(I’m liveblogging a discussion with four congressional candidates – click the links below to find their Congresspedia profiles, part of our Wiki-the-Vote project)
3:17 Dan Seals: I want to see Democrats not blow it – we failed in 1994 because we didn’t elect a movement. Democrats should redouble their efforts.
3:19 Jill Derby says party and infrastructure building has been an incredible boon in Nevada. “Nevada is a new and different state,” she continues: In my dirstrict, the Republican registration advantage has shrunk 40% since I last ran in 2006.
3:23 Jim Himes is running in Connecticut’s 4th district, what he describes as one of the country’s most diverse district. He says moderates are sometimes enablers, and that Republican Rep. Chris Shays has broken with his party on issues where Congress doesn’t have much sway.
(More liveblogging and questions from the audience after the break)
3:26 Himes: I watched as all of the things that make up the concept of the “American Dream” were eroded as a matter of public policy under the Bush presidency.
3:30 Derby says the difference in Nevada between 2006 and 2008 is “night and day” in regard to excitement and participation, and the presidential election is a major reason. “2006 was an election with a mandate for change, and not much change happened.”
3:37 Questions from the audience: how has Obama’s field operation (asking volunteers to head to swing states) and his fundraising affecting your campaign? Derby: the amount of energy Sen. Obama is bringing is helpful. The number of people they have energized and brought into the office is going to serve us well. It;s a challenging time in fundraising in general because the economy is bad. There’s a commitment from people that we can do it this time and we must do it this time.
3:40 Seals: we’re still seeing that the money is still there. People also see the opportunity here, and the need, to reverse course. People are being very forthcoming because the need is so great. Taddeo: for Obama to win Florida, he has to win South Florida (my district). I’m very happy to have him on the ticket, because he’s bringing out the youth vote, and the black vote. That’s something we’ve never seen. I’m a non-Cuban Hispanic who’s Jewish. I think I help him by being on the ticket by speaking about Democrats, and speaking on Spanish radio on almost a daily basis.
3:45 Question from audience: is better fundraising this cycle the result of more excited Democrats or from Republicans and Independents flirting with the Democratic party? Himes: The urgency from 2006 brought Democrats out, but I’ve dialed up people who have traditionally given to Republicans, and some of them tell me their just so fed up with the Republicans in Congress.
3:50 Question from audience: will you make a pledge to undo the damage done to the Constitution when elected? Seals: it should not be OK for phone companies or anyone else to eavesdrop on someone without a warrant. Himes: yes, we had a FISA system that was functioning just fine. We never needed to get here. On the question of immunity – there’s a place where we resolve questions of facts and law – and that’s always where this should have been resolved. Derby: so disappointed we caved and voted for it. Taddeo: extremely disappointed in the lack of leadership.
3:55 John Wonderlich: how can online communities help you remain strong Democrats when you’re elected and the leadership PACs and the Blue Dog caucus approach you? Himes: Educate and advocate – I’m glad to call myself a progressive, but I promise you I’m going to do things in Congress that are going to irritate members of the progressive community. We have to be informed and we have to be accountable. Derby: I can only say we’ll need you. As we start to work our way out of this hole, we’re going to need some popular support not to lose a lot of ground in the next election.
4:00 Question from audience: what’s you’re stand on health care – are you an incrementalist? Seals: I am, if you have health insurance and you like it you should keep it. We should also make it portable. Himes: if you’re creating out of scratch a health-care system, yes, you’d make a single-payer system. I’m a supporter of hybrid models that might actually turn out pushing us toward single-payer. As a businessman, I’m not comfortable saying we should take 17-percent of our economy and revolutionizing it overnight. Derby: I think there’s an appetite for incremental change. People should get to have choice. Taddeo: I’m also an incrementalist.
4:02 Second question from audience was on LGBT. in November we’ll have a vote coming up that would change our constitution in Florida, to define marriage as between a man and woman. It’s a huge mistake and I’m totally against it. All Americans should have the opportunities that I have. Seals: the Constitution can not be applied selectively. Derby: I’m happy to allow the states to make their own rulings on it. I support civil unions. Himes: I’m a civil libertarian , if we’re going to have marriage, and it’s going to be something to which we apply rights and laws, then we can’t discriminate.
4:04 All four candidates say they would work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
4:06 The moderator, asks whether subpoenas should have teeth in regards to congressional hearing. Seals and Derby both railing against Congress for caving on signing statements and executive privelge. Himes: if we don’t dissect what happened, and we don’t take testimony, how we let our administration run amuck, we’ll do it again.
4:08 What about Iraq? Taddeo: there’s some shame that we let it happen, and that we’re letting things like torture happen. And by going into Iraq, we’ve been ignoring where the real terrorists are. Derby: I’ve signed on to the Responsible Plan to end the War in Iraq. Himes: it should be an article of faith that when our young men and women are in armed conflict, they should be first and foremost in our minds. The Bush administration learned the lessons of the Vietnam War and they’re keeping it out of the public’s mind. In addition to the horrible human costs that our soldiers are paying, we’re passing along the costs of the war to our children. Seals: there’s no end in sight, and there’s some frustration by people that we can’t get out.
4:13 Question from audience: can you tell us about the ways your opponents are pretending to be Democrats? Himes: Chris Shays who cultivates that kind of brand. in 2006 he told voters he supports a timeline for withdrawal, and then voted 3, 4, 5 times against a timeline. Taddeo: my opponent like to send out mail with her picture of Nancy Pelosi. She talks about the vote to authorize SCHIP, but not the vote to expand it. Derby: my opponent isn’t pretending to be a Democrat, it’s refreshing. Seals: my opponent has portrayed himself as a moderate, and now he’s moving to the right. Here’s the video Seals just talked about.