Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dave Woodward, Oakland County Democrat Chair, in Spinal Column on the Peters/Knollenberg race

The May 21 edition of the Spinal Column contains a rather lengthy interview with Oakland County Democratic Party chair, Dave Woodward. Woodward had some specific comments about the Peters/Knollenberg race you may find interesting.
SCN: U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg has been targeted by the Democratic Party and is considered to be vulnerable this year, after barely beating his Democratic opponent in 2006. Tell us why you think Gary Peters can be successful in the general election.

Woodward: Gary Peters understands first and foremost what's most important to the voters of Oakland County, and that's leadership that will help create jobs. Gary, in his own rite, has a huge amount of experience in serving his country in the Navy, serving his community while being everything from being a city councilman to being a state senator, completely within the district, to being an administrator when he worked as director of state lottery and generated record revenues for public education. (He has) all those things combined with broad leadership and values in sync with the priorities of this county, and he knows how to run a campaign. But most importantly he knows how to lead with his values and voters in Oakland County want change. They are sick and tired of the same old policies that have gotten our county and our nation in the situation that it is in. Joe Knollenberg has voted with President Bush almost 100 percent of the time and continues to embrace those failed policies. So voters have to ask themselves are they ready for change, are they ready for a new direction, are they ready for someone who's going to fight for job creation and to keep jobs from being outsourced overseas, investment in our young people in terms of early education and higher education, and protecting our environment.

Joe Knollenberg has scored very low in all of those arenas. Voters will have that opportunity. I'm very confident things are going to change.

SCN: We don't nearly as often hear that U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter is as vulnerable as Knollenberg, but his district has traditionally been a swing area. Please explain why you do or don't think the Democratic Party should shift some of its focus away from defeating Knollenberg and devote more toward knocking off McCotter.

Woodward: I think it's a couple things. I think Knollenberg and McCotter are equally vulnerable. There's no question. I think, again, voters in general want a change. I think when you look at Joe Knollenberg's record, he is extremely out of touch, much more entrenched in Washington. Is he easier? I guess I don't know. I do expect significant resources will be spent in the 11th Congressional District, which Congressman McCotter represents. You have to remember this stuff isn't happening in a vacuum, that we're going to have a presidential campaign like Michigan has never seen before. Whomever that nominee is — and very likely, most likely it will be Sen. Barack Obama — you'll see an immense amount of resources spent to make sure we maximize the turnout of every single voter in Michigan, thereby including both congressional districts. I don't believe at some levels there are significant resources that take on incumbents, unfortunately. It's by flawed design that incumbents automatically walk out with huge leads in these kinds of races. You need candidates who can raise money. You have two democratic candidates who really are breaking records across the country in the amount of money they've been able to raise this early in the game. So that's why there's a lot of attention in the Knollenberg (district) but I wouldn't say that we're writing off the other races. I think we are going to have them and can pull off these elections come November. I think there will be a lot of surprises. There will be races that couldn't have of been won, but will be won because voters are frustrated with the direction George Bush has taken this country, and people want change.

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