Last week I posted the results of some Congressional shopping I've been doing. I've been looking for competitive Congressional races that aren't awash in money, so my meager donations will have more of an impact. I'd rather give to House races than Senate races, because we're a lot closer to taking over the House in 2006 and controlling a chamber allows all sorts of awesomeness like committee control and subpoena power. Trouble is, you have to look hard to find competitive liberals in inexpensive House races.
On that note, let me introduce you to Dr. Victoria Wulsin. I've always wanted to give money to candidates who would someday guide the distribution of humanitarian aid to poor countries, and that's Victoria's specialty. Before running for Congress, she directed a 5-year, $30 million program to improve women's health in five countries in Asia and Africa. She has also helped USAID with reconstruction in Rwanda after the genocide. Most recently, she founded an organization to fight AIDS in Africa.
She's very impressive on issues closer to home, too. It's rare that I see something that really strikes me on a candidate's issues page (mostly, people have boilerplate rhetoric that I could recite in my sleep), but here's what Victoria has to say about abortion:
I have practiced medicine in countries such as El Salvador, Venezuela, and Kenya, where abortion is not legal, and I have witnessed the death of women – and girls – who I could not save because their self-inflicted bleeding or infections were too far-advanced. Criminalizing abortion will not stop it but does endanger the lives of both mother and child.
Throughout my career I have worked to reduce abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancies through the proven methods of education and family planning. As the mother of four sons, I know the decision to have a child is the biggest decision a woman ever makes. That’s why it should be made by a woman in consultation with her doctor, not by the government.
Now, if you're like me, you're thinking "Okay, I definitely want this woman in Congress. But can she win?"
I know of two polls in this race -- a Wulsin internal poll that had the candidates tied, and now an independent SUSA poll that has Jean Schmidt leading her 45-42. I've emailed a Wulsin staffer I know who says they haven't done any other internals, so it's not like there's some bad poll with Schmidt up 18 that's not being released. On Wednesday, the Swing State Project had a rundown on all the trouble Schmidt has got herself into over the last couple months. (Since then, a mini-scandal has broken about Schmidt plagiarizing a press release by Rep. Deborah Pryce to write an editorial. See for yourself -- here's the Pryce press release from July 10, here's the Schmidt editorial from Sept. 13.)I was originally worried about this race -- if Paul Hackett couldn't win on OH-2, who could? But back when she was running against Hackett, Schmidt hadn't damaged herself by insulting John Murtha on the House floor and getting in all sorts of other trouble. And as always, any tactical theories I have are subject to the mercies of the polls, which show Wulsin doing surprisingly well. When Markos came to Austin on Thursday, his explanation was that Hackett's aggressive promotion of the Democratic brand had paid off. Back when I gave money to Hackett, that was one of my hopes, but I didn't expect things to go so well so fast.
The fundraising data we have is pretty stale -- it's from the end of June -- but it shows Wulsin at $25K and Schmidt at $18K. This blew me away. A race with ten times that money at the end of June is cheap! This is a US House race that's priced like a state House race. I'm sort of rubbing my eyes to see if this is real. But I've already given a little money, and if things look the same a couple mornings hence, I'll realize that I wasn't dreaming and drop more cash into this one. You, as always, are warmly invited to piggyback on my race-shopping efforts and contribute through my werewolf-themed ActBlue page.