by Hank Johnson, Congressional Candidate [GA-4]
First, I'd like to thank Joe Katzman, Marc "Armed Liberal" Danziger, and the whole crew here at Winds of Change.NET for giving me the chance to address you. My name is Hank Johnson. I am a life-long Democrat running to unseat Rep. Cynthia McKinney in the August 8th runoff for the Democratic nomination in Georgia's 4th Congressional District near Atlanta, Georgia. I am asking for your help, and your support.
The last week has been a whirlwind. We surprised the world by forcing Rep. McKinney into an August 8th runoff (with 44.5%, to her 46.9%; 3rd place candidate John Coyne received 6.9%, according to the Georgia secretary of state). Now, my campaign has been thrust into the national spotlight.
My opponent's record speaks for itself. Her history of controversy is well-known. It suffices to say that she has brought a great deal of negative national attention to her district. The causes she ostensibly serves - justice, peace, and equality - are only discredited by her antics. For every conservative pundit and operative attacking progressives, she has become a ready caricature, useful for discrediting the liberal wing of the Democratic party. As a progressive trying to restore respect to the cause of progressivism, I have been deeply disheartened by all my opponent has done to make it less mainstream and less viable.
But besides developing a reputation for inflammatory and counterproductive conduct, what has my opponent accomplished? She has passed exactly one bill over the course of her career - to rename a post office. She has alienated her party's leadership and her colleagues, black and white. She is not a factor in Congressional debate. She cannot attract cosponsors to her legislation. She is not a factor in local debate, because she has until now refused to publicly engage in a discussion of the issues with me. Have you had enough? Then help us get things done.
Your support matters to me. I would like to take a moment to ask for it and, in doing so, share my vision.
I am a 2-term DeKalb County Commissioner (just east of Atlanta), a 12-year Associate Judge of the Magistrate Court of DeKalb County, a husband and a father. Please review my two-decade record in public service on my web site.
It is possible to be both respectful and successful, and I have tried to embody these virtues throughout my public life. Press stunts, publicity, and national recognition matter less than doing good work for the people of this District and this country. That has been my past, and it has made me effective and widely respected among my constituents. That will be my future as a Representative in Congress.
These are not easy times. We face challenges at home and abroad: a tragic and tiring war, an unpredictable and sometimes hostile world, a swiftly growing national debt, high gas prices, and unprecedented economic competition from abroad, to name but a few. But we are not helpless, and blind anger isn't the answer. We are not merely swept along by the currents. The blogosphere, in fact, is a tremendous demonstration of individuals' growing ability to have a political impact.
We can find solutions together. I believe the people of my district have had enough of the polarizing and divisive spirit that dominates Washington, impedes progress, and gives a bad name to politics.
Each of you reading this blog post and each blogger who has been willing to join me by posting about it or linking to it can (and will) impact the future of your fellow citizens in Georgia and the rest of the nation.
I intend, if elected, to use the internet and the blogosphere to both communicate my vision and solicit feedback from my constituents and from people around the world. I've started with a Podcast, I'm the only Congressional candidate blogging on TheHill.com about my candidacy and the democratic process, and now I've come here, to Winds of Change, in my quest to bring a breath of fresh air to my district.
I'm told that this blog's audience also includes people who lean to the Right, and I will be forthright in telling you that I am a Democrat. But I am willing to hear new ideas, willing to innovate, willing to hear all sides of the story. That's why I have chosen to come here and walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
And here's a pledge: I pledge that, if elected, I will return to Winds of Change every so often to personally post an update on my experiences in the House and to hear from you. Blogs are a wonderful extension and expansion of the public discourse; they democratize society by removing barriers to influence and giving journalism a populist edge.
There is so much to be done.
We must restore reason to foreign policy. We must act now to ensure that an environmental crisis does not threaten our health and our happiness. We must empower our schools and teachers with more resources and more autonomy to address the unique needs of every child. We must strive for harmony as our society becomes more and more diverse. We must provide for our children, our elders, our veterans - the America of yesterday and of the future.
Though I'm an underdog facing a well-funded political machine, our showing last week has made mine one of the most hotly discussed primaries in the country.
But that isn't enough. I need your support to win this runoff, and I am asking for your help.
First, I need money. I can unseat Cynthia McKinney; this is a neck-and-neck race. In the primary, anti-McKinney votes (me + Coyne) outnumbered pro-McKinney votes 53-47%. My district is ready for change, and I made unprecedented inroads into her core constituency and traditional stronghold. But my opponent has used her incumbency to raise almost twice as much money - and after the primary, she had 3 times as much. At the end of the July 18th primary, our campaign fund stood at about $13,000.
Every one of your contributions will make a difference and send a message - even if it's just $10.00. You can donate by clicking here.
Second, even if you can't contribute, please look in your phone book and email list and tell your friends about my candidacy, particularly if you know citizens and bloggers in the Atlanta area.
Finally, if you are a resident of my district, I need you to; (1) Vote in the August 8th runoff; (2) Tell your friends about my candidacy; and (3) Sign up to keep in touch with the campaign or volunteer to help.
I will close with some final thoughts.
In these uncertain times, we are tempted by fear, resignation, and anger. Instead we can choose hope, commitment, and progress. The rejuvenation of the American spirit is not just a talking point. As we bear the weight of today's challenges, it is what we must tirelessly pursue.
Together, we can strengthen my district, our nation, our world. We can take one step toward that rejuvenation of our optimism and of our resolve. That's how we'll all get there, together. One step at a time.
I will respond to your comments on this web site. Writing for this audience has been a useful and thought-provoking experience. I've even used some excerpts from it to shape the closing message I am delivering to voters on my web site. If you have any questions, or especially if you live in my area please call my campaign office: 770-323-HANK (4265). A member of my staff will be happy to speak with you as I am out on the campaign trail. I look forward to hearing from you and having the benefit of your insight.
I will be checking this web site throughout the next week to respond to your comments [q.v. July 26: "Hank Johnson Responds to Our Readers"].
Thanks so much for your time,
Candidate for Congress
Georgia's Fourth Congressional District
WINDS OF CHANGE.NET UPDATES:
We've had to turn Trackbacks off due to the spam storms that became a Denial Of Service for the site (side-note to candidate Johnson: the CAN-Spam Act has been a failure). If you're a blog participating in this effort, therefore, send an email to joe, over here @windsofchange.net with your post's title and URL.
- Leftyblogger Marc Cooper is backing this effort in tandem with us, and endorses Hank Johnson: "All those Democrats so busy taking back the party ought to at least take it back with some good and honorable candidates. Not with a charlatan like McKinney. Good luck to Hank Johnson."
- Local blogger Will Hinton is organizing a rally. "For those of you who live in the Atlanta area, I invite you to join me in meeting Hank Johnson this coming Wednesday evening, July 26th, at 6:30PM at the 57th Fighter Group restaurant in Atlanta to show your support and find out how you can help defeat McKinney. All are invited. Please email me [JK: will.hinton, it's a gmail.com account] to let me know if you will attend."
- Localblogger Steve of "Making A Long Story Longer" lives near Cynthia McKinney Parkway. Hey, that's TWO achievements, though Atlanta's traffic makes the symbolism oddly apt. Anyway, he's registered in the primary and voting for Hank.
- Will Collier of Vodkapundit titles his post Ten Bucks For Hank. RE: McKinney, "She's an embarrasment to the state and the nation and yes, to her party, and it's time she was out of office and off the front pages."
- Laurence Simon knows what he's going to do once he gets his paycheck tomorrow.
- Centrist blogger Dean of the Dean's World team joins the cheering section.
- Macker says: "Who's This Guy?" His answer: an honest Democrat with real ideas, worthy of your support.
- Milblogger Blackfive, typically, gets right to the point: "Defeat Cynthia McKinney."
- Michael of GayOrbit, meanwhile, rips into McKinney for loudly supporting the Voting Rights Act, just, uh.... not enough to be there for the vote. Funny! And typical. Unsurprisingly, Michael is backing Hank Johnson.
- Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice: "These are fascinating posts - worth the attention of readers of all persuasions - because they show a candidate taking full advantage of Internet technology to directly spread his word and also (not a small matter) a candidate who's offering voters a different style of representation." One of his Democrat readers agrees wholeheartedly.
- The National Journal Magazine's blog covers "The Run-Off Blog Battle in Georgia," detailing Hank Johnson's Internet approach here and elsewhere and reviewing McKinney's blog (verdict: "unimpressive").