Blue America '14

2014 Is going to be a tough year for Democrats to win back the House, especially with Steve Israel once again running the DCCC. But that doesn't mean we can't elect more progressives in both primaries and in the general election. That's our goal.

Blue America '14 has raised $105407.89 from 1622 donors.
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Tom Guild Came in First in his Primary

Liberals don't always expect much from Republican bastions like Oklahoma. But Blue America endorsed an across-the-board progressive, Tom Guild, to run for the congressional seat based in Oklahoma City and thanks in part, to our members generosity, he came in first. And a couple of weeks ago Tom came out on top in a tough 3-way primary against a very conservative state Senator who is the polar opposite of a progressive. Tom walked away with 42.1% of the vote while that state senator drew 30.9% and a third candidate took 27%. Oklahoma law requires a runoff, which has been set for August 26.

To build on his momentum from the primary, Tom needs to raise $45,000 for his modest TV and radio advertising and his get-out-the-vote/field operation. Blue America is the only group helping Tom raise money and we're turning to you again for that assistance.

"We will continue to knock doors, make phone calls, put up signs, and visit with voters in the congressional district," Tom told us Friday. "We are the only progressive in the race, and have an outstanding chance to take on and beat the survivor of the Republican nominating process, which also plays out with a runoff August 26. First, we need to secure the Democratic nomination on August 26. We will continue to speak out about increasing Social Security benefits, protecting Medicare, lowering college student loan rates to the same low rate afforded to big banks, protecting civil rights, restoring voting rights, and fighting for human rights. We have momentum and history on our side. Please contribute what you can today, so that we will have the resources needed to win the runoff, and go into the general election with momentum and confidence.

Tom's 97,504 votes from the 2012 election-- the most votes for any Democratic nominee in 22 years-- is primed to turn out and vote in 2014. He isn't another mealy-mouthed red state Democrat. Like fellow Oklahoman, Elizabeth Warren, he is proud of their state's populist traditions and he is clearly from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party. Tom has the best chance to be elected as the first Democratic U.S. House Member from Oklahoma City in decades.

Tom:

"Expanding Social Security by implementing the plan put forward by Oklahoma native Senator Elizabeth Warren would give peace of mind and a semblance of economic security to tens of millions of American seniors. Her plan to provide an additional supplement to the income of Americans when they reached the age of 75 and again at the age of 85 would help account for the additional cost of living seniors have in providing for added medical needs. Her plan would also make the program completely self-sustaining for additional decades. Expanding benefits will make a great program even better… The federal government currently lends to banks at very low interest rates. I support a plan to extend those low rates to student loans. Making big profits on student loans is unseemly and adds to the tremendous burden that many students graduating from American colleges and their families currently bear. Students should be treated at least as well as banks, who benefit by extremely low interest rates."

This race is well within reach, but we need to get on board to make sure Tom has the resources to win. Please click here to join us and stand with Tom Guild for Congress.



The unprincipled insiders did it again

AmatoShenna800x1067.jpg
Credit: John Amato
John Amato meets Shenna Bellows. Look at her smile! He's still Got It!

They say that no good deed goes unpunished and nothing illustrates the truth of that old trope more vividly that the Human Rights Campaign endorsing Maine Senator Susan Collins over her Democratic opponent, the stalwart defender of human rights and civil liberties, Shenna Bellows. It wasn't the first time Republicans have been unjustly rewarded with endorsements from national liberal organizations, unfortunately. But there are few Republicans who have been more lauded by people for whom she has consistently done so little than the bucket of lukewarm water known as Susan Collins.

This endorsement was particularly galling. Shenna Bellows is not just another Democrat who supports marriage equality. She has devoted her life to expanding civil rights and civil liberties. In her capacity as the Director of the Maine ACLU she helped lead the way for marriage equality in Maine and was instrumental in getting the Maine Human Rights Act passed. It's a truly bold piece of legislation, one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country, which Bellows promises to bring to the national level. She has said:

The important thing we learned in Maine was to aim big and be persistent. Frankly, Congress could benefit from our example. The debate in Congress has focused for too long on weak versions of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which only covers employment decisions and now has such a big religious-exemption loophole that many activists no longer support the bill. As Ian Thompson wrote for Slate in April, the loophole "opens the door for religiously affiliated organizations to engage in employment discrimination against LGBT people -- for any reason." That's not the stuff big civil-rights advances are made of.

I'm proud to say we've done better in Maine, and I'll do better in Washington. We need a national Human Rights Act along the lines of the Maine Human Rights Act. We need to outlaw discrimination in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and educational opportunity on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation -- once and for all, nationwide, no exceptions. Sen. Al Franken has done good work on this issue, and I can't wait to join him. The LGBT community isn't alone in worrying that its Washington allies are aiming too low.

Many immigration-reform groups rightly wonder not only why Republicans won't support them but why too many Democrats supported a weaker House bill in this Congress than the one they introduced when they were in the majority. We can't fall victim to lower expectations or lesser ambitions, no matter who controls what branch of government. Good policy is good policy, and fighting the wrong legislative fights won't get us where we need to be.

That's the kind of leadership we need so desperately in Washington --- leadership that understands that we are all in this together. If you agree, you can donate to Shenna Bellows' campaign here.

You will not be surprised to learn that Senator Collins is all for that "religious exemption." And her definition of courage is to wait until the nation has largely moved forward before she reluctantly leads from behind: it was only last week that she could summon the nerve to support marriage equality even in principle, much less to act to make it a reality.

As you can see from Shenna Bellows' comments, her approach to basic human rights and liberties stems from her clear, strong set of principles. She doesn't put her finger in the wind, she kicks up a storm and makes things happen. Maine would not have the strong protections and rights available to LGBT citizens that it has today if not for Shenna Bellows. Yet the thanks she gets from the National Human Rights Campaign is an endorsement for her opponent. With friends like these...

Shenna does have real friends, however. Shenna Bellows has been endorsed by all the national progressive netroots groups (with Blue America leading the way by being the very first to do so) and she raised more than Collins in the first quarter, which says something about her incumbent's lack of support from anyone but beltway insiders and establishment courtiers. She is getting favorable press wherever she goes. In fact, Blue America has a donor who has offered a matching donation up to $1,000 on the basis of Bellows' outstanding record on civil liberties. (Click here to help us match it!)

Shenna came out to Los Angeles last week to meet with some supporters and John, Howie and I were privileged to help host the event. It was a truly inspiring evening, and not just for us. Everyone there was terrifically impressed by her knowledge of the issues, her grasp of the politics and more than anything, her obvious passion and commitment to the principles we all share --- and which are so often poorly articulated by our Democratic establishment politicians. Howie had the privilege of introducing her to the crowd and he said it best: "we believe Shenna Bellows is another Elizabeth Warren, a gifted, intelligent communicator with an uncanny ability to explain complicated issues to the American people."

We committed that night to raise $2,000 more dollars for Shenna Bellows' campaign. Our anonymous civil libertarian donor has already met half that goal for us if you will meet him halfway.

Please give what you can. Shenna is the progressive future and we desperately need such principled, passionate and committed leaders to start taking their place in the Democratic Party.

Thank you for all you do to make this world a better place.



A Fighting Chance

We're all enjoying Elizabeth Warren's new book, A Fighting Chance and hope you're either reading it too or will soon. It makes it so clear why we're progressives and not garden variety partisans on either side of the aisle. We thought we'd share a couple of paragraphs from the book today. We pick it up just at the time we first met her, when she was deciding whether or not to run for the Massachusetts Senate seat then occupied by Wall Street's favorite-- and best funded-- senator, Scott Brown. She describes a scene on a Boston subway platform late one night:

A thin young man-- really just a kid-- in a loose-fitting suit, with a backpack slung over his shoulder, looked at me and smiled. A minute later, he came over. "Are you Elizabeth Warren?"

He was from central Massachusetts, the first in his family to go to college. He was attending school in Boston and he loved it, but he said he worried about money all the time. He worked a full-time job during the school year and took two jobs during the summer to try to cover as much as he could. As we waited for the subway, we talked about student loans, declining government investment in universities, and rising tuition. Finally, he asked me if he could take a picture. Bruce [her husband] snapped the shot on the young man's phone. The kid smiled and started to walk away, then turned around.

"I give you money every month, and I'm taking on hours so I can give you more."

I felt as if he'd hit me with a spear right between the ribs. Good Lord-- this kind was working until nearly eleven o'clock on a Saturday night and he was sending me money? I smiled weakly and said something along the lines of, "Uh, I'm doing okay in the campaign. Maybe you should keep your money. I'll be fine. Really."

He looked back at me. "No, I'm part of this campaign. This is my fight, too."

And that really was the answer. It wasn't just my campaign. My name was on the ticket, but these folks weren't volunteering and donating for me. They were supporting something a lot bigger. When I said that we were better off if we invested in the future together, they already knew it was true-- and they lived it. They thought America could do better, and they wanted it every bit as much as I did. And they would do everything possible to try to make that better future a reality.

This is my fight, too It gives me goose bumps.

Last cycle right-wing special interests, particularly Wall Street, made it possible for Scott Brown to spend $35,058,354 on his campaign. Blue America was one of the first groups outside of Massachusetts to endorse and start raising small contributions for Elizabeth Warren. She kept up with Brown and she beat him and in the end she won 56% of the votes. She's a beacon of inspiration for us today. And she very much reminds me of another woman from New England, Maine's Shenna Bellows, taking on a popular Republican incumbent.

I wanted to cry when I read Elizabeth's story about the young man on the subway platform. I want to cry tears of joy in November when Shenna beats Susan Collins and goes to Washington to work with Elizabeth for our people and our values.

Shenna can’t do that without our help. Can you see your way towards making a regular monthly contribution to her campaign between now and November?



REAL Democrats KICK ASS in Recent Primaries! Help elect next batch of Congressional Ass-kickers

REAL Democrats (brought to you by Blue America) KICK ASS! Help elect the next batch of Congressional Ass-kickers by giving what you can today. Thank you!

Although we lost some good candidates in the primaries last week, several of Blue America prospects came out ahead in tough races. Progressive state Senator, Ted Lieu, the California state legislator who was first in the nation write and pass a ban on Republican gay-to-straight "reparative therapy" and to block the state from cooperating with NSA unconstitutional bulk collection of private communication between Americans citizens, beat out two very well-financed conservative Establishment shills-- Wendy Greuel and Matt Miller-- for the Democratic nomination for the CA-33 seat Henry Waxman is giving up.

Victories by either Greuel or Miller would have been nothing short of catastrophic for the progressive movement, statewide and nationally. Although Greuel was seen as a frontrunner--with elements of the transactional Clinton machine behind her-- her viciously negative attack on other candidates backfired and just turned off voters, especially women... and especially her own.

And Lieu wasn't the only great news last week. Two other Blue America challengers won tough races. Although pundits were predicting that Bonnie Watson Coleman would come up short in her race to succeed Rush Holt in NJ-12, she ran away with the race, beating her closest rival, centrist Linda Greenstein, 43-28%. In Iowa former state House Speaker Pat Murphy didn't just win his 5-person contest, he won with enough votes to avoid a costly and unpredictable nominating convention. Like Lieu, Murphy and Coleman will now face Republicans in November, although all three are favored to win-- and become new members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

The other race we were watching closely last Tuesday was the CA-17 challenge from the right by corporate shill Ro Khanna, a desperate hack financed by wealthy Republicans seeking to remove progressive icon Mike Honda. Although they will face each other again in November Honda trounced Khanna 48.6 to 27.1%.

We are sorry to see Californians Lee Rogers and Eloise Reyes out of the running this cycle. You win some, you lose some.

Let's make sure our House challengers who are already guaranteed places in November-- Paul Clements (MI), Ted Lieu (CA), Mike Obermueller (MN), Pat Murphy (IA), Gloria Bromell Tinubu (SC), Michael Wager (OH), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ) and Kelly Westlund (WI)-- have the resources they need to compete against their Republican opponents. That's something you can do here at the Blue America ActBlue page.



Domestic spying? Ted Lieu already wrote a law against it.

One of the most critical primaries coming up next week is for Henry Waxman's House seat on the Westside of Los Angeles-- Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Redondo Beach… Blue America did a dual endorsement for a jungle primary that will yield two finalists for the November general election, hopefully two stalwart progressives. Our picks are state Senator Ted Lieu, a proven progressive leader and champion of working families, and Marianne Williamson, an independent progressive and cutting-edge thought leader.

Ted has been the California legislature's top leader in several areas, including mortgage bank reform and protecting citizens from unconstitutional domestic spying. I spoke to him yesterday and asked him about the phony NSA "reform" the House passed last week. They voted on the so-called USA Freedom Act, a watered-down, pale excuse for reform of the NSA that passed overwhelmingly, 303-121. 51 Republicans and 70 Democrats voted no. I noticed that one of the Democrats working with the Republicans to pass it was Adam Schiff, who is also working to elect Wendy Greuel, one of Ted's opponents. Most of the congressmembers who are working to elect Ted-- solid progressives like Mark Takano, Mike Honda, and Alan Lowenthal-- fought the bill and voted against it, as, of course, did Henry Waxman. I asked Ted a simple question-- Had you been in Congress last week, would you have voted with Adam Schiff and the others who wink and nod at domestic spying or would you have voted the way Henry Waxman, Barbara Lee, Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva and your own backers did?

His response was clear and unambiguous. "I'm disappointed Congress gutted significant provisions of the USA Freedom Act. Our privacy rights and our Constitution are not watered-down, neither should legislation that upholds our fundamental values. If I were in Congress, I would have voted NO on the watered-down 'reform.'"

Lieu comes from a military background and he doesn't take national security lightly. He's also an attorney and he doesn't take the U.S. Constitution lightly either. "I agree with the National Security Agency that the world is a dangerous place," he told us. "That is why America’s founders enacted the Bill of Rights. They understood there are few things more dangerous than an Orwellian government that overreaches, invades our privacy, and monitors our everyday lives. The NSA’s bulk collection program-- which seizes the phone records of every single American for seven years-- has been described by a federal judge as Orwellian. One of the reasons I am running for Congress is to stop this program and reign in the NSA’s invasions of our privacy and constitutional rights."

Other than Matt Miller, a DC-centric kook who publicly admits he supports bulk collection of personal communications, all the candidates running pay some kind of lip service to privacy rights. In Ted's case, it goes beyond posturing and promising; he's already taken action.

I am proud to author bipartisan legislation, SB 828, that prohibits California officials from supporting or assisting the NSA’s blanket spying on Americans unless the NSA has secured a specific warrant for a specific individual. The Fourth Amendment is clear: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated” unless the government upon probable cause secures a specific warrant. The NSA’s blanket dragnet is flat out unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment and it is time we stop this mass violation of our privacy."

Regardless of whether we have a President Bush, a President Obama, a President Clinton, a President Cruz or a President Orwell in the White House, we need principled, capable, independent-minded Members of Congress willing to stand up against the herd. That will never be a Wendy Greuel, an Elon Carr or a Matt Miller. It will certainly be Ted Lieu.

Blue America is helping Ted, who is leading in the polls, raise money for his Get Out the Vote efforts this week, and for his tough campaign against whoever comes in second next Tuesday. Please consider contributing here.




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