One of the key things that we should start to do as activists is expand our playing field when it comes to thinking of elections. Howard Dean's 50-state strategy and Barack Obama's commitment to fighting in every state and territory have produced results that show us this approach is one that can lead to positive change. It can give candidates a chance to win who might not otherwise do so, it can send a message to Republicans that places they have assumed are theirs by birthright must be earned and it can sap Republican resources and make them spread their spending and activity to places they usually wouldn't bother to worry about.
A first step we can take down this road is to support good candidates in supposedly red districts. Frequently this will mean spending money outside your own congressional district. If we only focus on our own districts, we'll never be in the majority, we need to work together to change the state, not just our own backyard. And the more candidates we help and the more candidates we help win, the more our congressional delegation will owe progressives when it comes time for them to vote on things like the recent FISA/telco immunity fiasco. Like it or not, politics works on the you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours level a lot of the time. If we scratch their backs with our votes, our voices and our checkbooks, they'll have to scratch ours.
At the recent Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser in Hollywood, I met a candidate in this exact situation. Jay McGovern is running against Ander Crenshaw in Florida's fourth district. He sat and talked with me and a couple of very young Democrats for two hours. We found him to be a funny, intelligent guy who actually listened to what we had to say. He knew a lot about the issues and about his district and he was clearly someone who would be a great member of Congress, particularly when compared to Crenshaw.
The fourth district is a pretty Republican district (R+16) that covers the northernmost part of Florida from the edge of Tallahassee to the East Coast, with the bulk of the district's population sitting in Jacksonville. Since 2001, the seat has been held by Crenshaw, who is currently ranked as the 346th most powerful member of Congress. Tie that it in with his lifetime Progressive Punch score of less than 5% and you've got bad represenation for the District and for Floridians.
But it's a tough District for a Democrat to run in and Crenshaw has rarely attracted a strong challenger. Now he's facing McGovern, a former Naval aviator, engineer, businessman, community activist, family man and owner of a horse farm. He's significantly better on the issues than Crenshaw while still being true to his district and the people he'll represent. Of course, one of his horses would probably be better on the issues than Crenshaw, but I'd feel really comfortable with McGovern representing Florida in Washington.
But how will he get there? With our help. We all know that it takes money to win a congressional race, but we know that hard work and wise spending can help a good candidate defeat a Republican incumbent with more money, particularly such an ineffective Republican like Crenshaw. Especially in 2008, a Democratic year with a presidential candidate who will have long coattails and when the Republican party brand is as week as it has been in two decades.
So I'm challenging everyone who reads this to give what you can -- $5, $10, $25, $50, more -- to McGovern via the new ActBlue page we set up for him. I'm setting a modest goal of 10 contributors and $100 by Monday and I know you won't disappoint. Make sure that you give through our ActBlue page if you give, that way we can track our progress and our response. If it's a good response, it helps us convince candidates and elected officials we can help them and reminds them once they are in office that they should return the favor.
Learn more about Jay
Learn more about Crenshaw
Then help give Jay the resources he needs to defeat Crenshaw.