Blue America '18

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Happy 420-- Meet Kyle Frenette


Kyle Frenette is the progressive Democrat running for the old Dave Obey seat in northern Wisconsin, currently occupied by Ryan ally Sean Duffy. Frenette is well known in the music industry as the manager of Eau Claire's Grammy-winning Justin Vernon and his band, Bon Iver. His platform includes raising the minimum wage, establishing universal healthcare and making broadband internet a public utility instead of a private luxury. And legalization of marijuana. He thought today would be an auspicious day to lay out his marijuana legalization plank. 

He's pointing out that marijuana's illegal status has caused more harm to American society than its side effects.

"Here in Wisconsin," he wrote, "I know folks who have had to go to extreme lengths to obtain marijuana legally for medicinal use or travel across state lines for a duration of time to use the drug for treatment. This shouldn’t be the case. I envision a future in which my children and their children view the federal prohibition of marijuana the same way we view the prohibition of alcohol today-- strange and unnecessary."

His points line up as sane and rational-- and workable for a rural Wisconsin district:

1- The federal legalization of marijuana would go a long way to ending the opioid epidemic in America. There is no reason marijuana should still be classified as a Schedule I drug along with heroin and ecstasy—not when cocaine, methamphetamine and most prescription opioids, like oxycodone and fentanyl are classified as Schedule II by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)... I will champion the federal legalization of marijuana to help curb the opioid epidemic and prevent more lives from being lost and families from being ripped apart."

2- Most Americans view marijuana as a relatively safe drug while too many futures are being tarnished due to its criminalization... Our current drug laws are not only counterproductive, they are also racially skewed. While marijuana use is relatively equal across all races, minorities are disproportionately singled out when it comes to drug related arrests... The case for legalization is growing every day. Once elected, I will push to legalize marijuana so that money is no longer wasted and less futures are ruined by the enforcement of unnecessary laws.

3- It’s no question that the benefits outweigh the pitfalls when it comes to the growing and selling of marijuana. Our country’s drug laws are outdated when it comes to marijuana and limit the drug’s economic potential. Economic growth due to the cultivation, sale and taxation of cannabis in states that have adopted legalization prove that it can be a high commodity.

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"In Colorado alone, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, the cannabis industry created 18,000 full-time jobs and brought in $2.4 billion in 2015. And when it comes to taxation, it’s reported that that marijuana has more than tripled tax revenue brought in by alcohol in that state. Nationally, at its current rate of state legalization, an estimated $40 billion in economic output is predicated by the year 2021 when it comes to the legal cannabis industry. Why not increase those odds with federal legalization?"

Let’s do everything in our power to elect a new generation of leaders who are not afraid to take a principled stand that is contrary to DC ‘Savvy Democrats’ who assure us the Legalization issue is meaningless (and therefore will not make it a priority when we take back the majority). Please support Kyle Frenette and our other Green Wave Democrats by giving what you can to their campaigns today.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team



The Koch Brothers Are Coming For Veterans’ Healthcare

We hope you made it through the 'end of the quarter' e-mail hell ok. It's over for now. This is about something important, not about candidates' dumbed down, embarrassing personal pleas:

The Kochs, the billionaire class and Trump really do think they can stiff America's veterans and get away with it.

Those #2ndGildedAge reprobates will be in for a hell of a shock next January when they see what Randy Bryce, James Thompson, DuWayne Gregory, Doug Applegate, Tom Prigg and Jared Golden are made of. They're the current members of Blue America's Progressive Veterans slate.

These aren't just battle-tested veterans... they are progressives, committed to the real ideals that have traditionally made the Democratic Party an effective vehicle for the legitimate aspirations of our country's working families. Please consider giving them a hand today-- even if there is no FEC deadline.

After publicly humiliating VA Secretary David Shulkin; letting him twist in the wind as rumors swirled that he was on the way out-- Trump finally tweeted Wednesday that Shulkin, the only Trump cabinet appointee who had been confirmed by the Senate 100-0, was out. A worst case scenario would have been the appointment of Pete Hegseth, the non-veteran Koch brothers' cutout who has spent his career planning to destroy the V.A.

It has been a longterm goal of the Koch brothers, through their phony-baloney Concerned Veterans for America, to privatize the V.A. and cut services. The Kochs and their conservative congressional allies could care less that vets have been promised healthcare as part of their reward for serving the country.

Their privatization plans are meant to cut and cap healthcare services. The Kochs are demanding Trump do it NOW, before the Democrats win back Congress in November.

Many in Congress-- on both sides of the aisle-- understand that there's a problem that has to be addressed, but that offering veterans unrestricted choice between the public healthcare system and private medical providers is not the solution. Far from it; doing so would quickly tank the whole system, exactly what the Koch network wants. Shulkin and most legitimate veterans groups prefer a program that offers private care when wait times get too long or if veterans live too far away from the facility they need.

Bernie Sanders cut right to the chase: "Republicans talk a good game about veterans, but when it came time to put money on the line for veterans, they were not there... There are people, the Koch brothers among others, who have a group called Concerned Veterans of America. Koch brothers, by the way, want to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, every governmental program passed since the 1930s."

In his NY Times OpEd on Wednesday night, Shulkin wrote that Trump fired him as Veterans Affairs Secretary because he opposed the Regime's push to privatize health care for veterans. He contended that "successes within the department have intensified the ambitions of people who want to put V.A. health care in the hands of the private sector. I believe differences in philosophy deserve robust debate, and solutions should be determined based on the merits of the arguments. The advocates within the administration for privatizing V.A. health services, however, reject this approach. They saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed. That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans."

"I have fought to stand up for this great department and all that it embodies. In recent months, though, the environment in Washington has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work that our veterans need and deserve. I can assure you that I will continue to speak out against those who seek to harm the V.A. by putting their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans."

Randy Bryce's campaign in southeast Wisconsin is so strong that a day doesn't pass that doesn't see more speculation that incumbent Paul Ryan is planning a graceful exit for himself. One thing he doesn't want to see on his public resume is that he was beaten by an everyman and iron worker. And @IronStache stands strong with fellow veterans. "When I returned home after serving our country," he told us, "I worked alongside the government to help Milwaukee’s homeless veterans. I saw the real struggles facing our community and the real opportunities our government has to assist. Over my dead body will i let a draft dodger and a couple of profiteering crooks try and privatize our V.A."

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Jim Thompson is also running a strong grassroots campaign in a very red Kansas district and making tremendous headway. Issues like the Republicans privatizing the V.A. draws more and more people to check him out. "As a veteran myself," he said, "this apparent move toward the privatization of the V.A. is not just horribly concerning, it is flat out wrong. Our government, through the V.A., owes this nation's soldiers every bit of care and help they need. Our soldiers sign up to serve their country knowing they may have to make the ultimate sacrifice, the V.A. must not use them and their care as pawns for rewarding the people and companies who would profit from this move. If we have enough money to send soldiers to war, we sure as hell have enough to take care of them when they get back. Privatization just cannot be an option for our protectors because putting profits over people is unacceptable and our troops deserve better."

DuWayne Gregory, the Chief Executive of the Suffolk County Legislature and an Army veteran currently running for the Long Island seat held by Peter King, was incensed when we spoke about Trump's plans to privatize the V.A.-- and not in the mood for compromising. " As a veteran who has served our great country I fully understand the sacrifice our veterans make to fulfill their commitment. It would be a cold day in hell before I allow Trump’s and Peter King’s corporate agenda to exceed the needs of our veterans. Suffolk County has one of the largest populations of veterans in the country. These men and women served our country bravely and deserve to remain humanized and not become a data point for a corporate profit motivated agenda. In my opinion, we can not do enough to demonstrate our respect for our veterans, the least of which, should be quality-focused not profit-driven healthcare."

We all witnessed what a ClusterF*ck the Privatized war in Iraq became. It would be a second tragedy to think the brave men and women who served though that hell (or any other engagement) would suffer the same sub-standard services and indifferent treatment in their home country. We must do better than this for our Veterans. With our slate of Blue American Progressive Vets in Congress, we can.

Please consider a donation for our fantastic Progressive Veterans on their ActBlue page.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team

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You can contribute to our Senate candidates on this page; our House candidates on this page; and to the incumbents who have earned our support for reelection on this page.



Next Stop For The Blue Wave-- North Carolina And Indiana

The next primaries for House seats are on May 8 in Indiana and North Carolina, where we have two outstanding candidates, Dan Canon (IN-09) and Jenny Marshall (NC-05).

Both are running strong, issues-oriented grassroots campaigns and both need our help with the final 5-week lap.

I asked Jenny and Dan what good could some extra campaign contributions do this late in the game. Here's what they told me:

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Jenny first:

Our campaign has been running a strong field program, but with 263 precincts spread out over 3200 square miles we need to ensure that we reach as many voters as possible. We have been out knocking doors for a month and calling voters for the past 12 weeks, but we have many more people to reach. We need to send out 20,000 mailers to those people who live in more remote and rural areas, hire 10 additional field canvassers for those areas we can walk so we can talk to people at their homes, and purchase campaign materials including 10,000 more door hangers, 20,000 4x6 handouts highlighting our campaign, 700 yard signs and to support our digital advertising in the district. We expect to have 41,000 people turn out and vote in the primary. We estimate it will take $30,000 to secure the Democratic nomination on May 8th.

Jenny and her team have been running a bold progressive campaign to unseat arch-villain Rep. Virginia Foxx, who has turned herself into a virtual rubber stamp for Trump and a terrible representative of North Carolinans. Jenny told us that while out on the campaign trail, she's "talked to thousands of people who tell me that they are struggling to make ends meet and are afraid they are going to lose their health insurance. This, coupled with those who just can't afford to use the insurance they pay for is just unconscionable! Rep. Foxx has ignored the needs of the people for far too long. She voted no on raising the minimum wage back in 2007 when it was just $5.85 an hour. She voted to strip healthcare away from millions of people with her vote to repeal the ACA. She just doesn't care about the daily grind the vast majority of us are going through. Our campaign speaks up for those who have been ignored and dismissed. We are here to fight for them."

Jenny is eager to take on Foxx but she's got to win the primary against a centrist primary opponent first-- that's the election coming up May 8th. Jenny's opponent is an 'Establishment Dem' who:

  • doesn't believe in raising the minimum wage beyond $10 per hour
  • doesn't support tuition-free public colleges and universities
  • stated that our public education system is broken and would use her knowledge of the business world to "fix it."
  • In other words, she is all about doing just enough to look like she is on our side, but not enough to actually help our families and our communities.

Jenny is committed to raising the wage to $15 an hour and tying it to inflation and fighting for healthcare for all.

Dan's turn:

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"There’s an old adage in politics that 'field wins campaigns.' That is why this campaign has invested in a robust field program that has been up and running since mid-September. We have three offices open across the 9th District and have made over 125,000 (and counting) contacts thanks to a dedicated base of supporters who have been calling voters, pounding the pavement, and attending countless events since last summer. In the final month of the primary, the money you donate will be spent heavily on our field efforts to mobilize supporters and G(et) O(ut) T(he) V(ote)! By helping us keep our offices running full steam ahead through May 8th, as well as funding direct mail and digital advertising targeted to likely voters, a donation to this campaign is an investment that will help us build a movement here in the heartland."

Throughout this campaign, Dan has been a strong proponent of a guaranteed public jobs program, a national UBI pilot program, and the abolition of ICE. "I am proud to say I am the only candidate in my race discussing these ideas that are crucial to creating jobs, investing in our workforce, and ensuring the dignity of all people. Hoosiers (those of us from Indiana) are tired of the duck-and-cover rhetoric that other campaigns use, and with your help we are going to prove that progressive candidates can take bold stances that offer real solutions for real people."

Dan and Jenny are two of the most intelligent, independent-minded and passionate leaders we've come across in our many years of vetting progressive candidates. All of us at Blue America believe any support you can give them is richly deserved and will be wisely used-- a real step towards getting more members in the vein of Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, Mark Pocan, Ted Lieu and Pramila Jayapal into Congress. Please consider giving what you can to their campaigns today.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make a better world,

Howie, for the entire Blue America team



Bernie: 'I Detest That Type Of Politics And I Think Most Americans Do'

BLUE_AMERICA_ENDORSE_Levi_Tillemann.jpg"In CO-06 the DCCC decided they wanted a white collar criminal defense lawyer (who has represented payday lenders, fracking companies and defended scammers who have targeted senior citizens) to represent us. What we’ve seen is a textbook case of Washington working to rig a primary. Despite our opponent’s crippling weaknesses as a general election candidate, the DCCC is determined to inflict their candidate upon primary voters by creating facts on the ground." 


You think what the DCCC has done in undermining Laura Moser is unique?
It isn't. It's been fairly standard operating procedure since 2006 when Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer decided they should determine who Democratic nominees should be, not local Democratic primary voters. The only thing unique about the Laura Moser incident was how incompetently it was handled and how embarrassingly public it became. 

More "normal" DCCC interference in local primaries is better illustrated by how they're trying to destroy another progressive, Levi Tillemann, on behalf of yet another corrupt New Dem from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, Jason Crow, in the Denver suburbs (CO-06). The Republican incumbent, Mike Coffman, is one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country. Hillary beat Trump 50.2% to 41.3% in this district, which has a D+2 PVI.

Levi, who Blue America has endorsed today, asked if we remember in 2016 when Washington insiders confidently predicted an overwhelming victory for Democrats up and down the ticket? "Well," he reminded us, "that didn’t happen-- we lost, up and down the ticket. Remember how Democratic insiders spoke confidently about 'viability' and tried to stigmatize candidates who challenged the establishment? It turns out those 'viable' candidates weren’t so viable after all. That broken system got us to where we are today. Levi is confident that "we can fix it. This year must be the beginning of something exciting and new. That means two things: First, we must stand for our progressive agenda; Second, we must push back against the backroom Washington dealers who got us here.

This is a guest post from Levi:

Let’s start with the progressive agenda. Before I decided to run, I spent months listening and here’s what I heard people say: too many workers are being squeezed by the modern economy; hard work should mean a good life; the excesses of extreme capitalism and inequality are threatening the American Dream; things need to change. I agreed. 

Like you, I believe: 

  • Universal healthcare is a right  
  • Americans deserve a living minimum wage of at least $15/hr
  • The future of our planet and the U.S. economy requires a transition to renewable energy by 2035
  • All Americans must be treated equally before the law
  • Donald Trump is a criminal (and Democrats need to fight to remove him from office)

Voters are crying out for an economic and social agenda that delivers economic justice and equal opportunity for all. Progressives demand that these policies address the crushing inequality in America today. I’m committed to fighting for that agenda in Washington. 

But we’ll never get there if we don’t push back against Washington insiders. Lobbyists and establishment politicians are trying to slow-walk our fight for equality. They peddle half-truths, influence and big money donations on behalf of candidates and causes that don’t represent you. Those candidates fit the Washington mold-- and that’s not a good thing. They will go with the flow and won’t stand up for what’s right when it really matters. If we keep sending that type of person to Washington, they’ll keep rigging the system against us. That’s exactly what’s happening in CO-06.

This has been going on for more than a year (they have supplied him with staff, data and hundreds of thousands in donations). Last November, the DCCC brought these efforts into the open by designating our opponent as a “Red to Blue” candidate. The DCCC has now embedded full-time field staffers with our opponent’s campaign, they share polling data with him and help secure endorsements. They traffic in lies, rumor and innuendo about our progressive campaign. 

That’s not only morally wrong, it’s not going to help us win a general election. The DCCC has deployed its strong-arm tactics here before... and they don’t work. Let’s take a look at the DCCC’s losing record over the years. 

The 2014 Bloodbath
In 2014 one of Colorado’s most impressive leaders, Andrew Romanoff was the Democratic nominee against Mike Coffman.  Leading up to the general election, the DCCC committed to funding Romanoff’s advertising costs during the last weeks of the election. But the DCCC reneged on their promise -- leaving Andrew high and dry.  The DCCC cut the legs out from Romanoff’s campaign and didn’t spend a single cent on the promised advertising.  In other words, the DCCC allowed the GOP and Mike Coffman to demolish Romanoff’s good name and record via TV and radio.  Andrew had no way to fight back. Why? Because he trusted the DCCC. The result was an electoral bloodbath.

The DCCC knows best?
In 2016, the Democratic nominee for CD-6 was Colorado State Sen. Morgan Carroll.  Morgan was an extremely qualified, intelligent and charismatic candidate whose campaign was also tanked by the DCCC. The DCCC wanted to tie Coffman to Trump and that was the entirety of their plan: Tie Coffman to Trump.  

An astute politician with local knowledge, Carroll knew this wasn’t the silver bullet. She had a plan to defeat Coffman that was issues driven and focused on aggressive field outreach. But the DC insiders at the DCCC demanded that Senator Carroll follow their orders and threatened to withdraw financial support unless she did as they said. In the face of those threats, Carroll felt she had no choice but to accept the dictates of unelected, unaccountable DC insiders. Coffman won the election in another landslide.

Blue America is asking for your help in Colorado.

Ever since he realized that the DCCC was jumping on the scale early last spring, Levi and other progressives have called on them to back off and let the voters decide. Unfortunately, that’s not the DCCC way. They’ve doubled down on their candidate, lied about it and done everything in their power to stack the primary deck.

Please consider contributing what you can to Levi Tillemann's campaign by clicking on the ActBlue congressional thermometer on the right.

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We can win this one by beating the forces of Insider Beltway corruption-- first the DCCC and in November, the GOP. As Bernie said, in reference to the DCCC Lee Atwater/Karl Rove techniques in TX-07, "I detest that type of politics and I think most Americans do... That is to my mind, absolutely unacceptable. And it’s got to end."

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team



Senator Warren: 'Katie Porter Is The Real Deal'

CA-45 is the heart of Orange County. It includes Irvine, Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita... Villa Park and the Anaheim Hills in the north and Coto De Caza in the south. But it doesn't include the home of Mimi Walters, the Republican congresswoman who was elected in 2014. She still lives in posh beachfront neighborhood in Dana Rohrabacher's district and has adamantly refused to move into the district she's supposed to be representing.

Many residents feel it's time for Mimi to go. And this might be the year. She votes in complete lockstep with the unpopular Trump. And Trump did badly in the 45th. Romney and McCain both beat Obama in the district, but Hillary beat Trump  by over 5 points. The PVI has improved from R+7 to a much more manageable R+3.

And this year, CA-45 has an extraordinary Democratic candidate in UC Irvine law professor Katie Porter, endorsed this week by Blue America.

A former law student of Elizabeth Warren's, they co-wrote a book about consumer protection. Warren endorsed her, as have Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Zephyr Teachout and progressive groups like DFA and the PCCC. She has a corporate Dem as a primary opponent backed by the DC establishment but all recent polls show Katie beating him and going on to beat Walters.

Katie hasn't been shy about pointing out that Walters is "one of the 'Big Money 20'--  taking money from the NRA, Big Oil, Big Banks, and a number of powerful special interests." She said she believes that "special interests like large financial institutions, because of Citizens United, now have the ability to spend unlimited money, giving them an outsized and unfair role in our election system.

That is why I am proud that our campaign has pledged not to take any campaign contributions from corporate PACs, big oil, big pharma, big banks, or private charter schools. We believe in running a campaign by example and have raised the resources necessary to run a competitive campaign with contributions from over 10,000 individual donors. I am going to Washington to do what I have done my whole career-- to give voice to the needs of family and to fight for a fair system."

As for policy, Katie is where you would expect candidates backed by Blue America to be. For health care, for example, she told us that she had spent her career  as a consumer protection attorney "studying how one illness or accident can lead a family to financial ruin-- it shouldn't be that way. That's why I will fight for a Medicare for All system in which every American has quality health insurance.

And this is a defining issue in this race. My Republican opponent, Mimi Walters, helped write Trump’s health care law that gutted protections for pre-existing conditions. She was one of the first people that Donald Trump thanked at the White House after the vote. Her vote on the GOP tax plan puts health coverage for 13 million people at risk and will lead to devastating cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. And other candidates in this race have refused to support Medicare for All." 

She has also pledged to voters to take on big oil and the corporate polluters to stop offshore drilling, and that she will "fight to invest in renewable energy development, support high emission standards, and save important environmental protections. Simply put, Washington must act to fight climate change." 

Her field of expertise, consumer protection, is what attracted Blue America to her campaign to begin with. She has literally spent close to 2 decades taking on Wall Street banks and powerful financial institutions that cheat middle-class families.

"Much of my work as a consumer advocate," she told us Friday,

"has centered around the housing crisis that rocked Orange County and many other parts of the country. Before the crisis, I was one of the first to sound the alarm about how the biggest Wall Street banks were preying on homeowners. And when the crisis hit, I was appointed by Attorney General Kamala Harris to work directly with California families who were cheated by the five biggest Wall Street banks. The five banks had promised to help homeowners who had been harmed, and it was my job to hold the banks’ feet to the fire. My team won thousands of victories against the banks, forcing them to pay billions to families. And our work helped tens of thousands of families move forward with their lives... Eight years after the crash, Orange County families still find themselves stuck. Profits again are surging for financial institutions and Wall Street, but middle-class wages are stagnant. And the cost of things that matter most for families-- affording preschool, sending your kid to college, saving for retirement-- are skyrocketing, while the high cost of housing in Orange County is pushing families to the brink."

We all know what we need out of the next Congress-- capable leaders who have shown the ability and willingness to stand up to Trump, the GOP and the powerful special interests. "That," Katie told us "is exactly what I plan to do in Washington." Please consider contributing to her campaign at the Blue America congressional page, here.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team




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