Eric Kingson: Why I Stand With Bernie


Eric Kingson, founder of SocialSecurityWorks, is running for Congress in a blue district centered on Syracuse New York. Eric has endorsed Bernie for president and his running on the same issues that Bernie is running on. If you want to contribute to Bernie's and Eric's campaigns, you can do so here. We asked Eric to tell us what went into his courageous decision to buck the Democratic Party Machine and back Bernie-- and in Clinton's own upstate New York backyard no less. Here's what he told us:

When the next president of the United States takes the oath of office on January 20, 2017, he or she will be a Democrat.  By then, the nation will have had its fill of the extremist right wing of the Republican Party-- especially of the disrespectful and racist messages of Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz. To be sure, the mean-spiritedness of the Republican Party will have torn at the nation’s fabric, but the ties that hold us together as a free and compassionate people are ultimately too strong to succumb to anti-democratic demagogues.

We Democrats, and the nation, are fortunate to have a choice between two eminently qualified people-- Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Both have contributed greatly to our nation. Both can do the job and lead by appealing to our “better angels.” And like President Obama, they take strong stands, political and personal, against the politics, fear, divisiveness, and disregard for working families and the poor that is so evident among today’s Republican Party.

That said, I strongly and proudly support Bernie Sanders in his campaign to be our next president. Here’s why.

Bernie is igniting the interest and energies of millions of Americans, many of whom have not been previously engaged in politics. We need this at a time when our nation’s political institutions are at risk; when our economic institutions seem to work well only for the rich and powerful, not for hard-working people and families. We need new generations of Americans and older ones, too, not only to care about what is happening in our nation, but, like Bernie’s supporters, to get involved and become vehicles for a better America.

Putting aside the risks posed by Trump and Cruz to our democracy, we will still face the corporate and billionaire domination of our politics and the coordinated efforts of the Republican Party to suppress voting, especially among minority, young, and low-wage workers. Senator Sanders’ campaign is bringing attention to campaign finance. No one can doubt Bernie’s complete opposition to the domination of our politics by corporate interests and money. He refuses to accept campaign contributions from Wall Street and other corporate donors. His campaign is fueled by millions of small donations. Bernie, whose politics were shaped by involvement in the civil rights movement, is no new-comer to voting rights. He’s always been there and will work to expand the voting franchise.

Wall Street doesn’t like Bernie. And they shouldn’t because he’s the real thing.  When he talks about breaking up too big to fail banks, Wall Street and their handmaidens worry. Wall Street bankers who virtually crashed our economy don’t like the sunshine being cast on their dishonesty and undeserved huge bonuses. Too bad. The public knows that Bernie will walk the talk, and that the economic policy of a Sanders Administration will not be under the control of Wall Street shills. Another good reason to support the Senator…

Another reason for my enthusiastic support of Senator Sanders for president is that as co-founder of Social Security Works and the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, I’ve seen how effective he’s been in stopping Social Security cuts and building the case for expanding Social Security benefits. Six years ago, when we established the organization and coalition, there were only a handful of Senators and Representatives who would say “do not cut our Social Security”-- Bernie Sanders, former Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and a few others. It may not seem so now, but this took political courage in the first few months of 2010. The press, the talking heads, party leaders, White House advisors, and many others were caught in their own echo chamber. Nearly all believed that cuts to Social Security were needed and would soon happen.

Concerned that the fiscal crisis drumbeat would stampede Congress into cutting Social Security, Bernie organized the Senate Defend Social Security Caucus, initially bringing five other Senators along. Later, in the context of budget and deficit negotiations, when it looked like Bowles-Simpson Commission cuts would be enacted, Bernie played a pivotal role in coordinating push-back to proposed cuts to annual cost of living adjustments. In a call that six or seven of us where on, I recall Bernie saying, “Look, we can stop this cut; but we have to act fast and get the voices of  the American people into Washington,” followed by strategic suggestions for doing so. A meeting chaired by Senator Sanders in a Senate hearing room packed to the gills with 200 advocates, seniors and journalists got the message out that the American people did not want their benefits cut. Careful messaging, speeches, and one million signatures stopped the cuts-- much to the credit of the Senator who has never been fearful of standing up for what he knows is right.

Today, the two remaining Democratic candidates for president are now firmly on record for expanding, not cutting, Social Security. This would not have happened without Bernie.

I am running for Congress in Central New York (NY-24). When I go to Washington as a new member of congress, I want to see a Democrat in the White House. And I believe our nation will be best served if that Democrat is Bernie Sanders.



Can Anyone Fill Grayson's And Edwards' Shoes In The House? Meet Pramila Jayapal

Two of our very first Blue America candidates, a decade ago, were Alan Grayson and Donna Edwards, who have been inspirations from the moment they ran, won and started pushing their strong progressive agendas in the House. These are two admirable people who have made a substantive difference in a screwed up, largely dysfunctional Congress. Grayson, in fact, passed more legislation than any other member of Congress, even with the House under GOP control! Now both Donna Edwards and Alan Grayson are leaving the House and running for the Senate. (You can contribute to either or both of their Senate campaigns here on the Blue America Senate page.)

But our concern this week is about who will replace their powerful, brilliant leadership in the House. And we think we found her: Washington state Senator Pramila Jayapal.

She's running for the seat her political ally, Jim McDermott, is retiring from in Seattle. It's a deep blue district and the winner of the Democratic primary is virtually guaranteed the congressional seat. (Obama won the district with 80% in 2008 and 79% in 2012.)


Senator Jayapal has been a lot like Grayson, in fact, strongly progressive and reform-minded and known as a serious legislator who works across the aisle to pass sensible legislation, even in a state Senate controlled by the GOP. "I'm running for Congress," she told us Friday, "because our system is rigged for corporations and the wealthy, but we can fight back. The time has come to tackle this inequality: we need to raise the minimum wage, expand Social Security and Medicare, and ensure debt-free college for young people across America."

And if you think that sounds familiar... yes, she has officially endorsed Sanders. "The vision has to be to fundamentally change the system." And when it come to the divisive issue of immigration her thinking is values-based and she pointed out that "we're stronger because of our diversity; being American is defined by common beliefs, not common blood; by faith in each other, not in any one faith-- that are at stake in this election. The choice before us is whether to continue to be a pluralistic society, where new ideas and varying perspective allow our cultural, economic and civic life to prosper as it has for 250 years-- or to cower and retreat.  

America is strong because we continually rise above the hate-- not always in time, not always gracefully, and we will certainly continue to be tested. But still, we recognize that one of the truly defining factors of America-- different than any other country in the world-- is that we are a nation that has built its identity on the contribution of immigrants from all over the world, many who have escaped the worst terrors in order to gain freedom.

This week John Nichols  pointed out for readers of The Nation that "Jayapal came to prominence more than a decade ago, when she founded the group Hate Free Zone to battle intolerance in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 'When September 11 happened, I just thought to myself that everything is going to change for people who look like me,' said Jayapal, an immigrant from India. The group evolved into OneAmerica, an activist organization that focuses on advancing 'the fundamental principles of democracy and justice at the local, state, and national levels by building power within immigrant commu­nities in collaboration with key allies.' ... She won’t be pulling any punches, as was obvious at an announcement event where she ripped into 'people like Donald Trump [who] are whipping up hate and fear across the country, resulting in a rise of anti-Muslim violence.' [She] is amplifying messages that have been taken national by Sanders... 'The vision has to be to fundamentally change the system,' says Jayapal, who argues that 'corporations and special interests have their voice in Congress, and they have too many members scared of their power. What Congress needs is a progressive voice who is unafraid to take on these powerful interests-- who is willing to fight for all Americans, not just the wealthiest 1 percent.'"

We're proud of all the Blue America candidates and we feel certain that Pramila Jayapal will stand strong like our favorite incumbents from Grayson, Edwards and McDermott, who are leaving, to Barbara Lee, Raul Grijalva, Mark Pocan, and Ted Lieu, who will need courageous allies. Please consider contributing to Pramila’s campaign here on the Blue America main page.



Why Blue America Endorsed Adrian Garcia For Congress

As we mentioned the other day, Adrian Garcia, is one of the bright lights in the 2016 congressional election cycle, a true public servant for over three decades, first as a police officer, then as a city councilman and later as sheriff of Harris County, third biggest sheriff's department in the country. He has pursued a career in public service to help his community, which had no strong voice fighting for it-- and doesn't really have a strong voice fighting for it in Congress either.

He told us that as a young man, each summer he'd return from school to play basketball in the neighborhood, and his group would lose another friend, another school mate, another neighborhood kid-- lose them to drug use, dropping out of school, joining a gang, etc. Adrian decided that he wanted to work to be a fighter for his community because everyone else had a voice and it seemed nobody was there to speak up fight for them.

Adrian is running for Congress because the people of TX-29 need an active, progressive, effective voice in Washington. Nobody can look at the statistics in the district objectively and think things are ok. 91% of the people in the district-- the ship channel area, Aldina and north Houston, Cloverleaf, Galena Park, Pasadena, and the East End-- don't have a bachelor's degree. Over 50% of students in the district have been dropping out of high school. Over 54% of people in the district don't own a home. Over 24%-- including over 33% of children-- live in poverty. If you ask people who have lived in this district for the last 2 decades, they'll tell you nothing has changed. The bad schools are still bad and the good schools are out of reach. College is nothing but a dream. Day to day life is about mere survival-- economically and socially.

Adrian is working to build a movement within his community to create a new direction. He's asking voters in TX-29 to take a hard look within in their communities-- to see the failing schools, increased gun violence, crumbling infrastructure, and a stagnant economy-- and to realize and embrace that they deserve better. He believes his district needs a change in tone and action. He understands the problems facing voters at their kitchen table because he lived them. He has decided that he cannot stand idly by while another generation of kids gets lost to the cycle of poverty and violence. As an elected official, he believes it is his job to be a proactive fighter that breaks that cycle-- to build a movement block-by-block to show the communities that life can be better and that they can have representatives who take action to solve problems, not just take votes on issues.

Gene Green has been a right-of-center Democrat since 1992. The Energy Sector contributes primarily to Republicans and right-wing Democrats. Since 1992 he has taken $1,221,738 from the sector, more than any other Democrat in the House other than Majority Whip Steny Hoyer. In return, Green carries their water and protects their interests from his perch on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. He was an aggressive advocate for war against Iraq and lied on the House floor about Saddam Hussein being responsible for 9/11. He is widely considered one of the worst of the pro-pollution Democrats in Congress and consistently takes the side of special interests rather than consumers and working families.

Since he spent so many years in law enforcement, we asked Adrian to write a guest post about gun violence and solutions to that particular plague. Below is his guest post. If you'd like to help him replace Gene Green in Congress, please consider a contribution to his campaign at the Blue America ActBlue page.

Common Sense Gun Safety Reform In Houston, In Texas, Across America
-by Adrian Garcia, candidate for Congress (TX-29)

I would like to thank Howie, and the whole Down With Tyranny/Blue America community, for giving me a platform to talk about a very important issue: common sense gun safety reform.

As a 30-year law enforcement veteran-- first as a police officer and then as County Sheriff, I’ve come face to face with gun violence, and can tell you Harris County would be safer with common-sense gun safety legislation. When I started on the beat in 1980, police officers were facing .22 caliber pistols; today, they are facing semi and automatic weapons with armor piercing rounds.

One reason I am running for Congress because our country needs to take serious steps to address our problems with gun violence and our unregulated access to weapons of war. In our country, we lose 90 people a day to guns. In 2015, over 60 people were killed by guns in TX-29, including several children who were the victims of accidental gunshots. In Harris County, gun related incidents are now the second highest cause of accidental child deaths. Just in the last week, Harris County has lost two children to accidental shootings. In 2015, there were 582 fatal and non-fatal shootings in the Houston area-- the highest number for any Texas city. An ABC-13 review of Houston Police Department press releases shows at least 87 of the 162 murders in the first six months of 2015 were gun-related. That number is likely higher as the cause of death is not always noted in press releases.

President Obama is right when he says "enough is enough." We need to, and can, find reasonable and practical solutions to the proliferation of military-style assault weapons without impeding constitutionally-protected rights for law abiding citizens. As for armor-piercing "cop-killer" ammunition and similar items, I don’t want that type of weaponry on the streets of Harris County. Our laws should protect good law-abiding citizens and support law enforcement, not allow weapons to so easily fall into the hands of criminals or the mentally ill. When I am elected to Congress, I will be a loud and a strong ally with our next Democratic President in the fight to finish the President’s mission.

That means mandating background checks on everyone who buys a gun, regardless of where they buy it; closing legal loopholes in prosecuting gun related crimes; requiring states to provide all criminal and mental health records to the FBI to provide for more comprehensive background checks, and closing the terror gap to prevent individuals on the no-fly list from obtaining firearms. I will work with other members to ensure that we appropriate enough funds for the FBI and ATF to hire more officers to help speed up the background check process and engage in proper enforcement of violators.

All gun sellers need to be licensed to sell guns. Anyone who sells more than 2 guns in a year is considered a seller. Last, Congress should be encouraging new smart gun technology to improve gun safety, utilizing technologies such as fingerprint scanners and research new and innovative ways to prevent gun violence.

President Obama has been forced to seek Executive Action because Congress has failed. And my opponent, Congressman Gene Green, is part of the problem. The NRA helped elect Gene Green in 1992 and he has never forgotten them. During his career, he has:

  • Voted against the Brady Bill, which prevented over 2 million gun sales to those who should not be in possession of a weapon.
  • Voted to repeal the Assault Weapons Ban.
  • Voted against mandating child safety locks.
  • Voted for keeping the gun show loophole.
  • Voted to grant gun manufacturers and gun sellers blanket immunity.
  • Signed on to a letter with Texas Republicans to prevent the restriction of armor-piercing bullets

It is no wonder the Congressman has a lifetime "A" rating from the NRA; he is their favorite Democrat in Congress. He is part of the reason President Obama has had to use Executive Action to protect our people. When House Democrats reclaim a majority, the NRA will still have Gene Green in their pocket to block progressive gun safety measures. He has been their insurance policy.

President Obama wrote in his New York Times Op-Ed that he would not campaign for any candidate-- Democrat or Republican-- who did not support common sense gun safety reform. We shouldn’t have to accept this in an 80% Obama district. There is no excuse-- I am asking you to take the President’s stand a step further-- help me defeat the NRA’s favorite Democrat.

Adrian Garcia is a former City Councilman and Harris County Sheriff. He is running for in the Democratic Primary for Texas’ 29th Congressional District. To learn more about Adrian's campaign, go to http://www.adriangarcia.com . and to contribute to his campaign... this is the place.



Who Decides Who The Candidate Will Be-- Locals Or The DCCC?

Just when we thought the DCCC was finally going to cave and support a real Democrat for Congress, they discovered yet another way to lose in California's newly-blue 25th District. This time, it is Beverly Hills lawyer Brian Caforio, who has absolutely no idea what issues are even important to the people in the district. He lives in Orange County.

Instead of supporting Lou Vince, the grassroots-backed candidate who has been endorsed by the local Democratic clubs (as well as by Blue America), the DCCC has parachuted in a wealthy lawyer because he claims to be able to raise large amounts of money. Sounds like a perfect fit for Steve Israel’s DCCC. No surprise, when the DCCC hatched this scheme, they neglected to talk to a single local activist and unsurprisingly, this week, the Simi Valley Democratic Club and the North Valley Democratic Club, two of the largest clubs in the district, voted unanimously to endorse Lou Vince over Caforio, the DCCC having already pressured Maria Gutzeit to get out of the race.

Please help show the DCCC that they should be fighting Republicans, not progressive Democrats. To make sure Lou has the support he needs to win this June, every contribution made to Lou Vince’s campaign this week (up to $5,000) will be matched.

And, to add insult to injury, the “we don’t get involved in contested primaries” DCCC Western Regional Political Director actually sent Lou an email to say he was making calls to California Democratic Party delegates to encourage them to not submit their pre-endorsement ballots for Lou. He wants to be able to funnel DCCC money to Caforio and Lou winning the CDP endorsement would dash those hopes.

We at Blue America know that Lou is the best bet for taking the Simi Valley/Santa Clarita/Antelope Valley district. A police lieutenant and a veteran, Lou matches the profile of the district perfectly. The hard-working families of the area have already made it clear that they don’t like carpetbaggers. Last cycle, Tony Strickland outraised Steve Knight 5 to 1 and claimed he was the chosen one. Yet, Steve Knight trounced Tony Strickland in the general election because Strickland was a carpetbagger, just like Caforio.

The stakes could never be higher for CA-25. The Porter Ranch gas leak is inside the district and Steve Knight has been noticeably absent. Knight and his Republican Neanderthals want to do away with the EPA, the very agency that should have prevented this disaster. Rather than supporting an agency that keeps us all safe, Knight wants to get rid of it and allow corporations to self-regulate. I think we’ve all seen how well that has worked for Porter Ranch.

While Knight stays cozy in DC, the DCCC has scripted Caforio to hit the issue, claiming he cares about our health and the environment. Problem is, he doesn’t even know what the other environmental problems are in the area and there are plenty. In fact, Ed Begley Jr. and Climate Hawks Vote leader RL Miller, two of the most important environmental activists in California have endorsed Lou because of his environmental stances.

Yesterday Lou told us that:

"The 25th district has numerous environmental issues due to years of Republicans pushing through the agenda of the developers who bankroll their campaigns. The Porter Ranch disaster is just the latest case in a long line of environmental damage that needs to be undone. While Steve Knight continues to have a minimal visibility on the issue, another one of my opponents has been seeking to profit politically from the disaster. With no connection to the district at all, he believes that by snapping some pictures with an unpopular Congressman that he 'knows' the environmental issues. Yet, he hasn’t said a single word about the upcoming Chiquita Canyon Landfill Expansion, which will site the largest dump in the United States within 500 feet of an elementary school in a primarily Latino community. Where is Bryan Caforio on Chiquita? Where was Bryan Caforio 2 months ago? The answer is: ‘not in the 25th District.’”

If Bryan Caforio wins the primary, the DCCC will undoubtedly lose in the 25th District once again, a long pattern of bungling for them. It’s not often we have a candidate like Lou run for an office who could truly have a huge impact on the House floor. Having a former cop stand on the House floor and call for criminal justice reform would be a powerful ally for all progressives in the chamber. Not to mention having a Marine veteran calling for common sense gun measures. Lou certainly has the credibility to speak out on those issues.

This is our chance to get a true blue progressive in the House and show the DCCC that it is the grassroots that really matter and that they should start fighting Republicans, not progressive Democrats. That’s why we want to make sure Lou has the support he needs to win this June and why us here at Blue America have decided to “go all in for Lou.” We will be matching every contribution made to Lou’s campaign on this page this week up to $5,000.



Urgent Holiday Gift Match Gives Biggest 2016 Progressive Bang For Buck

What could be a better holiday gift to progressives who are giving their all to reverse catastrophic trends in our political system, economy and environment? This isn't some phony-baloney DCCC/DSCC or Marco Rubio offer.

One of Blue America's most generous annual contributors over many years is putting $2,000 on the table as a matching fund for one progressive candidate on this page. Here's how he describes the candidate:

"How would you like a Bernie Sanders who was:

  • 40 years younger & running for U.S. Senate of a highly diverse major industrial state
  • creating, every time he educates and turns out a voter, a likely Bernie voter in the pivotal Presidential swing state of Ohio (and, in cross-border media markets in 5 other states, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania),
  • Uncompromisingly promoting gun-control, against two opponents, one of whom the NRA rated A+ in his last term in office and the other-- the Republican incumbent, who insists that people barred from buying an airline ticket be allowed to buy military caliber assault weapons
  • raised 72% as much money, through the 3rd quarter 2015, as his universally known opponent, who is known mainly for presiding over Ohio’s massive job losses during and after the 2008 crash
  • based in the most Republican region of his state, leaving maximum opportunity to grow positive name recognition in many Democratic regions, expensively but very cost-effectively.

What a boost to my holiday cheer it is to have discovered P.G. Sittenfeld, and how well positioned P.G. is to employ my donations productively and make Ohio and the entire country a better place in the New Year.”

Blue America endorsed P.G. because of his stands on the issues-- all the issues-- and because his two opponents, Democrat Ted Strickland and Republican Rob Portman, have long conservative, failed voting records that are geared towards establishment special interests, not towards the working families of Ohio. Let's help PG end the year on a high note-- two-thousand dollars from us and two-thousand dollars from our anonymous donor. Here's where you can give PG your contribution and help secure that match for him.



We'll Match Your Donation To #StandWithPlannedParenthood

With Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday having become something of an orgy of over-indulgence, somebody somewhere came up with the idea that the Tuesday after Thanksgiving should usher in the benevolent side of the holiday with a call to give back. They are calling it Giving Tuesday and it seems as though it might be refreshing reset from the endless eating and shopping of the long holiday week-end.

Unfortunately, this past Thanksgiving holiday was not just marked by the usual Walmart brawls and long lines waiting for Best Buy to open. This year we had to endure an act of terrorism perpetrated on our own soil: a man gunned down 12 people, killing three, in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Afterwards, he was said to have declared "no more baby parts." Those two words --- "baby parts" --- are used by Republican demagogues to describe the practice of life-saving scientific research which uses fetal tissue. It refers to some hoax videos circulated by anti-choice zealots in furtherance of their cause.

It is inflammatory incitement and it did its job this last week-end.

The GOP presidential candidates were all very slow to condemn this murderous attack. And when they did, it was in the most grudging terms possible. Carly Fiorina, the candidate who blatantly lied before 25 million in the GOP presidential debate, describing something that never happened in lurid, graphic detail even went so far as to cast blame on the left for even bringing up the possibility that rhetoric such as theirs may have contributed to this atrocity.

All Blue America candidates are crystal clear on where they stand, both in support for Planned Parenthood and against the NRA which makes it possible for zealots to easily acquire the firearms they use to carry out their deadly missions.

This statement from State Senator Jamie Raskin, candidate for Maryland's 8th Congressional District speaks for all of us:

"The nightmare in Colorado Springs brought together two lethal threats to the American people: the epidemic of gun violence made possible by lax gun laws and the NRA, and the relentless attacks by right-wing fanatics on Planned Parenthood and the right of American women to access basic reproductive health services. Let this outbreak of homegrown terror in Colorado give us the resolve we need to impose civilized gun safety laws in our country and to stop all of the appalling efforts to defund and destroy Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of reproductive health services in the U.S."

In the spirit of Giving Tuesday, Blue America has decided to match the first $1,000 we collect for any candidates on this page and donate it to Planned Parenthood. We want to help the organization in every way we can and that means giving directly but it also means electing leaders to congress who will stand up and fight for women's rights. It is imperative that we do both.

We are at a critical time in American politics. Please consider spending some of your "Giving Tuesday" dollars by donating to the Blue America candidates of your choice and we will double the effort by matching it with a donation to Planned Parenthood.



Who Will Fight Climate Change? Meet Paul Clements


Four years ago, the L.A. Times named Congressman Fred Upton our planet Earth’s number 1 enemy in Congress. He continues to excel. As a climate science denier and chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Upton is the most powerful Representative working to block action to rein in global warming. And now he is putting our Great Lakes in danger as well.
 
Five Republican U.S. Representatives from Michigan, and all Michigan’s Democratic Representatives and Senators just sent a letter to Justin Trudeau, the new Prime Minister of Canada. The letter urges the Canadian government to deny Ontario Power Generation permits to build a giant nuclear waste facility underground, less than a mile from Lake Huron. Nuclear waste remains toxic for tens of thousands of years. No matter how geologically secure they say the site may be, this is too close.
 
Congressman Upton refused to sign the bipartisan letter with his Republican colleagues. He is, literally, placing the Great Lakes in danger to accommodate the short term needs of his campaign donors. It's the way Fred Upton rolls.
 
Upton has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from nuclear, oil, and natural gas companies. He’s been giving private profits precedence over environmental security for so long, it seems it has just become habit.  
 
Our Great Lakes are a national treasure and particularly a treasure in Michigan; it’s our duty to protect them.
 
And we need to make polluters pay for the costs of their pollution.
 
The environment can’t speak for itself, but it doesn’t forget. We need to hold legislators like Congressman Upton accountable for undermining our collective future. And that has a lot to do with why Blue America has endorsed the progressive Democrat, Paul Clements, running for his southwest Michigan district seat.

This week Paul told us that "In Congress I will work for American leadership in addressing climate change. Next month's conference in Paris won't take us nearly far enough. Without much stronger leadership we can't stop warming at 2 degrees, and maybe this is too high. But dealing with the effects of climate change will also present unprecedented international challenges, and, frankly, our international institutions are woefully unprepared. Without better cooperation we will degenerate into a fortress mentality. I will lead in rising to the challenge."

This is looking like a good year for progressives and clean energy advocates in Michigan. Please consider digging deep and contributing to Paul's grassroots campaign, which you can do here.



DCCC Appears Ready To Do The Right Thing In CA-25


Having failed to find a suitable conservaDem to run in California's CD-25 (Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley), the DCCC finally seems to be yelling "uncle" and offering their support to progressive candidate Lou Vince-- but with a caveat: They're indicating they will fund him IF he could fund himself!  

We know that sounds odd, but... it's the DCCC. They're like a bank-- they only give money to candidates who don't need it! So we progressives have to pony up enough money to show that Lou could run a respectable campaign without the DCCC... and then they'll kick in. They've never helped any other Democrats who have run in this district.
 
So why support Lou? He is just the kind of candidate who can win in the just barely blue L.A./Ventura district which has been represented by neanderthal Republican Buck McKeon for as long as anyone can remember and is now being misrepresented by Tea Party extremist Steve Knight. Lou is a cop and former Marine with four kids (2 adopted) and a Masters Degree in Criminology, Law and Society from UC Irvine.

But under that blue uniform beats the heart of a true progressive! His website lists progressive positions on everything from combating climate change to reforming our banking system to mass incarceration and immigration. We asked him what he thinks is the most important issue for Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and Antelope Valley residents. This is what he told us:

Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. If we do not act quickly and decisively, it will soon be too late to take effective action. This is why I applaud President Obama's decision to oppose the Keystone XL project. This is a major victory for progressives and anyone who cares about a clean, sustainable future. But this is just the beginning! We have a race in California's 25th where the difference couldn't be more clear. I will stand up to any issue that poses a danger to our environment and our planet. Congressman Knight has proven time and time again to be more concerned about the interests of fossil fuel companies, not the actual people in his district. We need your help if we are going to work towards a Congress that moves to address climate change, rather than ignore it all together like Congressman Knight prefers to do.

This is a great opportunity to not only pick up a seat but to put a true progressive in it. Lou has been endorsed by two of our favorite hard-working California progressives-- Congressman Ted Lieu and State Controller Betty Yee-- and by Dr. Lee Rogers, who ran in both the last elections. And, of course, by Blue America!

Let's elect Lou Vince! You can donate to Lou Vince's grassroots campaign here.



Building A Democratic Leadership Bench-- In Wisconsin


In Friday’s #DemForum, Bernie Sanders reiterated that to be truly successful, Democrats must reinstate the “50 State Strategy.” This letter is about that— rebuilding the Democratic party from the ground up— starting at ground zero for conservative skullduggery, Wisconsin.”

The whole country had a chance to look at Scott Walker a few times over the last couple of years, most recently as he stumbled through-- and then out of-- the Republican presidential primary, where even early backers like the Koch brothers were horrified by his terrible performance. How did this clown even get elected governor of a sensible state like Wisconsin? Well... it all started when he ran for the state Assembly in 1990 and lost to now-Congresswoman Gwen Moore in a landslide. He was only 22 and he figured out he'd have to find a whiter, more bigoted and more right-wing place to run from. So he moved west to the wealthy suburb of Wauwatosa (90% white), ran for its much more conservative Assembly district and won-- five times. He was a union-bashing ALEC member right from day-one and made a name for himself as a right-wing extremist in the state legislature.

In 2002, when Milwaukee County Executive, corrupt, conservative Democrat Tom Ament, resigned over a pension fund scandal, Walker was a shoe-in because voters were eager to punish the Democrats. (No Republican had ever won the office before-- or after). Walker used that position to launch a bid for the governor's mansion in 2010 and won with 52% of the vote.

In 2011 wealthy conservative Democrat Chris Abele-- son of the founder of Boston Scientific-- defeated right-wing Republican Jeff Stone with 61% of the vote. He's not as bad as Walker... but almost. And he wants to run for governor in 2018. Keep in mind, he worked with reactionary Republican lawmakers in the Wisconsin Legislature to subvert the democratically elected school board by giving him the power to close schools, fire teachers, and open charter schools in their place. This piece of legislation would have only moved forward if the County Executive had been willing to use these powers, and Chris Abele stood up and said he would. He also cooperated with the Republicans in the legislature to strip oversight from the democratically elected Milwaukee County board over county land sales. He has sole authority on a number of them, and first used this power to sell prime downtown real estate to the Milwaukee Bucks billionaire owners for $1. (No, I did not forget any additional digits-- one buck for the owner of the Bucks.) And, in an effort to secure public financing for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena, Abele put $80 million of Milwaukee County taxpayer money on the table, and wanted to help pay for it in part by allowing Scott Walker’s state government to collect outstanding property taxes from residents who can’t afford to pay their bills.

Now our old friend, state Senator Chris Larson, is running for this job. Chris, a Milwaukee County native and the youngest member of the state Senate, served as Democratic leader in 2013­-14. He was first elected by defeating conservative Democrat and Scott Walker ally Jeff Plale. The big money was with incumbent Plale, but Chris beat him by knocking on doors and having thousands of conversations with his neighbors. We got to know Chris during his first term in office when he was one of the "Wisconsin Senate 14" who fled Wisconsin to stop Walker’s disastrous "budget repair bill." Chris is campaigning on ending the takeover and privatization of Milwaukee Public Schools and for an array of progressive quality of life issues important to working families. 

"I want to take back the county for the middle class. We have a county executive who campaigned one way and governed another way very quickly. In the past five years he broke promises and broke away from who he was. He’s changed. I think he’s grown out of touch and I think he’s grown more out of touch over the last five years. I think it’s important to have a county executive who is going to be a steward for the county for the long term and actually care for the parks and restore them to greatness and expand transit so that people have access to jobs that’s affordable, and also to usher in a long-term vision that’s balanced. A county executive has to actually listen to people and be responsive to their needs. That’s why the first pledge I made out of the gate was to do a public listening session in each municipality in each year we’re in office, a la Russ Feingold."

The election is in April. If you'd like to contribute to Chris' grassroots campaign, you can do it through the Blue America ActBlue page for Milwaukee County Executive. We promise it goes to an important, just cause.



He’s more than just a walking encyclopedia of politics

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Credit: Chester Simpson
Howie has always had his finger on the pulse of what's happening next. We're extremely lucky to have him working for us every day.

Something interesting came in the mailbox yesterday from Alan Grayson. We'd thought you might be interested in hearing what he has to say about our Howie Klein:

I was swapping e-mails with Blue America’s Howie Klein today, and the subject of a GOP Congressional seat in the Northeast came up. He knew both Democratic challengers. Knew all about them, in fact. And the same thing would be true of House candidates in the other 434 districts. Howie knows all about them, too.
There are people who actually are paid to know all about Congressional campaigns – Stu Rothenberg, Charlie Cook, Larry Sabato, etc. I’ve read their stuff. Howie knows more than they do.

But Howie doesn’t sell what he knows. Instead, he uses that knowledge to cultivate and nurture progressive candidates all over the country. Blue America will not be supporting those two challengers that Howie knows in the Northeast, because – because – they’re not blue. But other candidates are true blue, and those are the ones who get Howie’s help. The only ones. With Howie in charge, Blue America PAC is the manager of the Progressive Farm Team.
Go Progs! Give me a “P”! Etc.

Join me and Howie Klein now in turning America blue in 2016, by contributing $9 or more to the Blue America PAC >>

You might think that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) might be doing this. Mais non, as the French would say. Despite having $100 million a year to spend, they don’t know what Howie knows. And for sure, they don’t care the way that Howie cares. Ever since the Rahm Emanuel regime, the DCCC has had a strong built-in bias against progressive candidates. And the DSCC? Don’t get me started. They can’t find their derriere with deux mains. Just look at their record last year.

So progressives really need Blue America PAC. Which is why you should help.

Politics is a team sport. Show your support for progressives all over the country by donating $9 or more to the Blue America PAC >>

At an earlier time in his life, Howie Klein was the President of Warner Reprise records. He knows countless top performers (which is why he sometimes holds contests giving away great stuff like platinum records). He doesn’t have to work anymore. He helps progressives for one reason and one reason only: because he cares.

And if you contribute to Blue America PAC, you not only have Encyclopedia Howie working for you, but you also enlist the support of the pioneering blogger Digby, and John Amato of the website “Crooks and Liars” (dot-com, of course). Because they all share the Blue America dream of making America blue. Not purple. Blue.

Chip in $9 now, and Help Make America Blue >>

Courage,
Rep. Alan Grayson
Candidate for U.S. Senate




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