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.