The Republican Wing Of The Democratic Party

Steve Israel says he's stepped down, but he still has his hand up Ben Ray Lujan's bottom part.

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Credit: @WMXDesign

When I was growing up I always thought Labor Day picnics marked the beginning of the election season. Now it seems to be the beginning of the final stretch of a campaign that's been raging for a year. We hope no Blue America members are focussing solely on the presidential race. Congress makes up a co-equal branch of government and if President Hillary is going to accomplish anything worthwhile-- or if President Trumpanzee is going to be kept in check-- we will need more progressives in the House and Senate. Today we want to take a look at the House and the candidates worth supporting... and the worst of the candidates worth avoiding.

It's not that hard to figure out who the dozen worst House Democrats were this session. ProgressivePunch keeps track of all the votes and in a category called "crucial votes," which doesn't include any routine stuff like naming post offices, they rate every member on how he or she voted during 2015 and 2016. From horrible to even more horrible this is the worst of the worst among Democrats. (It's worth noting that there are 5 Republicans whose records aren't as bad as some of these Democrats!)

• Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)
• Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA)
• Ami Bera (New Dem-CA)
• Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
• Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)
• Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)
• Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
• Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
• Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
• Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL)
• Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)
• Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)

In terms of the House, that's the heart of theRepublican wing of the Democratic Party-- and, predictably, every last one of them is a Blue Dog or a New Dem. In fact, most of the Blue Dogs are also New Dems.

These are where Boehner and Ryan get their votes to make horrible GOP proposals "bipartisan." These are the "Democrats" who want to kill Wall Street reform and gut Elizabeth Warren's CFPB, for example. From this list comes the climate change deniers, the homophobic fanatics, the anti-Choice throwbacks, the TPP supporters and anti-healthcare kooks... the "Democratic" votes for almost any cockamamie proposal the Koch brothers and the extreme right come up with. Ryan knows he can always count on Henry Cuellar for anything-- even more so than many members of his own party-- and that if he can't count on gay right-wing lunatics like Kyrsten Sinema and Sean Patrick Maloney to vote with him to penalize the LGBTQ community, at least they'll always be there to help him give Wall Street a free hand to pillage the American people. These are the members with their hands out for special interest money from Big Oil, Big Pharma, from the pay day lenders and the most contemptible banksters and polluters.

But how do we know about candidates who haven't been accruing voting records in Congress, the newbies running for the first time? Who will be the next batch of candidates for the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- all of whom the DCCC is trying to pass off as solid Democrats, even calling some of them "progressives" to trick voters who are too busy to learn the details on the garbage candidates the DCCC is offering this year. Well, it turns out there is a way-- we can just dig a little and look to see who the Blue Dogs and New Dems are endorsing.

A candidate has to go to these organizations and ask for an endorsement and prove that they fit in and will be make-believe Democrats likely to help the NRA or the anti-Choice groups or the science deniers... any of the standard GOP fare, but most of all-- first and foremost-- that have to be Big Business-friendly and pro-Wall Street.

So far 19 Democratic candidates for the House have been endorsed by the New Dems and/or the Blue Dogs. Very few of them advertise that on their websites or mention it to voters in their districts. They just tell big campaign donors. Most of them hope to keep it hidden until after November. But we want to share the list with you... so you can use it when you decide how to vote (or not vote) in November. This year's worst House candidates:

• Lou Correa (CA)- Blue Dog and New Dem
• Lon Johnson (MI)- Blue Dog
• Isadore Hall- New Dem
• Darren Soto- New Dem
• Gretchen Driskell (MI)- Blue Dog
• Brad Schneider (IL)- Blue Dog and New Dem
• Shelli Yoder (IN)- Blue Dog
• Josh Gottheimer (NJ)- Blue Dog and New Dem
• LuAnn Bennett (VA)- New Dem
• Matt Heinz (AZ)- New Dem
• Salud Carbajal (CA)- New Dem
• Pete Gallego (TX)- Blue Dog and New Dem
• Gail Schwartz (CO)- Blue Dog
• Val Demings (FL)- New Dem
• Monica Vernon (IA)- New Dem
• Kim Myers (NY)- Blue Dog
• Tom O'Halleran (AZ)- Blue Dog
• Emily Cain (ME)- New Dem
• Doug Owens (UT)- Blue Dog

A bit of good news is that in two cases, bad Democrats can still be defeated without a Republican winning. Both are in California Democrat vs Democrat races and both are in the L.A. area. Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen is running for the seat the Blue Dogs and New Dems are trying to capture with Lou Correa and Nanette Barragán is running against New Dem Isadore Hall. For the rest of these, you'll have to make up your own mind if you want to vote for a fake Democrat likely to vote around half the time with the GOP on crucial issues or skip that line on your ballot. It can be a tough call for a lot of people. One thing, though, shouldn't be tough-- no matter how you decide to vote, don't give anyone on that list of 19 conservaDems any money. Instead, please support Bao and Nanette and the other vetted progressives on the Blue America endorsement list. All of these candidates have won their primaries and will be facing conservatives in November and almost all of them are being ignored-- or worse-- by the DCCC.



Wall St. Hopes You Won't Give to Donna Edwards' Money Bomb

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Credit: Edwards Campaign FB

Donna Edwards has been an active and effective part of the progressive community for decades, and one of the most effective and steadfast progressive leaders inside Congress for a progressive agenda that advances the legitimate aspirations of working families. Her opponent in the race for Maryland's open Senate seat, Chris Van Hollen, is another cog in the machine that Thomas Frank was writing about when he lamented to Thom Harmann that the Democratic Party has been turning its back on working families to cater to the special corporate interests, Wall Street and the Top 10%. In 22 days early voting begins for the April 26 primary election.

Goal Thermometer

The financial forces behind the establishment have lined up behind Van Hollen and have bloated his campaign chest. As of the December 31 FEC filing report he had already amassed $6,295,124. Donna's grassroots campaign has brought in $2,166,226. Van Hollen has already outspent her two to one but she leads in the polls by as much as 10%. Unfortunately, Wall Street and other corporate special interests have rushed to his side and he now has ten times more money on hand than she does and plans to swamp the airwaves with more false attack ads she will be unable to respond to.

Schumer has made sure the Financial Sector was aboard Van Hollen's train and it has stepped up to the tune of $390,807 so far, in gratitude to the Ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee who always made sure the banksters' priorities were covered. Although he is trying to wiggle out of his reactionary positions for the primary, Van Hollen has supported the job-killing trade policies that have devastated American manufacturing and has advocated "saving" Social Security by cutting benefits, the kind of "saving" Paul Ryan and the Republicans advocate under the guise of "compromise."

Last May, the New York Times recognized the Maryland race as "a fight over the future of the Democratic Party... a fight over what a true Democrat should, and should not, be."

Although our top reason for backing Donna is about electing a proven and effective progressive fighter, we're cognizant that if she wins she'll make history as the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Maryland-- and only the second black woman in the history of the Senate.

The fact that she's taken a pledge to not take a dime from the Wall Street banks; has led the fight against the TPP; has been a strong defender of Planned Parenthood and a woman's right to choose; a leader on equality; and is fighting for every family-- regardless of zip code, has led Blue America to endorse her and to ask you to chip into her money bomb this week.

She's shown that she's not afraid to lead on issues we care about: Medicare for all, marriage equality-- she was the first member of Congress in Maryland to publicly endorse the idea, far before it was a "safe" position for establishment Democrats-- and she actually took a stand against her own party's Republican-like gerrymandering.

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It's important to remember that Donna’s personal experience is tied to being an African-American single mom who founded the National Network to End Domestic Violence, fought developers in her neighborhood, and won her first race for Congress against a corrupt Democrat bought by special interests. That informs her policy positions and, in a Congress dominated by well-off white males, it matters. We backed her in every race she's ever run and America-- and an increasingly off-the-rails Democratic Party-- need her voice at the table in Washington.



Let's Have A Great Blue America 2012

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Credit: Adam Fox

I bet you're getting inundated with letters from candidates begging you to meet their phony, basically meaningless deadlines. Blue America is going to ramp up soon with new progressive candidates-- some who we already know, like Darcy Burner (WA), and new ones we've met over the last few months like Franke Wilmer (MT) and Patsy Keever (NC). Meanwhile, we're not going to hustle you for contributions to meet these "deadlines."

We've had a good 2011 but, as you know, 2012 is an election year and in November we'll be electing not just a president but also the entire House and a third of the Senate. As always, we'll leave the presidential race alone and concentrate on Congress, mostly the House-- although we have endorsed outstanding progressives Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin.

Right now we want to send our best wishes for 2012 and say thanks for the help in 2011. If you can handle it today, two of our best House candidates, Ken Aden, who's running in northwest Arkansas, and Joe Miklosi, who's running in suburban Denver, can really use some contributions. As you can see we haven't really been able to make any kind of difference for these two yet. It would be great if we could bring their totals up over $1,000 each.

UPDATE FROM HOWIE:
This letter was sent out yesterday afternoon to our donor email list. We had 20 people who responded to the letter before midnight and and we want to thank them very much. Now--

We're very close to some goals I set for the end of the year for our candidates:

Blue America has met several of it's end of year goals already (Chris Donovan, Nick Ruiz, Ilya Sheyman) and we're tantalizing close to most of the others. We're $199 away from what we hoped to raise for John Waltz, $193 away from Norman Solomon's, $109 for Alan Grayson, only $39 away from Joe Miklosi's, $61 from Mary Jo Kilroy's, only $18 for Eric Griego, $220 for Ken Aden & a slightly more daunting $490 for Ed Potosnak. Can you help with anyone? Here's the link: http://is.gd/dbWDHu

Again, thanks to everyone who contributed and to those who make the phone calls, use Twitter and Facebook to get the word out about these fantastic Progressives and help get more of them elected to Congress.

We are all in this together,

Howie, for Digby, John, and the Blue America team



Save us from Beltway Democrats-- Help Get a Fighting Progressive in Congress

A few weeks ago a staffer for a DCCC-approved candidate called and asked if Blue America would endorse him. I asked to speak with him and, embarrassed, the staffer said the candidate isn't familiar enough with the issues to speak with the media yet but he's learning them. That's not the kind of candidates Blue America is looking for and that's about as far from what Ilya Sheyman is all about as you can be.  "I am in this race," he told us, "because I believe that government and politics are about doing good. They're about helping every man, woman, and child with a dream-- and the willingness to work for it-- achieve his or her potential... I'm sick and tired of a Democratic Party that on issue after issue seems to pre-negotiate, pre-triangulate, and pre-capitulate rather than standing up for the progressive values we know make a difference in real people's lives."

This is what he's been doing as a grassroots activist for years. We need people like Ilya in Congress to save us from Beltway Democrats who are chosen by the Establishment for one reason and one reason only: an ability to self-fund campaigns-- i.e., whore themselves out to corporate interests. That isn't Ilya:

"I can't wait to organize together with grassroots advocates in our community, and allies inside Congress, to pass a real jobs bill that will put millions of Americans back to work and pave the way to a new green energy economy.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky's 'Fairness in Taxation Act' is a model of the kind of progressive legislation we should be fighting for, and I'm eager to work alongside her to bring back fairness to our tax code so we can invest in America again."

The current occupant of the suburban seat just north of Chicago, Robert Dold, was caught asking the Tea Party to not publicly endorse him in the general election because it could blow his cover as a fake moderate. Since getting into Congress with a narrow 51-49% win, in a district Obama won with 61% in 2008, Dold has blown his own cover, voting for Ryan's toxic budget, voting to renew the Patriot Act and just marching along in lockstep to everything John Boehner and Eric Cantor wanted him for. This time Chicagoland voters get a real choice.

Please help us welcome Ilya to the Blue America family and, if you can, please contribute to his campaign through our ActBlue page</a>.

Ilya will be joining us for a live blog session Wednesday at 1pm (Central Time), 11am on the West Coast, at Crooks and Liars. Please try to stop by and meet this extraordinary young man who worked as the Field Director for Democracy for America and, more recently, National Mobilization Director at MoveOn. 

"Rep. Dold and the right wing of the Republican Party," Ilya told us, "are hell-bent on dismantling Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and eliminating the foundations of the American Dream that have made millions of middle-class lives possible-- and we can't let them get away with it... The fact that he continues to advocate for cuts in Social Security benefits shows just how out of touch he is with the voters of the 10th District [and] his vote for the radical Republican budget that ends Medicare in order to give tax breaks to giant corporations and the wealthiest 2% of Americans should put to rest any notion that he actually cares about the deficit."



The Progressive side of the conversation

After watching the President's State of the Union speech and the Republican clown show that followed, you might be wondering if there's any room for a forthright, full-throated defense of progressivism in American politics these days. It certainly doesn't seem to be much in fashion -- the conversation revolves around an axis of centrism, conservatism and inane, far right nuttiness. There aren't many voices speaking for our philosophy (at least that anyone in the media cares to notice.)

But that doesn't mean they aren't out there. Blue America's first endorsee for 2012 is an unabashed progressive who knows how to talk the talk and he does it very well. Nicholas Ruiz III has already announced that he will be running against right wing Republican Sandy Adams in Florida' 24th, and he has something to say, something you'll want to listen to -- and something America needs to hear. Here is an excerpt from Nicholas's response to the President's State of the Union address last night:

If Obama is in need of some regulations to reasonably review, Democrats can help. For example, let’s review the stifling minimum wage regulation. The minimum wage, unreasonably and unrealistically, remains untethered to the consumer price index. Therefore, it almost never goes up. But market prices sure do. And that’s why the buying power of the average American today pales in comparison to the buying power senior citizens had when they were young. Deregulate the minimum wage by tethering it to the market via the consumer price index. Republicans, whose charms and favor Obama seems too eager to court, will be happy, too: it has the word ‘market’ in it.

The country is in the midst of a Great Debate about its future. The political elites are only representing one side of that discussion and are simply fighting over the details (while the Tea Party dances around them both with burning torches in their hands.) Nicholas is speaking for the rest of us. And when you hear it, you realize just how lopsided our politics have become.

We have invited Nicholas to join us this Saturday for our first Blue America chat of 2011 to start a new conversation among progressives about what is to be done. If you are available at 11a PST/2p EST this Saturday, we invite you to join us at Crooks and Liars.

And we urge you to help get Nicholas's campaign started by donating what you can, here.

Thanks for doing what you can,

digby, John, Howie and the Blue America team



We'll Make An Ad For The Worst Republican You Know-- Just Tell Us Who

Two progressive political action committees, Blue America and Americans For America, have teamed up to do a series of video ads highlighting the worst the GOP has to offer. Last week we unveiled our first in the series, highlighting Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and John Boehner (above). Yecchhh, huh? Many say there are even worse-- or, at least, just as bad. Would you like to vote on who we should include in the next video in our series?

This week we're considering five more-- and there'll be others between now and November, of course. First up, though are five especially unsavory Republicans, 4 House incumbents-- Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and Steve King (R-IA)-- plus one challenger for an open seat, Karl Rove protégé and disgraced ex-U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin.

Here's how you vote: just make a donation on the page dedicated to the culprit of your choice. If you click on the picture below, you go directly to their page. Because we're progressives and not conservatives, a one dollar donation equals the same single vote as a one hundred dollar donation. Now, one of the great aspects of this is that each one of these exceptionally bad Republicans has an exceptionally good Democrat running for the seat. Believe me, that isn't easy to find. I mean, Republican John Boozman in Arkansas, for example, is just terrible but his Democratic opponent, Blanche Lincoln, is just as bad. We won't be offering any Hobbesian choices like that. In Arkansas, to stick with that state as the example, the woman running against Griffin is state Senate Majority Leader and proven progressive Joyce Elliott.

So, we're happy to announce that all of the money raised through this little contest will be used to help voters understand that there's a difference between the Republican and the Democrat running for the seat that gets the most votes. Who do you think is the worst of the worst?

Michele Bachmann:


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Ken Calvert:


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Virginia Foxx:


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Tim Griffin:


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Steve King:


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Primary Season: Next Up -- NC Runoff + Georgia, Utah & Oklahoma

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[Moment of triumph for Arkansas progressives- Joyce Elliott beats Robbie Wills]

The U.S. Senate would have been considerably less reactionary-- and less a vehicle for wealthy and corrupt corporate interests-- but Blanche Lincoln won a close reelection race last night. There isn't a lot we know about Bill Halter and I doubt he would have turned out to be some kind of a progressive knight in shining armor but there is one thing we do know about him: he's not Blanche Lincoln. His first priority was never going to be to kill the Estate Tax or try to undercut Democrats at every turn-- from Social Security and health-care reform to Employee Free Choice. Lincoln has had a disgraceful and hackish career even when she was just a slimy Blue Dog in the House using another name (Blanche Lambert). Watching her seamlessly transition to K Street would have been more than natural. But, alas, she'll still be forcing the Senate Democrats to water down every bill and make each even less family friendly and more in line with her corporate donors' avaricious self interest. Unless-- as is very likely-- she loses in November to corporate shill GOP slob John Boozman.

There was some excellent news out of Arkansas as well. Proven progressive leader Joyce Elliott beat conservative hack Robbie Wills in the second C.D. (Little Rock) and will now face Karl Rove crooked protege Tim Griffin. Please give her a hand (and whatever you can afford). She's a Blue America endorsed candidate and you can donate here. She'll need the help. If she wins in November she'll be the first African American elected from Arkansas since the mid-1800s.

But there's no getting around the tremendous loss last night in California's 36th district, where voters decided to give reactionary warmonger Jane Harman another term instead of doing the sensible thing and electing Marcy Winograd. We'll just have to learn to fight harder and smarter.

But primary season is far from over and there are still plenty of messages Inside-the-Beltway Democrats need to hear. The next key races coming up to focus on are the North Carolina Senate primary that pits progressive champion Elaine Marshall, the front-running, against an ambitious but unaccomplished empty suit being pushed by Bob Menendez. That comes up June 22 and yesterday Durham Mayor Bill Bell endorsed her. This past weekend the National Federation of Democratic Women announced she has been selected as the Outstanding Democratic Woman Elected Official for 2010. Former opponent Ken Lewis, the guy who came in third, not only endorsed her -- he joined her campaign as chairman! Please consider adding your support here.

That same day, the 22nd, Utah Democrats have the most exciting and meaningful primary they've had in my memory when progressive champion Claudia Wright faces struggling Blue Dog incumbent Jim Matheson. Matheson has asked the voters to look at his record and she is responding to that challenge.

"Matheson has shown little if no leadership in his 10 years in office and the Second District deserves better" Claudia told us. "I believe he voted for the repeal of DADT simply due to the fact that I am in this race... [and] the fact that he attended the Grand Marshal Reception for Pride the weekend, something he has never done, shows he is pandering the base." Matheson appeared like a fish out of water at the reception unable to interact with anyone there. He left before the annual Pride Awards were presented and skipped the actual parade at Washington Park entirely. Claudia was given the opportunity to address Pride, and took part in the Pride Parade and was welcomed with rousing applause at every turn.

"I also question the timing of his introducing the two wilderness bills this last month, one of which trades land destroyed by off road vehicles and snowmobiles at the Snowbird Ski Resort for pristine wilderness." she said. And at a press conference on Monday, she questioned his statement last week "that we need to look at safety issues when it comes to deep water oil rigs," as too little too late. "He has been on the Subcommittee for Energy and Environment for ten years, where has his leadership been?" Energy companies know exactly where-- and have been very grateful.

Following a successful fundraiser Monday evening, Claudia is now heading out on her Wright Way Tour throughout the sprawling Second District to meet with voters and tell them of her pledge to revisit them each month from DC to share ideas and issues with them, something Matheson doesn't seem to believe it-- and certainly doesn't do.

And that brings us to July, a month with two important races for anyone interested in taking the Democratic Party back from corporately funded conservative Blue Dogs. Both races pit proven progressive state legislators against 2 of the most reactionary Democrats in Congress, John Barrow and Dan Boren. In GA-12 we see a re-match with former state Senator Regina Thomas, except this year Barrow doesn't have the support of President Obama like he did when he lied his way back into office in 2008. Although Barrow is running a well-financed media campaign, Regina has a grassroots operation and the power of constituent rage over Barrow's attempt to undermine health-care reform and other initiatives backed by President Obama and the constituents who Barrow has routinely ignored in favor of his country club friends who vote for the Republicans anyway.

The following week (July 27) anti-health care fanatic Dan Boren is facing Oklahoma state Senator Jim Wilson, a health-care reform champion. It is also a classic battle between an outrageously corrupt and entrenched incumbent and a reform-minded clean-government type. Like Matheson, Boren has wormed his way onto natural resources committees where he's in line to get tremendous bribes -- disguised as campaign contributions (he's the #1 House member, including Republicans, on the payroll of Big Oil in this cycle!) -- and sabotage effective regulation of the predatory corporate instincts of his paymasters.

You can help us defeat Matheson, Barrow and Boren-- and replace them with Claudia Wright, Regina Thomas and Jim Wilson-- at Blue America's Blue Dog page.



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Billy Kennedy (NC-05)

When I first heard North Carolina farmer/carpenter Billy Kennedy-- an actual progressive, non-Blue Dog, real-life Democrat-- was going to run against lunatic fringe hatemonger Virginia Foxx, I was very excited and I realized that Americans from all over the country would be interested in this race. There are few members of Congress as bigoted and contemptible as Foxx. But as I've gotten to know Billy a bit I realize that regardless of how awful Foxx is, he'd make a truly exceptional, classic Representative of the people.

He sounds, refreshingly, like a real life, common sense American, rather than like some politician. If there's some good stuff coming out of the Tea Party movement-- once you wade through all the psychotic racism and extremist rhetoric-- you find the kind of populism many of us crave, including Billy. Believe me, this just doesn't appeal to progressives and Democrats alone-- Billy on the stump:

“The bank bailouts didn’t help keep homeowners in their homes. It only helped the banks who are still paying outrageous bonuses. The mortgage crisis is not over, and keeping families in their homes needs to be a priority.”

When the House passed HR 4626 this week-- a bill to end the anti-trust exemption for Insurance monopolies (which Foxx, predictably, voted to kill-- Billy had a clear response that anyone, even people without law degrees, could understand:

The insurance companies spend most of their waking hours trying to figure out how to avoid paying for people’s medical expenses so they can boost their profit margins. They get away with massive premium price increases and benefits cutting because they have virtually no competition. This is because they enjoy an anti-trust exemption which allows them to engage in price fixing and collusive activity.

The result? By 2008, according to the American Medical Association, a single health insurer controlled 30% or more of the health insurance market in 90% of the metropolitan markets in the country. And, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, health premiums have gone up by 131% for family coverage from 1999 to 2009.

If we are serious about promoting competition among insurance companies to hold down costs, the repeal of the anti-trust exemption is a no-brainer.

People get that and when Blue America announced a couple of days ago that we would be endorsing Billy's candidacy today, there was an immediate outpouring of grassroots contributions that stunned John, Digby and I. We're hoping to give his campaign a boost today with the chat at below in the comments section. But even announcing it has inspired Democrats who still believe in (real) Hope and (real) Change. When Billy explains healthcare reform by saying "It’s not fair for people to work all their lives and then loose everything when they are sick," people who hear him know he's going to go to Washington and work for ordinary North Carolina families, not for the kinds of wealthy and powerful vested interests Virginia Foxx is always catering to (when she isn't demagoging against gay people, public education and regular working families in her own district).

There aren't going to be any clearer choices between an advocate of people-oriented good government and an advocate of maintaining the status quo on behalf of the wealthy powerful special interests than the race in NC-5 between Billy Kennedy and Virginia Foxx. Foxx doesn't think her wealthy backers should be forced to pay taxes to educate a bunch of poor people's children. Billy has a very different perspective on the role of government in a healthy society:

“America needs a vibrant middle class and successful small businesses to survive. The middle class depends on quality public education available for all and jobs that pay a living wage... People have been benefiting from government programs for a long time in this country and still are. What would our Fifth District be like had the rural electric cooperatives not been started by the government? The government is our common wealth, our school systems, secure banking, police and fire departments, roads and water systems belong collectively to us all. And it’s our responsibility to manage our collective wealth wisely.

"No one makes it all on their own. We all benefit from successful government programs. Virginia got her BA, MA and ED from our outstanding public North Carolina Universities and she’s been on the dole ever since. She’s been living off the N.C. taxpayers, gaming the system and now she wants to deny the same opportunity she had to everyone else. Just last weekend she said that she didn’t believe that federal funds should be used for education.

"I went to college with the help of federal programs. Last year’s federal stimulus money went to our colleges and local schools supporting, and in some cases saving teaching positions, in this tough economy. Students don’t get a second chance; you can’t abandon them. If their basic educational needs are not met, they become economically disadvantaged, costing us all more in the end. Countries with higher literacy rates have more developed and thriving democracies. Investing in education is money well spent. We need an educated workforce to compete. We need good jobs. We need to be leading the world in new technologies, green technologies. We need to promote these new green technologies with tax credits at the state and federal levels. We need to renew our manufacturing base. Bring the work back home."

NC-5 in northwestern North Carolina isn't exactly prime territory for an outspoken Democrat running a grassroots campaign. Not only does the district have a horrifying PVI of R +15, the DCCC is ignoring the race entirely-- which explains why there isn't a Blue Dog running, and Billy's campaign is a 100% people-powered effort. Boone, Mount Airy (the model for Andy Griffith's Mayberry), and the Piedmont suburbs of Winston-Salem only gave Obama 38% of its vote in 2008, while re-electing Foxx with 58% of the vote. But between a Tea Party candidate campaigning against Foxx from the right and Billy's plain-spoken on the ground outreach, the anti-incumbent wave building nationwide this year could unseat an entrenched Republican in a red district, which is just what Alan Grayson and Eric Massa did with our help last year. Please consider contributing directly to Billy's campaign here at the Blue America page.



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Roxanne Conlin, IA-Senate

Wednesday the House voted overwhelmingly to abolish the exemption the health insurance monopolies have been enjoying from antitrust laws. I spoke to half a dozen candidates running for House seats from around the country, all of whom were very enthusiastic about the action (as you can see at the link above). Today an old Blue America friend, Rep. John Hall, sent us a statement reminding us that he's been talking about doing just this since last summer.

Finally, the House of Representatives has repealed the anti-trust exemption for the health insurance industry. I have been talking about this since last August, when it elicited applause from progressives and conservatives alike in my health care town hall meetings. I have spoken forcefully in our caucus about the insanity of allowing monopolistic practices, price-fixing, collusion and consolidation by corporations which are gouging the consumer with skyrocketing insurance premiums, shrinking coverage, underpaying of doctors, and refusing coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Today, we finally got a debate and a vote on this first, clear issue pertaining to health care reform. Competition is key in driving down costs for families and small businesses. Monopolies kill competition. I have not heard a credible reason for health insurance companies to have such protection. It is especially obvious when Anthem Blue Cross just proposed a premium hike of 39% for one year, while simultaneously posting record profits and dropping millions more from coverage. I have heard from many of you who have experienced similar hikes from your insurance companies.

Enough is enough. I co-sponsored the legislation that passed by a bipartisan vote of 406-19. Republican Representatives argued strenuously against the bill, then flip-flopped and voted for it. I guess they didn't want to face the voters after casting a vote to protect an industry that clearly does not need protection.

By chance I also happened to be on the phone with Roxanne Conlin, a progressive Democrat running for the Iowa Senate seat currently occupied by anti-health-care fanatic Chuck Grassley. Roxanne is an attorney who "has devoted her law practice in Des Moines, Iowa to representing people who have been injured by others, whether by discrimination, products, doctors or vehicles and has gained national attention and the respect of her peers in the process." She knows quite a lot about why repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act will be a tremendous boost for the whole cause of health care reform. John and I have invited her to C&L today (at noon, PT) to talk about this issue as the bill moves on to the Senate, the body she is aspiring to be part of. Meet us-- and Roxanne-- in the comments section.



Special Blue America PAC Live Blogging Event Saturday 10am PST/1PM EST with Marcy Winograd

On Saturday we'll have a special live blogging hour with LA's own Marcy Winograd. Blue America has a special announcement at the same time so please join us.

I've been thinking about running against Jane Harman for a long time. I've had reporters quiz me on it and many readers ask me to run, but I've decided not take part in 2010's Congressional election in my home district of CA-36.

There a few reasons why I've taken this path. I think I can do more good for my country and the state of California by concentrating on CrooksandLiars in these troubling times and continue my work for Blue America PAC as the 2010 election comes upon us.

David Neiwert, C&L's Managing Editor and I are putting the finishing touches on our new book we have just about finished titled Over the Cliff, which will require time to promote it, but there is also another important reason which made it so much easier for me to drop out of consideration for the upcoming election: The fact is we have a great progressive candidate already in the race and her name is Marcy Winograd.

She's taking the fight once again to the Blue Dog in our district and I'm putting my full support behind her campaign as she moves forward in 2010. Marcy stands for progressives and since she lives in a progressive district, I'm confident she will fight in ongress for those principles and represent her constituents without compromising as we've seen Jane Harman do so many times before. So please join me in supporting Marcy Winograd for California's 36th District.

Please donate if you can.

And we'll see you tomorrow.




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