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[Charlie Brown joins us today in the comments to discuss his candidacy for Congress.  As always in Blue America threads, please stay on topic -- any off topic comments should be taken to the prior thread -- and please be polite.  Thank you, and please stop in the comments and give Charlie a big FDL welcome! -- CHS] 

John Doolittle is one of the crookedest politicians in California– and in this state that says a lot. He's also an extreme right wing loon with an abysmal voting record. After he barely beat Patricia Malberg, an unabashed pro-choice liberal to win the open seat in 1990, Doolittle has never been effectively challenged– until last year. In the last few campaigns he won the seat on the cheap– always under a million dollars– and with wide margins of over 60%. This year Blue America candidate, Charlie Brown held Doolittle to under 50% of the vote, gave him the scare of his political life and forced him to spend about 3 times what he spent in 2004– close to two and a half million dollars.

Charlie's campaign, a powerful grassroots effort, was his first run. I called him a few days ago and asked him to join us at Firedoglake to talk about the race and about his political future. I noticed that yesterday when Charlie alerted his mailing list about today's session he came tantalizingly close to declaring his 2008 candidacy for the seat he nearly won in November.

"Lasting change," he wrote, "requires dedication– it means staying on offense. I have spent much of the past few weeks reflecting on the ‘06 race, staying connected with supporters, and looking forward to the future… Many have asked if I'm planning to run again. In 2006, I learned how much money and manpower it takes to put together a winning campaign, and how having those resources in place as early as possible is crucial for anyone seeking to take on an entrenched and well-funded incumbent like Doolittle. That's why I've recently re-formed my campaign committee– to see if enough support exists to warrant another candidacy."

When I asked him what he would have done differently if he had it to do all over again, he said he would have started campaigning earlier.

"Sure I could have joined the NRA or given up my ACLU membership. It may have appealed to some people here but that's not who I am. If I can do one thing differently in the future it will be to have live debates. We tried but Doolittle refused — he did one and under very controlled circumstances. We need to stand up in front of the voters and debate the issues, defend our positions and explain them to the people here. That means a lot more than slick mailers and robo-calls."

And Charlie has certainly not stopped speaking out on the issues. He's doing volunteer work with a couple of veterans' groups and speaking whenever he can in the fourth CD. He sounded as passionate and engaged on the phone as ever and yesterday he write his supporters about Iraq.

"The re-packaged 'stay the course' escalation recently proposed by President Bush and supported by Doolittle does nothing to address the core political problems that are fueling sectarian violence. Having dedicated my life to defending this country, I know that putting more brave young Americans in the crosshairs of an increasingly bloody civil war is not a plan for victory."

I asked Charlie to put himself in the shoes of a freshman congressman and tell us what he would be doing about the war now. One thing he said was that he would have signed on as a cosponsor to Jack Murtha's re-deployment resolution (not one of the non-binding symbolic things). Only 9 freshmen have signed on as co-sponsors to either Murtha's or Woolsey's proposals, the first of which aiming to end escalation and the second of which aiming to end the war.

Charlie would like to be a cosponsor of the Murtha bill because he thinks Murtha's credibility and impeccable military credentials make it clear that he supports the troops, just not the way the Bush Regime is misusing them.

"This war is being fought without a plan. I support our troops on the ground– my son is still currently serving overseas– but this escalation is wrong."

Charlie refuses to accept the notion that CA-04 is a "red district." He knows better than anyone how close he came to evicting Doolittle.

"It's a red, white and blue district and Doolittle is learning not to take it for granted like he has in the past. But with him his attention is just on p.r… Like Bush he doesn't want to be confronted with facts. They don't bother with reports like the Baker Commission's or the 9/11 Commission's or the Auburn Dam Commission's. Doolittle has convinced himself that there are Iraqi WMDs stashed away in Syria. Even Bush and Cheney have given up on that one. Instead of learning about Global Warming and climate change, Doolittle claims global warming is a scare tactic and tries using a novel by Michael Creighton to prove his point. It's time for these people to start dealing with facts, not novels."

You may have noticed that we haven't done any Blue America fund drives since the election. We start today. And we start with Charlie. He's the first candidate added to the new Blue America '08 page. I see that Charlie Brown For Congress is off to a good start with $63,428 already in the bank (as opposed to Doolittle's $44,406).

Of course Doolittle can make up the difference with a couple of calls to lobbyists. Charlie's counting on us. Of all this weekend's donors, we'll pick 20 randomly and send a CD, The Essential Collection by Donovan, an English folk singer who was performing antiwar songs as a teenager during the Vietnam era.

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(Photo is courtesy of reader "Tony," who took a number of pictures for the Brown campaign.  Loved this shot of grassroots work for Charlie!)