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Friday, December 09, 2005

Thwarting democracy, one district at a time

Andrew Cockburn writes about Congressman Rahm Emmanuel, chairman of the Democratic National Campaign Committee. It seems that Emmanuel is steering national Dem money away from an anti-war candidate for the seat being vacated by Repug Henry Hyde in Illinois.
In the last election progressive candidate Christine Cegalis actually got 44.2 per cent of the vote against the sixteen-term Hyde, despite being outspent $700,000 to $160,000 in a conservative district with no elected Democrats at all.

Following this commendable showing, Cegalis figured that with Hyde retiring and the Republicans melting down, she stood a better than even chance of garnering the seat in 2006.

However it seems that in Emmanuel's opinion, Cegalis stinks. Never mind that excellent record against the giant Hyde, forget her well-crafted support network in the Chicago district, Cegalis has not yet raised a million dollars and, even more damningly, she is calling for troop withdrawal from Iraq. So Emmanuel set out to recruit a more suitable candidate. Initially, he approached two millionaires and urged them, serially, to run against Cegalis in the primary.

They refused. Now he is pinning his hopes on a double amputee women Iraq veteran, Tammy Duckworth.

Duckworth, who is not from the district, has ignited hopes at DCCC headquarters that she would campaign on a "pro-business/centrist platform". Queried by a Chicago Sun Times columnist for her opinion on the war, she replied, "There's good and bad in everything".
So the people of Illinois' sixth district, like probably most Americans, will be left with a "choice" between a pro-war Repug and a pro-war Dumbo. I ranted about this national influence on Congressional races way back in the pre-historic days of my blog--March 18, 2002. Here's what I said:
It's all so wrong! W and the rest of his administration have been out campaigning for house and senate candidates, using the power of their undeserved positions to strong-arm local politics. Not only are they talking up Republican candidates, they are actually picking them! The NYT article describes how Tim Pawlenty was about to announce his intention to run in the Republican Senate primary in Minnesota when he received a phone call from Dick Cheney urging him not to run. According to the Times,

"The gist of it was that Coleman's more well known and a stronger candidate," said Mr. Pawlenty, the majority leader of the Minnesota House. "I don't take it as a bullying maneuver. It was an appeal to do what's good for the party and for the president. But the implicit suggestion was that they're going to bring the assets they have to help Coleman and they are pretty formidable."

Mr. Pawlenty immediately pulled out and decided to run for governor.

So our shadow-government Veep from the Deep and his un-elected President sidekick, rather than the people of Minnesota, are deciding who gets to run for Senate. Not satisfied with their stolen thrones, they now intend to handpick their own politburo. I guess we have something in common with Afghanistan--these are the same people who picked their government. And of course there's a backup plan. If their boys somehow fail to get elected, Bush and Cheney will just put them in the cabinet, as they did with John Ashcroft and Spence Abraham.
(I was right about them having a backup plan, but it wasn't to make Coleman Secretary of Commerce or something. Nope--they killed his opponent, Paul Wellstone, a week before the election.)

But Rahm Emmanuel and the DNCC have no more right to screen candidates for congressional races than Dick Cheney or Tom DeLay do. The representative from Illinois' sixth district is supposed to represent the sixth district--not the national Repug or Dumbo party.