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Open Letter to Howard Dean

The Democratic Party's present collaboration with the Bush Iraq policies is not only immoral but threatens to tear apart the alliance built with antiwar Democrats, Greens, and independents in 2004. The vast majority of these voters returned to the Democratic Party after their disastrous decision to vote for Ralph Nader four years before.
The Nation

Thursday 28 April 2005

"Now that we're there, we're there and we can't get out," Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean told an audience of nearly 1,000 at the Minneapolis Convention Center on April 20th. "The president has created an enormous security problem for the US where none existed before. But I hope the president is incredibly successful with his policy now that he's there."

I agree with Dean - a political figure I admire - that the war in Iraq has put the US in greater danger. But the question facing us today is who will speak for the millions of Americans who believe that continued occupation increases the danger? Who will speak for the millions who believe that the US has gotten bogged down in Iraq? Who will speak out against the (majority of the) Democratic Party's silent consent to the Bush Administration's Iraq war policies? Who will speak out about the wrenching human and economic costs of occupation? Who will speak out in support of a clear and honorable exit strategy? Who will make a clear, unequivocal declaration that the US will not maintain permanent military bases in Iraq?

For those who believe that America needs to change course, Tom Hayden's open letter to Howard Dean appealing to him not to take the antiwar majority of the Democratic Party for granted is an eloquent and important document. Read it, share it.
-- Katrina vanden Heuvel

Dear Chairman Dean,

Thank you kindly for your call and your expressed willingness to discuss the Democratic Party's position on the Iraq War. There is growing frustration at the grass roots towards the party leadership's silent collaboration with the Bush Administration's policies. Personally, I cannot remember a time in thirty years when I have been more despairing over the party's moral default. Let me take this opportunity to explain.

The party's alliance with the progressive left, so carefully repaired after the catastrophic split of 2000, is again beginning to unravel over Iraq. Thousands of anti-war activists and millions of anti-war voters gave their time, their loyalty and their dollars to the 2004 presidential campaign despite profound misgivings about our candidate's position on the Iraq War. Of the millions spent by "527" committees on voter awareness, none was spent on criticizing the Bush policies in Iraq.

The Democratic candidate, and other party leaders, even endorsed the US invasion of Falluja, giving President Bush a green-light to destroy that city with immunity from domestic criticism. As a result, a majority of Falluja's residents were displaced violently, guaranteeing a Sunni abstention from the subsequent Iraqi elections.

Then in January, a brave minority of Democrats, led by Senator Ted Kennedy and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, advocated a timetable for withdrawal. Their concerns were quickly deflated by the party leadership.

Next came the Iraqi elections, in which a majority of Iraqis supported a platform calling for a timetable for US withdrawal. ("US Intelligence Says Iraqis Will Press for Withdrawal." New York Times, Jan. 18, 2005) A January 2005 poll showed that 82 percent of Sunnis and 69 percent of Shiites favored a "near-term US withdrawal" (New York Times, Feb. 21, 2005). The Democrats failed to capitalize on this peace sentiment, as if it were a threat rather than an opportunity.

Three weeks ago, tens of thousands of Shiites demonstrated in Baghdad calling again for US withdrawal, chanting "No America, No Saddam." (New York Times, April 10, 2005) The Democrats ignored this massive nonviolent protest.

There is evidence that the Bush Administration, along with its clients in Baghdad, is ignoring or suppressing forces within the Iraqi coalition calling for peace talks with the resistance. The Democrats are silent towards this meddling.

On April 12, Donald Rumsfeld declared "we don't really have an exit strategy. We have a victory strategy." (New York Times, April 13, 2005). There was no Democratic response.

The new Iraqi regime, lacking any inclusion of Sunnis or critics of our occupation, is being pressured to invite the US troops to stay. The new government has been floundering for three months, hopelessly unable to provide security or services to the Iraqi people. Its security forces are under constant siege by the resistance. The Democrats do nothing.

A unanimous Senate, including all Democrats, supports another $80-plus billion for this interminable conflict. This is a retreat even from the 2004 presidential campaign when candidate John Kerry at least voted against the supplemental funding to attract Democratic voters.

The Democratic Party's present collaboration with the Bush Iraq policies is not only immoral but threatens to tear apart the alliance built with antiwar Democrats, Greens, and independents in 2004. The vast majority of these voters returned to the Democratic Party after their disastrous decision to vote for Ralph Nader four years before. But the Democrats' pro-war policies threaten to deeply splinter the party once again.

We all supported and celebrated your election as Party chairman, hoping that winds of change would blow away what former president Bill Clinton once called "brain-dead thinking."

But it seems to me that your recent comments about Iraq require further reflection and reconsideration if we are to keep the loyalty of progressives and promote a meaningful alternative that resonates with mainstream American voters.

Let me tell you where I stand personally. I do not believe the Iraq War is worth another drop of blood, another dollar of taxpayer subsidy, another stain on our honor. Our occupation is the chief cause of the nationalist resistance in that country. We should end the war and foreign economic occupation. Period.

To those Democrats in search of a muscular, manly foreign policy, let me say that real men (and real patriots) do not sacrifice young lives for their own mistakes, throw good money after bad, or protect the political reputations of high officials at the expense of their nation's moral reputation.

At the same time, I understand that there are limitations on what a divided political party can propose, and that there are internal pressures from hawkish Democratic interest groups. I am not suggesting that the Democratic Party has to support language favoring "out now" or "isolation." What I am arguing is that the Democratic Party must end its silent consent to the Bush Administration's Iraq War policies and stand for a negotiated end to the occupation and our military presence. The Party should seize on Secretary Rumsfeld's recent comments to argue that the Republicans have never had an "exit strategy" because they have always wanted a permanent military outpost in the Middle East, whatever the cost.

The Bush Administration deliberately conceals the numbers of American dead in the Iraq War. Rather than the 1,500 publicly acknowledged, the real number is closer to 2,000 when private contractors are counted.

The Iraq War costs one billion dollars in taxpayer funds every week. In "red" states like Missouri, the taxpayer subsidy for the Iraq War could support nearly 200,000 four-year university scholarships.

Military morale is declining swiftly. Prevented by antiwar opinion from re-instituting the military draft, the Bush Administration is forced to intensify the pressures on our existing forces. Already forty percent of those troops are drawn from the National Guard or reservists. Recruitment has fallen below its quotas, and 37 military recruiters are among the 6,000 soldiers who are AWOL.

President Bush's "coalition of the willing" is steadily weakening, down from 34 countries to approximately twenty. Our international reputation has become that of a torturer, a bully.

The anti-war movement must lead and hopefully, the Democratic Party will follow. But there is much the Democratic Party can do:

First, stop marginalizing those Democrats who are calling for immediate withdrawal or a one-year timetable. Encourage pubic hearings in Congressional districts on the ongoing costs of war and occupation, with comparisons to alternative spending priorities for the one billion dollars per week.

Second, call for peace talks between Iraqi political parties and the Iraqi resistance. Hold hearings demand to know why the Bush Administration is trying to squash any such Iraqi peace initiatives. (Bush Administration officials are hoping the new Iraqi government will "settle for a schedule based on the military situation, not the calendar." New York Times, Jan. 19, 2005).

Third, as an incentive to those Iraqi peace initiatives, the US needs to offer to end the occupation and withdraw our troops by a near-term date. The Bush policy, supported by the Democrats, is to train and arm Iraqis to fight Iraqis - a civil war with fewer American casualties.

Fourth, to further promote peace initiatives, the US needs to specify that a multi-billion dollar peace dividend will be earmarked for Iraqi-led reconstruction, not for the Halliburtons and Bechtels, without discrimination as to Iraqi political allegiances.

Fifth, Democrats could unite behind Senator Rockefellers's persistent calls for public hearings on responsibility for the torture scandals. If Republicans refuse to permit such hearings, Democrats should hold them independently. "No taxes for torture" is a demand most Democrats should be able to support. The Democratic Senate unity against the Bolton appointment is a bright but isolated example of how public hearings can keep media and public attention focused on the fabricated reasons for going to war.

Instead of such initiatives, the national Democratic Party is either committed to the Iraq War, or to avoiding blame for losing the Iraq War, at the expense of the social programs for which it historically stands. The Democrats' stance on the war cannot be separated from the Democrats' stance on health care, social security, inner city investment, and education, all programs gradually being defunded by a war which costs $100 billion yearly, billed to future generations.

This is a familiar pattern for those of us who suffered through the Vietnam War. Today it is conventional wisdom among Washington insiders, including even the liberal media, that the Democratic Party must distance itself from its antiwar past, and must embrace a position of military toughness.

The truth is quite the opposite. What the Democratic Party should distance itself from is its immoral and self-destructive pro-war positions in the 1960s which led to unprecedented polarization, the collapse of funds for the War on Poverty, a schism in the presidential primaries, and the destruction of the Lyndon Johnson presidency. Thirty years after our forced withdrawal from Vietnam, the US government has stable diplomatic and commercial relations with its former Communist enemy. The same future is possible in Iraq.

I appeal to you, Mr. Chairman, not to take the anti-war majority of this Party for granted. May I suggest that you initiate a serious reappraisal of how the Democratic Party has become trapped in the illusions which you yourself questioned so cogently when you ran for president. I believe that an immediate commencement of dialogue is necessary to fix the credibility gap in the Party's position on the Iraq War. Surely if the war was a mistake based on a fabrication, there is a better approach than simply becoming accessories to the perpetrators of the deceit. And surely there is a greater role for Party leadership than permanently squandering the immense good will, grass roots funding, and new volunteer energy that was generated by your visionary campaign.

Tom Hayden
Open Letter to Tom Haden 29.Apr.2005 17:30

GreenPartyMike ollamhfaery@earthlink.net

This is an open invitation for Tom Haden and other committed anti-war and global justice activists. Howard Dean and his comments should also be a wake up call, if any more was ever needed (Ohio Re-Count, Iraq Corporate War, NAFTA, WTO, Patriot Act, Welfare Reform etc etc)to those who claim to stand for these principles. You get the leaders you deserve. Follow the link and I DARE you to deny the truth of the statement put out to the anti-war and justice community.

Wake up, get over the fact that the Dems are just as corrupted by corporate money as the Repuglicans and corporate media. Then join the Green Party.

A real live Indymediaista is running for US Senate in Minnesota. Consider this an invitation to push for IRV. We are NOT backing down, despite all the pleading and handwringing of well fed, comfortable middle-class liberals.

Open Comment to Tom Hayden 29.Apr.2005 18:17

sick of the re-hash

"disastrous decision to vote for Ralph Nader four years before"


yet MORE Nader-bashing - and 'implicating' votes for him in the BushCheney 2000 'victory' (it sure wasn't an ELECTION),

after the clearly-demonstrated complicity of Gore + DNC senators to disenfranchise Florida's predominantly black voting districts in 2000?

(HEY, TOM: ever watch the first ten minutes of Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11"?)

"social programs for which it historically stands"

HA HA, Tom - pull the other one. As if the Democrat Party (sure there's lone wolves like Ted Kennedy, Dennis Kucinich or even Earl Blumenauer, but are they 'setting the agenda'??) in 2005 "stands" for anything except their corporate lobbyists. You are REALLY showing your age and irrelevance here . . . NewsFlash: the One-Party-America is run by CORPORATIONS, not some illusory political "history" and perceived allegiance to particular values or programs.

Hey 29.Apr.2005 19:07

Progressive Democrat

HEY, you attack dogs, back off my man Tom ! !

That's MY job to take crap from you anti-dem fanatics frothing at the mouth with your hatred of "well fed, comfortable middle-class liberals". SO, all you starving miserable homeless radicals, grrrr, ruff! ruff! COME AND GET ME.

Hayden was one of the Chicago Seven, along with Abbie Hoffman, remember? What, he hasn't paid his dues and you have? He hasn't quit! Was Hayden "showing his age and irrelevance" on the ground fighting for freedom in Miami, Mister "sick of the re-hash"?


I was just preparing a post on Hayden and ready to click "PUBLISH" when this article appeared. But I am posting it anyway so you fanatic attack dogs for Cobb and Nader (is that possible?) can chase me there.

ALSO I am going to publish my latest thing on the filibuster in a minute or two -- and that's really political -- I mean that's real Democratic Party stuff, that's what! SO follow me there -- and lay off my man Tom! GGRRRRRRRRRRRR

But I'm about ready to shut down my computer for a while and take to the street (or the road or the trail) what with May Day coming. SO GET ME WHILE YOU CAN! I'll be on guard duty tonight, waiting. rrrrrrrRRR***FFF ! !

GreenPartyMike 29.Apr.2005 21:12

Progressive Democrat

in comment titled "Open Letter to Tom Haden" says --

"Consider this an invitation to push for IRV."


Blair Bovier (Green Party member, I believe) has just sent out to FairVoteOR notice about the pending Oregon legislation for IRV. Here's what Bovier says --

"I have also been invited to talk about IRV and this bill in particular for a few minutes on Thom Hartmann's new radio show in Portland on Monday at approximately 8:20 a.m., (KPOJ), so it might be possible to enlist help from a broader audience."

Bovier's talking about help from more people in pushing for a preference voting bill to get through the committee where it was almost side-tracked but maybe again has a chance, given more public input.

PDA on Haden 29.Apr.2005 21:25

GreenPartyMike ollamhfaery@earthlink.net

Progressive Dem,
One of the things I have always liked about the Progressive Dem movement is their willingness to work with and make alliances with Greens. The PDA as a whole like and respect the GP. Many members of the GP like and respect the PDA. In fact all the members of the PDA that I know have the same contempt for "well fed, middle-class liberals" as we do. In fact the only real prob with the PDA that I have is that the PDA feels that they can "affect change from the inside". As a committed Green, I obviously feel that is a failed policy but I respect the PDA and wait for many of you to come to the same conclusion that we Greens, Cobbittes and Naderittes alike, have. That is, of course that corporate money has corrupted the Dem Party to the point of no return.

"Your man" Tom Haden I have never impinged him or his record. But what our Naderitte friend very correctly points out is that Haden can not stand by and defend what the Dem Party USED to be, or at least what it pretended to be. Simple fact is that the Party is, as I stated, just as corrupted by corporate money as the Repuglicans and the corporate media. This central issue is NEVER addressed by Dems when you go into attack mode on the Green Party and/or Nader. Instead denial of this reality and what it means is taken on. In a word corporate media, corporate parties, corporate war. The math is quite simple.

But Tom Haden is not the only one with a political record here. Some of us Greens and other activists have been arrested for our beliefs and yours truely here was raised catholic in a poor catholic housing project in northern Ireland. That should tell you where I come from politically. I was also one of the official election observers in Ohio.

Now for attacking Nader and Cobb. The PDA has constantly given David Cobb standing ovations when he speaks to them. You know why? Because it was David Cobb and the Greens who ensured that people even knew about the potential election fraud in Ohio and elsewhere. Not the Dems, not Kerry/Edwards but us Greens. Simple undeniable fact.

So again, I ask you and fellow PDA types, peace and global justice activists to visit our campaign website, read the statement to the anti-war movement and deny the truth of that statement. So, yet again, the issue here is incentive to push for IRV. With IRV we can work together and all win. In the proccess we can work together to build a movement.

OKAY 29.Apr.2005 22:31

Progressive Democrat

About all I can say to your comment is --


"standing up for the right to vote, and the right for votes to be counted"


As promised, 30.Apr.2005 00:23

Progressive Democrat

I've been here at my trusty old Mac via 56 K dial-up just in case anyone else wanted to comment on things. While I was sitting here anyway (exept for a coffee break) I surfed around and came up with material for another story to add to the one on Hayden --

Progressive Hayden nails DNC on Iraq

and the one that I said I was about to post --

RECESS - where does Smith stand?

and that latest one is --

Social Security Update

So, with great appreciation for Portland Indymedia, I'm off on a vacation, starting May Day as of now.

"Naderitte" [sic]? what's that ?!? 30.Apr.2005 01:11

sick of the re-hash

(I admit, I did write in Nader/Camejo this year - not because I 100% supported Nader/Camejo's campaign party line, but rather because of any of the other 'minor'/third party candidates they offered the most realistic, practical, and straightforward proposals and solutions, thus appearing, to me personally and I venture many others, as __the most deserving__ ticket of my vote for President/Vice President. And we won't go into the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by DNC to obstruct Nader/Camejo's very access to nationwide ballots in 2004 . .. ;-)

[a small interjection - Nader votes in 2000 and everyone's "spoiler" accusations have previously been roundly and thoroughly debunked, with supporting numerical data, in Portland IMC threads such as this one:  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/02/281121.shtml]

RE: Hayden - well, for Mr. "Progressive Democrat" sure we've all "paid our dues" [YOU brought it up] in various ways (although I can't confirm whether Hayden himself landed in jail down in Miami last year . . . perhaps others can and it's o.k. by me if true) - but that's a straw man distraction on your part, "P.D.".

I wasn't "attacking Hayden's character" or anything of the sort . . . but that's just the sort of "political lineage/history" thinking that keeps "P.D.", 'The Nation' [haw haw, gave up on those clowns in 1994], and Tom Hayden churning out the same 'Vote Democrat!' party line garbage year after year,

while simultaneously ignoring / being in total denial of the CORPORATE chokehold becoming more inexorable each year on American public and private life.

Now, on to some other MAJOR logical fallacies and sheer denial (can't be ignorance, or . . . ?) in Hayden's 'The Nation' article:

"Thirty years after our forced withdrawal from Vietnam, the US government has stable diplomatic and commercial relations with its former Communist enemy. The same future is possible in Iraq."

GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR TOM - what in the **CK does a "former Communist enemy" such as North Vietnam have to do with the totally unprovoked, pre-emptive invasion of Iraq and toppling of a US-installed dictator in order to regain control of oil reserves? Totally implausible, unsubstantiated, wacko analogy there, Mr. Hayden. It's called IMPERIALISM, Tom . . . Would Mr. Hayden please care to explicate that "same future" also being somehow possible in IRAN  http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0411-21.htm ?

(Take your protein pills and put your helmet on, Tom . . . 10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . . 7 . . . )

"Democratic Party's present collaboration with the Bush Iraq policies is not only immoral"

--Tom, lesse if we can figure out what you're getting at here: you still somehow 'believe' in a D.P. that must adhere (or can be 'coerced' or 'configured' to adhere) to a "moral" framework of some sort, even though you fully admit that they have 100% collaborated in the implementation of an illegal, unprovoked war?

"but threatens to tear apart the alliance built with antiwar Democrats, Greens, and independents in 2004."

--Tom, Tom, Tom . . . I watched the "Berkeley In The '60s" documentary AND WAS INSPIRED by you, but this really takes the cake. I've 'lost faith' in ya now, pal. WHAT YOU JUST STATED ABOVE - utter crushing and marginalization of said movements - IS EXACTLY, PRECISELY WHAT THE CORPORATE STATE WANTS AND INTENDS TO HAVE HAPPEN.

"A unanimous Senate, including all Democrats, supports another $80-plus billion for this interminable conflict. This is a retreat even from the 2004 presidential campaign when candidate John Kerry at least voted against the supplemental funding to attract Democratic voters."

--Ditto, see above. Tom, with a Democrat Congress - by your own admission - like this, WHO NEEDS 'enemies'? what can they possibly do to 'top', or even reverse, this? (when do we hear you start talking about the Corporations who puppet this stuff, Tom? And don't forget what happened to Paul Wellstone . . .)

"train and arm Iraqis to fight Iraqis"

--yo, Tom: in case you haven't heard, the U.S. has, under construction, 14 PERMANENT military bases  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/05/288657.shtml in Iraq. In case you also haven't heard, though the nervous, tentative U.S.-Saudi relationship necessarily continues (esp. in light of recent oil prices), long-term Saudi political stability is doubted severely by U.S. strategists and the large U.S. military bases built there around Gulf War I can not be reliably utilized to full imperial capacity any longer - especially with the need to monopolize Central Asian along with Middle East oil supplies and delivery routes. Not only that - Saudi oil reserves and pumped crude supplies themselves have peaked, and can no longer be counted on as they were during the 1940s-1970s era.

"multi-billion dollar peace dividend"

--hey Tom: is Dean going to answer and/or implement this request for ya? how about John Kerry . . . no? mebbe, Edwards?? Kucinich? Blumenauer? Ted Kennedy? what "Democrat savior" will it be this time?

no, the Iraq "dividend" will be BLACK and CRUDE . . .
Ground control to Major Tom  . . . take your protein pills
Ground control to Major Tom . . . take your protein pills

"Naderitte" [sic]? what's that ?!? 30.Apr.2005 14:11

sick of the re-hash

[I admittedly voted for Nader/Camejo as they were in my considered opinion the only 2004 Presidential ticket deserving receipt of my cast vote - based on having the most realistic, practical and straightforward platform. RE: Nader "costing" elections to Democrats or anyone else: this is nakedly debunked and data presented in multiple Portland IMC threads such as this one  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/02/281121.shtml]

Mr. "Progressive Democrat": I never impugned Tom Hayden's personal rep, or his commitment (sure he may have been arrested - not to my knowledge, but others can show that - in Miami last year), but I'm only pointing out - as our friend "GreenPartyMike" has kindly assisted me in - that Hayden and all "progressive Democrats" or "left liberals" of this stripe steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the common CORPORATE sponsorship of our One-Party-System AND ITS CONCOMITANT PUBLIC POLICIES, while the likes of Hayden / "P.D" continue to re-hash ignorance of it, as above.

Now on to more total lapses of logic, facts and veracity in Hayden's 'The Nation' [haw haw, gave up on them in 1994] article above:

"Thirty years after our forced withdrawal from Vietnam, the US government has stable diplomatic and commercial relations with its former Communist enemy. The same future is possible in Iraq."

--'GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR TOM . . . ': where in the **CK did you come up with this analogy? what does U.S. policy in Vietnam have to do with an unprovoked, illegal, pre-emptive invasion of a country with a CIA-installed dictator, which has been widely denounced worldwide as having no reason whatsoever AT THE TIME IT OCCURRED (not decades later)? Did we invade Iraq to "fight Communism", Tom--or was it WMDs? (what WAS the reason for illegally invading and militarily occupying Iraq, Tom--officially spoken or unspoken?) The US SUPPORTED IRAQ and Saddam during the 1980s and early 1990s  link to www.gwu.edu with weapons, while simultaneously bombing and massacreing Iraqi civilian populations when convenient.

Care to explain please, Tom how this "same future" also possible with IRAN  http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0411-21.htm ? '10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . . 7 . . . '

". . . end the occupation and withdraw our troops by a near-term date. The Bush policy, supported by the Democrats, is to train and arm Iraqis to fight Iraqis"

--Tom, Tom, Tom: you were an inspiration to me in the documentary film "Berkeley in the '60s" but you're demonstrating your ignorance (?) and lack of attention to reality here. The U.S. has under construction 14 PERMANENT MILITARY BASES  link to portland.indymedia.org) or a stable political ally of the U.S. in the 21st century, and as a consequence imperial U.S. bases built prior to Gulf War I need replacement - especially if the U.S. is to ensure 'regional security' for Central Asian (and not just Persian Gulf) oil and gas supplies.

"multi-billion dollar peace dividend"

--in case you forgot to 'TAKE YOUR PROTEIN PILLS', Tom - the Vice President of this country is former chairman of Halliburton. 'THE STARS LOOK VERY DIFFERENT TODAY', Tom - will Dean help you obtain this "dividend"? how about John Kerry? Edwards? Kucinich? Ted Kennedy? Earl Blumenauer? What have the Dems/Repubs offered up as an Abu Ghraib "torture dividend" ? (and don't forget what happened to Paul Wellstone . . .)

the only Iraq "dividend" will be BLACK and CRUDE.
'. . . and I'm floating in a most -a-peculiar wa-a-ay . . .'
'. . . and I'm floating in a most -a-peculiar wa-a-ay . . .'

RE: Open Letter to Tom Hayden 30.Apr.2005 17:53


Michael Cavian. You and any other GP candidate is going to have to address the 800 lb gorilla hovering over the GP. Of course, i'm referring to the Camejo/Cobb factional split within the party.
If you're pro Cobb, you will recieve less votes; if you're pro Camejo, you'll incur the wrath of Cobb and the small clique that contols the "party".
Why not consider running as an independent? You're going to have to collect petitions either way to appear on the ballot, since the GP lost party ballot status in 04.
You could possibly get the backing of the Camejo faction. And if the race isn't close, the Cobb faction may back you as well.