The Atlantic recently had an article bemoaning how unexciting this election is, and many on BMG have noticed a lot of our posts lately have been anti-Romney or anti-Brown rather than being pro-progressive. Fortunately, there are a lot of great progressives this cycle to get excited about. We already know how awesome our Presidential and Senate candidate are, but there are also lots of great candidates in other states that we can look at. I hope to make this a series but we will start with three campaigns showing you that even in purple and red states fighting progressives can win!
Heidi Heitkamp-North Dakota US Senate candidate
Today’s Huffpost* has a great piece on Heidi Heitkamp who is the biggest surprise on our Senate side this cycle. Unlike Carmona in Arizona, or Bob Kerrey in Nebraska, Heitkamp is running as a proud prairie progressive and by actually fighting for her beliefs she is starting to win over many independents in this state where she is currently running 15 points ahead of the President and beating her lackluster Republican opponent. While she has taken more conservative positions on guns and Keystone, I am very excited that she has defiantly run on ACA healthcare reform instead of away from it, and her ad on healthcare is so powerful and personal I hope the President takes notes from it. She ties her own experience surviving breast cancer to the basic facts of the ACA and the good it provides: among them expanded coverage for working families, no denial for pre-existing conditions and letting children stay on their parents insurance.
Senator Sherrod Brown US Senate candidate
The other Senator Brown has taken up the mantle of former Sen. Russ Feingold and is a strong populist in a state where most Democrats try to run to the middle or even the right to be competitive. Brown has been an outspoken advocate of keeping jobs in the US, revitalizing our industry and infrastructure, and getting big money out of politics. Truly a Main Street instead of Wall Street candidate if there ever was one. He has also strongly fought for the right to organize, the right to choose, and the right for all Americans to marry whom they love in a state where these rights have been under intense assault. Recently he was ranked the most liberal Senator, yet he has consistently run ahead of the President and is far more popular than any Republican official in Ohio. Browns great positive campaign running on supporting healthcare reform and the autobailout** is something that should inspire progressives everywhere, and makes him my main man in 2016 if Hillary stays out.
Rob Zerban US House candidate WI-1 District against incumbent Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
The Globes own Charlie Pierce had a great piece*** on this candidate running a competitive race against the incumbent most associated with Republican policies designed to insulate the wealthy even more from this recession and permanently destroy the middle class. Zerban could be running as a socially conservative economically moderate Democrat, kind of like Joe Donelley in Indiana, instead he is a full throttle progressive. He is strongly pro-choice, pro-equal marriage and even pro-gun control (even Feingold wasn’t that bold in this cheese and hunting loving state). On economics he has gone full throttle exposing Ryan for what he is, someone who forgot where he came from and feels the government owes its people nothing. While Zerban has a great record as a successful small businessman, he strongly agrees with the President that it was government that helped him every step of the way; from the community college where he first found his love of cooking, the social security that saved his family during tough times to the healthcare reform act that makes it easier for him to insure his restaurants employees now. He links all of these ideas together in a great narrative and while victory is a longshot, he will make this race competitive and could lay the groundwork for a true 2014 upset either against Ryan again or even against Walker.
*Huffpost Heitkamp article on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/27/heidi-heitkamp-senate-north-dakota_n_1711848.html
**Browns auto bailout ad http://www.sherrodbrown.com/video/both-from-ohio/
***Pierce article on Zerban http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/rob-zerban-vs-paul-ryan-8061341