Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cheryl Sabel vs. Bobby Bright in Bama's Wiregrass

I'm pleased to see Cheryl Sabel announce that she'll challenge Bobby Bright for the Democratic nod in Alabama's 2nd Congressional District. Mrs. Sabel has been involved with civil rights from early as she once did clerical work for The Southern Poverty Law Center. Recently she has been serving as the President of Alabama's National Organization of Women. So why would I be so pleased to see another face in the race? I'm glad you asked ...

Well ... it seems like Mrs. Sabel is my kind of Democrat. I'm all for having a "big tent" party, especially given the reality that the GOP has gone so far to the right. Still, candidates like Cheryl represent hope while those like Bobby bright represent at best a holding pattern. While I regularly enjoy Chris Cillizza's The Fix I was a touch frustrated with some of his thinking as he considered Bright's chances as relates to possible coattails of Barack Obama in Congressional Districts with rather large populations of African-American voters yet generally gerrymandered so as to be reliably Republican. Chris wrote
... A good candidate -- well financed and well known -- is the building block for any competitive race. When it comes to some of the districts mentioned above, finding a conservative Democrat is essential to the party having any chance of putting these seats in play. Bright fits that bill in Alabama, but it's not yet clear that the Democrats running in these other opportunity seats do. ...
Being well known and financed is important of course but organization (especially a good ground game!) can't be left out of the equation. Neither can policy. I disagree, however, that "finding a conservative Democrat is essential", at least as to the long view. I can't abide the strategy of using "Republican Lite" as that's often a guaranteed way to lose while also hindering movement toward a Progressive future. Progressives with backbone and employing an assertive advocacy for their positions are the only candidates I want to see in any race.

Bobby Bright's likely not the kind of politician I want to see in DC and representing Alabama's 2nd (the wiregrass) if he actually toyed with the idea of running as a Republican. If he and his in fact calculated it might be advantageous to run as a Democrat that is even more bothersome. His position on a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices is hardly ideal although I understand some Democrats can lean that way personally. I worry that he'll be yet another Blue Dog, DLC "centrist weenie" type from the South. I want unabashed Progressives. I'm not sure if Cheryl Sabel is this person yet I like what she is starting her campaign with. She said Thursday that she stands for the following:

* Ending the War in Iraq. "When Congress stops funding this war, we can begin to heal our nation and our economy," she said.
* Increasing the minimum wage. She did not say how much it needed to be raised but she said the increase needed to be substantial.
* Illegal immigration reform. She said reform is needed but that changes need to be done humanely.
* Preserving reproductive rights. She said she advocates keeping abortion safe and legal. Sabel said she believes a woman should have the right to make her own personal decision about whether or when to bear a child -- without government interference.
* Universal health care for Americans.

I'm not sure if Bobby Bright comes anywhere near this good start on policy. If he can and does then I'll be happy to share his ideas with my readers, all four of them. I can't yet locate a website for either campaign. If and when I locate either then I'll try to drop a link up here as well. John Gunn

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