Blue America '16

Blue America '16 has raised $328792.47 from 4561 donors.
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Why It's Not All Gloom And Doom Around Here


A few years ago Blue America's list of endorsed candidates had the biggest success rate of any PAC recruiting and endorsing candidates. We beat NARAL, the Sierra Club, the Human Rights Campaign and the League of Conservation Voters that year-- not to mention the NRA and Club for Growth. I laughed when I read the stats. Blue America isn't about picking candidates who will make the PAC look good. Blue America is about endorsing and working with the candidates-- like unlikely winners Donna Edwards, Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren-- who will fight for the legitimate aspirations of working families.

Last year, for example, we worked hard to elect Eloise Reyes to Congress in the Inland Empire. The DCCC had their own candidate, corrupt conservative Pete Aguilar. Aguilar won-- and promptly joined the New Dems and ran up one of the worst voting records of any Democrat in Congress. ProgressivePunch-- whose CEO argued with me when I told him how terrible Aguilar would be before the election-- gave him an "F" this year and, according to their algorithm, shows his crucial vote score for his one term to be less progressive than all but 10 Democrats, 2 of whom (reactionary Blue Dogs Gwen Graham and Brad Ashford) are leaving Congress in January.

Meanwhile, Eloise took stock of her loss, learned the appropriate lessons from it and one week ago absolutely clobbered one of the most corrupt conservative Democrats in the California state legislature, Chevron Cheryl Brown, beating her decisively and spectacularly catapulting herself into a position where she can do a lot of good for the working families she represents (who Brown had ignored). We count that as a big Blue America win, even though it isn't something you'll read about in the Washington Post or NY Times or hear about on MSNBC.

Eventually, all the progressive groups came around and endorsed state Senator Pramila Jayapal for an open seat in Seattle and we all worked to raise her the money she would need to win a tough primary and then the general election. Blue America was the first to endorse, and encourage her compelling leadership style, and emphasize it to other national progressives, some of whom whined about how it was "unfair" to take sides because the other candidates were good too. Last week Pramila made history, as the first America with South Asian roots to win a congressional seat.

When Nanette Barragán, a small town mayor and environmental activist, decided to take on the entire stinking California Democratic Party establishment by challenging their handpicked conservaDem candidate to fill a deep blue seat in one of Los Angeles' poorest congressional districts, Digby, John and I invited her to dinner, got to know her and Blue America became one of the first national PACs to endorse her and help make her case and raise her the money she needed to beat the "impossible" odds she faced in beating the establishment-- impossible odds she overcame to win a jaw-dropping victory last week.

Blue America didn't look for candidates who were likely to win; we looked for candidates who had a reasonable chance to win-- with help-- but who would likely be great legislators. We look forward to seeing Ruben Kihuen (NV), Jamie Raskin (MD), Carol Shea-Porter (NH)-- along with Nanette-- and possibly Doug Applegate (ballots in his tight race against arch-villain Darrell Issa are still being counted today) take eventual leadership roles in a House Democratic minority that sorely lacks cohesive and inspiring leaders.

And this was a good year for Blue America in terms of helping build a progressive, activist Democratic bench on the state legislative level. Aside from Eloise, we helped elect Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and Mike Connolly, both of whom beat powerful, entrenched corrupt Democrats to win seats, respectively in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Stanley Chang-- like Eloise, a 2014 Blue America congressional candidate-- came roaring back this year and beat the last remaining Republican in the Hawaii Senate-- and in the reddest district in Hawaii! Justin Bamberg, our Berniecrat candidate in South Carolina, was reelected and Wenona Benally, another 2014 congressional candidate, introduced to us by Raul Grijalva, won a hard-fought Arizona congressional seat last week. And our Berniecrat legislator in Colorado, Joe Salazar, not only won his state House seat but was already leading the Denver mass anti-Trump protests this weekend.

But before we say thanks for helping make this possible with your generous contributions, I want to point to one more victory-- an old one. When Sheldon Adelson suddenly struck in 2014 in the open CA-33 seat, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into a last minute sneak attack, then-candidate Ted Lieu went to Steve Israel at the DCCC for help in responding. Israel flat out refused-- not one dime, not one nickel to answer Adelson's half million dollar SuperPAC. So Blue America did it instead. Ted won, was elected congressional freshman class president, has been one of the most outspoken and successful bipartisan advocates on a series of crucial issues, from cyber-security to peace and climate change, and this weekend was in the news again, standing up against Trump’s "crazy shit", urging concerned Americans to follow him in becoming a supporter of the ACLU, while other congressional Democrats just cower in fear or plot personal career advancement. Ted Lieu-- one of Blue America's best ever investments!

So, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank the mind-boggling generosity of the Blue America members who gave-- and then gave again and again-- and helped progressive champions get into office where they are needed more than ever. And, fyi, right now we're busier than ever recruiting progressive candidates to run for what could be a really good 2018 cycle.



Nothing Matters Now But GOTV

I ran into an old friend, a Democratic operative, the other day. He's kind of Old School and when I asked him why contributions this late in the cycle-- after all there are only 10 days until all the ballots have been counted-- are important, his response was sickening. "Walking' around money," he said... "You know, so we can stuff the pockets of the policiticeras or the black ministers or whoever can turn out some late votes." (He mostly works for Blue Dogs and New Dems, so, yeah... that's what you'd expect.)

I decided to ask some of the Blue America candidates what they will do with the last minute money that comes in. I asked the ones I could find-- most are out knocking on doors-- what they would do with another $1,000 between now and Nov. 8.

Tom Wakely, who's running for the central Texas seat held by the science-denying chairman of the House Science Committee, Lamar Smith, would be one of the biggest stories on the cycle if he wins, a distinct possibility now as Trump turns off suburban voters in Bexar, Travis and Comal counties.

"Our campaign," he told me, "has always been about our field efforts and making contact with folks in the district. My job as the candidate has been heavily focused on retail politics. Every bit of support we've received has been directed to literature, signs, gasoline, and the occasional breakfast taco for the hardest working volunteers in Texas. It's about having as many voters to meet or talk to our amazing team. The clock stops at 7PM on November 8th. We won't be stopping anytime before then. We owe that much to our family, our friends, our volunteers, and our supporters. There's no sleep when our future is at stake."

Mary Ellen Balchunis is in a similar position. The DCCC has starved her campaign of the money it takes to run a mass media campaign and she's doing it the old fashioned way-- the way she won her landslide victory in the primary: grassroots politics.

"First, I have been overwhelmed by the tremendous grassroots support for my campaign from progressives across the country," she told me. "With only a little over a week  left before the election, our campaign is running along at full speed. Our amazing volunteers have been knocking doors and phone banking, but they cannot do it alone. Later this week our campaign will be releasing a digital ad and a comparison piece with Pat Meehan and myself to get my message out to even more voters in the 7th District. With the support we've gotten from Blue America and other progressive groups and from our union friends, we will be able to keep our field team going to the last hour on November 8th and push our new ad out to as many voters as possible."

Mary Hoeft's district isn't just the biggest-- and most rural-- district in Wisconsin, it takes up about a third of the state! Door knocking only goes so far to reach voters there. And, like Mary Ellen's and Tom's campaigns, the DCCC hasn't given her a dime, even though the district voted for Obama in 2008 and, until recently, had a long-time Democratic congressman, Dave Obey.

Mary is supplementing her field campaign with radio advertising and she told us that "with just 12 days remaining, every dollar I receive in donations goes toward another commercial. In this part of Wisconsin radio air time costs $15 for 30 seconds.  If you donate $15 to my campaign, another thousand people may hear my ad. It isn't too late to have the name Mary Hoeft for Congress heard!!!  And trust me when I say, YOU WOULD LOVE the nasty ad about Sean Duffy that your money will buy!"

This is probably the last time we'll be asking for contributions for our candidates this year, so please give as generously as you can afford to. Thanks-- and thanks for helping these candidates all year. Now we pray-- and hope people walk into the voting booth thinking about how Trump has made the whole election so ugly!

UPDATE: I just got an e-mail from one of the (REALLY GREAT) candidates we're counting on to lead Congress in a more progressive direction, Pramila Jayapal from Seattle. Her opponent launched an attack ad against her this week and now a superPAC has come in with $285,000 in independent expenditures attacking her on TV-- "so that is a total of over $400,000 in negative TV attack ads on me in the days leading up to the general election," she told me. "We are fighting back in numerous ways, and have gone up with a spot of our own on TV to counter theirs. People have been amazing and stepping up, but I need help." Let's give it to her.



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 downwithtyranny@gmail.com.

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.




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