Anthony Woods - Blue AmericaI want to introduce you to Anthony Woods, a progressive young Democrat running to replace Ellen Tauscher in a congressional district northeast of San Francisco (CA-10), a district that has been trending decidedly Democratic (Gore won with 55%, Kerry with 56% and Obama with 65%). Anthony is one of the less likely candidates we’ve visited with– and one of the most remarkable. Born on Travis Airforce Base near Fairfield, the biggest city in the district, Anthony– raised by a single mom working as a housekeeper– earned a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He signed up to lead a platoon in Iraq– twice– and earned a bronze star and then earned a Masters Degree from Harvard. He gained national fame when he discharged from the military for standing up for equality and telling his commanding officer that he is gay, a violation of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Currently he works as an economic policy advisor. He anything but a professional politician and the primary in CA-10 is swarming with them.

I liked the idea of his upstart candidacy and got him on the phone a few times over the last couple of months after I read a great interview with him at Calitics by David Dayen. He sounds like a real breath of fresh air who could help bring a new dynamic to Congress the way Donna Edwards and Alan Grayson have. I’d say one of the biggest motivating factors in his decision to run has to do with the fact that he grew up without health insurance and a desire to change that for the country. "I bore the brunt," he told me, "of a lot of the failed policy solutions we already have. I think it’s time we start sending some people to Congress who have experienced these things and can bring a very, very different perspective to the debate."

I believe wholeheartedly in Obama’s message of change. I worked pretty dang hard to help get him elected. I would love to go to Washington to help bring about that change. One of the things we’re realizing is we’ve got a person, in Obama, who’s going to do some very different things there but Congress hasn’t changed. We keep sending the exact same types of politicians there and that’s what he’s up against.

I asked Anthony how he would have voted on the Supplemental Budget. He started by reminding me that when it was first voted on, on May 14th, it was basically just funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and that he didn’t like the "Bush era tactic– to use supplementals… The Bush Administration used them as a way of hiding the cost of these wars and convince people it wasn’t really impacting the budget. I wouldn’t vote on any supplemental funding bill that doesn’t include a very clear timetable, specifically for what we’re doing in Afghanistan. I want to see that we’re going to set some clear, measurable goals and define the strategy that makes sense and proves we’re doing the planning to be successful there… If there is no timetable with a clear end date, that to me is not supporting our troops." He says he would have voted "no" on May 14 and he says he was very disappointed to see Democrats using the "support our troops" line when they were rounding up votes last week.

I asked Anthony if he has the intestinal fortitude to stand up to someone like Rahm Emanuel, working for a president he supported and admires, who went to extraordinary lengths to "persuade" reluctant Democrats to support the larded up Supplemental last week. His answer is what helped clinch my support for his candidacy. "I think it’s time we start sending people to Congress who have actually had first hand experience dealing with some of these failed policies. I’d have no problem in saying, ‘Look, Administration, I’ve actually been in Iraq. I understand what it’s like to be on the ground and be involved in a war with no clear end date and no clear strategy.’ I don’t think that line of attack [I had mentioned Emanuel's arm twisting, bribes and threats to him] like that would work on a person like me. I have friends who are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. How could I vote in a way that is going to endanger the classmates who I went to West Point with and the soldiers they’re leading? What’s important is the impact on real soldiers, not on the potential of losing some Stimulus funding or a pet project. That’s not how we’re supposed to be crafting solutions."

Please join us in the comments section below and let’s find out some more about Anthony.