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Donna Edwards at SEIU Convention in Puerto Rico

by: MurlandGuy

Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 03:48 PM EDT

Just a quick note, with links to some reporting from the ongoing SEIU Convention in Puerto Rico. Soon-to-be US Representative for MD-04, Donna Edwards, gave a speech there today. A couple postings about that, with video, are at Firedoglake and Open Left.

SEIU* was a huge financial supporter of Ms. Edwards' primary campaign for MD-04. Such political involvement is a big part of SEIU's agenda.

Update: Post edited. Also, have now heard the speech - I couldn't get the link at Open Left to work on my system, but FDL's You Tube link functioned (direct link to that is here).

At just over 5 minutes long, Donna Edwards' speech will be nothing new to anyone who has followed her campaign in MD-04 this year. She is a success story for SEIU political involvement, and as such, a very good person to bring in for a bit of cheerleading for these union leaders and activists. That is how I would characterize this speech - something to rouse the troops, so to speak. Through mention of a number of key issues, mostly economic, she reminded the assembled group of what is at stake this election year, and of the role government should be playing in fixing many of the problems we face, a number of which have been created by our current national leadership.

Update #2: Compliments of FDL guest blogger Watertiger (blog home here) - who is covering the convention on SEIU's dime - here is a post-speech blogger photo-op and mini-chat with Donna Edwards. No big thang, just FYI.

*[For those who, like me, don't follow the labor community regularly, SEIU is not without its critics among other unions. The first comment in the Open Left post (posted by "California Nurses Shum"), and the links therein, will cue you in a bit to more information/opinions/flames on all that, and further poking around at Open Left will take you further into the relevant controversies. I've tried to follow the contretemps - with limited success - and IMHO there are no clearcut heroes and villains in all that. Mostly a matter of good and passionate advocates whose specific agendas, tactics, and constituencies occasionally collide, with the expected unpleasant results.]
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MD-04: Credit, Blame, and People Smacking Themselves in the Forehead

by: Eric Luedtke

Wed Feb 13, 2008 at 07:37 AM EST

So because I'm sick, and not going in to work today, I guess I get first crack at the day-after-the-victory analysis.

Credit Goes To...

First and foremost, credit needs to go to Donna Edwards, one of the most impressive candidates I've ever seen, a woman of deep personal conviction and courage, who believed that Al Wynn could be beaten when everything else thought Boss Wynn had an absolute lock on his seat.

Donna put together an exceptional team of staff and volunteer who are deeply dedicated to progressive politics. While good campaign staff is largely invisible, leaving the limelight to the candidate, they deserve some generic recognition at least. Adrienne Christian, the campaign manager, ran a spectacular campaign, and in my own Montgomery County Gina Angiola, activist extraordinaire, deserves serious kudos for leading the Edwards insurgency here. And one last plug, for Montgomery field coordinator Jonny Akchin (yes, that's his name), whose canvass and polling place volunteers flipped my own precinct from 59% for Wynn to 3-to-1 for Edwards.

SEIU and UFCW, who were the only unions willing to step outside the lines of the traditional incumbency-biased endorsement process and fight for Donna. SEIU especially poured money, heart, and soul into the campaign. An aside: tt's very sad to me as a unionist that so many unions, including my own, didn't have the courage to fight Wynn when his record was so obviously pro-big business and so utterly unconcerned with working Americans.

The enviros, including the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, and Friends of the Earth Action don't often get recognized as electoral kingmakers, but in this race there was no more gorup of people I know who were more consistently anti-Wynn than environmentalists.  

The bloggers, who I leave for last for no good reason. When I sat down with one of Donna's staffers a couple months ago to talk about Burtonsville, he mentioned his frustration at posting comment after comment on Daily Kos asking for volunteers and receiving so few responses. In defense of bloggers, I want to point squarely at Matt Stoller of Open Left, who was tireless in his advocacy for Donna. There are plenty of other people who both blog and volunteered for Donna in some capacity, but the support, the inspiration, the momentum, and the money donated by readers of Open Left, DailyKos, MyDD, and, yes, Free State, helped Donna to victory. 

Blame Goes to...

Al Wynn himself. I'm sure that in the days that follow, many people, including some of Wynn's surrogates, will try to heap blame for the loss on his campaign staffers. But the margin of the loss for Wynn suggests this: he was so utterly corrupt and so completely out of touch with his district that the best political team in the world couldn't have dragged him out of the mire. No, Wynn's campaign staff should perhaps find some better people to work for in the future, but the blame for this loss rests squarely on the big guy's shoulders. 

People smacking themselves on the forehead...

I mentioned the pro-Wynn unions earlier, but want to single out my own union, because it deserves particular attention. The Maryland State Teachers Association and the NEA are relatively progressive unions, and in the past they have stood up for a great many exceptional candidates. But in this case, they made a wildly bad call. Why? Like many unions, incumbent protection is rated very highly when endorsements are made - and we'll often settle for a candidate who is mediocre on our issues rather than take a chance on a long-shot challenger. That needs to change. We need to do a better job of demanding the best from our elected leaders, and standing firmly in their way when they refuse. 

A lot of elected officials who endorsed Wynn. Decisions about these personal endorsements are often based on a political calculus, but the list of names supporting Wynn makes me sick to my stomach. Our local electeds need to know this: you can't claim to be a progressive and support candidates like Al Wynn. It just doesn't work that way.

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MD-04: Edwards Picking Up Steam, Endorsements

by: Eric Luedtke

Thu Dec 20, 2007 at 06:51 PM EST

SEIU and UFCW announced their endorsement of Donna Edwards in the 4th Congressional District primary yesterday, adding momentum to the Edwards campaign and splitting the labor endorsements in the race. Between her earlier environmental endorsements and this new labor support, Edwards is building some momentum as we get closer to February 12th. Both SEIU and UFCW have the ability to turn out sizeable numbers of volunteers. Good news again for the Edwards campaign.
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