Yesterday Chicago attorney, activist and author Tom Geoghegan (pronounced gay-gun) announced his intention to run for Congress from IL-05, his home district, a seat being vacated by Rahm Emanuel. When I spoke with him last week he told me he intended to make his announcement online and that he did, at Daily Kos. Tom's the first grassroots/netroots candidate of 2009 and it's more than a little ironic that this iconic leader of Chicago progressives is running for a seat that is opening up because the most Establishment and corporate-oriented of Democrats is moving on. I recommend reading the whole Kos diary at the link above, but he starts with a clear explanation of who he is and why he's running:
As a Chicago lawyer for thirty years, I have fought for working people in the Fifth District and throughout the city. I have represented unions as well as people with no unions to protect them. In plant closings I have helped them recover health and pension benefits. I obtained health care for the uninsured. I've been pressing the State of Illinois to crack down on payday lenders.
In my life as a lawyer I have lived out a commitment to one cause above all-- to bring economic security to working Americans, in our District, in our country. That's the same commitment I will bring to Congress.
There may well be other decent candidates for Emanuel's old seat, even "progressives," but Tom is the choice of so many Chicago activists because he isn't just a dependable liberal vote. He's a man with ideas and he's a proven leader. He's not the kind of person who's going off to Washington to become another Inside-the-Beltway asshole who looses touch with America and starts speaking a new language only Inside-the-Beltway assholes speak. I've always said, Democratic and Republican Insiders have more in common with each other than they do with real Americans regardless of political persuasion. Tom Geoghegan isn't some starry-eyed hick whose going to be swept off his feet by the trappings of congressional power. He's already accomplished more in his life than most committee chairmen ever will.
On April 7th there'll be a general election to pick the next congressman from IL-05. But in a district where the PVI is D+18 and where even a nominal Democrat like Rahm Emanuel was re-elected with 74%, the real election is on March 3, the date of the Democratic primary. In a district that has had one disastrous representative after another-- Rostenkowski, Blagojevich, Emanuel, each either in jail or destined to wind up in one-- it would be refreshing to wind up at the very top of the food chain for a change.
There's palpable excitement about Tom's announcement, not just in Chicago, but across the nation. Joe Trippi:
Today, Tom Geoghegan announced he will run for Congress in the Fifth District of Illinois. Tom is a real hero to the progressive community and this special election is a great opportunity to bring progressive change to Washington. I'm very excited that Tom has decided to run, please take a moment and visit his website to learn more.
This is a serious leader, committed to improving the lives of working people through policy. It's the epitome of what you would want in a public servant. Plus, he'd drive conservatives crazy.
If you want to know what a real progressive candidate looks like, this is the guy.
Kathy G from The G Spot:
I can't tell you how utterly thrilled and delighted I am by this development. Because there is nobody-- nobody-- whom I'd rather see holding elected office in America than Tom Geoghegan. For some years now, I've had the pleasure and the privilege of being Tom's friend. He's one of the most brilliant people I've ever met, and also one of the kindest. A passionate progressive from the top of his bald spot down to the tips of his toenails, Tom has spent a lifetime tirelessly fighting on behalf of underdogs and the dispossessed-- steelworkers being cheated out of their pensions, say; or stressed out single mothers being harassed by predatory lenders; or union reformers trying to run a clean election in their corrupt local.
Rick Hertzberg, whose story in the New Yorker is entitled Chicago's Chance To Redeem Itself Has Arrived:
The political news from the Windy City has not been especially uplifting of late, but here's a bulletin that promises change you can believe in: as of today, Tom Geoghegan is running for Congress!
If you're a fan of someone who has already proven himself a tough and unrelenting fighter for progressive ideals, from single payer health care to the unfettered rights of workers to unionize to livable pensions for retired workers comparable to the rest of the industrialized world's, please join me in donating to Tom's campaign. In fact, I have a little proposition for you.
Many people are preparing to celebrate the end of the hideous and destructive Bush Regime and the reactionary stranglehold on political power in our country. (If you're a progressive you might be almost as happy seeing Rahm Emanuel leaving Congress.) An outfit in L.A. has created a party box to help with the celebrations, the Georgie Is Outta Here Party In A Box. This video explains what's in the box:
So you get 10 paper plates, 10 paper cups, 8 party hats, 16 napkins, 10 latex balloons, 1 table cloth, 1 Pin the Tail on the Ass's Ass decorative poster, 1 Georgie's Desk with To Do Lists decorative poster, and 1 product one sheet all packaged in a branded "Georgie Is Outta Here!" box. DownWithTyranny has 10 of 'em and we want to give them away-- NOW! Everyone who donates to Tom's campaign today (here) is entered in a drawing and 10 people get the Party Box mailed to them. (Minimum donation to win the box is $25 and the maximum is $2,300.)
Click here to read Tom Geoghegan's statement of candidacy on the Huffington Post