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Friday, January 13, 2006

Band of Brothers: Evaluating Races

Posted by DavidNYC

This is an auspicious time for veterans: There are now close to forty running for the House as Dems this year, with more filing each week. For an organization like Band of Brothers - tasked with helping these candidates - the sheer numbers present an unusual challenge. Every office-seeker, every district, every campaign is different. What might be useful to one candidate may not be so for another; what might resonate in one part of the country may be irrelevant in another.

Our mission, therefore, is to evaluate each race so that we can deploy our resources most efficiently. To that end, we're expanding and refining our list of questions that we ask of every candidate, opponent and district. We're talking questions ranging from the simple ("Has the candidate ever run for office before?") to the wonky (eg, nitty-gritty demographic data). This allows us to create a detailed dossier on each race so that we can maximize the effectiveness of our involvement, wherever we are asked to step in.

However, we don't purport to have all the answers - or in this case, rather, all the questions. So Band of Brothers is conducting a survey to see what kinds of questions you would ask regarding all these races. For now, we aren't looking to see which candidates are most popular, or which issues are most important. Rather, we want to hear what you would want to know about each and every Band of Brothers candidate, their likely Republican opponents, and the districts they are running in.

If you'd like to help us with this project, please click here. That link will take you to a simple web form where you can submit questions. (Just bear in mind that we are looking for questions that we'd ask about every race, not any specific race.) Thanks for your help!

Posted at 02:22 PM in 2006 Elections - House, Band of Brothers | Technorati

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It's up to 41! And of course you've got Paul Hackett running for the Senate here in Ohio (and he is going to win, baby, win!). Anyone know of there are any other declared Senate candidates out there?

Posted by: Ansatasia P [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2006 03:11 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I believe Ted Kennedy was in the army for a few years.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2006 04:18 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment


I don't understand something about the purpose of Band of Brothers. Your mission statement suggests you are supporting candidates who are vets of the current conflict in Iraq (and perhaps Afghanistan) who will deploy a populist message to criticize excessive corporate influence, etc. However, your actions suggest that you are happy to help (in fact tasked with helping) any Democratic veteran who is running for Congress. Can you explain this discrepancy? You may be publicizing the candidacy of Democratic veterans whose view on Iraq and corporate influence run counter to the purported mission of Band of Brothers. And this confuses me.

Posted by: Matt Lockshin [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2006 08:47 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Here's just a thought I had. Since many of the candidates have never done this before, and are running in Republican districts (unlikely to get much DCCC support), why not have the Band of Brothers sponsor a Wellstone candidate training for all veteran candidates in DC?

Nearly all could probably use the help in writing a campaign plan, targeting, media training, fieldwork etc. Gives you (Band of Brothers) a chance to meet all of them in person, and gives them a chance to meet each other and share ideas. Plus there'd be a good opportunity at earned media with all the vets together in the same place at the same time. And could introduce various DC power brokers, fundraisers etc. to the whole crew at the same time too. I bet the DNC and the DCCC would consider getting onboard too.

If it really goes well, you could even do another one later in the campaign season, for state & local veteran candidates too.

Posted by: lpackard [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2006 10:13 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I thought it was an advantage, not a disadvantage, that Band of Brothers was willing to work with Democrats who are veterans of any war, not just Iraq. On their "values" page, they make it clear what progressive values they expect from their candidates. I have to admit I haven't researched every single person they list. Are there some that clearly go against the values? In that case, that would be confusing.

Posted by: nobodyforpresident [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2006 01:12 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Nobody for Pres,

I have been labelled a supporter of the primary opponent of Steve Filson in CA-11, although that's not how I self-identify. But Steve Filson is a protege of Ellen Tauscher and on his website says, "To me, Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher represents the best in what a Member of Congress should be: moderate, practical and, above all, concerned with representing the needs of her constituents before the United States Congress."

Now given that Tauscher is closely aligned with corporate interests and given that she's been one of the vocal opponents of the Murtha plan on Iraq, and (importantly) given that Filson has not done very much to flesh out his own stance on the issues, I really wonder what evidence there is that he will highlight the unpopularity of Iraq and use a populist economic message to critique the excessive influence of corporations.

Okay, well the Band of Brothers just (since I wrote my first comment at least) changed their website, including their mission statement. So now their mission statement does not use any of the language I first questioned with regard to Filson.

David, what's up with that?

Posted by: Matt Lockshin [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2006 02:24 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

For the record, here is the first version that went up (at least as it was recorded here):

Band of Brothers is an organization founded to support a group of veterans who are running for Congress in 2006.

We will highlight the unpopularity of the war in Iraq while turning a populist critique of excessive corporate influence into a broader statement about the contrast between special interests and the real interest of the nation.

After World War II, John F. Kennedy and other veterans successfully distinguished themselves from the ?New Deal Democrats? of the preceding era. This ?New JFK Democrat? model, as discussed in Stan Greenberg?s book The Two Americas, is the winning formula for Band of Brothers 2006.

Our PAC is in a unique position to reach out to voters. Our candidates are unimpeachable in their positions and opinions on the war as compared to those of either major political party. Incumbent Republicans and Democrats are, in many ways, limited because of their votes for the war, the split over its funding, and varying degrees of opinions that seem, at times, unsettled. But our candidates have been there, seen the tremendous cost, and know we cannot wait.

We will raise ten million dollars to build awareness with a focus on National Defense, Iraq, and saving our all-volunteer military. Our campaign will air national media spots designed to educate viewers on these problems while encouraging them to contact us to learn more about the solutions our organization proposes to solve these complex problems. We will run responsible issue based campaigns unlike the reckless and divisive Swift-Boat Veterans for ?Truth? in the 2004 cycle.

Band of Brothers will recruit, train, and elect a new generation of Progressive Veterans that will reclaim middle class suburban and rural voters lost in recent cycles.

Early support is critical to the success of this program. The holidays provide the perfect opportunity to begin branding these candidates and it also allows us to get a jump on the Republican effort. Defining the battlefield in 2006 will depend upon it.

Posted by: Matt Lockshin [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2006 02:36 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Matt: As with almost any new organization, our mission statement was (and to a certain extent, always is) a work in progress. What you see now is a better reflection of BoB's approach. As I've said all along, our aim is to support all Dem veterans, even though that group certainly won't agree on every issue.

One place I would say we'd draw the line would be at Fox News Democrats - you know, the Joe Liebermans who prefer to spend their time attacking other Democrats. If nothing else, veterans and servicemembers understand the importance of being team players.

And I suppose if we ran into a strange situation where someone was running as a Dem but really clearly was a phony (ala Zell Miller), then we might have a problem there, too. But hopefully both of these possibilities are unlikely to come about.

P.S. BoB supports all veterans, not just Iraq/Afghanistan vets.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2006 06:29 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

David, I appreciate the response. I would like to say that everything is clear now, but I'm still a bit confused.

What rationale is there for supporting Democratic candidates simply because they are veterans? You mentioned that being a vet does not make one a good campaigner. True. But the deeper point is that being a vet does not make one qualified to be in Congress.

Are you so focused on the perceived strategic advantage of running Democratic veterans that you have lost sight of the fact that maybe these guys aren't the most qualified candidates in terms of who they are and what they believe? Forget strategy, forget electability, you are operating as if in principle a Duckworth is always better than a Cegelis. And I frankly find that a bit scary.

Furthermore, I am saddened that the robust notion of a Fighting Dem as a Democrat who is unafraid to stand up for Democratic principles has been levelled down so that now some take it to mean any Democratic veteran.

Posted by: Matt Lockshin [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2006 07:35 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

As I noted in my original post about the Band of Brothers, the idea is not just to support individual candidates, but to support veterans in general running for office. This is in part to benefit from "strength in numbers" (good luck swift boating 40 different men & women), and also to help provide a platform for veterans to speak in one voice on issues about which there is widespread if not universal agreement (more body armor, not slashing veterans' benefits, etc.). The latter is aspirationally aimed at developing a Veterans Caucus in Congress.

I would never, ever endorse the notion that somehow being a veteran makes you always better than another candidate. (If that were the case, I'd have supported Clark or Kerry over Dean.) And indeed, there may come a point where we have to make decisions like that - what do we do if there's a clearly better non-veteran candidate running in a primary against a veteran?

We haven't yet reached that point (in part because, as I say, we're still revving up). Also, many veterans running for office are doing so in longshot districts where there aren't any other Dems running, so it's not a problem in most places. But yes, we'll probably have at least one or two hard decisions to make at some point - I don't deny that.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2006 10:33 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment