The Philly Suburbs Are In Political Turmoil

As we've explained before, political science professor Mary Ellen Balchunis is just too progressive for Steve Israel (Blue Dog-NY), Ben Ray Lujan (DCCC chair) and Nancy Pelosi who used to be from San Francisco but now represents some alternative universe. Mary Ellen isn't, however, too progressive for the Democrats who actually live in the Philly suburbs in Delaware, Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties.

They laughed when the DCCC tried to insert some Wall Street outsider, Bill Golderer, as "their" candidate. That's why Mary Ellen beat him in the primary-- beat him, in fact quite decisively, 51,525 (74%) to 18,276 (26%). And this despite a very aggressive sabotage campaign against her... by the DCCC! While telling institutional donors not to contribute to Mary Ellen's campaign, they helped Golderer raise the $351,551 he spent against her in the primary (and even added in another $14,500 against her-- $14,500 that unaware contributors gave the DCCC to be used against Republicans, not against progressives).

As soon as the votes were counted showing Mary Ellen's stupendous win, the DCCC packed up its tents and decided PA-07 was no longer one of the "top 10 congressional targets in the country." They started investing money in deep, deep red districts; in Utah, Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey, where they have right-wing Blue Dogs and New Dems running with virtually no chance of winning. Their hatred for progressives and progressive ideas is so blinding, they have adamantly refused to help Mary Ellen's campaign-- and determined to see her lose to sad sack GOP backbencher incumbent Pat Meehan. Does this make any sense to you? Will you help her show the DCCC (again) who the Democrats in PA-07 want to have representing them in Congress?

Hillary and Bernie split the counties that make up PA-07. They also split the affections of Mary Ellen, who is an old friend of Hillary's and a supporter of the same progressive agenda that made Bernie so beloved to the Democratic Party grassroots, much of which Hillary has now embraced as well, she says. This past Monday, Hillary was back in the Philly suburbs, campaigning with Mary Ellen in her hometown, Haverford... despite Pelosi and her conservative DCCC henchmen still purposefully ignoring the PA-07 race.

"I was first inspired by Hillary Clinton in 1992," Mary Ellen told us, "when I was teaching a class on State and Local Government, and our textbook discussed Governor Clinton of Arkansas appointing his wife, then  Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton, to chair a committee to improve education in their state. The Clintons viewed education as a key to economic development and I was impressed by how Bill and Hillary worked together as equals. I was honored to have Hillary lecture to my students and sign my textbook. One of my students asked her what her focus would be if she were to become First Lady of the United States. Hillary said she would work to help our children and she has more than lived up to that promise with her steadfast advocacy for children and families. Perhaps the most inspiring moment was when Hillary was working on the 1996 Baby Bill to extend maternity stays from 24 hours to a minimum of 48 hours at the same time my students were working on the issue. When the bill was  being signed, Hillary invited me and my two year old daughter to the Rose Garden signing ceremony. We were both part of the 24 hour 'McBirth' deliveries. In my classes, I teach by involving students. My classes have worked on reducing the time that rape kits sit on shelves, reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, bringing awareness of the problem of human trafficking, amongst others. Hillary inspired me to go further, saying: 'I know Mary Ellen Balchunis has just one of the best Women in Politics class in the nation.'"

Hillary seems to get it-- she needs progressives in Congress to help her pass the ambitious agenda Bernie and Elizabeth Warren helped her put together to run on. It's heartening to see her backing good candidates and not just the garbage the DCCC insists on backing. Mary Ellen is a values-driven fighter, not some kind of careerist hack. Hillary needs people like Mary Ellen Balchunis in Congress if she's going to get anything worthwhile done.

This is the kind of crucial race where the progressive grassroots can pick up the slack from a corrupted and conservative DCCC refusing to do its job. Please consider joining Blue America in supporting Mary Ellen Balchunis's race against Paul Ryan rubber-stamp, Pat Meehan in a district where Hillary is leading Trump by over 20 points! Let's use that opportunity to win back Joe Sestak's old House seat while the DCCC wastes their resources on a pack of Blue Dogs in districts far out of grasp. And, by the way, Joe Sestak, has been campaigning very actively for Mary Ellen in the district and helping her raise money as well.



Blue America Welcomes Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach

Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district, Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County-- is one of the most liberal districts in the state. Obama beat McCain 65.4-33.7% in 2008 and did even better last year-- 66.2-32.9%. The current congressmember, Allyson Schwartz, is giving up the seat to run for governor. She was reelected in November with 69% of the vote. She's always been extremely cautious to not get out ahead on any contentious issues and tends to vote very conservatively for a Democrat in a safe seat, especially on issues of economic justice. This is the perfect time to replace her with a real leader and a courageous fighting progressive. State Senator Daylin Leach fits the bill perfectly. Take a look at the video up top. You have to admire a politician who brags about an "F" from the NRA and who launches a congressional campaign talking about introducing the first same sex marriage bill in the Pennsylvania legislature.

With his record of achievement, Daylin is a natural for Blue America and he'll be joining us in the comments section, below, for a live chat at 11am (2pm ET). He's been taking on tough issues that most politicians are afraid to get anywhere near-- from legalizing marijuana to labeling genetically engineered food. He's been a major opponent in the state legislature of Republican efforts to privatize and voucherize public education and has been one of the leading voices against GOP efforts at voter suppression. He supports the Grayson Takano No Cuts approach to dealing with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. "At a time when corporate profits, executive compensation, the stock market and wealth disparity are at near record highs, it is obscene to even consider balancing our budget on the backs of seniors and veterans," he told us. "I fully supported President Obama's election, but I can't support any drift towards corporatism to appease tea-party extremists... Republicans are, on a daily basis, showing their complete indifference to the poor, kids, the elderly and public safety as they not only perpetuate sequestration, but gloat about it. The clock ticks as America waits for some actual human beings with a soul to emerge from the Republican caucus."

The gun lobby is very strong in Pennsylvania and the NRA is a very potent force there. That doesn't seem to deter Daylin one iota. This is what he told us about the battle over gun safety yesterday:

Lets wrap our mind around this. Congress said that it is our national policy that we don't want to know if someone is a violent felon before we allow them to buy a mass-killing machine. This is what it looks like when a country loses its mind.

Further, the idea that any restriction with the word "gun" in it somehow violates the 2nd Amendment is based on ignorance of how the Constitution works. No constitutional right is absolute. We have a right to free speech which is far more unambiguous than the "right to keep and bear arms." Yet there are all kinds of speech which we can Constitutionally restrict. You can't libel someone or lie in advertising, or yell "fire" in a crowded theater. You can say you are against the war in Iraq, but you can't do it through a megaphone in a residential neighborhood at 3:00 AM.

Ironically, most of these restrictions are based on the state's interest in preserving public safety. Similarly, limits on violent people, or juveniles, or spouse-beaters having guns, or the number of guns you can buy per month, or how many bullets you can have in a clip at a time are perfectly reasonable, and more to the point, Constitutional restrictions that in no way impact anyone's 2nd Amendment rights.

State Rep. Brian Sims is the first out LGBT member to be elected to the Pennsylvania legislature. He's from a neighboring district and he's enthusiastically supporting Daylin's congressional run. Sims gained a lot of notoriety when, in fighting GOP attempts to prohibit state-run insurance from covering abortions, he reminded his colleagues that "Each of us put our hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution; we did not place our hands on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." This weekend he told us that "Daylin Leach has been a leader on LGBT civil rights in the Pennsylvania legislature for the last decade which is why I have endorsed him. This is a pivotal time in Washington for issues of equality, and we need proven leaders like Daylin who have a record of fighting for our rights. I know that Daylin will be our champion in DC."

Daylin doesn't mince words when it comes to protecting the civil rights of any groups of people. Speaking about his fight for LGBT equality, he reminded us that, "Martin Luther King said 'the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.' So what is it bending away from? It bends away from bigotry, and discrimination and social acceptance of the idea that its OK to treat people as lesser human beings because they are different from us. In the long run, those attitudes make history sick."

He's been a stalwart fighter against the Republicans in their crackpot war against women. "It is beyond my comprehension how anyone with a mother, wife or daughter could accept anything less than full equality for women. Equality of income, of access to health care, of opportunities to succeed, these are the basic demands that anyone who has a woman he cares about should have." You want the best in Congress-- not someone who the best you can say is that he's better than a Republican? Daylin's your man. We're very proud to endorse him. Please consider contributing to his campaign on the Blue America ActBlue page.



Blue America Welcomes Back Two Old Friends, Joe Sestak And Ned Lamont

Yesterday Arlen Specter was back at his old media home, Fox News, singing a new tune, dancing the Lieberman shuffle, calling the GOP "a party of obstructionism." Well, he's got that right; they are. And until consistent polling showed that a right-wing extremist, Club For Growth head Pat Toomey, would kick his ass from Chester to Erie and from Waynesville to Carbondale in the Republican primary, Specter was very much a part of that obstructionist machine. Staring into the eyes of political mortality, Specter cut a deal with the White House to jump the fence and "become" a Democrat. He made the purely opportunistic switch on April 28. And here he was two weeks later on Meet The Press letting Pennsylvania voters know exactly what kind of a "Democrat" he would be:

Today he was calling his old colleagues obstructionists on the exact same issue for doing precisely what he was doing, although he has also bragged about how he will also vote with Republicans against Employees Free Choice. (The only difference is that he takes even more in thinly-veiled bribes from the Medical-Industrial Complex--$4,266,393, the most of any member of Congress who didn't run for president-- and Big Insurance--$1,058,655-- than most of them do.) Oh... and there's one more difference: Admiral Joe Sestak. Joe Sestak's constant pressure on behalf of working families has pushed Specter away from his unswerving support for his corporate donors. Petrified of being defeated in the Democratic primary, Specter sounds like he's almost a Democrat.

It was in the spring of 2006 that Blue America first started following Admiral Sestak as he sought, successfully, to dislodge another corrupt Republican barnacle obstructing progress in Washington, Curt Weldon. He was one of the first candidates our PAC ever endorsed and we have been immensely impressed by something that has distinguished Rep. Sestak from almost all the other members of Congress we've worked with. He is a critical thinker who seems to relish a debate of ideas. We don't always agree on every single issue but he never gets all brittle and uptight when challenged and he is always eager for input and eager to go through the thought processes that led him to make a decision. If there's one thing I've learned since starting Blue America, it's that no one is buying a member of Congress with an endorsement and no member of Congress will agree with you on every single vote. (Barney Frank once famously said even you wouldn't agree with you on every single vote.) What we do look for is someone with a sterling character who is open-minded, courageous and with inherently progressive sympathies. That's why we've continued to support Joe Sestak and why we asked him to come over to Crooks and Liars today for a live chat. He'll be joining us this afternoon at 3pm (PT), 6pm back in Pennsylvania. And he's bringing along another ole Blue America friend, Ned Lamont.

When I spoke to Rep. Sestak on the phone last week about the health-care debate, he was very forceful. "I'm going to have a very difficult time if I'm asked to vote for a bill that doesn't have a public option," he began. "I support a public option so that individuals are no longer stuck in insurance markets with no choices and no competition to bring down costs... I want to end unfair rationing by insurance company executives, like the small business owner who came into my District office because to complain about not being able to purchase insurance for herself or her employees because she had ovarian cancer ten years ago... As vice-chairman of the small business committee, I understand the need to reduce health care costs for small businesses. Only 62% of all small firms (less than 200 employees) offer health insurance, as compared to 99% of large firms. When they do offer insurance, it costs roughly 18% more than for larger employers."

You can find the rest of Specter's real health care record at DownWithTyranny. Meanwhile, please join us in the comments section below for our chat with Joe Sestak and Ned Lamont. After you've heard them out, if you'd like to sign up as a volunteer or donate to Rep. Sestak's election fund, you can do it on his website.




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