edwards-small.thumbnail.jpgYesterday we saw how both Inside-the-Beltway political establishments are going broke. Donations are down–way down, possibly because Americans are wising up to the correlation between big money politics and the kinds of special interests-driven policies that have led the country’s economy right off a cliff. At the same time, many of us have watched with great pride as some of the Blue America-endorsed candidates from 2006 and 2008 have gone on to distinguish themselves in Congress, fighting daily for the aspirations of America’s working families.

Click on the ProgressivePunch score page and you’ll see that the #1 most progressive voter in Congress is still Donna Edwards (D-MD). An imperfect indicator, ProgressivePunch allows us to get an idea of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Many of us were extremely disappointed when we read last week that former Blue America candidate Mark Begich joined the Evan Bayh anti-Obama bloc in the Senate. The Blue America blogs keep trying to let everyone know when the men and women we helped elect stray from their promises–and when they perform in exemplary ways–the way Gary Peters (D-MI) did last week and the way Alan Grayson (D-FL) always seems to. I know some people pay attention. The latest Blue America contribution came yesterday:

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Have you noticed any serious transgressions among any of the Blue America alumni? Is there anyone you think should be included on the 2010 cycle list? Yesterday, like many of you I’m sure, I got a letter from the Connecticut congressmember we helped beat Chris Shays last year, Jim Himes. Like almost all new incumbents, Jim is being hounded by the DCCC to show some fundraising strength. The theory is if an incumbent has oodles of cash on hand, first and second tier opponents will slink off and leave the field to more easily disposed of sociopaths screaming about how Bush wasn’t a real conservative. Jim’s letter reminded his donors that he’s drawing on "some significant experience in the financial services and housing worlds to say that the Recovery Act and the new initiatives on housing are very important first steps towards restoring economic growth. Working on restoring credit to our businesses and families continues to be a challenge to which we are devoting immense time and effort." And then, in a pitch for donations:

In the meantime, my re-election campaign in our district is starting to take shape and pick up steam. Volunteers are working to spread the word about my work in Washington with phone calls, mailings, and friend to friend e-mails. It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating victory together, but with two-year terms, the campaign work never ends.

Yesterday one of our favorite senators, Russ Feingold (D-WI), who will be fighting for re-election next year, sent a short e-mail that doesn’t beat around the bush: "I wanted to let you know that we’re very close to reaching our goal of 1,000 new online donors by March 31. We only have 178 more contributors to go! Can you help us over the top with a $5 contribution? Have a great weekend, and as always, thanks for all you do."

Blue America hasn’t endorsed anyone so far this cycle. There has been no consensus in any of the special elections–with multiple progressives in the Chicago and Los Angeles races to replace Rahm Emanuel and Hilda Solis and with a Blue Dog running in the other open seat (NY-20). We’re keeping our powder dry. Jane has been working to strengthen the Accountability Now PAC’s efforts and I’ve been working on helping raise money for two progressives running in Florida, Dan Gelber and Doug Tudor, as well as to trying to find an appropriate progressive to take on vulnerable Wisconsin wingnut Paul Ryan.

But what about the candidates who are now serving in Congress? Do you want to donate to any of their re-election campaigns? Some are still on our ’08 page. In the House, the voting records of all the Blue America ’08 candidates are good to excellent– no turkeys like we wound up with in ’06 when Chris Carney exposed himself as an anti-choice, homophobic reactionary with a penchant for crossing the aisle more than almost any other Democrat. From good to best, our Blue America freshmen stack up like this:

Tom Perriello (VA) in a Republican-leaning district

Larry Kissell (NC) in a Democratic-leaning district

Jim Himes (CT) in a strong Democratic district

Eric Massa (NY) in a Republican-leaning district

Mark Schauer (MI) in a swing district

Gary Peters (MI) in a Democratic-leaning district

Martin Heinrich (NM) in a strong Democratic district

Dan Maffei (NY) in a Democratic-leaning district

Alan Grayson (FL) in a swing district

Jared Polis (CO) in a strong Democratic district

Among our endorsees from 2006, only one was a complete bust, the aforementioned Carney. Patrick Murphy (PA) and Mike Arcuri (NY) also turned Blue Dog but both have maintained decent moderate voting records basically in sync with their districts. Jerry McNerney isn’t a Blue Dog but, like Murphy and Arcuri, a decent moderate in a tough district. Everyone else has been what I’d call good to excellent and (in that order) here’s the ranking:

Joe Sestak (PA)- in a Democratic-leaning district

Bruce Braley (IA)- in a strong Democratic district

Carol Shea-Porter (NH)- in a swing district

John Hall (NY)- in a swing district

Paul Hodes (NH)- in a Democratic-leaning district

Steve Cohen (TN)- in a strong Democratic district

Donna Edwards (MD)- in a strong Democratic district

All the former Blue America candidates now serving in the U.S. Senate have decent voting records. In order from good to excellent:

Jon Tester (MT)- in a state that leans Republican

Mark Begich (AK)- in a state that is strongly Republican

Amy Klobuchar (MN)- in a state that leans Democrat

Russ Feingold (WI)- in a state that leans Democrat

Ben Cardin (MD)- in a strongly Democratic state

Sherrod Brown (OH)- in a true swing state

Jeff Merkley (OR)- in a state that leans Democrat [Jeff will be visiting Crooks & Liars

Monday at 4pm (PT)]

Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)- in a strongly Democratic state (based on an abbreviated

Senate record only, not including House votes which was, at best, so-so.)

Please pick a candidate or two–or pick our PAC–and give a small donation, even a $5 or $10 contribution towards good governance.

I asked the Blue America-backed candidate whose voting record is most aligned with the aspirations of working families, Donna Edwards, to join us at FDL today. Please hit the comments button below and join Donna in a live discussion about how she sees her work in Congress.