This is a call for every Democrat and progressive who cares about the future of the economy, both from Delaware and throughout the country, to do everything in their power to convince Sen. Ted Kaufman to run for reelection this a fall as the junior Senator from Delaware.
Flood Senator Kaufman's office with phone calls and emails urging him to run for reelection and promising to donate to his campaign. The phone number for his Washington D.C. office is 202-224-5042, the phone number for is Wilmington, Delaware office is 302-973-6345, or to email him go to http://kaufman.senate.gov/services/contact/
But it will take more than this one blog on the Huffington Post to convince Sen. Kaufman to run and to raise the money needed for him to win. I urge other progressive blogs and organizations like MoveOn.Org, Daily Kos, Firedoglake, Act Blue, Progressive Democrats of America, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America, the AFL-CIO, Unite Here, and other major unions to get behind this campaign. Moreover, I urge the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee--who are currently facing polls showing Republican Candidate Mike Castle defeating leading Democratic contender Chris Coons by 55%-32% --to get behind this campaign as the best chance to keep Joe Biden's former Senate seat in the Democratic column. I urge Huffington Post readers with strong relationships at any of these organizations to contact them and ask them to get behind this effort.
Why is it so important to convince Senator Kaufman to run for reelection?
First, repairing the economy, fixing the financial system, and preventing future bubbles, busts and bailouts may be the single most important set of issues facing the country. In his short time in the Senate, Ted Kaufman has shown that he has more expertise in understanding our economic and financial problems, and more vision about how to fix them, than just about anyone in the US Senate. Listening to many Senators and Congressmen and women, it's often difficult not to be appalled by their lack of understanding of basic economics and finance. Senator Kaufman actually has an MBA for the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, perhaps the leading business school in the nation.
Senator Kaufman has given a series of speeches on the Senate floor that demonstrated extraordinary understanding and expertise on how the financial system works, where it went wrong, and what needs to be done to fix it. Much of this was laid out in a March 11, 2010 speech which I urge everyone to read as one of the most succinct dissections of the causes of the Great Recession and its solutions anywhere. To quote briefly:
"In the past thirty years, the financial industry, like so many others, went through a process of deregulation. Bit by bit, many of the protections and standards put in place by the New Deal were methodically removed. And while the seminal moment came in 1999 with the repeal of Glass-Steagall, that formal rollback was primarily the confirmation of a lengthy process already underway.
Indeed, after 1999, the process only accelerated. Financial conglomerates that combined commercial and investment banking consolidated, becoming more leveraged and interconnected through ever more complex transactions and structures, all of which made our financial system more vulnerable to collapse. A shadow banking industry grew to larger proportions than even the banking industry itself, virtually unshackled by any regulation. By lifting basic restraints on financial markets and institutions, and more importantly, failing to put in place new rules as complex innovations arose and became widespread, this deregulatory philosophy unleashed the forces that would cause our financial crisis."
A few days later on March 15, Senator Kaufman gave another speech in which he was unafraid to call some of the practices of Wall Street by their rightful name, fraud and crimes:
"Mr. President, last Thursday, the bankruptcy examiner for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. released a 2,200 page report about the demise of the firm which included riveting detail on the firm's accounting practices. That report has put in sharp relief what many of us have expected all along: that fraud and potential criminal conduct were at the heart of the financial crisis."
Back in March, Senator Kaufman gave a precient speech on the dangers of high-frequency trading, two months before the Dow melted down by nearly 1000 points in a few minutes because of guess what? High-frequency trading. Here's a Senator that actually knows what he's talking about when it comes to the financial system.
Second, in addition to understanding the problems with our financial system, Kaufman understands, perhaps better than anyone else in the Senate, the necessary solutions. In his March 11 speech, Kaufman provided the fundamental outline of the steps necessary to prevent another financial meltdown:
"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."
Along with Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Kaufman sponsored the Brown-Kaufman Safe Banking
Act amendment to the Senate financial reform bill which would have made Too Big to Fail Banks small enough not to pose systematic risk to the financial system. Although it failed, it garnered 33 votes in the Senate including 30 Democrats and 3 Republicans. Reforming the financial system is likely to be a multi-year effort. Congress is likely to pass a moderate and compromised bill that will do some good, but will not fundamentally solve the problem of Too Big To Fail. We need Senators like Ted Kaufman who will come back year after year and keep fighting until we get the reforms we really need.
Third, Democrats need a Senatorial candidate from Delaware who can actually win. Right now, the Senatorial race in Delaware is shaping up as a disaster for Democrats and it's looking like the seat that Joe Biden first won in 1972 will go Republican in the fall. The Republicans are likely to run popular former Delaware Governor and current Congressman Mike Castle, while the leading Democratic contender is a weak candidate, New Castle County Executive Chris Coons. Polls have consistently shown the Republican Castle drawing over 55% of the vote and the Democrat Coons drawing less than 35% with the latest Rasmussen poll showing Castle winning by 55%-32% with the remainder undecided.
When Ted Kaufman--who had served has Joe Biden's Senate Chief of Staff for 20 years--was appointed to fill Biden's seat, he was supposed to just be a place holder for Biden's son Beau Biden to run for his father's seat in 2010 and Kaufman promised not to run for reelection. That's all changed now. Beau Biden decided not to run and to remain Delaware's Attorney General (and recently had a mild stroke). As a result, the Democratic field is incredibly weak and the reasons for Kaufman previously promising not to run for reelection no longer apply. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee should be panicked big time about holding Delaware's Senate seat in the fall.
Having proven himself a fighter for the people against the banks, Kaufman would make a much stronger candidate than Coons. He would have the ability to energize the Democratic base. Having proven himself a champion of real financial reform, he would have the ability to raise a large number of small, medium and big contributions on the internet, both in Delaware and nationally, in order to be financially competitive. If they want to hold Delaware's Senate seat, the Democratic establishment, as well as the Democratic and progressive grassroots, should be doing everything in their power to urge Kaufman to run.
Kaufman has until July 30, 2010 to file to run in the September Democratic primary. He would provide the most knowledgeable voice in the Senate on the financial system, the most committed Senator to true reform, and the Democratic candidate most likely to keep Delaware in the Democratic column in November.
Again, I urge Huffington Post readers to call and email Senator Kaufman's office urging him to run and promising financial support, and to contact leading Democratic and progressive organizations to urge them to support a movement to draft Kaufman. Again, the phone number for his Washington office is (202) 224-5042, the phone number for his Wilmington Office is (302) 973-6345, or you can email him by going to http://kaufman.senate.gov/services/contact/