Happy 420-- Meet Kyle Frenette


Kyle Frenette is the progressive Democrat running for the old Dave Obey seat in northern Wisconsin, currently occupied by Ryan ally Sean Duffy. Frenette is well known in the music industry as the manager of Eau Claire's Grammy-winning Justin Vernon and his band, Bon Iver. His platform includes raising the minimum wage, establishing universal healthcare and making broadband internet a public utility instead of a private luxury. And legalization of marijuana. He thought today would be an auspicious day to lay out his marijuana legalization plank. 

He's pointing out that marijuana's illegal status has caused more harm to American society than its side effects.

"Here in Wisconsin," he wrote, "I know folks who have had to go to extreme lengths to obtain marijuana legally for medicinal use or travel across state lines for a duration of time to use the drug for treatment. This shouldn’t be the case. I envision a future in which my children and their children view the federal prohibition of marijuana the same way we view the prohibition of alcohol today-- strange and unnecessary."

His points line up as sane and rational-- and workable for a rural Wisconsin district:

1- The federal legalization of marijuana would go a long way to ending the opioid epidemic in America. There is no reason marijuana should still be classified as a Schedule I drug along with heroin and ecstasy—not when cocaine, methamphetamine and most prescription opioids, like oxycodone and fentanyl are classified as Schedule II by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)... I will champion the federal legalization of marijuana to help curb the opioid epidemic and prevent more lives from being lost and families from being ripped apart."

2- Most Americans view marijuana as a relatively safe drug while too many futures are being tarnished due to its criminalization... Our current drug laws are not only counterproductive, they are also racially skewed. While marijuana use is relatively equal across all races, minorities are disproportionately singled out when it comes to drug related arrests... The case for legalization is growing every day. Once elected, I will push to legalize marijuana so that money is no longer wasted and less futures are ruined by the enforcement of unnecessary laws.

3- It’s no question that the benefits outweigh the pitfalls when it comes to the growing and selling of marijuana. Our country’s drug laws are outdated when it comes to marijuana and limit the drug’s economic potential. Economic growth due to the cultivation, sale and taxation of cannabis in states that have adopted legalization prove that it can be a high commodity.

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"In Colorado alone, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, the cannabis industry created 18,000 full-time jobs and brought in $2.4 billion in 2015. And when it comes to taxation, it’s reported that that marijuana has more than tripled tax revenue brought in by alcohol in that state. Nationally, at its current rate of state legalization, an estimated $40 billion in economic output is predicated by the year 2021 when it comes to the legal cannabis industry. Why not increase those odds with federal legalization?"

Let’s do everything in our power to elect a new generation of leaders who are not afraid to take a principled stand that is contrary to DC ‘Savvy Democrats’ who assure us the Legalization issue is meaningless (and therefore will not make it a priority when we take back the majority). Please support Kyle Frenette and our other Green Wave Democrats by giving what you can to their campaigns today.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team



The Koch Brothers Are Coming For Veterans’ Healthcare

We hope you made it through the 'end of the quarter' e-mail hell ok. It's over for now. This is about something important, not about candidates' dumbed down, embarrassing personal pleas:

The Kochs, the billionaire class and Trump really do think they can stiff America's veterans and get away with it.

Those #2ndGildedAge reprobates will be in for a hell of a shock next January when they see what Randy Bryce, James Thompson, DuWayne Gregory, Doug Applegate, Tom Prigg and Jared Golden are made of. They're the current members of Blue America's Progressive Veterans slate.

These aren't just battle-tested veterans... they are progressives, committed to the real ideals that have traditionally made the Democratic Party an effective vehicle for the legitimate aspirations of our country's working families. Please consider giving them a hand today-- even if there is no FEC deadline.

After publicly humiliating VA Secretary David Shulkin; letting him twist in the wind as rumors swirled that he was on the way out-- Trump finally tweeted Wednesday that Shulkin, the only Trump cabinet appointee who had been confirmed by the Senate 100-0, was out. A worst case scenario would have been the appointment of Pete Hegseth, the non-veteran Koch brothers' cutout who has spent his career planning to destroy the V.A.

It has been a longterm goal of the Koch brothers, through their phony-baloney Concerned Veterans for America, to privatize the V.A. and cut services. The Kochs and their conservative congressional allies could care less that vets have been promised healthcare as part of their reward for serving the country.

Their privatization plans are meant to cut and cap healthcare services. The Kochs are demanding Trump do it NOW, before the Democrats win back Congress in November.

Many in Congress-- on both sides of the aisle-- understand that there's a problem that has to be addressed, but that offering veterans unrestricted choice between the public healthcare system and private medical providers is not the solution. Far from it; doing so would quickly tank the whole system, exactly what the Koch network wants. Shulkin and most legitimate veterans groups prefer a program that offers private care when wait times get too long or if veterans live too far away from the facility they need.

Bernie Sanders cut right to the chase: "Republicans talk a good game about veterans, but when it came time to put money on the line for veterans, they were not there... There are people, the Koch brothers among others, who have a group called Concerned Veterans of America. Koch brothers, by the way, want to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, every governmental program passed since the 1930s."

In his NY Times OpEd on Wednesday night, Shulkin wrote that Trump fired him as Veterans Affairs Secretary because he opposed the Regime's push to privatize health care for veterans. He contended that "successes within the department have intensified the ambitions of people who want to put V.A. health care in the hands of the private sector. I believe differences in philosophy deserve robust debate, and solutions should be determined based on the merits of the arguments. The advocates within the administration for privatizing V.A. health services, however, reject this approach. They saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed. That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans."

"I have fought to stand up for this great department and all that it embodies. In recent months, though, the environment in Washington has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work that our veterans need and deserve. I can assure you that I will continue to speak out against those who seek to harm the V.A. by putting their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans."

Randy Bryce's campaign in southeast Wisconsin is so strong that a day doesn't pass that doesn't see more speculation that incumbent Paul Ryan is planning a graceful exit for himself. One thing he doesn't want to see on his public resume is that he was beaten by an everyman and iron worker. And @IronStache stands strong with fellow veterans. "When I returned home after serving our country," he told us, "I worked alongside the government to help Milwaukee’s homeless veterans. I saw the real struggles facing our community and the real opportunities our government has to assist. Over my dead body will i let a draft dodger and a couple of profiteering crooks try and privatize our V.A."

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Jim Thompson is also running a strong grassroots campaign in a very red Kansas district and making tremendous headway. Issues like the Republicans privatizing the V.A. draws more and more people to check him out. "As a veteran myself," he said, "this apparent move toward the privatization of the V.A. is not just horribly concerning, it is flat out wrong. Our government, through the V.A., owes this nation's soldiers every bit of care and help they need. Our soldiers sign up to serve their country knowing they may have to make the ultimate sacrifice, the V.A. must not use them and their care as pawns for rewarding the people and companies who would profit from this move. If we have enough money to send soldiers to war, we sure as hell have enough to take care of them when they get back. Privatization just cannot be an option for our protectors because putting profits over people is unacceptable and our troops deserve better."

DuWayne Gregory, the Chief Executive of the Suffolk County Legislature and an Army veteran currently running for the Long Island seat held by Peter King, was incensed when we spoke about Trump's plans to privatize the V.A.-- and not in the mood for compromising. " As a veteran who has served our great country I fully understand the sacrifice our veterans make to fulfill their commitment. It would be a cold day in hell before I allow Trump’s and Peter King’s corporate agenda to exceed the needs of our veterans. Suffolk County has one of the largest populations of veterans in the country. These men and women served our country bravely and deserve to remain humanized and not become a data point for a corporate profit motivated agenda. In my opinion, we can not do enough to demonstrate our respect for our veterans, the least of which, should be quality-focused not profit-driven healthcare."

We all witnessed what a ClusterF*ck the Privatized war in Iraq became. It would be a second tragedy to think the brave men and women who served though that hell (or any other engagement) would suffer the same sub-standard services and indifferent treatment in their home country. We must do better than this for our Veterans. With our slate of Blue American Progressive Vets in Congress, we can.

Please consider a donation for our fantastic Progressive Veterans on their ActBlue page.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team

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You can contribute to our Senate candidates on this page; our House candidates on this page; and to the incumbents who have earned our support for reelection on this page.



Next Stop For The Blue Wave-- North Carolina And Indiana

The next primaries for House seats are on May 8 in Indiana and North Carolina, where we have two outstanding candidates, Dan Canon (IN-09) and Jenny Marshall (NC-05).

Both are running strong, issues-oriented grassroots campaigns and both need our help with the final 5-week lap.

I asked Jenny and Dan what good could some extra campaign contributions do this late in the game. Here's what they told me:

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Jenny first:

Our campaign has been running a strong field program, but with 263 precincts spread out over 3200 square miles we need to ensure that we reach as many voters as possible. We have been out knocking doors for a month and calling voters for the past 12 weeks, but we have many more people to reach. We need to send out 20,000 mailers to those people who live in more remote and rural areas, hire 10 additional field canvassers for those areas we can walk so we can talk to people at their homes, and purchase campaign materials including 10,000 more door hangers, 20,000 4x6 handouts highlighting our campaign, 700 yard signs and to support our digital advertising in the district. We expect to have 41,000 people turn out and vote in the primary. We estimate it will take $30,000 to secure the Democratic nomination on May 8th.

Jenny and her team have been running a bold progressive campaign to unseat arch-villain Rep. Virginia Foxx, who has turned herself into a virtual rubber stamp for Trump and a terrible representative of North Carolinans. Jenny told us that while out on the campaign trail, she's "talked to thousands of people who tell me that they are struggling to make ends meet and are afraid they are going to lose their health insurance. This, coupled with those who just can't afford to use the insurance they pay for is just unconscionable! Rep. Foxx has ignored the needs of the people for far too long. She voted no on raising the minimum wage back in 2007 when it was just $5.85 an hour. She voted to strip healthcare away from millions of people with her vote to repeal the ACA. She just doesn't care about the daily grind the vast majority of us are going through. Our campaign speaks up for those who have been ignored and dismissed. We are here to fight for them."

Jenny is eager to take on Foxx but she's got to win the primary against a centrist primary opponent first-- that's the election coming up May 8th. Jenny's opponent is an 'Establishment Dem' who:

  • doesn't believe in raising the minimum wage beyond $10 per hour
  • doesn't support tuition-free public colleges and universities
  • stated that our public education system is broken and would use her knowledge of the business world to "fix it."
  • In other words, she is all about doing just enough to look like she is on our side, but not enough to actually help our families and our communities.

Jenny is committed to raising the wage to $15 an hour and tying it to inflation and fighting for healthcare for all.

Dan's turn:

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"There’s an old adage in politics that 'field wins campaigns.' That is why this campaign has invested in a robust field program that has been up and running since mid-September. We have three offices open across the 9th District and have made over 125,000 (and counting) contacts thanks to a dedicated base of supporters who have been calling voters, pounding the pavement, and attending countless events since last summer. In the final month of the primary, the money you donate will be spent heavily on our field efforts to mobilize supporters and G(et) O(ut) T(he) V(ote)! By helping us keep our offices running full steam ahead through May 8th, as well as funding direct mail and digital advertising targeted to likely voters, a donation to this campaign is an investment that will help us build a movement here in the heartland."

Throughout this campaign, Dan has been a strong proponent of a guaranteed public jobs program, a national UBI pilot program, and the abolition of ICE. "I am proud to say I am the only candidate in my race discussing these ideas that are crucial to creating jobs, investing in our workforce, and ensuring the dignity of all people. Hoosiers (those of us from Indiana) are tired of the duck-and-cover rhetoric that other campaigns use, and with your help we are going to prove that progressive candidates can take bold stances that offer real solutions for real people."

Dan and Jenny are two of the most intelligent, independent-minded and passionate leaders we've come across in our many years of vetting progressive candidates. All of us at Blue America believe any support you can give them is richly deserved and will be wisely used-- a real step towards getting more members in the vein of Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, Mark Pocan, Ted Lieu and Pramila Jayapal into Congress. Please consider giving what you can to their campaigns today.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make a better world,

Howie, for the entire Blue America team



Bernie: 'I Detest That Type Of Politics And I Think Most Americans Do'

BLUE_AMERICA_ENDORSE_Levi_Tillemann.jpg"In CO-06 the DCCC decided they wanted a white collar criminal defense lawyer (who has represented payday lenders, fracking companies and defended scammers who have targeted senior citizens) to represent us. What we’ve seen is a textbook case of Washington working to rig a primary. Despite our opponent’s crippling weaknesses as a general election candidate, the DCCC is determined to inflict their candidate upon primary voters by creating facts on the ground." 


You think what the DCCC has done in undermining Laura Moser is unique?
It isn't. It's been fairly standard operating procedure since 2006 when Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer decided they should determine who Democratic nominees should be, not local Democratic primary voters. The only thing unique about the Laura Moser incident was how incompetently it was handled and how embarrassingly public it became. 

More "normal" DCCC interference in local primaries is better illustrated by how they're trying to destroy another progressive, Levi Tillemann, on behalf of yet another corrupt New Dem from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, Jason Crow, in the Denver suburbs (CO-06). The Republican incumbent, Mike Coffman, is one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country. Hillary beat Trump 50.2% to 41.3% in this district, which has a D+2 PVI.

Levi, who Blue America has endorsed today, asked if we remember in 2016 when Washington insiders confidently predicted an overwhelming victory for Democrats up and down the ticket? "Well," he reminded us, "that didn’t happen-- we lost, up and down the ticket. Remember how Democratic insiders spoke confidently about 'viability' and tried to stigmatize candidates who challenged the establishment? It turns out those 'viable' candidates weren’t so viable after all. That broken system got us to where we are today. Levi is confident that "we can fix it. This year must be the beginning of something exciting and new. That means two things: First, we must stand for our progressive agenda; Second, we must push back against the backroom Washington dealers who got us here.

This is a guest post from Levi:

Let’s start with the progressive agenda. Before I decided to run, I spent months listening and here’s what I heard people say: too many workers are being squeezed by the modern economy; hard work should mean a good life; the excesses of extreme capitalism and inequality are threatening the American Dream; things need to change. I agreed. 

Like you, I believe: 

  • Universal healthcare is a right  
  • Americans deserve a living minimum wage of at least $15/hr
  • The future of our planet and the U.S. economy requires a transition to renewable energy by 2035
  • All Americans must be treated equally before the law
  • Donald Trump is a criminal (and Democrats need to fight to remove him from office)

Voters are crying out for an economic and social agenda that delivers economic justice and equal opportunity for all. Progressives demand that these policies address the crushing inequality in America today. I’m committed to fighting for that agenda in Washington. 

But we’ll never get there if we don’t push back against Washington insiders. Lobbyists and establishment politicians are trying to slow-walk our fight for equality. They peddle half-truths, influence and big money donations on behalf of candidates and causes that don’t represent you. Those candidates fit the Washington mold-- and that’s not a good thing. They will go with the flow and won’t stand up for what’s right when it really matters. If we keep sending that type of person to Washington, they’ll keep rigging the system against us. That’s exactly what’s happening in CO-06.

This has been going on for more than a year (they have supplied him with staff, data and hundreds of thousands in donations). Last November, the DCCC brought these efforts into the open by designating our opponent as a “Red to Blue” candidate. The DCCC has now embedded full-time field staffers with our opponent’s campaign, they share polling data with him and help secure endorsements. They traffic in lies, rumor and innuendo about our progressive campaign. 

That’s not only morally wrong, it’s not going to help us win a general election. The DCCC has deployed its strong-arm tactics here before... and they don’t work. Let’s take a look at the DCCC’s losing record over the years. 

The 2014 Bloodbath
In 2014 one of Colorado’s most impressive leaders, Andrew Romanoff was the Democratic nominee against Mike Coffman.  Leading up to the general election, the DCCC committed to funding Romanoff’s advertising costs during the last weeks of the election. But the DCCC reneged on their promise -- leaving Andrew high and dry.  The DCCC cut the legs out from Romanoff’s campaign and didn’t spend a single cent on the promised advertising.  In other words, the DCCC allowed the GOP and Mike Coffman to demolish Romanoff’s good name and record via TV and radio.  Andrew had no way to fight back. Why? Because he trusted the DCCC. The result was an electoral bloodbath.

The DCCC knows best?
In 2016, the Democratic nominee for CD-6 was Colorado State Sen. Morgan Carroll.  Morgan was an extremely qualified, intelligent and charismatic candidate whose campaign was also tanked by the DCCC. The DCCC wanted to tie Coffman to Trump and that was the entirety of their plan: Tie Coffman to Trump.  

An astute politician with local knowledge, Carroll knew this wasn’t the silver bullet. She had a plan to defeat Coffman that was issues driven and focused on aggressive field outreach. But the DC insiders at the DCCC demanded that Senator Carroll follow their orders and threatened to withdraw financial support unless she did as they said. In the face of those threats, Carroll felt she had no choice but to accept the dictates of unelected, unaccountable DC insiders. Coffman won the election in another landslide.

Blue America is asking for your help in Colorado.

Ever since he realized that the DCCC was jumping on the scale early last spring, Levi and other progressives have called on them to back off and let the voters decide. Unfortunately, that’s not the DCCC way. They’ve doubled down on their candidate, lied about it and done everything in their power to stack the primary deck.

Please consider contributing what you can to Levi Tillemann's campaign by clicking on the ActBlue congressional thermometer on the right.

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We can win this one by beating the forces of Insider Beltway corruption-- first the DCCC and in November, the GOP. As Bernie said, in reference to the DCCC Lee Atwater/Karl Rove techniques in TX-07, "I detest that type of politics and I think most Americans do... That is to my mind, absolutely unacceptable. And it’s got to end."

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team



Senator Warren: 'Katie Porter Is The Real Deal'

CA-45 is the heart of Orange County. It includes Irvine, Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita... Villa Park and the Anaheim Hills in the north and Coto De Caza in the south. But it doesn't include the home of Mimi Walters, the Republican congresswoman who was elected in 2014. She still lives in posh beachfront neighborhood in Dana Rohrabacher's district and has adamantly refused to move into the district she's supposed to be representing.

Many residents feel it's time for Mimi to go. And this might be the year. She votes in complete lockstep with the unpopular Trump. And Trump did badly in the 45th. Romney and McCain both beat Obama in the district, but Hillary beat Trump  by over 5 points. The PVI has improved from R+7 to a much more manageable R+3.

And this year, CA-45 has an extraordinary Democratic candidate in UC Irvine law professor Katie Porter, endorsed this week by Blue America.

A former law student of Elizabeth Warren's, they co-wrote a book about consumer protection. Warren endorsed her, as have Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Zephyr Teachout and progressive groups like DFA and the PCCC. She has a corporate Dem as a primary opponent backed by the DC establishment but all recent polls show Katie beating him and going on to beat Walters.

Katie hasn't been shy about pointing out that Walters is "one of the 'Big Money 20'--  taking money from the NRA, Big Oil, Big Banks, and a number of powerful special interests." She said she believes that "special interests like large financial institutions, because of Citizens United, now have the ability to spend unlimited money, giving them an outsized and unfair role in our election system.

That is why I am proud that our campaign has pledged not to take any campaign contributions from corporate PACs, big oil, big pharma, big banks, or private charter schools. We believe in running a campaign by example and have raised the resources necessary to run a competitive campaign with contributions from over 10,000 individual donors. I am going to Washington to do what I have done my whole career-- to give voice to the needs of family and to fight for a fair system."

As for policy, Katie is where you would expect candidates backed by Blue America to be. For health care, for example, she told us that she had spent her career  as a consumer protection attorney "studying how one illness or accident can lead a family to financial ruin-- it shouldn't be that way. That's why I will fight for a Medicare for All system in which every American has quality health insurance.

And this is a defining issue in this race. My Republican opponent, Mimi Walters, helped write Trump’s health care law that gutted protections for pre-existing conditions. She was one of the first people that Donald Trump thanked at the White House after the vote. Her vote on the GOP tax plan puts health coverage for 13 million people at risk and will lead to devastating cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. And other candidates in this race have refused to support Medicare for All." 

She has also pledged to voters to take on big oil and the corporate polluters to stop offshore drilling, and that she will "fight to invest in renewable energy development, support high emission standards, and save important environmental protections. Simply put, Washington must act to fight climate change." 

Her field of expertise, consumer protection, is what attracted Blue America to her campaign to begin with. She has literally spent close to 2 decades taking on Wall Street banks and powerful financial institutions that cheat middle-class families.

"Much of my work as a consumer advocate," she told us Friday,

"has centered around the housing crisis that rocked Orange County and many other parts of the country. Before the crisis, I was one of the first to sound the alarm about how the biggest Wall Street banks were preying on homeowners. And when the crisis hit, I was appointed by Attorney General Kamala Harris to work directly with California families who were cheated by the five biggest Wall Street banks. The five banks had promised to help homeowners who had been harmed, and it was my job to hold the banks’ feet to the fire. My team won thousands of victories against the banks, forcing them to pay billions to families. And our work helped tens of thousands of families move forward with their lives... Eight years after the crash, Orange County families still find themselves stuck. Profits again are surging for financial institutions and Wall Street, but middle-class wages are stagnant. And the cost of things that matter most for families-- affording preschool, sending your kid to college, saving for retirement-- are skyrocketing, while the high cost of housing in Orange County is pushing families to the brink."

We all know what we need out of the next Congress-- capable leaders who have shown the ability and willingness to stand up to Trump, the GOP and the powerful special interests. "That," Katie told us "is exactly what I plan to do in Washington." Please consider contributing to her campaign at the Blue America congressional page, here.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team



Why Blue America Endorsed Ellen Lipton (MI-09)

BLUE_AMERICA_ENDORSE_ELLEN_LIPTON.jpgEllen lists 7 core platform items on her website, her priorities: a strong public education system and will always resist efforts to privatize our schools; protecting and expanding Social Security; investing in infrastructure and creating well-paying jobs for our community; universal healthcare for all Americans; raising the minimum wage to a living wage; a woman’s right to choose, and protecting our environment and leaving a healthy planet for our children.​

What most people know about Ellen Lipton, a candidate for the open congressional seat in the Oakland and Macomb county suburbs north of Detroit, is that she founded and was named president of the Michigan Promise Zone Association. The association supports free community college tuition, technical training and certification to Michigan students in selected communities across Michigan, a blueprint for free college tuition across America. Before that she was in the Michigan legislature, fighting for public education and therefore the bane of Betsy DeVos' existence. But if education policy is one of her fields of expertise, infrastructure was one of the motivations that made her jump into the race. We don't always think of potholes as issues in congressional races... but Ellen explains why it is in her district

“POTHELL!” was the big, bold headline splashed across a newspaper recently here in metro Detroit, and no word sums up Michigan’s infrastructure crisis more clearly. Under the headline was a picture of three drivers who’d been stranded on their way to work when they crossed an enormous pothole that had immediately destroyed their tires and rims upon impact. Welcome to pothole season in Michigan, when a daily commute often involves dangerous dodging and swerving to avoid potholes, then dodging and swerving to avoid accidents with other vehicles.  It’s a public safety nightmare.
 
Trump recently unveiled his infrastructure proposal, and it falls far, far short of what’s needed in Michigan to even begin to solve our infrastructure crisis. Under his plan, states and localities would have to find their own, new sources of revenue to spend on infrastructure to even qualify for federal help. After decades of state disinvestment in infrastructure in MI, Trump’s plan would have little to no impact here, since our local units of government have already been revenue-starved for years and are highly unlikely to be able to come up with new state spending sources. 

Michigan can’t wait for President Trump to get his act together and propose a plan that would actually work for our state. Here are just a few examples of how our infrastructure crisis is negatively impacting our communities every single day:

 

  • Flint water crisis-- Old service lines leached lead into Flint’s drinking water, poisoning an entire community.  These service lines and lead connectors have still not been replaced, four years after the crisis first began to unfold.
  • Fraser sinkhole-- A little over a year ago, an underground sewer line in Fraser collapsed, causing the ground to shift and open up and forcing people from their homes, closing down roads and putting a community in harms way.

 

  • Falling concrete on I-696-- Just recently, drivers along I-696, a major thoroughfare that links Oakland and Macomb counties in the 9th Congressional District, were being bombarded by large chunks of concrete falling from highway overpasses.
  • Heavy rains and E. coli outbreaks-- Every time there’s a heavy rain, levels of E. coli rise along the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair. This shoreline issue can be traced to much of the region still operating on old combined sewer systems in which a single pipe carries sewage from homes and businesses as well as storm runoff coming from street drains.  Such outdated systems mean that during a heavy rainfall, a mix of storm water and sewage spills over from the retention basins to rivers and drains that carry it to Lake St. Clair.

The problems I’ve just described above barely scratch the surface of what our state’s infrastructure crisis entails. Cleary, President Trump’s so-called plan won’t even begin to get the job done when it comes to rebuilding my home state and making it a safe and healthy place for our communities.
 
What’s needed now more than ever is a bold vision for rebuilding our infrastructure, centered on the human side of the issue, and focused on putting people back to work and enhancing peoples’ quality of life where they work and where they live. Such a bold vision would invest our resources in people to produce millions of family-sustaining jobs, raise living standards, reduce inequality, strengthen education, reduce poverty and create a clean, healthy environment. 

It would also mandate a direct public investment in roads, bridges and other public works, as opposed to providing “corporate giveaways” to spur private-sector investment. This direct investment should come in the form of a federal jobs program, through which our country would invest in human capital by putting people back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges, water and sewer systems, schools, airports and veterans’ hospitals, and linking our communities with high-speed internet access.
 
This kind of federal infrastructure program could create millions of jobs immediately, as well as introduce real-world job training for so many young people who are looking to begin careers in the skilled trades. An initiative like this one place great emphasis on jobs that pay a living wage, ensure workplace safety and guarantee racial and gender equality in the workplace. These goals could be achieved by raising benchmarks for prevailing wages in every corner of the country, requiring local hiring to accurately reflect and represent the diversity of the community’s workforce, include robust “Buy American” requirements and prioritize the hiring of veterans.
 
The path to American greatness lies in significant investment in our greatest resource: our people.  A federal jobs program based on rebuilding our country would be proof that America’s complex infrastructure challenges can be met by following the simple principle that public money should go toward the public good.

MI-09 is a reliable Democratic district, which Sandy Levin, who has represented it for three-and-a-half decades, is leaving. His son Andy would like to take over. There are 2 other middle-of-the-road men running as well... and Ellen, the progressive game changer in the race.

So, why have we endorsed Ellen Lipton (MI-09)?

Ellen is part of the progressive grassroots energy that is sweeping the country and she's the kind of leader who won't be satisfied sitting on the backbench taking orders from the party's sclerotic, calcified leadership. Pelosi's, Hoyer's and their team's days are numbered. The congressional Democrats desperately need seasoned, bold leaders like Ellen Lipton to help the party snap out of it before it's too late. Please consider contributing to her campaign here.



Omaha? Blue America Endorses Kara Eastman


Kara Eastman is the newest Blue America endorsee. She's running for the blue-trending Omaha Metro district-- NE-02, currently tenuously held by conservative backbencher Don Bacon. Before she gets to Bacon, she has to beat conservative "Democrat" Brad Ashford, who was a Republican for 38 years, including the first term of the Obama administration.

According to the Omaha World Herald, Ashford voted with the Republicans while in Congress more than all other Democrats except for two. In the Nebraska legislature, he voted for an ultrasound bill and voted yes on LB 1103, a bill that prohibited abortions in Nebraska after 20 weeks. He’s taken contradictory stands on almost every important issue over his long political career. Ashford voted for and against the Dreamers, for and against the Iran nuclear deal, and against the Clean Power Plan rule (SJ Res 24) that established carbon dioxide emission guidelines for power plants. Under Obama, he voted against facets of the Affordable Care Act, in the Nebraska State Legislature he voted for some anti-choice bills, and he has gone back and forth on his stances on the Keystone XL pipeline. People in the district tell me they are unhappy with Ashford’s voting record. They also feel like he is not in it to win it. 

Word on the street is, Nebraskans are looking for someone with energy, with vision and with passion.  Knowing this, even with a record like Ashford’s the DC Dem's establishment candidate enjoys the backing of the entire ‘Republican wing of the Democratic Party’— the Blue Dogs, the New Dems and, of course, the DCCC. 


Kara's primary fight has been based on convincing voters that her pragmatic, progressive stances make her a stronger candidate. We cannot agree more! The Democratic primary election is on May 15.



She told us that with a grassroots campaign focused on field operations, door-knocking, an integrated digital and communication plan, and engaging voters; her campaign is speaking directly to real people. She and her volunteers have knocked on over 25,000 doors already. Women, labor unions (she just received her fourth labor endorsement), activists, and communities of color that have been disenfranchised by conservative candidates and are crucial to winning NE-02. Her bold advocacy is motivating and energizing the Democratic base, and it’s already been recognized in the form of a national endorsement from Climate Hawks Vote and now from Blue America. This is a district that can be flipped.



"Omaha Democrats," said Kara,

"are frustrated. We’ve run the same kind of 'moderate to conservative candidate' at the local, state, and federal level, and we’ve seen them lose over and over again. Even though my primary opponent won by a slim margin in 2014, he lost his re-election bid in 2016. As a matter of fact, he was the only incumbent Democrat to lose to a Republican in the entire country that cycle. Don Bacon, who won by just over one percentage point, now votes in line with the current administration 97% of the time. He’s vulnerable, and all the political prognosticators say that the election is a toss-up. Over the last decade, Nebraska’s second Congressional district is one of the two most competitive in the nation. So why can’t Democrats consistently win here? They don’t ignite the base, and they don’t go out and talk to voters."

She's the first serious progressive candidate to run in Nebraska’s second district and her grassroots campaign has knocked on over 25,000 doors and has gotten voters excited about the race. She told us that,

"the majority of the people we talk to at the doors commit to voting for me. I’m pro-choice, I support common-sense gun safety regulation, I’m passionate about health and environmental protection, and I’ve opposed the Keystone XL pipeline. I will fight for a Medicare for All system because healthcare is a right. I also will fight for debt-free education, because I’m tired of seeing students, even at Metro Community College where I serve on the Board of Governors, drowning in student loans. The U.S. has to compete in a global market by investing in green and healthy housing. Climate change is the number one moral and national security threat to our children, and we need to address it now."

Kara is good on all of our issues and we're excited about her campaign because we see her as someone who will be an aggressive champion for campaign finance reform. "Fixing campaign finance laws and taking lobbyist money out of politics," she said, "will change Washington. I’m proud to have over 1500 individual campaign donors, but I won’t take just any and all corporate PAC dollars. In fact, my fundraising has been neck and neck with that of my primary opponent, even though he’s been in Congress and accepts a large amount of PAC money."


With the strong grassroots campaign that she's built, Kara Eastman can win this swing district. As a social worker with a reputation for getting things done in her community, she's ready to work hard to make real changes in the political system when she gets to D.C. We believe in Kara's campaign and we urge you to contribute what you can. It's strong, idealistic women with real life experience like Kara who are going to change America, not decrepit, recycled, reactionary Blue Dogs dumped upon us by a corrupt establishment. 


Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team



Up To Bat In March — Progressives In Texas And Illinois

The first two states with 2018 primaries are Texas — March 6 — and Illinois — March 20.

The thing about the Texas primaries is that in most cases they’re going lead to May 22 primary runoffs. So we’re going to be waiting for another couple of months before we know who the candidates we’ll have going up against Republicans for the blue-trending seats in Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas, all of which are likely to deny any candidates 50% on March 6.

It’s a wide open race in west Houston, where award-winning cancer researcher and doctor, Jason Westin, has a bunch of establishment candidates he’s competing with, as well as another progressive. He can use some help.

Same in Dallas, where our candidate, Obama’s deputy undersecretary of rural development for the Department of Agriculture, Lillian Salerno is facing off against two pretty garden variety establishment big money careerists.

One of the Austin candidates, Derrick Crowe, (one of the best candidates anywhere in America) is likely to be forced into a runoff with a multimillionaire Republican, Joseph Kopser, pretending — although not well — to be a Democrat.

My first experience with Derrick goes back to when George W. Bush was still president and he was the organizing force behind Brave New Film’s “Rethink Afghanistan” project. He has a visceral understanding of progressive issues and appears to be someone who will be more than just a “good vote” in Congress, but someone — like Pramila Jayapal, Ted Lieu and Ro Khanna can come forward as a natural thought leader. He’s certainly running his campaign that way.

The Illinois primaries later in the month have a more crucial sense of permanence. The candidate with the most votes will face off against the Republican. The race that’s gotten the most attention is in IL-03, the Chicagoland district that starts in the southwest part of the city around Bridgeport and the Stockyards, snakes down through Marquette Manor to Midway, through Palos Hills and to Orland Park, Homer Glen and Lockport just north of Joliet. It’s one of those rare races where an excruciatingly bad entrenched incumbent, Blue Dog Dan Lipinski, is being held accountable for the first time.

Progressives in the district, in the state and across America have backed Marie Newman, who would make a much-needed and excellent addition to the Illinois congressional delegation.

The Republican in the race, Arthur Jones, an admitted anti-Semite is the former leader of the American Nazi Party. No, not every Republican is a Nazi… but it’s funny how they always find a home with the GOP isn’t it? Remember Boehner’s Nazi buddy in Ohio, Rich Iott? Anyway, whoever wins the March 20 primary — the Blue Dog Lipinski or progressive Marie Newman — will be sworn in next January because IL-03 isn’t about to elect a Nazi to Congress.

The district didn’t even vote for Trump. He couldn’t even muster 40% against Hillary, who had been defeated in the district primary by Bernie. Polling shows an extremely tight race and it’s going to be Marie’s field operation that wins this one and sends the DCCC and the Democratic old guard a message that voters are watching what they do and holding them accountable.

The only other candidate endorsed by Blue America in Illinois is Dr. David Gill in IL-13, a sprawling central Illinois district that meanders southwest from Champaign, Normal and Bloomington down through Decatur and Springfield to suburbs north and east of St. Louis. This was Bernie-country in 2016 and he beat Hillary in the district. And Gill is the candidate who has been working on Bernie issues for as long as Bernie has.

Remember, the last time Gill faced off against Republican Rodney Davis, Davis won by just a handful of votes — 136,596 to 135,309, only because left-wing spoiler John Hartman, took 21,319 votes, throwing the election to a crackpot conservative.

His message resonated last time — Help David get that message out to the few voters that got missed. He has three big-money establishment primary opponents who will probably split the establishment vote and allow Gill to face off against Davis in November. He definitely needs financial help for his field operation that will be in full swing in the next couple of weeks.

This week, we’re asking you to consider helping our Texas and Illinois candidates and leave the others for another time — just this week. Let’s make sure the progressives get into the Texas runoffs and into the Illinois general election.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make a better world.
Howie, for the entire Blue America team



Goal: Replacing Devin Nunes In November

RicardoFrancoNunesComrade.pngLet's send our own memo to Devin Nunes: "You're Fired!" Ricardo Franco is a progressive Democrat organizing in the Central Valley to take on who local paper Fresno Bee calls “Trump’s Stooge”. Blue America endorsed him today.

If California is the beating heart of progressive America, how can it be possible that the most powerful leader of Donald Trump's Praetorian Guard hails from the Golden State? I'm speaking, of course, of Congressman Devin Nunes, a man so devoted to the president that he is willing to destroy any institution in the US Government that threatens his Dear Leader.

One would think that a smart Republican would keep a bit of a low profile in a state which only gave Trump 31.6 percent of the vote in 2016, the lowest percentage of any Republican nominee to ever run for president. Not Nunes. Despite the fact that Trump remains mired in scandal and embarrassingly low approval ratings, he has taken the role of Trump defender to such an extreme that his face is now the international symbol for Trumpian sycophancy.

Nunes felt the Trump magic early, traveling around the state with him on Trump Force One during the campaign and becoming an influential foreign policy member of the Trump transition. As the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee he immediately took it upon himself to run interference for the White House by trying to help Trump make the case for his inane conspiracy theory that the Obama administration had tapped Trump Tower.

He made a fool of himself, pretending that in conducting his oversight duties he had "discovered" proof and had to rush to the White House to inform the president --- only to be revealed to have conspired with Trump staffers in the middle of the night to produce this information. This supposedly led to him recusing himself from the Russia investigation although his continued involvement shows he understands that in the Trump era, rules, traditions, norms and laws are all optional for Republicans.

Needless to say, the recent drama with what's known as "The Nunes Memo" and his announced intention to write many more in which he promises to name names in the Department of Justice, the FBI and the State Department and complete the "purge" of all government employees suspected of being insufficiently loyal to Trump, means he's going to be very busy in Washington over the next few months.

He should be paying a little more attention to what's happening in his district.

Nunes won comfortably in 2016 but that was before he voted for a tax bill designed to wreak revenge on California residents. It was before the Republicans decided to go to war against immigrants and start deporting people who've been living in the state for years. It was before Trump made fun of climate change and ignored the epic fire season that burned thousands of homes in California.It was before Nunes' Dear Leader decided to open oil drilling off California's coast, even as he exempted Florida a state which narrowly voted for him.

Nunes thinks his district is safe for him but everything indicates that 2018 will be a big blue wave referendum on Donald Trump. Being known as what the Fresno Bee recently called "Trump's Stooge" may just motivate a few more Democrats than usual to come out and vote. If they do, he has a problem. The district is 45% Latino, 42% white, 7% Asian and 3% black.

Luckily, a great young progressive Latino by the name of Ricardo Franco is running to replace him and Blue America has been happy to endorse him. He's a local businessman whose family has been in the area since 1912 and unlike Donald Trump, whose daddy had to pull strings to get him into the Wharton School of Business, Ricardo got in on his own. He has a keen insight on how to communicate progressive ideas to this traditional region in ways that feel familiar and new at the same time. And while Nunes, who is of Portuguese ancestry, says he "doesn't mind" being called Hispanic but thinks the term is "too broad" Ricardo speaks Spanish and is proud to call himself Latino.

Devin Nunes has been in Washington for 16 years and has lost touch with his community. Today he thinks the only person he needs to please in this world is Donald Trump.

He's going to find out this November that he is wrong.

Ricardo Franco is the future of the Democratic Party and Blue America is proud to support him. If we help him beat Trump's most loyal henchman it would send a powerful message to both parties in Washington that progressives in this country have decided that enough is enough.

Please give what you can to help send Ricardo Franco to Washington.

Thank you for your support.

Digby, for the entire Blue America team



Alert The Media! Tim Canova-Barenaked Ladies Contest, Day One:

Canova Contest Revision.pngTime for "DEBBIE DOWNER" TO GO! Help Tim Canova beat her in #FL23 and you might win this cool prize (see post for details)

Today is Day One of a week long contest on behalf of the Tim Canova congressional campaign in South Florida (FL-23 which starts up at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport and works it way south and west through Hollywood to Surfside in the south and Weston in the west).

It's Debbie Wasserman Schultz's safe gerrymandered district. We've contributed a beautiful gold, RIAA-certified  award plaque for the Barenaked Ladies' first U.S. album, Gordon, the album that includes, "Brian Wilson," "Be My Yoko Ono," "Hello City" and the band's smash hit, "If I Had $1,000,000." The album award, which has never been taken out of its plastic wrapping, was originally awarded to Reprise Records president Howie Klein, now the treasurer of Blue America. One lucky donor who gives to Tim's campaign before next Monday-- in any amount-- will be the proud new owner of the Barenaked Ladies' Gold award plaque.

Tim is running on a full-bore Bernie type platform-- issues he has been working on his entire adult life, from campaign finance reform, protecting the environment and ending the war on drugs to reversing income inequality, immigration reform and Medicare-for-All.

As of December 31, the last FEC reporting deadline, Tim had raised $161,996. He's going to need a lot more to defeat a corrupt incumbent who has taken massive amounts of money from payday lenders, private prisons and Wall Street. Please consider helping him reach his first quarter goal here.

Tim told us he finds

“the Barenaked Ladies music to be playful, offbeat and thought-provoking at the same time. On this album, 'If I Had a Million Dollars' is a strange kind of love song for a material world. The message is: 'If I had a million dollars, I’d buy you a house, furniture, a car, I’d buy your love.' Money certainly helps up to a point, but we know that money alone cannot really buy love or happiness. As I listened to this song this morning, I thought what would I do if I had a million dollars?  And I realized I would spend it on exactly what I’ve been investing my limited personal savings in: our campaign to defeat Debbie Wasserman Schultz and our lawsuit to inspect the ballots from our last race. That lawsuit is what prompted local election officials to destroy our ballots in violation of state and federal law. I am not letting this election scandal be swept under the rug, because I know the best way to ensure a fair vote count in our upcoming election is to demand a real investigation and accountability for the fraud and illegal ballot destruction in the last election. With your help, we will raise another million dollars and we will use those resources to keep building our grassroots campaign. This remains the top priority in my life: to defeat a cynical and corrupt political insider who has done so much damage to our country. If I had a million dollars, I would still be fighting to restore democracy."

Primaries against incumbents of your own party are the toughest thing there is in American politics. It's a thankless task, with your own party fighting you every step of the way and moving in to protect their colleague, no matter how corrupt she is. But in this D+11 district there is no other way to hold Wasserman Schultz accountable than to challenger her in a primary. A New Dem, from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, she hasn't earned a lifetime job, not by a longshot

Please help us replace her with Tim Canova. (You'll find all the "rules" to the contest at the link.)




Paid for by Blue America PAC, blueamerica.crooksandliars.com, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.