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Edwards Candidacy Called Into Question

Below is the text of a press release I issued today.

Democratic U.S. House candidate Doug Tudor today publically called on fellow candidate Randy Edwards to withdraw from the race for the open seat in Florida’s 12th Congressional District.

Tudor claimed, “By actively campaigning, speaking to groups, and requesting monetary contributions to his campaign, Major Edwards is in clear violation of Department of Defense Directives regarding political activities by members of the Armed Forces,”

Over the course of the past week, Edwards addressed various gatherings of Democrats. He did so at the Florida Democratic Party’s annual conference in Orlando this past weekend, as well as speaking to the Polk County Democratic Executive Committee in Bartow on Monday night and the East Hillsborough Democratic Club in Brandon on Tuesday night. At each event, Edwards declared that he is still on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, and he solicited monetary contributions to his campaign.

“Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of military regulations knows that having a strict ban on military members injecting themselves into partisan politics is vital to the sanctity of America’s civilian-led military,” said Tudor. He continued, “As a retired Navy Master Chief, it disturbed me to see an active-duty Marine officer trying to gain such an important office, who either didn’t know any better or deliberately violated the regulations.”

Edwards was granted a waiver signed by the Secretary of the Navy, which clearly stated that while he could file for candidacy, he was restricted from “open and active campaigning and all behind-the-scenes activities.”

Though Edwards’ infractions are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 92, “Failure to Obey Order or Regulation,” Tudor stated, “I don’t want to see this junior officer punished. I just want to ensure that the political autonomy of our nation’s great military isn’t called into question, whether by intent or by ignorance.”

The regulation governing “Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces” is Department of Defense Directive Number 1344.10 dated February 19, 2008. It is available on the web.

Eight Years Later

After eight years of combat operations in Afghanistan, “The Graveyard of Empires,” America needs to have a national conversation on our future in that hostile, unyielding country. To begin the conversation, I believe one point needs to be very clear: we were never supposed to go to war in Afghanistan. Instead, we were supposed to go into Afghanistan to topple the Taliban and kill or capture (K/C) the leadership of al Qaida. We succeeded at the first objective and partially succeeded at the second.

Eight years ago today, America invaded Afghanistan. Operation ENDURING FREEDOM was born. On November 12, 2001, Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, fell to our forces. The Taliban was in full retreat. Objective number one accomplished.

In December 2001, conventional wisdom holds that we had Osama bin Laden trapped in the complex series of caves and fortresses in Tora Bora. Due to political pressures and cultural sensitivities, it was decided that, instead of using America’s overwhelming military force, our Special Forces should combine their efforts with the militia of Afghan warlords Hazret Ali and Haji Zaman Ghamsharik. When our efforts at Tora Bora did not realize the mission of killing or capturing al Qaida’s top commanders, America should have redeployed our forces for another phase of operations intended to achieve the K/C objective.

Instead, as often happens in wartime, mission creep set in. We had troops within Afghanistan’s border, so we figured we needed to find a mission for them.

President Obama is currently reviewing our current mission in Afghanistan. If he were to ask me for advice, which he hasn’t (yet), I would tell the Commander-in-Chief this: Stop counter-insurgency operations and concentrate on counter-terrorism operations. In other words, leave Afghanistan to the Afghanis and concentrate on killing or capturing the leaders of al Qaida.

To me, it really is that simple. After eight years of combat operations abusing America’s military force which is stretched dangerously thin, let’s concentrate on capturing or killing the people who killed nearly 3,000 of our fellow citizens on September 11, 2001. We cannot make Afghanistan a Jeffersonian democracy. We cannot abet thousands of years of ethnic and tribal conflicts. We CAN use the awesome technological and intelligence advantages America holds to kill or capture the leadership of al Qaida. Not to be cliché, but “Yes, We Can.”

If you agree with me, Please Contribute to Our Grass Roots Campaign Now!. My only campaign promise is “I will always vote my conscience, no matter the politics of the issue.”

Thank you for all you have done, for all you are doing, and for all you will do.

Birthday Reflections

Friends,

Today is my 47th birthday. Nowadays for me, birthdays are less a time for celebration, but more of a time for reflection. This one seems to be especially so.

I’ve often heard the axiom that once you are called to serve, you cannot do anything but serve. I know this to be as true as anything I have ever learned. There have been many times during my decades of service, both in and out of uniform, where I became disheartened, disoriented, and disenchanted. Nevertheless, I knew I had to shake it off and get back to business.

In the past month, some of these same emotions have surfaced. I attended a healthcare town hall where the most vocal and obnoxious opponents of a strong public option were the very same people who may very well benefit the most from that same strong public option. I also spoke in length with a truck driver who railed against unions as he made $10 per hour, whereas Teamster drivers are able to live a middle-class life. Lastly, I am watching our nation’s majority party seemingly willing to capitulate to a minority party whose Congressional approval ratings are in the single digits.

Am I frustrated? Sometimes. Am I willing to bend, bow, or concede? Never!

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Any political scientist worth his or her salt will tell you that a midterm election for an incumbent President will result in the loss of seats in the House and Senate. There are historical exceptions, but that’s why they are called exceptions.

One of the areas where there is not as conclusive during midterm elections regards open seats. The U.S. House seat in Florida’s 12th Congressional District in 2010 will be an open seat. The voters here will decide whether to embrace the progressive vision for which they voted in 2008, or reject that vision for the failed conservative policies of the past 30 years.

Unfortunately, the Democratic voters of Florida’s 12th Congressional District will have that opportunity only once. That opportunity is during the August 2010 Democratic Primary between me and Lori Edwards. If Mrs. Edwards prevails in August, the only choices in November will be conservative or conservative.

I am asking you today – my birthday – to help me define the struggle we have within our party.

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I am a pragmatic progressive. I have conservative credentials and a progressive heart. Our 2008 campaign in FL-12 showed that a progressive Democrat, who didn’t try to be Republican-lite, could earn more votes and a higher voter percentage than any other Democrat who has ever ran in this district. With an open seat and a seriously flawed presumptive Republican nominee, we Progressives can win this seat. We can strengthen the Democratic majority with a real Democrat, who will actually cast votes that advance our progressive ideals. We can put a working man in the House to represent working families.

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One of the reasons I fight the hard fight is because I know it has to be fought. As I told you earlier, once you are called to serve, your only option is to keep serving. When I retired from the U.S. Navy in February 2008, I left one of the most secure jobs in America during one of the most serious economic crises in 60 years. I did so because the House’s third-ranking Republican, Adam Putnam, needed to be challenged. His horrible non-representation of our district had to be exposed and none of the so-called credible Democrats were willing to fight the fight.

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I ran in 2008 as a candidate of conviction. I do so in 2010. My Democratic opponent now runs for an open seat as a candidate of convenience. She also did so for the open FL-12 2000 seat, before she quit the race.

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You can help us defeat the politics of status quo by contributing now. I certainly thank you for your birthday present to our progressive grassroots campaign.

Please Contribute Now!

Your Brother, Doug

Remembering America’s Senator

Friends,

As the entire world now knows, Senator Edward Kennedy has lost his fight to brain cancer.

There have been, and will still be, millions of words written about America’s Senator, and I would be remiss not to add my own thoughts.

First and foremost, I take great comfort in knowing that man with great flaws can still achieve great things. As we are all flawed, Senator Kennedy’s example of overcoming flaws serves to show each of us and all of us to always to be better, to do better, and to look to better days. His example allows me to learn from my own mistakes instead of dwelling upon them.

Ted Kennedy joined the U.S. Senate when I was about four months old. For my entire life, his family has served as an example of public service. As I became interested in politics, I was drawn to the legacy of President Kennedy’s charisma and ability to inspire. As I became a student of politics, I was drawn to Senator Robert Kennedy’s ideological transformation after his brother’s death. As I matured in political thought and reasoning, I became totally enamored in Senator Edward Kennedy’s ability to see the big picture, to compromise when necessary, and to incrementally make gains that benefit all Americans, and, indeed, all humanity.

Two weeks ago, I held a healthcare roundtable. It was a very civil discussion, where I got a chance to better understand the difficulties faced by working families due to for-profit healthcare. As person after person told the stories of a broken system that left family members either without coverage or with crippling bills, I couldn’t help but think that we can do better. We must do better.

I told the “Organizing for America” representative that was present, “Please tell President Obama that it will be one of America’s great failures if Senator Kennedy were to pass without true healthcare insurance reform being enacted.” How I wish America’s Senator could have lived to see true reform of America’s healthcare system.

I am a proponent of a single-payer system. Given the opportunity, I will vote for single-payer, understanding, as Senator Kennedy did, that we may have to get there incrementally.

Despite that understanding, I call on our Democratic majority to start anew on crafting a bill that will truly provide universal coverage. I call on the conservative elements of our party to stop carrying the water of the Republican Party and the multi-billion dollar insurance companies. I call on my President to understand that no member of the Republican Party of No is going to vote with us, no matter how much we compromise.

Mr. President, in your inaugural address you offered to extend a hand, if our opponents would unfold their fist. They have not, and you should withdraw your hand of compromise on this particular issue. We have the votes to pass a major bill of reform, and we should pass the legislation for which a majority of Americans voted in November 2008.

TeamTudor’s thoughts are with the Kennedy family tonight. We mourn a great legislative leader, a friend of working families, and an example of greatness overcoming weakness.

Your brother, Doug

Moral Courage

Friends,

Our elected representatives in Washington have departed the capital for their August recess, and they have chosen to not pass legislation reforming our nation’s healthcare system. There are many reasons for their lack of action, most of which are propagated by conservative Republican and Democratic obstructionists, who are receiving enormous amounts of lobbyist money and spreading irrational fear regarding a public option.

I believe the main reason, though, is the lack of basic moral and political courage. It takes courage to stand up to the multi-billion dollar insurance and pharmaceutical industries. It takes courage to admit that a law is not perfect, but should be enacted anyway. It takes courage to take a stand for the less fortunate amongst us.

I support HR 3200, but I do so only as a stepping stone to a single-payer system. My main concern about HR 3200 is that it doesn’t go far enough. By bowing to conservative and industry pressures, the bill will probably not achieve the desired end state wanted by the vast majority of Americans. The public has overwhelmingly voiced that they want a system that will provide quality healthcare without breaking a family’s finances.

By going to a single-payer system, much like the current Medicare system, we can provide higher quality healthcare to all Americans at a lower overall cost per person. This is mainly accomplished by reducing the insurance industry’s bureaucracy. The overhead for Medicare is about 4%, compared to about 40% for private insurers. By going to a single-payer system, we reduce the overhead by cutting out the insurance industry’s profit motive.

A number of other advantages of a single-payer system: no one is denied coverage for preexisting conditions; small businesses will prosper as they get out of the role of healthcare providers; and catastrophic treatment will not bankrupt families.

I strongly believe that our country funds its priorities. If we collectively believe, as I do individually, that our citizens are our most important national resource, we should absolutely, positively adopt a single-payer national healthcare system. It is cheaper; it is better; and it is the right thing to do.

Throughout our history, America has shown the courage to pass laws to correct many of society’s shortcomings. Our elected representatives must now show that they have the courage of their predecessors. It is far past time to fix our broken healthcare system.

Your brother, Doug

Healthcare Up Close and Personal

Friends,

It seems there are times when the scope of a challenge is so large, a solution seems indescribable. One way to deal with these enormities is to reduce the scope to a personal example.

Summer Ellen, or Elle, as her parents call her, was four months in the womb when the doctors told her parents of a very serious medical condition. She would be born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. In the normal heart, oxygen-poor (blue) blood returns to the right atrium from the body, travels to the right ventricle, and then is pumped through the pulmonary artery into the lungs where it receives oxygen. Oxygen-rich (red) blood returns to the left atrium from the lungs, passes into the left ventricle, and then is pumped out to the body through the aorta. In Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, most of the structures on the left side of the heart are small and underdeveloped. If not corrected, the baby will only live for about two weeks after birth.

The first time her father saw her, Elle was three days old. She was in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, and, due to swelling, her chest was still open from the surgery that had been performed that morning. Over the next seven years, she would have a total of three more open heart surgeries, numerous catheterizations, and two brain surgeries for a related abnormality called a Chiari Malformation.

At nine years old, Elle is a beautiful young lady with big blue eyes and long golden hair. She is intelligent, loving, and artistic. At times, she can also be bratty and mischievous. In other words, she is a regular kid.

Elle has been very lucky to have had government-funded healthcare throughout her life. Without it, she would have denied insurance coverage due to having a preexisting condition – at birth. Her family would have been financially devastated, even though both of her parents had full-time employment. Even now, she will fall off her father’s coverage at age 18, unless she is a college student. As a student, she can remain covered until 23. At 23 years old, under today’s healthcare system, Elle will no longer have access to medical care.

I write this to ask you to support President Obama’s healthcare reform, House Resolution 3200, which will provide a public option and will nearly eliminate any uncovered citizens or denial based on preexisting conditions.

I also write this to thank you for giving Elle a life.

She is my daughter, and her healthcare is government-provided TriCare, due to my Navy career. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing doctors to fix her heart.

Your brother, Doug

We Are Underway

Friends,

As we prepare to enter the dog days of August, TeamTudor is also making many preparations to return representative democracy to Florida’s 12th Congressional District.

Doug Tudor for Congress 2010 has completed its campaign plan. We have completed the design of our new campaign materials. We have scheduled our initial house parties, and we are making fundraising calls.

In other words, our grassroots campaign is moving quickly. These are exciting times.

I am asking you to show your support early by signing up for email updates, by making suggestions as we move forward, and by making a contribution to the campaign.

Please Contribute Now!.

As we have already seen from the other candidates in this race, there is quite a bit of special interest and lobbying money flowing into their coffers. I much prefer my contributions to come from you — the voters.

Please Contribute Now!.

No amount is too small, and, if at all possible, please consider making your $10, $20, or $35 contribution a recurring one. This will allow you to show your monthly support of our progressive campaign.

Nothing scares career politicians more than a determined and committed electorate demanding change.

Nothing scares conservative, status quo politicians more than an active, grassroots movement demanding change.

Nothing scares the political establishment more than a campaign that is willing to speak truth to power.

We did great things together in 2008, and now is the time to seal the deal by preparing for our victory in 2010. We can take back our government, and we can take it back together.

Please Contribute Now!.

You will be hearing more from me in the coming weeks and months, and you will see a new design for our website. I look forward to working with you again, and I absolutely, positively know we can succeed together.

You should be very proud of what you accomplished during the 2008 election season. Your hard work, your dedication, and your perseverance are a credit to your patriotism and your belief in the electoral process.

I thank you. I am proud of you. I stand in awe of you. Thank you for all you did for our last campaign, for all that you will do for this campaign, and for all that you will continue to do for our great country.

Your brother, Doug