Blue America Welcomes Matt Heinz

Democrats generally cheered when Ron Barber won the special election in AZ-8 a couple weeks ago-- or at least when Jesse Kelly lost it-- to finish out the remainder of Gabby Gifford's term. No one paying attention exactly expected her district manager to be a progressive voice in Congress but I don't think anyone expected him to get into the House and immediately start voting for the Republican agenda-- against the environment on this first day and then against Eric Holder a few days later.

On August 28 there's a primary in Arizona and Democrats will be asked to pick a candidate for a new congressional seat, AZ-2, that includes much of the old 8th. It's significantly more Democratic and there's no need for a Blue Dog or anyone else who caters to Republicans and kicks his own party's values and principles to the curb. We covered it yesterday. Today at 11am (PST) Blue America is welcoming a young Arizona doctor and state Rep., Matt Heinz for a live blogging session in the comments section below. Matt is the newest candidate to be endorsed by Blue America.

Like many Democrats in the district, he was disgusted when Barber jumped right on the Boehner-Cantor team, giving them an opportunity to call their anti-environment jihad "bipartisan." Matt had a very different perspective. “I understand the importance of securing our borders,” explained Matt, “We cannot do it at the expense of our environment and civil liberties. Our environment is irreplaceable. We must be stewards of our natural wonders, particularly the unparalleled beauty of Southern Arizona's Sonora desert. We must stand on our convictions and principles to make the right decisions and not be cowed by hollow Tea Party claims that we need to degrade our environment in order to ensure our security and prosperity.”

Apparently Barber thinks he knows better than Mo Udall and senior agents of the Border Patrol. There is a difference between true bi-partisanship and caving to ideologues that are out-of-touch with the very agency they claim to support. Ron Barber failed to see that distinction. Matt had a 100% rating in 2011 with the League of Conservation Voters and a 100% rating with the Humane Voters of Arizona. Unlike Barber, people know where Matt stands on conservation, environmental and wildlife issues. Bipartisanship is about putting aside your politics for the greater good, not throwing out conviction for political gain.

Like most of us, Matt-- Doctor Heinz-- had mixed emotions when the 5-4 came down last week upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which he supports as a step in the right direction (and which Barber has more positions on that lead no where than Mitt Romney does).

“I feel strongly that every American has the right to see a doctor. I am dedicated to the solutions that ensure access to medical service for all Americans regardless of socioeconomic status.

"While I cheered the Supreme Court for finding most of the Affordable Care Act constitutional, I paused to consider the ramifications of Court’s ruling on the Medicaid expansion. The Supreme Court found that the federal government cannot penalize states for refusing to expand Medicaid eligibility to under-served populations. Without this incentive for states like Arizona to expand eligibility, the health and wellness of our most vulnerable populations remain at risk. This is a situation that we cannot stand for any longer. It is a glaring problem I promise to do all I can to fix.

“One day, a woman named Bobbie Thayer entered my legislative office and told me tested positive for breast cancer and had no idea how she could afford the treatment she needed to save her life. Her provider said because of a loophole and bureaucratic red tape, she did not qualify for insurance coverage for the treatment.

"As a legislator and a physician, I had to find a solution-- not only to help save Bobbie's life, but to make sure other women did not have to face near certain death because of byzantine loopholes because so many people face similar situations. No woman should be denied breast cancer treatment because of her income level.

"At that very moment, we embarked on our journey to change the law. Before our efforts, if a woman was not screened by a Well Woman Healthcheck Program provider (WWHP), she couldn’t receive treatment through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (our local Medicaid program). Uninsured women were denied lifesaving medical attention simply because they unknowingly walked into the wrong clinic.

"The law I passed will broaden WWHP access and lift age restrictions so we can save Arizonan women’s lives."

Matt has taken it on himself, as a doctor and as a lawmaker, to make sure women don't get pushed around by misguided right-wing ideologues. Arizona's state government, completely dominated by far-right Republicans with no checks and no balances, has been passing crackpot laws that have targeted the most vulnerable among us. Matt went on Fox News with Greta Van Susteren show to counter ultra-conservative attacks on women's privacy after Gov. Brewer signed HB 2625, a law requiring women to provide proof that prescribed birth control are taken for reasons other than the prevention of pregnancy in order to receive reimbursement. Under the guise of employer's rights, conservatives attacked women and Matt took them to task for it. I doubt I have to remind people that women are facing the same battle nationally and need someone who has proven themselves. Matt also denounced Arizona HB 2800, a ban on reimbursements paid to Planned Parenthood for non-abortion services provided to low-income women. That ban will impact thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood for preventive treatments and evaluations, including mammograms, cancer screenings and vaccinations. Matt: "Proponents of this law created a problem that does not exist in order to infringe upon a women’s privacy and freedoms. I am committed to efforts to repeal this
law.” So it probably won't surprise you to know that Matt is also standing up for equal pay for equal work.

“Promoting a woman's right to equal pay and societal status is another fight that is near and dear to me. It is egregious that an estimated 18% payroll gap exists between men and women who perform the same job. I support Congressional efforts to pass measures like the Paycheck Fairness Act. This law would ease wage dispute procedures and do more to hold employers accountable for salary gaps.”

Again, the primary is August 28. Early voting starts August 2-- exactly one month from today. Please consider making a contribution to Matt's campaign here on the Blue America ActBlue page.



One Week From Today: Super Tuesday... For Progressives

Next Tuesday, June 5th, is primary day in several states, including three where we have critical contests pitting progressive, dynamic leaders against, at best, garden variety Democrats. In California, two races stand out above and beyond all others: the CA-2 primary to replace retiring Lynn Woolsey and the first shot in twenty years for the Democrats to replace corrupt reactionary curmudgeon Buck McKeon. Our candidates, respectively, are Norman Solomon and Lee Rogers. Also here in the West, there is a primary for Montana's one at-large House seat and there is one outstanding candidate, state Rep. Franke Wilmer. Similar story in New Mexico, where the Albuquerque district has a corrupt conservative and a well-funded careerist being challenged by one of the most important progressive leaders running anywhere in America, state Sen. Eric Griego. These are 4 of the most outstanding candidates for office running anywhere and it's crucial to elect each of them-- and polling in all 4 races looks good.

Blue America would like to appeal to you to help us hit the ground running for these candidates for the general election. We want to get right into action against House Armed Services Committee chairman/bigot Buck McKeon in northeastern L.A. County and against extremist crackpots Janice Arnold-Jones in New Mexico and Steve Daines in Montana. And, because California's strange new "jungle primary" is likely to force Norman Solomon to face off against a corporate garden variety type Democrat, Jared Huffman, we need to help explain to voters why Norman is the exceptional candidate worth their trust and support. A lot of work. And we're asking for your help again.

Here on our Blue America ActBlue page, it's easy to contribute to all of our candidates or any one or two or more of them. And we love you for doing it. We'd also like to ask you to think about contributing to the Blue America PAC this week as well, a fund we use for one thing: communicating to targeted voters. We've been using TV, Internet and radio spots, mailers and billboards. There is no such thing as a contribution being too small. So whatever you can do, we'd be really grateful.

Last week Dennis Kucinich sent a note out to his own northern California supporters-- as did Alan Grayson and Raúl Grijalva. (By the way, Raúl has also endorsed Lee Rogers, Franke Wilmer and Eric Griego.) This is what Dennis told his folks why he's so enthusiastic about Norman, who he referred to as "one of the top peace candidates for Congress anywhere in the country":

Norman and I have been friends for almost 15 years. He is a powerful intellectual, a gifted writer and an activist who is willing to put himself on the line for the principled causes of peace, justice and the environment.

He will be one unique member of Congress...

Norman is a true progressive. He is an independent thinker. Too many Democrats go along with outrageous military spending, deadly wars and Wall Street greed, all of which demoralize our nation, drain our federal treasury and cause resentment around the world. Norm Solomon is unafraid to stand up and speak out when others are silent.

Norman will stand up to the Wall Streeters who continue their high-stakes gambling at public expense. He refuses to take corporate PAC money or lobbyist donations. That puts him at a disadvantage in this primary battle.

As you know, I will not be returning to Congress next year. We need Norman in Congress so that he can share his insight with all members. Because of his fierce dedication to the public interest, Norman will be an instant leader in Congress-- on war, on bloated military spending, on Wall Street, on threats to Social Security and Medicare (from either party).

Norman Solomon was an advocate for the 99%-- challenging the 1%-- before there was an Occupy Wall Street movement. Every supporter of mine should be a natural supporter of Norman. Help him carry on the legacy of strong peace and justice advocacy in the U.S. Congress.

And that is what Blue America has sought out in all of our candidates and it's what these four candidates all have in common-- proven leaders who will be advocates for the 99% and will not buy into the abysmal bipartisan corrupt ways of Washington. Unless you live in Montana you've probably never heard of Timm Twardowski. He runs AFSCME in that state and knows Rep. Wilmer well. "There is no doubt that Franke is the only candidate that understands what it means to do the 'work' for Montana in Washington, he told us. Which is why AFSCME endorsed Franke. "Franke's Montana experiences have shaped her deep commitment to the issues that affect us here at home and I know she will bring that message and hard work to Washington. Franke understands the unique nature and challenges of America's working families and will work to protect the middle class and restore the American Dream. It’s not about politics; it’s about doing the 'right thing' and putting our trust into someone who has walked in our shoes. Franke understands the work that needs to be accomplished in Washington and will always defend our beliefs."

This year Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is working harder than I've ever seen progressives work to help elect more progressive candidates to Congress. Raúl has endorsed all 4 of these candidates. Here's what he had to say about Eric Griego in the state next door, New Mexico:

Eric Griego believes that "the last thing we need to send to Washington is a Democrat who's a kinder, gentler version of the Republicans." I agree. Democrats must fight for a government that works for all people, not just those with deep pockets and fancy titles.

Eric fought to get corporate money out of politics as an Albuquerque City Councilor, where he passed one of the strongest local campaign finance reforms in the nation. As State Senator, he took on the Big Oil companies and put middle-class workers first by passing a green jobs bill into law.

Eric is supported by leading progressive groups and major labor unions-- and he is the only candidate in the race to have a lifetime 100% rating from Conservation Voters New Mexico.

I need Eric Griego fighting by my side in Congress.

Alan Grayson also wants one of our candidates fighting on his side when he's back in Congress next year. Last year Alan sat down with Lee Rogers at a medical convention in Orlando and got to know him and to give him some of the helpful advice that is helping Lee beat the Buck McKeon machine. Here's the endorsement of Lee Rogers that Alan Grayson sent us yesterday:

I'm happy that Dr. Lee Rogers, candidate in CA-25, is a solid progressive. I'm happy that a Rogers victory means the defeat of Buck McKeon, who has been called the most corrupt Member of Congress. But I'm especially happy that Dr. Rogers knows something about something-- a
quality that Congress sorely needs.

When I was a lawyer, I had a client with a severe case of diabetes. I watched his health deteriorate over the years. The circulation in his legs weakened to the point where a foot was amputated.

It was terrible.

Dr. Rogers is a podiatrist and medical researcher. He pioneered a new protocol for such cases that reduced amputations by 72%.

Dr. Rogers runs the Amputation Prevention Center in Los Angeles. He teaches medicine. He has received awards for his research.

Healthcare is now one-sixth of the US economy. Imagine how good it would be to have someone in Congress who knows it so well.

Let's face it; many Members of Congress are good at only two things: getting elected, and getting re-elected. Whether Dr. Rogers is good at either of those things remains to be seen. But for the good of
Congress, and our health, I'd like to see it happen.

All the Blue America candidates are on the same page. And they all will need the help to go all the way in November. And the race to keep an eye on for today? Progressive insurgent Beto O'Rourke is challenging corrupt El Paso incumbent Silvestre Reyes in Texas' 16th CD. This could be another blow against the DC Establishment Machine and polls show Beto winning handily among early voters.



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.




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