Blue America '16

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No Exaggeration: The Survival Of Mankind

This week we've been working with our friends at ClimateHawksVote to win House seats for candidates committed to ameliorating climate change-- candidates who are in winnable districts that the DCCC is ignoring. With Trump's dysfunctional campaign and crude bigotry dragging down the whole ticket, it looks-- for the first time this cycle-- that the Democrats actually have a chance of recapturing the majority and retiring Paul Ryan from the Speakership. Imagine a House where Ryan's willingly ignorant committee chairmen no longer set the agenda!

The DCCC doesn't like taking on GOP committee chairmen. We do-- and we are. Our candidates are all running, in part, to address global warming, combat the fossil-fuel industry, and support renewable energy. If climate hawks are part of a winning coalition that takes over Congress in 2017, we can work towards halting toxic fracking, towards stopping extreme-energy projects; we can start the work it will take to put a price on carbon pollution, and we can make sure subpoenas are sent to ExxonMobil instead of climate scientists. Our candidates want to invest billions in renewable, resilient infrastructure to restore climate justice and end the fossil-fuel economy-- before it's too late.

Taking back the House is a big challenge-- Republicans currently hold a 30-seat advantage. But all across the country, Democratic registration is up and Trump's continuous stream of bile is turning off mainstream conservative voters who are telling pollsters they won't be voting for Republican candidates November 8.

Progressive candidates in the suburbs of Philadelphia (Mary Ellen Balchunis), Austin and San Antonio (Tom Wakely), New York (Zephyr Teachout and Duwayne Gregory), Los Angeles (Bao Nguyen and Nanette Barragán), Kalamazoo (Paul Clements), Miami (Alina Valdes), to name a few, weren't looked at as winnable by the DCCC.

That's all changed now... and if we're going to have a House ready to work on, for example, climate issues, it means taking back the House and not taking it back with Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- the ones who opposed single-payer and the public option and stuck us with a very flawed Obamacare. So... please dig as deep as you can comfortably do and pick out a candidate or two-- for the future of the country and the species and the planet.

Want to get a feel for how strongly our candidates feel about climate as an issue? Mary Ellen Balchunis told us yesterday that "While the Republican party is still debating whether climate change even exists, I am prepared to enact legislation that will reduce carbon output on day one. I will fight for a carbon tax while encouraging investment in clean, sustainable technologies to shape the clean energy economy. Beyond this, I will support public transit development and a modernized electrical grid, to make sure that we have the infrastructure to sustainably meet demand in the future. Unfortunately, my opponent Pat Meehan claims to care about climate change, but has voted to repeal the only carbon regulations on power plants, end research into the effects of fossil fuels, and even permit pipelines to run through our national parks and monuments. Pennsylvanian's deserve a legislator who prioritizes a healthy environment for their children's future ahead of oil and gas companies' balance sheets."

And our candidates have records of leadership on progressive issues. Take Nanette Barragan, for example. "While my opponent was filling his coffers with Big Oil special interests money from the most disreputable lobbyists in Sacramento," she told us, "I was leading a successful fight to prevent the drilling of 34 oil and water injection wells in Hermosa Beach and into the Santa Monica Bay. If you care about climate change, retire Isadore Hall and send me to Congress. We both have records that are as crystal clear as the water still is off Hermosa Beach." Does that sound like someone you want on your team, fighting for your issues? Her opponent, Isadore Hall, is one of Sacramento's most corrupt legislators, a disgrace to a legislature that can't wait to see him leave.

Paul Clements isn't just one of the strongest advocates of climate change action of any candidate running for Congress, he's up against the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Rep. who buries every climate proposal. "In this election, we have the opportunity to replace one of Congress's leading climate science deniers," he said. "Fred Upton has been called, appropriately, 'Congress's Number 1 Enemy of Planet Earth,' and has been using his position to block any meaningful action on climate change. Congressman Upton has taken $931,000 from the oil and gas industry, and has used his role as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee to keep energy companies from being held accountable for their actions, especially companies like Exxon and BP, in which he owns a quarter of a million dollars in stock. Despite his record, an outside group recently had the audacity to come into our district to promote Fred Upton as a 'clean energy champion.' The outrageous nature of their lies show just how important Fred Upton is to oil and gas, and how threatened they are this year. If Congressman Upton is reelected, we can expect two more years of obstructionism from Congress, and a dangerous lack of action on climate, our nation's most critical challenge. I look forward to working in Congress to reverse the damage that has been caused, and prevent climate catastrophe."

Tom Wakley is running against Science Committee Chairman and chief climate change denier, Lamar Smith. "What truly gets me worked up," he told us, "is this idea that you have to 'believe' in climate change. The notion that it takes some great leap of faith in order to see and feel destruction or pollution is simply maddening. This is basically a matter of rejecting reality. There is no option when it concerns our climate. We have to act now. We must end fossil fuel subsidies and find market based initiatives to turn over a new leaf. There's no going back if we continue to wait for the corruption to subside or wait for the oil to run out. Lamar Smith and anyone of his ilk must be retired. The livelihood of future generations depend on it."

You want the government to deal seriously with Climate Change? Help us bring on congressional change.

Blue America Mobile Billboards Are On The Road Again

It's that time of year again. Starting tomorrow we have trucks, 2-sided mobile billboards prowling the highways and byways of at least 4 districts “served” by Republican incumbents that we think are flippable. These are the four races:

  • NV-04, where we expect Ruben Kihuen to beat NRA patsy Cresent Hardy
  • NH-01, where Carol Shea-Porter looks like she can end the political career of dishonest Trumpist Frank Guinta
  • NY-02, where Suffolk County legislator DuWayne Gregory is on track to oust right-wing crackpot Peter King
  • TX-21, our long-shot race, where Berniecrat Tom Wakely has made tremendous inroads in the San Antonio and Austin suburbs thanks, in great part to the tight bond between Lamar Smith and Donald J. Trump

These trucks are already in production and the first one in Nevada starts tomorrow, Monday the 18th. New Hampshire will be on the road Tuesday; Long Island starts Wednesday and Texas starts Thursday. We are asking for some money to keep these four progressive messaging machines rolling right up until November 8th.

And... if anyone is feeling flush, we'd like to get trucks on the road against “Professional car thief” Darryll Issa in Orange and San Diego counties, against Pat “I’m only here for the Gerrymandering” Meehan in the Philly suburbs and against “Smarmy Frat Boy” John Faso in upstate New York (Zephyr Teachout's district). Enough $20 contributions will be great for the gas but trucks cost around $15,000 each for a run between now and election day.

Fortunately, Blue America’s Independent Expenditure (I.E.) Committee can take larger contributions than the limit of $2,700 permitted to candidates. If you want to give enough for a whole truck, or for a significant part of a truck, and it's for a specific candidate, just let us know by e-mailing me at

Our I.E. Committee ActBlue page is here.

Meanwhile, if you want to help the candidates directly, you can contribute to their campaigns on this page, but keep in mind that none of that money goes for the mobile billboard campaign— and none of the I.E. money can be shared with the candidates.

The Philly Suburbs Are In Political Turmoil

As we've explained before, political science professor Mary Ellen Balchunis is just too progressive for Steve Israel (Blue Dog-NY), Ben Ray Lujan (DCCC chair) and Nancy Pelosi who used to be from San Francisco but now represents some alternative universe. Mary Ellen isn't, however, too progressive for the Democrats who actually live in the Philly suburbs in Delaware, Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties.

They laughed when the DCCC tried to insert some Wall Street outsider, Bill Golderer, as "their" candidate. That's why Mary Ellen beat him in the primary-- beat him, in fact quite decisively, 51,525 (74%) to 18,276 (26%). And this despite a very aggressive sabotage campaign against her... by the DCCC! While telling institutional donors not to contribute to Mary Ellen's campaign, they helped Golderer raise the $351,551 he spent against her in the primary (and even added in another $14,500 against her-- $14,500 that unaware contributors gave the DCCC to be used against Republicans, not against progressives).

As soon as the votes were counted showing Mary Ellen's stupendous win, the DCCC packed up its tents and decided PA-07 was no longer one of the "top 10 congressional targets in the country." They started investing money in deep, deep red districts; in Utah, Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey, where they have right-wing Blue Dogs and New Dems running with virtually no chance of winning. Their hatred for progressives and progressive ideas is so blinding, they have adamantly refused to help Mary Ellen's campaign-- and determined to see her lose to sad sack GOP backbencher incumbent Pat Meehan. Does this make any sense to you? Will you help her show the DCCC (again) who the Democrats in PA-07 want to have representing them in Congress?

Hillary and Bernie split the counties that make up PA-07. They also split the affections of Mary Ellen, who is an old friend of Hillary's and a supporter of the same progressive agenda that made Bernie so beloved to the Democratic Party grassroots, much of which Hillary has now embraced as well, she says. This past Monday, Hillary was back in the Philly suburbs, campaigning with Mary Ellen in her hometown, Haverford... despite Pelosi and her conservative DCCC henchmen still purposefully ignoring the PA-07 race.

"I was first inspired by Hillary Clinton in 1992," Mary Ellen told us, "when I was teaching a class on State and Local Government, and our textbook discussed Governor Clinton of Arkansas appointing his wife, then  Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton, to chair a committee to improve education in their state. The Clintons viewed education as a key to economic development and I was impressed by how Bill and Hillary worked together as equals. I was honored to have Hillary lecture to my students and sign my textbook. One of my students asked her what her focus would be if she were to become First Lady of the United States. Hillary said she would work to help our children and she has more than lived up to that promise with her steadfast advocacy for children and families. Perhaps the most inspiring moment was when Hillary was working on the 1996 Baby Bill to extend maternity stays from 24 hours to a minimum of 48 hours at the same time my students were working on the issue. When the bill was  being signed, Hillary invited me and my two year old daughter to the Rose Garden signing ceremony. We were both part of the 24 hour 'McBirth' deliveries. In my classes, I teach by involving students. My classes have worked on reducing the time that rape kits sit on shelves, reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, bringing awareness of the problem of human trafficking, amongst others. Hillary inspired me to go further, saying: 'I know Mary Ellen Balchunis has just one of the best Women in Politics class in the nation.'"

Hillary seems to get it-- she needs progressives in Congress to help her pass the ambitious agenda Bernie and Elizabeth Warren helped her put together to run on. It's heartening to see her backing good candidates and not just the garbage the DCCC insists on backing. Mary Ellen is a values-driven fighter, not some kind of careerist hack. Hillary needs people like Mary Ellen Balchunis in Congress if she's going to get anything worthwhile done.

This is the kind of crucial race where the progressive grassroots can pick up the slack from a corrupted and conservative DCCC refusing to do its job. Please consider joining Blue America in supporting Mary Ellen Balchunis's race against Paul Ryan rubber-stamp, Pat Meehan in a district where Hillary is leading Trump by over 20 points! Let's use that opportunity to win back Joe Sestak's old House seat while the DCCC wastes their resources on a pack of Blue Dogs in districts far out of grasp. And, by the way, Joe Sestak, has been campaigning very actively for Mary Ellen in the district and helping her raise money as well.

Instant Upgrade To Congress Within Grasp

We're entering the last few weeks on the dash to election day. Now is when candidates need financial resources the most.

I want to say a few words about one of the candidates Blue America has endorsed: Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, who has always run grassroots campaigns and always eschewed corporate PACs, even when she was in Congress and lobbyists were interested in giving that kind of money to her. We've known her as long as Blue America exists, a full decade. We endorsed her first run for Congress in 2006 when, despite spiteful sabotage from Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC, she defeated GOP incumbent Jeb Bradley.

When we first met Carol she was a grassroots activist running on an anti-war platform. And a full decade ago she was already peppering her speeches with the not yet commonly used term, living wage.

Those issues frightened Rahm and he recruited a conservative establishment Democrat, Jim Craig, to run. Although Craig had the backing of the DCCC machine and spent $381,290 against her, (more money than she spent in the primary and the general election combined) she kicked his ass because she knew how to run a grassroots campaign and he-- like almost all DCCC candidates-- didn't. She beat him 54-34%.

The DCCC immediately wrote off the district and Rahm called Democratic contributors and told them she had no chance and not to waste their money-- a common DCCC tactic they still use against progressives today. But despite Bradley outspending her almost 4 to 1, she beat him in November 100,899 votes (51%) to 94,869 votes (49%) and beat him again in a rematch two years later, this time with a 54-46% margin.

I was reminded about what a kook Guinta is when I watched the Wells Fargo House Financial Services Committee hearings on Thursday. A member of that committee, Guinta has managed to extort $1,103,948 from the Wall Street interests he's supposed to be protecting the public from. He was, by far, the most unhinged member of the committee when it came to questioning Well Fargo CEO John Stumpf.

Guinta's agenda is unchanging when it comes to Wall Street-- less regulations and a freer hand for banksters like Stumpf to rip off their customers. He aggressively advocates wrecking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and has voted against it over and over and over. Thursday he asked Stumpf-- no fan of the CFPB by any stretch of anyone's imagination-- how many CFBP agents had been embedded with Wells Fargo. When Stumpf said he didn't know the number of agents, the deranged Guinta invented a Breitbart-worthy conspiracy theory on the spot, accusing Stumpf of plotting with the CFPB to withhold the information from the committee. The other members just rolled their eyes with embarrassment and breathed a sign of relief when Guinta's time expired. And, yes, he's solicited-- and taken-- substantial bribes from Wells Fargo's PAC.

There are virtually no issues on which Guinta hasn't managed to dig himself into a hole that pits him against his own constituents. Carol correctly points out that even on something as important to voters as Social Security, Guinta's crackpot privatization ideas are just plain dangerous to ordinary retirees and future retirees. Without naming him, she said that:

"Republican politicians claim they want to preserve Social Security, they actually don’t... Social Security will have problems paying at today's rate around 2034, but it can be fixed if the Congress would do what Reagan did in 1983-- fix it. Raise the cap to make Social Security sustainable. Right now, people who earn under $118,500 pay tax on every single dollar they earn. People who earn over that do not pay on every dollar, just the first $118,500. It is not fair for lower-income people to pay on all of their earnings while the wealthy pay only on the first $118,500."

Like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren-- and anyone serious about protecting Social Security benefits-- Carol advocates scrapping the cap so that the wealthy pay their fair share. Guinta wants to just turn Social Security over to Wall Street and let the chips fall where they may-- while his campaign donors make billions in fees and commissions off American workers' contributions.

Guinta barely survived his primary challenge, edging Rich Ashooh 26,229 (46.5%) to 25,580 (45.3%). The latest poll of the district, released this week, shows that most voters dislike Guinta, who has a negative favorability rating (26-47%), with fully 31% rating him as "very unfavorable." And those people plan to vote against him in November.

In a head-to-head matchup, Carol beats him 50-39% and in a five-way vote that includes third party candidates, she's still way ahead, 44-34%. Short version: very good investment if you're thinking about contributing $5.00 or even $500.

Progressive Veterans Running For Congress

Unless you live in his district, you probably never heard of Ohio teabagger Warren Davidson, the Trumpist nut who won Boehner's seat when GOP extremists forced their own Speaker out of office. Last week Butler County's Journal-News reported Davidson told a room full of veterans that one way to clean up the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system is to get the "moochers" out of it. "Part of the problem," he said, "is there are some vets that are moochers and they’re clogging up the system. And we do as taxpayers want to make sure the VA filters out these folks that are pretenders." A spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars responded that "Honorably discharged veterans with service-connected wounds, illnesses and injuries, or who are indigent due to circumstances beyond their control, are not moochers."

If you feel, like we do, that the real moochers we have to worry about are careerist conservatives in Congress, please check out a new Blue America ActBlue page we just started to support progressive military veterans.

Recently Veterans For Bernie founder and National Director, Tyson Manker, announced his group's endorsement of U.S. Marine Colonel Doug Applegate, the Blue America-backed progressive running for the CA-49 seat (Orange and San Diego counties) that Darrell Issa operates out of.

"Colonel Applegate deployed to Ramadi, Iraq in 2006," said Manker. "He shouldered the burden with the 2.5 million Americans who laced up their boots and headed down range after September 11th. I know the Colonel will ask the right questions and ensure we are only sending our forces overseas when it is the last choice, not our first option. Veterans swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic... We must elect Representatives with proven leadership. We must elect those that have the skills to reach across the aisle to end the paralysis that has brought our Congress to a stand-still. Colonel Applegate’s opponent, Darrell Issa (U.S. Army veteran), voted to authorize the Iraq war, voted to cut an increase to military benefits, and dismissed 9/11 as 'just a plane crash'. That is why we endorse our brother, retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate to be the next Representative of California’s 49th Congressional District."

I came away from my long interview with Doug Applegate with a feeling that part of why he's running for Congress is because he felt that 95% of Congress who never served in a combat zone, has sent our sons and daughters to endless wars without any real strategy since 9/11. He told me clearly that he knows we "can't kill our way out of the world’s problems." He has experienced the realities and trials of war and learned firsthand how decisions to use our military impacts our all-volunteer force and everyday Americans. An infantry officer and a military lawyer since 1980, Doug already understands and stands ready to provide the type of leadership Congress so sorely lacks. I asked him in which areas specifically he felt he could make a difference in Congress. He talked about Congress' being lacking in what he identified as “4 critical areas:”

  1. sexual assaults in the military
  2. defense contracting that wastes trillions of American taxpayer dollars
  3. restructuring of the Veteran Administration that is inadequate, underfunded, overcrowded, and ill-prepared
  4. renewable energy program repeatedly needed and requested by the Defense Department

Doug doesn't sound anything like Warren Davidson.

Neither does Tom Wakely, a Blue America-backed candidate in the Austin-San Antonio area of Texas (TX-21, a seat held by Trump-fanatic Lamar Smith). "Simply put," he told us this week, "I've always put my country before politics. It's not hard to do. Though I was a noncombatant, I signed up with the Air Force right after I graduated high school. I understood that when your country needs you, it's important to answer that call. Our country's in dire need of elected officials who understand the most basic concepts of duty and compassion. I'm ready to answer the call again in District 21." He got right into the issue that separates him immediately from Davidson, Smith and the other Trumpists-- support for the V.A. 

As a veteran, I receive all my healthcare through the VA. I've seen the lines. I've experienced the service (or lack thereof). We've come a long way in reforming the VA but we must go much further. Our veterans deserve so much better. I've met with many veterans across the district who are ready to see real change. The media is happy to cover the return of our troops from overseas but oftentimes once those same troops become veterans, they become afterthoughts. We must keep them in our hearts and minds if we're going to progress as a nation. It must be all of us, together. That's why I'll be urging Congress to provide for the VA to cover full vision and dental. What good are we as a nation to our veterans if they can't see or incur serious periodontal disease?  It's why I want to work with various veterans and medical policy institutes to develop a new comprehensive mental health program at the VA which focuses on behavioral therapy and counseling as the true first line of defense. I'm personally a believer that healthcare is a human right and as this country moves toward that direction, we can learn a lot from what we are able to do in the VA. All too often our veterans become over-prescribed and misunderstood.

Lamar Smith is always ready to send our troops into harm's way, but votes against raising combat pay and properly insulating our barracks abroad. Being pro-war doesn't grant you the mantle of being pro-vets, pro-troops, or even pro-country. That hasn't stopped Smith from claiming a right to all of the above despite a record that proves otherwise. I'm ready to tackle the issues veterans face because I live it. I'm ready to listen. I'm ready to answer that call.

Our candidate on the South Shore of Long Island (NY-02), DuWayne Gregory, is the Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. A native Long Islander from a military family, DuWayne enlisted in the Army right out of college. He served as a lieutenant in the field artillery and he told us that his time in the Army taught him the importance of working together and refusing to back down in the face of any challenge-- lessons he brings to politics.

"My service in the military," he said, "was the greatest honor of my life. I saw great acts of bravery; I saw displays of courage and conviction. But I also saw firsthand issues that need to be addressed, such as men and women working over forty hours a week living in poverty.

I learned many important life lessons while serving in the military, the most important of which is the importance of leadership. Peter King's leadership has fallen short when it comes to important issues pertaining to our veterans. He and Congress have failed those in our military who are living on public assistance. They have failed when it comes to reforms in the VA. They have failed when it comes to the high unemployment rate for returning war veterans. I will use my military experience to lead on these issues and to demonstrate the commitment our veterans deserve. When there is a job to do, partisan politics shouldn't get in the way. I will provide the leadership that Congress needs to get the job done."

Please consider helping us make sure that when Congress considers military matters, not all the voices come from the far right, like Issa's and Davidson's. Let's make sure there are more progressives with military experience, like exemplary Blue America alumnus, Ted Lieu, in Congress.

Paid for by Blue America PAC,, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.