Friday, March 6, 2009

Bloggers and unions form group to push Democrats

Bloggers and unions form group to push Democrats to the left
By Jim Rutenberg
February 26, 2009

WASHINGTON: A group of liberal bloggers said it is teaming up with organized labor and MoveOn to form a political action committee that will seek to push the Democratic Party farther to the left.

Soliciting donations from their readers, the bloggers said they are planning to recruit liberal candidates for challenges against more centrist Democrats currently in Congress.

The formation of the group marks another step in the evolution of the blogosphere, which has proved effective at motivating party activists to give money and time to political campaigns, especially in local races.

But it also illuminates a deepening wrinkle for President Barack Obama, whose attempt to build a broad governing coalition — often by tempering some of his more liberal previous positions — has already angered some of his supporters on the left.

The new organization is in many ways the liberal equivalent of the Club for Growth, a conservative group that has financed primary challenges against Republicans it deems insufficiently dedicated to tax cuts and small government.

Organizers of the new group, to be called Accountability Now, said their intention is to enable Obama to seek more liberal policies without fear of losing support from the more conservative members of his party serving in Congress. But they did not rule out occasional friction with Obama, as well.

"We're going to be about targeting incumbents to make space for Obama to be more progressive," said Glen Greenwald, a liberal blogger with Salon who is part of the effort. "There may be other times when the Democratic Party, as led by Obama, is being unresponsive, so yeah, we have the potential to push back against that, as well."

Another founder of the group, Jane Hamsher, of Firedog Lake, said the group may also involve itself in Republican primary contests, though the focus for now seems to be primarily on the Democratic side.

Left-leaning bloggers have already proven themselves influential in congressional races, most notably providing muscle for the movement that helped Ned Lamont defeat Senator Joseph Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary in 2006. ( Lieberman went on to retain his seat after running in the general election as an independent.)

But organizers of the new effort said the new political action committee will mark the start of a more organized and concentrated approach.

Hamsher said Accountability Now — which will also have support from the Service Employees International Union and DailyKos — would concentrate more fully on candidate recruitment in the states.

"We've gone out to the state blogs asking them to put together research on people who they think are good candidates who should be on our radar," she said. "We're not just parachuting in."

She added that the group had not yet settled on specific races.

The political action committee will formally start up on Friday. Organizers said they already had a bank account of $500,000, which they raised over a short period in September when several blogs solicited donations. Organizers said they expected to collect far more than that when they start fundraising in earnest this month.


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