What the First can Learn from the Seventh; It’s not too early to start

It’s early February, 2015, and my son called to tell me that he has taken a new job. He had decided to leave his job working at the State House, and has signed on to run a Congressional campaign. When I pointed out to him that it’s about 20 months until the next election, he answered (completely missing my point) that he realized that they were getting a late start.

I learned that he is going to help a candidate taking on Tim Walberg in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District. I immediately knew he had picked a very noble cause. For fathers, we would first hope our children would pick careers that will pay them enough money to do a little better than living week to week. Absent that, we want them involved in noble causes. (My thoughts on Gretchen Driskell, the candidate, come later in this piece.)

Finding a way to defeat Tim Walberg ranks as one of the most noble causes in our state. The Seventh is a sprawling gerrymandered district stretching across the southern part of our state. The district was drawn to lock in Walberg’s reelection until he no longer desired to participate in the destruction of our democracy and some new radical could be found to replace him.

Good hard-working Americans wake up each day knowing that they have no voice in Washington because the odds of unseating Walberg keep going up. The go up not because he’s doing a good job in Washington, but rather because his party and the open checkbook of the Koch Brothers makes it oh so difficult for a fair election to take place.

Walberg became famous nationally last year when he was behind putting a woman in an anti-ACA commercial to lie about how the wildly successful insurance exchange was ruining her. Americans for Prosperity, the Koch funded democracy killer, was forced to take down the ads containing the falsehoods, but somehow Walberg was reelected. Now in some sense that can be attributed to the quality of his opponent in 2014, but it is really hard to get good people to take on Koch-funded Republicans.   If you are pretty sure there’s no way to compete on the rigged playing field, it is very hard to attract the resources needed to make the necessary change.

But even so, if a Congressman participates in a public fraud and is caught red-handed, it is not unreasonable to expect voters to turn him out. But they didn’t. I got to looking at more of Walberg’s record and I am mystified as to why some reasonable Republican can’t be found to remove this national embarrassment from the race during a primary. But the Kool-Aid tastes good in the GOP. It’s sweet and loaded with all the essential nutrients for electoral success as long as you appease the most radical elements of the party.

Various interest groups rate candidates according to their voting record and their public statements.   Here are the groups that gave Walberg a ZERO during the last election cycle. Think about it. A zero. He has absolutely no connection to the agendas of these groups: the Clean Water Action, Federally Employed Women, Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, and Stand Against Spying.

He threw up (pardon the pun) a 17% on the Scorecard for Religious Freedom, an 11% on the Food Policy Action, and a 19% by Active and Retired Federal Employees.

So he votes against the environment, women, Hispanics, civil rights, and retirees to name just a few.   And he STILL got reelected!

Recently Walberg spouted off about net neutrality, the easy to understand, but often misrepresented effort to hand over control of internet speeds to the largest companies.   Like his fellow traveller on the wild walk of the radical right, Ted Cruz of Texas, Walberg seems to think that preventing harmful regulations of the internet are in fact harmful regulations of the internet. Essentially he is saying if President Obama likes it, I hate it.

This destructive approach to government should have run its course by now, but Walberg was once again on the side of time wasting and futile efforts to defund the ACA.   Walberg and his supporters are truly one-trick ponies, but like an audience with really bad memories, the Seventh keeps watching him pull a coin out of his ear while clapping in utter amazement.

But I digress.

Michigan’s First Congressional District is “blessed” with an equally horrible Representative. Unlike in the Seventh, in 2014, a really qualified candidate in Jerry Cannon tried to send Dan Benishek to the sidelines.   But the resources of Cannon’s campaign were no match for Benishek’s, and once again we are forced to whisper softly when someone asks us who our US Representative is.

It’s February 2015, and people are hard at work downstate to give the real people of northern Michigan a fighting chance in 2016. Gretchen Driksell seems to me to have all the qualities people would want in a Representative. I had the chance to meet with her during her first run for the State House, and I got the feeling she really is in public service for the right reason. She carries no discernable ideological baggage, she answers all the questions (even my snarky ones), and she seems ready to handle all the nonsense that will come her way before November, 2016. As the long time mayor of Saline, she has administrative experience…and she had to be friendly to both business and the people…that’s how work gets done. She knocked an incumbent State Rep from his lofty perch in 2012, and then won by an even wider margin in 2014 even while Republicans were knocking off Democrats all over the state.

It’s time for the good people of the First to do the same.   It’s time to find a quality candidate like Driskell now before one gets picked for us. If we wait a year, there will be no chance to overcome the dollars that will pour in from the folks who find Benishek an easy to manipulate and spineless puppet of their agenda.

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines.

(and I guess my son would be upset if I didn’t include Driskell’s website in case you wanted to help out. Visit www.votegretchen.com )

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One Comment on “What the First can Learn from the Seventh; It’s not too early to start”

  1. Marcia Pontoni February 14, 2015 at 12:39 am #

    I still have to whisper Darrell Issa when anyone asks me. It hurts.

    Sent from my iPhone


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