What are Mark Warner and Jim Webb Waiting for

In the next few weeks, the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham clean energy bill will come up for consideration on the Senate floor. While we do not yet know what is in and what is out of the bill, the NRDC Action fund has begun a campaign to ensure that Senators hear from their constituents on this vitally important legislation.

What we are doing is drawing the focus on Senators who will play a key role in the drive to pass the bill. We began last week with Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts. If you live in Massachusetts, it is not too late to join in this effort. Please sign our letter and post a note of support for clean energy legislation on Senator Brown's Facebook Wall. If you do not live in Massachusetts, and are wondering if your Senator could use a little encouragement, click here and you can post something on their Facebook wall, or call their office. 

This week, as we hope Scott Brown is hearing from folks in Massachusetts loud and clear, we also turn our attention to Virgina, and its two Senators, Mark Warner and Jim Webb. Each of these men is well-poised to play a critical role in getting this bill passed, and they should each do everything they can to make that happen.

Both men arrived in DC with proven records of success in their respective fields. Other lawmakers are courting their votes and looking to them for guidance. These Senators carry a lot of weight and because of this, they can be key players in passing clean energy legislation.

Both men have stated that they believe America should reduce its global warming pollution. Now we have to translate that belief into action.

Senator Webb has possibly the best understanding of America's national security needs in the Senate. Webb served as a marine in Vietnam and as Secretary of the Navy. He has also been an outspoken advocate for our veterans and has shown himself to be an effective negotiator, and powerful leader in the Senate.

When the Quadrinnel Defense Review included climate change as a significant threat to U.S. National Security, Senator Webb was already working on a proposal with Senator Alexander (R-TN).

Unfortunately, he has been a strong defender of fossil fuels and outdated energy technologies. We need to get him into the clean energy camp.

Senator Warner seems to be moving our way. He recently co-led an effort to show support for comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Along with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), he got 22 senators to sign on to a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) calling on him to bring a bill to the floor.

Senator Warner is a businessman. After he helped found cell phone giant Nextel, he became a highly respected governor of Virginia. He turned deficits to surpluses during a recession by working with members from both parties. As a result he was recognized as having run the best managed state in the country.

The world is not waiting for the U.S. to get moving on clean energy technologies, and the longer we wait, the more competing nations are able to get a head start. China's investment in clean tech R&D is nearly double that of the U.S. As a result, much of the job creation and economic growth that come with clean energy innovation are already happening in China.

Surely Mark Warner will understand the business importance of making progress on clean energy and not ceding an even larger advantage to overseas interests. Surely Mark Warner gets that borrowing billions from China to buy oil from the Middle East is not smart financially.

Senator Warner understands the urgent need for this legislation in more than just business terms. In September of 2009, Senator Warner said:

"The idea that we're going to, for one more year, delay trying to take on this critically important issue around energy, would be a competitive, financial, and potentially environmental disaster."

But perhaps the most important reason Senators Warner and Webb should be leaders on this issue, is that passing a clean energy bill now would be good for the people of Virginia. Virginia is one of the top recipients of federal Research and Development funding, the state's economy would likely get a big boost from the passage of clean energy legislation. Because of its proud tradition of producing exceptional men and women in uniform, Virginia has felt the strain from the extended and repeat deployments of America's military to fight enemies who benefit from our dependence on oil. Passing a clean energy bill will contribute to a vibrant economy for Virginia, and will make it easier for our military, including its proud members from Virginia to defend our nation.

So lets get to work telling Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb that we want them to step up at lead on passing the clean energy bill:

1. Sign the letter here.

2. Post a note of support for clean energy on their Facebook Walls: Warner Webb

3. Ask your friends to do the same by posting this to your Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks for your help, and stay tuned as we encourage more Senators to stand up and lead us to the robust economy, increased national security, and national prosperity that will come with a clean energy future.

Heather Taylor-Miesle is the director of the NRDC Action Fund. Become a fan on Facebook or Twitter.

Tangled Webb

Senator Jim Webb is taking the neo-con position on terror trials.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archive s/2009/11/webb_on_terror_trials.php#more ?ref=fpblg

He's joined Lieberman in a threat to filibuster the public option.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/ 11/webb-not-committed-to-party-unity-on- procedural-votes.php

I know he was never really progressive.  But do you think this last election in Virginia may have rattled his nerves a little bit?

He's got a few years yet to worry about it.  But he seems almost panicked.

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I couldn't agree more with Glenn's assessment of Jim Webb's decision to tackle prison reform:

There are few things rarer than a major politician doing something that is genuinely courageous and principled, but Jim Webb's impassioned commitment to fundamental prison reform is exactly that.
What's most notable about Webb's decision to champion this cause is how honest his advocacy is.  He isn't just attempting to chip away at the safe edges of America's oppressive prison state.  His critique of what we're doing is fundamental, not incremental.  And, most important of all, Webb is addressing head-on one of the principal causes of our insane imprisonment fixation:  our aberrational insistence on criminalizing and imprisoning non-violent drug offenders (when we're not doing worse to them).

There was a time when I wanted Obama to choose Webb as his running mate. While some said Webb's stubborn aversion to campaigning and theatrics would have hurt Obama's campaign, I thought it would project a refreshing dissatisfaction with politics that voters would find appealing.

But Obama wasn't really looking for a VP with that strong an orbit, and this new push probably proves that Webb has more clout in the Senate than he'd ever have in the Administration.

Anyway, good stuff.

Webb's full floor speech announcing the initiative (in pdf form) is available for download here.

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President Clinton Hits The Trail For Georgia Democrat

Most political pundits agree.

If the Georgia Senate race between Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin goes to a December run-off, money from both sides of the aisle will flow through the Peach State like the Chattahoochee River.

However, both campaigns have indicated that they don't want the election to go into overtime.  They want a win in regulation [Source:  Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Runoff for Senate seat could make Georgia `center of the universe'", October 23, 2008].

The desire by Saxby Chambliss and the Republicans to score a victory on November 4th has resulted in his campaign stepping up his attacks on the Democrat as election day nears.  Chambliss has aired 3 consecutive ads criticizing Jim Martin on a variety of issues from taxes to the local issue of deepening the Savannah harbor  [Source:  Savannah Morning News, "Saxby Chambliss ad slams Jim Martin for opposing deepening Savannah's harbor", October 23, 2008].

In addition, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Freedom's Watch and the Trust In Small Business PAC have all launched independent ad campaigns benefiting Chambliss [Sources: Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Freedom watch took the high road, the NRSC chooses the low one, with an attack on Martin", October 22, 2008; Atlanta Journal Constitution, "A Freedom Watch ad for Saxby Chambliss", October 21, 2008; Georgia Politics Unfiltered, "Small Business Group Announces T.V. Ad Campaign For Saxby Chambliss", October 21, 2008].

However, Jim Martin has stepped up his game as well, bringing in former President Bill Clinton for a fundraiser Saturday evening.

In an email to supporters, the Martin for Senate campaign wrote, "Things are moving quickly in our campaign to defeat Saxby Chambliss, and we have exciting news to report: President Bill Clinton will be coming to Georgia to campaign with me this Saturday, October 25th!"

President Clinton's visit will be the second high-profile surrogate to hit the trail for Jim Martin within the past week.  Virginia Sen. Jim Webb came down to Georgia Tuesday morning and endorsed Jim Martin's candidacy saying that Martin didn't need to attend a committee meeting to learn about military service [Source:  Georgia Politics Unfiltered, "Virginia Sen. Jim Webb Endorses Jim Martin", October 21, 2008].

Real Clear Politics ranks Georgia's Senate race as a toss-up and CQ Politics recently downgraded the race from Republican-favored to Republican-leaning.

Update [2008-10-23 12:11:17 by Jerome Armstrong]: More on Georgia, via Democracy Corps today:

Why Democrats can win in Georgia this Year

Barack Obama has no business winning in Georgia this year. Neither does U.S. Senate candidate Jim Martin. Yet both Democrats are within striking range in a state President Bush carried by 17 points in 2004, and where in the last six years Republicans replaced Democrats in both Senate seats, and won the governor’s office for the first time since Reconstruction. John McCain leads Barack Obama by just two points (44 – 46 percent) and Jim Martin trails incumbent Senator Saxby Chambliss by just 4 points, 44 – 48 percent.

GA-SEN: Virginia Sen. Jim Webb Endorses Jim Martin

Today, in a press conference held in front of the Georgia War Veterans Memorial, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb threw his support behind fellow Democrat Jim Martin for U.S. Senate.

"Jim Martin won't need to attend committee meetings to learn about military service," Webb said.  "Jim Martin has the credentials [and] he will hit the ground with both feet running."

Gathered with Webb and Martin were a few dozen veterans and members representing the Teamsters and IBEW union.

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