Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lee Whitnum shakes up the 4th CD

Wow! I just saw MattW's headline over at, and confirmed by a press release I received this morning from Susan Bysiewicz that says Lee Whitnum "has the signatures required to qualify for a spot on the August 12th Democratic primary ballot against endorsed party candidate Jim Himes."

I was actually hoping she'd run as an independent candidate so we'd be treated to the possibility of Chris Shays finishing in THIRD PLACE this November, but alas, it's not destined to be.

Anyway, I do have a few thoughts about this.

First, I think that if Whitnum reigns in her extremist rhetoric when talking about her opponent, it will go a long way towards her getting better treatment from the local blogosphere. In the past, she's referred to Jim Himes using outrageous and inflammatory words. If she wants to be taken seriously by us, she needs to tone that sort of language down and stick with discussing the issues. Ad hominum personal attacks are counter productive to the process.

Next, Whitnum has successfully achieved a spot on the ballot, which is really quite an accomplishment, and as such she is owed a modicum of courtesy. I know there's a tendency to dismiss her candidacy outright, but we all should respect the democratic process and encourage an open and honest discussion of the issues.

This is a Democratic Party primary, and by using excessive ridicule and personal attacks, we only make ourselves look bad. If she uses restraint and approaches the process seriously, I'm willing to give her the benefit of a doubt and not refer to her using any of the pejoratives I've seen used elsewhere. I feel that we will all benefit from using similar restraint.

As members of the Democratic Party, we should strive to be as fair as possible, even if we don't necessarily agree with what a candidate says or does. We've just come through a long and, in some ways, damaging national primary. There are rifts within our party that will take some time and effort to heal. But as a party we CAN and WILL survive this kind of thing, and that's why I feel we should make a real effort to respect the process and encourage an open and honest dialog.

And there's quite a bit of good that can come from the primary, not the least of which is having the likely nominee get some District-wide campaigning experience before facing Chris Shays and all the resources that the RNCC can put at his disposal. Because you just KNOW the Republicans are going to fight tooth and nail to maintain their last GOP seat in New England.

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