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.



Progressive Veterans Running For Congress

Unless you live in his district, you probably never heard of Ohio teabagger Warren Davidson, the Trumpist nut who won Boehner's seat when GOP extremists forced their own Speaker out of office. Last week Butler County's Journal-News reported Davidson told a room full of veterans that one way to clean up the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system is to get the "moochers" out of it. "Part of the problem," he said, "is there are some vets that are moochers and they’re clogging up the system. And we do as taxpayers want to make sure the VA filters out these folks that are pretenders." A spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars responded that "Honorably discharged veterans with service-connected wounds, illnesses and injuries, or who are indigent due to circumstances beyond their control, are not moochers."

If you feel, like we do, that the real moochers we have to worry about are careerist conservatives in Congress, please check out a new Blue America ActBlue page we just started to support progressive military veterans.

Recently Veterans For Bernie founder and National Director, Tyson Manker, announced his group's endorsement of U.S. Marine Colonel Doug Applegate, the Blue America-backed progressive running for the CA-49 seat (Orange and San Diego counties) that Darrell Issa operates out of.

"Colonel Applegate deployed to Ramadi, Iraq in 2006," said Manker. "He shouldered the burden with the 2.5 million Americans who laced up their boots and headed down range after September 11th. I know the Colonel will ask the right questions and ensure we are only sending our forces overseas when it is the last choice, not our first option. Veterans swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic... We must elect Representatives with proven leadership. We must elect those that have the skills to reach across the aisle to end the paralysis that has brought our Congress to a stand-still. Colonel Applegate’s opponent, Darrell Issa (U.S. Army veteran), voted to authorize the Iraq war, voted to cut an increase to military benefits, and dismissed 9/11 as 'just a plane crash'. That is why we endorse our brother, retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate to be the next Representative of California’s 49th Congressional District."

I came away from my long interview with Doug Applegate with a feeling that part of why he's running for Congress is because he felt that 95% of Congress who never served in a combat zone, has sent our sons and daughters to endless wars without any real strategy since 9/11. He told me clearly that he knows we "can't kill our way out of the world’s problems." He has experienced the realities and trials of war and learned firsthand how decisions to use our military impacts our all-volunteer force and everyday Americans. An infantry officer and a military lawyer since 1980, Doug already understands and stands ready to provide the type of leadership Congress so sorely lacks. I asked him in which areas specifically he felt he could make a difference in Congress. He talked about Congress' being lacking in what he identified as “4 critical areas:”

  1. sexual assaults in the military
  2. defense contracting that wastes trillions of American taxpayer dollars
  3. restructuring of the Veteran Administration that is inadequate, underfunded, overcrowded, and ill-prepared
  4. renewable energy program repeatedly needed and requested by the Defense Department

Doug doesn't sound anything like Warren Davidson.

Neither does Tom Wakely, a Blue America-backed candidate in the Austin-San Antonio area of Texas (TX-21, a seat held by Trump-fanatic Lamar Smith). "Simply put," he told us this week, "I've always put my country before politics. It's not hard to do. Though I was a noncombatant, I signed up with the Air Force right after I graduated high school. I understood that when your country needs you, it's important to answer that call. Our country's in dire need of elected officials who understand the most basic concepts of duty and compassion. I'm ready to answer the call again in District 21." He got right into the issue that separates him immediately from Davidson, Smith and the other Trumpists-- support for the V.A. 

As a veteran, I receive all my healthcare through the VA. I've seen the lines. I've experienced the service (or lack thereof). We've come a long way in reforming the VA but we must go much further. Our veterans deserve so much better. I've met with many veterans across the district who are ready to see real change. The media is happy to cover the return of our troops from overseas but oftentimes once those same troops become veterans, they become afterthoughts. We must keep them in our hearts and minds if we're going to progress as a nation. It must be all of us, together. That's why I'll be urging Congress to provide for the VA to cover full vision and dental. What good are we as a nation to our veterans if they can't see or incur serious periodontal disease?  It's why I want to work with various veterans and medical policy institutes to develop a new comprehensive mental health program at the VA which focuses on behavioral therapy and counseling as the true first line of defense. I'm personally a believer that healthcare is a human right and as this country moves toward that direction, we can learn a lot from what we are able to do in the VA. All too often our veterans become over-prescribed and misunderstood.

Lamar Smith is always ready to send our troops into harm's way, but votes against raising combat pay and properly insulating our barracks abroad. Being pro-war doesn't grant you the mantle of being pro-vets, pro-troops, or even pro-country. That hasn't stopped Smith from claiming a right to all of the above despite a record that proves otherwise. I'm ready to tackle the issues veterans face because I live it. I'm ready to listen. I'm ready to answer that call.

Our candidate on the South Shore of Long Island (NY-02), DuWayne Gregory, is the Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. A native Long Islander from a military family, DuWayne enlisted in the Army right out of college. He served as a lieutenant in the field artillery and he told us that his time in the Army taught him the importance of working together and refusing to back down in the face of any challenge-- lessons he brings to politics.

"My service in the military," he said, "was the greatest honor of my life. I saw great acts of bravery; I saw displays of courage and conviction. But I also saw firsthand issues that need to be addressed, such as men and women working over forty hours a week living in poverty.

I learned many important life lessons while serving in the military, the most important of which is the importance of leadership. Peter King's leadership has fallen short when it comes to important issues pertaining to our veterans. He and Congress have failed those in our military who are living on public assistance. They have failed when it comes to reforms in the VA. They have failed when it comes to the high unemployment rate for returning war veterans. I will use my military experience to lead on these issues and to demonstrate the commitment our veterans deserve. When there is a job to do, partisan politics shouldn't get in the way. I will provide the leadership that Congress needs to get the job done."

Please consider helping us make sure that when Congress considers military matters, not all the voices come from the far right, like Issa's and Davidson's. Let's make sure there are more progressives with military experience, like exemplary Blue America alumnus, Ted Lieu, in Congress.



DuWayne Gregory-- Ready To Turn Long Island Blue Again


Republican Peter King has been in Congress since 1993 and his Democratic neighbor and crony, Blue Dog Steve Israel, has seen to it that he would have no serious challenges from the DCCC. With Israel himself finally retiring, there were hopes that the DCCC would finally take on King, an outspoken Trump supporter. The Democrats have their best candidate for the seat in living memory, DuWayne Gregory, the respected and well-liked presiding officer of the Suffolk County legislature.

The Long Island South Shore district has moved significantly east into blue Suffolk County and is no longer safe Nassau territory for Republicans. In fact two-thirds of the voters now live in Suffolk-- and many of them don't know very much about Peter King. There was every expectation that once DuWayne Gregory became the official Democratic Party's candidate the DCCC would come in and help him get the message out about who King is. After all, Obama won the district twice, 51-48% against McCain and 52-47% against Romney. And the district-- the most Hispanic on Long Island-- is bluer now than it was then.

In 2014 Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand won both counties with gigantic landslide margins and this cycle Chuck Schumer's reelection campaign is expected to do just as well. It looks like Hillary will beat Trump very substantially in the New York suburbs, Nassau and Suffolk counties included. More Democrats than Republicans voted in the presidential primaries and polling shows enthusiasm for Trump since the primaries has all but evaporated. But Steve Israel has persuaded the DCCC to once again take a hands-off policy towards his old pal Peter King.

Needless to say, he hasn't persuaded Blue America and we've endorsed DuWayne Gregory with great enthusiasm and urge all of our members to consider contributing to his strong grassroots campaign here.

Friday we spent some time talking with DuWayne and I want to share some of his unvarnished thoughts with you:

"Ever since I announced my run for Congress people have asked me why do you want to run and why do you think you can beat Peter King? The answer for me was simple for two reasons. First, I strongly believe we need new leadership in Washington. Secondly, the decision to run, specifically, against Peter King was a personal decision for me. I take the responsibility of holding public office seriously. It is an awesome responsibility to have the ability to have a positive impact on people's lives. I also believe because of the oath of office we take we represent all residents of our district and not just the ones who voted for us or who we personally agree with. Peter King has violated this rule, in my opinion. I don't begrudge anyone with a more conservative set of principles than myself, but I do begrudge abhorrent values. 

"My decision to run was due in large part because of my son Julian, who is gay. When district lines changed I took it upon myself to research my Congressman's voting record on LGBT issues and was astonished at how narrowed minded his voting history has been: he voted against gay couples adopting children in Washington DC; supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a woman and a man; voted against expanding hate crimes to cover LGBT victims; voted against protecting LGBT members from being discriminated at work etc. As a LGBT parent Peter King does not understand the fear that a parent has, because of the same bigotry that is displayed with a voting record like his. I will never forget the day my son Julian came out to me while we were going to get ice cream. He was 12 years old! I immediately told him that I loved him and want him to be happy, but in my mind I was worried about how less accepting people will respond. People like Peter King who wrongly think gays make a choice regarding their sexual orientation. People like the shooter in the Orlando club massacre where my son was just two weeks prior. 

"So I made a choice that our country and my Congressional district needs new leadership and one less voice against equality in America. We deserve to have a representative that will work to protect my son just as fervently as all other children without bigotry or hate. It is Peter King's job to work to protect all people from harm and discrimination regardless of religious or personal beliefs. As an African-American I know hate all to well and to think my protection and safety would be sacrificed by an elected official because that person didn't approve I find appalling and dereliction of duty. The oath that public officials take does not ask them to protect only certain segments of the country, the one's they agree with, but all citizens of our country."

 

It's time for grassroots Democrats to take our fate into our own hands and stop allowing corrupt party bosses like Steve Israel and the jokers at the DCCC determine who does and who doesn't get into Congress. Voters on Long Island need to know that Peter King has endorsed and fully backs his pal Trump. If the DCCC won't help DuWayne Gregory get that message out-- and the message about who DuWayne is himself and what he wants to accomplish in Congress-- let's do it ourselves. It's worked in the past and it can work this time as well. Please consider contributing what you can to DuWayne's campaign here.




If you're not from Chicagoland you probably haven't heard of John Atkinson (yet). If you do live around the Windy City there's a chance you remember the full page ad (above) from last year, which ran in the Tribune, the Sun-Times and the Southtown Economist. The ads were put together and paid for by John and his wife Bonnie; I'm figuring they cost between $25 and $30,000. But they didn't work, Lipinski still bragging to this day-- and using Republican talking points in the process-- that he not only voted for the anti-Choice Stupak Amendment but that he was one of only 33 Democrats to cross the aisle and vote with Boehner against healthcare reform a year ago this month. Lipinski's ignoring the ads was part of the impetus that has made John throw his hat into the ring in seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat currently held by Lipinski, one of the most corrupt and reactionary Democrats in Congress.

This weekend, John officially registered with ActBlue and he's looking like a progressive and principled candidate for sending a Democratic Establishment that countenances corporate shills and bigots like Lipinksi a good strong message. You can contribute to his campaign at the Blue America Democratic message page.

President Obama won Illinois' 3rd CD with 64% of the vote, about 5 points better than either Gore or Kerry did. It's a solid Democratic district and there is no reason the party needs to keep nominating a Republican-lite shill like Lipinski, whose politics are more in tune with his home in Tennessee than with Cook County. The 3rd has one of the highest concentrations of Muslim-Americans of any district in the country and yet Lipinski, who never shuts up about super-serving Polish-Americans and other ethnic groups represented in the district, has been silent about the plight of Muslim-Americans unfairly targeted by Republican bigot Peter King in his McCarthy-like Homeland Security hearings. The day after King began his anti-Muslim hysteria, I asked John Atkinson if he would be handling this situation differently than Lipinski. He graciously agreed to write a guest post for us:

Representative Peter King (R-NY)-- in the latest example of his Party's relentless pursuit of a narrow ideological agenda-- has found yet another way to distract this new Congress from focusing on the issues that really matter to American families and businesses. Instead of working together to create jobs, pass a responsible budget, address growing concerns about our dependence on nonrenewable resources and foreign oil, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is spending their time investigating what they're calling "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response."

Unfortunately, these hearings aren't just a waste of taxpayer dollars, the King hearings are an affront to our hard-working, patriotic Muslim American neighbors; and an embarrassment to anyone who believes in the American principles of fairness and religious freedom. We have Muslim Americans dying in defense of our country, teaching our children, healing our sick, serving in Congress, and living next door. They are our friends and our fellow citizens. And, according to law enforcement officials, they are on the front lines of homeland security, working hard to identify and stop those who are or may be engaged in terrorist activities.

It is outrageous enough that Peter King and his Republican colleagues are leading the charge against our Muslim American neighbors. Something is deeply wrong in this country when we begin drawing lines to separate us from each other. We deserve leaders who will bring us together-- black and white, gay and straight, people of all religions and no religion at all, people of every language and every ethnicity-- to help us work together to meet the challenges that confront us all.

There is no question that extremism is a threat to our security-– but extremism is not limited to any single group. On the day before Peter King opened these hearings, law enforcement officials arrested a neo-Nazi in a plot to murder 1500 Martin Luther King Jr. Day marchers in Spokane, Washington. And on the day the hearings opened, police arrested five people, including the head of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, an anti-government "Patriots" group, in a plot to murder judges and state troopers. (Source: Southern Poverty Law Center, http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2011/03/11/the-screaming-hypocrisy-of-peter-king/#more-6017)

Mr. King, why aren't we investigating "The Extent of Radicalization in the "you name the group" Community and that Community's Response"? Because, Mr. King, in America it is not OK to indict a whole community of people because of the illegal actions of a few.

There have been times in our history when we look back and we know that our leaders, who claimed at the time to be acting in the interest of national security, got it horribly wrong. This is one of those times.

Blue America is getting to know John but my guess is that he's a very good prospect for an early endorsement. Like I said, right now you can help launch his primary campaign at our Sending the Democrats A Message page.




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