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Why Give Ground to Archconservatives & the Radical Right?

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There's a lot of talk these days about progressives needing to stand up and have the guts to take it to conservatives. One of the keys to doing this is to never give ground - something that appears to be happening in Ohio's 2006 U.S. Senate race.

In the upcoming race, there's been a lot of talk about what it is going to take to win the general election against incumbent Republican Sen. Mike DeWine (R) and which Democratic primary candidate - Paul Hackett or Rep. Sherrod Brown - knows what it takes to actually win an election. Beyond simply the political records of the two candidates (ie. Hackett's record consists of losing a special election congressional race, Brown's consists of winning two statewide races and 7 congressional races) is who has the guts to actually stand up to DeWine and tell it like it is.

And that's where we come not just to the difference between Brown's consistency on Iraq and Hackett's changing positions on Iraq, but now Hackett's apparent willingness to give DeWine a free pass. In a story about the Alito nomination in today's Hill Newspaper, Hackett says "[DeWine] has some insulation from the extreme right, the religious right of his party," Hackett said. "That's good."

Why would he say this? It may be true that DeWine was poked a bit by the right for joining the so-called Gang of 14, but why would a Democrat go out and say that essentially means DeWine isn't truly connected to the radical right? Seriously, why would a candidate running against DeWine say this and give DeWine ammo to claim he is supposedly a moderate (he isn't, though he and the GOP will most definitely use this Hackett quote to claim he is)? And why would Hackett say this about DeWine especially if it's just not true over the long haul? The fact is, DeWine has consistently voted with the far right over the years. For instance, he receives 100% ratings from the Christian Coalition, and high marks from other ultraconservative religious right groups.

I can't come up with a reason other than Hackett either has no idea who DeWine is; has no idea that giving away free passes to Republican opponents is basically not a good move; is afraid of DeWine and the radical right; or actually believes DeWine's archconservative voting record is A.O.K. (it isn't). Whatever the reason, it calls into question this whole notion floating out in some corners of the blogosphere that Hackett will automatically be a better, stronger and tougher candidate against DeWine than Brown (who, by the way, disagreed with Hackett's views of DeWine in the article). And it raises a bigger question beyond just this race: why don't some Democrats have the guts to proudly stand up for Democratic convictions and fight the radical right head on?

DeWine receives 100% rating from the Christian Coalition, and high marks from other right-wing groups
Hackett's changing positions on the Iraq War
Hackett gives DeWine a free pass
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David Sirota is a full-time political journalist, best-selling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He blogs for Working Assets and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. He is a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. His 2006 book, Hostile Takeover, was a New York Times bestseller, and is now out in paperback. He has been a guest on, among others, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and NPR. His writing, which draws on his (more...)

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