These are terrible times we're living in. People are worried and demoralized. But these are also the days of Ned Lamont's victory in Connecticut and court rulings against King Bush and his wiretapping violations of our Constitution. So, to my point of view, things are looking up. But it takes action on the part of each and every one of us to translate hopefulness into victory. It's not too late. Each of us must make a determination to come out and participate so that voters of this sprawling district can hear the message and learn the vast difference that exists between Chris's campaign and those of the other candidates.
In case I haven't woken you up to the importance of the Chris Owens campaign, I'm gonna state it again ---
Chris is the one and only genuine progressive running. Thus, should progressives heartily embrace his campaign as their own. Thus, should every progressive actively support this race with every fiber of their being.Yesterday, I stood on the steps of City Hall with some 100 other supporters as Chris held a press conference to showcase new endorsements. Assembly members Jim Brennan and Deborah Glick gave Chris strong endorsements. They saw a clear difference between Chris's campaign and that of the others running: Chris's consistently progressive credentials and positions on the issues: the war, runaway development, civil rights, democracy and so on.
Chris Owens addresses the press at City Hall.
Chris receving the strong endorsement of Assemblyman Jim Brennan.
Assemblywoman Deborah Glick giving her endorsement.
Other endorsers were present: the Sierra Club, the Brooklyn/Queens chapter of the National Organization of Women, One Hundred Black Women For Chris Owens, Develop - Don't Destroy (the leaders of the anti-Ratner/Pataki/Bloomberg plan for mega-development in downtown Brooklyn), labor leader Henry Foner and others from labor, activists from Brooklyn's peace movment and so on.
Later that evening, I attended an event at the Picket Fence, a new restaurant on Cortelyou Road. The Cortelyou Road Merchants Association had called a candidates' night. Some 60 people or so, some dining, some sitting around, filled the restaurant's pleasant back yard. Chris and his opponent, David Yassky (Carl Andrews came later) gave opening statements.
You could call me biased in Chris's favor but, trying to be objective, there was absolutely no contest. Chris scored a knockout in the first round! Amazingly, Yassky, though depicting himself in campaign literature as a supporter of peace, never once mentioned the most important issue facing the country: the war in Iraq. Not once! But he did point proudly to Chuck Schumer (who has a distinctly pro-war position) as his mentor. He rambled on, dwelling on what he said were his achievements in the City Council (hybrid taxis) and touted his support for affordable housing along the waterfront in north Brooklyn. Just how he could be a champion of affordable housing while, at the same time, receving vast financial support from big real estate developers was not mentioned.
Chris, on the other hand, was eloquent and passionate. His first point of reference was the war and how it has robbed the district of desperately needed funds for health and education. It was clear that he had a very firm grip on the issues and he was warmly received by the audience as he discoursed on questions of democracy, civil rights, impeachment (he's for it; Yassky said it was a diversion), women's rights, marriage equality, housing, etc.
It was clear to me that this man would make a great member of Congress...one who, once elected, would not waffle on the issues. In just these few minutes it was apparent that Yassky would be "just another Democrat" in the mold of Senators Clinton and Schumer and that Chris was offering a different vision: a fighting Democrat who would stand on principle and on behalf of people's needs.
But the huge chasm, in quality and position, between the Chris and the other candidates is not the obstacle in this race. The obstacle is getting the people of the district to see and hear those differences. The problem, of course, is money - which Yassky and Andrews have plenty of. Folks living in the district have been blanketed, over and over, with slick, glossy, color ads touting Yassky's benefits (and hiding his defecits).
Chris doesn't have the big bucks. The only thing that he has going for him is people. That's why it's so vitally important that each and every one of us pitch in to help this campaign. If it means a contribution, that's a good start. But, more important, it means bodies - leafleting, postering, canvassing, phoning - in short, reaching out to the people of Brooklyn's 11th C.D. and to get out the vote. Our participation can and will make a difference. But if we let someone else do it - it isn't going to get done and we lose the voice of a progressive fighter in Congress. It's as simple as that. Are you ready? Call to volunteer now: 718-604-7500.
Chris, last night, at the Picket Fence. Carl Andrews, left, wtih hands on hips and Davis Yassky, seated, right.