House Republicans apparently think that losing 50 seats over two cycles is change they can believe in, as they signed up John Boehner as Minority Leader for two more years, resisting a challenge from Dan Lungren.
While Randy Bayne considers this a bright spot for Bill Durston and his effort to beat Lungren in 2010, I have the opposite view. Being Minority Leader would have put a major target on Lungren’s back. Now he can slink back into quiet anonymity and not raise the ire of his constituency, which is rapidly growing more Democratic.
On another note, how can House Republicans possibly think that Boehner has done a good job these last two years to warrant a return engagement? Fortunately, that’s their problem.
…in other news about local Congresscritters, Barbara Lee is now the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Lynn Woolsey has retained her co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House, along with Arizona’s Raul Grijalva.
Brilliant. It’s fitting that the Republicans could pick as a leader a guy who couldn’t get 50% in his own district. Bill Durston, already slated to run in 2010, could become a very important figure for the next two years.
Why Didn’t the Democratic Party Support an Outstanding Progressive Candidate?
Dr. Bill Durston, an outstanding progressive Democratic candidate for House of Representatives in California’s 3rd Congressional District, ran a close race against the Republican incumbent, Dan Lungren, in the 2008 general election, losing by a margin of 44% to 49%, with third party candidates accounting for the remaining 6%. The 3rd CD includes portions of Sacramento and Solano counties, and all of Alpine, Amador, and Calaveras counties. Despite his impeccable progressive credentials, a poll showing that he was in a statistical dead heat with Lungren, and a well-organized grass roots campaign, Dr. Durston received little support from the State Democratic Party and no support whatsoever from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
Dr. Durston has announced that he will run again in 2010. The purpose of this communication is to help ensure that Dr. Durston will get the support he needs and deserves to be victorious in 2010, and that progressive message he represents will be heard by not only the voters, but also by the state and national Democratic party leaders.
The Facts about Dr. Bill Durston and his campaign for Congress:
Dr. Bill Durston, an emergency physician, decorated Marine Corps combat veteran of Vietnam, and past president of the Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, ran for Congress in California’s 3rd Congressional District in 2006 on short notice against a Republican career politician, Dan Lungren.
Dr. Durston was approached by a local Democratic search committee in January 2006 when no other Democratic candidate had stepped forward.
Dr. Durston and his wife, Diane, agreed to run in February 2006 after he tried unsuccessfully himself to find another candidate willing to challenge Lungren.
Dr. Durston ran a very credible grassroots campaign in 2006 on a progressive platform, but lost to Lungren by a 21% margin (38% to 59%) in the gerrymandered 3rd Congressional District. (Note: Congressman Jerry McNerney lost to Richard Pombo by exactly the same margin on McNerney’s first run for Congress in the adjacent 11th Congressional District in 2004.)
Dr. Durston announced on August 31, 2007, that he would run a second time against Lungren in CD 3.
Author Norman Solomon described Dr. Durston as “the most progressive candidate in the country.” (Go to the Durston for Congress website at www.durstonforcongress.org and check out Bill’s background, his positions on the issues, his articles and speeches, his debates with Lungren, and the song he wrote, “War is Not a Game,” for more information.)
Dr. Durston built on his support and experience from the 2006 campaign to build a very credible challenge to Lungren in 2008.
On September 19, 2008, the California Secretary of State Office released data showing that the Republican advantage in voter registration in CD3 had slipped from 7% in 2006 to 3.6% in 2008. Additional data released just prior to the election showed the Republican advantage down to 2.2%.
The Durston campaign used most of its cash on hand to run powerful TV ads during the last two weeks of September, 2008, and to commission a poll by the respected polling firm, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, and Associates.
The Durston campaign reasoned that a poll showing that Durston was competitive would bring in money from the Democratic Party.
The Fairbank poll of 500 likely voters, conducted from October 4-6, 2008, showed Durston was within 3 percentage points of Lungren, with a margin of error of 4%.
The Durston campaign published a press release on October 7, 2008, with the results of the poll showing that he was in a virtual dead heat with Lungren, and the campaign repeatedly contacted representatives of the state and national Democratic parties.
The Durston for Congress campaign received no support whatsoever from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in either the 2006 or 2008 campaigns.
The only support that the Durston for Congress campaign received from the California Democratic Committee was a check for $2,100 which the campaign received November 3, 2008, the day before the election.
The Durston for Congress campaign did receive support from some state and local Democratic leaders.
Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi publicly endorsed Bill, made a personal contribution to the campaign, participated in two press conferences, and gave useful advice to the campaign.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey endorsed Bill and contributed $2,000 to the campaign.
Rep. Barbara Lee contributed $1,000 late in the campaign but did not publicly endorse Bill.
State Assemblyman and Senator-elect, Mark Leno, endorsed Bill and made significant personal contributions to his campaign.
Rep. Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, the brother in law of Jean Pomeroy, a local Durston for Congress supporter, was Bill’s greatest advocate with the DCCC.
Other state and national Democratic leaders who endorsed Bill included Rep. Lois Capps, State Controller John Chiang, State Assemblyman Jared Huffman, State Assemblyman Dave Jones, State Senator Sheila Kuehl, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, State Senator Mike Machado, State Senator Darrell Steinberg, and State Assemblywoman Lois Wolk.
Democratic Representatives Doris Matsui, Mike Thompson, and Jerry McNerney in districts adjoining CD 3 did not publicly endorse Dr. Bill Durston for Congress.
Comparing State and National Support for other Sacramento Area Campaigns with the Lack of Support for the Durston Campaign
Dr. Durston made it clear that he did not want his campaign to detract from the chances of other good Democratic candidates getting elected, including state assembly candidate Allyson Huber, in the overlapping 10th Assembly District, and congressional candidate Charlie Brown, in the adjacent 4th Congressional District. Durston communicated frequently with Huber, with whom he shared an office, and with Brown, both of whom he regards as personal friends.
Dr. Durston’s altruism notwithstanding, the difference in state and national Democratic support for Huber and Brown as compared with the lack of support for Durston was striking.
The State Democratic Party committed substantial amounts of money and manpower to help Huber. Voters reported receiving as many as 10 different mailers from the Huber campaign on a single day. An official Democratic Party mailer sent to voters in the Elk Grove area failed to even list Durston as the Democratic candidate for Congress.
Both the state and national Democratic parties committed substantial amounts of money and manpower to the Brown campaign, in the highly Republican 4th CD.
Both the Huber and Brown races currently remain too close to call, with their Republican opponents slightly ahead in recounts.
Neither Huber nor Brown come close to Durston in terms of progressive credentials or positions.
According to the October 15 report from OpenSecrets.org, the Durston campaign raised $556,819, with only 4% coming from PAC’s, 81% coming from individual contributions, and 14% ($77,264) coming from Bill and his wife.
Questions Raised and Directions for the Future
The striking lack of state and national Democratic Party support for the Durston for Congress race, despite an outstanding candidate in a competitive race, raises important questions:
Was Dr. Durston merely overlooked by the state and national Democratic parties, or, because of his progressive credentials and positions was he unwelcome in the delegation and the Democratic Caucus?
Now that it has been demonstrated that Lungren is vulnerable in the 3rd CD, will the Democratic Party put up a “centrist” candidate to run against Durston in the 2010 Democratic primary, similar to the approach it took against McNerney in the 2006 primary?
Suggested actions to ensure that Dr. Durston will get the support he needs and deserves to be victorious in 2010, and that the progressive message he represents will be heard by not only the voters, but also by the state and national Democratic party leaders:
Contact state and national Democratic party leaders and demand that they give Dr. Durston the support he deserves
Contact fellow progressives and make them aware of the Durston for Congress campaign
Contact the leadership of the Progressive Caucus and ask them to launch a full scale investigation of Lungren’s ethical lapse in taking a luxury vacation to Hawaii paid for by special interests, despite House rules specifically intended to prohibit such trips.
Contact Democratic representatives of districts contiguous with CA-03 and ask them to show some political courage themselves in publicly endorsing Dr. Bill Durston for Congress and in giving him financial assistance.
Contact Speaker Nancy Pelosi and ask her to not only endorse Dr. Bill Durston for Congress, but to send him the money that she helped raise for Rep. Doris Matsui, a perennial shoo-in in the highly Democratic 5th CD, when Pelosi attended a fundraiser for Matsui in Bill’s district.
The Bottom Line
Don’t let a great progressive candidate get hung out to dry again by the state and national Democratic parties. Progressives Unite! Support Dr. Bill Durston for Congress!
California Rep. Dan Lungren is considering a challenge to House Minority Leader John Boehner for his leadership position.
Several House conservatives have courted Lungren in the past two days, seeking change in leadership after demoralizing losses in Tuesday’s election and two years of tussling with Boehner over earmarks, spending and most recently the $700 billion financial rescue package.
I know that Republicans are deeply in denial and all, but Dan Lungren? He didn’t break 50% in his Congressional election on Tuesday, winning by only 13,700 votes, and if anything, the district is trending away from him. The registration advantage is a thin 2.2%, and after two years of more organizing that’s likely to be even. And Bill Durston is going to run for a third time in 2010.
Republicans in Democratic-trending districts often win by making few waves in Washington and running away from party ID. There is absolutely no chance that a House Minority Leader could do that. He’d be well-known to the district and the nation. Whether successful or not, every Democrat and Democratic-leaning independent would know where Dan Lungren stands on the issues. There wouldn’t be any low-information voters left. And national groups would be encouraged to knock off the Republican leader in the House. Remember that Durston got pretty much no meaningful help from any progressive organization in 2008 and still managed a close 5-point loss, improving his position by 13 points from one election to the next.
Please, oh please, Republican caucus, do this. Let’s see Dan Lungren have two years in the spotlight before we knock him out.
As we chew our nails waiting for the Brown – McClintock results and vacilate wildly between reflecting on how we lost on Prop. 8 and simply feeling the pain of that loss, some good news came out of CA-03.
While Dan Lungren beat Bill Durston, silver lining in that defeat abounds. For starters, Durston made serious inroads since the previous match-up. The final tally will likely end up 49-44, a relatively small margin – especially compared to two years ago, when Durston ran as a virtual unknown. He ended up only pulling down 37 percent of the vote in 2006, meaning that in two short years Durston went from a 22-point margin to a 5-point margin. Makes you feel a little cocky about 2010, huh?
Speaking of 2010, Durston just announced he will run again in two years, setting up what should be a tight race that we will have a real chance of taking. In fact, our chances may be much greater: progressives won’t have the Obama campaign taking up all their time and money; if we’re lucky, Brown will be comfortably defending his seat against a weaker candidate, needing less resources; and as readers of this site know, Lungren can be counted on to pull at least a few idiotmoves in the next two years.
As our president-elect said on election night, the fight has just begun. Let’s get ready for 2010, folks.
Here’s some tidbits from the campaign trail with 12 days out:
• CA-03: Bill Durston and Dan Lungren debated last night, and it was a predictable affair, says Randy Bayne:
Nothing new, no fireworks, no knockout punch, no excitement of any kind was reported by either MyMotherLode.com or the Stockton Record. Just what we already know – Durston wants us out of Iraq, doesn’t like No Child Left Behind, and thinks the bailout is the wrong solution. Lungren supports the occupation, favors No Child Left Behind, and voted for the bailout.
If you’re looking for change from eight years of down the toilet policy, and you don’t want to continue flushing our future down the crapper – vote for Bill Durston.
If the registration stats cited by anecdotal reports are at all accurate, we’re going to be very close to registration parity in this seat by Election Day. Lungren may be acting positive in public, but inside the campaign they must be terrified. They probably didn’t expect Durston to run a credible campaign.
“Lincoln asked, ‘If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? The answer is four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one,'” McClintock said in a statement. “And calling a homosexual partnership a marriage doesn’t make it one.”
I’m pretty sure that means nothing at all, but California’s Alan Keyes has had to distance himself from the comment. Meanwhile his much bigger problem is lacking the funds to run a proper campaign. He’s now taken to relying on cheap robocalls, and Charlie Brown has immediately called on him to stop. Dirty trick robocalls that appeared to be coming from the Brown campaign were a major factor in John Doolittle’s narrow re-election in 2006.
The OC Register has a story on this race today. These “Challenger hopes to upset incumbent” stories have a familiar feel to them – the pose of surprise that the race is competitive, the quote from the shallow CW fountain like Allen Hoffenblum explaining why the incumbent is probably still safe, and the overall sense of shock, which would be natural if you weren’t paying attention for the last 18 months, like, um, us.
• Assembly & Senate: Art Torres and Ron Nehring had a debate yesterday, and I think Torres needed to be prepped a little better. He claimed that Democrats could grab a 2/3 majority in the legislature but then couldn’t come up with a simple list of what seats are in play. He should be reading more Calitics. Nehring replied with a lot of bunk and a little truth.
None of that adds up to 54 and 27, of course, and Nehring said Torres’ boast “just doesn’t pencil out.”
He noted that Democratic efforts to oust Sen. Jeff Denham via recall failed miserably this year and the party ended up with no opponent to challenge Sen. Abel Maldonado in Santa Maria, a district believed to be winnable by a Democrat.
On the Assembly side, Nehring said, Republicans “have a great shot at holding on to” the 15th and “have a number of strategic advantages in the 78th (because) the Democrats have nominated the most liberal candidate (Marty Block) they possibly could.”
In the 80th, the Democratic candidate (Manuel Perez) “is getting hammered on … social issues which are important to many people in the Latino community,” Nehring said.
“I don’t know how can you be serious about trying to have a two-thirds vote in the Legislature,” Nehring told Torres, “when you blow so many of these opportunities.”
I’ll go bottom to top on this. Manuel Perez is going to CRUSH Gary Jeandron, and if anyone’s being hammered, it’s the Republicans. The IE money is pretty one-sided in the state. Between that and the registration gains, it’ll take more than just spin to dig your party out of its self-created hole, Mr. Nehring.
However, on one point I will agree with you. The Denham recall and Maldonado disaster have indeed stopped the potential forward momentum in the Senate. Of course, Torres couldn’t say the plain truth – that Don Perata is among the worst leaders in recent Democratic Party history, and has completely set back the state in major ways by his blunders. He is an embarrassment.
This is a local story that bleeds into the area of national security and the congressional races. Dan Lungren was warned about the situation last year but apparently completely ignored it. This involves the smuggling of foreign soils into the United States. These soils contain biological matter and in particular micro fungi and other microbes. This company then bio-engineered these organisms to create “organic pesticides.” Unfortunately one worker at least is now gravely ill and company employees bragged of smuggling the soil past customs.
Lungren may be locked in a competitive race with Bill Durston, this is a seat we could take away from Republicans if this type of news gets out and catches the attention of local voters. Lungren sits as a Ranking Member on Homeland Security Subcommittee in the House. He brags of his SAFE ports act from 2006, but here is a case where he was less than enthusiastic about going to the mat for national security.
Did Congressman Lungren Ignore Potential National Security Threat Posed by AgraQuest’s Importation of Foreign Soils?
Last week, the Sacramento News and Review reported that an AgraQuest worker David Bell contracted a series of respiratory infections during his time working for the company in 1999. Now nearly nine years later, he continues to suffer from the debilitating illness.
The Vanguard raised questions about the environmental impact at the Kennedy Place location for AgraQuest. Questions were most specifically brought forth from Mr. Bell himself who informed the Vanguard that as an employee of AgraQuest he was told to dispose of waste material on a concrete culvert. The Vanguard also showed photographic evidence taken from several years later that suggests the possibility of contamination of the outside worksite.
In a follow up interview with David Bell, he warned us that the ventilation system at the 1105 Kennedy Place office building needs to be fully investigated as well due to the activities that took place in the building and the possibility that microbes ended up in the ventilation system.
During the course of the investigation into both Mr. Bell’s health and the workplace conditions, the Vanguard has learned that AgraQuest may have been shipping soil and other biological samples into the United States on commercial flights without proper licenses. Moreover, David Bell reports that employees at AgraQuest at the time of his employment bragged about sneaking a green suitcase full of dirt past U.S. customs on a flight from Chile.
Doug Haney, an advocate for human and patients’ rights, who specializes in mold and microbe exposure, reported this to Congressman Dan Lungren in November of 2007 during a meeting with Gold River Field Office Staffers Alexandria Snyder and Michelle Panos. Congressman Lungren (R-CA) is the ranking Republican member on the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. Interestingly enough, in 2006 he co-authored the SAFE Act (Security and Freedom Enhancement Act) with Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA), a bill that was designed to improve security at U.S. ports.
Despite warnings about the possible implications from such lax customs handling in our war on terrorism, it appears at least from Mr. Haney’s viewpoint that neither Congressman Lungren nor his staff followed through on these warnings.
I have nothing but respect for the Obama campaign, its staffers, and the many, many volunteers that have given their blood, sweat, and tears to this campaign. It is because of their hard work that we are in a position to win the White House. We should never let off the gas pedal in following through on this election. While the nominee must attend to his personal affairs, we must pick up the slack.
That all being said, I can’t say that I agree with this email that I just got (and video):
With only 15 days left and early voting already beginning, you can make a big difference by Driving for Change. Watch this video and sign up now to let us know you’re coming to Colorado:
I understand this perspective from the Obama campaign. After all, their job isn’t to fight for Democratic principles or anything high-minded like that. It’s to win the presidential election for their guy, Barack Obama. And that’s great. But this election is more than just one race. It’s about more than just Barack Obama. A couple of weeks ago, Robert said something similar over at Big Orange. He spoke of an election that’s slipping away from us, right here at home. A historic chance that we are squandering.
So these next two weeks, why don’t you consider just Staying for Change. Now that doesn’t mean staying for change and spending two hours into a phone bank and that’s it.
Really stay for change. Stay for change by traveling to a new county for Change. You’re in LA? WHy don’t you help Debbie Cook, who is running in a district that starts in Southern LA County and extends into coastal Orange County. She’s got a debate, well, very soon. It’s her only shot at Dana in person, because he’s been skittish to be seen in person with her. Or if you’d like to go further, how about helping Marty Block in AD-78 or Manuel Perez in AD-80.
Want to really Stay for Change in the Bay Area? Why don’t you head up to the Sacramento area. They have several races that you can spend your weekend working on. You can walk and doors for Alyson Huber (AD-10) and Bill Durston (CA-03) and help out two great candidates at the same time. You can drive a few miles east and help out Charlie Brown (CA-04) as he seeks to defeat the carpet-bagging Tom McClintock. Or if you want to stay closer to home, Joan Buchanan (AD-15could use some help in the Contra Costa County area.
And then there are our propositions. We are in very tight races on some of the most important issues of our day: Propositions 4 & 8. Both are slightly ahead in the polls. While turnout is likely to be high this year, we need to ensure that people follow the ballot down the many, many pages and make those important votes against Prop 4 & 8. And on the Yes side? Well, in Prop 1A, we have a tremendous opportunity to steer development in our strength in the right direction.
So, while I don’t frequently suggest ignoring emails from Barack Obama, I’m going to do it this time. Don’t leave the state, but dedicate your time to ensuring that California makes the right decisions this November. And if you want to help Barack Obama, you can make calls right here from the Golden State without pumping all those carbon emissions into the atmosphere. It’s easy and simple to start, just click here and you’ll be making calls for Obama in no time. Your local county committee can also help you get set up to both make phone calls for Obama as well as Staying for Change.
* Dan Lungren really, really doesn’t like when you film him talking his BS. Bill Durston is sending somebody to film his events, and Lungren thinks that is very unfair. How is he supposed to spew his right-wingnuttery if it is going to be available on the web? Poor Dan.
* Shorter Dan Walters: Woe is we. In all seriousness, the loss of reporters covering politics is having a disastrous effect on California. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to get better for a while as the business plan for most media outlets is still struggling to catch up to the TwitterAge.
* The Yosemite glacier and the Sierra snowpack are simply melting away. The consequences for our water supply (65% of it in California comes from here) are catastrophic.
* Home sales in Southern California spiked in September. I think it’s a lot of bargain hunting and people buying up foreclosed properties for cheap (50% of the homes sold had been foreclosed).
* Prop 10: Anthony Rubenstein, the campaign manager for yes on Prop 87, the Oil Extraction Fee, goes after T. Boone and his scam, Prop 10. With almost every editorial board and environmental group opposing Prop 10, it faces an uphill climb. It’s a bad scheme to flood money into T. Boone’s new cash cow, natural gas, and it should be cast upon the garbage heap of ideas.
* John Myers of KQED has made his weekly podcast available. It’s worth a listen, after you’ve listened to the Calitics Show, of course.
* Speaking of the Calitics Show, this week we have an interview of San Francisco DA, and California Obama co-chair, Kamala Harris with a few bloggers from the DNC. We’ll kick that out sometime at the end of this week. Full details forthcoming soon.
Republican campaigns all over are starting to tank as Election Day approaches. California, long considered the land of “safe seats” because of the 2000 redistricting plan that basically secured the status quo for both parties, is no exception. The news is not good for incumbent Republicans.
GOP Reps. John B. Shadegg of Arizona, Lee Terry of Nebraska, Henry Brown Jr. of South Carolina and Dan Lungren of California are all fighting for their political lives, a reversal of fortunes that has caught even the most astute campaign observers by surprise. [Emphasis added]
Recent polling by his challenger, Dr. Bill Durston, has the race for CA-03 in a virtual dead heat. Lungren leads 33% to 30% with a whopping 30% still undecided. Obviously, it is among these undecided voters that the election will play out. Lungren’s own polling, two done just after the Durston survey, show Lungren polling under 50%. The same polls show Durston at around 26%, leaving a high number of undecided voters as mail voting begins in the state.
This has concern the Lungren campaign. Incumbents who don’t break 50% in polling this close to Election Day tend to not do well. In other words, they often lose. The Republican Party is concerned. According to Swing State Project,
The GOP is publicly confessing to being worried about the challenges posed by Linda Ketner (SC-01) and Bill Durston (CA-03)? Either this is the most monumental of all head-fakes, or they’re looking up at a tsunami that even we at SSP are underestimating. Other names cited in the article as causes for concern include Lee Terry, Mark Souder (both victims of recent huge DCCC expenditures), Dana Rohrabacher, David Dreier, and Brian Bilbray, all of whom would be well behind a GOP firewall any other year. [Emphasis added]
Two years ago, Lungren – who is completing his seventh term in Congress – beat physician and Vietnam War veteran Bill Durston by 21 points. But the economy has taken its toll, and Lungren’s district has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. In a newly released Democratic poll, Lungren leads Durston by just 3 percentage points.
Former GOP consultant Allan Hoffenblum said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and other California Republicans, including Reps. David Dreier and Brian Bilbray, are also at risk.
As the economy continues its downward spiral, voters realize that Republicans have had charge of economic policy for most of the last eight years. They look at where they were when Bill Clinton left office and compare it to where they are now. It isn’t a pretty picture. As Barack Obama said the other day, people aren’t asking if they are better off than they were four years ago, now its are you better off than four weeks ago.
Perhaps we have come to the end of the era of voting against your own best interests. One can only hope. More certain is that the GOP is a party in decline and candidates with an “R” behind their name have no safe haven this time around.