"No recounts? I mean, why bother even having elections? Bring in these electronic voting machines, hire a few people to flip the votes, outlaw recounts. You'd save a lot of money by outlawing elections!"
"We conducted a mock arrest at the Secretary of State's office. We went over with our 10-foot high arrest warrant for grand voting theft which we issued to McPherson for certifying those evil machines --- the TSx --- with a 30% failure rate and announcing the certification on a holiday weekend when nobody was paying attention."
-- Marcy Winograd, Candidate U.S. House of Representatives, CA 36th District
Marcy Winograd "was tired of our leaders not listening to us." So she decided to run against one of them --- Jane Harman, another Democrat --- who she felt wasn't listening.
You may not have heard of Winograd yet. But it's time you do.
Winograd hopes to represent California's 36th congressional district (West and Southwest Los Angeles). On June 6th she faces off in the California primary election against the powerful incumbent Harman --- a six-term Democratic U.S. Congresswoman who Winograd describes as a "Bush Democrat".
A 12-year board-certified teacher and activist, Winograd received the 2004 Los Angeles Democrat of the Year award. She's been making waves in the progressive community with her grassroots assault on the incredibly well-financed, pro-war Harman, who has a record of voting consistently with the Bush administration.
Drive around the west side of Los Angeles and you'll see plenty of signs for both Harman and Winograd on telephone poles --- but on people's lawns, you only see Winograd signs. She's making waves?and even Harman's beginning to listen.
Winograd is part of the Impeach Team --- three congressional candidates who have made impeaching George W. Bush and Dick Cheney part of their platform.
She's also a staunch defender of election protection issues and has been fighting tooth and nail to prevent the hostile takeover of California's elections by the right. Unlike so many Democrats, she's unafraid to talk about issues of election integrity --- and she's got a plan in case there's any whiff of chicanery at the ballot box. Okay, so now she's got us listening too.
She recently gave The BRAD BLOG at least an hour of her time for an exclusive interview on everything that actually matters to America right now. We thought that was a refreshing change of pace for a Democrat. So we like her. A lot. And think you will too?
BRAD BLOG: What made you want to get into this race?
MARCI WINOGRAD: I was tired of our leaders not listening to us. I was particularly outraged at my opponent's lack of regard for our rights and her willingness to go along with Bush's illegal wiretaps, not to mention supporting the Iraq war since before the first bomb was dropped.
I call her a Bush Democrat, and I wonder who she's working for. Her top contributors were defense contractors. Up until a few weeks ago, she was wearing a B-2 bomber pin. I wonder, would she wear a pin with the face of a child whose face had been blown off?
BB: You support immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. Polls show it's what Americans want. So why do you think the issue seems to be a non-starter with the Democrats in general?
MW: I think many of them have the mentality that only we can resolve the situation. Some of them may be well-intentioned, wanting to fix the mess that we're in. But some of them may also want to have a hand in Iraq's governance. I think there are probably some leaders in both houses of Congress who believe the United States knows best and should be police officer of the world.
MW: I hope so. I hope that we do have some heroes left. Conyers, Feingold, Kucinich, I know they're concerned about Iran and the administration's reckless wars. Will there be a resounding chorus? I don't know. That's one of the reasons why I ran--when I watched Jane Harman surrender the constitution on Meet the Press, I thought, what's she going to do when Bush tries to invade Iran? That's why I'm here today. We have to raise our voices in opposition.
There's something fundamentally wrong when you're on the House Intelligence Committee, and you're bankrolled by the defense industry. There's a conflict of interest. She shouldn't be taking any donations from defense contractors.
BB: You've been outspoken on election protection issues, but the corporate media refuses to deal with it and often treats the issue with hostility.
MW: I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that newspapers and television stations are cutting their staff, spending less and less money on investigative reporting. People are unwilling to spend the time and energy or are not getting paid to do that, to scrutinize our election process. There are details involved, and one needs to stay on top of those details and probe a little. [Perhaps they don't] feel it's worthy of their investment--even though it's our democracy on the chopping block.
I think it's unfortunate that the Democratic party has not recognized the problematic nature of electronic voting machines. They've allowed county registrars and secretaries of state to use machines that are highly vulnerable to manipulation and are jeopardizing our vote.
But any time you start talking about election protection, it's almost as though you are morphing into a conspiracy theorist.
BB: That's what they try to paint us as. As you know, here in California, they ousted a secretary of state who ardently protected our voting rights.
MW: Yeah. I ran the 2004 Democratic Club headquarters in Santa Monica. We were all so confused at that time. [Former CA Secretary of State] Kevin Shelley said that electronic voting machines had to have a paper trail. And that was when we started with early voting, I believe, in LA County. Early voting machines didn't have a paper trail. We called up the Secretary of State and said, "What's going on? They should have a paper trail." Called up our County Registrar --- "Nope, they don't have to have a paper trail." I guess there was a war underway before we realized it.
Unfortunately, now we have [Secretary of State] Bruce McPherson, who's not doing his job.
BB: He has caved at every turn to the voting machine companies.
MW: I testified against his confirmation, realizing that he was a very popular guy --- affable and very well-liked in Sacramento. It wasn't his personality at issue but his strength of character. His transition team included a Diebold lobbyist and a Republican fundraiser and strategist. The fact that he put them on his transition team, or allowed someone else to put them on, spoke volumes about his judgment.
BB: The swiftboating of Shelley [who resigned under fire in 2004 after decertifying Diebold machines in CA], and then the installation of McPherson--it's obvious certain people had their eye on stealing California from the get-go.
MW: It definitely looks like a plot.
BB: You sent a barnburner of an e-mail to everyone on your list warning them not to vote early but to wait 'til election day because of the potential of election fraud. This is the first time we can think of a Democratic candidate ever doing that, and we say bravo! But aren't the Ink-A-Vote cards [paper ballots used in LA County] counted by a Diebold central tabulator?
MW: That is a possibility. I haven't gotten a straight answer on that. Depending on the occasion and who I talk to, I am told that we're using MicroTally or we're using Diebold. At one point a group of us showed up at the county registrar's office, and the woman who was rolling a cart by told us, "Yes, of course we're using Diebold."
I don't feel comfortable about that either, but at least we know that we do have a paper trail that if we wanted to, we could recount.
BB: A lot of folks believe [Paul] Hackett lost to [Jean] Schmidt in Ohio's recent special election courtesy of electronic vote manipulation. Do you have any way to prevent this from happening to you?
MW: We are going to have parallel elections outside specific precincts. The LA Times is supposed to do some polling, I think. So we'll see how all that stacks up. We're letting people know that we'll be watching and that we're ready, and we're not going to roll over. I've heard from sources in Washington that [Harman and I are] running very close. I have not done a poll myself. But if [the results are questionable], I would feel that I have an obligation to [fight], because I'm not just running as Marcy Winograd, I'm running as part of a progressive movement.
BB: You're running as the vast majority of America who are just pissed off with the way things are going. Tell us about the Impeach Team.
MW: I have teamed up with Bob McCloskey, who is running against Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Charles Coleman, who's running against Howard Berman (D-CA), another incumbent. We cut a commercial that is airing on Air America urging people to sign our petition calling on all the members of Congress to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney. The ads are also going to be running on KNX 1070 news radio here in Los Angeles.
BB: Down in Florida, as I'm sure you're aware, they've passed anti-recount legislation.
The machine's verdict is now final.
MW: That's very, very scary. No recounts? I mean, why bother even having elections? Bring in these electronic voting machines, hire a few people to flip the votes, outlaw recounts. You'd save a lot of money just by outlawing elections.
BB: I'm sure you're aware of Florida election fraud whistleblower Clint Curtis, who's running against the man that he says asked him to create vote-rigging software, Congressman Tom Feeney. Like yourself, Curtis is making a splash with his tough talk on election fraud. Hopefully things in California are not as bad as in Florida.
MW: I hope. We try to put people on notice. We conducted a mock arrest at the Secretary of State's office. We went over to the Secretary of State's office with our 10-foot high arrest warrant for grand voting theft which we issued to McPherson for certifying those evil machines --- the TSx --- with a 30% failure rate and announcing the certification on a holiday weekend when nobody was paying attention.
We occupied the office for awhile, and we sang to the tune of "This Land is Your Land," "This Vote is Our Vote." We tried to deliver the summons, but what do you know? We were blocked. But we have to keep the pressure on.
BB: Tell us a little about IRV, instant run-off voting.
MW: Right now, under this winner-take-all system we have, people are reluctant to vote for candidates they think might not win. But under instant run-off voting, you vote for a candidate, and then you have a second choice. So either one of their choices could count. I think it would go a long way towards democratizing our choices. Because clearly we see the Republicans and the Democrats colluding [to eliminate third party challenges]. I think the more voices we hear, the richer the dialogue.
There's still a lot of confusion out there about it, though. There's some education to be done first.
[For a quick IRV primer please visit www.fairvote.org/irv/faq.htm.]
BB: What's it going to take to get the Democrats to wake up and just refuse to play ball with any Bush policies, appointees, wars, you name it?
MW: Some successful challenges to their positions of power. It may take a few million people marching into the halls of Congress. It may take soldiers refusing to fight. It may take a lot of different forms. But I think the challenge in the primary is very important. I just could not sit by and watch the Democratic party collude with Bush and Cheney, deny us our civil liberties.
Everywhere I go in the 36th district, people say, "Where are the Democrats? Why don't they have any spine?" And I wonder, don't these people in Congress hear this conversation?
BB: Marcy, it was wonderful to talk to you. We here in the blogging community have your back. Is there anything you'd like to add?
MW: Just how wonderful it is to be in this campaign. It's just fun driving around, meeting people in the streets, talking about getting out of Iraq. We were able to get United Teachers of Los Angeles to rescind its endorsement of Jane Harman. The union represents 40,000 teachers. When I first called them and told them I was running for Congress, the head of the personnel action committee couldn't wait to get off the phone with me. I'm not somebody that you say no to. I had been a member of UTLA for 12 years, so we brought our Winograd vs. Harman poster and reminded them that the union had adopted an anti-war resolution a few years ago. Did they know that their union was about to endorse a pro-war incumbent? After a few lobbying sessions, we were able to turn the vote around.
People will say, "How can you take on a 6-term incumbent with more money than God who's the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee?" And my response is you can have all the money and perceived power in the world, but you can't rewrite your record. [Harman's] record is one of championing a war based on lies and not providing oversight on the House Intelligence Committee, of becoming an accomplice, if not an architect, of this messy little wiretapping program? There's nothing you can do to rewrite that kind of history. The voting record is there.
Just for the record, in case people say, "Oh, she doesn't have the resources," I have invested my own personal money in this campaign, and outside of that we have raised over $100,000 so far.
[For more information on Marcy Winograd, please visit www.WinogradForCongress.com.]