porter.jpg[Please be polite and stay on topic -- any off-topic conversations should be taken to the prior thread.  With that, please help give a big FDL welcome to Steven Porter.  -- CHS]

If you’ve been a Blue America regular you probably recall our 2006 candidate for Congress in northwest Pennsylvania, Dr. Steven Porter. He ran a great race against rubbery rubber stamp Republican Phil English, holding English to 54% of the vote, drawing over 80,000 votes for himself and all with no help whatsoever from the Inside the Beltway Democratic Establishment which viewed him as too grassroots, too anti-war and too independent.

One thing was sure: Steve Porter was never going to be a Rahm Emanuel type candidate or congressman. He never stopped talking about taking legal bribes out of the electoral system, not exactly a message Emanuel or Steny Hoyer wants Democrats to talk seriously about. Blue America embraced him with gusto and 594 of us donated $5,630 to his campaign– as well as a song and two videos.

You might want to go back and check Steve’s original session with us at Firedoglake as well as a followup he did with us in January.

A few months ago I was saddened to get a call from Steve telling me he had decided not to run again. He had good news however; he wanted to introduce me to a local Democratic councilman, Kyle Foust, who would be opposing English. He asked me to speak with Foust on the phone. I did– and wasn’t impressed.

If I was expecting someone as brilliant and resolute and courageous as Dr. Porter, I had set myself up for a let down. Here was just some hack politician, a Democratic rubber stamp wanna-be with no clear ideas about why he was running, about what was important in the public arena or about how to fix any of the problems he heard about (like Iraq). He didn’t have too many firm opinions but when it came to campaign finance reform he did: he’s against it.

I later told Steve that I wished Foust luck in defeating English but that we both realized on the phone that he was not a Blue America prospect. I may have missed it with Chris Carney but I can smell a Blue Dog in the making a mile away now. And so can Steve.

He went back and asked Foust some probing questions, thought it over and decided to jump back in the race. But not as a Democrat. He reregistered as an unaffiliated independent and that’s how he’ll appear on the ballot in 2008. A firm believer in accountability, Steve is a hawk on impeaching Bush and Cheney. He told me that:

“From the moment Pelosi took impeachment off the table, I knew there was no difference between the parties and that the Democrats would only posture and feign opposition which they knew would never amount to anything. In the end they gave George Bush absolutely everything he’s asked for… [It] is a calculated strategy to win greater gains in 2008… using the lives of our kids in Iraq– and the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians– for political purposes.”

Steve isn’t running for Congress as part of a career move. He is serious about the issues– more serious than almost anyone I have ever talked to. When he says he wants to end the occupation of Iraq now, he means “end” and he means “now” and he means them in plain unnuanced English– English even George Bush and Rahm Emanuel can understand. Thursday he spent the day doing interviews at newspapers and television stations across PA-03 explaining why he is running again and why he has decided to eschew the baggage of the two Inside the Beltway political establishments. His website goes into this very thoroughly.

This morning I was on the phone with Howard Shanker, the grassroots progressive running for Congress against Rick Renzi in Arizona. He told me that the party leaders didn’t ask him how he felt about issues or positions; “All they care about, is how much money you can raise.”

Funny, I hear that from almost all of our candidates. It has Steve pretty worked up too.

“We flit from Republican to Democrat, Democrat to Republican and they’re both owned by the Special Interests. The only thing that matters [to the 2 established parties] is raising money and by the time enough money is raised for a campaign, all the candidates are in the pockets of the big contributors… If just a handful of independent voices could somehow galvanize the progressive public nationally so that they could win, it would shake the 2 major parties to their roots and they might begin to think that its time to serve the people instead of the special interests.”

Steve is joining us here this afternoon to explain how he expects to beat Phil English and answer any questions we have. He told me his goal in this campaign is to “reach people who believe America’s future is not with the Nancy Pelosis and George Bushs but with independent statesmen like Paul Wellstone and Bernie Sanders.” I think he’s come to the right place.

Please join me in contributing to his campaign at Blue America. First 10 donations of $30.00 or more get an Impeach Cheney cap– because Steve Porter is one progressive that no one can tell impeachment is off any tables.