2012 drama unfolds -- and three rising stars are "On the List!"
A onetime carpenter’s apprentice who went on to author landmark environmental laws. A thrice-named “Superstar Lawyer” who’s spent her life fighting for Pennsylvanians in crisis. The progressive thorn in Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s side. It sounds like a casting sheet for Aaron Sorkin’s newest series, but it’s just the latest round of impressive candidates we’re putting “On the List.”
First up is the Keystone state: we’re not sure even Sorkin could have written a character quite like Pennsylvania’s far-right Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick. Defeated in 2006 by Democrat Patrick Murphy, Fitzpatrick won this swing seat back in 2010, and celebrated by skipping the House’s swearing-in ceremony to hold an alleged fundraiser. He then attempted to belatedly take the oath of office by raising his hand to a television broadcast of Speaker John Boehner before rushing off to cast votes that were later stricken because he wasn’t yet officially a member of the new Congress. Calling Fitzpatrick “cynical or clueless,” the Philly Inquirer opined, “Fitzpatrick has less than two years to live down this episode.” Enter Kathryn Boockvar, the attorney and community activist ready to send Fitzpatrick packing for a second time.
Kathryn, who has spent her career helping Pennsylvania families with Social Security benefits, unemployment insurance, abuse and other crises, presents a stark contrast to the freewheeling Fitzpatrick. A committed civil rights advocate named the Pennsylvania Bar’s “Rising Super-Star Lawyer” three years in a row, Kathryn served as a senior attorney in the nonpartisan Advancement Project’s voting rights division. She’s a proven fundraiser who can win the 8th district back for Democrats – but she’ll need our support to go up against national Republicans determined to hold this seat.
In Arizona, where a contentious redistricting battle appears to be nearing completion, we’re thrilled to back former State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for the new 9th district seat. Kyrsten is a four-term state legislator who has pushed measures to promote renewable energy and improve services for the state’s veterans and their families. A thorn in right-wing GOP Gov. Jan Brewer’s side, Kyrsten loudly and publicly opposed the Governor’s draconian immigration law as “onerous” and “unconstitutional.” She has consistently fought to preserve a woman’s right to choose against numerous extremist, anti-choice measures – earning Planned Parenthood’s 2006 Legislative CHOICE award.
Kyrsten has also emerged as one of the state’s premier grassroots organizers; in 2006 she chaired Arizona Together, the country’s lone successful effort to defeat a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage. In 2008, she chaired the Protect Arizona’s Freedom coalition, which blocked Ward Connerly’s push for a ballot initiative eliminating equal opportunity programs. Ben Quayle’s (yup that’s Dan Quayle’s son) recent decision to face off against fellow GOP Rep. Dave Schweikert rather than run in the new 9th is an encouraging sign for Democrats – but Kyrsten will first need to win a tough primary against the former state Party chair and the state Senate’s Minority Leader, both of whom are men.
Finally, in California, Lori Saldaña, a San Diego native, former teacher and three-term state assemblywoman running to unseat GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray in the redistricted – and more Democratic – 52nd district. A longtime environmental champion, she co-founded San Diego’s first Earth Day celebration and coauthored the Golden State’s groundbreaking global warming law. She turned her experiences in a career military family into pioneering legislation to expand mental health services and educational opportunities for veterans and their families. And yes, when teaching jobs were scarce, she worked as a carpenter’s apprentice – an experience she would later channel into a commitment to vocational training and workforce development.
For his part, Bilbray, a retread who lost in 2000 to Rep. Susan Davis but returned to the House after a 2006 special election, has done precious little in the past five years to distinguish himself from his right-wing cohorts. Complicating matters further is California’s new open primary law, under which the top two primary vote-getters, regardless of party, will face off in November – making our early and strong support for Lori absolutely critical.
Redistricting has, as contentious and hyperpartisan as it has been in most states, created a number of exciting opportunities for 2012. Lori Saldaña, Kathy Boockvar, and Kyrsten Sinema are three candidates ready to seize their respective moments – they just need our strong and immediate support!