The Most Important Primaries Of 2018

If you've been with Blue America for enough years, you'll remember the excruciating battles we backed for Donna Edwards, Beto O'Rourke and Matt Cartwright when they took on corrupt old conservative Democrats in, respectively, Maryland, Texas and Pennsylvania. All three, running as reformers and progressives, prevailed. But there is nothing in politics more difficult, no task more painful-- and few as important-- as taking on an entrenched incumbent of one's own party.

Each of those districts was solidly blue and the only possible accountability for bad behavior could come in the form of a primary. No Republican was ever going to beat Al Wynn in Prince George's County (D+28), Sylvestre Reyes in El Paso (D+17) or even Tim Holden in northeast Pennsylvania (D+4).

All three had become untreated cancers on the Democratic Party but the institutional party circled the wagons around each to ward off the reformers. It was very painful for each of them, especially Matt and Donna who were screamed at and lambasted by the Democratic Party leadership. Pelosi and Hoyer raised money for the incumbents and spread malicious and malevolent lies about the challengers. 

Blue America is backing progressives in a dozen primary races, but they're not primaries against incumbents; they're primaries among challengers vying for the nomination to beat a Republican. In an ideal world, every Blue Dog, every New Dem and every unaffiliated conservaDem would have to justify themselves to their voters every two years in issues-based primaries. But this year we've only found 4 so far that we've gotten involved with-- in other words, plausible races against exceptionally bad Democrats by exceptionally good Democrats.

These are the four races:

• FL-23, Tim Canova taking on Debbie Wassermann Schultz
• TX-29, Hector Morales taking on Gene Green
• IL-03, Marie Newman taking on Dan Lipinski
• NY-14, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez taking on Joe Crowley

Crowley, perhaps the most overtly corrupt Democrat in Congress, was the head of the Wall Street-owned New Dems before he was tapped by increasingly feeble-minded Pelosi and Hoyer to run the party after they're gone. It's almost impossible to imagine anything worse happening to the Democratic Party.  Although... Debbie Wassermann Schultz taking over the party-- once a distinct possibility (she's now more likely to take over a prison block)-- might be worse.

Lipinski is just a garden variety Blue Dog: anti-Choice, homophobic, xenophobic, and a pawn of his corporate donors. He's a co-chair of the House Blue Dog caucus and votes far more against crucial progressive legislation with the Republicans than with the Democrats. Gene Green, who represents an impoverished 77% Hispanic district in East Houston, including some of the most polluted areas of America, polluted, we should note by Green's campaign contributors, whose interests he diligently serves.

Dislodging the Republicans from control of the House is everyone's first priority. Getting rid of corrupt Democrats who make the party less attractive to voters who hate the Republicans and who perpetrate the myth that the Democrats can never be better than the lesser of two evils, should also be a priority.

Please consider contributing what you can to the special page Blue America has set up specifically to raise funds for progressive challengers to the worst of the congressional conservaDems. I hope there will be more before the cycle concludes, but this is a pretty impressive group so far.

Hector Morales, for example, is a school teacher in Houston who thinks it's time to hold Green accountable for the pollution that has been making school children in his district sick year after year. "After sitting in Congress for 25 years representing special interests," he told us, "it is beyond time to replace this corporate shill with someone who will always place the people first and will not make a career out of being a member of Congress. We can and will do better in March when we defeat Gene Green in the Democratic Primary for the 29th Congressional District of Texas."

Upgrading the Democratic Party is as essential and banishing the GOP from control of the House. It will help break a cycle where the voters go back and forth on which party is really the lesser of two evils.



No Trump.NoKKK.NoFascist USA!--Win A Signed Green Day Guitar/Help Randy Bryce Beat Paul Ryan

The American Music Awards aren't supposed to be "political," so when Green Day tweaked the words on their new song, "Bang Bang," adding "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA," it may have caught some viewers by surprise. But not iron worker, union organizer and Wisconsin Green Day fan Randy Bryce. "As usual, Billy Joe Armstrong was just a little ahead of his time," he told us when we talked about the upcoming Blue America Green Day guitar giveaway. "I love bands that express their angst in music."

When residents know who Randy Bryce is and who Paul Ryan is, Randy wins and Ryan loses. The contributions at this stage of the campaign are mostly to make sure voters do know who Randy Bryce is. And you can make a contribution-- and make yourself eligible to win the Green Day guitar-- right here.

In tribute to Billie's spirit, I took a sleek black Stratocaster guitar (a Fender Squire Bullet Strat) that Green Day autographed for me while I was president of their label and decided to use it to raise some campaign funds for Randy's campaign for the congressional seat Paul Ryan is operating out of. You can see a photo of the guitar, of Randy holding the guitar, on the right in the contribution box.

Everyone who contributes here-- any amount-- to Randy Bryce's campaign has an equal chance to get the "thank you" guitar from Blue America. We'll pick one person at random. If you give $1,000 you get a chance to get the guitar. If you give $10 you get the same chance to get the guitar. (Yes, we're Democrats, not Republicans; that's how we roll. In fact, if you don't have the cash to give and you want the guitar, just send a note to us at Blue America, P.O. Box 27201. Los Angeles, CA 90027 and you'll have the same chance as everyone else.)

Many contributors want to know if their contribution will help. There are no guarantees of course, that Randy will win, but polling shows that the residents of WI-01 want a new Congressmember; Ryan's reelect numbers are only 44%.

When residents know who Randy Bryce is and who Paul Ryan is, Randy wins and Ryan loses. The contributions at this stage of the campaign are mostly to make sure voters do know who Randy Bryce is. And you can make a contribution-- and make yourself eligible to win the Green Day guitar-- right here.

Meanwhile, Connor Touhey, in yesterday's Badger Herald points out that, "in large part due to gerrymandering, Speaker Ryan’s margin of victory in the past two elections was massive. His ability to garner national attention as Speaker of the House makes him popular in the state, especially since many see him as a 'moderate' willing to try and work with Democrats to solve problems. On top of that, any perceived threat to such a big name in the Republican Party will undoubtedly bring in millions of dollars in political contributions. Paul Ryan should be unbeatable, but he isn’t. Despite his position of power, the Speaker’s inability to connect with his own constituents makes him vulnerable.

As a U.S. Representative, Paul Ryan’s first responsibility is to answer to the constituents of his district. I am one of those constituents, and trust me, he has no interest in listening to what any of us have to say.

Seriously, try calling his office. Ten times out of ten you’ll sent to voicemail. Ryan recently held his first “Town Hall” meeting back in Wisconsin, except it wasn’t a public event. Those who wanted to attend had to apply, ultimately leaving the decision on attendees in the hands of CNN. It’s antics like these that leave Speaker Ryan so vulnerable.

Being unable to even speak to those you have elected will irritate just about any constituency, but in a place like Wisconsin, where access to our officials is especially important to us, it’s disgraceful. Add in a stagnant legislative agenda despite a national mandate for Republicans, the farce that is the Foxconn deal and his continuing role as the president’s court jester, and Speaker Ryan’s next race might be the closest of his career, if not the upset many are already predicting. All Democrats need now is a quality candidate to speed up this race.

The thing is, Randy Bryce is a really good candidate. As an army veteran, cancer survivor and iron worker, Bryce represents the kind of person many believe Paul Ryan continues to screw over in Washington. His life experiences give him firsthand knowledge of the military, our healthcare system and everyday life as a blue collar worker from a personal perspective.

Consider that Bryce is the ultimate picture of modern rustbelt American, and he may have a fighting chance. No, seriously, go look at a picture of the guy. Bryce often has this steely expression on his face, with a fantastic mustache, hardhat and work clothes to back it up.

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

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team

You can contribute to our Senate candidates on this page, our House candidates on this page, and to the brave candidates who are challenging a Blue Dog on this page.



How To Defeat Steve King-- Make Sure Kim Weaver Beats Him

Maybe you got an email filled with outrage over Steve King's latest racist statement this week. The DCCC sent one out, asking for contributions. There's a problem with that though. Steve King isn't just some loud-mouthed crackpot and bigot; he's an actual congressman from western Iowa. And, the DCCC won't use the contributions they solicit to beat Republican Steve King. They'll waste the contributions trying to elect even more Blue Dog and New Dem garbage-crats like Josh Gottheimer (NJ) and Tom O'Halleran (AZ), on whom they spent $3.5 million and $2.6 million, respectively.

Last year there was a progressive Democrat running against Steve King, the O'Brien County Democratic Party chairwoman, Kim Weaver. The DCCC collected a lot of money by sending out e-mails telling Democrats how horrible Steve King is then, too. How much of the money collected for IA-04 did the DCCC give Kim? ZERO. They did absolutely nothing to help her at all.

The thing is, even without any help from the DCCC, Kim earned more votes than Hillary Clinton in every single county in IA-04-- all 39 of them-- and even won the biggest county in the district! It's worth noting here that Kim out-performed Chuck Schumer's handpicked corporate conservative Senate candidate, Patty Judge, in all 39 counties as well.

This year Kim is taking on King again. And what is the DCCC doing? You probably guessed it-- sending out more letters demonizing King and collecting cash to use to elect more conservaDems while offering nothing at all to Kim Weaver. We're sick of it.

Blue America endorsed Kim this week and we're asking our members to contribute directly to her campaign.

Kim told us that "the most disappointing aspect of the campaign was being told time and again that although I was a 'great candidate,' various organizations declined to support me because I wasn’t 'viable.' Most organizations didn’t even respond to my applications for assistance. Additionally, whenever my opponent would say some new horrific thing, I would get emails after emails from organizations asking for money to 'help defeat Steve King.' Not a single one of those organizations passed along any of that support. King was a big money maker for them, and it appears that he still is."

The DCCC doesn't want to understand that it takes real effort and investment over time to defeat entrenched incumbents like King. It's beyond their scope of endeavor, which is why the House Democrats have hemorrhaged dozens and dozens of members since Rahm Emanuel set his reactionary strategic and tactical ideas into stone.

2018 is the greatest opportunity we have to defeat Republicans in Congress in decades. But, please, when you want to defeat a Steve King, contribute directly to his Democratic opponent, Kim Weaver. And when you want to defeat a Darrell Issa or a Lamar Smith, donate to Doug Applegate or Tom Wakely, not the a DCCC that will just waste the contributions on their own questionable agenda.

And how do we know how candidates-- like Kim Weaver, for example, are going to be once they get into Congress? One way is to watch closely what they say when they campaign. In explaining the difference between how she and Steve King approach government expenditures-- which, is, after all, one of the most important things a Member of Congress does, Kim stated that "in supporting a budget that will drastically reduce funding for programs like Meals on Wheels and funding for school lunches, Steve King is once again showing how out of touch he is with the people of Iowa. As an advocate for seniors, I know personally how vital Meals on Wheels is to the seniors who make up a large portion of this district. And cutting funding for school lunches? Someone needs to remind Rep. King that he represents a district where one out of every four children rely on that assistance just to eat every day. Standing up for those most vulnerable in our society is a part of who we are as Americans."

The difference couldn't be any clearer. Since the DCCC isn’t, please consider giving what you can to help Kim get her message out to voters in IA-04.



Tom Guild Came in First in his Primary

Liberals don't always expect much from Republican bastions like Oklahoma. But Blue America endorsed an across-the-board progressive, Tom Guild, to run for the congressional seat based in Oklahoma City and thanks in part, to our members generosity, he came in first. And a couple of weeks ago Tom came out on top in a tough 3-way primary against a very conservative state Senator who is the polar opposite of a progressive. Tom walked away with 42.1% of the vote while that state senator drew 30.9% and a third candidate took 27%. Oklahoma law requires a runoff, which has been set for August 26.

To build on his momentum from the primary, Tom needs to raise $45,000 for his modest TV and radio advertising and his get-out-the-vote/field operation. Blue America is the only group helping Tom raise money and we're turning to you again for that assistance.

"We will continue to knock doors, make phone calls, put up signs, and visit with voters in the congressional district," Tom told us Friday. "We are the only progressive in the race, and have an outstanding chance to take on and beat the survivor of the Republican nominating process, which also plays out with a runoff August 26. First, we need to secure the Democratic nomination on August 26. We will continue to speak out about increasing Social Security benefits, protecting Medicare, lowering college student loan rates to the same low rate afforded to big banks, protecting civil rights, restoring voting rights, and fighting for human rights. We have momentum and history on our side. Please contribute what you can today, so that we will have the resources needed to win the runoff, and go into the general election with momentum and confidence.

Tom's 97,504 votes from the 2012 election-- the most votes for any Democratic nominee in 22 years-- is primed to turn out and vote in 2014. He isn't another mealy-mouthed red state Democrat. Like fellow Oklahoman, Elizabeth Warren, he is proud of their state's populist traditions and he is clearly from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party. Tom has the best chance to be elected as the first Democratic U.S. House Member from Oklahoma City in decades.

Tom:

"Expanding Social Security by implementing the plan put forward by Oklahoma native Senator Elizabeth Warren would give peace of mind and a semblance of economic security to tens of millions of American seniors. Her plan to provide an additional supplement to the income of Americans when they reached the age of 75 and again at the age of 85 would help account for the additional cost of living seniors have in providing for added medical needs. Her plan would also make the program completely self-sustaining for additional decades. Expanding benefits will make a great program even better… The federal government currently lends to banks at very low interest rates. I support a plan to extend those low rates to student loans. Making big profits on student loans is unseemly and adds to the tremendous burden that many students graduating from American colleges and their families currently bear. Students should be treated at least as well as banks, who benefit by extremely low interest rates."

This race is well within reach, but we need to get on board to make sure Tom has the resources to win. Please click here to join us and stand with Tom Guild for Congress.



The best congressional rematch of 2012

AnnieKuster285x363.jpgHow about electing a frugal yankee with the right priorities to congress?

In the people's corner Ann McLane Kuster

On election night 2010, when progressives around the country were pummeled and defeated, one race kept us all up late, hoping against hope that we'd have a memorable victory among the defeats. As it turned out New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district candidate Ann McLane Kuster lost to Charlie Bass that night by only a few votes, but showed that even in a GOP tsunami she had what it took to compete as a progressive. So naturally she's challenging Bass to a rematch in 2012.

This time there's no doubt about what she's up against. Bass has turned out to be a very typical Republican by voting to end Medicare and then whining about semantics when Democratic groups called him on it. He's collecting money from all the usual suspects, notably energy and insurance companies who have business in front of the energy and commerce committee, along with practically every other lobbyist from tobacco to Walmart. It didn't take him long to put his hand out and start collecting the big bucks from the corporations and the 1 percent.

By contrast Annie has had over 11,000 individual donations, 90% of which are under a hundred dollars. (You can join the crowd, by donating to her campaign here.)

She's running a grassroots campaign with an army of progressives on the ground and around the country who are anxious to see a "frugal yankee" put these priorities to work for the people:

I believe we need to cut wasteful government spending -- like the billions in subsidies for oil companies, the corporate tax breaks for moving jobs overseas, and the billions more spent on redundant weapons systems that our military leaders have identified as wasteful and unneeded. But instead of these cuts, the US House of Representatives is cutting what we need most: education, public safety, and the clean energy research that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It makes no sense. America can do better than this -- so, it's time for all of us to do something about it.

America can do better --- with the help of dedicated, energetic progressives in the House, fighting for the people instead of catering to the special interests.

We are very excited to once again endorse Ann McLane Kuster for the congressional seat in New Hampshire's second district and are pleased that she has accepted our invitation to join us for the first Blue America chat of the 2012 campaign this Saturday at 2pm est and 11am pst at Crooks and Liars. Please join Annie and us for a freewheeling conversation about her campaign, the state of politics and her plans to help us all create a better country for the 99%.

And if you would like to help her with this grassroots endeavor, you can contribute to her campaign here.

We're all in this together,

Digby, for Howie, John and the Blue America team



Dems Desperate to Hold Senate Majority-- Let's Build A PROGRESSIVE Majority! Support Sanders & Warren

Bernie and Elizabeth depend on Grassroots (that's us!) not Wall Street. Every penny goes directly to their campaigns. Please give what you can.

Blue America doesn't usually send e-mails asking for contributions because of some phony Inside the Beltway "deadline"-- as if a $20 contribution is any more or any less crucial today or tomorrow. But we just got a wretched plea from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, begging for money for the dreadful and unpopular incumbents whose voting records make it impossible for them to raise money from grassroots Democrats. I mean who in their right mind is going to donate to conservative shills like Ben Nelson, Joe Manchin or Claire McCaskill? They've alienated Democratic voters and the lobbyists and Big Business interests they have normally counted on would rather replace them with Republicans. Good riddance!

On the other hand, Blue America would like to ask you to help us send a message to the DSCC today (or tomorrow-- we don't care) by helping us support Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), two people who have fought long and hard for ordinary American families, not for the banksters and not for the corporate elites.

You already know Bernie. This is what Elizabeth Warren told the Boston Globe yesterday: “It’s about being willing to take a good idea and fight for it. It’s being willing to throw your body in front of a bus to block bad ideas... There are some things worth fighting for and right now it’s about fighting for the middle class."

She's running for Ted Kennedy's old seat, which is currently occupied by Wall Street's favorite senator, Scott Brown-- and that's what business-friendly Forbes called him... admiringly. One day Elizabeth may be the tellers' favorite senator, but she'll never be the banksters' or hedge fund managers'!

"I came out of a hard-working middle class family. I lived in an America that created opportunities for kids like me... I now see an America in which our government works for those who already have money and already have power... I would walk out of a senator’s office and the office would be completely jammed with lobbyists who were there to explain why the consumer agency was bad. There was not enough room for them to sit down.’’

Blue America has only endorsed 2 people for the Senate so far this cycle. It's hard to imagine any other incumbents and so far the only other challenger who looks worthwhile is Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, although she hasn't declared yet. So we're asking you to take a look at our Senate page and see if you can give us a hand with Bernie and Elizabeth... either before or after the DSCC's midnight "deadline."

We are all in this together,
Digby, John, Howie and the Blue America team

Check out this video of Elizabeth Warren, who is worthy of our support.



Alan Grayson's In-- Are You?

Late yesterday Alan Grayson announced that he'd be running for Congress again, in one of the still not fully defined Orlando area districts. Alan was one of the most aggressively courageous and honest Members of Congress any of us has ever come across and Blue America wants to welcome him back to the fold. Will you help by giving what you can do his election campaign today?

Yesterday he told me that "under no circumstances would he ever support a cut in Social Security. "I don't just say 'no'; I say HELL NO-- Under. No. Circumstances... Last year I said we can't let the choice in 2010 be between the lazies and the crazies. Now its coming down to a choice between the heartless and the spineless. Ask them 'am I my brother's keeper' and they just say 'no'."

The Chamber of Commerce types in central Florida would like a less independent-minded congressman and they're trying to draft quasi-Democratic opponents for Alan. He's been there for us-- don't you think-- let's be there for him again. Please give what you can, so he can win the primary and then beat whatever the GOP throws up against him.

See that tie Alan is wearing? He took it off and autographed it and sent it to Howie to give away to a Blue America donor. We'll give it to the donor who makes the biggest contribution today.



Blue Dogs have no loyalty or shame. Case in point: AZ's Gabby Giffords

Media error

Rep. Gabby Giffords is the perfect example of why Democrats in Congress should shun Blue Dogs.

Howie Klein explains:

Giffords is looking like the point of the Blue Dog spear being thrust into the House progressive infrastructure. As we pointed out over the weekend, despite Pelosi's efforts to tamp it down, the Blue Dogs are going on the warpath against progressive Democrats, using Henry Waxman's interview with The Hill as an excuse. One thing we can always be sure of inside the Democratic Caucus-- well, two, actually: Blue Dogs will always put self-preservation above the party’s principles, and the DCCC will do whatever it can to help them get re-elected.

Giffords is emblematic of the tragic turn the House Democratic Party has taken. Over the weekend she launched a $350,000 ad buy in the Tucson media market that slams the principled stand Grijalva took against SB1070-- throwing him directly under the bus in order to make herself look sufficiently xenophobic for the bloodthirsty Know Nothing mobs. As you can see in the ad, she makes a solemn vow to fight “these groups” who have protested this unjust law by boycotting the state. “These groups” include Latinos, liberals, and citizens across the country who know an injustice when they see one. She's directly targeting Grijalva, Arizona's most progressive leader and the Congressman who most consistently stands up for those who are hurt by the right wing’s agenda.

We hear that other campaigns, pollsters, donors and politicians joined Grijalva's staff in futile attempts to show Giffords the obvious-- Democrats using other Democrats as punching bags is bad news for everyone. And when DCCC leaders, such as Vice Chair Wasserman Schultz, were approached with the argument that Giffords should not run the ad for obvious reasons, the argument fell on deaf ears. (Instead, they’re rewarding her behavior with close to a million dollars in independent expenditures.) It’s bad enough when so-called Democrats habitually vote against our agenda to save their seats, often with DCCC prompting. Now they're spending Democratic money to hurt real Democrats to save their seats.

Rep. Raul Grijalva is one of the true heroes in Arizona. He stood up against Arizona's odious and racist SB 1070 law when it was passed when most politicians remained silent. Howie, Digby and myself are supporting Grijalva's re-election bid because of his spine so we started an Act Blue page called: One America. We've raised over 4,000 dollars for him so far. Please pitch in if you can. The racism and xenophobia that we are witnessing is emblematic of the tried and true race-baiting tactics that the extreme right revels in and and it's seeping in to Democratic campaigning now too. Unfortunately for this great nation, our history is littered with this intolerable technique at the expense of minorities that live here. It's sad and embarrassing. The way to battle this kind of cancer is to point it out and expose it to the sunlight. Like all malignant ideas, bringing light to darkness always has a cleansing effect.

Howie talked to Grijalva before we started to run these stories and his latest quote nails the situation perfectly:

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