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 (You can open a window to the vlogging session with Howie and John by clicking here.)

In last year's congressional races there was no candidate who Blue America contributors were more excited about than Illinois Fighting Dem John Laesch. Over a thousand of our donors contributed over $20,000 to his longshot campaign against the powerful and entrenched Republican Speaker of the House. Hastert is no longer Speaker; no longer quite so entrenched or powerful and IL-14 isn't quite as red as it was in 2006. To a great extent, we have a savvy, tenatious and energetic carpenter, the son of missionaries, to thank for that. I'd like to urge you to read the transcript of the July, 2006 first visit John paid to Firedoglake in preparation to today's session. (In fact, if you have the time, please also take a look at John's post-election visit at FDL too.)

We're going to try something different today. Siun and myself are in Chicago with a robust group of Illinois bloggers and activists in order to sit down face to face and talk with John. Siun will be live blogging it and I'll be trying to lead a vlogging session. To watch our live vlog, go to Down with Tyranny and just hit the lifeguard station on the right (our world headquarters) and you'll see the portal to the vlogging session. That'll allow you to watch a real time video and audio broadcast from the Chicago Laesch event. And, of course, you can participate by typing your questions in to Siun right here at Firedoglake. She'll pass the questions on to John and I and you'll experience everything short of our visit to the Green Zebra.

We'll ask Johh how he would have been more effective than other Democratic congressmen in opposing Bush's war agenda and how he would have voted on other issues that came before Congress. And if you like what you hear, I want to ask you to join me in helping John mount another vigorous campaign in IL-14, where his success in showing that Democrats can make inroads in the area has drawn the attention of the corporate, anti-grassroots political machine of Rahm Emanuel who will be surreptitiously backing another candidate the way he disastrously ruined progressives' attempts to win an Illinois seat for Christine Cegelis last year by spending millions and millions of dollars on his own puppet candidate who sabotaged Cegelis and then, at huge cost, failed to win the general election. Emanuel, who helped engineer enough Democratic support in Congress so the Republicans could pass Bush's occupation budget, might be hard to defeat in his ward-politics district in Daley's Chicago. But in grassroots-oriented IL-14, Emanuel can be stopped from accruing more power. You can contribute to John's campaign here on our Blue America page.

Last year we placed hundreds of radio spots in IL-14 and our creative team– hey Tommy!!!– is working on something even better for 2008. So after you donate to John's campaign directly, also consider a dollar or two for our Blue America PAC on the same page. Enjoy the clip– and join us for our vlog session (3pm Chicago time, 4pm EST and 1pm PT).