The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

17 February 2006

Liberal and Conservative Talk Radio Campaign Ties


In Several Congressional Races, Air America At Issue

UPDATED with new Minnesota coverage

To reach elective office, is talk radio really an effective stepping stone?

With a number of others diving head-first into Congressional campaigns this year, probable 2008 Minnesota US Senate candidate Al Franken apparently isn't the only one with ties to the medium. In addition, several have at least indirect connections with liberal radio network Air America.

And at the center of their fledgling 2006 candidacies, some are fighting off talk radio-related controversies.

While relatively little attention has so far been paid to these hopefuls, that should change as political silly season soon kicks off.

A scorecard:

--- In Georgia, the brother of former Air America and Clear Channel executive Jon Sinton has quietly thrown his hat into the ring for the state's Sixth Congressional District. From Clint Williams at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

U.S. Rep. Tom Price, a Republican from Roswell, has more competition for Georgia's 6th Congressional District seat.

Steve Sinton, a Democrat who lives in east Cobb County, announced late last month he is running for the office.

"We can do better," Sinton said. "Even the Republicans I talk to are not happy with Washington."

The district, redrawn last year, includes all of Cherokee County and portions of Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties. The county had been divided between the 6th Congressional District and the 7th Congressional District.

Sinton, 55, has worked in radio, appearing on the air as Steve Sutton on 96Rock and WGST. He worked with his brother, Jon Sinton, in establishing the liberal talk radio network Air America.

While running for Congress, Sinton said he is concerned about the most local of issues — traffic congestion. Many of the region's key roads are federal highways, he said, citing Ga. 400.

"We all moved here for the quality of life, and that quality of life is under assault on the Northside," Sinton said.

While Jon Sinton remains with Air America as an in-house consultant, it's unclear what role his candidate brother ever had with the network. Were it significant, would this really be a bragging point?

Interesting nepotism question not explored in the article: did Steve Sinton/Sutton's on-air Clear Channel tenure overlap with that of brother Jon?

If Steve Sinton really wants to list Air America on his resume, one hopes Democrat and Republican opponents will have a field day delving into any possible role he may have had in some of the company's sleaziest corporate actions.

--- In Michigan's Ninth Congressional District, former Chicago and Detroit-area Air America Host Nancy Skinner is not only ready for battle, but apparently unapologetic about her ties to the liberal radio outfit.

Skinner intends to bring Franken himself to Michigan for campaigning, according to Perry Simon entertainment trade publication All Access:

Former WLS-A/CHICAGO and WDTW-A/DETROIT host NANCY SKINNER tells the DETROIT NEWS that she'll be running for the Democratic nomination for the 9th Congressional District in MICHIGAN for the right to battle incumbent Republican Rep. JOE KNOLLENBERG.

SKINNER, who ran against now-Senator BARACK OBAMA for the Democratic nomination for Senator in ILLINOIS, tells the NEWS she'll bring in AIR AMERICA RADIO's AL FRANKEN and other friends to campaign for her.

--- In San Diego, Democrat Francine Busby's warm embrace of Air America for campaign purposes continues to generate controversy. Today, KSFO/San Francisco morning host Melanie Morgan (above photo) took Busby strongly to task in a WorldNetDaily Op-Ed:

Democratic candidates are flocking to the liberal radio network, despite the apparent ethical wrongdoing by Air America. What does that say about these Democrat candidates' commitments to ethical reform?

Francine Busby is a Democrat candidate to fill the vacant congressional seat that had been held by Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Cunningham was forced to resign after admitting his guilt to a number of corruption and bribery charges.

Yet despite the focus on ethics in the race, Democrat Busby has now appeared on Air America programs several times, including on Al Franken's nationally syndicated show. Busby's campaign events are also promoted on the website of Air America's San Diego radio affiliate.

With Air America's help, Busby has raised approximately $520,000 – more than any other Republican or Democrat candidate for the seat.

Which is why they stooped to the level of using taxpayer funds from charities to keep the lights on – to benefit Democrat candidates like Francine Busby.

--- On the Republican side, what seemed like a futile effort to recruit a viable candidate to take on Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) has suddenly paid dividends.

Former Massachusetts GOP Congressman and WRKO-AM talk show host Peter Blute appears poised to take on the decrepit Bay State Senator this year.

Although Kennedy has amassed a great deal of money to take on any Republican challenger, Democrats are looking surprisingly weak this year, in a state finding its electorate increasingly turning independent and non-partisan.

Over the last several years, Democrat Party voter registration has seen a significant slide. And major missteps by a once-leading Democrat gubernatorial candidate may have substantially damaged the party's image in 2006.

While Blute, who recently departed WRKO's morning show, has a minor scandal in his past, he feels it can be overcome. From the Boston Herald:

“I think people will take that for what it is. I think people realize that that was a mistake. It was a one-day mistake and I took responsibility for it,” Blute told the Herald yesterday.

The Shrewsbury Republican, who was forced out of the top Massport job just a day after his picture was taken aboard the Nauticus with a breast-baring partyer, plans to make up his mind soon about running for Senate or another post.

Blute said his record of winning five out of six elections makes him an attractive candidate.

Kennedy has vowed an aggressive campaign against any challengers, a threat he backs up with a nearly $8 million war chest.

But even a losing run would help raise Blute’s profile and Kennedy’s scandalous past from Chappaquiddick may help mute criticism of Blute’s boozy boating. In 1969, Kennedy companion, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned after Kennedy drove his car off a bridge in Chappaquiddick.

Blute wouldn’t address Kennedy’s past directly but said of his own ousting, “In the scheme of Massachusetts political issues, it doesn’t seem to be a big one.”

Why might Blute have a shot this November? For one thing, by those looking for a chance to finally take down Teddy, it's highly likely big money could be raised from around the country. In addition, younger voters just don't have the fierce Democrat loyalty that in the past made Massachusetts a one-party state.

If millions can be raised, this may finally be the year for Teddy's retirement celebration.

As the election year progresses, expect the Radio Equalizer to closely follow all of these races.

UPDATE: a new piece from Congressional Quarterly. While the state GOP believes it's a great campaign issue, a Minnesota Democrat running in the First Congressional District is also happy to have Franken's support:

Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz, who is running in the state’s 1st District, is a high school teacher and Army National Guard veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Walz this weekend will kick off his campaign against Republican Rep. Gil Gutknecht, who has usually won re-election by solid if not lopsided margins.

Walz said he expects to collect some campaign cash at a fundraiser next week with Al Franken, the outspokenly liberal comedian and radio show host who is considering a Senate bid in 2008. Walz received a $1,000 contribution from Franken’s new political action committee, Midwest Values PAC.

Mark Drake, the communications director for the Republican Party of Minnesota, said he expected Gutknecht would win re-election. He said Walz’s connection to Franken would be a “real liability” for his campaign.

Drake said Walz is becoming “the darling of the, hard-left blogger crowd and I don’t think that kind of approach is going to play real well.”

Other updates: in light of Google's recent anti-freedom actions overseas, we've for the time being removed Google AdSense from the right-hand sidebar. AdBrite is the replacement. In the switchover, some readers may have been sent to a full-page ad when attempting to visit this site. Our apologies for the glitch.

--- Fight Canadian bookstore censorship: support our friends at the Western Standard.

--- Thanks to an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show and a relatively poor New York Times review, Robert Ferrigno's Prayers For The Assassin rocketed up Amazon's charts yesterday, now ranked among the top 100 books. Oddly, it was well-received by the liberal Seattle Times. Friday, it reached #47. Congrats, Robert!

Thanks for your continued Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order! In the spotlight: Robert Ferrigno's exciting new thriller Prayers for the Assassin: A Novel.

Skinner photo: All Access, Blute: Boston Herald library picture, Patrick Whittemore


  • Brian,

    Predictably, you've missed the real story that will emerge from Peter Blute's entry into the Mass. senatorial race: Defeat for Kerry Healy in the gubernatorial race.
    Any chance of Kennedy being in jeopardy will mobilize lots of extra Dem voters to come out (in a state where they still strongly outnumber Republicans), and they are more likely to vote Dem for governor.
    Kennedy isn't in any real trouble (Blute is a good politico, but Kennedy is a great campaigner, as his Romney defeat showed), but Healy will be.

    By Blogger Justin, at 17 February, 2006 18:43  

  • Hmmm. Don't Republicans go on the serial spouse, hillbilly heroin addict's show? Don't they appear on the porno writer, sexual harrassers show? How about the homophobe racist's show?

    But those lack of ethics don't seem to bother you.

    By Blogger Dick Tuck, at 17 February, 2006 19:12  

  • If Steve Sinton really wants to list Air America on his resume, one hopes Democrat and Republican opponents will have a field day delving into any possible role he may have had in some of the company's sleaziest corporate actions.

    Baloney has the O'Reilly Factor listed on his padded resume.

    So what role did Baloney play in some of Bill O'Reilly's sleaziest actions?

    What was Baloney's part in the sexual harassment of Andrea Mackris?

    Was he holding the falafel?

    By Blogger HeadHunter, at 18 February, 2006 12:36  

  • Hey, little DICK:

    Serial spouse heroin addict?
    Gary Busey doesn't have a radio show. He's too busy filming anti-America rubbish only YOU would watch (and masturbate to repeatedly) and getting arrested for punching guards at airports.

    Porno writer/ sexual harasser's show? WOW. I knew Bill Clinton would get work in radio!

    Homophobe racist? Damn. Even Robert KKK Byrd has a show now?

    Get a clue. Or better yet, get a fucking JOB. You're a cyber-stalker.

    By Blogger Elnish Arundel, at 19 February, 2006 10:39  

  • Hey, Elnish, let's not forget which network carries Jerry Springer's radio show.

    Now there's something lefties should be proud of -- an Air America host who's famous for encouraging redneck chicks to rip each other's clothes off on stage ... and who hands out Springer Beads when women in the audience bare their boobs.

    Don't you just marvel at the Left's "enlightened" attitudes?

    By Blogger The4thEstate, at 20 February, 2006 00:00  

  • Let's take a closer look at conservative attitudes...

    Bill O'Reilly: Well, if I took you down there then I'd want to take a shower with you right away, that would be the first thing I'd do... yeah, we'd check into the room, and we would order up some room service and uh and you'd definitely get two wines into you as quickly as I could get into you I would get 'em into you... maybe intravenously, get those glasses of wine into you...

    You would basically be in the shower and then I would come in and I'd join you and you would have your back to me and I would take that little loofa thing and kinda soap up your back... rub it all over you, get you to relax, hot water... and um... you know, you'd feel the tension drain out of you and uh you still would be with your back to me then I would kinda put my arm -- it's one of those mitts, those loofa mitts you know, so I got my hands in it... and I would put it around front, kinda rub your tummy a little bit with it, and then with my other hand I would start to massage your boobs, get your nipples really hard... 'cuz I like that and you have really spectacular boobs...

    So anyway I'd be rubbing your big boobs and getting your nipples really hard, kinda kissing your neck from behind... and then I would take the other hand with the falafel thing and I'd put it on your pussy but you'd have to do it really light, just kind of a tease business....

    Again...Baloney has the O'Reilly Factor listed on his padded resume. So what role did Baloney play in some of Bill O'Reilly's sleazy sexual harassment of Andrea Mackris?

    By Blogger HeadHunter, at 20 February, 2006 13:13  

  • Knowing Minnesota politics like I do, Walz will lose in the 1st district.

    Klobuchar will also lose against Kennedy, as will Franken lose against Coleman in '08.

    The continuous Democrats wins in the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th districts will continue. Those 4, at least, I can respect.

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 20 February, 2006 20:14  

  • Blute has said he's not running.

    By Blogger Justin, at 23 February, 2006 15:29  

  • By Blogger Patrick, at 07 March, 2006 18:08  

  • I've been listening to Steve Sinton's platform, and I'll be honest--as compared with the incumbent, who's a Bush rubber stamp, Sinton's a breath of fresh air. I'm working for a big surprise in Ga 6.

    And 4th--have you EVER listened to Springer's radio show? Do you realize he's the calmest and most rational voice on that network by far? It's a far cry from his TV show, so you should listen before you slander.

    By Blogger JP, at 25 July, 2006 09:13  

  • It's nice to know that Liberal talk is still alive and well with "Family Values" and where everyone's views are always welcome. Politics have always made strange bed fellows and it's very interesting when all the "dirty laundry" comes out in the wash. I think 2008 will go down in history as "The Clash Of The Titans" with everyone coming out of the wood work to be on top.
    A liberal light in the darkness.

    By Blogger Agnes@headonradio, at 18 February, 2007 01:59  

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