Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-Ferguson) Ready To Set The House On Fire


A few days ago I was talking with Missouri state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal about the issues that propelled her to take up the usually thankless task of challenging a long-time incumbent from one’s own party. She was talking about a slew of issues centered around equal opportunity, education and income inequality when it dawned on me that she sounded an awful lot like Bernie Sanders in terms of what was motivating her intense commitment to public service.

In Missouri’s 1st congressional district the high poverty areas have the worst school systems, the worst outcomes for students, and the largest number of unaccredited schools. This issue is personal for Maria. As eloquent and articulate as she is now, she was born with a speech impediment. It was 8 years of speech therapy and public school that helped her overcome this disability. Please give what you can to help her take this important House seat away from a deadbeat Rep. who needs to go, Now!

“Maria,” I said, “have you endorsed Bernie?” She said she hadn’t gotten around to it yet because she was so busy talking with constituents in her St. Louis area district about the dangers and health risks inherent in the radioactive waste that’s been dumped near their homes. And when she wasn’t doing that, she was in Springfield leading the filibuster of a Republican attempt to amend the state constitution making it legal for businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians, under the guise of so-called “religious liberty.”

Friday, when the Republicans shut down the state Senate she found some time to tweet out a Bernie endorsement. It makes plenty of sense because they’re both cut from the same progressive cloth, even if he’s from Vermont by way of Brooklyn and she’s from suburban St Louis.

For many TV viewers around the country, Maria Chappelle-Nadal was the face and the voice of Ferguson. It’s her district and her neighbors and she wasn’t backing down. She was out in the streets being tear gassed for hours along with the other members of the stunned community. “Ferguson,” she said, “taught me ‘silence is violence…’ [and] Ferguson taught me I will not ever be silent when our rules and laws are not respected.”

Ferguson stiffened her resolve to be strong for the under-served residents north of St. Louis and to turn up the heat on the radioactive waste scandal the establishment is trying to bury. She wondered how white voters in her district would feel about her outspokenness and her intensity. The response was overwhelming and positive, black and white voters alike telling her that the same silence that allowed Michael Brown’s death to happen is the same silence that is allowing the radioactive waste problems to happen.

She is passionate about getting federal help to clean up the crisis of radioactive waste which is, in a way, a form of “environmental poverty,” she says. Guess where the landfill sites are? Did you guess black neighborhoods? Ding, ding, ding! Correct. Though they are all over the place. Recently there was a proposal to build the new football stadium on top of one of these sites. The team already practices on top of one of these waste sites! This crisis in the St. Louis area– with its horrifying “cancer-clusters”– isn’t new, it’s been going on for decades. For amost 40 years it’s been widely known how dangerous the situation is. I’m not sure the Maria is even 40 years old, but she knows about it now and it seems as if she will not sleep until something is done about it.

The incumbent congressman, House Financial Services Committee crook, William Lacey Gray, doesn’t give a rat’s ass about public service, and it’s time for him to move on and make way for someone who does– someone who can shake up a somnolent Democratic House caucus in Washington and remind Democrats who they are there to serve– i.e., not themselves and their campaign donors. Blue America is proud to have endorsed Maria Chappelle-Nadal for Congress and we urge you to consider contributing to her grassroots campaign today.



Primaries Can Make Miracles. Meet Dave McTeague In Oregon's 5th

Tim Canova, the intrepid Democrat challenging entrenched incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a deep blue district in South Florida, wrote:

"primary challenges like mine are often the only effective way to force accountability on entrenched incumbents. Here at home, for instance, Florida’s 23rd Congressional District is seen as a safe Democratic seat. My opponent has been reelected over and over, and has never faced a primary challenger, ever! And with no primary challenger in a safely Democratic seat, there is no genuine discussion, much less debate, within our district as to the serious issues facing all of us, and the overall direction of our country."

Progressive activist and labor scholar Amy Dean sees Tim's campaign as a potential game changer: “If his insurgent campaign catches on, it could represent a serious problem for the Democratic Party establishment. It could signal an increasing willingness by grass-roots activists to use primary challenges to place champions for working people in office rather than accept lesser-evil candidates simply because they are incumbents.”

And Tim's campaign isn't the only race where Blue America is backing a proven progressive against an arrogant and out-of-touch incumbent. Alex Law is challenging the entire corrupt South Jersey political machine that has bolstered Chris Christie's administration by taking on boss George Norcross' conservative little brother Donald Norcross, whose first vote in Congress was to back the Keystone XL Pipeline. Missouri state Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, one of the heroes of Ferguson, is taking on William Lacy Clay, the kind of typical old school Democrat who has lost touch with his constituents while living the high life with his lobbyist buddies in DC. 

And this week, we welcomed a new challenger on board, Oregon former state legislator Dave McTeague, who is going after a character every bit as destructive and reactionary as Debbie Wasserman Schultz or Lacy Clay-- head Blue Dog, Kurt Schrader, a Republican in every way but the "D" next to his name

Inspired by Bernie Sander's principled campaign and his issues and incensed by Schrader's anti-environmental votes and his backing for the TPP and other job-killing corporate trade policies, McTeague decided it jump back into electoral politics, fully aware of the onerousness of the task of taking on an entrenched incumbent in a primary. But Oregon is one of the highest turn-out states in America-- 63% compared to 52.8% in New York, 51.7% in Arizona, 54.8% in California, 48.45 in Texas and 49.5% in Arkansas-- and the 5th district's voters are well-educated, environmentally-conscious and generally much more progressive than their Blue Dog congressman, who has an "F" rating from ProgressivePunch and a tense relationship with organized labor and with the environmental community. The League of Conservative Voters rates him as the most environmentally-unfriendly Democrat in Oregon's congressional delegation and he has been a big backer of clear-cut logging. The NRA, on the other hand, loves him and supports him-- because Schrader loves them and supports them.

When McTeague jumped into the race at the end of last month-- after attending a Schrader town hall where concerns about the TPP were cavalierly dismissed-- he told residents of the northern Willamette Valley, Salem, and coastal counties from Tillamook to Lincoln that he had joined Bernie's "political revolution to address growing income inequality and the decline of the middle class." He explained his reasons for running in a guest post at DownWithTyranny a few days ago:

These days a lot of voters, Democratic voters too, don’t feel represented by the Washington Establishment and want real change. This is evident in the success of Sen. Sanders’s insurgent presidential campaign, which I strongly support. The incumbent is the Co-Chair of the conservative Blue Dog Caucus. I would be a member of the Progressive Caucus.

I don’t have any illusions about this effort. Running against an entrenched incumbent is like taking on the Death Star in Star Wars especially one with access to a million or more dollars of PAC money.

So why would I do this? Because a lot of Democratic and independent voters want real fundamental change, a political revolution, and they’re not willing to settle for politics as usual. Those Democrats and independents deserve to have a choice just as they have a choice for real change in the Presidential Primary.

My candidacy’s purpose is to provide Democratic primary voters a progressive alternative to the establishment incumbent. I will not accept any funding from any corporate Political Action Committees. I agree with Senator Bernie Sanders we have to overturn our current corrupt campaign finance system to make real fundamental changes.

This community has been fundamental in helping Tim Canova get his campaign off the ground. Let's do the same for Dave McTeague by contributing here at the Blue America Progressive Congress page.



We CAN Have A Better Congress-- And We Need To

Click the image to view Marianne Williamson previewing our Free Progressive Summit.

If yesterday's results are indicative of what it expect in November, it looks like Americans will be, once again, asked to choose between 2 really awful nominees... another less-of-two-evils election that is sure to turn off millions of Americans and hold down voter turnout. Who the hell-- other than what Trumpf calls his beloved "poorly educated"-- voters wants to be culpable for the kind of endemic corruption that would be at the heart of either a Trumpf or a Clinton Administration? Is he so much more than she is? Sure. She's the lesser of two evils, evil, but the lesser evil. Does that inspire you?

If you've been participating in the candidates progressive summit at SisterGiant.com, you've had a chance to meet candidates for the House and Senate who are not the lesser of two evils by any stretch of the imagination. Blue America and Marianne Williamson's organization have put together an on-going forum in which participants meet the stalwart progressive public servants.

Tuesday there were live interviews with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-MD), a state legislator with a record of accomplishment and a vision for America going forward; and Mayor John Fetterman, the alternative candidate in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Before that-- and still archived, of course-- were sessions with Maryland state Sen. Jamie Raskin-- whose video below I highly recommend-- Tim Canova, the intrepid and courageous progressive in South Florida taking on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the embodiment of the heart of darkness; Nanette Barragán, a small town mayor who took on Bill Oil and beat them and is now taking on the whole corrupt Democratic Establishment in Sacramento to keep a South Bay L.A. congressional seat out of the hands of the toxic special interests; Mayor Bao Nguyen, who, when elected from his Orange County district, will likely be the most progressive Member of Congress since 1950, when Vito Marcantonio left Congress; Washington state Sen. Pramila Jayapal, who has learned how to successfully build consensus around progressive values even in a legislature controlled by Republicans; Madison-based Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), the member of Congress with the strongest voting record of all; Alex Law, a millennial candidate willing to take on South Jersey's venal and corrupt Norcross Machine; DuWayne Gregory, the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature going up against entrenched neocon and Republican Peter King on Long Island; and fiery and dedicated Orlando Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL), who has put his foot down against Wall Street's attempt to replace Marco Rubio in the Senate with another of their puppets.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 7.32.00 PM.pngClick image to see Jamie Raskin's great new video.

Last night in session 5, Marianne presented 3 progressive challengers to 3 Republican incumbents: Tom Fiegan, who is taking on Iowa obstructionist Chuck Grassely, the Senator and haughty Judiciary Committee chairman who has declared that there will be no hearings for whomever President Obama nominates for the empty Supreme Court seat; Paul Clements, an environmental activist taking on multimillionaire scion of a Michigan family that enriched itself by moving tens of thousands of jobs to Mexico and China, Fred Upton; and Angela Marx, a Washington state grassroots activist challenging GOP tool Jaime Herrera Buetler.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.37.42 AM.pngWasserman Schultz and Murphy-- you don't get any worse than this.

If you don't vote in primaries, and “off years” you wind up with corrupt faux-Democrats like Patrick Murphy and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, two "New Dems" who are sponsoring a bill with the Republicans on behalf of the pay day lenders that would further debilitate Elizabeth Warren's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Zach Carter reported yesterday that "as the CFPB has moved closer to adopting new rules to shield families from predatory lending, the GOP has assailed the agency from every conceivable angle-- going after it's budget, attempting to tie its hands with new layers of red tape, fomenting conspiracy theories about rogue regulators illegally shutting down businesses and launching direct attacks on payday loan rules themselves." Now they have a handful of on-the-take, Wall Street Democrats-- Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (New Dem-FL), Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Alcee Hastings (FL), David Scott (Blue Dog-GA), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) and Lois Frankel (FL)-- working with them against protecting the public.

Wassermann Schultz's support for the right-wing Republican position, he points out, "undercuts efforts by liberals in Congress to draw contrasts with Republicans on economic issues." That's the special role Wasserman Schultz and, even more so, Patrick Murphy and Kyrsten Sinema always take on. Wassermann Schultz has been walking around the floor of the House trying to sweet talk other Democrats onto signing on, lying to them about a bill she helped write when she was in the Florida state legislature for which she has been handsomely paid off by the pay day lending industry, calling her bill a "model" for the industry. Every single consumer group has lined up against Wasserman Schultz's attempt to derail the CFPB's work in this area, especially consumer groups that seek to protect the minority communities the Republicans, Wasserman Schultz and Murphy are targeting as easy rip-off victims.

The Consumer Federation of America, the NAACP, The National Consumer Law Center, The National Council of La Raza, The Southern Poverty Law Center and hundreds of others wrote a letter to every member of Congress in December urging them to oppose the legislation.

"The problem here is that Florida's law is a sham," says Gynnie Robnett, director of the Campaign to Stop the Debt Trap at Americans for Financial Reform. "It was backed by the industry."

And by "the industry," they're including the crooked Members of Congress-- Republicans and rogue Democrats like Wasserman Schultz and Murphy-- who sell their services to the pay day lenders. Democrats have an opportunity to replace these corrupt conservative Democrats in primaries. Wassermann Schultz's opponent this cycle is Tim Canova and Murphy's is the indomitable Alan Grayson, both of whom are part of the Progressive Summit we talked about up top.

By the way, Congress writes the laws to explicitly exclude their own behavior from prosecution as bribery... even when the quid pro quo is as blatant as Wasserman Schultz's is-- not that she isn't completely typical of all the corrupt conservatives in Congress. Happy payday lenders have given her $68,000 in legalistic bribes since 2006, including $5,100 so far in 2016. She belongs in prison, not in Congress. Last night most Republican primary voters gave a big middle finger to their party's corrupt establishment. Last night most Democratic primary voters gave a big wet kiss to their party's corrupt establishment.

This is exactly the kind of issue that incenses Canova, who emphasized to Democrats in Broward County that "loan sharks should feel right at home in the party of Donald Trump, but con artists should have no place in the Democratic Party. Yesterday, he told his supporters that "predatory payday lenders stepped in to profit during the financial crisis. They targeted poor communities-- and people without access to credit from banks-- by offering them short-term loans at sky high interest rates. On an annual basis, these companies charge late fees and rates as high as 300 to 400% and many companies have even charged up 1,900% interest on loans, which is obscene. Worse, they target people-- particularly people of color-- who are unable to pay the loan back. If they fall behind, they are offered another payday loan to help cover the cost of the prior payday loan, with fees and percentages get higher and higher, trapping them in an process that never ends.

dark.pngClick the thermometer to help elect the Progressive Congress we need and deserve.
I have pushed for regulation of payday loan companies my entire career as a law professor and political activist. I worked with Senator Bernie Sanders and his staff on provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act of 2010, and I was heartened when Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to do just that-- to provide some basic minimum standards in payday loans to prevent the poorest and most vulnerable among us from getting ripped off and trapped in a downward cycle of debt. This is a reform that has been championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren and supported by President Obama. So why, then, is my opponent-- Debbie Wasserman Schultz-- introducing legislation in Congress to deregulate an industry that is already profiting from ripping off millions of Americans? Why is she fighting against Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, who are attempting to protect our neighbors from the worst abuses by payday lenders? The answer is simple: Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been taking millions of dollars from the same corporate interests that profit from payday loans. She recently reversed President Obama’s long-standing ban on corporate lobbyist donations to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), opening the door to influence peddling by the payday loan industry. Not only is Wasserman Schultz carrying water for an industry that is actively defrauding poor communities out of millions of dollars-- one company recently was forced to give $19 million dollars back to customers in illegal overcharge payments-- but she is actively convincing Democrats in Congress to do so as well. Which party does she lead again?

Today (Thursday) Marianne will sit down for sessions with Lou Vince (CA-25), Pat Murphy (IA-01) and Diana Hird (NY-18), each of whom is being opposed by the DCCC and the DC Establishment Democrats— and each of whom has to fight off a challenge from a Republican-lite fake Democrat before going to battle against the real Republican. Please check out all the sessions here and please consider contributing to the candidates who most appeal to you here.

And, one more thing... in Ohio, the Democratic Establishment has a tired old conservative candidate, Ted Strickland, running against progressive Cincinnati Councilman PG Sittenfeld. The winner of their March 15 primary gets to take on right-wing Republican and Trumpf-defender Rob Portman. Sittenfeld can beat him; Strickland will get slaughtered. Since Strickland is too scared to publicly debate, please watch the video below at the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Editorial Board endorsement interview. (This week the Plain Dealer endorsed Sittenfeld, pointing out that his "dynamism would give Portman a real race, the kind Ohio voters deserve.")



You’re Invited To Tonight's Free Online Progressive Summit


Please consider yourselves invited to join us and Sister Giant as Marianne Williamson hosts a free online progressive summit over the next three weeks. You’ll be introduced to some of the finest candidates running from all over the country. Together, we can help build a more progressive congress that will help keep Blue Dogs or New Dem alliances with the GOP from stalling important legislation and real change from happening.

As we’ve seen in the past few months, politics can be a dirty business. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. The idea for the Progressive Summit was born out of a desire to, as Marianne puts it, “make Congress reflect the better angels of our nature.” Does that sound like a good idea to you? Here’s what else Marianne has to say:

With the Presidential election in full swing, we can be tempted to minimize the importance of our Congressional elections. But they're equally important because Congress is a co-equal branch of the government. We need a political revolution in Congress as much as we need it in the White House!

I hope you'll join us for a Free Online Progressive Summit, co-hosted by SISTER GIANT and BLUE AMERICA, begins tonight, February 23 at 6pm PT | 9pm ET. The summit will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings for the next three weeks. Each evening viewers will be introduced to three progressive Congressional candidates from around the country. The interviews will be archived so you can begin watching at any time.

Please go to SisterGiant.com to register for the Free Summit, and view a continuing list of candidates participating. After you register, you will receive a link to the summit via email.

I hope you'll join in, and let others know as well. If we really want a political revolution, we can't just kinda sorta do it!

All my best,

Marianne



What Does A Win Look Like? Taste Like? Smell Like?

Tuesday, Wisconsin's most progressive elected leader, state Sen. Chris Larson-- the guy who led the Democratic senators out of the state rather than buckle under to Scott Walker's Koch-ordered tyranny-- came in first in a hard-fought, 4-way race for the second most important office in the state, Milwaukee County Executive. It's an office that can lead to the governor's mansion, as it did for Walker. The current County Executive, Chris Abele, the son of a billionaire, has worked with the Republicans to disadvantage teachers and the school system and to force struggling homeowners to bear the burden of $80 million in public financing to pay for the new Bucks arena. 

When the Shepherd Express endorsed Larson, the editorial board noted that the general election on April 5th comes down to a contest between "Larson’s solid record of public service vs. a ton of Abele’s family’s money." Abele, they wrote, "has consistently cut backroom deals on behalf of private special interest groups and on behalf of his fellow millionaire cronies at the expense of the average Milwaukee County taxpayers [and has] worked hard to impress and win favor from his mentor, Gov. Scott Walker... Since taking office in 2011, Abele has consistently worked to strip our local democratic institutions of their power and consolidate power in his own office, shutting out the public from debates and decisions."

Abele, who vetoed a referendum on campaign finance reform, spent $2,000,000 in the primary to Chris Larson's $100,000. He's already said he's willing to throw $5,000,000 of his father's money-- or even more if he needs to-- into the April run-off against Larson's grassroots campaign. Blue America endorsed Chris Larson and we'd like to ask you to consider making a contribution to his campaign here.

We also want to remind everyone to vote in Alan Grayson's GraysonPrimary.com to cast a vote directing him whether he should use his super-delegate vote for Bernie or Hillary. Grayson:

”Until yesterday, 'superdelegates' were simply puppets of the unDemocratic establishment and their determination to snatch candidate selection away from our voters. Well, that’s no longer true. I’m a superdelegate. And I’m injecting a full dose of democracy into the superdelegate process, by letting actual Democratic voters influence who should win my superdelegate vote... In just 24 hours, more people have voted at GraysonPrimary.com than for Ted Cruz, Donald Trump or Marco Rubio in the Iowa Caucus. (Or Jeb Bush, but that isn’t saying much.) Our poll already has drawn well over 70,000 votes, which is . . . incredible. Democrats are sick of feckless loser party bosses dictating to us who carries our banner in November. Who do they think they are? That’s not their decision. It’s ours... It’s refreshing to see unbridled democracy in action. True power in the hands of the people is multiplying as we speak, and it is electrifying.”


And that brings us to something Blue America is very excited to be doing with Marianne Williamson and Sister Giant, a free online Progressive Summit, which starts Tuesday, February 23. You'll have a chance to meet many of the candidates we have endorsed and some we are thinking about endorsing. The purpose, though, is to emphasize the importance of congressional races in a year when the media talks almost exclusively about the presidential race. No matter who wins that race-- hopefully Bernie or Hillary-- Congress will function better with more progressives and fewer conservatives.

That what the Progressive Summit, which will last all week, is all about. Among the incumbents taking part are Alan Grayson (D-FL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and among the candidates, you will get to meet Tim Canova, the intrepid Florida progressive taking on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DuWayne Gregory, who is taking on Peter King on Long Island, Alex Law, Nanette Barragan, Pramila Jayapal, Eric Kingson, Bao Nguyen and plenty of others. See you Tuesday? Register here at SisterGiant.com



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.




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