Jim Dean's Sorta Kinda Support for Marcy Winograd

By David Swanson

Progressive organizations set up to promote and fund progressive congressional candidates tend, as a rule, not to do so. Candidates like the Democrats and Greens listed here tend not to get support. Candidates like Joe Sestak and Bill Halter attract the lion’s share of progressive backing, not because they could pass any progressive platform test (they couldn’t), but because of the awfulness of the incumbents they are opposing. Give it a few years, and perhaps the awfulness of Sestak and Halter will lead to a “progressive” focus on replacing them.

The usual excuse for not backing good candidates is that they aren’t likely to win. But several of those linked to above have an excellent chance of winning. Others are borderline, and would have an excellent chance of winning if they had more support — so, they’re caught in a Catch-22. And others would probably be contenders next time around if they made their races close this time. In addition, a policy of backing only candidates whose platforms are legitimately progressive would push other candidates, including the incumbents they challenge, to improve their platforms.

Some of the true progressives being denied institutional support are going up against incumbents as bad or worse than Senators Specter and Lincoln (Sestak and Halter’s opponents). Some of them are far more progessive than Sestak-and-Halter types. Some of them did remarkably well with no support two years ago. And still they are shunned and marginalized. In this regard, Marcy Winograd is a stand-out. She’s is campaignign against Congresswoman Jane Harman, a wealthy war-monger corporatist who has been caught conspiring against her nation with foreign agents, who suppressed the warranteless spying story until George W. Bush could get a second term in office, and who has referred to herself proudly as “the best Republican in the Democratic Party.” Marcy Winograd, on the other hand, has been a leader of Progressive Democrats of America and has perhaps the smartest and most progressive platform in the country. She also garnered 38% last time, with no help.

The “progressive” incumbents, Congress members Lynn Woolsey, John Conyers, Jim McGovern, Henry Waxman, people who pretend they want to end wars and advance progressive politics, have been supporting Harman. And, through their silence, so have many “progressive” campaign groups. I’ve tried, along with many others, for many months to change that. So, I was surprised on Sunday when Democracy for America finally declared its support for Marcy Winograd. No doubt, the pressure to do so from DFA’s members had become too great to continue resisting. But, not to worry, because the head of DFA also told the Washington Post that Winograd won’t win — the single most powerful thing you can tell potential voters whom you want to stay home or switch their votes. Not long ago, those in the know were swearing that Sestak couldn’t win. But he won after all the “progressive” groups united and insisted “Yes we can.” If we were smarter, we would do that right now for Marcy Winograd.

Here’s an excerpt of the Washington Post coverage:

“A national progressive group is throwing its weight behind a primary challenger to Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), the latest attempt by liberal activists to replace an incumbent Democrat they deem too centrist. Democracy for America, the grass-roots organization founded by former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, will announce Tuesday that it is endorsing Marcy Winograd, a high school teacher and longtime progressive activist who is running against Harman in California’s June 8 primary. Harman, who has represented Southern California since 1993, has long drawn criticism from the liberal base of the Democratic Party for her vote to support the Iraq war and for backing former President George W. Bush’s administration on several intelligence and homeland security issues. In 2006, Winograd challenged Harman — whose 36th Congressional District stretches along the Pacific coast and includes Los Angeles-area beaches — but received only 38 percent of the vote. This spring, Harman won the California Democratic Party’s endorsement, but only after being forced into a floor fight. Both candidates will be on the ballot next month to determine the nomination. Dean’s brother, Jim, who chairs Democracy for America, said Harman is vulnerable but expressed doubt that Winograd will be able to topple her this time. By getting behind Winograd, he said, progressive activists can hold Harman accountable to the party’s liberal base.

“‘Marcy Winograd will be a good campaigner,’ Dean said in an interview. ‘What we also know is that Jane Harman is now having to spend some time back in the district and be accountable.’ Arshad Hasan, Democracy for America’s executive director, added: ‘Jane Harman has been a disappointment to our progressives, and they’ve been looking to bring some accountability to Jane Harman.'” . . .

Those who want to help Marcy oust Jane Harman can contribute money or make phone calls (the campaign will set you up with a list of names to telphone). There’s nobody as good as Marcy in your own district (or state). Get involved!

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