Last night's presidential results were clear: one progressive bested
another. But perhaps even more important for the future of the Democratic
Party were the results in Maryland's Fourth Congressional District where
progressive champion Donna Edwards went up against entrenched (Democratic)
defender of the Republican culture of corruption Al Wynn.
The progressive won.
It's really an extraordinary result. Wynn has been office since 1992 and has
cozied up to just about every special interest out there, taking hundreds of
thousands from polluters, banks, and drug companies and repaying them with
his votes for Bush's ultra-polluting 2005 energy bill, Bush's 2005
bankruptcy bill (that made it harder for working people to get out of debt),
Bush's Iraq War, and Bush's efforts to keep big money in politics.
He was the Wynn in the Wynn-Ney Bill meant designed to gut soft money limits
(the Ney was Bob Ney, who has since been convicted of corruption charges
related to the Jack Abramoff scandal). Then, he went on to become the lead
sponsor of the phony "527 Fairness Act" that would actually allow
individuals to contribute millions to the political parties and candidates.
As if this wasn't skuzzy enough, Wynn actually
"http://openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=3744">attacked Donna Edwards
during the campaign for being poor -- not paying her taxes on time when she
was a single mom without health care. I think few people would blame a mom
for putting children's well-being before the bills.
I hoped that voters would see through these clumsy, mean-spirited attacks to
the Donna Edwards I've seen personally. I first met her because she sat on
the board of Green Corps, which
trains young environmentalists (including me) to be future environmental
leaders -- and I could tell she was a real progressive fighter and a sincere
person. In addition to her environmental work, she headed the Arca
Foundation, which supports a living wage, a fair judiciary, Social Security,
and labor rights, planting seeds of good around the country and the world.
For that reason, Edwards could count on the support of progressive
organizations like MoveOn.org, SEIU, Sierra Club, and the PAC I direct, href = "http://www.democraticcourage.com">Democratic Courage.
Ironically, given his role in defending big money in politics, Wynn attacked
Edwards for these "outside groups'" support for her. It was a cynical ploy --
he was hoping his constituents couldn't tell the difference between the
labor unions and environmental groups funding Edwards and the pharmaceutical
companies funding Wynn.
But he was wrong.
That means we'll have another progressive hero in Congress, which is great
news. But I think this race will send a more powerful message to the
cautious corporate Democrats standing in the way of a progressive agenda:
cozy up to big money and sleazy politics -- and run away from progressive
champions like MoveOn.org -- at your peril.
The smart ones will change their tunes before they get into a tough primary.
And the stupid, stubborn, or just plain ornery? Well, I'm sure Al Wynn will
have a cozy job waiting for them during what I imagine will be his next job
as a corporate lobbyist.