Justin Coussoule, the Democrat challenging Republican Minority Leader, John Boehner, to represent Ohio’s 8th District, last Tuesday spoke to the Huber Heights Democratic Club at their annual picnic. Great food.
Coussoule, 35 years old and a West Point grad, shows poise and thoughtfulness. He makes a good impression. And he spoke with conviction that the race is winnable and that he is in the race to win.
He has already raised $100,000 to fund his effort, not nearly enough, but a great start.
Coussoule spoke of the leadership and character that was emphasized at West Point, and said that although politics and policy is often emphasized, a congressional representative must be dedicated to being a public servant. He said, “Leaders of character choose the harder right over the easier wrong. They do the right thing, even when no-one is watching. And public service is synonymous with selfless service.”
Coussoule said a government of the people, by the people and for the people doesn’t just happen, but must be fought for. He said, “There is not a single issue that working middle class people think about and care about that John Boehner is aligned with. His priorities lie with the corporate CEO’s and the super rich.”
The President of the Huber Heights Democratic Club, Georgia Hickey-Wolf, introduced Justin. A transcript follows this You-tube video:
I just want to say a few things about the race. The big thing about this race is viability. I’d like to bust a few myths the first myth is that this is a Republican District. It’s not a Democratic District either, but it is an overwhelmingly Independent District — 220,000 Independents; 104,000 Dems; 99,000 Republicans,
The second myth is that John Boehner is overwhelmingly beloved … If you look at the Republican primary in May, Boehner had two challengers for the first time ever. And one out of six Republican primary voter cast their vote for someone other than their 20 year incumbent, Minority Leader, John Boehner — 16% of Republicans in the primary, voted against him. So, he doesn’t even have his “base” shored up. Even they are losing faith.
The last myth is that Democrats cannot compete in this district. But Democratic candidate for governor, Ted Strickland, in 2006, got 44% in the 8th District. And in 2008, Rich Cordray got 44%. These well funded professional campaigns did 5% better than they shot for. Just imagine what a well funded, professional campaign that shoots for 51% might actually do.
The other thing people say, “Well, Justin, doesn’t Boehner win two-thirds of the votes, cycle after election cycle?” And yes, that’s true, but he has not faced a real challenger in ten terms. People haven’t had a choice. And the good news is, there is a base. In every cycle, 33% or 34% of people in the 8th District vote against John Boehner. We could run a mop and a bucket with a “D” on it and probably get 33%. So there is a base to go up from. We are not starting from zero in this race, like a lot of people think.
Like most people, I value my vote. If I go into the booth, and it is the first time I see a name of a Democratic candidate person I’ve never heard of before, I might just vote for the devil I know, John Boehner, rather than a person I’ve never heard of. So the challenge in this race, and what we’ve not done in 20 years, is to get the Democratic name out, the challenger, and give voters one or two takeaways so they are comfortable with voting for an alternative. They are comfortable because they feel, “OK, this person is qualified, I’ve heard of this person.” …
But, here’s a thought: If you think it is tough running against John Boehner, try being represented by him. (Applause) … As much as it is about policy and politics in this race, it is also about public service. We don’t have a public servant, right now, representing the 8th District. We have a professional golfer and a coin operated one at that. … I don’t think there is a single issue that working middle class people think about and care about that John Boehner is aligned with. His priorities lie with the corporate CEO’s and the super rich — who is out on the golf course with, raising money. And, of course, that money is not used for his own race, instead, he gives it to other Republican candidates. That is why he is the Minority Leader. Boehner bought his position, and he will buy the Speaker’s Chair, if the Republicans win the majority and if he wins reelection.
People say, “Justin, why did you get into this race. You are not a politician, why do you want to take this fight on?” I believe we get the government we deserve and my wife and our children, and my neighbors and their children, and people across 8th District, deserve a lot better than John Boehner. This race is about what we learned in fifth grade civics class — that a government of the people, by the people and for the people doesn’t just happen. We have to fight for it, we have to earn it.
I’m in this race, because I believe what I learned at West Point. Leaders of character choose the harder right over the easier wrong. You do the right thing, even when no-one is watching. And public service is synonymous with selfless service.
I’m in this race, because we get the government we deserve, and we deserve better.
People ask: “How can we help?” You can spread the word, you can tell five friends or family members. You can join our facebook, twitter. You can wear my T-shirt or put a bumper sticker on your car, a sign in your yard, and encourage other people to do the same. Do underestimate the power of “word of mouth” in the District. You can donate your time. We need people to make phone calls and to knock on doors. … We need to get the word out … They say you need to hear a word or name seven times before you remember it. …
Many people need one takeaway: Justin Coussoule, he is a West Point guy, a veteran, I like him. Justin Coussoule, he is the guy from the blue collar family, his dad was a roofer, he talks about the need to make things again in this country, to refocus on jobs and the economy, I like him. Or, Justin Coussoule, he has a pretty wife. Whatever it is — people seeing or hearing the name seven times, and one takeaway. It’s as complicated and as simple as that.
One of the many lessons of leadership from West Point is that good leaders march to the sound of the gun. They arrive on the battlefield and they don’t delay, they head to the decisive point and they fight to win. They march to the sound of the gun. The guns have been raging in the 8th District for 20 years now. It is time for all of us to answer their call.
Thanks so much everybody.