Who Changed Trump's Mind About Leaving Marijuana Up To The States?

A few days ago, Roger Stone sent out a VICE News article, "The GOP has a marijuana problem only Trump can fix," reminding its readers that Trump said multiple times on the campaign trail that the issue of marijuana legalization "should be up to the states." 

It came as a bit of a surprise when Trump's Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, announced a major policy change last week that under the Trump administration, legal weed isn’t up the states at all. In another rollback of an Obama-era policy, Sessions gave federal prosecutors the authority to pursue marijuana cases at their own discretion, even in places where weed is now legal under state law. Sessions’ move has left several Republican lawmakers and Trump allies fuming. They warn that not only does the president appear to be breaking a campaign pledge and putting himself at risk of alienating a swath of his base, he’s jeopardizing the long-term future of the GOP, since young voters overwhelmingly support legalization. Former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone, who formed a bipartisan group called the U.S. Cannabis Coalition to push for legalization, was especially irked.

“This is not only bad public policy, it’s bad political policy,” Stone told VICE News. "It’s a vote loser, and it’s inconsistent with what the president promised the American people."

Stone went so far as to speculate that Sessions may have gone rogue and changed the federal marijuana enforcement policy without running it by Trump first.

"I don’t even know if the president knows about this change," he said. "The last time I spoke to the president on this issue, which was a couple months ago, there was no change on this, he was supportive of states’ rights to make their own decision."

Asked about the discrepancy on Thursday, however, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that Trump had changed his mind. "The president believes in enforcing federal law," she said.

Regardless of Trump’s personal beliefs, it’s clear there’s a weed schism within the GOP that could affect the party’s popularity at the polls for years to come. According to Gallup, 64% of Americans overall support marijuana legalization compared to just 51% of Republicans.

As Ted Lieu put it when we spoke with him about it last week, "It’s funny-- but not actually funny-- that states’ rights matter to the Trump Administration and Republicans only when it’s politically expedient. AG Session’s vendetta against democratically legalized marijuana is a humongous waste of federal resources and has proven to be unpopular at the state and national level."

Putting it into perspective last week, Jasper Ward of Green Wave Democrats wrote that "campaigns are what candidates make them about. The double edged sword for Democratic candidates in 2018 is that there are so, so many awful things going on that there are too many things campaigns can be about. The common denominator, of course, is Trump and the Republicans have set the train ablaze and aimed it right at the 99% of Americans tied to the tracks. Trump is insanely and angrily opening the throttle to full speed, and the GOP is standing off safely to the side counting their money and watching it happen." He asserted that "the people who are really going to save America (and maybe the world?) are the challengers out there in red districts and against horrible Democrats like Dan Lipinski and Debbie Wassermann Schultz. They are the ones who are not only going to rush the cabin and stop the train, but because they are not infected by the last two decades of greyscale that has touched everyone in Washington-- including Democrats-- they are going to chart a new path forward for the 2020s."

This week gave us a perfect example of the dichotomy of Establishment DC Dems not doing enough to save the country and Progressive Challenger Dems stepping up to chart the new way forward: When Jeff Sessions announced he was suspending the Justice Department memo that prevented US Attorneys from going after the marijuana industry in legal states, the reactions of most Establishment DC Dems showed why Democrats are in the mess we are in.

Sure, there were a few progressive stalwarts like Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) who were willing to take Sessions on directly. Beto: "After our country has spent more than $1 trillion on the war on drugs, leading the world in the size of our prison population and seeing marijuana just as available today as it was at the start of the war on drugs-- and just as the majority of Americans have come to the conclusion that we must end the federal prohibition on marijuana, and most states have followed suit-- I can't understand how the Trump administration would take us back to the dark ages of the drug war.

Blue America has a new fundraising page for progressive challengers who are actively campaigning for legalization. You can check out-- and hopefully contribute to-- the candidates here.

The progressive candidate in the Illinois race to replace GOP incumbent Rodney Davis, Dr. David Gill, an emergency room physician told us that he’s “amazed by the gall of politicians like Jeff Sessions, who adhere to the concept of 'States' Rights' only when it suits their needs and desires.

“Mr. Sessions is a complete and utter hypocrite. The war on drugs has failed to decrease drug use and has cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Current policy also disproportionately impacts communities of color. It is finally time to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana. Legalization of marijuana has proven to successfully stimulate the economy in Colorado. This policy will generate billions of dollars in tax revenue and reduce the huge financial burden posed by incarcerating non-violent offenders. As an emergency medicine physician, I rarely see adverse events related to marijuana; in contrast, trauma caused by legal alcohol always keeps my Emergency Room busy."

And Derrick Crowe is the progressive Democrat running in the Austin/San Antonio district where science denier Lamar Smith is retiring. "Marijuana should be legal," he told us, "and Jeff Sessions' obsession with destroying families and communities by jailing people for marijuana offenses is inhumane and puritanical. At the same time that Trump and the GOP are trying to cut people off from their health coverage under the ACA, Sessions is working to end folks' ability to use marijuana to alleviate terrible pain in states that allow medical marijuana. And, at a time when African Americans are almost four times as likely than Whites to be jailed for marijuana use despite similar usage rates, it's a racial justice and criminal justice reform issue. It's clear that there's no level of pain too great or injustice to deep to get in the way of Republicans' efforts to please their donors."

Here’s an idea…call it a ‘no brainer’— Let’s provide positive reinforcement for these candidates.

Let’s make sure the people driving the train are a new generation of leaders who are not afraid to take a principled stand that is contrary to DC ‘Savvy Democrats’ who assure us this issue is meaningless (and therefore will not make it a priority when we take back the majority).

Let’s support Green Wave Democrats!



How About A Nice Piece Of Art For Christmas? Blue America "Gung Ho!" Contest

The wonderful Nancy Ohanian has donated one of her gorgeous signed prints, "Gung Ho," to Blue America to use for raising money for the candidates we've endorsed this year. She would like to see Congress flip from red to blue and so would we... and we know you would too. So this is how this works. Just contribute any amount to any of our candidates on this page. One dollar; ten dollars, $1,000... it's up to you. Split it between all the candidates, give it to your favorite candidate or split it between 2 or 3 candidates... all up to you. (Just not more than $2,700 to any one candidate.)

Next week (Monday, December 17), we'll pick one name randomly and send that person the signed "Gung Ho" print by Nancy. Easy, right? 

This is an especially crucial election cycle. I don't think there's ever been more at stake than now with this madman in the White House and a Congress filled with enablers and cheerleaders. We can't get Trump out of office next November... but we can and will put a check on him by defeating lots and lots of Republicans in Congress, starting with Paul Ryan and working our way down.

And what makes this cycle even more exciting is that there seems to be a mammoth anti-Trump/anti-GOP wave building and intensifying. Every poll this year has show it. And as we saw a few weeks ago in Virginia and last week in Georgia, there are no districts that are too red to flip-- IF the right candidates are running. The men and women on this list are for real progressives of good moral character and with solid work ethics. Most important, these are the people who will make Congress a better place and force Congress to make our country a better place. Please give generously.

And if you want to have a chance to win but find yourself in a tight financial situation, send a letter to Blue America at PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027 and tell us you want to be part of the Christmas "Gung Ho" contest (be sure to include your contact info). The FEC demands we make some lawyer language available for our contests. You can find it here.

And one more thing about the progressive candidates Blue America has endorsed so far this cycle. We talk to them-- sometimes for months-- and get to know them and we don't endorse them until we feel as sure as is humanly possible that when they get into Congress they will earnestly endeavor to enhance the lives of working families and make the tough decisions necessary to move our country along in a more progressive direction. Message us on the Blue America Facebook page to let us know if you want more information on any particular candidate.

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

Howie, for the entire Blue America team.



#GOPTaxScam Targets Disabled Veterans

The Republican Tax Scam will have serious, even devastating, consequences for the nearly 20% of Americans who have disabilities-- greater tax burdens and decreased opportunities.

As Robyn Powell explained last week to Rewire readers,

"People with disabilities already have massive expenses and far less income, on average, than their non-disabled counterparts. Many of their medical necessities-- such as long-term care and certain wheelchairs-- are not covered by some insurance plans, including Medicare, and can cost an individual tens of thousands of dollars. These services are not just about one’s health; having access to a power wheelchair or in-home care can be the difference between living in an institution or a private residence. Right now, taxpayers may deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses if they exceed 10% of their adjusted gross income. Notably, 8.8 million people-- primarily people with disabilities and seniors, as well as their caregivers-- benefited from this important deduction last year." But to make life a tad more bearable for overburdened private jet owners, Trump's and Ryan's Tax Scam eliminates the out-of-pocket medical expenses deduction.

Los Angeles area Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA), a veteran and an Air Force colonel is the West Coast regional Vice Chair for the DCCC. He told us that "The GOP tax scam will be a disaster for our veterans and our country. It is particularly disgusting that Republicans have proposed repealing tax credits to hire disabled veterans while at the same time giving billionaires and corporations a huge tax cut. Tax policy is ultimately a statement of priorities-- and Republicans like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are showing us what their priorities are, and it isn't our veterans." 

And Lieu is exactly right: the Tax Scam falls especially hard on disabled veterans. Blue America talked to some of the progressive veterans running for Congress, in light of the passage of the Tax Scam in both Houses. 

I wonder if all those self professed Christians in the Republican Party ever think of Jesus' admonition: “That what you do to the least of these, so do you do to me." This morning, Randy Bryce texted us that he had been going over parts of the GOP Tax Scam and one of the parts that infuriated him was how it penalizes veterans wounded in the line of duty. "After serving in the Army I returned home to Southeast Wisconsin," he told us. I saw fellow veterans without homes and I worked hand in hand-- through my union and with the Democratic Party and state government to bring needed assistance their way. That is the best of America and is the America I was proud to protect and serve. Targeting disabled veterans who served their country is especially cruel and unAmerican. Seeing this tax scam try and rip needed services away from my brothers and sisters who served sickens me. We didn't serve to protect a billionaires ability to fly a Learjet on the cheap. We served to protect the best of our American values. These frauds are shameful, and we will repeal and replace their leader in the house, Paul Ryan-- a man who appears to truly enjoy hurting those in need in order to see his billionaire buddies smile."

Doug Applegate, the progressive former Marine colonel running for a a San Diego/Orange County seat held by Darrell Issa: "Once again Veterans get the short end of the stick. The problem lies with the decline of Vets sitting in Congress and voting Veterans’ interests. Don’t just “thank a Vet for their service”; that doesn’t come close to paying the bill. We need to thank Veterans with our votes!"

As Pennsylvania's Tom Prigg put it: "We fought for our country. Some returned home wounded. All we want is the ability to live a good, normal, productive life. To take care of our families. But now Keith Rothfus and the Republican’s new  tax bill will eliminate the Disabled Access Credit and the Work Opportunity Credit  tax credits for businesses who hire disabled people like our vets. This heartless bill not only takes away our wounded warrior’s ability to work and take care of their families, it also takes away their dignity by undermining their livelihood. Keith Rothfus, a congressman who never misses an opportunity for a veteran photo-op, supports this bill that will hurt tens-of-thousands of American Veterans and their families."

Tom's concerns were echoed by all the veteran candidates we talked with. James Thompson is running for the Wichita, Kansas seat, held by Ryan rubberstamp Ron Estes. "Ron Estes is a hypocrite," he told us. "He gives lip service to supporting veterans by showing up to some high profile events to get free media coverage. Yet when the rubber meets the road, and he is given a real opportunity to help veterans, especially disabled veterans, he didn't have their six. He voted in favor of the Republicans’ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which will give massive tax breaks to the wealthiest of Americans, like the KOCH brothers here in my district. This is not tax reform, it is tax robbery paid for by robbing disabled veterans to pay the privileged princes of Wall Street. Ron Estes and his ilk, at the direction of these modern day robber barons, removed the Disabled Access Credit and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Simply put, the Work Opportunity Credit incentivizes companies to hire disabled veterans, while the Disabled Access Credit allows them to actually hire disabled vets by making it possible for those same companies to afford special accommodations like ramps. Ending these two credits, harms veterans. PERIOD. Veterans need representatives to watch their six, not use it as an opportunity to stab them in the back. I promise every veteran out there, regardless of party, I will have your six, and will lead the way in making sure our countries heroes are taken care of when they go to war and when they return from it. I hope everyone will call and encourage their Senators and Representatives to vote FOR VETERANS by voting no on the #GOPTaxScam."

Jared Golden is the Maine House whip. He told us that: "Bruce Poliquin and his corporate allies in Washington are intent on funding their tax cuts on the backs of our children and disabled veterans. By adding over $1 trillion to the debt, future generations will be on the hook for tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Where the tax plan does make up costs are on the backs of the disabled including our wounded fighting men and women. These tax credits are designed to create an incentive for businesses to hire disabled veterans and others with disabilities, I find it morally reprehensible that these laudable and effective tax credits are where Rep. Poliquin and the Republicans in Congress want to find 'savings' so that millionaires and billionaires can buy an extra yacht, or a corporation can move more jobs overseas." 

Please consider helping these military vets with their congressional campaigns by contributing what you can at this link.



People Who Say It Cannot Be Done Should Not Interrupt Those Who Are Doing It

womensmarch2.jpg“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: Repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.” — John Steinbeck, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ (Based on last week’s election results, it’s working!)

Normally, Democrats win districts where the PVI is D+something and Republicans win districts where the PVI is R+something. The higher the "something," the more likely that party will win. But it's not always the case.

Allison Ikley-Freeman's successful campaign for a state Senate seat in Oklahoma last week-- a seat where Trump beat Hillary 61.4-32.7%-- was in a very red district southwest of Tulsa. No one thought she had any chance at all. It's the kind of area where the DCCC always says-- and always wrongly-- that only a rich Republican-lite Blue Dog could win. But Allison is a young progressive who was outspent 3-1, campaigning on a Bernie-like platform. And she's a proud lesbian, married to an African-American. She doesn't fit the DCCC model at all.

There are 5 Blue America-endorsed candidates we're always always being told are in "impossible" races. None of them are as "impossible" as Allison's race was. And all 5 are being run by exceptionally good candidates:

  • James Thompson (KS) R+15
  • Jenny Marshall  (NC) R+10
  • Tom Guild (OK) R+10
  • Derrick Crowe (TX) R+10
  • Dan Canon (IN) R+13

Since Tom Guild was the first person to tell me to watch Allison's race in Tulsa, about a week before the election, I spoke with him about what her victory meant to his race on the other side of the state. He hit the nail on the head:

"We have knocked doors for more than 5 months and visited with thousands of good, hard working, incredible people in our district. They want to earn enough money to pay their bills and provide for their families. They want affordable health care and peace of mind when they or someone they love get sick and need medical care. They want dignity and security in their golden years. They want the heavy burden of college student debt lifted from their shoulders after scrimping for years and burning the candle at both ends to attain their educational goals. Government should lighten our burdens and help us on our journey. Many times today, government frightens decent and honest people by threatening to take away their health care or jobs or affordable loans or programs like Social Security or Medicare that they have paid into for decades. We need to elect people to public office who want to help people and not hurt them. Public servants should make people’s American Dreams attainable instead of throwing roadblocks in their way. I’m willing to do everything in my power to make each person’s dreams a reality. I’m willing to provide a hand up not a cold slap in my fellow Americans faces. Together, we can create positive change in America. To go fast, go alone. To go far, we need to take our journey together and support one another.  We must help each person arrive at their unreachable star and celebrate with them as they achieve this miraculous victory."

Derrick Crowe is running in an Austin/San Antonio district due south of Tom's. "The establishment," he told us, "does not like to be proven wrong about past failures, and when you sign up to run in an ostensibly 'red' district,' the groups in D.C. will tell you that you're crazy. "Too red. Too conservative. Too long since the Democrats held the seat. Too much money on the other side"

Well, we just saw a socialist beat the former speaker of the Virginia statehouse, and a progressive member of the LGBTQIA community win in a solidly #MAGA district. It reminds me of the saying, 'People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.' Well, we're doing it. The progressive moment is here, the wave is barreling to shore, and people who want to run for office as progressive populists should step forward right now. There will never be another time like this, and you'll never be able to do more good. And when people tell you it can't be done, tell them it's rude to interrupt."

Jenny Marshall is also running in an "impossible" district in the South, held by an entrenched multimillionaire incumbent. The DCCC won't figure it out until the day after election day, but the way things have been going lately, maybe "entrenched multimillionaire incumbent" isn't what voters are looking for right now.

Jenny:

"People wish me luck when I tell them that I am running for Congress against Virginia Foxx. I tell them there is no luck about it, just hard work and a message that people believe in. The people in the 5th are struggling to make ends meet and they want someone who will fight for them. They want someone with the courage to stand up for regular folks and take on out of control corporate greed and Washington lobbyists. As I have traveled the district I have listened to story after story of medical care that is too expensive and jobs that pay too little. I have listened to veterans who can't get the help they need and college graduates saddled with enormous debt. I sit and listen as they pour their life stories out and I can relate. I know what it is like to have more month than money, to worry about health care costs and student loan debt. As we trade stories, I talk about the changes I want to see in Congress and by the end I have another supporter. Over the past 11 months I have met thousands and thousands of people at all kinds of events. The overwhelming message back to our campaign is “run, Jenny run!”  So, I am running, but I am not alone. We are building a top notch campaign team with more volunteers and donations coming in daily so that we can knock every last door in the district to get our message out. I believe that with hard work and our grassroots organizing we will win in 2018." 

Dan Canon is an exceptionally accomplished candidate running in Indiana, a state the DCCC fears and, when they even try-- always run a Blue Dog. Dan is far from a Blue Dog. "We are seeing on the ground," he told us, "genuine excitement for real progressive politics, not just with Democrats and Independents but also with Republicans and those who have never been involved or even voted before. With Indiana's abysmal voter turnout we know that if we get more people to vote, we win. Talking to over 40,000 voters already and registering over 4,500 new voters, we know that one-on-one conversations about progressive policies are what will win this race."

James Thompson was ignored by the DCCC and the Beltway elites when he ran in a special election this year. But he came incredibly close to flipping one of those "impossible" districts, this one in the Wichita area. He's running again and the DCCC is ignoring him again. (Fine... it's an opportunity to elect a real progressive instead of the kind of retrograde Blue Dog that Luhan and Pelosi would prefer.)

James told us that "Something is only impossible so long as people believe it is so. As long as you believe in your cause and are willing to work, nothing is out of reach. No state is too red. No precinct too Republican. As Nina Turner recently told me, we need to be “hard on issues and soft on people.”

"This battle is not between Republican and Democrat; that is their narrative. The battle for our country’s soul is between the privileged princes of Wall Street/corporate class and the working people of this country. Working people exist in both parties and we need to come together as one to take back the power the billionaire boys club siphoned from us for decades with tax breaks and loopholes. When We the People stand together nothing is impossible."

These kinds of seats, in a cycle like this, is exactly where the DCCC should be making big plays. They're not. But we can. Want to help? Every donation absolutely makes a difference.



Blue America Progressive Candidates Step Up In TX, IA, HI

Blue America endorsed 3 extraordinary new candidates for Congress last week:  

Kaniela Ing in Hawaii’s Honolulu seat, Austin Frerick in the district that stretches across southwest Iowa from the Omaha, Nebraska suburbs through Des Moines, and Lillian Salerno in the north Dallas Metro.

Aside from all being well-experienced progressives, all three have something else in common; all 3 are running populist campaigns shining a light on how monopolies hurt working families. In other words — trust-busters.

Kaniela Ing is the most progressive member of the Hawaii legislature:

“In today’s political climate, no entrepreneur looking to grow his or her business should ever consider voting Republican. The GOP’s pro-oligarchy agenda has rigged the American economy against both workers and the majority of business owners. A handful of multi-national corporation and Wall Street investment firms are seeing enormous gains, while everyday entrepreneurs are being hung out to dry. Now that the GOP controls Congress and the White House, it’s no wonder so many corporations are driving up prices, lowering wages, and shipping jobs overseas. The greatest threat to American innovation, small business, and a resilient economy is the monopolization of industries. Democrats must lead the fight to break apart monopolies and big banks, and build a future economy that leaves no one behind.”

Austin Frerick was an economist in Obama’s Treasury Department and he’s getting well known throughout western Iowa for taking on Monsanto. Monsanto noticed too — and their PAC is helping fund two candidates running against Frerick, a conservative Democrat, Theresa Greenfield, and an even more conservative Republican, David Young.

“I’m seeing this pattern of corruption that made me want to get into this race,” said Frerick. “Who’s going to look out for the farmer who’s facing rising seed costs when an incumbent congressman is beholden to Monsanto’s political action committee and the Democratic candidate is getting campaign contributions from one of Monsanto’s biggest lobbyists?” And Frerick makes a broad case against monopolies that go beyond just seed prices. He talks about cable service, pharmaceutical prices, and craft beer(!!) as universally relatable examples.

“Craft breweries are a great example of innovative new small businesses challenging monopolistic incumbents. More than 98% of all breweries are locally owned small businesses. These are the type of businesses that grow our local economies. But Anheuser-Busch InBev and MolsonCoors sell 71% of all beer in the US and they’ve set out the dominate the industry even more… And what’s happening in the beer industry is a microcosm for our economy at the moment. Economists across the political spectrum agree that monopolies harm small businesses and communities and also lead to higher costs and lower quality for consumers. Let’s allow craft breweries to thrive. If we want local small businesses to have a chance in the modern economy, we have to enforce our antitrust laws and stop barons like Anheuser-Busch from robbing us.”

Lillian Salerno has the same idea. She recently announced her candidacy for Texas’s 32nd Congressional District, which Pete Sessions has represented for 11 terms. A deputy undersecretary for rural development in the Department of Agriculture, she tells voters, “I had a front-row seat on the game being rigged.” She believes antitrust policy can make the economy more dynamic: New business creation has fallen dramatically in recent years, stifled by incumbent behemoths who either buy out or cripple the competition.

All three have competitive primaries in districts that are likely to go blue in 2018 — the one Hawaiian district is certain to stay blue —  so whoever wins the primary will be a member of Congress.

Primaries are crucial, especially because each of these candidates is being opposed by conservative, Republican-lite quasi-Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. None of them are wealthy and all three are counting on grassroots help from people like us. I gave; can you consider doing the same?

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

 — Howie, for the entire Blue America team



14 California Republicans Just Handed Their Own Constituents A Big Tax Increase

IssaTrumpLoveScrewingNormalPeople.pngDarrell Issa may regret being Drumpf's BFF when November 2018 rolls around. Just sayin'.

Paul Ryan got a budget bill passed Thursday night, albeit very narrowly-- 216 to 212. Every single Democrat and 20 Republicans voted against it. And if just 3 more Republicans had voted NO it would have failed. Why should they have?

Well, passage allows for a quickie vote on Ryan's tax cuts for the rich-- which includes big tax increases for many middle class families. The worst hit will be middle class families in California, New York, New Jersey and other states with high state and local taxes. In some cases taxes will increase by $25,000 annually. That part of the Trump-Ryan tax bill is referred to as eliminating the state and local tax deduction. Lots of Republican congress members voted "no" in order to protect their constituents from these outrageous tax increases. BUT NOT ONE California Republican did.

There are 14 Republicans from California in Congress and none of them elected to join their Republican colleagues from New York and New Jersey who staged an attempt to force Ryan to keep the middle class deduction... NOT ONE.

Eric Bauman, Chairman of the California Democratic Party had this to say after the vote:

"In voting for the Donald Trump/Paul Ryan budget bill, every member of the CAGOP 14 voted to raise taxes on middle class and poor workers in Orange County, the Central Valley and all across California... just so they could give a huge tax cut to their billionaire paymasters and to appease Donald Trump. All 14 of them voted to take healthcare away from cancer patients and raise taxes on the rest of us, which they will turn around and hand to their ultra-rich patrons.

Darrell Issa, Dana Rohrabacher, Jeff Denham, David Valadao and the rest of their cronies are not just failing to do their jobs-- they're actively sticking it to millions of their own constituents, and hurting real people in the process. The people of California will not fall for this deceptive tax hike and the California Democratic Party intends to make sure every voter remembers this in 2018.”

All of the Orange County Republicans-- Darrell Issa, Ed Royce, Mimi Walters and Dana Rohrabacher-- are hanging on by a thread, so the collective decision to increase their constituents' annual tax bill is probably a very bad idea.

In fact, even long-shot red districts like CA-50 (Duncan Hunter) and CA-22 (Devin Nunes) look like they could be offering unexpected opportunities: the former because of an unexpected but likely indictment and the latter because of Putin-Gate.

Kia Hamadanchy, one of the progressives running against absentee-congresswoman Mimi Walters:

"It’s remarkable to me how out of touch Mimi Walters remains with the residents of our district. I am out everyday at events, community meetings, and rallies and the support for Trump is abysmal-- and I’m hearing that from Republicans and Independents, too. Yet just this week, Mimi told a reporter that, 'It is very important that Republicans back the President… He stands for what we stand for.' As far as I’m concerned, that means she stands with white supremacists and xenophobes and not the incredibly diverse and vibrant people of the district she is supposed to represent in Washington. If Mimi continues to be Trump’s rubber stamp, I don’t see any way she gets re-elected. She better start looking for her lobbying gig already."

When it comes to kitchen table issues, there is no one in Congress fighting more ardently for working families than Ro Khanna (D-CA). He's very interested in making sure Congress becomes bluer and more progressive. He told us after the vote that

"California Republicans are being forced to cast votes again and against against their constituents. They are having to choose between the people they represent and the Trump/Ryan agenda. As long as we run bold progressives who are rooted in the community and offer a positive vision, we should win many seats in California!

Nor is that tax deduction conundrum the only one of Trump's legislative proposals making reelection for the California GOP delegation look more and more like a long-shot. The Republican ultimate bête noire, ObamaCare, is not a bête noire for millions of California voters-- including in GOP-held districts-- who need it for their families. Efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare would lead millions of Californians to lose health coverage and premiums would skyrocket, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Low-income people that depend on Medi-Cal for their health care, many of whom live in the Central Valley, would be disproportionately affected. Three Republicans represent Central Valley districts that would suffer disproportionately: Denham, Valadao and Nunes.

And there are more issues that find California Republicans on the wrong side of the fence-- from immigration to deadly military equipment being sold for private use. Trump’s polarizing effect on California’s electorate underscores the balancing act for Republicans headed into 2018.

Opportunities like this do not happen every cycle, or even every 4 cycles. We cannot let them get away. Will you contribute what you can today to the candidates on our page for making California more Progressively Blue?

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

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team



Is 2018 The Year We Break The GOP Strangle-Hold On Texas?

Over the years, Democrats let Texas slip away. When Democrats were firmly committed to representing the legitimate aspirations and interests of working families, Texas was part of their coalition.

There are Texans today-- like gubernatorial candidate Tom Wakely, Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke and half a dozen outspoken progressives running for Congress who you could call modern day "New Deal Democrats" ...and they aren't having any of the "DC Dem" bull-pucky.

Saturday, Mark Jones, a political science fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and Joseph Jamail, chair in Latin American Studies at Rice University, penned an OpEd for The Hill, “Texas Democrats smell blood in the water for 2018.” Like every Texas Democratic candidate I've ever talked to, they bring up that Texas is less a red state than a "no vote state."

They wrote

"in non-presidential years, the Texas Democratic Primary tends to be a low-key affair, with statewide turnout involving only around 3 percent of the voting age population.

Contested Democratic congressional primaries tend to be scarcer than grass around a trough, with a plethora of safe Democratic incumbents and a paucity of seats in play." But they sense that that's not going to be the case next year. They're especially high on the prospect of Democrats taking back TX-07, TX-32 and TX-23.

In 2018 that is changing, as a talented group of high-quality Democratic candidates are coming out of the woodwork to run for Congress across the Lone Star State. And, if Democrats are to have any hope of taking back control of the U.S. House next year, they will have to flip at least a couple of Texas seats presently held by Republicans.

Tom Wakely told us that his campaign for governor will focus on 4 main issues:

1- Income inequality. I will fight for a raise in the state minimum wage to $15 an hour along with repealing Texas’s right-to-work laws. I also want to scrap the Texas business franchise tax system in favor of a Business Income Tax. It’s way past time for Texas’ largest corporations like IBM, Wal-Mart, ATT, Toyota, Dell Computer and Exxon, to start paying their fair share of taxes.

2- Healthcare. Texans need access to healthcare not access to health insurance. I will fight for the establishment of a statewide network of health clinics and hospitals similar in nature to the VA healthcare system that I am a part of. If you have health insurance through your employer and are happy with it-- keep it. If you have health insurance through the ACA and are happy with it-- keep it. For everyone else, the statewide network of health clinics and hospitals that I propose will be there for you.

3- Gun Violence Prevention programs. I will fight to ban the sale and possession of military-style weapons like the AK-47 and AR-15 in Texas. I will fight to repeal our state’s open-carry laws. I also support limiting the number of handguns and long guns that a person can lawfully own. In addition, we should require background checks at gun shows.

4- Global Warming. Through policies and practices like instituting a carbon fee on the burning of carbon-based fuels (coal, oil, gas), the carbon fee is at the core of my policy to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of fossil fuels whose combustion is destabilizing and destroying our climate. I will fight to ban fracking and flaring in Texas. I will work to see that scrubbers are installed on all cement factory smokehouses. These are all meaningful steps to mitigating the harmful effects of global warming."

Lillian Salerno, formerly Obama's deputy undersecretary of rural development for the Department of Agriculture, is running for a north Dallas Metro seat occupied by Trump rubber stamp Pete Sessions. She told us that since Trump’s election "much has been made of his rural, heartland voters, and how politicians can better serve them, with most discussion centering on international trade and globalization. But there is another political and economic disaster crushing the heartland-- one politicians could solve now, if they chose to:

For decades, rural America has been punished by bad policy that places too much power in the hands of distant financiers and middlemen through the formation of monopolies, which undermines small, local businesses and drains communities of resources... Corporate concentration has hit farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers especially hard. Many markets are entirely monopolized by a single company that dictates the terms of business to suppliers... It is a myth that the economic challenges that rural and small-town America face are caused by forces largely outside our control, like globalization or improvements in technology. We have the ability to help restore competition and economic vibrancy in rural America and beyond. The government has the authority to ensure markets are once again open and competitive so that communities have a chance to shape their own economic destinies."

Derrick Crowe is running in TX-21 in an effort to unseat the criminally ANTI-Science Chair of the House SCIENCE committee, Lamar Smith:

"At my core, I’m an organizer and an activist for nonviolent social change. I believe that we’re in a revolutionary time in the U.S., and that playing it safe could mean losing our democracy. We’re running a different type of campaign here in Texas 21, one that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with working people who are literally fighting for their lives under Trump and the GOP Congress."

The kind of economic populism Tom, Derrick and Lillian are campaigning about is a clear path to victory for enhancing a blue wave in Texas. It would be nice if the DCCC and the Texas Democratic Party would catch on, but that's not likely. This cycle-- thanks to Republican overreach and Trump's abnormality-- we can do it without them.

Turning Texas blue is going to take more than one cycle; let's roll up our sleeves and get started.



The Most Important Primaries Of 2018

If you've been with Blue America for enough years, you'll remember the excruciating battles we backed for Donna Edwards, Beto O'Rourke and Matt Cartwright when they took on corrupt old conservative Democrats in, respectively, Maryland, Texas and Pennsylvania. All three, running as reformers and progressives, prevailed. But there is nothing in politics more difficult, no task more painful-- and few as important-- as taking on an entrenched incumbent of one's own party.

Each of those districts was solidly blue and the only possible accountability for bad behavior could come in the form of a primary. No Republican was ever going to beat Al Wynn in Prince George's County (D+28), Sylvestre Reyes in El Paso (D+17) or even Tim Holden in northeast Pennsylvania (D+4).

All three had become untreated cancers on the Democratic Party but the institutional party circled the wagons around each to ward off the reformers. It was very painful for each of them, especially Matt and Donna who were screamed at and lambasted by the Democratic Party leadership. Pelosi and Hoyer raised money for the incumbents and spread malicious and malevolent lies about the challengers. 

Blue America is backing progressives in a dozen primary races, but they're not primaries against incumbents; they're primaries among challengers vying for the nomination to beat a Republican. In an ideal world, every Blue Dog, every New Dem and every unaffiliated conservaDem would have to justify themselves to their voters every two years in issues-based primaries. But this year we've only found 4 so far that we've gotten involved with-- in other words, plausible races against exceptionally bad Democrats by exceptionally good Democrats.

These are the four races:

• FL-23, Tim Canova taking on Debbie Wassermann Schultz
• TX-29, Hector Morales taking on Gene Green
• IL-03, Marie Newman taking on Dan Lipinski
• NY-14, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez taking on Joe Crowley

Crowley, perhaps the most overtly corrupt Democrat in Congress, was the head of the Wall Street-owned New Dems before he was tapped by increasingly feeble-minded Pelosi and Hoyer to run the party after they're gone. It's almost impossible to imagine anything worse happening to the Democratic Party.  Although... Debbie Wassermann Schultz taking over the party-- once a distinct possibility (she's now more likely to take over a prison block)-- might be worse.

Lipinski is just a garden variety Blue Dog: anti-Choice, homophobic, xenophobic, and a pawn of his corporate donors. He's a co-chair of the House Blue Dog caucus and votes far more against crucial progressive legislation with the Republicans than with the Democrats. Gene Green, who represents an impoverished 77% Hispanic district in East Houston, including some of the most polluted areas of America, polluted, we should note by Green's campaign contributors, whose interests he diligently serves.

Dislodging the Republicans from control of the House is everyone's first priority. Getting rid of corrupt Democrats who make the party less attractive to voters who hate the Republicans and who perpetrate the myth that the Democrats can never be better than the lesser of two evils, should also be a priority.

Please consider contributing what you can to the special page Blue America has set up specifically to raise funds for progressive challengers to the worst of the congressional conservaDems. I hope there will be more before the cycle concludes, but this is a pretty impressive group so far.

Hector Morales, for example, is a school teacher in Houston who thinks it's time to hold Green accountable for the pollution that has been making school children in his district sick year after year. "After sitting in Congress for 25 years representing special interests," he told us, "it is beyond time to replace this corporate shill with someone who will always place the people first and will not make a career out of being a member of Congress. We can and will do better in March when we defeat Gene Green in the Democratic Primary for the 29th Congressional District of Texas."

Upgrading the Democratic Party is as essential and banishing the GOP from control of the House. It will help break a cycle where the voters go back and forth on which party is really the lesser of two evils.



Will 3rd Time Be The Charm For MI Dems? Paul Clements Thinks So

BLUE_AMERICA_ENDORSE_PAUL_CLEMENTS.jpg

Blue America helped persuade Paul Clements to run for the southwest Michigan congressional seat held by Fred Upton again this cycle. This week one of Upton's top financial contributors, a multimillionaire corporate lobbyist who has written Upton over two dozen checks, decided to run-- as a Democrat!-- against Paul in the Democratic primary. We asked Paul to introduce himself to Blue America members who might not remember him from last year.

Make MI-06 Part of the Progressive Wave
-by Paul Clements

Will you make 2018 a turning point? My name is Paul Clements and I want to work with you to make a Blue American Congress that passes single-payer health care, funds vocational education, and ensures that financial advisors work for the folks paying them to protect their retirements and not to line their own pockets. 

I am deeply appreciative for the support of Blue America. Will you join me to show DC that we will not stop fighting for progressive values, that we will stand up to Trump and to the big corporations that seem to have bought our party? 

Please join me and Blue America here now.
 
This is my third-time running for the House-- and each time I’ve seen our movement grow stronger. 

Today I work as a professor teaching national economic development and program evaluation. I am also a life-long activist for social justice. As a former missionary kid and Peace Corps Volunteer, I’ve seen how a little assistance and a lot of hard work and political will can turn around economies and challenging social conditions. We need deep changes in our economy-- and I want to help deliver those changes for you.

I’m running for Congress against the climate science denier the LA Times called Congress’ “#1 enemy” of planet earth. He’s the Koch brothers’ ally that Mayday called “one of the most corrupted by big money in Congress.” He’s the guy who personally got the awful Republican health care bill through the House of Representatives: Fred Upton.

I’m running to fix the fundamentals-- to get big money out of politics-- to reform health care, education, and criminal justice-- to increase production in America and rebuild our infrastructure-- to raise the minimum wage-- for American leadership against global warming-- to continue the struggle for racial and gender equality. 

Only grand vision and deep change can get our economy working for the people. Working families in my district are struggling to put food on the table. As our economy has left some people behind, drug and alcohol abuse are rising and life expectancy is actually falling for some demographics. Students mired in debt can’t start their lives. Too many Americans languish in prison for nonviolent offenses. 

Meanwhile, the Republican Party peddles snake oil, pretending lower taxes will solve our problems. But the Democratic Party plays the big money game too. Plenty of Democrats have sold out, or just lack imagination. If we want America to be the democracy that sets the example the world wants to follow, well, we have work to do.

Will you help me get to work for Michigan’s 6th? 

Health care is in crisis, so it is a priority. The fact is, a system based on private insurance doesn’t work for health care. Health care should be a right in America, and experience from other countries shows that with single-payer we can be healthier and pay less.

The cost and complexity of health care is holding American business back-- but so are our education, infrastructure, and criminal justice systems. Good preschool pays for itself 10 times over. Let’s provide it for all our children. Let’s build really good vocational education, and retrain workers who lose their jobs with skills employers need. In the 21st Century a high school degree isn’t enough. Let’s make community college, vocational ed., and public university free for working families. Many rural homes in my district can’t get high speed internet and our bridges are crumbling: America needs a 21st century infrastructure. 

I’m running for Congress because I believe in America and in our future. People struggling economically in my district, people languishing in prison for nonviolent offenses, and the rest of the world all need the American democratic experiment to succeed. But the people who put our current system in place did it for a reason. They did it for profit, and sometimes for power. We won’t turn it around without a fight.

Bernie Sanders built a movement. With his endorsements for my 2014 and 2016 campaigns, I am proud to be part of it. But this movement has just begun. 

Let’s work together to make it happen. Please join me today

I hope you’ll visit my website, clementsforcongress.com, to learn more about my positions and to get involved with the campaign. 

Thank you, 

Paul



No Trump.NoKKK.NoFascist USA!--Win A Signed Green Day Guitar/Help Randy Bryce Beat Paul Ryan

The American Music Awards aren't supposed to be "political," so when Green Day tweaked the words on their new song, "Bang Bang," adding "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA," it may have caught some viewers by surprise. But not iron worker, union organizer and Wisconsin Green Day fan Randy Bryce. "As usual, Billy Joe Armstrong was just a little ahead of his time," he told us when we talked about the upcoming Blue America Green Day guitar giveaway. "I love bands that express their angst in music."

When residents know who Randy Bryce is and who Paul Ryan is, Randy wins and Ryan loses. The contributions at this stage of the campaign are mostly to make sure voters do know who Randy Bryce is. And you can make a contribution-- and make yourself eligible to win the Green Day guitar-- right here.

In tribute to Billie's spirit, I took a sleek black Stratocaster guitar (a Fender Squire Bullet Strat) that Green Day autographed for me while I was president of their label and decided to use it to raise some campaign funds for Randy's campaign for the congressional seat Paul Ryan is operating out of. You can see a photo of the guitar, of Randy holding the guitar, on the right in the contribution box.

Everyone who contributes here-- any amount-- to Randy Bryce's campaign has an equal chance to get the "thank you" guitar from Blue America. We'll pick one person at random. If you give $1,000 you get a chance to get the guitar. If you give $10 you get the same chance to get the guitar. (Yes, we're Democrats, not Republicans; that's how we roll. In fact, if you don't have the cash to give and you want the guitar, just send a note to us at Blue America, P.O. Box 27201. Los Angeles, CA 90027 and you'll have the same chance as everyone else.)

Many contributors want to know if their contribution will help. There are no guarantees of course, that Randy will win, but polling shows that the residents of WI-01 want a new Congressmember; Ryan's reelect numbers are only 44%.

When residents know who Randy Bryce is and who Paul Ryan is, Randy wins and Ryan loses. The contributions at this stage of the campaign are mostly to make sure voters do know who Randy Bryce is. And you can make a contribution-- and make yourself eligible to win the Green Day guitar-- right here.

Meanwhile, Connor Touhey, in yesterday's Badger Herald points out that, "in large part due to gerrymandering, Speaker Ryan’s margin of victory in the past two elections was massive. His ability to garner national attention as Speaker of the House makes him popular in the state, especially since many see him as a 'moderate' willing to try and work with Democrats to solve problems. On top of that, any perceived threat to such a big name in the Republican Party will undoubtedly bring in millions of dollars in political contributions. Paul Ryan should be unbeatable, but he isn’t. Despite his position of power, the Speaker’s inability to connect with his own constituents makes him vulnerable.

As a U.S. Representative, Paul Ryan’s first responsibility is to answer to the constituents of his district. I am one of those constituents, and trust me, he has no interest in listening to what any of us have to say.

Seriously, try calling his office. Ten times out of ten you’ll sent to voicemail. Ryan recently held his first “Town Hall” meeting back in Wisconsin, except it wasn’t a public event. Those who wanted to attend had to apply, ultimately leaving the decision on attendees in the hands of CNN. It’s antics like these that leave Speaker Ryan so vulnerable.

Being unable to even speak to those you have elected will irritate just about any constituency, but in a place like Wisconsin, where access to our officials is especially important to us, it’s disgraceful. Add in a stagnant legislative agenda despite a national mandate for Republicans, the farce that is the Foxconn deal and his continuing role as the president’s court jester, and Speaker Ryan’s next race might be the closest of his career, if not the upset many are already predicting. All Democrats need now is a quality candidate to speed up this race.

The thing is, Randy Bryce is a really good candidate. As an army veteran, cancer survivor and iron worker, Bryce represents the kind of person many believe Paul Ryan continues to screw over in Washington. His life experiences give him firsthand knowledge of the military, our healthcare system and everyday life as a blue collar worker from a personal perspective.

Consider that Bryce is the ultimate picture of modern rustbelt American, and he may have a fighting chance. No, seriously, go look at a picture of the guy. Bryce often has this steely expression on his face, with a fantastic mustache, hardhat and work clothes to back it up.

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

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team

You can contribute to our Senate candidates on this page, our House candidates on this page, and to the brave candidates who are challenging a Blue Dog on this page.




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