How I’d improve the FireDogs list…

You heard me kvetch about it earlier, but it’s not fair to complain without also proposing a solution. My biggest criticism is that there’s no sifting mechanism. To be fair, FDL has three criteria for support:

  • Pledged to vote against any health care reform bill that doesn’t have a public option.
  • Voted against the June 2009 war supplemental funding package.
  • Pledged to vote against any war funding that doesn’t have troop withdrawal provisions.

Nice ‘n’ easy, right? Except that FDL gives you the option to nominate and vote for any Congressman. That renders the criteria pointless. You might as well nominate a Republican for FireDog consideration.

I’m not kidding! You can vote for Chris Carney, Earl Pomeroy, Bobby Bright, Collin Peterson, the list goes on and on. Hell, you can even vote for BART STUPAK – I shit you not.

You have to scroll down to the twentieth name – Eric Massa – before you run into someone who voted for even one of FDL’s three key criteria. It’s not until you get to Raul Grijalvaabout fifty or sixty names down (I quit counting) – that you get a Congressman who voted with FDL’s line all the way through. The reason why is because the list is ranked by PVI, with the most Republican districts at the top.

So what would I change?

  • I’d have more than just a 3-plank criteria for selection. I’d also look at larger advancement of progressive power and goals. For example, Alan Grayson hasn’t voted on any of those 3 key planks, but no one can argue with a straight face that he hasn’t advanced progressive power this year.
  • I’d cut out anyone who’s obviously an ill-fit for the FireDog program. Sure, you can argue that “the people” will cut down the chaff, but why even let it go that far? It’s safe to say that neither Carney nor Chet Edwards should be on any contest that FDL is running – let the DCCC protect them, it’s what they’re for. And that’s without getting to Stupak – good Lord!
  • Most importantly, narrow it down to Congressmen and Congresswomen whose districts have a PVI ranging from R+5 to D+5. That still gives you a decently-sized list of 55 Members of Congress. That does two things: it removes people living in obviously safe or unsafe districts; it also starts targeting your resources to where they’re needed most. From there, apply the other two bullet points. Someone like Stupak gets binned for obvious reasons, and if they haven’t voted or supported at least one of the planks, then they need to show (like Grayson has) why they deserve to have FDL’s support – besides just having a “D” next to their name.

My end goal is to cut down that list to between 10-20 names, with my preference being towards the lower end of that scale. Let’s split the difference, and make it 15. My list would be:

  • Eric J. J. Massa
  • Thomas S. P. Perriello
  • Alan Grayson
  • Steve Kagen
  • Timothy J. Walz
  • Carol Shea-Porter
  • Patrick J. Murphy
  • David R. Obey
  • James A. Himes
  • Bruce Braley
  • Brad Miller
  • Rush D. Holt
  • Martin Heinrich
  • Anthony D. Weiner
  • Peter DeFazio

You’ve got a decent mix of rookies and veterans on that list, you’ve got people who’ve either pledged to support one of the FDL planks, have been progressive champions in the past, or both…it’s a solid list. Oh, and it doesn’t have Bart Stupak or Dennis Kucinich. You can make a reasonable case for anyone on that list to receive FDL support.

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