(Howie Klein of Down With Tyranny eats, sleeps and breathes local races. He’s going to be doing a regular Saturday morning column on this very important topic so please welcome him.)
Most pundits agree with the DCCC that the Democrats’ best shot for taking control of the House is in the Northeast and that the Pennsylvania race most likely to yield a change-over is the object of the Lois Murphy/Jim Gerlach rematch (PA-06). And if the other Murphy (Patrick) wins his primary next week against maybe/maybe not-Democrat Andy Warren– as is likely– the contest against Republican rubber-stamp incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick instantly becomes another front burner (PA-08).
However, there’s another Philly area district that might seem less obvious, but is just as promising. PA-07 is a moderate suburban district mostly south and west of Philadelphia down to the border with Delaware. It includes King of Prussia, Radnor, Drexel Hill and Springfield and has been represented for 2 full decades by Republican incumbent, Curt Weldon, whose positions on most issues are far to the right of his constituents’ and whose shady connections to the pervasive Republican Culture of Corruption in DC are not what people in southeast Pennsylvania expect from their representative.
On top of that, Weldon is inextricably tied to right-wing nut case and anti-Semitic religionist cult psycho "Rev." Sun Myong Moon. This is a district outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, not Philadelphia, Mississippi. The district voted 51%/47% for Gore in 2000 and 53% for Kerry in 2004. It’s a mainstream district with a whacko, rubber-stamp wing-nut incumbent whose time has passed. "Rubber-stamp wing nut" and every appearance of being very, very corrupt.
I don’t especially like dragging corrupt congressmen’s families into their shame– not even the family’s of far right loons like Weldon-. But, perhaps in desperation Weldon himself crossed the line of propriety last month, attempting to turn his popular and surging Democratic opponent’s family tragedy into a mini-Terri Schiavo affair. It was the political miscalculation of Weldon’s life– one that will very likely cost him his House seat.
In a backfired bid to de-rail the steamroller effect of Admiral Joe Sestak’s announcement that he will run for Congress, Weldon savagely attacked his family over the medical treatment they had chosen for their 5 year old daughter. Reaction in the district: revulsion at Weldon’s crass, callus, partisan viciousness.
If you want to know what kind of a degenerate Sestak is running against, please read the story in The Hill and remember back about why the whole nation was revolted by right-wing interference in the medical decisions DeLay, Bush, Frist, Santorum and other extremists tried making for Terri Schiavo. But it turns out Weldon has a daughter too — except she’s a 29 year old Republican
bribe-collecting bag-lady lobbyist, who stands accused of being knee-deep in corruption herself (a family business?) not unlike similar family affairs operated by Republicrooks like Tom DeLay, John Doolittle, Rick Santorum and Bill Frist, all of whom have also used a combination of congressional power and family members to enrich themselves… gigantically.
When Karen Weldon started getting some mighty high-flying foreign clients, she had exactly zero experience as a lobbyist. But she had a powerful, avaricious, gluttonous and greed-obsessed daddy.
"Yet," says the L.A. Times, "her tiny firm was selected last year for a plum $240,000 contract to promote the good works of a wealthy Serbian family that had been linked to accused war criminal Slobodan Milosevic." Despite a lack of professional credentials, she had one notable asset — her father, U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), who is a leading voice in Washington on former Eastern Bloc affairs. She got the contract after he championed the efforts of two family members, Dragomir and Bogoljub Karic, to win U.S. visas from the State Department, which so far has refused them entry.
Intelligence officials warned Weldon that the brothers were too close to Milosevic, who is accused of leading the "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslav federation. That this is a criminal family — criminal in terms of war crimes and in terms of Mafia tactics — doesn’t stop Weldon any more than a river of mud in the farm yard keeps a hog away from the feeding trough. He’s salivating over the Karics vast empire of banking and telecommunications and he keeps hassling the State Department to let them into the U.S. And it hasn’t stopped with the Serbs. Weldon has also been trying to get special consideration for two shady Russian clients of his daughter’s– clients who have put nearly a million dollars into the Weldon family budget this year.
Weldon’s voracious and insatiable appetite has become something of an issue in the 7th CD. Over the past eight years, Weldon has spent about $80,000 of campaign treasury funds — donated money that congressional ethics rules say should be used for “bona fide campaign or political purposes”— on restaurant meals. His dining choices range from high-end establishments like The Monocle, a Capitol Hill restaurant… to the humble Cracker Barrel. And whether his meals are in expensive eateries or cheap ones, he seems to have forgotten the sin of gluttony is very easy to detect.
The real issue, though, is that this slob of a congressman has rubber-stamped every slimy and catastrophic Bush/DeLay proposal while he feathered his own nest and increased his own girth. Plenty of time to criticize Admiral Sestak’s medical choices for his 5 year old critically-ill daughter. But when it comes to making health care decisions for the citzens of Delaware County, Weldon is just another selfish, corporate greedball, selling out his constituents’ interests again and again and again. The issue isn’t about what hospital the Sestaks have chosen to save their daughter’s life. It is why countless people in southeast Pennsylvania have no health insurance at all and inadequate, over-priced health care, much of it due to Curt Weldon’s and his Republican colleagues’ disgraceful rubber-stamp voting records.
With good reason, Democrats have rallied around Joe SestakK Street, where he’ll find himself a job as a lobbyist instead of someone doing favors for them. Admiral Sestak retired from the Navy a couple months ago after 31 years in the military where he rose to Deputy Chief of Naval Operations. He is also a former high-ranking National Security Council staff member. He earned a Doctorate in Political Economy and Government from Harvard and he has been an outspoken opponent of Bush’s war and occupation of Iraq ("a tragic misadventure").
Lately moderate Democrats in neighboring areas of New Jersey and Virginia have been very successful against extreme right-wing Republicans in moderate suburban areas just like the 7th CD. Sestak is the kind of moderate who is a natural fit for Delaware County. He’s not a big fan of abortion but, like most Americans he supports Roe v Wade and a woman’s right to make her own medical decision. His experience in the Navy– he commanded a carrier group and estimates that as many as 15% of his sailors were gay and lesbian ("And I wanted every one them")– has made him a firm believer in equality under the law for gays and lesbians (which translates to civil unions though not legalized marriage). These are more… moderate views than my own. But they’re more than just "better than Weldon." These are pretty progressive for the district Sestak is seeking to represent. He seems like a real leader, a knowledgeable and serious-minded guy with the right instincts, someone who will be able to make a good contribution to helping dig us out of the mess Bush and his rubber-stamp Republicans have left this country in.
If you’d like to see Curt Weldon waving bye-bye in November, please pay a visit to Joe Sestak’s ACT BLUE Page and do what you can. Keep in mind that even $10 or $20 is a tremendous help when enough people get together to combat the influence of the rich, powerful and corrupt as the candidate who can send Weldon– probably to