Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

Blue Catapult, a PAC created to support Democratic challengers running against Republican incumbents or running for open seats in 2006, is holding its Launch Event/Fundraiser on Wednesday March 8th in Washington DC (Go to for details if interested in joining us that night).

But what we need are suggestions as to the first 3 challengers we will support with both direct and bundled contributions.  So we would like the MYDD community to offer nominations.

Some guidelines:
1) We would prefer not to get involved in a serious primary battle, so nominate either unchallenged Dems in primaries or where there is an obvious favorite.

2) Democratic challengers who already have a national profile or won't have trouble raising funds are not our main targets.  A good rule is if any candidate has over $300k at this point, we probably won't have them as our first candidates to support. We want to expand the map of competitive districts, not merely fortify the ones that are already competitive.

3)  Please nominate candidates who have a CHANCE of winning.  This may mean that the seat becomes competitive in an election where there is a Democratic tide, but not someone who is challenging, say, Orrin Hatch in Utah who would never lose no matter what.

Our goal is to make 50 Republican-held districts competitive.  With an estimated 20-25 already competitive we want use our resources to put another 25 or so in play.

Please leave nominations here in comments and/or email them to


Ian Fried

Tags: Candidates, Congress, Elections 2006, House 2006, PAC, Senate 2006 (all tags)



Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

This looks like a very constructive and much needed effort.  We need to bring the fight to GOP incumbents, like the Repugs did in 1994.  

by howardpark 2006-02-23 10:22AM | 0 recs
Darcy Burner in WA-08

[Full disclosure: I hold no position within Ms. Burner's campaign, but I have met her and talked with her at length about her positions and strategy, and on that basis have become an ardent supporter of her campaign.  I've already donated to her the maximum amount allowed by law, so I can now only support her by advocating for her in forums like this.  But, that's what you asked for, so I'm happy to oblige!]

Darcy is a dream candidate.  She is new to politics and has virtually no name recognition (yet!) but she has amazing credentials to defeat incumbent puppet Dave Reichert.  Let me explain how and why she can win, if she gets the support to do it.

Two years ago, Reichert essentially won on a fear-and-safety platform: vote for me, I'm an ex-cop, I can keep your kids safe.  He defeated a local radio personality Dave Ross (selected by the party bosses, of course) who really had no message and certainly no background competitive with Reichert's law enforcement experience.

Interestingly, analysis of the voting patterns in the district shows that Reichert won due to split-ticket ballots: folks who voted Kerry/Gregoire/Reichert.  (Gregoire is the new (D) governor of WA).  It wasn't that many ballots, just a few thousand, most of whom fit a "soccer mom" profile.  Basically, there's no way Reichert should have won: if Ross had been even able to keep core democrats on his side, he'd have won.  Reichert's election cannot be counted as a strong win for the Republicans.

Since then, Reichert has amassed an almost perfect record of voting with the administration and, oddly, making some very specific votes that give the shaft to citizens living in the WA-08, as well as some bizarre actions as chair of his subcommittee to stonewall 9-11 commission recommendations.  Stuff like getting modern communications gear into the hands of first-responders.

Anyway, you can look up Reichert's record.  Suffice it to say it's not a record I'd want to be running with if I were in his shoes.

Now, in comes Darcy Burner.  Grew up in a blue-collar military family, knows the value of a dollar, put herself through Harvard, became a successful tech sector programmer and then Microsoft executive.  Stable marriage, no divorces, mother of a cute little 3-year old.  

Darcy is a grassroots candidate who decided on her own to run for this seat after living through Reichert's victory as a citizen of the WA-08, and then doing some serious thinking on what kind of candidate could win.  She concluded (and her reasoning, if you ask her about it, is rock-solid) that first, it will take a woman to beat Reichert, because Reichert's law enforcement background means he can out-tough-guy just about any male challenger.  It will take someone from a working-class background.  Someone with military ties.  Someone with tech-sector credibility.

It's an odd mix, to be sure.  But, the WA-08 is an odd district.  It's geographically large, and encompasses quite a range of demographics.  The northern part of the district is composed predominantly of affluent progressive-leaning professionals, while as you move south you get into more working-class, conservative-leaning areas.

Darcy Burner has the background and credentials to appeal to a broad swath of voters across the district, and can also re-take the soccer moms who put Reichert into office two years ago.  She has an amazingly smart strategy for pulling this off.  She's dedicated 100% to winning.  She left her position at Microsoft a year or so ago in order to run full-time: that, IMHO, shows some serious dedication.

Anyway, this is a district she can--and with enough support, will--win.  On basically any list of strategic districts for re-taking the house, you'll see the WA-08.  Why?  Because Reichert is extremely vulnerable: he's tainted by hoardes of DeLay cash, and his re-elect numbers right now are frighteningly anemic.  Well, frightening for him, I mean.  The Republicans know this and are going to dump a lot of money into this district.

Darcy needs every dollar she can get to get this jerk out of office.  You can find her online at  If you're interested, I can help you get in touch with her more directly as well (jasonbl-at-microsft-dot-com.  But no, I didn't know her while she worked there); you really should talk with her and let her explain--much more eloquently than I have--exactly how she's going to kick Reichert's out of office.  She'll make a believer out of you, I promise.

by jasonbl 2006-02-23 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Darcy Burner in WA-08

I coulden't agree more. The only thing this race is lacking is some cash.

by bstubs 2006-02-24 12:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

Though Patrick Murphy is coming close to 300K (250K raised according to opensecrets). I think that he is a great candidate in a competitive district and his primary opponent was a Republican a month ago.

Darcy Burner who is running for Washington 8 is also an interesting possibility.  She is running against a one term congressman who won with 51.5 percent of the vote last time.  She has currently raised 200K.  No primary here.

My third suggestion is Tim Walz who is running in MN-1 in a 50-50 district against an incumbent.  He has raised 118K but also has less of a chance than either Burner or Murrphy.  No primary opponent.

by descartes 2006-02-23 10:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

Well Francine Busby (CA-50) is probably a good place to start since her special election (for Duke Cunningham's abandoned seat) is in April.

by DownWithTyranny 2006-02-23 01:07PM | 0 recs
John Pavich in IL-11

John Pavich in IL-11 is a good choice for a competitive district.  He is the best funded Dem challenger in IL in a 50-50 district with over $200K in the bank. He has no primary challenger and has a great resume.  He is running against Jerry Weller who is getting blasted weekly with negative press in the district.  This week Jerry Weller was on the front page of the Chicago Tribune caught up in another scandal.

by chicagodavid 2006-02-23 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

I'd like to nominate Chris Carney in the Pennsylvania 10th.  He is running against republican incumbent Don Sherwood, who settled a $5.5 million lawsuit for abuse last fall.  The lawsuit was brought by his admitted mistress.

Chris Carney is a Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve and a Professor at Penn State.  He is a practicing Catholic with five kids. [See Carney's website: for more info]

I think he meets your criteria:

(1) No primary, see:
(2) 94K raised, 78K in the bank, see: n=H6PA10109*2006
(3) he can win!!!

My parents live in the 10th District and give me almost weekly reports of the REPUBLICANS who they meet who are fed up with Sherwood and are either staying home in November or supporting Carney.  Unsurprisingly, it sounds like republican women are abandoning him at an astounding rate.

Looking at some public polling, I see a 27% GOP DISAPPROVAL RATE for Sherwood in the 10th District.

Looking at the registration numbers, Carney only needs to win about 10% of republicans, if he carries a strong majority of independents (80%-90%), which seems possible this year with Sherwood's personal problems and the national trends going our way.  

R - 52%
D - 38%
I - 10%

Carney's message seems to be aimed right down the middle, which seems right for the district. From his website:

Winning in Iraq & Leaving with Honor

Chris has a plan to succeed in Iraq and to get our troops home. For every new fully-trained battalion of the Iraqi Security Forces, a battalion of the United States military should come home. This will allow our brothers, our sisters, our children, and our parents to come home with honor and the knowledge that they are leaving behind a better Iraq.

Leading on Energy Security

Our over-dependence on fossil fuels puts our national security and our economic security on the line. America needs a long-term, sustainable energy plan. Because we are rapidly depleting our oil reserves, fuel prices will continue to balloon unless we can reduce demand for oil.

Empowering Small Businesses

Small businesses are the growth engine of the American economy. Out of control healthcare costs are strangling the entrepreneurial spirit of American business. To protect our current small businesses and empower new growth, the healthcare crisis needs to be fixed. Chris will dedicate himself to easing the burden of healthcare costs for small business.

Fixing Healthcare

As the most powerful nation on Earth, we have a moral obligation to ensure all citizens have access to quality healthcare. Chris will work tirelessly to bring healthcare benefits to the 45 million Americans that have no health care coverage.

Ensuring Medical Freedom

With the advice of their doctors and the counsel of their families and of their faith, Chris believes Americans have the right to make their own medical decisions. In order to make informed decisions, individuals need access to complete and accurate information about prescription drugs and medical treatments. Government should enable good decision making, not legislate private action.

Effective Education Reform

As a parent of five kids in public schools, Chris doesn't just believe in public education, he is committed to it because it represents his children's future. As an educator, Chris knows the value of testing students, but he also knows the failures of No Child Left Behind.

"Teaching to the test" has led to the intellectual neutering of our academic programs rather than encouraging academic creativity and exploration. No Child Left Behind effectively means that no child gets ahead.

Additionally, unfunded mandates like No Child Left Behind have caused the higher property taxes that we see in our communities. This nonsense has to stop.

Instead, Chris believes that we need to invest in our educational infrastructure -- teachers, schools, curriculum, and up-to-date technology. We need to ensure our children learn the fundamentals, while encouraging creativity and exploration so that they can compete with the best in the country and the best in the world.

I encourage you to check Chris Carney out and support him this year.  This is a District we can win!

by badpolitiks 2006-02-23 03:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

I think Carney could really be the surprise upset this year. Of course, this depends on him getting enough money to run a competitive race (but hopefully that's where you guys come in).

In case you don't know the background, Don "The Chocker" Sherwood is the Republican congressman who was arrested for domestic abuse after attacking his mistress in a hotel room. Might make him a wee bit vulnerable with the family values crowd.

Carney is the perfect guy to run against the Choker, a family man and a true fighting Dem. And let's face it, if we don't win this seat this year, we're probably not going to win it again anytime soon.

by dantheman 2006-02-23 08:55PM | 0 recs
Another for Carney!

I definitely think that Carney deserves some more support. He has a really well run campaign, he's a great guy who is great on the issues (including our achilles heel- security), and he has a great chance of winning against Don "I strangle big government like it's a sassy mistress" Sherwood.

by Alex Urevick 2006-02-24 04:43AM | 0 recs
Ned Lamont

After all, he's the uncontested Democrat in the Democratic primary. The other guy is kind of a Republican.

by ElitistJohn 2006-02-23 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

I will second Tim Walz, MN-01.  I really feel that election will become competitive with enough funding.

by bogun 2006-02-23 05:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

Disclosure time:

I've been an informal, unpaid cheerleader for Eric Massa, NY - 29.

The bottom line is that all of the above mentioned candidates are worthy of support.  Most of us just complain.  Ian is really doing something & I'll support this effort even if his effort targets other deserving candidates besides Eric Massa, NY-29, who happens to be very deserving.

by howardpark 2006-02-23 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

Eric has also been great!

Carney and Massa have really shown themselves to be great leaders, and as it just so happens, their congressional districts are right next to each other.

by Alex Urevick 2006-02-24 04:44AM | 0 recs
If you want to support a Senate race

Jack Carter in Nevada would be a good one.  [Disclaimer: he's my Dad, but It's not like I'm being paid :)]

Right now, Dad is doing his best to raise money, but he needs more badly.  John Ensign is a total Bush hack (in 2004, he voted with the administration 100% of the time), and he's vulnerable.  His approval ratings are constantly hovering at about 50%, and Nevada is no fan of Bush (his approval rating is about 39%).

So far, the national Dems haven't paid much attention to the race, but I think my Dad could pull this off.

Oscar Goodman has made some noise about running in the primary, but those who know him best think he won't really do it (he enjoys being Mayor of Las Vegas too much).


by Sarah R Carter 2006-02-23 08:03PM | 0 recs
Re: If you want to support a Senate race

Will your grandfather lend a hand in the fundraising game?  I read an article that said that if President Carter held a major fundraiser for Jack in Las Vegas, that could easily net about $1 million.

by HellofaSandwich 2006-02-23 11:35PM | 0 recs
Re: If you want to support a Senate race

Yeah -- there are a few big fundraisers coming up, and my grandpa is a "special guest" at several of them.  We'll see how it goes.


(Sorry for the late reply.)

by Sarah R Carter 2006-02-25 07:44PM | 0 recs
Re: If you want to support a Senate race

That's okay.  Best of luck to your dad!  I think I'm going to add him to my Actblue page.

By the way, will your dad's website be updated and fleshed out anytime soon?  It's okay as a starter, but it'd be nice if there was more meat on it--isues, photos, blogs, campaign journals, etc.

by HellofaSandwich 2006-02-26 09:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

May also want to take a look a NV-3 or MN-6.

by descartes 2006-02-23 08:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

Eric Massa and Chris Carney are great recommendations and I heartily endorse those.  Both could be very competitive if they had more campaign funds.

The fact is, there are TONS of great Democrats would could potentially be very competitive.  Even in Nebraska, you've got a former Lt. Gov., Maxine Moul, running against a 1st-term congressman in the least-Republican district of NE.  Who knows what could happen there with enough cash.  (This is not a recommendation, just a musing.)

I'd also recommend Andrew Horne, an Iraq vet, in KY-03, another marginally Democratic district.  He has a primary opponent, but from what I hear, Horne is the one getting the most support.  This one could be competitive with some cash.

Joe Donnelly in IN-02 is challenging Chocola again; he's raised about $250k, but this one is a decent opportunity for a pick-up.

Mary Jo Kilroy or John Cranley (OH-15 and OH-01) are also strong challengers running in scandal-plagued Ohio, who have both raised less than $300k.

OH!  WV-02!  Mike Callaghan is running against Capito, but his fundraising needs a big boost--I think he's only raised $75k.  Capito has Abramoff ties (accordin to the AP) and she's in a bit of hot water over remarks to the press during the mining tragedy (remarks that gave false hope to the families).  This one could be good.

NC-08, Tim Dunn, a lawyer and Iraq vet, could have big crossover appeal.  He's raised $80k.

See?  Those are just a few.  There are too many to choose from!!

by HellofaSandwich 2006-02-23 11:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

All great recommendations!!!

by Alex Urevick 2006-02-24 04:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!

John Cranley's race vs. ultra-Republican Steve Chabot in Ohio's First is heating up.

Cranley's poll and fundraising numbers have increased significantly. The DCCC chariman has also called the race "ground zero".

More information about the John Cranley for Congress campaign developments are available on his website:

by alexwinter2006 2006-04-09 01:47PM | 0 recs
Chris Carney

I live in District 10 where Chris Carney is running against Don "I choked my mistress of five years" Sherwood.  
Sherwood has some real issues with "family values" and they are bound to come out this election.  He is  also a bush rubber stamp and has taken lots of money from Delay.  
This is a republican area, but I think this race can be won for a democrat and particularly Chris Carney.

You can go to his web page to check out his bio and positions on the issues.  He has a great resume and lots of experience.  Plus he comes across  very well when you meet him.  I have heard that there are many house parties scheduled.  So he is getting lots of local support.  This is not a candidacy about tilting at windmills.

Joe Klein of Time magazine interviewed him last weekend at one of his events, so there will be a piece in Time Magazine about him in the next few weeks which will give him a boost and some momentum.  

If you make Chris one of your candidates I think your support will be well worth it.  

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2006-02-24 04:48AM | 0 recs
Great Suggestions

I wanted to thank everybody who responded either here or in email ( to our query.  We are going to look at each suggestion and determine where our first support should go.

Please understand that while we might not choose someone's nominee for our first event right now, we plan on holding several events and supporting many candidates throughout the year -- so keep telling us about good Dem challengers.

And we still would love more nominations, so keep them coming... and check out our website to see what we are about at

Thanks again everyone.

Ian Fried

by Ian in DC 2006-02-24 06:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Great Suggestions

Thanks!  I hope you let us know who your first choices are!  You better!! ;)

by HellofaSandwich 2006-02-24 07:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Great Suggestions

I promise to post our choices on MyDD once we make them... probably by the middle of next week.

by Ian in DC 2006-02-24 09:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Challengers -- Help Us Choose!
NC-06 looks like a good one.  45% Republican, an 11 term, 76 yo incumbent that looks awful, like is on his last leg. This guy voted for term limits but now wants to be chairman of the judicial committee!!!
Trouble is, the opponent looks like Kenny Rogers.
by bubbleboy 2006-03-08 05:46PM | 0 recs


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