[Please welcome our guest to Blue America. As always, be polite and stay on topic — any off-topic discussions or comments should be taken to the prior thread. Thanks — and with that, welcome, Dan! — CHS]
Upstate New York has three districts that have been devastated by Bush’s anti-union “Free Trade” extremism that all border on each other, that are all currently represented by a rubber stamp Republican in trouble and that each has an exceptional progressive Democrat running in — NY-25, NY-26 and NY-29. We’ve discussed Jon Powers and Eric Massa before, and today we’ll be meeting the third in their trio, Dan Maffei.
Dan came closer to anyone else in New York to dislodging a Republican incumbent other than the three who actually did (Mike Arcuri, John Hall and Kirstin Gillibrand). Less than 2% points seperated Dan and 10-term incumbent James Walsh (3,400 votes). 2008 will be Dan’s turn. As you’ll see when you meet him today, he sounds really good. But is he?
I started our interview by asking him if he’s going to take our donations and turn into another treacherous Bush Dog like Chris Carney, whose district isn’t that far away.
“No, I sure hope not,” Dan told me. “I have a very different approach than he did. Political leadership is, in part, taking a position and bringing your constituents along with you. I’ll be a good representative for this district because on all the key issues we see eye to eye. The stands I take — for public financing of elections, for ending the occupation of Iraq, for Medicare for all — aren’t exactly profiles in courage positions. The people in the district support these things.”
When Dan goes out and meets his neighbors and tells them he’s running for Congress, he has a message he’s trying to deliver. But so do they. I asked him what they tell him.
“The Iraq War is #1, especially when you factor in other needs, like infrastructure costs, not being met because of all the resources being poured into Iraq.”
The voters want to talk with him about things we hear from candidates all over America, like education and jobs. But there is something else, something that inspired Dan to pick the Tom Petty song “I Won’t Back Down,” as his campaign theme song.
“It goes beyond lost jobs in the manufacturing sector,” Dan told me. “You can sense the regional lack of self-esteem. Children and other family members move away because of limited opportunities– move away from this beautiful, liveable place with a quality of life second to none. Putting this area back on the map again has got to be a major priority. People need hope and a thriving economy with real jobs are a key to that.”
Last year the Democratic Party establishment didn’t much care about Dan’s race against Walsh. In 2004, no Democrat had even bothered running against him and in 2002, when a Democrat did, Walsh picked up 72% of the vote. Yet the district is far from a right wing bastion. Kerry and Gore both took it as did Hillary Clinton when she ran for Senate. But the DCCC was too busy chasing Rahm Emanuel’s dream of electing pro-war Bush Dogs to bother with NY-25. Dan managed to raise over $900,000 to get out his message (half of what Walsh spent) with no help from Washington until the very last minute when polls showed him within the margin of error of winning. This year Dan has several advantages. Any of the Democratic frontrunners — and especially NY Senator Hillary Clinton — being at the top of the Democratic ticket will bring out thousands of extra voters, overwhelmingly voters who want a change.
Last year no one had heard of Dan Maffei. Now everyone in the district has.
This year he’s already had more media coverage than in the entire 2006 campaign. The traditional media has so accustomed the electorate into believing the absurd hype that Walsh, a pure Bush rubber stamp, is somehow a “moderate,” that’s it’s taken Dan all this time to help educate the electorate to understand his far right voting record, especially on Iraq.
Of the 55 roll calls since the October 10, 2002 resolutions to authorize the use of force in Iraq, Walsh has voted against the Bush agenda exactly one time, this year when he realized his re-election was in grave jeopardy.
Dan has a placard in his office with a quote from General Omar Bradley: “Now is the time when we’ve got to steer by the stars and not by the lights of every passing ship.” A Congressman Maffei will be neither a Congressman Walsh nor a Congressman Carney. He’s a man with a firm moral compass and who believes in the progressive values that are very much all-American values. Please feel free to ask him any questions you’d like. And if you like what you hear, also feel free to join me in giving his campaign a boost today at our Blue America page.