A Progressive Window?
In the following post I am going to start a discussion on challenging some misconceptions on what type of candidate can win and hold this seat. I am not intending to look at either McMahon or Harrion's policy viewpoints directly but take a broader look at political ideology. As Mike McMahon is still in the process of building his campaign site I don't think it would be fair on my part to try to address his views on policy without knowing more and having statements I can link to. This certainly is something I may come back to in the future.
Matt Stoller over at OpenLeft.com has a post up about bluewashing, corporate financial involvement in Democratic races resulting in Democratic candidates moving to the right in a time when we can and in my opinion should be moving them to the left. He mentions that in three special elections this year, all of which we have won, we have replaced a Republican with a "blue dog" Democrat. via wikipedia;
Blue Dog Democrats are a group of 48 moderate and conservative Democratic Party members of the United States House of Representatives.  The Blue Dogs promote, among other things, fiscal conservatism and accountability
For the most part these are all good fits for their district, but they do not grow the progressive caucus in Congress any. As for the November outlook, via Matt;
I have not analyzed open seat primary results yet, but I would not be surprised to see a mixed record across the board, which, in a progressive window environment, is a missed opportunity. It shouldn't though be surprising.
Bouldin over at the Daily Gotham chimes in on the news that many of the NYC Congressional Delegation have endorsed McMahon, noting the potential divide between the beltway portion of the party and the more progressive outsiders;
What's irksome, of course, is that Mike McMahon recently made the news for voicing pro-war sentiments to Mike Long's little outfit. Also note that there's a name missing from the eleven above: Nydia Velasquez, Chair of the House Progressive Caucus.
I want to point out there seems to be some discrepancies as to McMahon's stance on Iraq and I am not ready to jump into that issue here. While it appears both Harrison and McMahon would be a drastic improvement in terms of troop support and ending the war over Fossella, Harrison has come out with a strong progressive voice on the issue garnering him the support of Progressive Democrats of America as well as DFNYC. To that point the NYC Congressional delegation the following about McMahon in their endorsement;
"We are confident that Mike McMahon will play an important role in bringing our troops home from Iraq, and in winning our fight for good-paying New York jobs, reduced gas prices and quality health care for all Americans."
As I look at the two candidates and try to extrapolate McMahon's public statements onto a congressional platform I think more and more about this progressive window. Bouldin noted a curious situation above with Rep. Nydia Velasquez not joining the others in their endorsement of McMahon. The most logical analysis to me is that she does not want to interject herself into a Democratic primary and recent statements and her past contributions to Harrison in 2006 indicate she has a cordial relationship with Harrison's campaign. If you want to read into it more the fact that she is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, (she is not listed as chair as is stated above) may play into her non endorsement. Four other members of the NYC delegation are members of the caucus and endorsed McMahon as well though; Rep. Maloney, Nadler, Rangel and Serrano.
The question that this all comes back to is during this time where Democrats are likely to gain even more seats in Congress and further extend their majority, where the administration is likely to swing from conservatism to a more liberal governing style and where it looks like the odds favor any Democrat in this congressional district, should we be doing more to not just elect a Democrat but a more progressive Democrat? I will be the first to say that I am much more progressive in my ideology than probably either candidate on our side and don't hide from that and wish the party would not either. I don't buy into stereotypes that the district will only elect certain people; Staten Island natives, Conservatives, those with Italian lineage. Any combination of McMahon, Harrison, Powers or Wyne does not have the pre-requisite vowel (Wyne doesn't count) on the end of the name that so many touted as the only way to win the seat here. We are going to see a change regardless of who wins this November and with that all generalizations of who can win should disappear. If the DCCC is dedicated to winning this seat and put the same resources in regardless of who wins the primary there is little chance any Republican nominee is going to be able to match that investment and the NRCC has already said they can't and won't.
In a campaign cycle that from top to bottom is based on change we need to evaluate what is our best long term investment. I hear a lot of comments that first let's just flip this seat regardless of who we put in it and then later through primaries lets move it further left if necessary. In 2010 we will have another census that will lead to redistricting in 2011. All signs point to New York state losing two Congressional districts meaning most of the congressional district boundaries as we know them know will be adjusted. The most likely scenario for this district is picking up new portions of Brooklyn, probably from parts of Nadler's 8th district bringing in more Democratic voters. If a Democrat is holding this seat in 2012, just two more cycles then they will have it locked up for quite a while regardless of their ideology. Congressional seats in New York City seldomly change hands without a scandal or retirement. The only other notable race I can think of is Rep. Towns primary challenge, everyone else is extremely safe in terms of retaining their seats. So a progressive candidate or a moderate candidate would have the odds in their favor of holding on to this seat as long as they make it through the 2010 election and the power of incumbency, in a majority would go a long way towards securing that.
If you have the choice between a moderate and a progressive candidate and both would have the momentum on their side in the general election what would you do?