Kucinich Faces Fierce Opposition for House Seat

From Kevin Zeese at Dissident Voice:

On the Hill some call it being McKinney’d — the treatment Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney received when she was in Congress. Twice, rather than protecting the incumbent, the Democrats put up well funded challengers against her. Now, it looks like Dennis Kucinich may be facing the same treatment in Cleveland.

There is a report circulating the web that before the Nevada primary Kucinich was visited by representatives of Nancy Pelosi and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the right wing Israeli lobby. They told him that if he would drop his campaigns to impeach Cheney and Bush, they would guarantee his re-election to the House of Representatives. Kucinich threw them out of his office.

Kucinich has aggressively challenged the Democratic Party leadership in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail on the issues of war, civil liberties, impeachment and big business control of government. He’s even refused to pledge to endorse the party’s presidential nominee.

The Democratic leadership has insisted that impeachment was off the table since taking control of the House in 2006. Congressman Conyers, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, has even refused to investigate whether President Bush and Vice President Cheney have violated the law. But Kucinich pushed the issue. He introduced articles of impeachment against Cheney, then against Bush and he brought the issue up on the House floor. He pushed and pushed to try to make sure the president and vice president were not above the law.

On the campaign trail he didn’t let Senator Clinton or Obama get away with campaign peace rhetoric in the Democratic primary while they voted war funding with no strings attached in the senate. He pointed out that their rhetoric was not consistent with their actions. He pushed the issue of all troops being removed; while Obama and Clinton parse their words carefully making it clear they will withdraw only some of the troops and neither promising a complete troop withdrawal even by 2012.

And he pierced the veil of campaign rhetoric of Democrats who call for “universal health care” but put forward plans that will enrich their donors in the private health insurance industry.

On issue after issue Kucinich pushed against the Democratic Party leadership — now, it seems he is paying a price.

In Cleveland, Kucinich is being challenged by several candidates. The one that is getting the most attention and funding is City Councilman Joe Cimperman. He’s served on the council for ten years and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from real estate interests to challenge Kucinich. He’s been saying that Kucinich focuses too much on campaigning for president and not on the district. The Mayor of Cleveland and the Cleveland Plain Dealer has endorsed Cimperman.

Kucinich, who has been focused on the presidential campaign, has very little money in the bank (reportedly only about $30,000). He’s been putting out fundraising appeals and has a fundraiser planned with Sean Penn.

Back home the issue of right wing Israeli lobby funding is becoming an issue. Cimperman put out a press release that urges Kucinich to refute a report in the People’s Weekly World Newspaper that said the “Kucinich campaign charged” that Cimperman’s effort to unseat Kucinich was financed in large part from “a right-wing pro-Israel group.”

Cimperman has been somewhat theatrical in his campaign. He’s been putting up signs “Where’s Dennis?” and describing him as a “Missing Congressman.” Cimperman took the poster to Kucinch’s office and delivered a copy on videotape. Kucinich responded by asking Homeland Security to investigate the filming of government property. Cimperman responded with another video calling Kucinch a hypocrite for violating his privacy while railing against government intrusion into people’s lives.

No doubt if Kucinch had kow-towed to Nancy Pelosi, been less aggressive in his comments in the presidential debates and agreed to endorse the Democratic presidential nominee, the Democratic Party would be discouraging opponents and coming to the aid of an incumbent who has been in the House since 1996.

But elected officials like McKinney and Kucinch who challenge the Democratic Party line — who think for themselves and feel a responsibility to fight for their constituents and challenge corporate power — are a hindrance to the party leadership. They get in the way and let the public know what is really going on. So, they must be either tamed or made an example of. If Kucinich gets McKinney’d you can be sure the message will be received. Those, like Congressman Conyers, who’ve been around for awhile (Conyers has been in the House since 1965) know better than to step too far out of line. So, Conyers has remained silent on Bush’s law breaking — protecting his committee chairmanship by being afraid to use it. Conyers has been tamed but Kucinich hasn’t. So, Kucinich needs to be taught a lesson that other members will learn from. The growing revolt of the “Out of Iraq Caucus” needs to be kept impotent. Knocking out Kucinich will prevent others from too loudly disobeying leadership.

Kucinich has faced tough battles in Cleveland before. When he was mayor he stood up to corporate interests that wanted to take over Cleveland’s public utility and survived a recall election. And, Cimperman is not the only challenger, there are several, so the anti-Kucinich vote may be sufficiently divided for the congressman to retain his seat.

If he doesn’t Kucinich may find new political opportunities that give him a bigger platform. Perhaps he will leave the Democratic Party with whom he has had so much disagreement and join Cynthia McKinney in the Green Party — a party whose platform is consistent with his. If so a McKinney-Kucinich ticket could be an interesting development in the 2008 election year. The Democrats may regret their punishment of both McKinney and Kucinich.

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Obama Takes South Carolina

obama

This Saturday Barack Obama scored an overwhelming victory in the South Carolina Democratic primary.  The results:

  • Obama 55%
  • Clinton 27%
  • Edwards 18%

Obama received more than 291,000 votes, besting the combined totals of the top two vote-getters in the South Carolina Republican primary; McCain and Huckabee received 147,283 and 132,440 votes for a combined total of 279,723.

Dennis Kucinich has dropped his presidential bid and is shifting focus to his Congressional reelection campaign.

Up next in the primary contest is the state of Florida, where both parties are set to battle on Tuesday the 29th.  Florida is the second state in this primary contest to be stripped of its Democratic delegates, so there will be no delegates awarded in the Democratic contest.  But the Republicans will be fighting to win 57 delegates in the winner-take-all contest.

Mitt Romney and John McCain are in a statistical dead-heat in current Florida polls, while Clinton has a comfortable lead among Democrats.  Rudy Giuliani, who has based his entire campaign strategy on winning Florida, is currently polling nearly ten percentage points behind the front-runners in the contest.

One week after the Florida primary is the big day of the primary season: Super Tuesday, February 5th.  On that day, twenty-two different states from all over the country will cast their votes and we should begin to have a more concrete idea of which two candidates will proceed on to the general election.

Primary Bits

The Nevada Caucus is set for tomorrow night, as well as the South Carolina Republican primary. Polls are showing Clinton and Romney with a slight edge in Nevada, while Obama and McCain are polling ahead in South Carolina. To keep you up to date, here are a few primary news and video clips from the past several days:

Barack Obama picked up an endorsement from the 60,000-member Culinary Workers Union in Nevada. Days after the endorsement, the Nevada State Teachers Association and Hillary Clinton supporters filed a lawsuit against the Democratic party’s plans to use nine large Las Vegas casinos as caucus sites. But on Thursday a Nevada judge rejected the case and said the casino caucus sites can proceed as planned. The ruling is seen as a boost to the Obama campaign, as many of the caucus-attendees at casino sites will be members of the Culinary Workers Union. Here is Bill Clinton responding to an ABC reporter about the casino sites:

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno was interrupted during an interview with Bill Maher this week. There were two separate outbursts during the interview; the first was “Let Dennis debate! Stop the Censorship! Help save democracy!” and later with “GE, NBC, Put Impeachment on TV!” Here is the video:

During a Nevada flight with journalists on board, Hillary Clinton pretended to be a flight attendant in a spoof you can see here:

On the Republican side, John McCain is now leading in national polls while Giuliani’s campaign is still banking on the larger states to gain some momentum.

Mike Huckabee refused to say whether he finds it offensive that South Carolina displays the Confederate flag on its state Capitol grounds. Huckabee also responded to questions concerning his desire to amend the Constitution ‘in God’s standards’, replying that “The radical view is to say we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, one man and three women, a man and a child, a man and an animal.”

Mitt Romney got into a brief argument with an AP reporter concerning the role of lobbyists in his campaign:

And for a laugh, here are a couple comics:

rep-comic.jpg Rudy Campaign

I’ll be back again tomorrow with news from Nevada and the South Carolina Republican contest.

Romney Wins Michigan; Uncommited Showing Strong

Romney
Mitt Romney has won the third Republican primary contest, winning the thirty delegates from the state of Michigan. Here are the results:

  • Romney 39%
  • McCain 30%
  • Huckabee 16%
  • Paul 6%
  • Thompson 4%
  • Giuliani 3%
  • Uncommitted 2%

And Hillary Clinton has won the zero delegates awarded in Michigan’s Democratic contest. With only four names appearing on the ballot, the Democratic primary results were as follows:

  • Clinton 55%
  • Uncommitted 40%
  • Kucinich 4%
  • Dodd 1%
  • Gravel 0%

One might call it a Clinton victory if only her name wasn’t the most (if not the only) recognizable name on the ballot. It was expected to be an even larger landslide for Clinton in a primary contest that has no real value in the nominating process. There is a relatively strong showing of Kucinich supporters, though, considering he has to fight legal battles in order to appear in a televised debate.

On the Republican side, Ron Paul has once again received more than double the votes of Rudy Giuliani; perhaps they should consider barring Rudy from the next televised debate.

Next up in the series is the state of Nevada, set for Saturday the 19th. For those of you looking further ahead, here is a copy of the primary schedule.

This Week in Primaries

Another week has passed in the race for president of the United States.

Hillary McCain

The New Hampshire Primary results have altered the landscape of the presidential field. Hillary Clinton upset the Democratic polls by edging out a 39-36.4% win over Barack Obama (victory speech here), though some are questioning the authenticity of Clinton’s victory. Bill Richardson has since pulled out of the race, while Barack Obama has picked up the endorsement of former presidential candidate John Kerry.

Meanwhile, John McCain bested Mitt Romney by a 37-31.5% margin in the Republican contest. Check here for his victory speech.

Ron Paul made an appearance on Leno the night before the NH primary to discuss his exclusion from the Republican debate hosted by Fox News.

With the primary season in full-swing, it’s quite simple to find examples of the media attempting to control the outcome of the election before it occurs. Check here for a good article on the corporate media’s incentive in the primary contests, written by Amy Goodman.

Up next in the primary contest is Michigan, which happens tonight (the 15th). Michigan is one of the few states that has been penalized by the Democratic and Republican National Committees for moving its primary to an earlier date. The DNC will award zero delegates from the state of Michigan, while the RNC will only award half of the original sixty.

The DNC pressured the Democratic candidates to ignore the state, and Obama, Edwards, and Richardson even removed their names from the ballot. The contest is expected to result in a landslide victory for Clinton, whose name will be on the ballot along with Kucinich, Gravel, and Dodd. However, the Obama and Edwards campaigns have reminded Michigan voters that they “have a choice” and are urging them to “vote uncommitted“.

While it seem like there may be nothing to lose in a battle against no one, a strong ‘uncommitted’ showing in Michigan could appear quite damaging to the Clinton campaign.

On deck beyond Michigan is the state of Nevada, set to caucus on January 19th. MSNBC is hosting a debate tonight for the Democratic candidates. Although Congressman Dennis Kucinich met the criteria initially required to participate in the debate (a Nevada judge even ordered MSNBC to include Kucinich), MSNBC has now changed the qualifying criteria and has disinvited Kucinich from the debate. So tonight’s “debate” will surely consist of a wide spectrum of viewpoints: John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.

The Fight Continues…

The primary season is underway. With one state under their belt, the Republican candidates squared off in another debate Saturday night on ABC. Each of the candidates still failed to grasp Ron Paul’s view of American foreign policy:

It makes you wonder if they really believe what they say. To quote Giuliani: “It has nothing to do with our foreign policy. It has to do with their ideas, their theories, the things that they have done, and the way they have perverted their religion to a hatred of us. And what’s at stake are the things that our best about us: our freedom of religion, our freedom for women, our right to vote, our free economic system. Our foreign policy is irrelevant, totally irrelevant. If you read what they write, if you bother to listen to what they say, this comes out of their own perverted thinking.”

This is a battle of good vs. evil, freedom vs. terror, Christians vs. Muslims…thanks for clearing it all up for us, Mr. Mayor. Looks like Rudy might be sipping a bit too much of his own Kool-aid, just check out his recent fearmongering commercial:

At a town hall meeting in New Hampshire (backed by “Droopy” Joe Lieberman), John McCain upped the ante on our commitment in Iraq. When asked about Bush’s talk of staying in Iraq for fifty years, McCain replied, “Make it a hundred.”

Four of the Democratic candidates also had a ‘debate’ in NH, Kucinich and Gravel once again excluded from the process. Fresh from his Iowa victory, Obama tried to stay positive. Edwards seemed to be setting himself up for a vice-presidential bid on an Obama ticket, as he continued his aggressive attack of Clinton and the ‘status quo’.

Kucinich has filed a complaint about his debate exclusion, mentioning that Disney (ABC’s parent company) has made contributions to all four of the Democratic candidates involved in the debate.

Ron Paul Raises $6 Million in One Day

Presidential hopeful Ron Paul raised an astounding $6 million and change Sunday, almost certainly guaranteeing he’ll out-raise his rivals for the Republican nomination in the fourth quarter. That marks the largest single-day fundraising haul in U.S. political history, besting John Kerry’s $5.7 million the day after securing the 2004 Democratic nomination.

Paul’s campaign bested its earlier single-day record of $4.2 million from November 5th. It’s a shame that the droves of online supporters Paul has amassed are not getting behind the candidate with the best prospect for positive change.