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WASHINGTON, DC - Oct. 13: Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., during the Senate Finance markup of its version of a comprehensive health care reform bill. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly) (Newscom TagID: cqphotos036880)     [Photo via Newscom]
Blanche Lincoln (D. AR), former Senator turned lobbyist for Monsanto.
So Michelle Nunn (D. GA) has been running on a theme of government policy in her bid to succeed retiring Senator Saxby "Chicken Hawk" Chambliss (R. GA).  And she has some pretty good ideas:

Democrat Michelle Nunn said Wednesday that if she's elected to Georgia's open U.S. Senate seat that she would introduce legislation implementing a lifetime ban on members of Congress from becoming registered lobbyists, pledging she'll never become a lobbyist.

The proposal was among a handful of what she called "good government" policy reforms that she plans to campaign on. Nunn, the former CEO of a Points of Light, a major volunteer organization, is the most prominent Democrat running to replace Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss who's retiring at the end of the year.

"They are all ideas for making Congress work for Georgians and people across the nation," Nunn said in an interview. "As I go around the state, there is so much frustration about the polarization and dysfunction in Washington, and I want to actually propose a set of ideas to start a conversation to address that." - AP, 1/14/14

Now Nunn is running as a centrist Democrat in Georgia, which is kind of mandatory for her re-election chances so not all of her ideas are great but she still has some other great ideas:

Nunn's other proposals included legislation to block lawmakers and the president from receiving a paycheck if an annual budget isn't passed. That's similar to former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who called on Congress to return their pay during last year's government shutdown.

Nunn also proposed a requirement that each piece of federal legislation include a coast estimate at the time of introduction, pledged to meet with every senator in her first year if elected and expressed support for a constitutional amendment limiting special interest money in elections. - Independent Mail, 1/14/14

Now I admit, these aren't the most original ideas:

Most of these ideas have floated around Capitol Hill before to no avail. Sens. Jon Tester and Michael Bennet pushed the lobbyist ban in 2012 and the Senate has passed a version of the “No Budget, No Pay” proposal. Requiring a price tag for every bill is a perennial push by transparency advocates in Washington.

Nunn, though, urged her supporters not to be tempered by the past.

“I know we have in this room the kind of optimism and idealism and creativity that we need to unleash across the nation.” - Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/14/14

But they're still good ideas and they all fit her campaign platform:

Nunn also promised to work to restore civility and bipartisanship if elected to a six-year senatorial term.

“I would meet with every single senator,” looking for ways they might work together no matter their differences, she said.

And she would work to get real campaign finance reform, supporting legislation and a Constitutional amendment to stop “secret undisclosed dollars that are unlimited” from pouring into political campaigns.

“Ultimately, they’re fairly simple ideas,” she said.

Nunn’s campaign is focused on three overarching issues, she told her mostly student crowd Tuesday — jobs and economic development; long-term national debt; and education.

Nunn also talked about family values, including lessons learned from her father, former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn.

“People can work together to get things done,” her father taught her, she said. “We’re not seeing that today in Washington.” - Online Athens, 1/14/14

Speaking of her dad, don't expect to see former Senator Sam Nunn (D. GA) on the campaign trail:

Sen. Richard Lugar, left, and former Sen. Sam Nunn, co-authors of the 1992 Nunn-Lugar Comprehensive Threat Reduction effort, inspect a $1 million railroad bridge near Shchuchye, Russia, 1560 kilometers (975 miles) southeast of Moscow, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007, part of a rail line to haul 2 million artillery shells loaded with nerve gas from a storage depot to a destruction site. The rail line is being built by Canada and the U.S.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative. (AP Photo/Douglas Birch)
   “Basically, I just respond when they ask me questions and show up when I get invited, and have learned to grin and bear it when they don’t take my advice. … And so it is an adjustment when, basically, you’ve got a whole group of young people who look at things a little different, and a lot of times they end up being right and I’m wrong. But, you know, sometimes I have to think that my advice is better than anybody else’s, but that’s something I’m getting accustomed to.”

Michelle Nunn has raised large sums of money since her entrance into the race in July, drawing partly from her four-term father’s network. For example, former Republican colleagues and close pals of Sam Nunn — John Warner of Virginia and Richard Lugar of Indiana — have written checks to the Michelle Nunn campaign.

Sam Nunn said he did not solicit either donation, but he thanked both men for their gifts. He said the support from the pair of moderate Republicans likely indicates their desire for more consensus-building in the Senate.

Sam Nunn said he does not think it’s a great idea for him to go out stumping with his daughter:

   “Having me with her — some audiences may be OK, but [with] others it would be a liability. I think it’s very clear that she’s her own person and that will become even clearer as she goes along, and I think that’s very important.

    “I don’t think people are going to vote for Michelle because they know her last name. I think that may give her some attention to begin with and that’s a good thing, but I think she’ll have to convince them that she is the independent, commonsense kind of thinker that’s going to go to Washington and work with people on both sides of the aisle.

    “They’re going to find the John Warners and the Dick Lugars of the Republicans in the Senate, and I’m sure there are some.” - Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/8/14

It might be a good idea for Sam Nunn to stay out of this race because Nunn's trying to run a campaign that makes her stand out of her father's shadow:

Image #: 23280535    Points of Light Foundation CEO Michelle Nunn makes brief remarks during the presentation of the 5,000th
Supporters acknowledge that Nunn is not a conservative southern Democrat of yore. “The question that comes up is, ‘Is she more liberal than her old man?’ I think the answer is yes. But certainly the Georgia Democratic Party is too,” said Democratic strategist Ed Kilgore, a long-time friend of Michelle’s. “He self-identified as a conservative, not as a moderate or centrist. That kind of Democrat barely exists in the state anymore.”

Kilgore still believes she is a natural dealmaker, and Nunn herself insists that her professional track record proves she’s willing and able to extend a hand to Republicans. But of all policy issues, volunteer service may be among the least controversial and most anodyne—the thing that most everyone can agree upon.

The 2014 political landscape is a minefield for red-state Democrats like Nunn. Obamacare is the ultimate test of her determination to run as a no-nonsense, above-the-fray independent.

Nunn is quick to point out that she was “one of the first people to come out” for a delay of the individual mandate after problems emerged with the website. When asked whether Obamacare can ultimately succeed, she neither defends nor attacks the law wholesale, declining to cast judgment on it one way or the other.

“My focus has been on what we can do to actually fix this. We need to make health care work for Americans, and we need to do whatever it is to do that.” But she believes Georgia should embrace Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which the GOP governor turned down. - MSNBC, 1/12/14

But Nunn has been joining other red state Democrats in bashing Republicans for refusing to extend unemployment benefits and talking about the safety net:

This is a reminder that the safety net is going to be front and center in many races this fall, even in red states. To read much of the commentary, you’d think Dems have two choices: either sink under the weight of Obamacare, or run away from it. As Charlie Cook put it, Dems are talking about inequality to “shift the focus” from Obamacare, because it has become a “sore subject.”

That’s true in some ways, but the nuances of what Dems are up to are worth appreciating. Dems aren’t simply looking to shift away from Obamacare, but to shift the terms of the debate over it, by putting it in the context of a larger debate over the safety net, an argument Dems are already engaging pretty aggressively.

Red state Dems are taking a more nuanced approach to Obamacare than some of the coverage suggests. An Atlanta Journal Constitution poll finds a majority supports repealing all or part of Obamacare. But 57 percent support the Medicaid expansion. This informs how Democrat Michelle Nunn is talking about the law.

Given Obamacare’s deep unpopularity in red states, Nunn does not go out of her way to talk about Obamacare, and neither does Grimes. Neither of these Dems are members of Congress, so neither voted for the law, and so they will avoid the Obamacare debate partly to avoid getting tainted by the Washington argument over it. This is also because both will face Washington politicians this fall (Grimes faces McConnell; Nunn will face a Georgia member of Congress).

But when they do have to talk about the law, they shift the discussion to a broader one — over the safety net. Nunn embraced the individual mandate delay, which would have badly undermined the law if it had any chance of passing. But she says we should fix the law, rather than repeal it. And she supports the Medicaid expansion, arguing that it would, among other things, allow uninsured veterans access to health coverage. Grimes has struck a similar balance, criticizing the rollout but also standing up for its safety net component by arguing we should not cut off a route to health coverage for several hundred thousand Kentuckians. - Washington Post, 1/14/14

Nunn may not be perfect but I'm liking where her campaign is going and emphasizing the need for campaign finance reform and fighting the lobbyists' influence on the legislation.  If you would like to get involved with Nunn's campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:01 AM PST.

Also republished by Kos Georgia and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Also need to outlaw spouses from being lobbyists (19+ / 0-)

    There have been quite a few spouses who do this, even with Congressional Leadership.

    The House and Senate at the least could adopt the rule that a member with a spouse, son or daughter who is a lobbyist cannot serve on any committe or subcommittee or hold a leadership position for the rest of their term in office.

    However, I doubt the above will occur, as members and their families make too much money this way.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:30:38 AM PST

    •  First Amendment problems? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      I doubt--especially given Citizens United--that the Supreme Court will find a lifetime lobbying ban for legislators is compatible with the First Amendment. And thus even less likely that a lifetime ban would be approved for spouses.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:20:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My proposal does not ban spouses from lobbying (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        in its more modest form.  It limits the power of the member of Congress.  

        As the Constitution says that Congress makes its own rules, a rule precluding a member with a lobbying spouse from holding certain positions in Congress would not only be constitutional, SCOTUS would even refuse to hear a case on a challenge.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:57:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think banning spouses from being (0+ / 0-)

      lobbyists would pass legal muster.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 03:43:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed, but Congress could set rules that would (0+ / 0-)

        exclude members with spouses who were lobbyists from any committee assignments.  This would not restrict the occupation of spouses and SCOTUS would avoid ruling on Congress's rules.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 05:57:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm really liking this woman... (14+ / 0-)

    and I think she has a real shot at this Senate seat. Thanks for the diary!

    The Next New Deal: A Universal Basic Income for all Americans!

    by GleninCA on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:12:04 AM PST

  •  Are You Kidding Me, Georgia? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    While I agree that good government policies are needed to address the dysfunctional problems that have paralyzed Washington, for Ms. Nunn to resurrect these calls, I have my doubts as to whether she'd get any of this accomplished with this collection of elected officials. Sure, what she proposes might work, but not with this current configuration of Congress.

    Most Americans have no clue as to what bipartisanship is, how it works and even less on how to achieve it - never mind many have never seen it at work.

    I'd much rather support a Democrat who is capable of bridging the artificial divides that exist between us politically and socially, and still be proud to stand up and defend Democratic principles and policies, Dr. Rad.

    My fear with Ms. Nunn is that we're not quite sure where she stands outside of the vague and broad strokes she's already painted and will either tell you what you want to hear (versus what you need to) or will pander to those large out-of-state donors who presume her to be the automatic Democratic nominee. However, we DO have choices in the state with candidates who face the same uphill battle as Nunn in a state such as Georgia. The only advantage Nunn enjoys over the 'other' candidates is a larger war chest and her father's access to political connections.

    What we really need is a leader in Georgia. Because of that, I'm choosing to stand with one of the other candidates in the Democratic primary, Dr. Rad. In terms of his position on issues of importance to me, I find more shared views and values with his campaign and like the fact that he has openly and actively embraced the ACA/Medicaid expansion fight in Georgia and sees the ACA not as a 'mistake', but as a move forward and will work to improve it to ensure that quality, affordable healthcare is available to all in Georgia and the country.

    I like my Democrats straight up with no chaser,  I like to know what I'm buying BEFORE I purchase it and I like my democracy to allow ME to choose whom I wish to see as the Democratic nominee, not by someone inside the D.C. beltway or part of the GOP plan to circumvent the extremists candidates.

    •  "My fear with Nunn...." (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I see the potential for Georgia to turn blue, but it's going to take someone courageous enough to stand for something meaningful. Safe, re-hashed ideas aren't going to change Washington or serve Georgia well.

      Clearly, Nunn's hoping to win the primary on the basis of big money and family name. We'll see how that works. Meanwhile, I agree with WildPeach that Dr. Rad is capturing people's imagination. He's accessible and a hard worker. He listens. He's the real deal: "Dem straight up no chaser."

      Here's his campaign website:

  •  probably can't but you could (0+ / 0-)

    you probably can't ban people from lobbying because
    it's so close to their constitutional 1st amendment rights
    and "Right to petition government"  but you could
    bar them from collecting pension or other benefits
    while they are working especially as lobbyists.

    if they still want to work certain issues as an unpaid gig,
    but, if the rules bar them from getting those pensions
    it might do a lot.

  •  Why Settle for A "Centrist" ?? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A Candidate does not need to run as a Centrist to work in a bipartisan manner; Tea Partiers and Progressives work together on issues like NSA Spying and foreign Intervention.  As with Candidate Nunn, the word "Centrist" seems to be a euphemism for a Candidate who can change positions at any time, and, therefore, is rarely candid about where she or he stands on the issues.

    U. S. Senate Candidate from Georgia, Democrat Branko "Dr. Rad" Radulovacki, M. D., a psychiatrist with an MBA in Finance, on the other hand, is quite candid about where he stands on the issues, and in no way tries to minimize that he is a Democrat.  In fact, Dr. Rad embraces his Democrat affiliation, completely.

    Dr. Rad advocates "Opportunity Creation" in the areas of Healthcare, Immigration, and Education, etc., and supports increasing the minimum wage so that it can be a "living wage".  Dr. Rad is running for U. S. Senate to help "the  PEOPLE: including those who are the most vulnerable, and firmly believes in the democratic process; and, therefore, advocates for voting rights for people, and voices that "Corporations are NOT people".

    While Candidate Nunn is running on a platform to be a Peacebuilder between politicians, Dr. Rad is a true Peacebuilder, since Dr. Rad advocates for justice, as well.

    If you will be voting in the Georgia Democratic Primary on May 20th, I encourage you to really consider why you are doing so: could it be because you wish that a true Democrat be nominated for the General Election in November?  If so, look no further than Branko "Dr. Rad" Radulovacki, M. D..

  •  Plastic or Stone? (0+ / 0-)

    I grew up in the time when the term "plastic" meant a person could mold themselves into something different,  depending on who they were trying to influence. Plastic people were known to say what you wanted to hear, not what they really felt or believed. Plastic people say what they think will get them what they want.  It's a very simple form of manipulation usually used to get children to do as you want. Unfortunately for some running for office, I am not a child and see quite clearly. For me, I want an elected official that has made their position or platform as it were, perfectly clear, no bullshit, no evading the issue, no recycled rhetoric. This country is in a mess and it is in a mess because we do not elect people that are concerned with "people". People are the most important resource in this country. Not oil, not business, not government, PEOPLE. Until both politicians and the general populace smarten up and grasp what is important, PEOPLE, nothing is going to change. There is only one candidate running for the Democratic nomination for the Senate that has repeatedly spoken up for the PEOPLE. He has spoken up for Expanding medicaid, extending unemployment,  the ACA, sensible gun legislation, addressing mental health as it relates to society, fixing infrastructure because fixing is needed and it would create jobs, equal rights for all irrespective of religion, gender, sexual preference, income level, heritage or race. He has spoken up for veterans and the need to ensure they receive the required medical care they deserve that is effective rather than a band-aid. He has many ideas of how to grow the economy and does not hesitate to voice them when an inquiry is made. All of these items that Dr. Rad is concerned with are issues that effect millions of Georgians. All of the items Dr. Rad speaks in support of are for the PEOPLE. From where I sit, I will only support those with enough spine to state the position the take, clearly and without reservation. I will only support a candidate that is concerned with the PEOPLE, and spoken on their behalf in public, where there can be no mistake as to what you are getting if you support them. Ther is only one candidate with what is required to receive my vote. One candidate that is looking out for the PEOPLE of Georgia. Dr. Branko Radulovacki.

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