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[Tony Trupiano joins us in the comments to chat about his candidacy for the MI-11.  Please stop by and give him a warm FDL welcome.  As always, please stay on topic in this Blue America thread -- take any off-topic discussion to the prior thread -- and, please, be polite to our guest.  Welcome, Tony -- any friend of Amato's is a friend here at FDL.  -- CHS]

If you go to Tony Trupiano’s web site, the first thing you’ll see is a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, "We must become the change we want to see." I don’t think Tony’s making a play for the small Indian-American population of Michigan’s 11th congressional district.

Tony has had a devoted following in Michigan because of his popular radio talk show where he has given voice to the aspirations and frustrations of "regular Joe and Jane" middle-class Americans. He has a well-deserved reputation for standing up for the dignity of America’s working men and women and never kissing ass to the corporate overseers. If you ask fans of Tony’s radio show why they like him, the response you are likely to get is that he’s a guy not afraid to speak Truth to Power.

It seems like Tony’s been running for this seat for a long time — longer than any of our other first-time candidates. I asked him why. He spoke, passionately, from his heart, for an hour.

"There’s so much pain… so many people who are angry and have no idea what to do about it. I felt I wasn’t doing enough with my work on the radio. I wanted to do more to help my community… to help my country. I know how to lead and I know we need profound and clear change in this country."

Last summer when he made his decision, he says two people were pushing him to do it: his wife and our own John Amato from Crooks and Liars.

I asked Tony what is the first thing he would do if he gets to Congress. He didn’t hesitate for a moment. He went right to the roots of political evil.

"The mother’s milk of politics is money and there’s something very sick about the way we raise money for campaigns. I want to sign on as a co-sponsor of John Tierney’s clean money/clean elections campaign finance reform bill."

Tony has identified most of the pressing problems that make Americans feel uneasy — to put it in the most mild of terms — about the direction our country is heading. He asks the residents of the suburbs west of Detroit (parts of Wayne and Oakland counties) to take a look at his positions and compare them to the malarky his opponent has rubber stamped since drawing his own district boundaries and winning the seat in 2002.

I almost forgot to mention his opponent, probably because he’s such a total nonentity, just a sure vote for Bush on every heinous proposal he and DeLay pushed down the legislative turnpike, from No Child Left Behind to Medicare Part D to the War in Iraq, all things where Tony’s positions stand in stark contrast to Bush’s and Thaddeus McCotter’s.

That’s the clown’s name, a weak, mama’s boy, namby-pamby who a smart store owner wouldn’t trust to leave by himself in a shop. McCotter, like so many Republicans in Congress, took a great deal of money from Ney, Cunningham and DeLay in return for his complacency on all their wheelings and dealings, but McCotter is one of the few crooked Republicans who have refused to return that money after each of these close colleagues of his was indicted, one being already in federal prison and the other two headed that way.

But worse than the dirty money from Republicrooks in Congress, is all the money McCotter takes from Big Business as a quid pro quo for supporting the corporate agenda no matter how badly it hurts his constituents. Big Pharma, for example, gave McCotter over $15,000 in legalized bribes and McCotter, as one of DeLay’s assistant whips, helped make sure that the Big Pharma-written Prescription Drug Bill — donut hole and al l– was passed. Billions in profits for Big Pharma, millions in comapaign contributions and bribes to Republicans like McCotter — and for the elderly and sick in MI-11? No re-importantion of drugs from Canada — an even bigger deal in the Detroit area than in most of the country — and no bulk buying of drugs for the needy; oh, and then there are the annual increases in premiums and deductibles and a growing gap in coverage for the prescription drugs they buy.

When the voters in MI-11 look at McCotter’s record that’s what they see — on every single issue. A similar series of legalized bribes from Big Oil and a similar record of supporting their predatory legislative agenda that has dircetly led to billions of dollars in rip-offs of ordinary Americans. That’s been the GOP economic policy: tax cuts for the wealthy, gigantic price increases — which even Bush admits is a tax increase — for the middle class.

You won’t find a clearer difference between candidates anywhere than between McCotter and Tony. But, can he win?

In 2004 Bush won the district with 53% of the vote. His popularity in the 11th CD has fallen drastically to just over 30%.

But Tony isn’t the kind of man to sit back and wait for a tidal wave of revulsion against Republicans to sweep him into office. He’s far too street smart for that. Tony’s grassroots field operation is the envy of every politician in Michigan.

His campaign may not have a lot of money for advertising and slick fliers, but when it comes to the nuts and bolts, on the ground, precint-by-precint organization it takes to get out the vote and win elections, Tony is more than prepared. I asked an old friend of mine at the AFL-CIO, which has enthusiastically endorsed Tony’s campaign, to explain how Tony could win in the 11th, with McCotter rolling in corporate cash.

"This is no exaggeration," he began. "Trupiano has the strongest and most potent field operation of any district in the state of Michigan. Right now he has the wind at his back. He has a very good chance to take this race."

Tony’s the newest addition to our Blue America ActBlue Page. When I asked him what CD I should give away to donors, he got almost as passionate as when I asked him about getting out of Iraq or about creating new employment opportinuites. "Music is the tonic of my soul. I would be lost without music," he explained… and then went on to talk about all the musical greats he enjoys listening to, from James Taylor to hip hop, classic rock and classical.

Well, since Canada is so close to his district and since a good friend our ours, Liberal Oasis founder Bill Scher, just happens to have an amazing new book out called Wait! Don’t Move to Canada!, I decided that this week we’ll be giving away autographed copies of Bill’s books instead of CDs. The first dozen contributors to Tony’s campaign on our ActBlue Page will get a signed book. (If you don’t want a book, but still want to make a contribution to your nation’s well-being, just add a penny to your donation.)