THE BLOG
06/11/2010 04:11 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Progressives Are Batting .500 in 2010 Senate Races: Make It .666 by Drafting Ted Kaufman in Delaware

The grassroots progressive movement has had a significant impact on Democratic Senate campaigns so far in 2010. Its efforts, fundraising ability, and ground game helped Joe Sestak defeat long-time Republican turned conservative Democrat Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. It came within 11,000 votes of defeating corporate Democrat Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, almost overcoming the efforts of the entire Democratic establishment, the current President of the United States, and the last Democratic President and Arkansas homeboy Bill Clinton.

The progressive movement has a chance for another Senate victory if it can convince Ted Kaufman, who was appointed to fill Joe Biden's Delaware Senate seat, to run for reelection in the fall.

So this is a shout out to progressive organizations like AFL-CIO, the SEIU, Move On.Org, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Accountability Now, and The Campaign for America's Future, and to other progressive bloggers like Marcos Moulitsas, Jane Hamsher and Glen Greenwald who gave moral, financial and ground support to Joe Sestak and Bill Halter.

The same coalition of unions, progressive grassroots organizations, and the progressive blogosphere, who worked so hard for Sestak and Halter, should spend the next 6 weeks until the July 31 filing deadline for the Delaware Democratic primary for Senate urging Ted Kaufman to run for reelection and letting him know that we'll support him, raise money for him, and send ground troops to help him win the primary and the general election.

It's essential for progressives to let Democrats like Ted Kaufman--who support the interests of middle class and working people against the megabanks and other corporate interests--know that we'll stand with them and we have their backs. It's just as important as letting corporate Democrats like Blanche Lincoln and Arlen Specter know that they risk their careers when they stand with the corporations against the middle class and working people.

There are two key reasons why it's vital to convince Kaufman to run and to give him the support to win. First Kaufman is the most knowledgeable and progressive member of the Senate, when it comes to reforming the out-of-control financial system whose meltdown almost destroyed our economy, required trillions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts, and threw millions of Americans out of work and out of their homes. Second, if Kaufman doesn't run, Joe Biden's former Senate seat in Delaware will almost certainly go Republican in the November.

In the next few weeks Congress is likely to pass a moderate financial reform bill that will fail to limit the size of Too Big To Fail megabanks, making the next cycle of boom, bust and bailout all but inevitable. The fight for truly meaningful financial reform is a multi-year fight and progressives need allies like Kaufman in the Senate to lead the battle. It took FDR 5 years to fully implement the financial reforms that have protected the system since the Great Depression, until they were largely dismantled by a coalition of corporate Republicans and Democrats under Bill Clinton's presidency.

In a series of brilliant speeches on the Senate floor, Ted Kaufman has shown he has a clearer understanding of the causes of the financial crisis and the reforms needed to avoid another one than just about anyone in Washington.

"In the Senate, as we continue to move closer to consideration of a landmark bill, however, we are still far short of addressing some of the fundamental problems - particularly that of "too big to fail" - that caused the last crisis and already have planted the seeds for the next one. And this is happening after months of careful deliberation and negotiations, and just a year and a half after the virtual meltdown of our entire financial system...

Mind you, this is a financial crisis that necessitated a $2.5 trillion bailout. And that amount includes neither the many trillions of dollars more that were committed as guarantees for toxic debt nor the de facto bailout that banks received through the Federal Reserve's easing of monetary policy. The crisis triggered a Great Recession that has thrown millions out of work, caused millions to lose their homes, and caused everyone to suffer in an American economy that has been knocked off its stride for more than two years...

To address these problems, Congress needs to draw hard lines that provide fundamental systemic reforms, the very kind of protections we had under Glass-Steagall. We need to rebuild the wall between the government-guaranteed part of the financial system and those financial entities that remain free to take on greater risk. We need limits on the size of systemically significant non-bank players. And we need to regulate effectively the derivatives market that caused so much widespread financial ruin. It is my sincere hope that we don't enact compromise measures that give only the illusion of change and a false sense of accomplishment. If we do, then we will only have set in place the prelude to the next financial crisis. "

It is clear by now that Congress will pass watered down financial reform legislation that won't effectively deal with the problem of Too Big To Fail megabanks. We need people in the Senate like Ted Kaufman who will keep fighting in years to come to be sure we have effective financial reform that will protect the jobs and homes of middle and working class Americans and will insure that never again will we have to bail out the megabanks with trillions in taxpayer money to protect the financial system from collapse.

Moreover, if Kaufman doesn't run, Democrats are almost certainly facing a crushing defeat in the race for Joe Biden's old Senate seat in Delaware and a resounding victory for Republicans. With Beau Biden having decided not to run, if Kaufman keeps his earlier pledge not to seek reelection, recent polls consistently show Republican Congressman and former Governor Mike Castle soundly thrashing the leading Democratic Contender, New Castle County Executive Chris Coons, by 55% to 32%.

It seems odd that The White House, The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Democratic National Committee aren't in full panic mode about the looming disaster in the Delaware Senate race, and aren't doing everything in their power to convince Kaufman to run for reelection. But in the bizarre ways of inside-the-beltway politics, as in Pennsylvania and Arkansas, perhaps corporate Democrats would rather lose the Delaware Senate seat to a Republican than win with a progressive Democrat who might be a thorn in the side to the Democratic establishment, particularly when it comes to taking on the Too Big to Fail megabanks.

We may need the grassroots progressive movement to rally behind drafting Kaufman to save the Democratic establishment from itself. The progressive coalition is firmly in place from the Sestak and Halter campaigns. It now needs to stay mobilized to convince Ted Kaufman to run and let him know it will back him with grassroots support, money, and campaign volunteers.