Sunday, April 18, 2010

Winograd vs Harman

An interesting dynamic is emerging in California involving Marcy Winograd, the progressive primary challenger to the blue-dog incumbent Congresswoman Jane Harman in CA-36. Winograd is in a battle at the California Democratic Party Convention to deny Harman the statewide party endorsement. This weekend, Winograd accomplished an "impressive feat" by securing enough signatures to open the contest to debate and force the question of a state party endorsement to the floor of the convention.

The California Democratic Party is convening this weekend in Los Angeles for its annual state convention. Only one Congressional incumbent, Jane Harman of Venice, however will go into the gathering without the pre-endorsement of her Party. The representative of the 36th Congressional district had actually won the backing last month with seventy percent of the vote only to have it be pulled after an organized effort by Marcy Winograd, her Democrat challenger in the upcoming primary election.

A co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Progressive Democrats of America, Winograd was able to collect three hundred and twenty-nine delegate objections to Harman easily surpassing the bylaws’ requirement of three hundred needed to rescind a pre-endorsement. As a result, Harman, a blue dog Democrat, will be heading into this weekend having her party’s endorsement for the Congressional race be fought and debated on the convention floor. A campaign adviser for the Congresswoman characterized Winograd as wanting to “abuse the convention and waste time attempting to disenfranchise Jane Harman’s significant number of progressive supporters.”

The Progressive Democratic challenger likened the coming debate as a “fight for the heart and soul” of the Party while asking, “Who do we endorse? Someone who rushes us to war, covers up illegal wiretapping, and votes with Wall Street to make it easier for banks to foreclose?”

Does Winograd have a chance to win the Democratic endorsement?

What will happen today is that Winograd and Harman will get a short speech to make their case, and then the entire state party delegation will get the opportunity to vote on the endorsement, not just the locals in the district. Winograd has said that, if the state party spends time, effort and money after endorsing a candidate, the whole party should have the opportunity to vote on it.

A substantial amount of the more progressive Northern California delegation didn’t even make it to Los Angeles, so in the end, Harman may capture enough votes to win the endorsement on the floor. But it should be interesting to watch, anyway.

The primary is June 8. Winograd is challenging Harman in the primary for the second time; in 2006 she got 38% of the vote.

The two candidates are political opposites.

In a contest of Party opposites, grassroots progressive Winograd, who refuses corporate donations, has shown big money-funded Harman that being a corporate darling isn't an automatic endorsement or predestined reelection.[...]

Harman vs. Winograd is the quintessential battle of opposites: conservative vs. progressive, corporate donations vs. grassroots donations, power broker vs. people power, special interests vs. people's interests, war vs. infrastructure, war vs. jobs, war vs. education, war vs. housing, war vs. health, war vs. the environment, and on...

This contest means the difference between reelecting an entrenched incumbent politician who supports militarism and corporatocracy or electing an inspired organizer and educator who's dedicated her life to the local community and the community at large.

Lila Garrett, radio host, progressive icon and convention delegate summed it up for me this way:

"Winograd vs. Harman is not just another ho-hum congressional election. It's a battle to define the Democratic Party. If it is represented by a permanent war economy fed by a policy of permanent war, secret government, authoritarian rule - that's Harman. It it's a party whose first priorities are peace, universal education, healthcare, employment and dignity - that's Winograd.

They [Harman and Winograd] are polar opposites. Let the Democratic party be defined by this election. Then let those of us who care what our party stands for decide whether to remain Democrats or move on. It has come to that."

As Digby has noted in "LA isn't Blue Dog Country."

I'm sorry, it's just not right for any liberal district in California to be represented by a member of congress who says she's "proud to be introduced as the best Republican in the Democratic Party." Yet that's what Blue Dog Jane Harman says about herself.

It is time to push out the Blue-Dogs. This is a good start!

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