Michigan — March 29, 2012 at 6:29 am

MONEY BOMB for Trevor Thomas: a true progressive taking on two millionaires in MI-03


A Campaign for us ALL

Trevor ThomasMichigan’s 3rd Congressional District is currently represented by Tea Party member Justin Amash. Polling shows that Amash is vulnerable and that this seat is actually competitive for Democrats. In February, I wrote about the Trevor Thomas filing paperwork to unseat Amash. Here is what I wrote about Thomas a week before he announced:

After spending some time speaking to Trevor Thomas, I came away impressed. He is smart, eloquent, fiery, and charismatic. He is a passionate advocate for the middle class and those without a political voice. At the same time he is pragmatic and a realist. I believe he will appeal to a broad section of Michigan voters. He is pro-Choice, a supporter of the rights of young people, vets and union members and he is decidedly NOT an establishment candidate, something that many voters will find compelling in the current political climate.

Thomas has a primary challenger this year as well, Democrat Steve Pestka, a former prosecutor, judge, state representative. Pestka had actually given Thomas his blessing when he was talking to area Democrats about his interest in running for the seat but it appears that once polling conducted by Thomas showed this as a potential get for Democrats, he decided to jump in as well. Pestka, who is anti-Choice, is a wealthy, self-funded, Democratic establishment candidate.

Thomas, on the other hand, is decidedly not self-funded which is why I’m joining a host of other bloggers today in a blog swarm to help the “Campaign for us all” raise some funds. You can contribute to Thomas’s “Campaign for us all” HERE. It’s important to contribute TODAY because his campaign has a critical fundraising deadline in the next 24 hours.

A few facts about Trevor Thomas:

  • Born and raised on the west side of the state
  • Both parents worked for over 30 years in a GM factory
  • Helped repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ by working with the Human Rights Campaign and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
  • An openly gay candidate
  • Endorsed by former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and former Lt. Gov. John Cherry
  • Pro-Choice

Here’s what Thomas himself wrote to me about his candidacy:

This is the seat once held by President Jerry Ford. My message centers on the values of Jerry Ford – a man who believed in clean water, the Civil Rights Act, LGBT equality, and a woman’s right to make her own personal health care decisions. To this day, the district still leans red, which is why have already started reaching across the aisle even while maintaining solidly progressive stances. My inclusive slogan, “A Campaign For Us All,” was unveiled at a campaign kickoff where I was introduced by longtime Republican and former Kent County GOP Party Chair Bob Eleveld.

Day after day the Republicans in Congress have been doing everything they can to deny women access to healthcare, the right to choose and have now put women at risk to increased violence. I’ve had enough – that’s why I am running for Congress to be a voice for women’s access to quality and safe healthcare.

I am the only Pro-Choice candidate running and I own it. I face a Democratic opponent who would side with Republicans attacks on Choice. We know we cannot beat a Republican by challenging him with a conservative Democrat who stands against access to healthcare, we need a champion for our Values.

This is a candidate that his “Democratic” opponent (really? anti-Choice?) Pestka said holds “extreme political views”. I don’t know about you but a message of inclusion, working with others and solid progressive themes just don’t seem all that “extreme” to me. I’m informed by the Pestka campaign that Steve Pestka was not referring to Trevor Thomas when he talked about “extreme political views from either side that lead us nowhere”. I retract this statement and apologize for the error.

I encourage you to contribute to Trevor Thomas’s candidacy today.

Here are a couple of videos I think you’ll enjoy. The first is his powerful announcement video. The second is his of his appearance on The War Room with Jennifer Granholm on Current TV:

You can watch him on The Young Turks HERE.

Other blogs participating in the blog swarm/money bomb for Trevor Thomas:

  • Marcy Wheeler at EmptyWheel
  • John Avavosis and Joe Sudbay at AmericaBlog
  • Pam Spaulding at Pam’s House Blend
  • Bil Browning at Bilerico Project
  • Joe Jarvis at Joe.My.God
  • Jeremy Hooper at Good As You
  • Andy Towle, Towleroad
  • Karen Ocamb at LGBT POV
  • Howie Klein, DownWithTyranny.com
  • Scott Wooledge, Daily Kos
  • David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

Please contribute TODAY.

  • wmrharris

    So here’s how one of the regulars might think about young Trevor:
    He grew up in Ottawa County (Marne) — that’s the Second District
    His parents worked in Wyoming — that’s the Second District
    He went to school at Grand Valley in Allendale — that’s the Second District

    I’m all for progressives, but I’m looking for his connections.

    Now as to his campaign, the one element that actually does set him apart and makes him deeply competitive is his work on behalf of men and women in the military. Those are the real creds. Instead we get this over-eager praise of Jerry Ford — weird since anyone younger than about 55 has never had the opportunity even to vote for the man.  (And anyone familiar with Ford’s actual economic and political record would certainly raise an eyebrow)

    And btw, the other Democratic campaign is most certainly not self-funded.

    • Are you suggesting that Steve Pestka is not contributing a significant amount of his own money to their campaigns? I happen to KNOW this is false.

      • wmrharris

        I would expect that Pestka would put in his own money, too. In nearly eery campaign I’ve worked on, that has been the case; the candidate kicks it in. You don’t need deep pockets. I think it is more a function of of all entrepreneurial activities, yoiu bgin with the money nearest and dearest, that of yourself and friends.

        That said the Pestka campaign, like that of Thomas, has had its fundraisers to begin raising the initial cash for the run.

        And even as a “millionaire” Pestka has nowhere near the cash to self-fund this baby. Who ever wins the primary will have to raise significant sums, well in excess of one million.

        One other word: This need for self funding out of the gate has always been the headache for start-up campaigns, all the more for young insurgent ones. It is a structural disadvantage, and often the young candidate simply underestimates the problem, or the amount of money actually required for the run.  

        • Chuck

          If he didn’t understand what it takes to win, why would Granholm and Cherry risk backing him?

          • wmrharris

            the easiest answer, is that Trevor Thomas began working in the Granholm administration. He legitimately earned their trust, served them and our state well, and so won their recommendation. From a West Michigan perspective, they assume little risk in their backing.

    • Chuck

      And guess where he lives now? Alpine! Guess where Alpine is? The Third District!

      So he grew up a few miles outside the district? That says he understands the values of the area!

      So his parents used to work a couple miles outside the district? Hello, people COMMUTE! The quality and decency of a public servant should not be based on whether someone’s parents used to commute! What a pathetic line of attack!

      So he went to GVSU? Hello, there are no public universities in the Third! And don’t tell me he should’ve gone to Aquinas or Calvin – those are expensive! That he went to GVSU tells me he’s more in touch with West Michigan than most people! Another pathetic line of attack!

      And what about Ford’s economic and political record makes him unworthy of Thomas’s praise? Thomas’s idea of reaching out to the center is evoking memories of a popular leader who is well-respected in the area. And don’t give me this business about being under 55 – I wasn’t born until he was out of office, yet I still admire him!)

      Pestka’s idea of reaching out to the center? Joining the Reich-wing war on women!

      Trevor’s critics are already afraid. As they should be.

      • wmrharris

        I realize you’re young and out of the district, but still, it helps to have a local link when you want to run for office.At the end of the day campaigns will have to be local, with local leaders who buy into the vision of the campaign. So not having connections into the district, with other politicos who would have walked and worked along side him? Well, that is a hurdle.

         As to the auto industry, it simply is not as central a part of W Michigan economy let alone that of the new Third District. The biggest manufacturer was Steelcase. As  result, we have a broader, more diverse set of unions at the table in the Democratic Party — it’s not simply the UAW.  

        Then there’s the line about Gerald Ford. Really? Why of all the people born before your time do you pick him? A fiscal conservative, no friend to labor, some one who advocated tax credits for parochial schools — no question a decent man, and on key issues (a woman’s right to choose, gay rights) at least open. But speaking as some one who has tried to push the local GOP from power, nah. Sure Thomas can look to Ford as an inspiration, but that doesn’t help those who have actually been on the ground, in the trenches.

        Last, on Pestka — the reaching out to the center is present in this: he’s won elections. It escapes me how you praise Ford, and then go juvenile on Pestka. Offhand, I would always prefer the person who actually has stood up for progressive causes, who has been a known contributor to pro-choice politicians, who was also one of the very first to stand up for Jennifer Granholm when she ran. 

        I rather think that most Pestka campaign staff (and Thomas critics) are not terribly afraid. The Pestka campaign  bring together significant soft resources in terms of being able to run campaign. Granted, that Thomas could show himself to be a brilliant organizer and fundraiser, there is little to date that suggests that these are skills he presently possesses.

        • To both you and Chuck: We’ll see in time if Thomas has the organizing prowess needed to beat someone as well-known as Pestka. People say Thomas can’t win the general because people don’t know him. If that’s the case, then that problem will solve itself in the primary.

  • Eric

     Chris, I think your version of events is slightly misinformed.  First, Democrats have been recruiting Steve Pestka ever since both Pat Miles and Mark Schauer (who supports Pestka) declined to run.  Second, there is no way Pestka or anyone could have made a decision based on Trevor’s polling because no one has seen it.  However, we all have seen polling that shows that Pestka defeats Justin Amash after positives and negatives on both candidates are revealed.

     Finally, Steve Pestka has the support of every elected Democrat in Kent County and the district’s entire delegation to the state house (that includes members who are pro-choice). In Calhoun County Pestka also has the support of several grassroots activists and elected officials as well.

    While Pestka has gained overwhelming support within the district, Trevor has had to go elsewhere to raise funds.  This primary seems to be a national vs. local battle and that does not bode well for Trevor.  The young man running in IL-10 took the same approach and lost badly in the primary.

  • Michigan Appellate Attorney

    Interesting post, thanks for keeping us updated!

  • Mark

     You know, let’s just give him a chance. I like what he represents and I like what he’s fighting for. I have no reason to believe that Pestka isn’t a good man, but he just doesn’t represent me on the issues and I think the locals supporting him overestimate his appeal. I’m sure he’s close to local electeds and has given thousands of dollars to their campaigns, but I don’t think the average voter feels that same loyalty. If Trevor loses, he loses, but I’m tired of so many acting like he doesn’t have the right to run.

    • Agreed. People say Trevor shouldn’t run because he can’t win, and he can’t win because people don’t know him. If that’s the case, people won’t know him well enough before the primary – and that problem will solve itself.

      For people to suggest that he shouldn’t run is ridiculous.

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  • Al

    The democratic process allows the opportunity for any individual to campaign for the honor of representing the people of their community. It is important to offer support to the candidate of your choice. Personally, as a Political Scientist, West Michigan needs more contested primary races. This is how the masses learn, listen and pay attention to those issues that must be addressed. It also offers more opportunity for media coverage of each candidate. It is important that the focus be upon allowing their voices to be heard, issues discussed and ultimately, to allow the voters of the district the opportunity to select the candidate they feel will best serve the needs of that district. After that selection process is complete, it is up to the electorate to again demonstrate the support of the primary winner at the polls in November. If the November turnout is reflective of 2010, then the Democratic Party will continue to flail like a poor golfer in a sand trap.