It's Democratic Convention time in Denver, and this week we're seeing some of the most promising '08 House and Senate candidates on display. Many have been struggling for a turn in the spotlight all year, as the presidential race continues to monopolize attention, volunteer energy and fundraising dollars.
Orange County, California's 46th Congressional District has been represented since 1988 by delusionally far-right Republican Dana Rohrabacher. But this year he faces a stiff challenge from Huntington Beach mayor and former city council member Debbie Cook.
Barack Obama and Debbie Cook in Newport Beach, CA
Rohrabacher is one of the worst Republican clowns in Congress, and Cook is a champion on all the issues that matter. The 46th district is ready to vote for a credible alternative to Rohrabacher. This race is winnable and Debbie Cook deserves to be on every progressive's list of candidates worthy of donations and support.
Rohrabacher was first elected to Congress with the fundraising help of his pal Ollie North. He's a right wing nut who doesn't believe in global warming, joking during a 2007 congressional hearing on climate change that previous warming cycles may have been caused by "dinosaur flatulence." He was a close associate and campaign contribution recipient of disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who Rohrabacher described as "a very honest man" when the Abramoff scandal first broke in 2005.
Although from a coastal California district, he supports lifting the offshore oil drilling ban, and recently questioned whether abuses at Guantanamo Bay qualified as torture, or merely "hazing pranks from some fraternity."
By contrast, Debbie Cook entered politics in 1989 fighting for things that matter. She led Save Our Parks and Beaches, a grassroots group that saved part of Huntington Beach Central Park from being turned into an 18-hole golf course. She is a former PTA President, small business owner, and attorney who earned her law degree at age 40. Cook became counsel for the Bolsa Chica Land Trust and helped preserve the Bolsa Chica wetlands when they were threatened with development in the mid-90s. The court victory she won protects coastal wetlands throughout California.
Elected to the city council in 2000, and re-elected in 2004, Cook now serves as mayor of Huntington Beach. She is on the board of directors of the national Post Carbon Institute, and will be a leader on environmental and sustainable energy issues in Congress.
In July, the Cook Political Report (no relation to Debbie) downgraded Rohrabacher's re-election effort from "solid Republican" to "likely Republican." During the second quarter, Cook actually outraised Rohrabacher, collecting $78,712 to his $92,990. But as of June 30, he still had a substantial financial advantage, with $387,950 on hand to Cook's $97,392.
Earlier this year, community activist Donna Edwards beat longtime Congressman and friend to corporate interests Al Wynn in the Democratic primary for Maryland's 4th Congressional District. Small donations raised online from progressives nationwide were critical to Edwards' anti-war, populist campaign, and allowed her to counter Wynn's desperate, lobbyist-funded, slash and burn attack ad scramble to hang onto his seat.
Visit Debbie Cook's website to learn more about her and her House race. Consider donating to her campaign. And check out Blue America PAC for snapshots of three dozen other progressive House and Senate Democratic candidates running to change America this fall.
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post.