Progressive Eyes US Rep. Harman (D-CA) Seat

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(APN) ATLANTA – Marcy Winograd was so shocked to see US Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) enable President Bush’s illegal wiretapping program, that she decided to run for her seat this November. But now, Winograd’s grassroot campaign has been so successful, it has blocked the Democratic Party from pre-endorsing Harman, a six-term Congresswoman.

“I actually made the decision to run after seeing the interview on Meet the Press, when she said she didn’t know the law as she sat on the House Intelligence Committee,” Winograd, 52, said, in a phone interview with Atlanta Progressive News.

Harman “said she couldn’t have spoken up at the time because she didn’t have access to a constitutional lawyer and that she would’ve been breaking the law,” Winograd recounted.

Harman said she couldn’t even consult with lawyers because even that would’ve exposed government secrets [about its illegal practices], according to a Meet the Press transcript. “I support the program. I never flinched from that,” Harman had said.

“But they were the ones breaking the law!” Winograd said, referring to Bush and his administration.

“If I had been in that position, I’d have said, here’s a copy of the Constitutional and the Bill of Rights. You are in violation, and you need to stop this immediately. I certainly would have broken the story. At some point you have to blow the whistle when people are breaking the law, spying on Americans, in violation of the federal wiretapping law,” Winograd told Atlanta Progressive News.

“What is the logical extension of the argument that it’s wrong to ever under any circumstances reveal classified information? What happens if we live in a police state, and people are disappeared off the street, or people are tortured and we know about it? Who are we serving, are we serving Bush or the people?” Winograd explained.

“It sound farfetched but we have people who’ve been sitting in prisons right now without charges, sitting there for years,” Winograd said.

Winograd also finds suspect Harman’s explanation that she didn’t understand the FISA law. “She graduated from Harvard Law School. She sat on the Intelligence Committee. If you’re familiar with the Constitution, you would question whether wiretapping on Americans is legal. That was her job, to be a watchdog as much as anything.”

“Even after the fact, she said it was deplorable that the American people knew,” Winograd said.

Winograd is a former manager of Southern California’s progressive KPFK radio, a Pacifica station. More recently she has been an English teacher for Los Angeles public schools, at both the middle school and high school levels. She also is a leader with the California chapter of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).

Winograd had never envisioned she would run for US Congress, she said, but she felt so compelled to do so when she saw Harman betray democratic principles.

Winograd wants to represent “a 30 mile stretch of urban land from the Port of Los Angeles, up through a working class Wilmington, toward the gentrified areas of the beach cities (Redondo Beach), up to the liberal enclave of West L.A. (Venice),” she said. The District is 30% Latino, and includes El Segundo, a contracting area.

“The vast majority of Americans want to see the end to the US occupation of Iraq,” Winograd said, referring to recent poll reports. “There’s increasing disenchantment. My campaign is to represent that sentiment, and the real concerns of Americans about health care, and the needs of a single-payer system of universal health care.”

“People have been asking me for a few years, run Marcy run. I see sometimes some of the most effective politicians are in the grassroots movement. And so I had to make a choice whether I wanted to enter electoral politics,” Winograd said.

“This is a pivotal moment in US history. We’re at the precipice of losing our democracy. Who will stand up and challenge the leadership in Congress that is all too willing to surrender the constitution?”

“This is about the people, a groundswell for democratic leadership for America,” Winograd said.

“When Congressman John Conyers wrote a letter to Bush asking him to explain the Downing Street Memo, and 120 Congress Members signed it, Harman didn’t,” activist David Swanson wrote in an article.

“When Barbara Lee introduced a Resolution of Inquiry into the Downing Street Memo, and over 100 Members co-sponsored it, Harman didn’t,” Swanson wrote.

“Kucinich’s Resolution of Inquiry into the White House Iraq Group? No Jane.”

“Holt’s inquiry into the Plame leak? Uh-uh.”

“ Barbara Lee’s commission on pre-war intelligence? Not Harman.”

“Lee’s commission to monitor the treatment of prisoners in US custody? Jane was elsewhere,” Swanson wrote.

“If we’re to get lucky in 2006, in taking back Congress, then we need to be a party of the vision of a better America, and not that panders to the Bush administration’s edict of eternal war and militarism,” Winograd said.

The pre-endorsement process for Harman’s seat occurred last week. It was a meeting of 104 delegates, including a vote on whether to endorse a candidate for pre-endorsement prior to convention. “Usually it’s a no brainer, Harman should be able to sail through that. 70% is needed,” Winograd told Atlanta Progressive News.

“We picked up 35%. So it sent some shock waves for the Democratic Party in California. This isn’t to say she won’t get it later, but it sent a message that there’s less than full confidence in her leadership,” Winograd said.

“There are a lot of people who don’t realize there are 132 members of Congress who opposed Iraq war vote,” Winograd said she has discovered during her campaign. “She [Harman] championed the war. She sat on the Intelligence Committee. She did not pursue the objections, the questions raised,”

“The question is, did she read the objections, did she read them and ignore them, what happened?” Winograd exclaimed.

“Her voting record is primarily of support of the Patriot Act, suspending of due process, support for nuclear weapons, opposing the International Criminal Court,” Winograd said.

“There are a lot of people who are hungry for real leadership,” Winograd said, adding she would support US Rep. Conyers’s bill, H. Res 635, calling for a Select Committee to look into the grounds of Bush’s impeachment, if she were in office.

“For every action there’s a reaction,” Winograd said. Some members of the Democratic Party have swung to the conservative right, and “that has triggered an absolute reaction from progressives who say we want our country back,” Winograd said.

Winograd cited other progressives who are running against conservative Democrats throughout the country, including Ned Lamont who’s running against US Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Bob McCloskey running against US Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in Pasadena, and Charles Coleman running against US Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) in the Valley.

She said progressives can get involved in changing the character of the Democratic Party from within.

“We need to ask ourselves, what organizations do I belong to, do they endorse political candidates, if so, what is the process? Am I worth being heard in that process?” Winograd said.

The Democratic Convention which will determine the actual Party endorsement will occur at the end of April 2006. Voters get to make the ultimate choice at the primary on June 6th.

“I think I have a very good chance of winning. Because a primary is typically a low turnout, 27%, so I could win this race with 20,000 votes. And there’s a majority sentiment opposing a war, and my campaign is resonating,” Winograd said.

However, there has been virtually no mainstream coverage of campaign. Most of the existing coverage of Winograd’s campaign has been on the radio, satellite radio, internet news, and blogs.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the Editor and a National Correspondent of Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com

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This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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