Interview
YearlyKos: Podcast and Transcript of the John Laesch ePluribus Media Interview
by Timothy D. Smith for ePluribus Media
09 June 2006

Kay Shepherd prepared several podcasts from the exhibition hall at Yearly Kos in Las Vegas, June 2006. ePluribus Media correspondent Timothy D. Smith garnered interviews with many of the Democratic candidates who were attending.   Below is the transcription of Smith's interview with John Laesch, running for Dennis Hastert's seat in the Illinois 14th CD.

Listen to Kay Shepherd and the Timothy D. Smith interview of John Laesch in the podcast itself.

The index of earlier podcasts is at ePMedia Libsyn

John LaeschKay Shepherd for ePluribus Media:  Good evening Las Vegas and welcome to the ePluribus Media Podcast.  It's Friday June 9th 2006 and I am Kay Shepherd your host for yet another edition from Las Vegas, Nevada.  It's been quite a day.  Been quite a day, been quite a couple of days.  As you can hear there's still quite a crowd in the exhibition hall.

To our left are the Young Turks whom we talked to earlier this afternoon for their video log.  To our right is Carry a Big Sticker dot Com which has some of the funniest Anti-Bush bumper stickers around.  Wake Up Wal-Mart is a few doors down; Joe Wilson is signing his book a couple tables away; The Progressive Patriots Fund is catty-corner from us and around the corner is Soapblox and Swing the State.   We have been meeting a lot of interesting and intelligent people the last couple of days and of course ePMedia people are trying to get it all on record.  Here's a little bit of what we've been working on.  ePMedia correspondent Timothy D. Smith had an interview with John Laesch who is running for the US House of Representatives in Illinois against speaker of the house Dennis Hastert.  

Here's what John had to say.

John Laesch: Everyone says that "uphill battle" is the first words that come out of everybody's mouth and then right after that  they say "good luck."  We are in Las Vegas and Las Vegas is where you need luck, but in the Illinois fourteenth district we need hard work and money is what it takes.  We are out there doing our pushups to take on the most powerful congressman in America.

Timothy D. Smith for ePluribus Media:   What are you focusing on in terms of your fight?  What are your issues?   What is resonating with the people of the 14th?

John Laesch:  Well, interestingly enough, we are starting something brand new.  Dennis Hastert, as you know, came out and said, after Exxon reported billions in dollars in profits, Hastert came out and said right there [and testified] in Congress and said "Oil and Gas companies are making record profits, that's fine, America."  

We took Dennis Hastert to task.  We toured the district and showed how much money he has taken from big Oil and Gas.  And then we proposed our energy policy, you know a renewable energy policy  that would offer incentives to consumers to change their homes and add solar panels to their homes, add insulation to their homes, change out windows, make energy efficiency improvements to their homes.  

And another thing is we were in a bio-diesel vehicle advocating for better incentives for consumers to buy bio-diesel vehicles which would help farmers out in Illinois in the 14th district.  

TDS : So not in terms of the lower oil costs and gas costs but also it provides them with a place to sell some of their goods in order to create but they could also use the fuel in their own production.

JL :  Absolutely.  Higher gas prices are hitting everyone, small businesses, farmers, and of course, those people who are just trying to get to and from work every day.  

This is the kind of aggressive campaign we are running.  Out of that effort we learned that talking to people at the gas pumps was a good idea. So it's something new that we've brought to the campaign

TDS:  One of the core issues.  Gas station politics, you are creating a new genre in the world of politics.  That's great.

JL: So that's just one tactic, one strategy.  In fact, we will probably be blogging, blog a live one.

TDS: That would be fun.  What is your web site, let's get that out there.

JL: Sure. It's www.john06.com

TDS: So Hastert did something interesting not too long ago regarding bio-diesel and renewal energy and e-85 gas.    He was caught climbing out of a bio-diesel, or a hybrid, and climbing back into his giant SUV.  What was your reaction to that?

JL: Well again we pointed out a clear and distinct difference between myself in that I have not taken any money from Oil and Gas companies or big energy companies and pointed out how much he has taken and of course we didn't hesitate to show those pictures off to the media.

TDS: So who are you getting support from?  Who is backing your candidacy?

JL: Well we just won the Democratic primary in March, so it's been a little bit of time now, with 66% of the vote.  The only real people we are asking to back the campaign are those citizens of the 14th district and those citizens who out there across the nation that want to see change in America.   We have reached out, I am a union carpenter, so we have reached out to a lot of labor groups.  We think that part of changing America is labor recognizing that they are going to have to start standing up for the hotel workers for the workers in the service sector as well as expanding unionization efforts abroad.  

So we are getting some support from unions and I have not yet turned to the main stream Democratic Party, but we have come out here to Las Vegas to make an appeal to the Netroots.  I would like to, when I get to Washington, I would like to say the people that I respect the most, the grassroots, labor and the netroots, are the people who were there first and that's who I am going to represent.

TDS: But if the DLC were to come by with a check to help you out, to buy television advertising, would you...

JL: I am not a DLC Democrat. Okay?  I am a progressive Democrat.  I would turn money down from the DLC, as odd as that may sound.

-Cross talk-

TDS: That says a lot.  It puts you pretty squarely where you are, where you stand on a lot of issues, just by saying that.

JL: Well, Tim, that's a part of the problem is our party doesn't have a direction.  And this is the race where we can really define the Democratic Party.  If we can defeat the Speaker of the House with a progressive Democrat running on the core values of the Democratic Party, healthcare, a made-in America economy, a renewal energy policy, equal education opportunities for all Americans, and I add to that of course, an exit strategy  for our troops, which is first and foremost in my mind.  

But if I carry that message to the people of the 14th, it resonates with the voters and we defeat the Speaker of the House, then there should be no question of the direction that the Democratic Party should go.

TDS: I have heard you say before,  or at least I thought it was you, that when the Republicans made their initial take over bid, back when Clinton was President, that one of the first things they did was target Tom Foley who was the Speaker at that time and he lost in that election.  Are you saying that this is the same kind, that it would send the same kind of message?

JL: Well I think so.  It's time for fair turnaround. There's been the Republican revolution 1994.   The Democratic Speaker Tom Foley was defeated.  I don't know if, some people have shared with me different times, I don't know if he was an original target of the Republicans or if that came later in the campaign.  But I do know that in the 2006 Democratic revolution, Republican leaders should be a target.  We have seen Dennis Hastert, We have got rid of Tom Delay, thank god, Roy Blount should be on that list and all the others.

TDS: I know that being an Ohio person,  that Boehner has a Dem running, and that is usually not the case, in a pretty strong Republican seat, and yet we got a candidate there.  

What would you say, aside from Iraq, and you are outspoken in your opposition to the war in Iraq, aside from that, what would you say are the biggest three things that have to be addressed right away.  Like the day you and your colleagues get sworn in?

JL: Energy policy.  We have to understand that in 2006 when we take back the house for the Democratic Party, Bush is still going to be in office.  We are going to have to do something a little bit outrageous and that appeals to every single American that says George Bush is no longer in charge. The Democratic House of Representatives and the Democratic Senate are here to lead America in a new direction.  

And I think the first thing that we should put on the table is a new Energy policy.  Because we are going to have to walk this talk and stay with it for the next ten years before some of those changes begin to impact the lives of Americans and they understand what we as the Democratic Party stand for.  So that would be first and foremost on my mind.

Iraq is not far behind and I continue to speak out loudly about that.

TDS: What else?

JL: Health Care.  We do issues surveys throughout the district and ask people what is important to them.  Energy, Health Care, Jobs going overseas, those are probably in the top three and we are, I am an advocate for a Health Care plan that covers every single American.  A good friend of mine who is not here, Dr. David Gill, who is running in Illinois 15th Congressional District, and his is Gill2006.com, he is an ER physician; he would be a definite asset for the Democratic Party in Washington.  We need to have some one who can counter Bill Frist, who can come out there and talk as an expert on medical issues.

TDS: What about the country right now, what do you think: Is there anything we are doing right?

JL: The best thing the Republican Congress has passed is the "Do Not Call List" I think that's positive.  Outside of that.

TDS:  Well, and there you have it.  

JL: We have a lot of mileage to make up once we take back the House in November.



Kay Shepherd for ePluribus Media:  As you probably have noticed, the reports from Yearly Kos are already rolling in on the ePluribus Media Community site. You can find photos, posts and all the coverage you can eat at scoop.epluribusmedia.org.  Remember that ePluribus Media is always all one word when we are talking about the websites, so don't sweat the dashes because we certainly didn't.  

That's it for one more edition of the ePluribus Media podcast.   I am Kay Shepherd, and watch for us on your cast feed all weekend from Yearly Kos Conference in Las Vegas. Thanks for listening , stay subscribed and remember:

It's not them, it's us.

Photo credits and copyright Timothy D. Smith.
Podcast compliments of Kay Shepherd.
Proofreading credits:
Assistance from Kay Shepherd, Kfred, BarbaraS, TXSharon, Avahome, Standingup, roxy317
All mistakes in transcription are solely the responsibility of cho.

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