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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Our Band of Brothers

Posted by DavidNYC

Since Paul Hackett's dazzling run in OH-02 over the summer, there's been a lot of talk about "Fighting Dems" - Democratic veterans of the armed forces running for office. (See here, here, and here for just a sampler.) To be sure, savvy observers - like the readers of this site - know that a resume burnished even with the sterling credential of military service is no silver bullet. But anyone with good political horse sense also knows that these veterans are a welcome addition to the nationwide Democratic team, for a number of reasons:

• Veterans' views on matters of war and national security are often accorded greater respect in the public sphere (whether fairly or unfairly). These issues are going to matter a whole hell of a lot in 2006, and we need candidates willing to engage - not avoid - this debate.

• The media typically adores veterans, especially the straight-talking kind. (Think Hackett & McCain.) Moreover, our lazy media has bought into the GOP's smear of the Dems as "weak on security" wholesale. It doesn't matter how sophisticated our think-tank-produced plans on foreign policy are - the media just doesn't care. But if you've worn a dogtag around your neck or have had ribbons pinned to your chest - now that is something the media can understand.

• The American people love our armed forces. The military always ranks at the very top when pollsters ask people how much confidence they have in various public institutions.

• Strength in numbers: It's a lot easier to Swift Boat a lone vet in isolation. While I put nothing past today's GOP, it's much harder to slander your opponents when you're talking about dozens and dozens of men and women across the country. And these guys, I can assure you, will fight back when attacked.

While I am sure we could think of many more positives that veterans bring to the campaign trail, it is that last point in particular which brings me to the main purpose of this post. I'm thrilled to let you all know that I'll be joining the board of a new PAC designed specifically to help veterans get elected as Dems. It's called Band of Brothers and already has some serious backing from major guys like Stan Greenberg, a top Democratic pollster and one-time advisor to Bill Clinton.

Band of Brothers will help all Dem veterans running for the House this cycle. While being a vet carries major positives, as I've counselled in the past, we've got to be realistic. Many if not most of these candidates have never held or run for office before. Few have any name recognition to speak of, or any pre-existing political organizations to rely on. And the DCCC can only do so much. But that's where Band of Brothers comes in.

As I say, it's about strength in numbers. BoB will provide not just money but also expertise and training. The goal is not only to elect individual candidates, but also to spark the development of a genuine Veterans Caucus in Congress - one which can speak forcefully on matters of defense while also working to strengthen our military and protect the often trampled-upon rights of veterans.

One exciting thing is that several big-name donors have offered to match early contributions (up to somewhere in the five figures, I am told). I won't be doing any kind of fundraising push right now, but if you're interested in giving, every dollar you contribute will automatically be doubled. That's some serious bang for the buck, and so I'm adding BoB to the Swing State Project's ActBlue page.

Band of Brothers will "officially" launch early next month, but you can preview the website and (constantly growing) candidate list right now. If you know of a Dem veteran running for the House who ought to be on that list but isn't, odds are they will be added very soon - but you can also send an e-mail, too.

I'm looking very forward to this project, and I'll be writing more about it going forward. And as always, if you have any thoughts, please post `em in the comments.

Posted at 10:00 AM in 2006 Elections - House, Band of Brothers | Technorati

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» Band of Brothers PAC from Ohio 2nd
Swing State Project’s DavidNYC: I’m thrilled to let you all know that I’ll be joining the board of a new PAC designed specifically to help veterans get elected as Dems. It’s called Band of Brothers and already has some serious ... [Read More]

Tracked on December 28, 2005 10:22 AM

» A Band of Brothers from The Bay Area Is Talking
No, that's not a group of African-American musicians... David at the Swing State Project is part of a new effort called "Band of Brothers" designed to encourage veterans, particularly Iraq war veterans, to run for Congress as Democrats. Band of... [Read More]

Tracked on December 28, 2005 04:37 PM

» A new Band of Brothers - Mission 2006 from Quietly Making Noise
I want to thank servant for pointing me towards the DKos post on Democrat veterans running for office. We now have a new “Band of Brothers” running for House seats this fall. Thirty six of them. I have a few observations as to why this is h... [Read More]

Tracked on December 29, 2005 02:57 PM


Would the BoB include 'sisters'? I'm thinking of Tammy Duckworth, running as the Dem candidate for the seat being vacated by Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill.

Posted by: desi [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2005 01:38 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Funny how our brothers and sisters on the right try to tell us that the military is rock-solid behind George W. Bush and the Republican Party, yet it seems that when soldiers return home from combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, they can't seem to file for Congressional candidacy in the Democratic Party fast enough.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2005 02:12 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Yep, absolutely - BoB aims to help all veterans running for office, male or female, as long as they are a) running as Dems and b) (for now) running for the House. Part b might get expanded in the future.

Mark: Indeed. What I find interesting is that it's always been the officer corps that tilts heavily Republican, yet all of these colonels and captains are running on our side. I think this is going to be a very intriguing storyline for the 2006 elections.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2005 02:58 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

BTW, I should add that I'm not yet privvy to how decisions about how resources will be divvied up. I imagine it will depend in large part on need and desire. That is, someone who looks set to get considerable backing from the DCCC may be less in need of BoB funds and expertise than someone who is not on the D-Trip's radar. It's also possible that a particular candidate might not accept PAC money, say, and will thus ask us not to get involved.

So for now, I can't say who specifically will get our assistance and how much of it they'll get. But BoB plans to cast a wide and welcoming net to the greatest extent we are able.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2005 03:04 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Wow, David! This is exciting news! You should diary this over at Dailykos.

Posted by: HellofaSandwich [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2005 03:21 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Most welcome news indeed! I have spent my entire life, with the expeption of nine days between my marriage and my husband returning to active duty as a military dependant.

My husband is one of the officers who left the military after 20, actually resigning his commission on the day Bush-43 was innaugurated in 2001.

The Honor Code is being undermined by these idiots in Washington, and a code of honor is all that stands between any standing military and tyranny over the populace. Unfortunately, we are seeing careers cut short and retirements taken at 20 with bronze clusters instead of at 30 with silver birds. Losing seasoned officers is eroding the Honor Code even faster than the lies of the Bush Cabal.

Not to sound too paranoid, but these veterans being elected and promptly taking seats on the Armed Services committee is all that stands between us and a potential bloodletting.

Count me in, in any way I can help.

Posted by: Global Citizen [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2005 03:47 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I hope the PAC will remember the original Band of Brothers, the four Bolanos brothers who served in Viet Nam at the same time, the only four brothers to do so. Rick Bolanos files today for the TX-23 race against Henry Bonilla. I did a diary on him at dailykos - http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/12/28/104616/30

Posted by: George [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2005 12:30 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Believe me I believe it is noble to run War Heroes for office, but we must be realistic also. This strategy did not help heroes Wesley Clark, McGovern etc... A good candidate needs to be a good orator and have quality positions on the issues. you cannot just throw out Tammy Duckworth with her medals in a solid GOP district and hope to win. Paul Hackett was a good candidate who still lost because he has to take a position.

Posted by: davis [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2005 05:54 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Davis: Absolutely right. Being a veteran doesn't automatically make anyone a good candidate. I think it's a bonus it a lot of ways, but there are so many factors which go into making a good candidate. Which is precisely why BoB exists: To help make veteran candidates better. We're not just going to throw cash at veterans who happen to be running for office - we're going to provide training, message coordination, campaign expertise, etc., wherever it's warranted and wanted.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2005 11:47 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment


Al Weed, VA-05. Hasn't won the primary yet, but whoever does will face Virgil no-Goode (if I recall, he was the number 1 beneficiary of MZM's campaign contributions in the past decade) in a 60-40 red district.

He ran in 2004, he has excellent name recognition, and his resume has a certain eclectic excellence about it that reminds me of stories I'd hear about Thomas Jefferson on school field trips to Monticello. He was successfully swiftboated in the last election, but the BoB could kickstart his rebranding. On top of that, in the middle of the 5th you'll find the U of Va (18,000 potential student volunteers) and the city of Charlottesville (80% Democrat, most book stores and restaurants per capita in the country: potential grassroots army).

Goode sucks to your asmar, so I'd really like to see a good challenge this year.

Posted by: msnook [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 29, 2005 04:12 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

desi, I had the same question. Couldn't they have picked a more inclusive name? It's not a fatal flaw, but the gender exclusion in the name certainly is a turnoff to me.

Posted by: yellownumber5 [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 30, 2005 05:34 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Yellow: While "Band of Brothers" does have a catchy ring to it, I agree that the name is potentially not as inclusive as it ought to be. (And yes, the group indeed recognizes veterans like Duckworth - just fyi, though, we are still updating our candidates page.) Do you have any suggestions for a good alternative? While I think "Fighting Dems" is a useful catchphrase, I don't think it would be a good PAC name.

I would not expect the name to change, but you never know. In any event, I hope the turnoff is not so great that you can't look past it. Name aside, we will support all veterans, regardless of gender, with equal vigor.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 30, 2005 06:54 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Good to see all the excitement over the Band of Brothers. Eric Massa coined the name in a post on dKos and it has caught on. I put it on my website a while back and got some flack on the male exclusiveness and some who thought it is actually genderless. So I regestered fighting-dems as the name with more name recognition.


Both the subdomain of my site and my new site are "in progress". www.fighting-dems.com with its associated blog with many candidates having diaries and others still signing up will launch next Monday the 2nd.

I have forwarded my list and updated it with the posts here. I think this whole concept will snowball and coordination among groups pushing it should be the key. I have a page on links of those supporting the Dem vets and will redo it to put DoD front and center and fall in behind this high profile effort.

Thanks to all who participate. I am a WesPAC (Gen. Clark) grassroots volunteer and help with others to coordinate efforts in the blogosphere for Eric Massa. I also have three pages up on Eric.


WesPAC in early January will be putting up pages for endorced candidates as well, so be on the lookout. In the meantime, check out Wes's blog (he live blogs there at times; Eric has as well).


And check in on the Clark blog as well.


CCN (the Clark Community Network) has remained involved and active from the primaries into supporting kerry for the GE and now behind the push to take back Congress in 06. It has had a face lift recently and is expecting a final makeover early January to a more kos-like format with all registered folks having their own blogs.

Wes strongly supported Hackett for Congress, supported Tim Kaine helping him win the VA governorship and is now preparing to endorse a number of others. Stay tuned.

All for now. I am the son of a career army officer, served in the USAF (Korean war vet ribbon, but in Libya and Austin, Texas), and was a GS-ll professor teaching foreign officers English to prepare them for Command and Staff College and Squadron Officer School training at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. I live in the mountains of central Taiwan which limits my ability to help out to Internet.

Posted by: Noel Schutz [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2005 03:49 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I would highly recommend 'Toastmasters' for any veteran running for public office. It can make you sound and look like a true professional.

Posted by: dandodd [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 8, 2006 05:35 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment