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Special Edition of Blue America: John Laesch vs. Dennis Hastert

(It's our pleasure to have John Laesch join us today for a special edition of Blue America.  He's one of our Act Blue Candidates, running against the rapidly decomposing Dennis Hastert.  Please welcome him in the comments section, and you can give to his campaign here.)

In July of this year, John Laesch made his FDL debut in an online chat as part of our Blue America series.  At that point he seemed like a longshot, running against entrenched GOP political hack and Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert.  Now Hastert can't keep his story straight about what he knew when regarding online sexual predator Mark Foley, and is in standard GOP denial mode despite the fact that many say they told Hastert about Foley's problems long ago.  Without Hastert's protection and enabling, Foley's predatory behavior would have no doubt been purged from the House long ago.  It's Hastert's stock in trade — he gutted the House Ethics Committee to protect Tom DeLay — why would anyone expect anything else?

But now it looks like the chickens have come home to roost, and John Laesch is still the honest, intelligent, sincere and viable alternative to the entrenched DC corruption that Hastert represents.  When John joined us for his Blue America session in  July, Howie had this to say:

If John Laesch doesn’t succeed in dislodging Hastert it won’t be through lack of the personal qualities that define worthy leadership. And it won’t be through lack of motivation. John’s younger brother, Sgt. Pete Laesch, currently stationed in Iraq, asked John to run against the gargantuan rubber stamp who represents their district in Congress.

John is 32 years old and grew up in West Africa where his missionary parents were stationed. They moved to a farm in Newark, Illinois when John was 12. He enlisted in the Navy when he was 21 and served as an intelligence analyst in Bahrain, monitoring terrorist activity and analyzing foreign political and military structures, winning numerous citations and meritoriously rising 5 ranks within 3 years.

After leaving the military he earned a degree in History from Illinois State University. He volunteered for Dennis Kucinich’s campaign and in 2004 worked as campaign manager for progressive Democrat Dr. David Gill. (I was impressed yesterday to see Laesch make an impressive pitch for Gill on Daily Kos, at a time when non-DCCC candidates are scrambling, some desperately, for attention, endorsements and campaign cash. Read his Kos dairy; it shows what kind of a man he is.)

John has embraced the netroots enthusiastically and has run an open, grassroots campaign. I like it when candidates start off reporting to interested citizens rather than to party bosses Inside-the-Beltway. Laesch’s outspoken criticism of Bush’s war and his public embrace of progressive values-driven solutions to controversial issues hasn’t made him a darling on D.C. Democratic Party bosses. But with yard signs sprouting up all over DeKalb, Kendall, Lee, DuPage, Henry, and Whiteside Counties, John’s independent approach might well be exactly the right prescription for victory in a district where Democrats are heavily outnumbered by Republicans.

But even in a Republican-leaning district, like the 14th, Laesch’s commonsense approach to the crucial issues of the day are far more in sync with voters’ concerns than Hastert’s, whose voting record defines rubber stamp support for Bush’s catastrophic agenda. On health care, local development (and resultant skyrocketing property taxes), education, a realistic national energy, etc, Hastert has become more and more completely out of touch with Main Street as he has utterly embraced Wall Street. Laesch’s positions grow out of his Main Street values and out of his sturdy, all-American character.

In his dignified, almost self-effacingly modest manner John explains to FDL why he’s running: "Like the other 50 fighting Dems, I am just a guy that can’t stand the direction our country is being led. I wanted to do something about it… and that road started in 2002 with the signing of the ‘Blank check for Iraq.’ My younger brother, Sgt. Pete Laesch, is serving in Iraq and asked me to defeat Denny back in 2003. When he received his orders for Iraq (2005), I stepped up to run."

John already won his primary and now Democrats are united behind his race to replace an out-of-touch, entrenched, corrupt Speaker of the House with a fresh, energetic young man with integrity, strength and vision. John needs help to get out his message. I can’t imagine a candidate as forthright and independent as John is going to get sufficient help from Rahm Emanuel’s DCCC. It’s up to us.

(Actually the DCCC Stakeholder did wind up linking to John's Blue America session, so we have to give them props for that.)

John is a fantastic candidate with true progressive values who needs our help more than ever now that Hastert is on the ropes.  If you're sick of the GOP machine, the excuse making, the lack of accountability, the lies and the coverups, please consider giving to John's campaign and cheer him on in the comments section.  On behalf of everyone at FDL we want to thank him for joining us today.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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