Last week, Democrat Paul Hackett exceeded everyone’s expectations by forcing right wing radical Republican Jean Schmidt to spend huge amounts of money from her personal inheritance and the Republican National Committee’s campaign coffers in a special election for a seat in Congress. Underdog Paul Hackett, who was expected to lose by a 40 percent margin instead came in only 4 percentage points behind Jean Schmidt. This race was proof positive that progressives can make any congressional seat up for grabs if they campaign hard enough – even if a seat is in a predominantly Republican area.
Now attention turns to California, district 48, which includes traditionally Republican Orange County, where there will be another special congressional election in October. The current representative, Republican Christopher Cox, resigned in order to become Bush’s new chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Just like they did in Ohio, Republican activists are planning to run an extremist right winger – Bob Dornan is currently topping many lists there. Just as in Ohio, progressives are not about to let the Republicans get away with a free ride to claim this seat in Congress. The Republicans are going to have to fight hard just to hold onto this district.
So far, three Democrats and one Green Party member are stepping forward and campaigning for the seat. Democrat John Graham, who ran for the seat last November, is promising to run again, though as you’ll see, he hasn ‘t yet bothered to update his web site. Other Democrats who have offered to run and will face John Graham in a primary are Steve Young and Kathy McCarrell. Neither of them has a campaign web site yet.
Unlike in Ohio, where the Green Party could not get organized enough to run any candidates, the Green Party in Orange County has put forth Bea Tiritilli as a candidate. Tiritilli is running on a platform of avoiding new regulations and taxes, opposition to the war in Iraq, investment in socially responsible corporations, a crackdown on corporate polluters, reducing Social Security benefits for wealthy recipients, government decentralization, and support for civil liberties.
Would support for the Tiritilli campaign split the progressive vote and ensure a Republican victory? Not necessarily. From the right wing there is another alternative party campaign: American Independent Party candidate Jim Gilchrist, who has formed vigilante teams on the Mexican border to prevent people he regards as undesirable from entering the country.
This promises to be a very interesting election, and another great warmup for the nationwide congressional elections coming just next year. An open debate about the qualifications of the candidates needs to begin now so that voters can go into the Democratic primary and the general election informed and active, ready to promote progressive values in Orange County as vigorously as possible. People who live outside California’s 48th district can be part of this campaign too, and can begin now by tracking the activities of the various candidates, and sending support to the candidate that they believe best represents the progressive ideals of an American Renaissance.