Sestak & Weldon: Stark Contrast on Veterans Affairs

With the sacrifices of those in our nation's armed forces fresh in our mind following Memorial Day, it's worth pointing out the sharp contrast between Joe Sestak - a progressive patriot - and Curt Weldon - an out of touch politician - on veterans issues.

Yesterday, Joe met with local veterans and veteran service providers, finding solutions and calling on Congress to support increased funding for veterans' services.

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Democracy Corps polls NJ-07, PA-07, and OH-01

Democracy Corps has new polls out on three "second tier" House races this fall. In the straight-up trial heats that do not include anything except candidate names and titles, Republicans lead all three. However, all three are also competitive. With leaners, NJ-07 is at 54-35, PA-07 is at 51-41, and OH-01 is at 52-43. Without leaners, NJ-07 is at 49-30, PA-07 is at 48-37, and OH-01 is at 49-40.

More good news comes form voter enthusiasm numbers: In this mid-term election, who turns out to vote will obviously make the difference between Republican and Democratic control of Congress. In each of the three races surveyed by Democracy Corps, the evidence indicates that Republicans are demoralized. The percentage that strongly disapproves of Bush is more than twice the size the percentage who strongly approve of him. And on our 1 to 10 scale on interest in the election, the number of those supporting the Republican who say their interest in the election is a ten lags behind the number of Democratic supporters who indicate that level of serious interest. In PA-07, 70% of those supporting the Democratic candidate, Joe Sestak say they are extremely enthusiastic, while only 52% of Weldon (the loony Republican incumbent) supporters say they are very enthusiastic. In NJ-07, supporters of Democrat Linda Stender lead 55-43 in high enthusiasm levels, and in OH-01 supporters of Democrat Steve John Cranley lead 58-49.

None of these elections would currently be considered toss-ups or lean-Democratic, but clearly they are competitive. For races of this tier to be competitive five and a half months before the election, one can certainly see the making of a major national landslide. As Political Wire noted yesterday, The Cook Political Report currently lists fifty-five Republican held seats as potentially competitive, compared with only twenty seats held by Democrats. With Republicans needing to spend an unusually high amount of resources to try and hold on to seats such as PA-07, NJ-07, and OH-01, finding the fifteen seats needed for control of the House is certainly seems a lot easier than it did just a few months ago.

Why I support Net Neutrality

I'm not a career politician. I don't need polls to tell me what to believe. I've looked at the facts, weighed the evidence, and I strongly believe that Net Neutrality is good for America.

Why? I have a few main reasons:

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PA-07 Update: Curt Weldon Still Crazy and Corrupt

Joe Sestak has stopped by with a diary. In light of this event, I thought I would like to share with everyone some recent articles on Curt Weldon. First, The Curt Weldon Employment Agency:With Weldon's help, an AgustaWestland partnership with LockheedMartin beat out a bid from United Technologies Corp., which had been favored.(...)

One job at AgustaWestland has been filled by Weldon's daughter, Kim.(...)

It doesn't stop there. Weldon's twenty-something daughter Karen was once hired by Boeing, one of the congressman's major campaign donors, and later became a high-powered lobbyist who built her company on her father's connections (a story I reported with a colleague in the February 20, 2004, L.A. Times). Weldon "family friend" and realtor-turned-lobbyist Cecelia Grimes was retained by Oto Melara, yet another subsidiary of Finmeccanica, and by several other firms with close ties to the congressman as well. Given all of this, Kim Weldon's new job looks less like an overwhelming coincidence and more like the continuation of a proud Weldon family tradition. Next, Loony Weldon Thinks CIA Is Out To Get Him:Veteran Rep. Curt Weldon has a proclivity for calling out shady government doings that have him in mind as a principal target. A year ago, for example, after the No. 2 Republican on the House Armed Services Committee published "Countdown to Terror," a frontal assault on the CIA's track record before Sept. 11, he claimed that Clinton administration veterans with ties to the agency were out to get him.

So it's not surprising that as Weldon girds for the most difficult re-election bid during his two decades representing the Philadelphia suburbs, his campaign is alleging that the CIA is probably abetting the opposition. Last month, his campaign manager Michael Puppio Jr. announced that Weldon's expected Democratic opponent, Joe Sestak, a former Navy vice admiral, had taken campaign contributions from Mary McCarthy, the CIA operative recently fired for allegedly leaking secret information to the media. McCarthy, who was specifically accused of being a source for The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning story on secret CIA prisons overseas, has denied that charge through her lawyer.

The media also has raised suspicions in the Weldon camp. The reporter on the Post article, Dana Priest, wrote a piece last year about Weldon's book that the congressman viewed as critical.

It's just a question of following the money, says Puppio. "What's a CIA analyst doing giving money to a partisan political candidate?" he asks. "I'm not sure she violated any laws, but then when that analyst is alleged to have leaked information to a reporter who in turn is extremely critical of Curt Weldon, that raises some big questions." They are coming to get you Weldon. By "you" I mean, the voters in your lean-Dem district.

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Hold Congress to the same ethical standards as our troops

Today, the House passed H.R. 4975, a sham ethics plan that gives us election-year window dressing instead of real reform.

As Joe said today, "There needs to be full transparency in all relationships between members and lobbyists. In the military, there are extraordinarily strict rules that regulate all contact with individuals or institutions that have an interest in defense programs. Why shouldn't Congress be held to the same standards?"

Instead, this Republican House of Representatives - and Joe's opponent, Curt Weldon - turned what started out as a much needed effort to reform ethics on Capital Hill into what Joe called "a watered-down piece of legislation that fails to address the real issues."

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