David Sirota knows a few things about power, money, and politics. A former Capitol Hill staffer, campaign strategist, and author of Hostile Takeover, he's written extensively on progressive economic populism.
In the aftermath of the 2004 election, he famously defined the "Democratic Da Vinci Code" - seven keys to political success. Even back then, he identifed Peter DeFazio as a key champion:
The same message is working in conservative swaths of Oregon, where Democratic Representative Peter DeFazio keeps getting re-elected in a Bush district. For DeFazio, the focus is unfair trade deals and taxpayer giveaways to the wealthy. When Republicans promote plans to “save” Social Security, DeFazio counters not by agreeing with privatization but with his plan to force the wealthy to start paying more into the system.
Yesterday, Sirota told us why he thinks Peter DeFazio can win Oregon's US Senate seat in 2008 - and it's not about money or mechanics. Rather, it's his focus on economic progressive populism:
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D) is one of the leaders of the People Party in its fight against the Money Party in Washington, D.C., and it's encouraging to hear he is considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2008. Having worked with DeFazio when I worked in the U.S. House, I can tell you that this guy is a no-nonsense populist who, if he ran, would instantly become an even bigger Democratic Party star than he already is.
What is particularly important about DeFazio is his profile, and what it says about the state of politics today. DeFazio is one of the strongest progressive populists in Congress, building up a profile and voting record on working-people issues that is the antithesis of that prescribed by the likes of the Democratic Leadership Council.
Of course, despite Chuck Schumer's leading role in the Sirota-defined "Money Party", he understands the power of Peter's populist cred:
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, headed by Money Party front-man Chuck Schumer, is aggressively courting DeFazio to run, going as far as polling the race for him to convince him to get in. By courting him so intensely, the DSCC is acknowledging that they believe the best Democratic candidate to win Oregon - one of the closest swing states in the country - is not to run a Harold Ford-ish DLC automaton, but to run a progressive populist.
And of course, the proof in the pudding came through in 2006:
It's not a coincidence that many of the Senate candidates who won in 2006 came from states or districts considered "swing" and that the one senate candidate who lost was the DLC's Harold Ford. From Montana's Jon Tester to Virginia's Jim Webb even to Vermont's Bernie Sanders (Vermont's at-large House contest was considered very closely contested between Republicans and Democrats), populist politics is the winning model in the toughest places to win.
Read the rest. Discuss.