When Will Dems Challenge Spencer Bachus?

I’ve been asking this question for some time now, but Courtney Haden puts it much more eloquently in the latest issue of the Birmingham Weekly:

…I worry about the recent revelation that Spencer Bachus hates poor children. I’d always thought our congressman a reasonably empathetic guy — he cares enough about his constituents not to draw their attention unduly with too much legislating between elections — but when I checked out the House votes on reauthorizing the SCHIP, who should be practically heading the list of Nay-sayers but the Sixth District’s one and only?

To be fair, Bachus was near the top of the list because it was in alphabetical order, but he definitely put himself on record as not wanting to expand the scope of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to give more poor kids and their families access to health care. Not, apparently, out of any deep-seated political principle (according to his website, Spence is still vociferously in favor of a Defense of Marriage constitutional amendment, but he has exactly zip to say about his position on SCHIP), but just because all the other Republicans were voting that way.

Spencer also defended his vote on SCHIP in a recent letter to the editor in which he tries to pit poor children against those whose families have slightly higher incomes, saying the poor children should get coverage first before those rich kids start cheating the system. (Spencer, does that mean you support better funding for Medicaid? You know, the program that is actually intended to provide health coverage for poor children? Gee, I see Medicare on your list of issues — old people vote, you know — but there’s nothing about Medicaid or health coverage in general.) He then goes on to play the “illegal” card, making sure we’re all horrified by the prospect that a sick child whose parents are here picking our produce, processing our chickens, or cleaning our hotel rooms might not be relegated to the emergency room after all.

Courtney continues:

The interesting thing about SCHIP is that not all the Republicans were in lockstep on this vote. With an election at hand, more than a few realized that voting against children’s health care might not be the best way to demonstrate compassionate conservatism.

Many rank and file GOPers wail about the rising costs of the SCHIP. Would that they were as concerned about the billions of dollars irretrievably poured into the bottomless rathole at the center of George and Dick’s Excellent Adventure. No one who’s consistently voted to fund the criminal boondoggle that has become permanent Iraqi occupation should be nattering about paltry millions for sick kids at home in America.

Then he moves on to my question:

Another thing that worries me is that local Democrats won’t even try to oust Bachus in the next cycle. At some point, to be taken seriously again as a statewide political party, Dems must challenge the moss-encrusted GOP incumbents in the House and Senate. They still control a shrinking patch of turf in Montgomery and at certain precinct levels, but straight-ticket Republican voting endangers those little fiefdoms.

2008 is going to be a flux-filled election year, and what better time to mount a campaign against a guy who hates poor children? Remember, all you have to do is make him deny it…

Hey, state party officials, are you listening? I know a Democratic challenger isn’t going to defeat Bachus — at least not this time. Does that mean you won’t even try? If Howard Dean can have a 50-state strategy, can’t Alabama Democrats have statewide strategy? Just asking.

14 Responses to “When Will Dems Challenge Spencer Bachus?”

  1. anna says:

    If everyone in our country had the same healthcare we wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not the rich and powerful throw the poor kids any healthcare bones.

  2. I’ll run. I used to have some respect for Bachus, especially because he’s done good work on debt forgiveness for developing countries. But damn it, how can he not care about the kids in his own back yard? He’s just regurgitating the political talking points and our state deserves better than a political hack. I’m serious – it’s time we Democrats ran a 67-county/7 district strategy in this state. You never know what will happen.

    Lisa for Congress in 2008!

  3. Jim says:

    There has been an active effort to find a candidate, but the sixth district is such an oddly configured district that it is obviously designed to ensure it serves as a Republican stronghold. Therefore, any Democratic candidate faces long odds. With that said, a potential candidate exists.

  4. mooncat says:

    Lisa for Congress, Kathy for Congress, or Jim’s “potential candidate” for Congress — I’ll support them all. It’s time to stop giving guys like Bachus a free pass. There are so many benefits when progressives actually challenge these Republican dinosaurs — like exposing voters to what liberals/progressives really think, as opposed to what Hannity and Rush tell them we think.

  5. Kathy says:

    Jim, I heard there was a potential candidate months ago, then…nothing. May not be the same person, but whoever it is needs to fish or cut bait. S/he is wasting primo fundraising time. I know it’s an uphill battle and probably not one the Dems can win in 2008, but fielding a viable candidate at least gives the people of the 6th District a real choice. And it plants seeds for the future.

    Anna, you’re so right. The dinosaurs will hold out to the bitter end, but I believe at some point we’ll have universal coverage in the US.

    Lisa, I’ll vote for you!

  6. Kathy says:

    “There are so many benefits when progressives actually challenge these Republican dinosaurs — like exposing voters to what liberals/progressives really think, as opposed to what Hannity and Rush tell them we think.”

    Excellent point.

  7. mooncat says:

    The Insurgent Political Campaign — An excellent series of podcasts on how to run an insurgent Congressional campaign in a hopelessly Red District. They are a couple of years old, but still full of good nuts and bolts advice.

  8. Jim says:

    I agree that it is time for someone to step forward and start working toward November 2008. I believe the 6th District is the toughest District in Alabama for a Dem, but we must begin running solid candidates in the tough races to begin shifting the good folks of the 6th to our Party.

  9. I’ve been in politics a long time (first campaign I worked was in high school – George McGovern) and I firmly believe that no one should get a free pass. Even if the 6th is a Republican District, there are a lot more progressives than it gets credit for. A straight-talking unapologetic progressive (moi?) would at least get the issues in front of people. We can,if nothing else, drive the debate and force Mr. Bachus to answer those awkward questions.

  10. bushit says:

    The BIBLE THUMPING REPUBLICANS ……are not CHRIST like….Christ cared for the poor…..republicans are GREEDY SOBs who care about nothing but themselves….I hope anyone who is a republican supporter gets a taste of the burning gates of “HELL”.

    GOP= GREEDY OLE Perverts

  11. moioci says:

    Not that it excuses the Dems’ lackluster ways, but according to all-knowing Wikipedia, the AL 6th District has the singular distinction of posting the strongest vote for GWB out of 435 districts in 2004.

  12. Kathy says:

    That’s not surprising. Sad, but not surprising. And the district is gerrymandered to stay Republican. But I can hope. And Lisa’s right — just raising the issues has great value. As things stand now, Spencer doesn’t even have to emerge from his secret hideaway to get re-elected.

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