Tag Archives: They Work For Us

CA-10: Tauscher and the Primary, a closer look

There has been much attention paid lately to the fact that the They Work For Us offenders list was scrubbed soon after its debut.  Many wonder how that bodes for a primary challenge against Ellen Tauscher.

For example, the East Bay Express, which takes what I consider an honest look at it, if a bit on the pessimistic side.  But then what do you expect from a segment called “City of Warts?” (emphasis mine):

On January 22, Democratic Party activist Steve Rosenthal announced the birth of Working For Us, a new Political Action Committee that would expose moderate Democrats to public shame, and even help run progressive primary challengers against the three “worst offenders.” …
The story got picked up by the Washington Post and Associated Press wire, Beltway tongues started wagging – and the blowback kicked in. …
Within 48 hours, Rosenthal had erased every name from his offenders’ list. …
What appeared in the first 24 hours to be a new, aggressive effort to replicate the libertarian Club for Growth muscle quickly fizzled into a tepid attempt at damage control. This is hardly an auspicious beginning for the Netroots campaign against Tauscher, and it shows that for all their online anguish, getting rid of the congresswoman will be a lot tougher than people think.

Personally, I think this is a good thing because it makes sense that this project have a populist component.  At the least it makes it seem less personal.  And that is as it should be (when you have a chance go to the link and nominate Ellen Tauscher or your other favorite).

But some seem to take this as an opportunity to cheer on Tauscher.  Join me on the flip…

Specifically, I am talking about Lisa Vorderbrueggen who writes for the Contra Costa Times.  Two weeks ago, she had erred by conflating Tauscher’s votes on Afganistan and Iraq.  Maybe you remember that?  She apologized, which is good, but let’s see what she has to say this time (emphasis mine):

[They Work For Us] will invest money and time in two or three 2008 primary races, Rosenthal said, although it hasn’t selected the races.

The Berkeley-based liberal blog Daily Kos and other Bay Area bloggers have taken a much stronger stand. They vow to find a progressive to challenge Tauscher, chairwoman of the moderate congressional New Democrat Coalition, in the 2008 primary.

They dislike Tauscher’s votes in favor of the Iraq war and a bankruptcy bill, her support of Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and comments such as how Democrats must avoid going “off the left cliff.”

In District 10, however, political consultants and local elected and community leaders on both sides of the aisle are perplexed at the characterization of Tauscher as a mismatch.

To me this seems like a willful attempt to pull a fast one.  We should be talking about a primary challenge here, but there seems to be a continual effort to cast this as a general election battle.  Who do two of her star quotes come from? (emphasis mine):

Tauscher is a “perfect fit,” said Republican Antioch City Councilman Arne Simonsen. “The far left makes a lot of noise, but that doesn’t mean the silent majority doesn’t have a different feeling.”

Even Allan Hoffenblum, the GOP campaign manager for Bill Baker, who narrowly lost his seat to Tauscher in 1996, called her a strong match in the centrist district…

OK, do I really have to explain what is wrong here?  She is quoting Republicans about whether Tauscher represents the district!  I am all astontonished that they like her.  This is supposed to convince Democrats that a primary challenge is unneccessary?

To be fair, she does also quote one Democrat from Orinda, a conservative part of the district.  But that is supposed to be representative of the district, as a whole?  Hardly!  Yet she goes on to lecture us about District 10 politics and how we should all be focusing on helping McNerney win re-election to CA-11.

Gee.  I hope he doesn’t face a strong primary challenge.  Do you think that maybe Ellen Tauscher wants to support Steve Filson in the primary against him, again?  Maybe that is what she is saying?  Of course we are going to support McNerney in the general election.  He will need more help than whoever beats Ellen Tauscher in her primary, no matter who the Republican is that runs in CA-10.  Who knows.  Maybe by challenging Tauscher, we will have extra infrastructure in place that can be used to help McNerney?  But I digress…

Lisa quotes a lot of stats from the general election to try to prove her point.  She also compares CA-10 to neighboring CA-07 and CA-11 to try to prove her point.  She says that we are trying to turn Tauscher into Richard Pombo.

OK, where to begin?  First of all, we are talking about a PRIMARY, so the general election results don’t really mean much.  And I would never equate her with Richard Pombo but Steve Filson who Tauscher supported in the CA-11 primary against Jerry McNerney.  And they are telling us how much we need to support Jerry?  Forget it.  Let’s move on to the real numbers.  Those from the 2006 Democratic Primary

For comparison, Establishment candidate Steve Filson lost to Jerry McNerney 34.3% to 50.5% in CA-11.  George Miller and Ellen Tauscher ran unopposed in CA-07 and CA-10, respectively…

So Lisa was trying to characterize CA-07 as being much more liberal than CA-10, but I don’t see that here.  Angelides beat out Westly by a bit more in CA-07, but Speier, Bowen, Chiang, and Brown all did better in CA-10.  And all of these candidates did better in CA-10 than statewide.  Well, except Bustamante, and  that one is just screaming out as a joke about how much more intelligent these voters are!  These numbers pretty much speak for themselves.  Remember, this is all Democratic Primary results.  And as Lisa points out, CA-10 has a 12.5 point Democratic advantage in the general.

It is funny.  There has also been a lot of defenders of her pointing out where her record makes her a liberal, but then cry that if they target her then that means we need to target all moderates.  It doesn’t make sense.  They can’t have it both ways!  They point out how she is a defender of women’s rights, but I would expect that from anyone elected to the current CA-10.  The point is that we can (and will) do better.

The thing is, not only did she support the war in Iraq, and play an influential role in smoothing the way for the bankruptcy bill that gutted the rights of consumers recently, she consistantly stands up for the rights of corporate interests instead of her constituents.  She has also continually supported Republican tax “reform” legislation like the abolition of the Estate Tax (which, by the way, represents the most American of ideals, but that is a different diary).  And don’t forget her vote to impeachwith Republicans to investigate President Clinton.  But that was a vote of conscience, I suppose.

But that is why she needs to have a primary challenge.  Her constituents need to have a vote of their conscience, too.  If she represents her Democratic constituents much as Lisa claims they do, she won’t have anything to worry about.  It would have been nice if she could have found more than one that feels the same.

The time of the “New Democrats” is over.  Trying to out-Republican the Republicans has failed.  We need leaders and advocates.  Jerry McNerney has proved that.  That is what the basis of representation is supposed to be.  It is clear that Tauscher represents her donors, not those that elected her.  I am sorry to all the Republicans that feel represented by her.  Enjoy her while you have her.  Lisa says that we are full of ourselves because we helped McNerney win in a Republican District.  Maybe we are, but he did win, and CA-10 is a Democratic district.  Won’t that make it easier?  They make a show of supporting McNerney now, but never forget that they opposed him in the primary.  And we won, anyway.

Is “Working for Us” actually working for us?

ellen tauscherRemember this picture? This was up on the new Working for Us PAC website at Monday’s launch. It was written up on Calitics here and here with a bonus mention when Tauscher spokesman Kevin Lawlor punked the press.

Only now, it is gone.

Yes, just like Tauscher’s scrubbed photos with George Bush and Joe Lieberman, it has been disappeared.

I don’t know what happened, but it looks like the very people who whined about sell-outs, well…

Josh Richmond has the scoop:

A new liberal Democratic lobbying and political action coalition was launched this week, naming Rep. Ellen Tauscher its “top offender” potentially targeted for a 2008 primary election challenge.

By Wednesday, however, Tauscher, D-Alamo, and two other House targets had been removed from the Working For Us PAC’s Web site. PAC treasurer and organizer Steve Rosenthal — also president of the They Work For Us lobbying entity affiliated with the PAC — didn’t return calls Wednesday and Thursday seeking comment.

Not only did they say that the person who was the Worst Offender on Monday is off the list by Wednesday, but they teed up another whopper from the credibility-challenger spokesman for Tauscher:

“I guess they realized what Rep. Tauscher’s constituents in the 10th District and her colleagues in Congress have known all along — that she is a loyal, hard-working and committed Democrat,” Tauscher press secretary Kevin Lawlor quipped Thursday.

I appreciate the way they covered the backs of those who realize that Tauscher isn’t loyal or committed:

Moulitsas and other bloggers, particularly at Calitics.com, have decried Tauscher as out of step with an increasingly liberal district.

I’m hoping I’m wrong, but They Work For Us appears to be another DC-centric circle-jerk that talks tough until they pull of their hold-up maneuver.

UPDATE: I think the moral of the story involves the glass houses and selling out. From Working for Us PAC’s very first blog post, on website scrubbing:

Then a funny thing happened on Tauscher’s Congressional website. Her picture with Bush disappeared. Gone. Like it never happened. But it did.

Indeed. Just like Working for Us it was disappeared. Gone.

Update II: I spoke with one of the Orgs involved who seems to think that this isn’t a story and said, “Nobody is backing off.” I’m waiting to hear more, there are lots of emails going around, hopefully we’ll have a better idea tomorrow.

They Work For Us

When I saw the headline New Coalition Aims To Keep Dems In Check I wasn’t sure what to think. Would this be a right-leaning organization designed to keep us from going off a left cliff, or was it, well, the good guys?

Markos put my mind at ease in this front page post:

They Work For Us is led by Steve Rosenthal, former labor organizer and head of ACT. Its members include SEIU, the United Steelworkers, MoveOn, the American Association for Justice (formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association), and this little ol’ website (I’m on the board).

More on They Work For Us over the flip…

They Work For Us was formed to hold Democrats who don’t heed the message voters sent on November 7 accountable.

What message is that? One of economic populism. Look at the issues of greatest concern to the organization:

– a living wage for all workers
– more domestic jobs
– retirement security
– sound corporate governance
– access to affordable health care
– keeping jobs here instead of shipping them overseas

And how will those that stray be held accountable?

Democrats who don’t hew to this agenda could find themselves facing well-funded primary opponents _ an aggressive strategy to counter moderate and conservative blocs within the party.

And lookie here who’s first on their list of targets:

#1. Ellen Tauscher, CA
Throughout her congressional career, Ellen Tauscher has accepted more than $2 million in campaign contributions from business PACs and has voted for reforms that strip the rights of consumers in favor of big business, including voting to reform the country’s bankruptcy laws in favor of banks and credit card companies and restricting access to the courts.

As Markos says, this new coalition demonstrates just how mature our movement has gotten. Glad we have them on our side in the Tauscher fight.