Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

LIVE from Ridgefield: Murray, Kaine anchor morning speaking program at convention

Good afternoon from the Clark County Events Center in Ridgefield!

Today, the Washington State Democratic Party is meeting to listen to elected leaders (and would-be elected leaders), approve a platform, consider resolutions, nominate candidates, and take care of other loose ends.

Unlike the national Democratic Party, the convention and caucus cycle in our state repeats every two years instead of every four, which means the party gathers together in midterm years as well as presidential ones.

Midterm state conventions tend to not be as well-attended as those in presidential years, although the last midterm convention (Yakima, 2006) was an exception; there were a great many Democrats there.

Fewer Democrats have made the trek this time around, which is understandable, because four years ago Democrats were out of power and fighting to regain control of the federal government. A commonly heard joke told to newcomers then was, We know why you're here... George Bush sent you.

Bush is no longer around to promulgate a backlash, but that doesn't mean the party's strength is sapping. Many of NPI's followers on Twitter have let us know they're closely following the proceedings online or on TVW, indicating that there are a not insignificant number of activists here in spirit with us.

The King County delegation is much smaller than it was at the last two conventions, which partly explains why there are fewer credentialed delegates and alternates.

Those who did make the trip to Vancouver — and stayed in the host hotel or the alternate host hotel — had to do a bit of driving to get the Clark County Events Center this morning, because the convention itself is nearly ten miles away from the Hilton. It's about a fifteen minute drive up Interstate 5.

The party is providing a shuttle for those who did not drive, but it only made limited runs this morning and probably only offer limited service again tonight. (I think it was a bad idea to force Democrats to have to commute so far to get from the officially-sanctioned lodgings to the place of business, but that's just my opinion).

The main business this morning was hearing from our senior United States Senator, Patty Murray, who is running for a fourth term in office.

First elected in 1992, Murray — nicknamed the "mom in tennis shoes" — has a well-deserved reputation as a champion of working people. For years, she has worked to strengthen our nation's common wealth and invest it in badly needed public services, especially long-term care for our returning veterans.

Murray's opponent this fall is expected to be Republican Dino Rossi, who has twice lost campaigns for governor to Chris Gregoire, in 2004 and 2008.

Murray, introduced by her young hero, Marcelas Owens, didn't hesitate to take a swipe at Rossi in her speech, declaring that nobody had to "drag her into the race" because public service for her is about helping others, not helping herself get ahead. (Rossi, on the other hand, was courted and recruited by the powerful D.C. Republican establishment, which wants to buy Murray's seat).

The Senator reminded delegates that she has often had to take tough votes throughout her career, such as her 2004 vote against giving Dubya the authorization to invade Iraq, and rejecting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

She defended the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, observing that it will lead to greater economic security for families and small businesses, protecting them from the worst insurance company abuses and temporarily alleviating the problems with our current, fundamentally unsound healthcare system.

And she called for accountability and a rethinking of America's energy policy in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, noting that she is sponsoring a bill to ban drilling off the Left Coast. "I know I'm speaking for you when I demand that BP is held responsible," she said, contrasting herself with her opponent.

And of course she brought up her work on behalf of veterans. I highlighted that last night in my post on her gala banquet address, so I'll just encourage you to read that post if you want to get an idea of what the Senator talked about.

Following Murray's well-received address, the convention heard from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, formerly the governor of Virginia.

Kaine described passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as "putting something up on the mantelpiece of the Democratic Party," noting that previous Democratic presidents and congresses saw through the enactment of Social Security, Medicare, and multiple Civil Rights Act.

Kaine also pointed out that unlike those accomplishments, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed without a single Republican vote.

"We put this one up on the mantel by ourselves," Kaine reflected.

He devoted a significant portion of his speech to addressing the headwinds facing the Democratic Party in the 2010 midterms, observing that the party in power usually loses seats in Congress in a midterm election. That's what typically happens, Kaine said. But he made it plainly clear he doesn't think this is a typical year.

The political landscape is incredibly volatile, and that makes it all the more important that Democrats go into battle prepared. Fortunately, as Kaine says, we are blessed to have some rather good candidates in the Pacific Northwest. Some are incumbents. Some are challengers. And one running for an open seat.

"In an anti-D.C. time, there are very few senators who have less D.C. about them than Patty Murray does," Kaine told delegates. "You guys have had the smarts to beat [Dino Rossi] twice, how about a third time?"

They roared their approval.

"We're going to elect Suzan DelBene in the 8th Congressional District," Kaine added, explaining that he had already met Suzan and is confident she will run a strong campaign against incumbent Republican Dave Reichert.

Kaine explained that the Democratic National Committee is working hard to reach out to what he called "new voters" — people who turned out to support President Obama in 2008, but are considered unlikely to vote in the midterms.

What we have to help first time voters (who may be disillusioned) understand, Kaine said, is that "it's not enough to elect a president, and just say, Hey, good luck, Mr. President, go off and slay the dragons. No, you've got to be there... you've got to be there slaying the dragons with the president."

"If we can just increase the percentage turnout [of first time Democratic voters] from thirty percent to forty percent... that's a million and a half more votes for Democratic candidates all over this nation."

"Get it to forty five percent, it's two million votes."

"You know, the other guys think they're gonna take both houses back. They're going around saying that that's what they're going to do. But I think our proven track record, good candidates, a great president, and an ability to do grassroots, street-level, door-to-door, at the screen door politics, is gonna enable us to do a lot better this fall than most people think," Kaine concluded.

It's lunchtime (time to stretch and get something to eat!) so I'm going to wrap up this post and check back in later this afternoon.


Blogger Defeat Dino said...

Sabotage the Republican Race – Ensuring Murray's Victory

There are several disturbing polls out there showing a Patty Murray vs. Dino Rossi race as way too close for comfort. According to several polling organizations a hypothetical race between Murray and Rossi is a statistical dead heat, while there are other polls such as Elway show Murray with a slight lead. It is particularly disturbing that the Murray lead over Rossi in Elway, which has consistently shown the best numbers for the incumbent senator, has gone from 17% on May 2 to 7% on June 13th. If the race remains this tight going into November, a motivated base within the extreme right wing of the Republican party could make the difference, particularly if our base is somewhat disappointed with Obama's first term. Let's face it, it is hard to see the real change since 2008. Our troops are still overseas, Obama is sending even more troops to Afghanistan, the Patriot Act was reauthorized, single payer was dropped from healthcare reform, and the administration is letting BP dump millions of gallons of Corexit in the Gulf, which is more toxic than the oil itself. If others like myself are a little disappointed, then some might decide not even to show up and the skewed turnout could cause us to lose a race that never should have been close.

However, there is one way we can ensure that Murray wins. Many of you might remember back in 2008 how Rush Limbaugh tried to sabotage the Democratic primary by getting the Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton after the Republican nomination was a fait accompli to create turmoil in the party. Well realistically speaking, Patty Murray has no strong competition on the left, so she is going to skate through the primary pretty handily. The same polls quoted above show candidate Clint Didier with a much larger deficit in a head to head with Murray. This is one of the reasons that the GOP elite in D.C. lobbied hard to get Dino to run at the last minute. On the other hand the Tea Parties and right wing nutcases are backing Didier. If enough Democrats crossed over and voted for Didier in the August 17th primary, then Didier gets through to the general election and should be handily defeated by Murray. The great news is because of the top two primary, one only needs to vote for the Republican in that one race. It might only take 10-15% of Democrats to swing the race given the support for Didier on the east side of the state. If the Tea Party in Washington wants to self-destruct and push Didier into the general, I say we help them!

June 27, 2010 5:09 PM  

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