Thursday, August 14, 2008

WA-08: Darcy Burner, netroots hero

If you were to ask me which one of our Congressional challengers I want to see win the most, even with our slew of incredible candidates all over the country, I would have to go with former Microsoft program manager Darcy Burner, running in Washington's 8th Congressional district. Dave Reichert (R), known mostly as the Sheriff who caught the Green River Killer, first won the seat in 2004 with only 51.5% of the vote against radio show host Dave Ross (D). With Reichert becoming a reliable Bush rubber stamp, Burner challenged Reichert in 2006, and lost by a slim 51.3%-48.7% margin. Last year, at Yearly Kos 2007 in Chicago, she coined the phrase "more and better Democrats" while angrily denouncing the FISA bill that had just passed Congress that granted Bush extra wiretapping powers. That phrase has now become a rallying cry among the netroots as we look to 2009 and fixing the major problems that Bush will have left behind for us.

And now, Darcy's back for a rematch. (I met Darcy just a short while after she made that video in the hotel lobby.)

Acknowledging that Reichert is in trouble, the GOP had Bush himself go to Washington last August to help out Reichert with a fundraiser. Well, the netroots countered with an innovative 24-hour fundraiser of our own called "Burn Bush for Burner". So what happened?

We shattered our goal of raising $100,000 for Burner, netting over $123,000 in just a little over a long weekend from almost 3,200 people across the country. We managed to raise almost as much, with just small dollar donations, as what Bush managed to scrounge up for Reichert from the GOP fat cats at $1,000 a head. And it seems that not only did the Washington State GOP and Reichert lie about how much was actually raised, it seems they also illegally put some of the money raised that was supposed to go to the state party into Reichert's campaign account. Tsk, tsk.

Then this past March, Burner brought in some major military brass, such as Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, Brig. Gen. John Johns, and Dr. Lawrence Korb (former Asst. Secretary of Defense under Reagan), to help unveil A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq. Pretty soon over 50 candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives had signed on to the plan. Paul Eaton explains the necessity for something like this in this video.

Then in Q1 of 2008 (i.e., January - March), she raised a whopping half a million dollars, more than double what Reichert was able to raise in the same time period, even with yet another fundraiser with Laura Bush in that time period (which only netted him about $90K). She followed that up with another quarter of raising over half a million dollars yet again.

Things were looking up for her... and then on the first day of July, her home was completely destroyed in a fire at 6:45AM, with her family barely escaping with their lives (their cat did not survive, but their dog did).

(Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

This was one of the enduring images from the fire. As Markos noted, "Darcy is a huge netroots sensation because she is truly one of us -- a former Microsoft exec who is a geek at heart, and someone who has been with us on the war and FISA since she first started running in 2005. Some politicians can put up a facade or say the right things for the right audience, but there's no faking it when you've just run out of your burning house, seeing all your worldly possessions go up in flames as you frantically try to ensure your family is safe." Those who know some HTML or XML know exactly what that shirt means.

Now, as a political challenger, without the power of incumbency, as those of you who attended the EMILY's List training session know all too well, challengers need to be constantly "dialing for dollars". But as she needed to be putting the pieces of her life back together, she was in no state to do any such thing. So enter the netroots yet again. Progressive blogs all over the place (yes, each word goes to a different blog) set a goal of raising $150,000 for Darcy in the month of July so that she could stay financially competitive. Even other candidates helped out.

Darcy ended up raising a stunning $350K in just the month of July, more than triple what Reichert raised in that month. And when you break down the numbers, it becomes pretty obvious who's the people-powered candidate, and who's funded by corporations and lobbyists.

Total for July:
Burner: $350,897.68
Reichert: $115,474.88

From Individuals:
Burner: $329,022.30 (94%)
Reichert: $49,159.88 (43%)

Small Individual Donations:
Burner: $186,832.07 (53%)
Reichert: $8,544.00 (7%)

Total for Cycle from Individuals:
Burner: $1,995,109.43 (85%)
Reichert: $1,084,379.23 (58%)

PACs for July:
Burner: $18,100.00 (5%)
Reichert: $62,250.00 (54%)

Total for Cycle from PACs:
Burner: $296,859.24 (13%)
Reichert: $570,645.46 (31%)

Total for Cycle:
Burner: $2,337,372.67
Reichert: $1,866,086.08

Refunded in Cycle:
Burner: $6,550.01
Reichert: $56,970.00

Cash on Hand:
Burner: $1,476,757.53
Reichert: $928,113.96

It doesn't really get better than that. The difference between a people-powered progressive campaign and that of an establishment Republican really couldn't be made more clear. Also note that Burner's ActBlue numbers are at $416,118, or just under the difference in cash on hand. One of the reasons Darcy gets so much support is because, even though she's not in Congress yet, she's already a leader.

And the polls have this raise being quite competitive. As I noted in the comments there, Reichert's still getting 37% support from those who are pro-choice, even though he's consistently voted against a woman's right to choose, getting an 82% rating from the National Right to Life Committee. The good thing she now most definitely will have the money to inform the voters of what Reichert's actual positions are when it comes to women's rights. Push those pro-choice numbers just a tiny bit more in her direction, and she wins this thing going away. Re-doing the numbers show that if she can just hold Reichert to 33% of the pro-choice vote, she already wins this thing. Hold him to 30% of the pro-choice vote, and she wins by a larger margin than what Reichert won by in his previous election wins.

Oh, and she still made it to Netroots Nation in Austin, Texas, a few weeks ago.

Go Darcy!

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