Why It's Not All Gloom And Doom Around Here


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Blue America Mobile Billboards Are On The Road Again


It's that time of year again. Starting tomorrow we have trucks, 2-sided mobile billboards prowling the highways and byways of at least 4 districts “served” by Republican incumbents that we think are flippable. These are the four races:

  • NV-04, where we expect Ruben Kihuen to beat NRA patsy Cresent Hardy
  • NH-01, where Carol Shea-Porter looks like she can end the political career of dishonest Trumpist Frank Guinta
  • NY-02, where Suffolk County legislator DuWayne Gregory is on track to oust right-wing crackpot Peter King
  • TX-21, our long-shot race, where Berniecrat Tom Wakely has made tremendous inroads in the San Antonio and Austin suburbs thanks, in great part to the tight bond between Lamar Smith and Donald J. Trump

These trucks are already in production and the first one in Nevada starts tomorrow, Monday the 18th. New Hampshire will be on the road Tuesday; Long Island starts Wednesday and Texas starts Thursday. We are asking for some money to keep these four progressive messaging machines rolling right up until November 8th.

And... if anyone is feeling flush, we'd like to get trucks on the road against “Professional car thief” Darryll Issa in Orange and San Diego counties, against Pat “I’m only here for the Gerrymandering” Meehan in the Philly suburbs and against “Smarmy Frat Boy” John Faso in upstate New York (Zephyr Teachout's district). Enough $20 contributions will be great for the gas but trucks cost around $15,000 each for a run between now and election day.

Fortunately, Blue America’s Independent Expenditure (I.E.) Committee can take larger contributions than the limit of $2,700 permitted to candidates. If you want to give enough for a whole truck, or for a significant part of a truck, and it's for a specific candidate, just let us know by e-mailing me at downwithtyranny@gmail.com.

Our I.E. Committee ActBlue page is here.

Meanwhile, if you want to help the candidates directly, you can contribute to their campaigns on this page, but keep in mind that none of that money goes for the mobile billboard campaign— and none of the I.E. money can be shared with the candidates.



Instant Upgrade To Congress Within Grasp

We're entering the last few weeks on the dash to election day. Now is when candidates need financial resources the most.

I want to say a few words about one of the candidates Blue America has endorsed: Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, who has always run grassroots campaigns and always eschewed corporate PACs, even when she was in Congress and lobbyists were interested in giving that kind of money to her. We've known her as long as Blue America exists, a full decade. We endorsed her first run for Congress in 2006 when, despite spiteful sabotage from Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC, she defeated GOP incumbent Jeb Bradley.

When we first met Carol she was a grassroots activist running on an anti-war platform. And a full decade ago she was already peppering her speeches with the not yet commonly used term, living wage.

Those issues frightened Rahm and he recruited a conservative establishment Democrat, Jim Craig, to run. Although Craig had the backing of the DCCC machine and spent $381,290 against her, (more money than she spent in the primary and the general election combined) she kicked his ass because she knew how to run a grassroots campaign and he-- like almost all DCCC candidates-- didn't. She beat him 54-34%.

The DCCC immediately wrote off the district and Rahm called Democratic contributors and told them she had no chance and not to waste their money-- a common DCCC tactic they still use against progressives today. But despite Bradley outspending her almost 4 to 1, she beat him in November 100,899 votes (51%) to 94,869 votes (49%) and beat him again in a rematch two years later, this time with a 54-46% margin.

I was reminded about what a kook Guinta is when I watched the Wells Fargo House Financial Services Committee hearings on Thursday. A member of that committee, Guinta has managed to extort $1,103,948 from the Wall Street interests he's supposed to be protecting the public from. He was, by far, the most unhinged member of the committee when it came to questioning Well Fargo CEO John Stumpf.

Guinta's agenda is unchanging when it comes to Wall Street-- less regulations and a freer hand for banksters like Stumpf to rip off their customers. He aggressively advocates wrecking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and has voted against it over and over and over. Thursday he asked Stumpf-- no fan of the CFPB by any stretch of anyone's imagination-- how many CFBP agents had been embedded with Wells Fargo. When Stumpf said he didn't know the number of agents, the deranged Guinta invented a Breitbart-worthy conspiracy theory on the spot, accusing Stumpf of plotting with the CFPB to withhold the information from the committee. The other members just rolled their eyes with embarrassment and breathed a sign of relief when Guinta's time expired. And, yes, he's solicited-- and taken-- substantial bribes from Wells Fargo's PAC.

There are virtually no issues on which Guinta hasn't managed to dig himself into a hole that pits him against his own constituents. Carol correctly points out that even on something as important to voters as Social Security, Guinta's crackpot privatization ideas are just plain dangerous to ordinary retirees and future retirees. Without naming him, she said that:

"Republican politicians claim they want to preserve Social Security, they actually don’t... Social Security will have problems paying at today's rate around 2034, but it can be fixed if the Congress would do what Reagan did in 1983-- fix it. Raise the cap to make Social Security sustainable. Right now, people who earn under $118,500 pay tax on every single dollar they earn. People who earn over that do not pay on every dollar, just the first $118,500. It is not fair for lower-income people to pay on all of their earnings while the wealthy pay only on the first $118,500."

Like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren-- and anyone serious about protecting Social Security benefits-- Carol advocates scrapping the cap so that the wealthy pay their fair share. Guinta wants to just turn Social Security over to Wall Street and let the chips fall where they may-- while his campaign donors make billions in fees and commissions off American workers' contributions.

Guinta barely survived his primary challenge, edging Rich Ashooh 26,229 (46.5%) to 25,580 (45.3%). The latest poll of the district, released this week, shows that most voters dislike Guinta, who has a negative favorability rating (26-47%), with fully 31% rating him as "very unfavorable." And those people plan to vote against him in November.

In a head-to-head matchup, Carol beats him 50-39% and in a five-way vote that includes third party candidates, she's still way ahead, 44-34%. Short version: very good investment if you're thinking about contributing $5.00 or even $500.



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%.




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