Turning Orange County Blue-- AND Progressive

SamJammal.jpgSam Jammal: "We aren't training people for the jobs of the future. Washington is focused on protecting the old and powerful industries, instead of investing in what's new and next. This hurts workers and our economy while lining the pockets of those who benefit from the status quo... This is our country too and we can’t continue to have a government that is out of touch and unresponsive to what people are actually going through. This is why I am running.”

The DCCC has now admitted that they are recruiting Blue Dogs to run for congressional seats all across the country. Along with New Dems and "ex"-Republicans, this is what makes up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party in Congress and what prevents Democrats from moving ahead with-- or even running on-- a popular progressive platform. Instead of promising Medicare-For-All, a $15 minimum wage, free state college education and other motivating proposals, last week the DCCC came up with a recycled, anodyne Papa John's Pizza marketing slogan: "Better Skills. Better Jobs. Better Wages." Sure, that's something everyone can agree with-- even Blue Dogs-- but... why not "Mother and Apple Pie" instead?

The DCCC has recruited a conservative multimillionaire as their candidate in northeast Orange County (CA-39), Ed Royce's district. And the guy is an "ex"-Republican living in a $10 million mansion on the beach 2 districts away! His only "qualification" is having won $266 million in the lottery and spreading some of it around to Democrats in Congress.

The real tragedy in that there's a fantastic progressive Democrat who was born and raised in the district, Sam Jammal, also running. Of all the Orange County districts held by Republicans that Hillary won in 2016, CA-39 had the biggest margin-- 51.5% to 42.9%. The DCCC has never contested the seat before and is completely clueless about how to go about it. So... of course a rich "ex"-Republican self-funder is where they turn instead of to someone who lives and breathes an inspiring agenda of progressive policies geared towards the district itself.

While the DCCC-backed character is running around the Beltway meeting lobbyists and writing checks in return for endorsements, Jammal is knocking on every door and talking with people in the district about single payer healthcare, the environment-- after a job in the Obama administration, he worked at Tesla as a policy director for their solar equipment provider-- and how to create new jobs in a rapidly changing economy.

This is what he told us last week when we talked with him about what made him decide to give up his job at Tesla and run for Congress.

There is currently a huge disconnect between politics and real people struggling to get by and trying to get ahead. I saw it every day as a civil rights advocate and staffer. Politics today is more about who is lobbying or donating than the needs of the people I grew up with.

I used to come home to visit my family and friends in California and hear about the issues that are important to them that are virtually ignored by their representatives in DC. I recall only 3 politicians-- President Obama and Senators Warren and Sanders-- even uttering the words “student debt.” You never hear anyone talking about child care costs or even what the cost of owning a home is today. And let’s not forget that significant under investments on the basics-- good roads and schools-- have sent a message of disregard to so many Americans.

There aren’t enough people in DC who are connected with regular Americans who work hard and want the best for their families. People just want a shot at the American Dream.

I come from a working class family where I had to take on part-time jobs to pay for my volunteer work in politics. I waited tables in DC at night to make enough money to cover my room and board when I was an intern. I have thousands of dollars in student debt, not including the debt my parents took on to help their three children go to college. I could probably count on one hand people like me in Congress.

One of the main problems I saw is that there are few people like me-- people who come from working class backgrounds and are the first generation in their family to graduate from college.

DC is a playground for the rich and powerful and their children. There aren’t many people from working class families who can make the financial sacrifice to take an internship or low-paying entry-level position when they are burdened by student loans. Unfortunately, it creates an environment of a millionaire Congress, which means no one is looking out for the rest of us.

Even though Wall Street and Washington declared victory on the Great Recession, most families still haven't recovered. Seniors lost value in their 401(k) and pensions. Many have had to stay in the workforce longer or count on Social Security to barely make ends meet. The rest of us are still recovering whether because of credit downgrades, job loss or a slow job market that put many millennials behind preceding generations.

Please consider giving what you can to Sam Jammal's grassroots campaign. The "ex"-Republican self-funding lottery winner has hired every consultant he could get his hands on. The DCCC should stay neutral in this race and let the citizens of Fullerton, Yorba Linda, Hacienda Heights, Brea, La Habra, Buena Park, Chino Hills, Diamond Bar and Walnut decide who they want to be the Democratic Party nominee. People are catching on now that getting policy like Medicare-For-All, isn't about electing corporate Democrats, it's about electing progressive Democrats.



STUFF IT, Mitch. Same to the turtle you rode in on.

Another week in Trump's America and it just gets worse and worse. Everyone said that when the atrocity known as Trumpcare was barely passed in the House that we shouldn't worry. "They'll fix it in the Senate" they said. Well, they didn't. They tweaked it a little bit in some ways but overall they made it worse.

This week they're planning to vote on it and then skip town before anyone has a chance to chase them down the halls of congress holding pitchforks and torches. If they get that done when they return from the 4th of July break they may skip the usual conference committee to reconcile the two bills, quickly pass the very similar Senate version through the House and then get ready to play their roles as props in the the greatest show on earth: the Oval Office in which President Trump will bask in the glow of his greatest success so far --- enacting the cruelest piece of legislation in modern memory.

By all accounts that's Mitch McConnell's plan anyway. At this moment there are still a number of possible choke points. The so-called moderates who will have to face voters are nervous, but they're known for their cowardice so it's highly likely they will accept some superficial changes and then rush before the cameras to defend the lie that it's been substantially "improved" from being monstrous and evil to simply malevolent and brutal. Counting on them to stop this heinous disgrace of a "health care" bill is a fool's errand.

It's much better to look to the ruthless sadism of the far right and "libertarians" such as Rand Paul and Mike Lee. They are known for their refusal to take for an answer when offered the opportunity to rip holes in the safety net because they demand its total destruction all at once. Unfortunately, counting on them would require one more wingnut vote in the Senate, probably Ron Johnson from Wisconsin or Ted Cruz from Texas. Johnson is the most intellectually limited man in the chamber so it's a totally random shot with him. Cruz is well ... Cruz. He will be the hero who votes for it unless it won't pass anyway at which point he will join the "rebels" and pretend he was their leader.

If it does pass the Senate they will have to go home next week and face their constituents before a final vote. It's not going to be pretty. If you saw the appalling footage of the disabled protesters in front of Mitch McConnell's office being pulled out of their wheelchairs and dragged down the hall by police you know what it's going to look like. This is what it's come to.

The stark fact of the matter is that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and virtually every member of the Republican congress are trying to pass a bill that will literally result in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, bankruptcy for many more and suffering for millions. And why are they doing this? They want to get their hands on 800 billion dollars that funds Obamacare so that for the first time since 1986 they can give permanent tax cuts to the likes of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

Because when you get down to it, that’s what all this is about.

The Democrats are unified in opposition, thank God. (As you well know that's not always a given ...) And activists around the country are gearing up for energetic protests over the next few weeks. We'll see what happens.

But if this week has shown us anything it's that it's vitally urgent that the Democrats take back the House in 2018. If the Democratic Senators can hold their seats and pick off a couple of Republicans all the better. But it's imperative that we stop Ryan and McConnell. They are so drunk with power, they are no trying to enact bills that will literally kill people with no other purpose than to pass out money to rich people.

You know what to do. If you can, over the next couple of weeks contact your Indivisible, Our Revolution, Move On or whatever groups with whom you are involved to find out where they are planning to protest in your area. Call your Republican Senators and congressional reps and remind them that lives are on the line.

Can you please donate to our Blue America candidates today, so they can get the word out that help is on the way?. We simply have got to stop these obsessed, bloodthirsty Republicans and their cretinous imbecile of a leader before it's too late.



We Are Replacing Ryan This Cycle

This is an important week for the resistance. As you know, Tuesday is Election Day in GA-06, where a victory for Democrat Jon Ossoff will signal—- in the mass media— the beginning of the end for the Trump agenda.

If Ossoff wins in this “safe” deep red Georgia suburban district, Republican congressmen are likely to abandon Trump and Ryan with increasing impunity, jeopardizing passage of a generally hated series of legislative proposals that would mark the biggest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in American history. At this point, Ossoff is ahead. At this point, he doesn’t need any more money but your prayers and good thoughts are welcome— and if you know anyone in the area, a last minute phone call can do wonders.

But wait- please don’t put your wallet away just yet.

On the day before GA-06 ‘upgrades’ their representative, something really big is happening in Wisconsin. ‘Woke’ iron worker and union activist Randy Bryce, (@IronStache on Twitter) is officially declaring his candidacy for our country’s most important race this cycle:

WI-01 in southeast Wisconsin. That’s the swing district seat for which Paul Ryan has been granted an annual ‘free pass to reelection’ by the DCCC. That ends tomorrow— regardless of the DCCC and their bullshit.

Lucky for us, under Trump and Ryan no Republican is safe—- especially not in a swing district Obama won in his first time out. Recent polling shows that 51% of the voters in the district think it’s time for a change in representation. We suspect it’s even higher outside of WI-01. That’s why we’re helping Randy raise the funds he’ll need to reach every voter in the district to discuss the impact that ‘Lyin’ Ryan’s Austerity Plan has on constituents’ daily lives. It’s time to make Paul Ryan accountable for the direction he’s taken the Republican Party.

Hillary was the wrong candidate with the wrong message for this very blue collar district. Trump beat her by 10 points. Bernie won WI-01—- by a lot. And Randy, an elected Bernie convention delegate, is exactly the right candidate with the right message. He can make history—- regardless of what kind of shady deal Nancy Pelosi has cut, or the DCCC’s determination to ignore Wisconsin and allow Ryan another free pass.

A couple of days ago, Randy told us that “with Trump elected, what took place in Wisconsin [the Scott Walker era] has now been exported to the federal level. The people of Wisconsin have already seen how a single election can completely change an entire state. Americans are now seeing on a grand level what we saw on a smaller one. Gerrymandering and voter suppression are keeping people with bad ideas in office. Representatives are choosing their voters instead of the way it should be-- us choosing them. The glowing, fiery eye of Mordor has been relocated from Madison, Wisconsin to Washington D.C.”

It’s been ugly (ugly being a kind word).

Aside from the years spent in the U.S. Army, I’ve spent my entire life in southeastern Wisconsin. When Paul Ryan was first elected, even though we disagreed on just about every topic, he at least could be found. He came across as kind of a nice guy.

Then he came up with some horrible idea that we referred to as “Ryan Coupon Care.” He talked about “Takers vs. Makers.” He called African American males “lazy.” Something happened to Paul Ryan that was not good. He completely changed (aside from having the same bad ideas).

He forced his way into a soup kitchen for a photo op and began washing clean dishes. He refused to discuss jobs during a Labor Day parade.

He did however, get to be really talented in a few areas.

He could raise some serious cash. Lately, he has attended over 50 fund raisers raking in all kinds of cash. In that time, he has not held one town hall. He’s been so brazen about ignoring the constituency that news outlets cite “Breaking News” when he is seen in the area.

…We have so many opportunities ahead of us if we only refuse to give in to the fear that is being thrust onto us with the sole purpose of division.

All that working people want is to be heard. We want decisions made that will help us grow into better people. That doesn’t happen when we look for a scapegoat.

It doesn’t take a law degree or doctorate to be able to listen.

This country is already great. It is filled with great people of every shape and shade of humanity. The United States has more than enough for all of us. I don’t have a problem with rich or poor people. I have a problem with greedy people. All that we need to do is to realize that when we light someone else’s torch with our own, our torch doesn’t lose it’s light. It’s makes things brighter for all of us.

Paul Ryan exemplifies what is wrong with our Federal Government.

It’s well past time to repeal and replace the problem.

It’s time to have someone who WANTS to hear concerns and be part of the solution making decisions for us.

Our campaign is a joint effort that will be made up of all kinds of people from all walks of life who want to put the “united” back into “United States.”

Join us.

Blue America has already. We officially endorsed Randy Bryce for Congress today and we hope you’ll help us raise the money he needs for his campaign. It’s going to be a long haul, but Randy is a fighter, and the team he’s been meticulously putting together for the last several months are up for the challenge. Please consider contributing what you can here.



Pramila Jayapal Did Everything We Wanted-- And Then Some

Last year Blue America introduced you to Pramila Jayapal. We were the first group outside of her home state to endorse her in 2016. And this year-- based solely on what she's done since being elected-- she's the first freshman we're endorsed for 2018. We should all be very proud that we helped Pramila get her message out to the voters in Seattle, who elected her overwhelmingly-- 56% to 38%. She has delivered everything we hoped she would. If you look at ProgressivePunch, you'll see she's the only member of Congress with a lifetime score of 100%. Let that sink in for a moment.

And we didn't go to bat for Pramila just because we know she would vote right. What we saw in her-- and she even more now-- is a LEADER. Since getting to DC, she's been a vocal advocate and a fighter for working families in Washington and across the country. She's held rallies and forums on the topics of healthcare, immigration and women’s rights; she's been in the forefront of the battle for affordable college and has swiftly and fiercely opposed any anti-immigrant legislation that has been introduced by the Trump Regime.

She's been at the center of the resistance against Trump: marching for fairer treatment of women in the Women’s March on Washington, holding the second largest rally in the country to save health care, and taking on the Trump administration over the detentions of immigrants at the Seattle airport during the fallout of the initial executive order that halted U.S. travel for members of certain Muslim-majority nations.

In addition to her constituent engagement and advocacy, Pramila has already co-sponsored approximately 50 pieces of legislation in her first three months in office on subjects ranging from presidential transparency to immigration rights and deportation relief. She has also introduced three bills aimed at ensuring justice and accessibility for all. The first was introduced in conjunction with Senator Kamala Harris to secure access to legal counsel for immigrants who have been detained. The second, moves to end a program in which state and local law enforcement were made to enforce federal immigration law. The third proposed measure seeks to lower the astronomical costs of prescription medications, protecting access to lifesaving drugs for those who need it most.

As these bills and legislative measures move forward, Pramila continues to dedicate her time to fighting assaults on our moral values and defending our nation’s most vulnerable.

As a freshman member of Congress, Pramila has made it her mission to mount the strongest possible resistance against Trump and his administration. She serves as the vice ranking member of the House Budget Committee, the senior whip of the House Democratic Caucus, the vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a co-chair of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform. What she's not busy doing is fundraising. But her aggressive efforts on behalf of working families and immigrants had put a target on her back in the eyes of corporate heavy-weights. Republicans don't win in Seattle, but the same forces that back Republicans are trying to recruit a corporate-friendly, conservaDem to run against her. Blue America wants to show her-- and her opponents-- that we love what she's been doing and that we still have her back.

In addition to her congressional leadership roles, she is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security and the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. Much of Pramila’s policy work is centered on immigration, environment, equality, education and health care access. She was a forerunning opponent of Trumpcare and is actively involved in seeking clarity regarding the Trump Administration’s relationship with Russia.

Let's help make sure she can keep devoting all her time to what's important for the country and for her constituents.



Big Democratic Win Against Trumpism In Delaware Last Night

Last night voters decided to make Delaware the first state to turn a local special election into a referendum on Trump and his incompetent and extremist regime. Democrats won back the majority in the Delaware state Senate by convincingly winning a suburban district in New Castle County. Democrat Stephanie Hansen beat Trump fanatic John Marino by a much wider margin than anyone expected-- or that history predicted. Marino's campaign slogan was "Make Delaware First Again."

Hillary had won the district 54% to 41% and the last time Marino ran for the state Senate seat there he nearly won-- 51-49%. But with both sides focusing on Trump, Hansen benefited from a turn out over double what is normal for a special election. She built on Hillary's win and annihilated Marino 7,314 (58.13%) to 5,127 (40.75%).

There are special elections coming up in Los Angeles, Georgia, Kansas, Montana and South Carolina. In L.A., proven progressive state legislator Jimmy Gomez is running in a wide open primary with 23 candidates, many of whom are decent enough but none of whom have the experience to craft and pass cutting edge progressive legislation like he has. And two of the best-financed of the 23 are shills for the Charter School billionaires. In deep blue districts like CA-34, Republicans aren't a factor-- Charter School shills are the stand in for the GOP.

The other 4 special election districts are all in deep red territory where Trump has given the local Representatives jobs Last night voters decided to make Delaware the first state to turn a local special election into a referendum on Trump and his incompetent and extremist regime. Democrats won back the majority in the Delaware state Senate by convincingly winning a suburban district in New Castle County. Democrat Stephanie Hansen beat Trump fanatic John Marino by a much wider margin than anyone expected– or that history predicted. Note: Marino’s campaign slogan was “Make Delaware First Again."

Current polling shows Jon Ossoff with the most support of any of the candidates in the jungle-style primary coming up April 18. He is likely to wind up in a June 20 runoff against one of the very radical right Republicans, either anti-Choice fanatic Karen Handel, former state Senator Judson Hill or crackpot Trump crony Bruce LeVell. Ossoff, a former congressional staffer for civil rights icon John Lewis, who has endorsed him, is benefiting from a wave of enthusiasm from Georgians and other Americans who oppose Tom Price's and Paul Ryan's plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and debilitate Medicaid and Medicare.

Blue America has enthusiastically endorsed Gomez in CA-34 and Ossoff in GA-06-- as well as 4 progressives running for winnable Republican-held districts in 2018-- Tom Guild in Oklahoma, Geoff Petzel in Illinois, Tom Wakely in Texas and Doug Applegate in California.

Please consider helping us keep up the momentum from last night by contributing to the campaigns of these progressive Democratic candidates today.



History Will Remember The Voices of Resistance

As you know, millions of ordinary Americans in every part of this country-- red states, blue states-- are resisting the authoritarian, even fascist, impulses of the new Trump-Bannon-Pence regime. And, so far, that resistance has scored some remarkable victories-- above and beyond February 12th’s planned event in Chicago where hundreds will show up to “moon Trump Tower” at 4pm-- Operation "Kiss Our Asses, Release Your Taxes."

Ordinary people-- even more than the media or elected officials-- forced the Trump Regime to reverse the announced federal hiring freeze for the Veterans Administration. In the last few days several federal judges halted the Trump/Bannon unconstitutional travel ban aimed at Muslims. The massive airport protests last weekend resulted in several Trump cabinet members pointedly overriding #PresidentBannon's horrifying scheme to deport legitimate American residents, including Green Card holders and even Iraqis who fought alongside American soldiers.

An effective boycott coupled with widespread protests led to Uber's CEO dropping out of a Trump advisory council and pledging $3 million and immigration lawyers for its drivers (after 200,000 Uber users dropped the app) and Lyft responded by giving a million dollars to the American Civil Liberties Union to help fight the illegal Trump/Bannon immigration ban. The Resistance made a massive difference to the ACLU, which normally raises 3-4 million dollars a year and took in $24 million in just one weekend of protests!

Meanwhile Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) has become more popular and respected than ever before, enrollment ads are airing despite Trump's initial orders to take them down and despite ugly Republican efforts, Obamacare had enrolled 9.2 million people before this year's application deadline.

The Health and Human Services, EPA, US Department of Agriculture gag orders were lifted due to tremendous protests and pressure from the public and from members of Congress standing up to Trumpist bullying.

So far, 800,000 scientists have signed up for a march in support of science and against the dangerous “climate change” denial-ism led by crackpots like Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Trump himself. Renewable energy is growing despite Trump-- and is likely to continue to do so.

Reports have been flooding in from everywhere that more and more people of different career/religious/economic/ethnic/gender backgrounds are considering running for political office than ever before. And Reproductive rights activists are pushing for protection at state level.

Trump's approval ratings are the lowest of any president in history at this point in his term. An unprecedented 40% of Americans would already like to see him impeached! And efforts are underway! Governors, state attorney generals, mayors and local officials are standing up to Trump and his toxic agenda and authoritarian policies. Please consider showing the real leaders in Congress that we have their back when they do the right thing and RESIST.

This week, two reporters from entertainment-oriented magazines called to ask me about the effectiveness of popular culture protests against Trump and his policies. Expectations are building for The Grammy Awards shows. More and more artists have been  writing and recording anti-Trump songs. High profile athletic teams-- and many others-- are joining the effort to boycott Trump hotels and his other businesses. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus dropped Ivanka Trump's fashion collection, citing the brand's poor performance. And this weekend, theaters are absolutely packed with viewers of the just-released and  extraordinary documentary on James Baldwin, the must see film, I Am Not Your Negro, which is the latest asking us to face the racism that continues to plague the heart of America.

Yes, these are dark times and, don't let anyone tell you that the threats aren't colossal. While more resistance and creative forward-moving strategies will be needed, sometimes we have to celebrate our wins. We have to stay vigilant, and seriously take care of ourselves and each other. Activist burnout is a real thing. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Give thanks for all the others-- known and unknown-- who are shoulder to shoulder with us in this fight. This weekend Blue America has put up a new ActBlue page dedicated to members of the Senate and the House who have been most forceful and effective in their resistance to Trumpism— from Luis Gutierrez, who started the move to boycott the inauguration, something that almost 80 Members of Congress did—- to Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Lieu and Jerry Nadler challenging Trump's and the GOP's attempts to push their disastrous agendas in Congress. If we've missed anyone, please let us know.



Join The Resistance

A few days ago I flew back from Beijing on Air China and they had a very limited English-language movie library for the 11 hour flight. I watched Roman Polanski's award-winning 2002 film with Adrien Brody, The Pianist, and a less well-known new movie set in Prague, Anthropoid. Both films dealt with the resistance to the Nazis. There was an especially chilling moment in The Pianist in which 3 middle-aged Jewish men are about to be loaded onto a train bound for the Treblinka extermination camp. One says the Jews shouldn't just march to their deaths without a fight and an argument ensues about practicalities and difficulties in mounting such an operation. They and their families all die in the camp. Eventually the Warsaw Ghetto does organize and rise up against the German deplorables.

Anthropoid is about how fiery Czech nationalists murder the Butcher of Prague, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the 3rd-ranking Nazi, a Steve Bannon-like character.

A few weeks ago Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) kicked off a kind of symbolic resistance to Trump when he announced he wouldn't be attending the inauguration. "I really don't feel comfortable standing next to a man as he swears allegiance to this country and president of the United States of America, after he said that Mexicans are murderers, rapists, drug dealers and that that's all we are. I just can't un-hear the despicable, terrible things he said about women, about Muslims, so I won't be standing... When I went to George Bush’s inauguration I didn’t feel he was a threat to my presence in America, to my daughter's presence in America. I want to look at my girls in the face and say, I didn't normalize that kind of speech."

Katherine Clark (D-MA) soon followed and now there are over a dozen members of Congress who have publicly stated that they are not going to be at the inauguration, most notably, civil rights icon John Lewis, who told Meet the Press why he doesn't see Trump as a legitimate president. (Trump struck back yesterday morning by claiming Atlanta is "in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested)" and accusing John Lewis of being "all talk, talk, talk-- no action or results." When John Lewis was on the front lines of the civil rights movement, getting his head bashed in by a KKK thug (like Trump's father), Trump was beginning his lifelong criminal behavior of systematically denying housing to prospective tenants based on race.

As progressives, we must resist. We must prepare ourselves for the sacrifices it will take to rescue our country from the gaping maw of fascism it's fallen into.

A growing number of courageous congressmen and congresswomen boycotting the Trump inauguration this week is a symbolic step in that direction. Blue America wants to offer our members an opportunity to show the participants that we support them. Please consider making a symbolic contribution to the reelection campaigns of the members who are taking an early stand against Trumpism.

Two weeks ago, Congresswoman Clark told her constituents that she "had hoped the President-elect would use the transition period and his appointments to change course and fulfill his promise to be a President for all Americans; however, this has not been the case. After discussions with hundreds of my constituents, I do not feel that I can contribute to the normalization of the President-elect’s divisive rhetoric by participating in the Inauguration."

Similarly, Earl Blumenauer told Oregon Public Broadcasting that "Here is a person who ran a campaign that is the antithesis of everything I’ve worked for in public service" and that that attending "not a productive use of my time."

The list of members not attending the Inauguration of hate keeps growing. We're keeping a running tally here.



There is only One Way to Stop Trump

photo credit: Justin Lane/EPA

Blue America hasn't spent precious time since the election asking you to sign petitions for impractical symbolic appeals to the electoral college, or to waste your money on an unwinnable pointless Senate race in Louisiana.

We are very focused on what can be done-- politically-- to break the back on Trumpism. And that focus is, clearly, taking back the House in 2018.

If Trump and Ryan do half the damage they promise, even an incompetent DCCC won't be able to keep the two dozen seats that need to change hands from flipping, effectively put ting the brakes on Trumpism.

Blue America is working daily to recruit solid progressive candidates in districts from coast the coast. You can follow-- and support-- the results of our progress here.

Let me introduce you to one of our first recruits, Jimmy Gomez-- if only they could all be this good!-- a young guy from my neighborhood. When Xavier Becerra was appointed by Jerry Brown to become California Attorney General, my first thought was to wonder if Jimmy could be persuaded to run for the congressional seat. It's a deep blue district and there's no Republican who could ever compete there. Obama got 83% of the vote in 2012.

It's going to be a campaign about who who will be the best Democratic candidate, the one with the best proven vision for the job. Before Jimmy decided to run, I started tweeting about his accomplishments and suggesting that Congress needed his unique combination of heartfelt progressivism and hard-headed ability to work with political adversaries to accomplish his goals. The first "push back" I got came, not unexpectedly, from Sacramento. It was from a top staffer of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. "Please," the staffer wrote to me, "don't do this. We desperately need Jimmy here in Sacramento."

Eventually Jimmy decided he would run-- and Speaker Rendon endorsed him, as did the President Pro Tem of the state Senate, Kevin de León and dozens and dozens of Jimmy's colleagues in the legislature. Monday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti weighed in on behalf of Jimmy as have virtually all the progressive office holders in the state.

Tuesday, our old friend, former congresswoman, former Secretary of Labor and current County Supervisor Hilda Solis added her name to the growing list of public servants backing Jimmy. She wrote that "Jimmy Gomez has proven to be the State Assembly's most effective and dedicated champion for working families. He wrote the nation's strongest family leave laws, and stands up for equality in the workplace, in our schools and colleges, and for women's health care. In fact, I've been proud of him from the days he worked for me in Congress, from his years fighting for better health care for all at the United Nurses Association of California and throughout his career in the Assembly. We need him in Congress, protecting the people of Los Angeles, and I'm proud to support him."

Last week I had dinner with Jimmy and his wife Mary in a neighborhood diner. He talked to me about his vision for the people in his district and how he's gone about implementing it in the state legislature. Halfway through I cursed myself for not having a tape recorder. Knowing how busy he is organizing his campaign in a field that grows more and more crowded every day, I asked him if he would write down everything he had just said so I could share it. I think he stayed up later than he wanted to to do it. 

Making The Progressive Reform Agenda Work For Everyone, Including Those Who Need It Most ----by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez

I’m proud of California because we are a state of firsts . . . we are the first to pass paid family leave, the 15 dollar minimum wage, paid sick days, and groundbreaking climate change legislation to reduce green house gas emissions and preserve our environment for future generations.

Yet, California isn’t perfect. Although our state continues to improve, we still rank last or near last when it comes to a number of social indicators: education, health, economic and environmental.

Why?

Why are the laws that we pass not working the way we intend and why are we not seeing the improvements we would expect to see?

Why are certain parts of the state getting left behind, while others are thriving?

I believe it's because a lot of our laws, policies, and programs are built on a misguided concept that anything that divides the pie equally must be fair and it must be effective in dealing with the problems we are trying to solve.

As we know, that is definitely not always the case.

There is a big difference between what is equal and what is equitable. And policy makers and politicians confuse the two. And just because it is equal doesn’t make it fair. And it definitely doesn’t make it effective.

A good example of this is California’s first-in-the-nation Paid Family Leave program that provides workers with a 55% wage replacement for up to 6 weeks to bond with a new child or care for an ill family member. Although the program has benefited millions of Californians, a Senate Labor committee report found that the people using the program the most were those making $82,000 a year or more, and those who were using it the least were workers making minimum wage or barely above minimum wage. Why is that?

Because it is unrealistic to expect a worker who is already living paycheck to paycheck on 100 percent of their salary to use a program for 6 weeks at only 55 percent of their wages. For many workers, California’s current Paid Family Leave program was simply an illusion. That’s why I authored AB 908, to fix this inequity and ensure all who pay into this vital program can afford to use it, regardless of their income.

Simply, my bill AB908 restructured the Paid Family Leave program and State Disability to increase the wage replacement for workers earning minimum wage to 70 percent, and 60 percent wage replacement for all other workers. This bill ensures that every worker gets the necessary funds to actually use the program and spend time with their newborn child or sick family member. When Governor Brown signed AB908, California was not only the first state to have paid family leave, it also became the first state to have a paid family leave program built on the concept of equity. A program that ensures that every family on the economic ladder gets what they need. And I’m proud of that.

This has been some year for all of us with highlights like helping elect Pramila Jayapal and Jamie Raskin followed by the unspeakable triumph of Donald Trump, something we have to be very clear and very focused in defeating. Don't get distracted; keep your eye on the ball: winning back the House in 2018.

Meanwhile, thanks for all you've done and... have a safe and healthy holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from your friends at Blue America.



Why It's Not All Gloom And Doom Around Here


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



No Exaggeration: The Survival Of Mankind


This week we've been working with our friends at ClimateHawksVote to win House seats for candidates committed to ameliorating climate change-- candidates who are in winnable districts that the DCCC is ignoring. With Trump's dysfunctional campaign and crude bigotry dragging down the whole ticket, it looks-- for the first time this cycle-- that the Democrats actually have a chance of recapturing the majority and retiring Paul Ryan from the Speakership. Imagine a House where Ryan's willingly ignorant committee chairmen no longer set the agenda!

The DCCC doesn't like taking on GOP committee chairmen. We do-- and we are. Our candidates are all running, in part, to address global warming, combat the fossil-fuel industry, and support renewable energy. If climate hawks are part of a winning coalition that takes over Congress in 2017, we can work towards halting toxic fracking, towards stopping extreme-energy projects; we can start the work it will take to put a price on carbon pollution, and we can make sure subpoenas are sent to ExxonMobil instead of climate scientists. Our candidates want to invest billions in renewable, resilient infrastructure to restore climate justice and end the fossil-fuel economy-- before it's too late.

Taking back the House is a big challenge-- Republicans currently hold a 30-seat advantage. But all across the country, Democratic registration is up and Trump's continuous stream of bile is turning off mainstream conservative voters who are telling pollsters they won't be voting for Republican candidates November 8.

Progressive candidates in the suburbs of Philadelphia (Mary Ellen Balchunis), Austin and San Antonio (Tom Wakely), New York (Zephyr Teachout and Duwayne Gregory), Los Angeles (Bao Nguyen and Nanette Barragán), Kalamazoo (Paul Clements), Miami (Alina Valdes), to name a few, weren't looked at as winnable by the DCCC.

That's all changed now... and if we're going to have a House ready to work on, for example, climate issues, it means taking back the House and not taking it back with Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- the ones who opposed single-payer and the public option and stuck us with a very flawed Obamacare. So... please dig as deep as you can comfortably do and pick out a candidate or two-- for the future of the country and the species and the planet.

Want to get a feel for how strongly our candidates feel about climate as an issue? Mary Ellen Balchunis told us yesterday that "While the Republican party is still debating whether climate change even exists, I am prepared to enact legislation that will reduce carbon output on day one. I will fight for a carbon tax while encouraging investment in clean, sustainable technologies to shape the clean energy economy. Beyond this, I will support public transit development and a modernized electrical grid, to make sure that we have the infrastructure to sustainably meet demand in the future. Unfortunately, my opponent Pat Meehan claims to care about climate change, but has voted to repeal the only carbon regulations on power plants, end research into the effects of fossil fuels, and even permit pipelines to run through our national parks and monuments. Pennsylvanian's deserve a legislator who prioritizes a healthy environment for their children's future ahead of oil and gas companies' balance sheets."

And our candidates have records of leadership on progressive issues. Take Nanette Barragan, for example. "While my opponent was filling his coffers with Big Oil special interests money from the most disreputable lobbyists in Sacramento," she told us, "I was leading a successful fight to prevent the drilling of 34 oil and water injection wells in Hermosa Beach and into the Santa Monica Bay. If you care about climate change, retire Isadore Hall and send me to Congress. We both have records that are as crystal clear as the water still is off Hermosa Beach." Does that sound like someone you want on your team, fighting for your issues? Her opponent, Isadore Hall, is one of Sacramento's most corrupt legislators, a disgrace to a legislature that can't wait to see him leave.

Paul Clements isn't just one of the strongest advocates of climate change action of any candidate running for Congress, he's up against the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Rep. who buries every climate proposal. "In this election, we have the opportunity to replace one of Congress's leading climate science deniers," he said. "Fred Upton has been called, appropriately, 'Congress's Number 1 Enemy of Planet Earth,' and has been using his position to block any meaningful action on climate change. Congressman Upton has taken $931,000 from the oil and gas industry, and has used his role as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee to keep energy companies from being held accountable for their actions, especially companies like Exxon and BP, in which he owns a quarter of a million dollars in stock. Despite his record, an outside group recently had the audacity to come into our district to promote Fred Upton as a 'clean energy champion.' The outrageous nature of their lies show just how important Fred Upton is to oil and gas, and how threatened they are this year. If Congressman Upton is reelected, we can expect two more years of obstructionism from Congress, and a dangerous lack of action on climate, our nation's most critical challenge. I look forward to working in Congress to reverse the damage that has been caused, and prevent climate catastrophe."

Tom Wakley is running against Science Committee Chairman and chief climate change denier, Lamar Smith. "What truly gets me worked up," he told us, "is this idea that you have to 'believe' in climate change. The notion that it takes some great leap of faith in order to see and feel destruction or pollution is simply maddening. This is basically a matter of rejecting reality. There is no option when it concerns our climate. We have to act now. We must end fossil fuel subsidies and find market based initiatives to turn over a new leaf. There's no going back if we continue to wait for the corruption to subside or wait for the oil to run out. Lamar Smith and anyone of his ilk must be retired. The livelihood of future generations depend on it."

You want the government to deal seriously with Climate Change? Help us bring on congressional change.




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