Blue America Welcomes Trevor Thomas (D-MI)

Trevor Thomas is running for Congress in west Michigan's 3rd CD, which is mostly based in Grand Rapids and Battle Creek and has traditionally been a mainstream type of district. Before the House seat was captured last year by radical right teabagger Justin Amash it had been moderate Republican Vern Ehler's district. Long before that it has been represented by Arthur Vandenberg and, later, Jerry Ford. Amash is a bad fit for the district. But before Trevor can face him, he has to win the Democratic primary against a virulently anti-Choice, self-funding multimillionaire, Steve Pestka. Pestka will be just another hackish social conservative helping the GOP in their wars against everyone. While in the state legislature, for example, Pestka voted with the GOP to defund Planned Parenthood-- same stand as Amash. Trevor, of course, is a 100% pro-Choice candidate, like every Blue America-backed candidate.

“I’m the only candidate in this race who is pro-woman and pro-choice," he told us last week. "Just look at the record. My opponents have both voted to undermine a woman's right to choose and eliminate critical health services. I would expect that from a tea-party favorite like Rep. Amash, but a Democrat? Clearly there are folks supporting him who aren’t comfortable with me raising this as a major issue, but we’re not going to back down. There’s too much at stake in this election for women, and I am the only one who will fight for the issues that matter most to them and their families.”

Trevor learned something important-- probably many things-- when he was working for Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. She was running against billionaire Grand Rapids powerhouse Dick DeVos but even being outspent by $27 million, she beat him decisively. "Michigan voters, Trevor told me, "cannot be bought." Good to know-- but he also learned how to make dollars stretch a long way and how to leverage grassroots support against a campaign bloated with money from corporations and the one-percent. And he'll need to use those lessons in his own race-- in both the primary and general as he faces off against two consecutive wealthy self-funders.

Gov. Granholm and Lt. Governor John Cherry are both campaigning for Trevor. They know him-- and they know Pestka.

"From day one Trevor has been a fighter for fairness and opportunity," said former Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. "From the newsroom to the halls of Congress, Trevor has the experience and passion to get results on the issues critical to Michigan families. This is a campaign of inclusion that will stand up and represent all the voices of West Michigan and I am proud to support and be a part of it."

Trevor is proud of his working class roots and eager to get to work for working families. “I’m a product of public education. I was the first in my family to go to college, right here in West Michigan. I worked nights to put myself through school. Today, young people often need to get two or three jobs to afford the rising tuition, but the jobs aren’t there. The alternative is leaving the state to find opportunity elsewhere. I don’t think that should be a choice our young people have to make. They should have the chance to get a good quality education, at affordable costs, right here in Michigan. And they should do so with the confidence that once they graduate, they’ll be able to find a good-paying job. During my first year in office I will fight to stop the ongoing tuition loan rate hikes, like the one scheduled to take effect this July. We need schools to do their part as well to help keep tuition affordable, but Congressional action is critical, and I am committed to taking the lead on this issue.”

Trevor is proud of who he is and doesn't shy away from his status as a gay man any more than he shies away from his working class roots. “My dad and brother both served in the military, just like my grandfather. I went to work to help repeal 'don't ask, don't tell' to repeal the discriminatory policy with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, where we built a bipartisan coalition of folks to press Congress to vote on repeal. We had the odds against us, but we prevailed. Now, I’m the only one in this race who can say that I helped pass legislation to help our troops. This is just the beginning. In Congress I will ensure our men and women in uniform have the tools and the resources to do their jobs and protect our nation, and receive the benefits they earned upon returning home. Michigan is last in the nation for our troops getting their benefits-- that's wrong and I'm going to make sure we keep our promise to them."

August 7 is primary day. It's coming up very fast and Trevor can use some help-- very fast. He's Blue America's newest candidate and if you can, please consider making a contribution to his campaign on our ActBlue page. He'll be joining us below, in the comments section at 2pm ET-- 11am, here on the West Coast.



Blue America Welcomes Dr. David Gill (D-IL)

Blue America was the first national group to endorse Ilya Sheyman and we were sad that the DCCC and other DC conservatives were able beat him in the primary last month. But we were as happy as can be that just to the southeast of his district, another outstanding movement progressive, Dr. David Gill, turned back those same forces and triumphed the same night that Ilya faltered. Hopefully Ilya will run again and win-- and be greeted on the steps of Congress by David Gill, who has run several times already. Sometimes, as we saw with Donna Edwards and Alan Grayson, it takes more than one try.

Illinois' newly redrawn 13th congressional district is very different from the one Dr. Gill has run in previously. It's a D+1 district that voted for Obama by 11 points. But his opponent, conservative Republican Tim Johnson, David told us, "is still voting like he’s in his old 60-40 Republican district. He’s now voted for the extreme Ryan plan to end Medicare twice. He refused last summer to vote to raise the debt ceiling, an action that was necessary because of his votes for Bush’s wars and tax cuts for the rich. He’s been in Congress for six terms and he’s a 40-year politician. He’s out of touch with the district."

David is a 20 year member of Physicians For a Single Health Payer Plan. "I became interested in running because of what I see on a daily basis in the health care industry as an ER doctor. We have a two-tiered system of access to healthcare in America and, frankly, the American health care system is failing a lot of people." But if health care was got him interested in running originally, he's as far from a one-issue candidate as you'll find.

"Health care is one symptom of many. There are many areas impacted by our corporate governance. Retirement security, jobs, healthcare, education and restoring the health of our planet are all areas where private interests are trumping the public good in Congress. People get to Washington, spend too much time around corporate lobbyists and suddenly forget that Social Security is in better financial health than the Federal budget that’s been decimated by Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest. They forget that Climate Change is the biggest crisis we are facing today, not the deficit. They forget that we have a jobs crisis to fix. They’ve forgotten that government should be working to solve problems for regular people."

David will be joining us here (in the comments section, below) for a live chat today at 1pm (CT), 11am on the West Coast. He's a fighter for all the values and all the principles Blue America stands for. Congress will be a far better place if he's elected. Please consider helping him replace Tim Johnson with a contribution to his campaign.

And David was an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq. He's also opposed to the continued occupation of Afghanistan. "I’ve come to the realization the past few years that our presence in Afghanistan has outlived its usefulness. It’s time to end our mission there and get our troops out of harm’s way as soon as possible."

He can win this race and bring a healthy dose of Prairie State populism to Washington. Although the corrupt Illinois Machine is still unreconciled to his victory over their candidate, last week a former area congressman and member of the Progressive Caucus, Phil Hare, gave him a ringing endorsement.

"I support David Gill because I know he will have the courage to stand up to Wall Street and fight for middle-class Illinoisans everyday. David will make sure millionaires pay their fair share and he'll be a strong voice for working men and women in the progressive tradition of my friend (and former boss) Lane Evans.

David Gill knows what it's like to roll up your sleeves and work hard. He comes from a working-class family. When his father died, David started working as a dishwasher at 13 to help support his family. David worked stocking shelves to pay his way through college at U of I. He mopped floors at a laundromat in the middle of the night to put himself through medical school.

I trust David to be a passionate voice for middle-class people. I know David will protect the rights of workers. And who better than an ER doctor like David Gill to block the Republicans’ attempts to end Medicare as we know it? The bottom line is this: Illinois families need David Gill in Congress."

David just defeated a DCCC and New Democrat-backed congressional challenger who outspent him 5-1. He ran a strictly grassroots, people-powered campaign and he won without compromising his progressive values. as you can see in the video above. "I was willing to stand up and fight back against the Republican War on Women and special interest-domination of Congress and the residents of IL-13 responded and were willing to put their trust in me."

Let's make sure the primary victory turns into a big win in November. Please consider giving what you can.



Time For Carol Shea-Porter To Get Back Into Congress

Today our old friend, former Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter (D-NH), will be joining us here in the comments section for a live blogging session at at 2pm (ET). Carol's unlikely grassroots victory in 2006 over a Rahm Emanuel corporate Democrat in the primary and then over a conservative Republican incumbent in the general was a highpoint for progressive activists. Four years later, though, Carol was defeated by a Tea Party extremist in the mania that turned New Hampshire, a deep, deep shade of red. After just two years of right-wing extremism up close and personal, polls show that New Hampshire voters have come back to their senses and are ready for a course correction. Blue America is proud to endorse Carol again and we're asking everyone to consider contributing to her campaign.

When Carol ran for office and while Carol was in office, she did something that a lot of Democrats talk about, but that very few actually do. She refused all corporate PAC and DC lobbyist money, not something that endeared her to the Beltway Democratic Establishment. Carol prefers to leave that kind of unethical behavior the careerist crooks, who take cash from corporate special interests and then vote to destroy the environment, and against the interests of working families and the middle class. And, as long as we're talking about Frank Guinta, anyone who wants to get behind the fake mainstream conservative mask he wears for the media and for voters, might check out the extremist freak he exposed himself as when he filled out this questionaire for the Tea Party.

Her opponent, remember, cast the deciding vote on the Ryan Budget Wednesday, which passed out of committee 19-18, several Republicans joining all the Democrats on the committee to vote it down. Carol asked, rhetorically, what's wrong with the bill. And she answered-- for all of us:

To start with, Americans do not like the changes to Medicare in this budget. The budget pushes seniors into vouchers, or what Ryan euphemistically calls “premium support.” Seniors could use the vouchers to buy their own insurance with a private company, or they could stay in Medicare, but either way, when the amount of the voucher runs out, an individual’s wallet comes out, and it would be extremely expensive. The vouchers would not reflect the rising cost of health care, because while health care costs are expected to rise around 7% per year, Medicare spending would be kept at the CPI plus 0.5%. Also, if people are in a lot of different plans, Medicare would lose its ability to control costs and to negotiate better deals for seniors and other taxpayers, and that would push costs up as well.

...If you are trying to pay the bills, you might not appreciate the fact that the wealthy and corporations will get bigger breaks than they already receive. This budget cuts taxes by roughly $3 trillion dollars, but most of those tax cuts would go to higher income earners. All of the Bush tax cuts would become permanent cuts, and there would be just two brackets, 10% and 25%. The top corporate income tax would fall from 35% to 25%. (Remember, 2/3 of US corporations actually pay zero.) And to top off awful ideas with another awful idea, Republicans want to end U.S. taxes on any corporate money earned abroad, which could lead to a rush of jobs headed overseas.

So, if we cut taxes by $3 trillion dollars, and we have no new revenue, what happens? While Congressman Ryan and his followers are not saying exactly what they will cut for the most part, we can all figure out that the middle class and the poor will be out of luck if they cannot find members of Congress who will fight for them. Luckily, Democrats and some Republicans are going to defeat this budget.

They know that cutting money for education, from Head Start through college, is an assault on the poor and the middle class. It also would hurt business, because businesses require a labor pool of well-educated people in order to successfully compete. As Dr. Jill Biden says, the country that out-educates us will out-compete us. This budget would cut our research in science and technology at exactly the time when we need to step up our investments. Congressman Ryan has us spending 6% less on “general science, space, and basic technology.” Why? So we can give more tax breaks to oil companies? The world will not stand still, even if we do.

Transportation, nutrition programs, health care, research, environment… all these and more will have to be cut if the Paul Ryan plan becomes law. Thankfully, it won’t. But what are Representatives Ryan and Guinta thinking? In this time of high deficits, why would they cut taxes for the rich and US and multinational corporations? Why would they put forward a budget that would require massive cuts in the very areas that require our investment? The Budget Committee owes America an answer.

"I am so honored to have Blue America's endorsement again," Carol wrote us yesterday. "You and I share the same goals-- to create and sustain a robust middle class, and to make sure our progressive voices are heard in our state capitols and in Washington." Let's help her get back to Capitol Hill where she will continue to shake things up... for the 99%.



Blue America Welcomes Joe Miklosi (D-CO)-- Blue Collar Fighting Spirit

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.- Jesus Christ from Matthew 19;24

Watch that video above of Colorado state Rep Joe Miklosi announcing his candidacy for the congressional seat passed from Tom Tancredo to an even further right crackpot, Mike Coffman. When he ends it with "God bless you," he means it. The first time I spoke with him, we spent more time talking about Jesus' message than I've talked about with every other candidate Blue America has ever endorsed-- not because we endorse people who don't embrace Jesus' message... just because it isn't a topic progressives usually talk about publicly. But Joe isn't "usual." As his campaign motto says, "not your ordinary Joe." Before I tell you what his favorite Bible verse is (the one above is one of mine), let me tell you how I met Joe.

Gloria Totten heads up Progressive Majority, an organization that does on the state legislature level what Blue America does on the congressional level. She told me about Joe months ago when he was considering running. "Joe is an outstanding progressive who has stood firm on the progressive issues we care most about," she told me. "He is a proven leader who is committed to building our movement for the future-- as Progressive Majority's Colorado state director, Joe helped 60 progressives win state and local office. We were proud to support Joe in his bid for the State House and I'm thrilled to back his campaign for the U.S. Congress. Trust me, Washington, DC needs more public servants like Joe-- smart, energetic, committed and passionate for the people."

For the people... and more. This is one of Joe's favorite Bible verses. It comes from the prophet Micah who Christ quoted when asked what does the Lord require of you? You probably don't hear many on the "religious" right espousing this one:

To love justice, to seek mercy, and to walk humbly with the Lord.

Joe is perfectly comfortable talking about messages from Jesus like that-- even if conservatives (see my favorite Bible verse up top) have tried to coopt Jesus for their ideology of selfishness and bigotry, greed and hatred. "This theme," Joe told me this week, "has motivated me to pursue public policy that is more fair and just for every person. It clarifies, for example, my stance to repeal the unjust ‘Don’t Ask, Don't Tell’ law because all people should be able to serve in the United States military regardless of how they were born. The aspiration toward these goals helped to inspire my sponsorship of the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act beneficiaries are good kids, who play by the rules, earn good grades point averages and want to contribute to our society. By creating educational and workforce development opportunities for students we can energize and empower individuals and families and grow our economy for all Americans."

Who would Jesus kill? Joe doesn't seem to find Jesus wanting to kill anyone. "I oppose the death penalty because we can do better as a society," he said. "We have killed innocent people as DNA testing has verified. We disproportionately kill people from communities of color, as the U.S. Supreme Court recently confirmed. A person rightfully convicted of murder or heinous act should spend the rest of their life in prison."

Prison is pretty horrible. But our business elites have behaved (badly) knowing full well that the chances that they-- regardless of what they do-- aren't likely to spend much time there. So what about Wall Street? What about OccupyWallStreet. I asked Joe what he thinks about the whole movement. His response:

"In regard to Wall Street and economic reform, I respect those that take peaceful action to advocate for an economy that rewards hard work, encourages innovation and investment in education, retools Americans, and produces livable wages.

"We can not allow Wall Street elitists to break the rules, change the rules, and keep moving the goalpost, away from hard working families. Because of Wall Street greed and arrogance in 2008, millions of families were robbed of the dreams they worked and saved for, our nation was hobbled, and the Wall Street crowd sauntered into Washington to rewrite the rules again-- to give themselves a bailout. That’s not thrift, it’s theft.

"It is amazing to see so many inspired people-- from and for various points of view-- advocating for change and a fair financial system."

We're going to have Joe over in the comments section (below) today at noon (Mountain Time, 11am here in L.A.) to talk about his campaign and why he's running for Congress. I hope you'll join us. And I hope I've presented Joe attractively enough so that you'd like to help him beat that crackpot Coffman. You can do that here on the Blue America page.



Blue America Welcomes Back Brad Miller (D-NC)

We had been planning to spend our Blue America session today talking with an old friend, Alan Grayson, but Alan suggested we move his date back and talk with another old friend, North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller. Blue America isn't looking for incumbents to endorse this cycle--unless they're really good... and really in trouble. Brad has been really good for a very long time and the Art Pope-funded North Carolina state legislature just cut his district to shreds, pushing him into a tough primary. He needs help. When Grayson suggested we have him here today he told us that "Brad Miller is exactly what people hope that their representatives will be: thoughtful, independent, selfless, smart, and completely committed to their wellbeing. There are very few Members of Congress who are willing to tell a well-connected lobbyist to get lost; Brad is one of them." But we knew that from last time we had Brad over for a chat.

Brad serves on the House Financial Services Committee-- the reason he and Grayson were pals-- and once disquieted many of his colleagues by writing

“The interests of the financial industry and those of working- and middle-class families appear irreconcilable. That doesn't leave much room for consensus. Congress may just need to pick a side: the financial industry or working- and middle-class families. Why not put it to a vote?”

That's not a vote conservatives-- of either party-- are eager to ever see happen. This week Brad introduced the Freedom And Mobility Banking Act of 2011 in response to the new policy of big banks punishing consumers with higher debit card fees. It aims to give real choices by modernizing and streamlining the opening and closing of personal checking and savings accounts. Brad:

"As megabanks flirt with menus of new fees, an increasing number of Americans will want to switch banks. That is the way things work in a competitive, free market as unrepentant banks are still trying to rake in vulgar profits from their customers... Because of financial reforms, banks are unable to rely on the cash flow of practices like double-cycle credit card billing, compulsory overdraft programs, or unregulated debit swipe fees. Bank executives are coming up with some innovative ways to protect their offensively large salaries.”

Even if you didn't get a small-print notice in the mail, you probably read that HSBC informed its customers that it is eliminating their free checking accounts which will now carry a monthly maintenance fee of $15. Wells Fargo, one of the four largest consumer banks in the country, also eliminated free checking and, most recently, Bank of America, one of the largest recipients of U.S. taxpayer bailouts, announced it would charge customers a new $5 monthly fee for using their debit cards-- even if it’s for a single $2 purchase.

While other members of the Financial Services Committee were currying favor with banksters and their lobbyists during the writing of reform legislation, Brad was the leader of the small progressive contingent fighting-- against these well-heeled interests-- to protect consumers. Just listen to his floor speech above. He has always seen his service on consumer protection as an opportunity "to comfort the afflicted. And my work on science and technology oversight gives me the chance to afflict the comfortable." A frank interview on the mortgage crisis in the NY Times business section didn't exactly endear him to the Big Money interests on Wall Street or K Street. "These mortgages were not designed to increase homeownership; they were designed to trap people in debt and strip the equity in their home as home prices appreciated. For the financial industry, that increasing wealth from middle-class homeowners was an attractive target; if they could trap families in a cycle of borrowing every three years or so, then a lot of increased wealth in their homes would end up in the financial sector rather than with those families."

"Mr. Miller recognizes," opined Gretchen Morgenson, "that his is an uphill climb because the big banks have many friends in high places across Washington. 'Americans have come away from this persuaded that everything has been done to help the banks and not to help them,' he said. 'And in a democracy, that's a real problem'."

Outspoken and straight-shooting, Brad didn't run and hide when the Republicans started shrieking "Class War!" He came right back at 'em:

The right dismisses concerns about income inequality as “class warfare.” Yet it has played the middle class’s economic anxieties for political advantage by stoking resentment of the poor. The right is happy now to have a high-stakes struggle over whether to cut Social Security benefits of the top three-fifths to spare the benefits of the bottom two-fifths-- with no one questioning that benefits must be cut.

But that’s the wrong fight. The correct fight would put 99 percent of Americans on the same side of the barricades.”

And when Grayson told us Miller was one of the only Members of Congress who tells fat cat lobbyists to get lost, it's something his own constituents are well aware of and have admired him for. “I’m frustrated with how hard it is to get things through. I’m frustrated with how much influence, how much power, some of the industries that should be completely discredited still have. I had hoped for more of a hundred days kind of public support; that given where the economy was, given how much how had gone wrong, that there would be a strong force behind some pretty fundamental reform. Certainly, getting consumer protection through is a knife fight." That was in 2009. Please join us below in the comments section at 2pm (ET) to talk with Brad about what's happened since-- and where things are headed next.

And, again, if you'd like to help keep a deserving incumbent in Congress-- and there aren't many-- you can do so here.



Blue America Welcomes Back An Old Friend-- Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH)

There weren't many progressives who got dragged under in the Tea Party tsunami-- or more appropriately, in the stay-at-home malaise from the Democratic base that practically wiped the GOP-leaning Blue Dogs off the map. But several of Blue America's best old friends were among that tiny handful-- Alan Grayson, Russ Feingold, Carol Shea-Porter and Mary Jo Kilroy. This week Blue America is very happy to be endorsing Mary Jo once again. And the great news is that in their rush to lock in an unfair Republican electoral map, the state legislature has created one super-blue district based around Columbus... the heart of Mary Jo's old seat. She's off and running and Blue America wants to help her get back into Congress. So do Progressive Caucus co-chairs, Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison, who endorsed her on the same day she announced she would run. She'll be joining us for a live chat here in the comments section (below) today at 2pm (ET). You can contribute to her campaign here at the Blue America ActBlue page.

One of the things that first attracted us to Mary Jo is that she came roaring into Congress and immediately flew in the face of both party establishments by voting against the Bush TARP bailout, which she recognized as an unwarranted giveaway to the Wall Street banksters. Today she's still hammering home what she was saying then:

"We must focus on jobs and the economy. It is time we re-invest in America. Build roads, bridges and rail. Help our manufacturing sector revive. Provide strong job training programs. Expand VISTA and Americorps so young Americans can work to improve their neighborhoods, parks and coastal areas. We need to help those long term unemployed to get back in the workforce.

"It is time to stop giving tax breaks to the most privileged of our society and to end tax cuts for billionaires who pay a lower rate than their secretaries and end the tax loopholes that send our jobs overseas.

"It is time for the millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. They have benefited while working people have been hurt in the economy over the last decade. As Elizabeth Warren was so correct in
pointing out, they benefited from the teachers who taught their workers, the police and fire fighters who protect their homes and businesses, the public roads they use to take their products to market. When I was in Congress I called for a vote-- before the 2010 election-- on ending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, and voted against extending that tax cut.

She went from championing working families inside Congress to working on a grassroots level in the campaign to defeat Kasich's anti-labor legislation. "Teachers, police and firefighters," she emphasizes, "did not cause the problems with Ohio's budget."

I asked her about the healthcare reform bill that she supported in the House. She called it "a start, a beta version" of what she envisions. "In the last Congress, I voted against the anti-choice Stupak amendment. I pushed to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions are able to access care. I was disappointed in the failure to include a public option. I know there is more work to do to make health care affordable and accessible."



Blue America Welcomes John Waltz


You know what I love for Blue America? When we find a perfect candidate and he or she is running against a perfect villain. Michigan's 6th district offers us just that combination this cycle and I want to introduce you to Democrat John Waltz, a movement progressive, who's taking on cartoonish plutocrat, Fred Upton, the Whirlpool heir who has always treated the district as though it were a feudal fiefdom. Upton, by inheritance one of the richest members of the House, was appointed to the SuperCommittee by his crony John Boehner because Republicans know he will never agree to anything sensible that can in any way help dig the middle class out of the economic mess the modern day Robber Barons, in their unparalleled greed, have created for the rest of us. Today the man we hope will finally retire Upton from political life, John Waltz, will be joining us for a live blog session here in the comments section at 2pm, ET (11am, PT).

A 34 year old Iraq War vet, John is a completely dedicated champion for a commonsense progressive agenda, born and raised in Kalamazoo, the heart of the 6th district. It's a district Bush won in 2000 and 2004 with, respectively 52 and 53%. In 2008 Obama took the district 54-45%. When I started talking to John about this race this summer, he told me he feels Upton is alienating his constituents with his conspicuous, if defensive, move towards the Tea Party. "I fully expect him to propose privatizing Social Security, gutting Medicare, gutting the VA budget, working to get rid of the EPA, all to protect tax cuts for the 1,400 millionaires who didn't pay a dime in income taxes last year... and to do so again and again while normal people shoulder the load." John Conyers, Michigan's most progressive political leader, was out of the box endorsing Waltz.

Although Waltz has a lot to say on every major issue facing America today-- and all of it is spot on-- his campaign is all about getting the economy working again for ordinary American families. Talking to him this week, I didn't gather he was from the Tim Geithner/Rahm Emanuel/Harold Ford end of the Democratic Party.

The last ten years we have been transformed into a nation that has been brainwashed into thinking that they will one day be millionaires and that only their needs matter. The shame we bear as a nation is that we were unified by the tragedy on 9/11. It was short lived though and the last ten years will be remembered in history as the decade our economy was systematically looted by Wall Street, which was enabled by politicians in DC.

Instead of focusing on getting folks back to work and getting our economy back on its feet we have been lulled by the constant cries that we need to fix our deficit. The only deficit we need to fix is the chasm between the rich and the rest of us. While the middle class (what is left) and the poor are clawing away at just paying the essential bills, keeping a roof over our heads, and sending our kids to school, millionaires are basking in the glory of a government that coddles their every need. This is not the America I know, you know, or the one I thought I was fighting for when I joined the military.



Blue America Welcomes Chris Donovan (D-CT)

Last July Chris Donovan, Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives, wrote a powerful guest post at DWT, It's long past time to start rebuilding America. At the time, we pointed out why Chris is the kind of leader progressives long for.

He's not just good on the issues, he understands the mechanisms of power that create public policy. He's not the kind of progressive that sits around being right and not getting anything done. That's why he holds the top position in the Connecticut legislature, and that's why the Connecticut legislature has been taking such cutting-edge positions on issue after issue at a time when reactionaries like Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Rick Snyder, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Tom Corbett, Paul LePage, Bob McDonnell, etc. are dragging their states backwards.

Chris is running for the U.S. House seat in the western and central part of the state (CT-5) being given up by Senate-bound Chris Murphy. It looks like his opponent will be a crazed teabagger, Mark Greenberg, a firm believer in ending Social Security and Medicare so corporate taxes can be further cut and the estate tax on multimillionaires can be eliminated. He's wrong on every single issue-- from the environment and women's Choice to gun control and national security.

But, like I said, Chris is not just right on every issue; he's been a leader on every issue. He led the successful fights in the Connecticut House to pass 12 minimum wage increases, implement the strongest campaign finance reform legislation in the country, allow all Connecticut students to pay instate tuition rates through the CT DREAM Act, create the first statewide paid sick leave legislation in the country, ensure marriage equality, end discrimination based on sexual preference and gender identity, decriminalize marijuana, and implement a municipal pooling of health care and prescription coverage that will save both the state and its cities and towns money-- the first step on the path to a public option for Connecticut. Dream candidate? Absolutely-- and Blue America's latest endorsed candidate-- and very much worth helping elect to Congress!

Like every candidate Blue America has endorsed this year, Chris has told us that jobs is the single most important issue voters in his district are concerned about. If you listen closely, though, Chris isn't using Republican Party/Inside-the-Beltway framing to discuss it. He's very much an advocate for public sector jobs and for the government playing a vital role in the general welfare of the nation. "Our private industries and small businesses need customers," he told me yesterday, "at the same time that our towns and cities need teachers, nurses, and public safety workers. Instead of calling for more jobs to be cut, Republicans and pundits in Washington and Hartford should join progressive Democrats in investing in quality jobs with strong benefits that benefit our communities. We need more teachers, more firefighters, more construction workers, and more nurses. The Republicans in the House claimed to be running on a jobs agenda in 2010-- more than 240 days and zero jobs bills later, it’s time for them to honor their promises."

Above is a video of Chris announcing his campaign last week. He went right to protecting Social Security and Medicare from ravenous Republican class war fanatics. "When I hear that the Inside-the-Beltway crowd is talking about cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, I am outraged. These programs make America what it is, a country that cares-- about our seniors, about our children, about our people. That’s what I’m going to fight for in Congress-- to protect our future, to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and to make sure they are around to protect our grandparents and our grandchildren."

Chris will be joining us for a live q&a session in the comments section below today at 2pm (ET). I hope you'll come over and meet him and hear what he has to say. And, if you can, please consider giving him a hand in the only district in New England Republicans are targeting for a blue to red switch. You can contribute to his campaign here.



Ed Potosnak Comes Out For k.d. lang... A New Blue America Contest


I was the general manager of Sire Records when k.d. lang released her platinum smash album, Ingénue in 1992. I worked on the amazing video for "Constant Craving," which I wanted to use in this post. But Warner Bros Records, a company long since pillaged by Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and sold off for spare parts to the Russian Mafia, doesn't allow embedding for the clip on YouTube. So... below, the song that inspired the Rolling Stones' "Anybody Seen My Baby" 5 years later-- yes, k.d. gets writing credit on it-- is the live Grammy Awards performance. In fact, the song won the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Aside for my love for k.d. and for her music, why am I bringing this up now? Glad you asked. k.d. is also one of Ed Potosnak's favorite all-time artists and, as you probably know, Blue America has endorsed Ed for the New Jersey congressional seat currently held by anti-health care reactionary Leonard Lance. See that platinum award disc up top? k.d. gave that to me after her album sold a million copies. This week she agreed to personally autograph it, not to me, but to whomever wins our Ed Potosnak contest. She's playing at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, NJ on September 22. So... we'll pick a lucky random winner on September 20 and Ed will personally take the plaque backstage so k.d. can sign it to the winner. So, the obvious question: how do you enter?

That's easy: just donate to Ed's campaign here-- any amount; after all, we're not Republicans-- and one winner will be chosen at random to get this very special Thank You from Blue America. We did a similar kind of contest for a signed Green Day guitar and raised over $5,000 although the winner just gave $10. Make sure you contribute between now and September 20th, either on the linked ActBlue page or by check to Blue America PAC, PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

But, apart from wanting a memento of k.d.'s incredible career, why donate to Ed's campaign? We've written about him many times before but you can get to know more about him from this guest post he wrote in July. Ed's a science teacher and yesterday he told me that "our future is in today's classrooms. All across our nation great disparities exist between the educational experiences of some students and others. Not only is it not fair, these inequities hurt our future. Republicans have shown their disregard for our future time again by slashing aid to schools, teacher bashing, and cutting support for our colleges. For America to remain economically competitive in the global economy, Congress needs educators like myself to make sure every child is treated fairly and has access to a high quality education." Equality of all kinds is a hallmark of Ed's campaign. He also said that "our nation's diversity is one of our greatest strengths and in Congress I will work every day to ensure every American is treated equally. It is not acceptable to allow discriminatory policies to be on the books. As an openly gay man, I have experienced institutional discrimination and am committed to making sure it ends for all our communities."

Again, you can contribute to a stalwart and dedicated New Jersey progressive, Ed Potosnak, here at the Blue America page, and we'll enter you in the running for the k.d. lang RIAA platinum award for Ingénue. While you think about it, see if you can resist this:



Blue America Proudly Welcomes Senator Bernie Sanders For a Live Chat

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International Big Business, the Oil Industry, serial polluters... they've been trying to end Bernie Sanders' political career for many years. But, until now, weak, lax campaign rules have held them back, at least to some extent. This year, America's preeminent tribune for working families, may not-- at least according to Public Policy Polling -- have a strong potential Republican opponent. But what he does have is a Citizens United empowered plutocracy who hate him more than anyone in Washington. Bernie Sanders is the Senator up for reelection endorsed by Blue America this year... the one even running for Senate at all we've endorsed so far. That's because Bernie is clear and consistent and driven by values and principles to fight for the legitimate aspirations of regular American families. He doesn't belong to any special interests. He belongs to us. Just listen to what he has to say about the Koch Brothers in the clip above. And, better, join us in the C&L comments section below at 2pm (ET) and meet Bernie for yourself. And, please do think about contributing what you can to help him stave off the attack we know is coming courtesy of a deranged and reactionary Supreme Court ruling in favor of plutocracy and against democracy.

This week Bernie gave a keynote address to the delegates of the United Steelworkers of America at their convention in Las Vegas. He told us he wants to talk with us today about the same stuff he discussed with the 3,000 steelworkers Thursday and the same stuff that he'll be talking about with the New Hampshire Democrats at the Merrimack County annual picnic on Sunday. His message, he says, is "simple, straight-forward and appears to be resonating."

Yes, deficit reduction is important, but it is not the most important issue we face. We are in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and if the middle-class is to be saved we need to create millions of good paying jobs in the very near future. And we can do it. Here are three approaches that I will be working on to create the jobs we desperately need when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day.

He's been hammering three overarching themes. First is the need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, pointing out that "when we do that we not only create millions of good paying jobs, but we also make the entire country more productive and competitive in the global economy." After that he points to the need to move our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy breaking our dependence on Middle East oil, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing air pollution and putting "millions of Americans to work building American made solar panels, building American made wind turbines, building American made heat pumps and weatherizing millions of American homes with energy efficient products and technologies-- all made in America."

And his third theme is how "we have got to fundamentally rewrite our trade policy laws so that American products, not jobs are our number one export." If his rhetoric on this scares you, you've been brainwashed by the plutocratic overlords "Simply stated," he explains, "our current trade policy of unfettered free trade has been a disaster for American workers and must be reformed. Over the past thirty years, we have been told by the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama that unfettered free trade will increase jobs in America. They have been proven wrong. NAFTA has led to the loss of over one million American jobs. Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China has led to the loss of over 2 million American jobs." He worries that if George W. Bush's unfettered free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama are signed into law by this President, even more American jobs will be lost. I will be doing my best to fight against these job-killing free trade agreements and come up with a trade approach which is based on the principles of fair trade, not unfettered free trade."

"Despair is not an option," he says. We need to "make sure that government represents all the people, not just the wealthy and powerful... This fight is not just about what happens to our lives. More importantly, it’s what happens to our kids and grandchildren. For their sakes, we cannot give up the struggle." You can see why so many people consider him a national treasure and you can see why Blue America is so determined to help him keep his seat in the U.S. Senate. It's The People's seat amidst so many seats that belong to every sort of wealthy, powerful, selfish special interest. If you can help, please give what you can afford.




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