It is without doubt that the Democrats have a thoroughly difficult challenge in the next year, if they are to ensure a House painted blue at the end of 2014. This series will provide details on Democratic candidates running for election in 2014, and the work of Republican incumbents.
Yesterday’s focus on Congressional candidates and incumbents for 2014 included Nick Casey running for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, and Andrew Romanoff for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. Today, the focus will be on two more Democratic candidates required for the Democrats to pick up the 17 seats needed to take the House.
Florida’s 2nd Congressional District:
The race for Florida’s 2nd district is already in full swing. The theme running through Democrat candidates for 2014, is to return Congress to a functioning legislature, rather than the chaotic state that it currently resides under Republican leadership. Democratic candidates are absolutely right to fight to restore the confidence in Congress. According to a Gallup poll, as of August 13th, 81% of Americans do not approve of Congress. This downward trend of approval is likely to continue when Congress returns to hammer out agreement on the new fiscal yearly budget, and immigration reform. Republicans have had their opportunity, and they’ve failed miserably.
Gwen Graham is a Democratic candidate for Florida’s 2nd. Daughter of former Senator Bob Graham, Gwen Graham is running as a voice of moderation and bipartisanship in 2014. Among the issues, she supports same sex marriage, based on principles of universal love. Graham said:
“I have a daughter and two sons, and if they came to me and said that they were gay I would want them to have the same rights under the law as everyone else has, and I would want them to be happy and I would want them to be in a committed marriage with someone that they loved”.
Graham also wishes to fight the disastrous outcome following the debate on student loan interest:
“Raising rates for students is no different from raising taxes on middle-class families. And if the politicians in Washington want to raise our rates, they should at least have the guts to be honest about it.
While in D.C., Congressman Southerland must have forgotten we have almost 100,000 college students who live in the second congressional district, and countless families who send their children to colleges outside the district.
Our representative should be a voice for the students and families of North Florida — voting to make college more accessible, not more expensive.”
Florida’s 2nd Congressional District is currently represented by Republican Steve Southerland. The district is on the Democrats top 10 list of seats to take in 2014. The district leans Republican, and Southerland was endorsed in 2010, by Sarah Palin. And it doesn’t take long to find out just why he might have gained the support of the Tea Party’s finest.
Southerland is one of those Republican Congressmen that insists on vocalising a ‘pro-life’ position, until the child is born. And if the child happens to be female, or gay, his pro-life credentials are quickly replaced by a very Patriarchal, Christian-right ideal. For example, Southerland voted against increasing funds for the Violence Against Women Act. In the same month, Southerland voted to block a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, that went some way to address the gender gap in pay. Florida, according to Sun-Sentinel, has a pay gap of around 20%. For every $1 a man makes, a woman makes 80 cents. Southerland also co-sponsored the horrifying ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act‘ with which the GOP eventually relented on, after critics pointed out that is used the loaded phrase “forcible rape” as an exception, suggesting that date rape, statutory rape and other forms would not be covered.
His utter contempt for women doesn’t end there. Southerland voted in favour of prohibiting funds to Planned Parenthood. As noted yesterday, Planned Parenthood offers family planning funding and services including breast and cervical cancer screenings and preventative healthcare to millions of low income women and families. He dismisses the incalculably important advice and services that Planned Parenthood offers vulnerable people, all for Christian crusade against abortion. Writing in Psychology Today, Jennifer Hamady talks of the importance of Planned Parenthood:
“They provide free and drastically reduced gynecological services to those who might otherwise not get treatment, saving the lives of countless mothers and children. They provide affordable care for those who don’t have, can’t afford, or have lost their health insurance. They provide counseling for women and girls who have been abused, raped, or are in the process of being bullied or pressured into sex. They provide education on hygiene and wellness. They provide screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.”
– When Southerland and others like him seek to completely prohibit Federal funding for this service, they put a huge number of lives at risk, and care little for those lives.
Victims of domestic abuse, and sexual assault, and those seeking important services like breast and cervical cancer screenings, have been failed by Steve Southerland.
But remember…. he’s “pro-life”.
Whilst Gwen Graham supports keeping politics out of agriculture, Congressman Southerland is blamed by both sides of the political divide for killing the bipartisan Farm Bill in July, with a partisan poison pill amendment. Farmers in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District should not forget that particularly horrendous betrayal, in 2014.
In contrast to Gwen Graham’s support for same-sex marriage on the basis of the right to love, and to be happy, Steve Southerland supports a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He fails to note just how incredibly unconstitutional this idea is. Defining an institution that exists across cultures and is not confined to Christian Theology, as a Christian ideal and attempting to enshrine that ideal in a secular Constitution, is an outright attack on the founding principles of the United States. It takes a giant Theocratic wrecking ball to the wall of separation between church and state.
This is Gwen Graham’s first run for office, and judging by Congressman Southerland’s lack of support for anyone who isn’t a rich, Christian male, this is going to be an incredibly important race for the Democrats to win. Republicans have noted this, and Southerland is part of their “Patriot Program” designed to shore up support for those House Republicans facing the most difficult races in 2014. If Graham manages to turn Florida’s 2nd Congressional District blue, there will be one less irrational and dangerous Tea Party Republican voting in 2015.
Illinois’s 13th Congressional District:
Whilst Rodney Davis – Illinois Republicans’ 13th Congressional District Representative – is perhaps not as extreme as the Tea Party faction of which Steve Southerland resides, he still presents serious concerns. He opposes same-sex marriage (and as I’ve previously noted, there is not one argument against same-sex marriage that is based on reason rather than bigotry, Davis offers nothing new). And despite being less ‘extreme’ than the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party, we must consider the importance of a Representative’s judgement. In June this year, attorney and Republican Erika Harold announced she would run against Davis for Illinois’ 13th. In response, Montgomery County Republican Chairman Jim Allen sent this email:
“Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in Shitcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires.
The truth is Nancy Pelosi and the DEMOCRAT party want this seat. So they called RINO Timmy Johnson to be their pack mule and get little queen to run.
Ann Callis gets a free ride through a primary and Rodney Davis has a battle.
The little queen touts her abstinence and she won the crown because she got bullied in school,,,boohoo..kids are cruel, life sucks and you move on..Now, miss queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS…These pimps want something they can’t get,,, the seat held by a conservative REPUBLICAN Rodney Davis and Nancy Pelosi can’t stand it..
Little Queenie and Nancy Pelosi have so much in common but the one thing that stands out the most.. both are FORMER QUEENS, their crowns are tarnished and time has run out on the both of them..”
– That’s right. The Chairman of Montgomery County’s Republican Party referred to a successful attorney and fellow candidate for the House of Representatives as “a street walker” and that she’d only manage to find work in a law firm due to affirmative action. The Chairman of Montgomery County’s Republican Party was on Rodney Davis 2014 election team.
Davis has set out his plan for 2014, and it is eerily similar to Republican’s failed plan over the past several years, and is the root cause of the stalemate in Congress. Davis appears not to understand. Here he notes his obsession with the futile task of working to repeal Obamacare:
“Rodney believes we must lower taxes for everyone, including small business owners, reduce red tape and regulations, and repeal and replace Obamacare.”
“In Congress, Rodney will fight to repeal and replace the flawed Obamacare.”
– Before the summer break, one of the final votes in the House was to repeal Obamacare. Again. A bill signed into law by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court, the Republicans in early August tried for the ….. 40th time…. to repeal Obamacare. Continuous attempts to repeal, offering no solution, and peddling easily discredited myths, Davis appears to be insisting that this must continue. His sole contribution to the debate on healthcare, is to insist on continuously and pointlessly voting for repeal. Same old Republican Party.
Davis Democratic opponent in 2014 for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, is Madison County Judge Ann Callis. She self funded her retention campaign for the Judiciary in 2012. Callis has a lot of ground to cover to get her name and her positions known throughout Illinois’ 13th, but over a year to do it, and the 13th is by no means locked down by either Party. It is prudent to begin now, and Callis is a rising star in the Democratic World. Callis seems both moderate, and responsible, and in a district neither safe Red nor safe Blue, moderation is the key. Lean too far to the left or to the right, and the campaign is over. Callis’ positions are set out clearly on her website:
“Ann Callis believes that Washington needs to find ways to cut the deficit responsibly – not on the backs of middle-class families, and not while providing massive tax cuts for millionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas. In order to help businesses grow and create jobs, we need to get our fiscal house in order and give breaks to small businesses that create jobs here at home. We must also not make dangerous cuts to Social Security, Medicare, education or other programs that are vital to the middle class.”
– She is supported and endorsed by the Women’s Campaign Fund in Washington DC and rather embarrasingly to the Davis campaign, she earned the support of Davis’ mentor, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, who once noted of her Judicial reforms, that Callis has:
“…earned my respect and the respect of Republicans and Democrats alike.”
Unlike Davis, who seemingly believes endless votes to repeal Obamacare is the principle function of Congress, Callis rightfully notes:
“Judge Callis believes Washington’s top priority must be to create good jobs that will keep our middle class strong. Congress should be working to create an environment where small businesses can grow and thrive, not making ill conceived cuts that hamper our fragile economic recovery.”
– As we found out here in the UK, ill conceived cuts are the absolute antithesis of economic recovery. It is dangerous, it destroys lives, and it leads to stagnation and despair with no positive results. Callis is right to point out the consequences of ill conceived cuts.
Whilst Davis, on his site, dogmatically tells us that Government cannot create jobs, Callis (and history) disagrees:
“Rebuilding our local infrastructure and re-training those who are actively looking for work are vital steps toward keeping the middle class secure.”
– What comes across from both campaigns, is that the Republican candidate favours a trickle-down system that has never worked for the majority, whilst the Democratic candidate is focused on pragmatism rather than dogmatism on economic sustainability.
With a little over a year to go until the 2014 election, it will be interesting to note the twists these campaigns take, the fiery rhetoric, and the evolving positions. Democrats need to secure 17 seats in order to gain a majority in the House and ensure an end to the awful deadlock that has plagued Congress since the Republican take-over in 2010.
Vote Gwen Graham for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District.
Vote Ann Callis for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District.
See here for a previous Focus on Candidates in this series.