...and Rodney Glassman is no John McCain.
Who is Rodney Glassman? The leading Democrat seeking the nomination to challenge 28-year Washington Incumbent McCain. But we'll get back to him in a moment.
The most important question is this: Can Glassman beat McCain? The answer: You bet your @$$ he can.
For as some reading this piece may recall, I wrote a book on the old codger back in steamy summer of 2008, when Johnny was still calling himself a "maverick" and introducing us to a clearly-not-ready-for-prime-time-or-any-other-time Alaska governor who he thought worthy of placing a heartbeat away from the Presidency.
In The Real McCain, released in May of that year, I did my best to point out to a sometimes Sedona-ranch-bbq-blinded Media Establishment that 28-year Washington Incumbent John McCain--as he now points out for self-serving reasons--was not the least bit mavericky. He was but a very angry man who legislated based on 3 things, and 3 things only: 1) Who he hates and can vote against (once George W. Bush occupied this lofty perch in McCain's brain stem, now Obama does) 2) What is most politically expedient 3) What gets him the most invites on the Sunday talk show circuit.
Certainly, as he has gone from being one of the 3 or 4 most liberal Republicans from 2000-2003, to being one of the more conservative in the time since, he has shown there is simply no principle he holds dear enough not to ditch when the time is right (see women's rights, gun control, offshore drilling, foreign wars, CAFE Standards, campaign finance reform, torture, tax cuts for upper-income earners, immigration, Don't Ask Don't Tell, etc. and so forth). To hide the depth and breadth of his hypocrisy, he'd have to build a "danged fence" around it, just to shield it from our sight.
For this reason, as the subtitle of my book made clear, McCain has long been despised by the Right of his party in Arizona. When I was conducting research there, and interviewed everyone from the sponsor of SB1070, Rep. Russell Pearce, to former gubernatorial candidate Don Goldwater, to former Minutemen leader (who dropped a primary bid against McCain earlier this year) Chris Simcox. It is this antipathy to all things McCain among those on the Right in Arizona to that has led to a serious challenge from Tea Party darling and former 6-term Congressman J.D. Hayworth.
You can bet by the time a scorching summer and ugly/divisive Republican primary is over in September--if 28-year Washington Incumbent McCain is indeed still standing--he will have to endure many on the Right simply staying home or choosing "none of the above," rather than voting for the "RINO" McCain. So it won't help that two groups that used to strongly support him, Independents and Hispanics, now despise him (there has been a 34 point swing against him among the latter group alone, since the former sponsor of comprehensive immigration reform decided it made more sense to just "build the danged fence").
Perhaps this is why Glassman already holds McCain under 50% in two polls recently conducted, trailing by an easily 48%-35% (Glassman still has a lot of room to grow, as he has low name ID, and if you're undecided on McCain after all this time, you're not likely to vote for him in the end). If Hayworth is victorious in the primaries, Rodney Glassman is already tied with him.
Then there is that little problem where once seemingly unbeatable incumbents are being toppled, often by challengers who don't have near the same level of name recognition, fundraising prowess and most importantly, experience in Washington. At this point in the game, the Washington Insiders (or insider-supported) Death List includes names like Bennett, Mollohan, Corzine, Crist, Specter, Parker Griffith, Artur Davis and Trey Grayson--with Blanche Lincoln likely being the next name added to this list.
Meanwhile Rodney Glassman could not be more different than McNasty, more of a breath of fresh air. He is not a 28-year Washington Incumbent, like McCain. He is youthful, full of energy and instead of just pretending to be a reformer while saying no to, well, everything, he really wants to make Washington work for Arizonans and all Americans. He is a devoted grassroots progressive, having gained experience working on the staff of Progressive hero Rep. Raul Grijalva. In addition to Grijalva's support, Glassman has the endorsement of legendary farm activist and the First Vice President Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, Dolores Huerta.
So what has this guy Glassman done with his time? Well, he went to law school, but instead of heading to a corporate firm to make the big bucks, chose to serve in the Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. He started a charity to help underprivileged children, which he still runs. In the spirit of actually wanting to solve a pressing issue in Arizona, earned a PhD in Arid Land Resource Sciences. He joined several community and charitable boards, including the Pima Council on Aging, Arizona Legal Services Foundation and the Arizona 4-H Foundation--as well as the Arizona State Farm Bureau.
Glassman was then elected to the Tuscon City Council, and was chosen by his fellow council members to become Vice Mayor of Tuscon. Why? Perhaps because he worked to solve Tucson's water shortage by fighting for the nation's first-ever rainwater ordinance. It requires new commercial development to harvest and re-use rainwater. He also brought the council together to unanimously require that new Tucson homes include gray-water plumbing systems to reuse water for landscaping. These landmark ordinances, introduced by Glassman, are being mimicked by cities throughout the Southwest.
In addition, Glassman worked with business owners and city officials to make it easier for solar generating plants to come on down to Tucson, which had the benefit of also bringing jobs to town.
Once he decided to explore a run for the Senate, to test the depth of his support, Glassman only accepted donations of up to $20 during the exploratory phase of the campaign. What a novel idea, not just loading up on Goldman Sachs, AIG and BP booty like 28-year Washington Incumbent John McCain--who then votes against the reform and regulation of these very industries (a guy who earlier in his career, during L'Affaire Keating, probably spent more than a few fleeting moments searching the Yellow Pages under "Maryland Criminal Lawyer."
Just as importantly, Rodney Glassman is not afraid of a fight. Which is one of the reasons I decided to join his team and am consulting on his campaign. Like many out there, I am SO tired of Democrats' allowing corrupt Republicans to push them into a corner. As you can see here, Glassman doesn't cower in corners, he knocks others into them. He's 6' 7", so when he comes at you, you'll know it. Note to McCain: Get ready for a check on what you have been doing to Arizona and the people of this country for almost three decades.
Overall, it's pretty simple. 28-year Incumbent and everyday-angry-man McCain, who has pledged not to work with Democrats. Or a new generation of leadership in DC, with the experience, drive, morality and compassion to make government work better for all of us. Rodney Glassman absolutely can win. Now the only question is, who's ready to join us in our fight to bring real leadership to Washington?
**I proudly consult on the Rodney Glassman for Senate Campaign - but am speaking for me, and only me, in this piece.
Follow Cliff Schecter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cliffschecter