Crossposted at My Left Wing, Daily Kos, ePluribus Media, and Booman Tribune
I first heard about scandal-ridden Bob Ney's bigoted robocall against opponent Zack Space in this post at Buckeye State Blog. It seems Bob Ney, who is constantly in the news due to investigations into his possible ethics violations and ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, is falling back on the standard tactic of the truly desperate Republican--appealing to people's fears and prejudices. (Side note: see editorial Nervous GOP focuses on hot buttons) Rachel Maddow has a rough transcript of the robocall, as well as her own commentary on the matter posted here.
"Hello, my name is Juanita (?) and I am very concerned about what I've heard recently about Congressional Candidate Zack Space. Zack claims to care about Ohio Values. He has been spending a lot of time lately with national liberal and gay rights leaders to raise money for his campaign. Just last week Zack was on an ultra-liberal radio show from New York City hosted by a cross dressing lesbian when he told me that social values are no longer that important. Zack Space claims the 18th District wants a progressive leader. But we all know that progressive is nothing more than a code word for higher taxes, more gun control, more abortions, and more gay marriages. Tell Zack Space that social values do matter to those of us in Ohio. Even if they don't matter to his ultra-liberal friends in the rest of the country. Paid for by Bob Ney for Congress"Read the transcript of Zack Space's interview with Rachel Maddow on Air America below to see how the call is (duh) a gross misrepresentation of what was actually said. Also--something that was news to me since I'm not in his district--it was heartening to hear of a case in Ohio where a candidate won the primary in spite of not being the one supported by the national Democratic poobahs.
Maddow: Zack Space is the man tasked with removing Bob Ney from Congress in the midterm elections this November. You may know Bob Ney. "Representative Number One"--that's how he's described in *five separate* criminal corruption plea agreements. He's a man who the House Ethics Committee yesterday said they were launching an investigation into, the Justice Department has already launched an investigation into him. Zack Space is the nominee in Ohio's 18th Congressional District, running as an underdog against Bob Ney. Zack Space joins us on the phone from Ohio this morning. Thank you very much for joining us!
Space: Thank you for having me! Good morning.
Maddow: I'm cognizant of the fact that my introduction may have made you a little bit uncomfortable. Your campaign has not been about Bob Ney being a corrupt guy. You really haven't made that the centerpiece of your campaign.
Space: Well, we really haven't had to. (Laughs) When we pick up our newspaper it's the front page story, even here in the district which, incidentally was the last media network to pick up on it. But people here at home are finally getting what kind of guy Bob Ney really is.
Maddow: Now, he has argued--Mr. Ney himself has argued--that people *in* the 18th District are *not* concerned about those ethics question, that's not the kind of thing that's going to be driving their vote this November. He says people are more concerned about Iraq and gas prices, and he's confident that he's going to be re-elected. What's your response to that?
Space: Well, he's also argued he's done nothing wrong. People are talking about the corruption. And there's a sense--this is a good thing--there's a sense that the high gas prices, or high health care costs, even unfair trade policies...these are all a product of a system that's corrupt. Bob Ney's corruption is bad enough in and of itself, and that alone may end up bringing him down. But it's the cost of that corruption, Rachel, that people are beginning to get a sense of.
Maddow: So you think people are beginning to make a connection between Bob Ney being investigated for taking bribes from lobbyists like Jack Abramoff, and then the lobbyists, in turn, pushing bills that aren't good for the American people.
Space: I don't think there's any question about it.
Maddow: Yeah, it's not a very big leap to make. And my personal take on the way the unfolding corruption stuff has been covered in the last couple years is that the Republican take in it has been "You know what? All of these scandals are complicated, and the rules that people are breaking are hard to understand, and if we can just muddy the waters enough, people won't be able to connect the dots and come up with a moral, values message here. I don't think that's true. I think people think "bribery" and that's why we're not getting the right thing out of our government.
Space: Well, I agree. Things are bad here in southeastern Ohio. Our economy is down, jobs...the manufacturing base has left, and people are having a hard time making house payments, certainly sending their kids to college. You know, there may be a higher tolerance for that sort of activity when the trains are running on time and people are satisfied with their situations, but that's just simply not the case.
Maddow: Tell me a little more about the 18th District. I know geographically where you're at, I know a *little* bit about the economics there. It's considered a district that leans Republican. Why do you think that is?
Space: Well, kind of on a related note, in the past, social issues have been hot buttons that often times, people in this area have based their votes upon. But they're more willing to do that when, again, things are going well for them. But when they can't balance their checkbooks, and the banks are foreclosing on our homes, those social issues are no longer so important.
People in this area have every reason to be Democrats, every reason to be progressive, and I think now that, I just sense a change in direction.
Maddow: I want to ask you about how you got here, because you were not the favorite, from the way national polls were talking about your election in the primary. The Democratic "powers that be" had thrown their money and some support to a guy who came in third in the primary, not to you. You were kind of the surprise winner there. Do you feel like you've got an uphill battle to fight in terms of getting Democratic support and getting your name out there?
Space: At this point, no. We've been assured by those important people in Washington that they're on board. And they're good people, they're smart people, and I think one of the reasons that they took the position they did early on is that it's difficult to understand this district unless you live here. It wasn't a surprise to us that we won. We won because of a very strong, broad-based, grassroots effort. We spent less money, certainly didn't have the national recognition or support that one of my opponents did, but we did it the right way. We touched people, we communicated our message, we invested people in the process--
Maddow: Did you go door to door? How did you beat them with the money disadvantage.
Space: We did that. We did a lot of door to door. I knocked on a lot of doors myself personally. We worked the phone banks with our volunteers, we did lit drops, we just went out and communicated with the people. And we understood that there was a need to do that, we did it very aggressively, and it paid off.
Maddow: When you're looking ahead at November, the prospects for someone in a race like yours, as best as I can tell, really have a lot to do with what the overall tide is in the country. Obviously every election is local, and every voter makes a decision based on local issues, but if there's a tidal wave of Democratic sentiment in November, obviously that's going to be good for you. And I wonder, given that you're running from a pretty conservative district that's been represented by a Republican who's in trouble now, I wonder if you could give some advice to the national Democratic party for how to run the elections in November--what the message should be. What kind of national Democratic message would help you out in your district?
Space: Well, it goes back to that corruption, and not just the corruption but the cost of that corruption. Ohio has been plagued by corruption from all different segments. We've got a governor who's been convicted, we've got people in his administration have been tied to the--I'm sure you've heard about the Tom Noe Coingate scandal--
Maddow: Oh yes! I've done a lot of ill-informed ranting about that, because it's so scandalous!
Space: And we've been barraged with that stuff here. I really think the message is that special interests, big business, large corporations have been calling the shots for far too long, and there's a price that's being payed for it now, and it's a matter of priority. And the corruption is a manifestation of a larger, more insidious problem. And I think that's the message--that this government is supposed to be here for us!
Maddow: Yeah. And if you're not getting out of your government what you want to be getting out of your government, maybe it's because your government isn't working for you. The government is working for the people that have gamed the system.
Space: That's exactly right, Rachel.
Maddow: Zack Space--good luck!
Space: Hey Rachel, can I give myself a plug?
Space: I've got a web site your listeners might be interested in. We've got a chance of capturing a seat. We need 15. This is one we can get, and I need help. We're raising money but we need help. We're up against some big institutions, and if we're going to win it's going to be because people recognize the importance of putting a progressive candidate in office, not just in my district but around the country.
Space: My web site-- www.zackspace.org
Maddow: And, of course, you're helped *immeasurably*, at least in the web world, by having *the* single most memorable congressional candidate name in a generation!
Space: And you know, that's a real name--it's not a stage name.
Maddow: (Laughing) Well, you know, if you ever wanted a career in, like, New York cabaret after this is all over, you don't have to change your name to do that either. Zack Space, thanks a lot!
Space: Appreciate it, Rachel.
You can donate to Zack Space's campaign through the Howard-Empowered Act Blue page by clicking the link below.
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