food or fish” … it’s a question of maintaining our political power here in Northern California north of Sacramento … We consistently have seen local interests battle each other over water when really we don’t understand that the larger political forces actually exist south of Sacramento … I know the cost to local communities of the water export economy. My family’s ranch in Trinity County exists under Trinity Lake, which was covered as part of the Central Valley Project … We need to understand that water is the new oil … there is a lot of money involved … We need to be focusing on what we can do together as communities in Northern California, rather than fighting each other.

HERGER: Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over … as Jeff mentioned, it is the oil of our future, it certainly is any place agriculture is concerned … We have to be able to do both … protect our environment … we have to continue doing whatever it takes to ensure that agriculture has water, our people have water … I believe we can do both.

Okay, so we all agree that water = oil. Jeff then reminds us that playing well with others is an important social skill:

MORRIS: We need a representative at the federal level who is going to be able to talk to everyone and represent everyone’s interests. If we want to bring people together, the history of throwing rocks at the environmental community, the history of throwing rocks at the agricultural community has got to stop. We need somebody who is going to be out front and leading the charge on this issue … If we don’t have someone who understands the issues, is able to communicate with all interest groups, not just the preferential ones … we are going to be on the losing end politically.

Yep, Wally is a long-time rock-thrower when it comes to the environmental community. This becomes abundantly clear later in the debate.

There was a question about farm subsidies, which is a topic where Wally, from a ranching family, should shine. Instead, he went off on a long rambling answer, leaving Jeff to cite the relevant data for a win on rebuttal.

The debate then moved on to health care:

MORRIS: We need to be talking about health care nationally and what kind of priority it’s going to be for us. In the last 8 years, even some of our government-run health care programs have been prone to tinkering, such as Medicare — Medicare Plus and Medicare Part D, which have both started to dismantle that vital system and I think that we need to make sure that that gets turned around.

I also think we need to be understanding that health care is a component of healthy communities, not just from a health standpoint but from a holistic standpoint, a comprehensive standpoint, as far as the economic health of the community, the ability of the community to create [and] attract jobs and attract young families. I believe, at some point, that we are going to have some kind of nationalized health care, and it may not be the same everywhere. “One size fits all” certainly doesn’t work for rural America.

Jeff Morris knows what he’s talking about with regard to rural health care. Just ask the folks in Trinity County how important it was that Jeff and many others worked to save the county’s only hospital and emergency room.

Wally, on the other hand, completely lost his way on this question:

HERGER: Here’s an area where I completely disagree with my opposition, my Democrat opponent. He mentioned that he’d basically like a nationalized system. That means that the government’s gonna run it even more than it does now. I think that is the big problem we have. I don’t know of anything that the government runs well — it certainly is not running the health care system well now, of which it primarily is in control of. I think instead of having the government in charge, where we see prices and costs skyrocketing at almost double inflation rates every year, we need to change it from where the government controls and we have long lines, to have it where physicians and patients control.

Um, Wally? Just a few little debate hints here — first, you are part of the government, so if it’s not running something well, you’ve got some ability to influence that. And, except for Medicare, the government doesn’t currently run health care. At least not in the country where I live.

MORRIS: It’s my belief that the big insurance companies and the big pharmaceutical companies are in control of the health care system … These happen to be large campaign contributors to my opponent … If we are looking for somebody who wants to take the lead in Northern California on designing a new health care system, are we going to choose someone who has been involved for the last 22 years in the broken system or are we going to choose someone who has actually had success in the last few years in innovative thinking in health care?

Amen, brother.

A question about energy brought on this heated exchange:

HERGER: We have this special interest environmental group … who pump into the best lobbyists, the best lawyers, and the worst politicians to ensure that we’re not able to have a balanced energy program. We haven’t put a new refinery in, because they sue, since the 1970s. We’re not able to drill where we know we have oil … We cannot go out and develop in Colorado and Wyoming and Utah where we know we have twice as much petroleum [oil shale] as they have in Saudi Arabia, we can’t go off our California coast, we can’t go off our coast in the Pacific … and these special interest groups, because of what they’ve invested in the political people … don’t allow us to drill … We also need something that will hold back the trial lawyers who also support the Democrats so heavily on allowing us to go out there and begin developing …

Nasty lawyersssss. We hatesssss them. We neeeeeeds the oil, that lovely black sticky stuff, ooooil, lovely oil, my preciousssss.

MORRIS: Well, certainly there are no lawyers, lobbyists, or politicians for the oil and gas companies, so … Fair is fair when we’re talking about competing interests in Washington, D.C. It’s whether we actually listen to either of those sets of lobbyists that’s important …

I think it’s fascinating that gas prices have gone down in the last couple of weeks without drilling a new drop and with … refineries shut down in the Gulf as a result of the hurricanes down there … It wasn’t magic fairy dust that made this happen, it was market speculation [that made the prices go up], and I think that’s a big issue that needs to be addressed when it comes to energy prices …

We should be careful about what we are going to drill here in the United States and make sure that it stays in the United States … We need to make sure that natural resources — whether they’re timber, whether they’re water, whether they are petroleum products — if they are mined in the United States, let’s try and keep them here. Now that is true energy security and not just a headline. I also think we need to look at long-term energy security, especially in the rural areas of this country. We have opportunities in wind, solar, biomass utilization, switchgrass, biofuels, that are going to make a mosaic of solutions to this issue.

Wally went way out into the deep grass on rebuttal, alleging that “these same people” own Congress and the state legislatures and that it’s “these people’s” fault that Wally and his friends “can’t get anything passed.”

Jeff called baloney on this, wondering what level of ownership the oil lobbyists had of Herger. He then made an impassioned argument for honesty about how much lobbyists and market speculation are affecting the market for alternative energy solutions.

Wally closed by mentioning his poor put-upon friends at Shell Oil.

Wally’s tone was McCain on an angry day combined with Bush whining about people who disagree with him, but his bottom-line message was all Palin. Drill, baby, drill! The odd thing is, oil drilling is not a big issue for Northern California’s District 2. Affordable fuel solutions, sure. Timber, of course. Agriculture, definitely. The economy? Absolutely. But getting oil out of the ground? Not so much. The people of California’s 2nd District are not likely to feel very sorry for the fat cats at Shell Oil — they’re too busy struggling to feed their families.

On the topic of the war, Wally again channeled his masters:

HERGER: I don’t think we should be in Iraq … any longer than we absolutely have to … The fact is that we are having tremendous success in Iraq now … with the surge, casualties are down … We have to be safe. I don’t think it’s by accident that we haven’t had another terrorist attack here on our American soil for the last 7 years since 9/11. We live in a very dangerous world. We have people out there that want to kill us, who want to cut our heads off. That doesn’t sound very pleasant but that is the fact of life.

Ah, the “noun, verb, 9/11” school of political argument. Be afraid, be very afraid!


Wally’s voice doesn’t help. There’s something about it that has always reminded me of Bush. It’s that raspy whispery whine he uses when he gets his knickers in a bunch. And, do we really think Al Qaeda is targeting rural Northern California? Most Americans don’t even know the state extends much farther north than San Francisco, so I doubt Bin Laden pays it much mind.

Jeff brought us back to reality, pointing out that Wally was pulling a Giuliani, and that Herger could have made an effort to keep us from spending so much time in Iraq:

MORRIS: I’m continually surprised about the invocation of 9/11 [by] politicians. My sister worked … across the street from the twin towers and was on the street that day, so I don’t think it’s appropriate in a debate and I don’t think it’s appropriate in foreign policy discussion to continue to [invoke] 9/11 … When we went into Iraq, many of the generals were advocating exactly what General Patreus is doing now — go in with more troops, go in stronger, and make sure we get the job done. They were fired, and in large part due to Secretary Rumsfeld … at the time, most of the members of Congress, including my opponent, were not calling for the resignation of Secretary Rumseld — they were going along with the plan. So let’s talk about reality.

Yes, I remember the smells and sounds of that day, I knew people who died, I knew people who worked on the smoking pile, and I can name the names of those we lost. And like my brother, I take personal offense when people use that horrible time as a political tool. Folks like Rudy — I mean Wally — for instance. And Jeff is right; we didn’t hear Wally’s voice questioning anyone in Washington at any time during this war. So his words about staying no longer than we have to just don’t ring true. Nor does his last response:

HERGER: Those who forget history, or choose to forget it, are doomed to repeat it … There are many in [my opponent’s] party who would like to forget it … these same people are out there … this is incredibly dangerous for someone who would make that point.

Cut the crap, Wally. There’s a difference between forgetting history and using it as a political wedge every damn chance you get. (I note, by the way, that you didn’t dispute Jeff’s point about Rumsfeld.)

With that, the candidates gave their closing statements and the debate was over. I left with the same nasty “I’m going to go throw up now” feeling that I get after listening to pretty much anyone from the Bush administration speak.

It doesn’t take a lot of energy or creativity to spit out the party line for 22 years. But Wally apparently needs plenty of help formulating his own thoughts — at least according to one reporter:

I don’t recall Herger ever coming alone. He always had a handler (my term) with him; usually Herger’s field representative Dave Muerer … More than once it occurred to me that Muerer should be the one in the congressman’s seat, not Herger, but I could never picture Herger doing Muerer’s job, since it’s pretty demanding … meeting after meeting Muerer sat patiently, mostly quietly, at the ready to clarify something or fill in a blank for Herger, even to the point of supplying vocabulary.

Herger: “It’s not, it’s not … what’s that I like to say, Dave?”

Muerer (as if he’d answered this question a thousand times): “Mutually exclusive.”

Herger: “That’s right. It’s not mutually exclusive.”


Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that he’s a bad guy just because he lines up behind the Bush administration and spouts their twisted rhetoric as if it were his native tongue. Perhaps “vapid” is a better word:

Herger’s a pleasant enough guy. He’s got a golly-gee-whiz earnestness and eyebrows that raise almost as high as his voice as he talks and talks and talks and talks in circles without ever giving a concrete solution or original idea that might benefit our north state and our people.

Herger reminds me of someone’s simple, kindly, retired uncle, a fellow you bump into at family reunions and hope you don’t get stuck sharing a picnic table with him.

I never left a Herger encounter that I didn’t wonder, sweet Jesus, how does this guy stay in office?

The conservative rags in District 2, on the other hand, seem to be in love with Herger, claiming that he “has the background and momentum to help Washington through this ordeal.” One wonders what they’re smoking. The only momentum Herger has is a direct result of his Republican handlers pushing him toward one vote or another. And momentum? Are you kidding me?! With two wars going on and economic chaos looming, the bills Herger introduced during the last session focused mostly on creating a permanent 0% capital gains rate for corporations and — I swear to God — suspending duties on skis, musical instruments, compasses, and Christmas tree lamps. If this is the kind of visionary we’re counting on to help Washington through the current crisis, then we’re all sunk.

Please, folks — Northern California can’t take much more of this guy. I certainly can’t. Talk to your friends and families. Help them understand how important this election will be for District 2. Send them to for more information and more videos of Jeff speaking in the district. Let’s help Wally retire! And while we’re at it, let’s make sure the rest of his alter-egos never grace the political stage again.

(cross-posted at DailyKos)

CA-02: Paper’s endorsement of Herger unleashes community rage

The editors of Redding’s Record Searchlight appear to have done Democrat Jeff Morris an incredible favor by endorsing Republican incumbent Wally Herger in the race for California’s 2nd Congressional District.

Normally, this kind of endorsement would not be something that the challenger’s supporters could cheer about. This time, it appears that the Searchlight‘s action backfired — big time.

Judging by the comments to the editorial and other community feedback, the paper has unleashed a wave of fury and outrage that will likely show itself at the polls, a wave that will carry ol’ Wally into retirement where he belongs.

The Record Searchlight is a typical small-town conservative-leaning newspaper that has endorsed every Republican candidate since Nixon. This year, the editors lost their nerve, refusing to endorse either presidential candidate. The Searchlight claimed that it would be “arrogant” to assume that, with so many other sources of information out there, anything their paper had to say would have any influence on local voters. Readers roundly criticized the paper for that decision, correctly identifying it as the coward’s way out. The paper promised to weigh in on local races, however, because “our newsroom knows more about what’s going on in the north state than anybody else around.”

Their newsroom very well may know what’s going on, because you can see that the enthusiasm for Jeff Morris was clearly communicated up the food chain when it came to the endorsement for CA-02:

In the race to represent the 2nd Congressional District, Republican Wally Herger faces an unusually strong challenger in Trinity County Supervisor Jeff Morris.

A Weaverville native and businessman who’s served one term as a [county] supervisor, Morris has a close-up view of the challenges facing rural Northern California – the economy, forestry, health care – and he’s worked hard in recent years to tackle them.

He points to his experience helping develop the Weaverville Community Forest, which has produced timber and a fire-resistant forest while respecting the environment. He highlights his work to preserve Trinity Hospital, which county residents voted in 2006 to save by taxing themselves, and to keep the county out of bankruptcy. He rightly advocates spreading broadband Internet access to rural areas …

Morris knocks Herger and his fellow Republicans as hypocrites on spending …

Morris brings … good ideas.

They wanted to endorse him. You can see it there, in black and white. They gave Jeff a good hard look, and they really liked what they saw. So what the hell happened?

I think this is how it went down: Some editor had his piece all ready to go, with a headline along the lines of “Jeff Morris brings a strong new voice for Northern California.” He carried it down the hall for final approval, feeling that pride in his gut that happens when you know you’ve written something great, when you know that you’ve done the right thing. But someone, somewhere, in the back office or upstairs or at the boardroom table, didn’t want that to happen. “What will our corporate owners think if we endorse a (gasp!) Democrat? Unthinkable! They’ll fire us all!” So they made the poor schmuck rewrite his piece, falling back into the incredibly weak argument of “Morris is a Democrat, therefore he will vote with the Democratic majority all the time and your taxes will go through the roof.”

Anyone who knows Jeff Morris knows this is bullshit of the highest degree. Time and time again, Jeff Morris has proven that he wants what is best for District 2, and to hell with party affiliation.

The comments to this miserable excuse for an editorial show that the Searchlight‘s readers know what’s going on just as well as — and perhaps better than — the paper’s newsroom:

Herger’s had his chance and blown it. How many chances do you want to give him to screw up Northern California?


Talk is cheap and phony hypocrites are to be avoided at all costs. We know Herger is all talk when it comes to lower taxes and smaller government and that he is a phony hypocrite with respect to his stated principles. Morris may prove to be just as bad, but he has yet to default on his word, whereas Wally has broken trust with the people. On that basis, Morris is a better choice.


Wally Herger represents someone in the Northstate, I suppose, but it isn’t me. It’s not the working family … What is ironic is the recommendation of the above editorial states why Jeff Morris is such a strong candidate and makes him more appealing than it does Herger.


Aside from the $10 trillion deficit, the editorial does not mention a single thing that Wally has brought to the north state. He consistently supports earmarks for other Republican districts, but not for us. The one issue that I remember he vigorously lobbied for here in Redding was privitization of social security. I’m sure glad he lost on that one.


Herger only puts on his fisical conservative cap when it comes to federal dollars for middle and low income people – which makes up his constituency. Herger is a tool of the rich, and corporate lobbyists in DC. He’s a bad fit for this district in everyway. That’s why I’m supporting Jeff Morris for Congress.


Herger is the worst person to represent us. I asked Wally for help with an issue with the VA. All he did is forward VA reports to me. He (or none of his staff) NEVER even looked at the issue or went to bat for me.

-Shasta Vet

During the [forest fires] this last summer, I wrote to Herger three times, asking him to rein in the forest service and stop the burns. Not one answer. Not only did Jeff Morris answer immediately, but he and his wife were putting out community bulletins about the fires on a nearly daily basis. To my knowledge, Herger showed up one time for a photo op with George Bush.


I feel that the people up here have been duped far too long by “rubber stamp” Wally. It’s time that people took an interest in who this man really represents. The average family in the North State get nothing from Wally except a few votes for the flag or prayers but nothing to make life better for us.


You gutless, cowardly wonders.


And on and on it went. Out of over 50 comments, perhaps 2 were for Herger (although those were more pro-Republican generally than pro-Wally). One fellow even got so worked up that he stole most of the text from one of my recent blog posts and copied into the comments verbatim! Add “incitement to commit copyright infringement” to the charges against the paper.

In all seriousness — I have been watching the comments in the Searchlight for some time, and I can tell you that these folks trend conservative. Any time gay marriage or abortion is mentioned, there is a bloodbath in the comments to the article. Any time Obama and McCain are mentioned, more local warfare in the viewer comments. NEVER have I seen the kind of overwhelming disdain and disgust and — dare I say — UNITY on an issue as I saw in the response to yesterday’s editorial.

Dear Record Searchlight: As one of Jeff Morris’s strongest supporters, I thank you. Thank you for explaining what a great candidate my brother is. Thank you for giving your readers something to unite around. Thank you for providing Jeff with an extra bump as we head toward the polls. Thank you for letting us all know that you care more about your corporate backers than you care about the lives of regular people in Northern California. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Well done.

(cross-posted at DailyKos)

CA-02: Red to blue registration shift favors Jeff Morris

Something very interesting is happening to Northern California’s Second Congressional District.

The party affiliation of registered voters in this enormous rural district, which has for years been considered a Republican stronghold, has shifted from conservative to progressive, from red to purple. Believe it or not, in some counties in the district, voter rolls are a lovely shade of blue!

Trinity County — blue. Butte County — blue. Siskiyou County — purple and projected to be blue by the election. Yolo County — purple. Yuba County — purple. Wow!!

Voter rolls in the district from Sept 2006 – Sept 2008 showed a 5,618 net increase in combined Democratic, Green, and Peace & Freedom party registration. This is what some elections folks like to call “progressive registration.” And in District 2, the progressive registration is trending upwards.

Much of this progressive registration reflects an overall trend in the nation, as people realize how bad the Bush years have been for those of us who aren’t Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers. Obama’s tremendous success has, I’m sure, had an additional affect on progressive registration, as people are inspired to change parties or register for the first time as progressives. I also credit the hard work of progressive individuals everywhere who are doing simple things like talking to their neighbors about the news that doesn’t make Fox and helping other people register to vote.

Regardless of the cause, since 2006, county by county, progressive registration is turning much of California’s District 2 a strong hue of dark purple — almost 50% of which has been achieved over the last 9 months. And the numbers continue to trend blue.

Speaking of blue …  blue

It’s the perfect situation for a crossover candidate like my brother Jeff Morris — a candidate who is able to bridge the deep chasm between conservatives and progressives that has historically divided the good people of the 2nd District.

Jeff’s campaign has attracted many moderate Republicans and Libertarians from the agricultural and forested areas of the district, who connect with Jeff’s family history and his pioneer roots.

As an example, members of the “Republicans for Jeff Morris” group in solidly red Shasta County have been a driving force behind Jeff’s campaign, providing essential connections and funding, talking about Jeff to their (often influential) friends, hosting events, and writing letters to the local newspapers. They are wise enough to ignore party affiliation and look instead for true leadership.

In Jeff they see a smart, hard-working, common-sense guy who has proved his worth as a local elected official, a candidate who understands their needs because he’s been there. Jeff grew up where they grew up; Jeff’s grandparents knew their grandparents; Jeff’s small business faced the same tough economy that their businesses face; and Jeff’s record and our family’s record of public service have been visible and available in the local newspapers for years. They see how hard he works and they’re crossing party lines to get him elected.  

My point is that if all currently registered voters show up at the polls, Democrat Jeff Morris has a very good chance of beating Republican incumbent Wally Herger for the District 2 House seat. I’m completely frustrated by comments in political blogs and local newspapers asserting that this district is a lost cause and that Wally’s re-election is a sure thing. The voter rolls say otherwise, as do the many moderates who are crossing party lines to stand with Jeff. This is the year that it can happen for District 2, and we need to get the word out — there is very little time left.

California voting info here. Check your registration status here.

Go to Jeff Morris for Congress to find out how you can help elect a strong new voice for Northern California!

(cross-posted at DailyKos)

CA-02: Unions endorse Jeff Morris’s fair trade approach

(Go Jeff! – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Jeff Morris is running an impressive grassroots campaign to replace Wally Herger in California’s Second Congressional District. Last week, Jeff earned the endorsement of United Public Employees of California, LIUNA Local 792 — the first congressional candidate endorsement in the local’s history.

Jeff has also received endorsements from the Five Counties California Labor Council; Carpenters Local Union #1599, Redding; the California Labor Federation AFL-CIO Committee On Political Education; the Operating Engineers Union No. 3, District 70, Redding; and UAW, Region 5.

Meanwhile, Wally received an embarrassing 4% rating from the AFL-CIO in 2007, just a baby step up from his truly dismal 0% rating in 2003.

Wally Herger has spent the last 22 years doing everything he can to help wealthy business interests and doing almost nothing to help the hard-working citizens of District 2. He has consistently voted against raising the minimum wage, citing its effect on small business owners — yet, when a 2007 minimum wage bill also contained tax breaks for small businesses, Herger still voted against it. Herger is also an outspoken supporter of the Bush administration’s “free trade” policies, which have had dramatically negative effects on job security and wages for America’s workers.

In fact, Herger has frequently voted against bills that would help workers, such as the Employee Free Choice Act of 2007 (would have established a system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, and provided for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts); Trade and Globalization Assistance Act of 2007 (would have allowed service sector workers and public workers to be covered by trade adjustment assistance); a House Resolution supporting a bill to require the Secretary of Labor to issue interim and final occupational safety and health standards regarding worker exposure to combustible dust; and the Paycheck Fairness Act (would have provided more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex).

Not exactly a worker-friendly fellow, that Wally.

Jeff Morris, on the other hand, understands the critical difference between free trade and fair trade, which he explained to Wally in an op-ed piece last spring:

Trade agreements are not a bad thing, but unfettered free trade is a race to the bottom … True fair trade, on the other hand, works to balance out subsidized industries with our own to ensure that all factors are considered when agreements are struck. Free trade is always about the bottom line. Fair trade is about a combination of profits and philosophical values and goals.

The only use of the word “fair” that I would use when it comes to unfettered free trade would be that the American economy, jobs and workers are fair game under free trade.

As a small business owner and local government official, Jeff Morris truly understands the needs and concerns of both business interests and workers. He has personally experienced the financial hardships that threaten the Main Streets of our small towns and rural communities. He’s been there in the trenches, facing the problems at the local level and working hard to make real differences in the lives of the hard-working people of District 2. He understands that profitable businesses and fairness for workers are not incompatible concepts — that we can have beneficial trade agreements while protecting local jobs and ensuring that rural economies stay strong.

Please go to Jeff Morris for Congress and give my brother your support! If the economy is hitting you too hard to allow a donation to his campaign, you can always write a letter to a District 2 newspaper supporting Jeff, or post a diary on this site or at a blog in your local community. Every person you reach is potentially one more vote, and in this election, every vote is going to count!

(cross-posted at DailyKos)

CA-02: Take Back Red California endorses Jeff Morris

There is a growing consensus in California’s Second Congressional District that Democratic candidate Jeff Morris has a good chance of taking out long-time incumbent and party-line Bush supporter Wally Herger. Jeff, who has received endorsements from elected officials statewide and others including former presidential candidate Pete McCloskey, recently received the endorsement of Take Back Red California, “a grassroots coalition that connects northern California Democrats in urban counties with northern California Democratic activists working in rural counties.” Here’s what they had to say about Jeff:

In Jeff Morris, Democrats have found a grassroots-based candidate, with a wealth of policy experience at the local level, who will mount a serious effort to unseat entrenched Republican Wally Herger and strengthen and reenergize Democratic organizations in this district.

Doesn’t this sound like someone who could change “traditionally” red District 2 to blue? I think so. The Take Back Red California folks seem to think so. And we’re not alone.

California’s Second District has seemed safely Republican for decades, in part because the Democratic Party has been unable to find a serious candidate to run against Herger — until this year. District 2 is a primarily rural area, with registered voters running about 115,000 Democratic, 153,000 Republican, and 70,000 or so independents and decline-to-states. These numbers have been changing recently, as they are nationally, and conventional wisdom about the safety of this traditionally Republican House seat is being turned upside down.

This week, an editorial in one of the district’s major local papers quoted Wally Herger’s views about the current economic crisis at some length. But rather than agree with Herger’s assessment, the editorial basically smacked him upside the head:

Herger called subprime mortgages and their repackaging into exotic securities the root of the crisis. He said Congress, along with any bailout, must review and modernize regulations to ensure they can cope with today’s high finance. “None of this existed 50 years ago, even 20 years,” he said.

He volunteered that many of the lending problems were visible not just in hindsight but “even in foresight,” which makes us wonder what he’s been doing in Congress all this time.

(emphasis added)

Before I tell you what Wally has been doing in Congress for the last 22 years, it will help if you know the following facts:

The District 2 poverty level in 2005 was 15%, higher than the 2004 national rate of 12.7%, and today it is higher than it was 25 years ago. The 2007 median household income in District 2 was $41,000, lower than the national median income of $50,233 and, in 2007 dollars, lower than the national median income 27 years ago. Based on their financial well-being (or lack thereof), it’s hard to see how the folks in this district have benefited from Wally’s interminable tenure.

Herger’s net worth in 2006 was estimated at $12.2 million, which made him the 43rd wealthiest member of Congress and eighth among California’s Congressional delegation. Herger’s largest campaign contributors are wealthy farming interests and those representing the insurance, timber, pharmaceutical, and construction industries. True to form, his voting record favors the upper income brackets.

Wally voted against the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (now law), which helps people in danger of losing their homes refinance into more affordable government-insured mortgages. He sponsored a bill that would have imposed a permanent 0% capital gains tax rate for corporations and certain individuals. He voted against 4 separate bills in 2008 that provided tax incentives for alternate energy sources, extended renewable energy tax credits, and increased taxes to oil companies. (All of which became law.) He voted against a bill to extend unemployment benefits for states with an unemployment rate exceeding 6% — which would have included the people in his own district. (This bill also became law.) He voted against the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 (now law) and all versions of the Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act. Even poor kids can’t catch a break from Wally, despite the fact that in some counties of his district, 26% of the children live in poverty (22% district-wide).  

In fact, most of District 2’s residents do not come anywhere near the upper income brackets, and by consistently re-electing someone who doesn’t recognize this fact, the population has been voting against their own interests.

Jeff Morris knows that the people in District 2 have been getting a raw deal.

“Regardless of whether [residents] voted for Herger or not, they are still the customers … And he’s forgotten who the customers are.”

Helping customers means making sure their needs are addressed, and in rural Northern California, this means reaching out to others who, by virtue of their urban wealth and concentrated political representation, have effective control over the purse strings. Jeff realizes that Wally is “too polarizing a Republican to reach outside his party,” and has “emphasized the need for a local congressman to appeal not only to Democrats but urban lawmakers in order to bring funds to the counties north of Sacramento.”

“The challenge is getting representatives of the urban areas to understand how important that is, because rural areas don’t have the votes – which makes relationships all the more important.”

“We think this race is winnable. We believe there are enough independents and Republicans who have had it so they’ll come along with us.”

Jeff Morris, as some of you may know, is my brother. I doubt that our entire extended family has $12.2 million between them. In fact, our grandfather came to District 2 in 1912 as a penniless orphan, and was adopted by a local family.

“He spent the rest of his life giving back. That is the idea. We need the opportunity to do good things.”

“If I get this job, I will be working for you, not Wall Street or the big insurance companies … Somebody needs to be working for you. You deserve that.”

In a radio interview a few weeks ago, Jeff Morris hammered home the point that District 2 is doubly under-represented in Congress.

“We have had a need for leadership here in Northern California for a long time. As far as political power is concerned, you know we’re a rural area … Most people don’t realize this who live outside of the state, but it’s quite rural, and since it’s rural, we don’t have the population to have many members of Congress … we’ve only got 3 north of Sacramento out of 53 in the state out of 435 in the whole House. So if we don’t have somebody who is effective in their role as a member of Congress, we’re already under-represented based on numbers.

Jeff Morris recognizes that the people of CA-02 need his help. But he’s going to need OUR help to get there. At both the state and national level, we need to recognize that conventional wisdom can change, and that this year, the conventional wisdom about CA-02 is flat-out wrong. This is a seat that can be turned blue this year — with the help of people like you, who have the power, with the click of a button, to turn red to blue.

“Everyone in this district is interested in solid good-paying jobs. Everyone in this district wants access to affordable health care. Everyone in this district wants to make sure that veterans are taken care of. All these issues that are out there now for folks transcend political parties. Especially since, again, from a political power standpoint, we’ve been under-represented not only by our population numbers but also by our member of Congress. So I think the feeling out there right now is … party loyalty be damned. We need somebody, regardless of party affiliation, who’s going to be effective for the citizens of the district.

(cross-posted at DailyKos)

CA-02: Jeff Morris, small towns and “Pancakes for the People”

At the Republican Convention last week, there was a lot of talk about small towns. Speaker after speaker asserted that Republicans have their fingers on the pulse of small-town America, and that Democrats somehow don’t. Jon Stewart knew that was a line of baloney. And so did people like me, who grew up in small towns and have seen firsthand that, for all their lip service to small town values, this crop of Republicans has little interest in solving the very real problems facing America’s small towns.

That’s why I’m spending a lot of time this year writing about my brother, Jeff Morris, the Democratic candidate for California’s Second Congressional District – a district made up almost entirely of small towns.  

Jeff and I grew up in the small town of Weaverville (population 3,554) in Northern California’s rugged Trinity County. Trinity’s citizens struggle financially, but they are wealthy in more important ways – they have strong personal communities, beautiful surroundings, and a safe place to raise their children. Like many young people, my brothers and I moved away to go to school. But unlike most of us, Jeff went back. He and his wife Judy started a small business. Then Jeff ran for a seat on the county’s Board of Supervisors and won. And he’s done a great job. In California’s June primary, local constituents showed their support for Jeff’s Congressional run by giving him over 79% of their votes.

So, last weekend, Jeff invited them all to “Pancakes for the People,” a 99-cents-per-person pancake breakfast in Weaverville nearby Lewiston (population 1,305). It was a fundraising breakfast, yes, but at 99 cents, the money was not the point. Jeff threw this party to thank the people who know him best – his local supporters whose votes put him over the top in the primary election.

“If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then I’m proud to be serving it up for the folks in Trinity County,” he said.

After breakfast, Jeff jumped in his car and drove 190 miles – that’s one hour over winding mountain roads and two more hours down the I-5 corridor – to the much bigger small town of Woodland (population 49,151) to attend the 32nd Annual Bean Feed sponsored by Yolo United, the Yolo County Democratic Central Committee’s 2008 campaign. The event was attended by a variety of elected officials, including Rep. Mike Thompson (D) from CA-01, who had some nice words to say about Jeff. Sure, the event was a fundraiser and the prices started at $35 per person instead of 99 cents, but it was a bean feed at the county fairgrounds!  Not exactly the kind of thing you think of when you hear the word “elite,” is it? And at the end of the day, Jeff Morris still had a long drive home ahead of him.

That’s part of being a candidate in CA-02 – at nearly 22,000 square miles, the district’s vastness means a lot of hard work if you want to make sure each voter knows who you are and where you stand. Back in the 1930s, when our Granddad was running for county clerk/recorder, he went door-to-door to meet each of his constituents, which sometimes meant going by horseback where roads were too rough for his Model A. Like our Granddad, Jeff has put thousands of miles on his car and spends several hours in any given day just getting from one town to the next.

Being a candidate in CA-02 also means happily eating pancakes and beans because events like these are important small-town traditions – and besides, what’s not to love about pancakes (or beans)! They’re delicious and affordable when the prices of food, gas, and housing are crushing small-town America, increasing the harm already done to fragile local economies by vanishing jobs and disappearing federal dollars for rural schools and other local services.

While Jeff was eating pancakes and beans with the locals, District 2’s incumbent, Wally Herger, was fretting to a reporter about the Democratic plan to rescind the Bush Administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy. If I were Wally, I’d be a lot less concerned about keeping my wealthy friends wealthy and a lot more worried about helping the people in my district keep their jobs and their homes and find funding for their schools, fire departments, and hospitals.

Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that Wally didn’t invite his hometown to a pancake breakfast the last time he won in this district, nor would he have been seen at a fundraising dinner where the featured food was beans.  This is a man who has been in office for over 20 years, yet claims to be ecstatic about the chances of John McCain – who has been in office for 26 years – shaking up the Washington “establishment.” Neither of these fellows seems to realize that the establishment they’re so excited about shaking up is a creature of their own making – indeed, they are the establishment. What Jeff Morris and the Democrats understand is that shaking up Washington means shaking these fellows out.

Jeff Morris knows small-town America; he’s got beans in his belly and miles on his car to prove it. He’s running a people-powered, grassroots campaign, and he’s getting support from Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and decline-to-states. He understands that the people of District 2’s small towns are going to need strong leadership with an emphasis on local involvement if their issues are going to be heard – much less addressed – in a tight economy where paying  lip service to small-town values trumps actually solving their problems.

If you’ve met Jeff Morris once or donated to his campaign, chances are he’ll remember your name the next time you see him. Not because he’s a politician – it’s more than that. Jeff has always remembered people’s names and remembered their stories. That’s just the way he is. Trust me – I knew him back when he was just another small-town kid who played trumpet in the marching band and really liked pancakes.

(Cross-posted on DailyKos)

Pete McCloskey endorses Jeff Morris for CA-02

(Cross-posted from Daily Kos)

Last week, Democrat Jeff Morris officially kicked off his campaign to unseat long-time incumbent Wally Herger in California’s 2nd Congressional District. In my last post about my brother Jeff, I mentioned that he would have to get past the backwards-looking conventional wisdom, which says that this district is a shoo-in for the Republicans. I argued, as do many others, that this is the year when a well-qualified candidate like Jeff Morris can win, regardless of the political makeup of the district.

Jeff, who has already garnered support from both Democrats and Republicans among his fellow county supervisors, proved me right by landing a huge endorsement from someone who spent years on the Republican side of the aisle — former Congressman and real GOP maverick Pete McCloskey. Speaking last week, McCloskey lauded Jeff Morris as “a tough and honest leader who will be a welcome change to the 2nd District.”

McCloskey, a recovering lifelong Republican, Marine vet, co-founder of Earth Day, and former presidential candidate, has received a lot of press on progressive blogs, particularly when he jumped ship in 2007 to join the Democratic Party. McCloskey’s 2006 primary run against Richard Pombo helped shine a light on Pombo’s connections to Abramoff, weakening the incumbent’s hold on CA-11, and opening the door for Jerry McNerney (with McCloskey’s endorsement) to take Pombo’s place.

By all accounts McCloskey was “disgusted” with the shenanigans of the Bush Administration and the Abramoff crew. His disgust reached the point that, in an email to his supporters after the 2006 primaries, he urged them to “support Democrats like Charlie Brown and Jerry McNerney … who are good men, and … help them in every way we can.”

“Clearly it is a time to fight back,” he wrote. “Party loyalty be damned.”

Those words are as true now as they were then. We need to make sure that worthy Democratic candidates like Jeff Morris are getting our support, and if influential Republicans (or former Republicans) cross the aisle to support them, we should thank them and take it as a sign that the candidate is worthy of our strongest support — conventional wisdom be damned.