Blue America Welcomes Back Our Friend and Ally, Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)

An American hero, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and an old and loyal friend through thick and thin, I don't think Raúl Grijalva needs much of an introduction. As always, he has plenty he wants to share with us. Let me just preface his guest post with two things:

1- he'll be taking questions live in the comments section starting at 11 am (PST), 2pm on the East Coast; and
2- conservatives who hate him as much as we love him-- and for the same reasons-- have figured out they can't beat him with a Republican so they're running Republicans repackaged as "Democrats" in a primary and he needs some help from his friends.

Like most progressive legislators, Raúl spends virtually all his time on policy and working on behalf of the ordinary American families who can't afford to hire lobbyists. So he's not doing hours and hours of call time, begging rich people, special interests and sleazy lobbyists to contribute to his campaign. He deserves our help-- and he's the only incumbent House Member we've endorsed this cycle. Please contribute what you can here at a special Blue America Raúl Grijalva page.

What Makes A Progressive Campaign?

-by Raúl Grijalva

It you had to pick the one thing that Progressives do best (aside from being awesome, all the time), what would you say?

That’s right, grassroots community organizing.

When it comes to mobilizing our folks to fight injustice, hold government and corporations accountable and make our communities the best they can be, Progressives can be counted on to do it right.

It starts with an idea, and through word of mouth and organized action, the idea grows into the change we demand. Over the years, as the Internet has brought people closer and facilitated the sharing of ideas and information, we’ve seen a steady crop of Progressive community organizers take note, look around, and realize that they can make a difference, not just for their own communities, but for our American community.

They’ve stepped their game up to the next level to fight for what we all know is right-- equality justice, fairness, good government, and the right of every American to pursue the American Dream.

Candidates like David Gill and Ilya Sheyman in Illinois, Patsy Keever in North Carolina, Darcy Burner in the new first district up in Washington, Matt Cartwright in Pennsylvania, Raul Ruiz, Lee Rogers and Normon Solomon in California, the unstoppable Alan Grayson in his new Florida district, Eric Griego in New Mexico are all fighting to make a difference. Some may not join us in Congress next year, but they all are great leaders who have many victories ahead of them.

As I head into my fifth re-election campaign, I feel even more inspired by the spirit of organizing and involvement that we’ve seen in all these Progressive campaigns around the country. I believe that the future of Congress and the direction of this country must be in the hands of Progressives like us-- the stakes are too high for it not to be. Only when the people are in power can we keep corporations from calling the shots.

We’re facing an epic battle between the people and the powerful-- corporate money is pouring into races all over the country, and mysterious super PACs are popping up to silence Progressive voices. They are keenly aware of our accomplishments-- justice, equal rights, peace and prosperity for all-- and they’ll stop at nothing to halt our progress. Fear and loathing isn’t just something out of a Hunter S. Thompson book, it is the way that big business, special interests and Republicans feel about Progressives. Four years ago, we saw hope trump fear and ideas trump ambition-- and our opponents know that when we’re in charge, they are held to account. And nothing terrifies them more than that.

Two years ago, big business and the Tea Party tried to take me out-– but we beat back their aggression with people power and Progressive principles. They spent millions of dollars against me, and we won. But this time, they think they’ve found a new strategy-– I call it the Wisconsin strategy-– because, just like Scott Walker and the Koch Brothers, they’ve decided to run fake Democrats against me in the Democratic Primary. And we’ve got to let the voters know all about it. Fake Democrats won’t stand up for their constituents-- they want the prize and none of the responsibility, sort of like the big corporations and Republicans that are backing them.

This primary is about whether corporate money can prop up someone with a “D” next to her name long enough to buy another seat in Washington. We believe Democracy is about ideas-- they believe it is an auction.

I know you agree with me that Democracy is not for sale. And I know I can count on you as we fight harder than we ever have for the government and America that we believe in. Let’s keep fighting for Progress, and let’s do it together.



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Back Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)

Today Raúl Grijalva, a tireless champion on behalf of America's hard-pressed working families and an old and trusted friend of Blue America's-- our only endorsed candidate with a dedicated Act Blue Page-- will be spending an hour with us here from noon to 1pm, PT, 3-4pm back East to help us understand the machinations of the debt ceiling debate roiling Washington-- and the financial markets-- of late. He'll be answering questions in the live forum in the comments section below.

Aside from representing a sprawling southern Arizona congressional district that encompasses everything from the western half of Tucson down to Nogales on the Mexican border and across to Yuma on the California border, Raúl is also the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (with Keith Ellison). The Progressive Caucus is Congress' largest, with 76 Members. In the Great Shellacking last year, when Democrats lost the House in a rout, the CPC essentially held it's ground. While the conservative Blue Dogs lost more than half their members, the CPC only lost 4, all swept away by the refusal of Democratic and left-leaning voters to put their disappointment in Obama aside and turn out to vote. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Phil Hare (D-IL) and John Hall (D-NY) were the casualties. The Caucus picked up 3 new members at the same time: Karen Bass (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-CA) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

I spent some time on the phone with Raúl yesterday trying to get a better grasp on what the Caucus does and what it hopes to accomplish. Unlike the Blue Dogs, it is not a fundraising powerhouse. They are hardly the darlings of the K Street lobbyists and power-brokers who distribute the legalistic bribes to the members and the organizations that doing their bidding. When the Murdoch scandal started to break, one of the first things we saw was that his PAC was donating heavily to the Blue Dogs. Find a scandal or an outrage in any newspaper and you'll find a source of contributions to the Blue Dogs-- though never to the CPC. Members dues, meager, go to pay a single staffer and for some office supplies.

Raúl sees the CPC was a vehicle to unify Congress' disparate progressive voices and to go beyond just unifying around individual votes. He has been working diligently to assert a kind of independence from the party leadership based on solidly progressive values and principles. "We're often taken for granted," he told me. "Leadership thinks 'they have nowhere else to go'." That's why we've seen Pelosi, and especially Hoyer, making legislation and strategy more and more conservative to lure Blue Dogs and other conservatives, while basically ignoring progressives. But Raúl and Keith have forged together an inner core of nearly three dozen members who are serious about breaking away from playing the insider game that always leaves progressives coming up short.

They are building relationships with grassroots activists and advocates for the progressive agenda around the country, groups dedicated to working families, education, the environment, equality, peace... all the issues that differentiate progressives from conservatives. And they are making their members available to the media and helping give them national visibility beyond their own districts. Raúl tells me that they even plan to utilize the CPC Pac to help elect progressives in districts held by Republicans and in open districts.

Yesterday Raúl cut our chat short to get to a CPC meeting where they resolved to endorse Peter Welch's H.R. 2663, The America Pays its Bills Act. The bill calls for a clean debt ceiling vote in order to end the Republican-created Default crisis. They also resolved that "failing a timely, satisfactory legislative agreement to end the Republican-created default crisis, the CPC urges the President to use his powers granted under section 4 of the 14th amendment to raise the ceiling."



Raul Grijalva has your back on foreclosure fraud. Will you have his on November 2nd?

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Mortgage reform is not a second tier or niche issue. The economy we’re facing now is in part a direct result of the housing collapse brought on by predatory lending and irresponsible policies. I’m proud to have voted for the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which clamps down on these abuses, and will continue to fight for homeowner protections as long as I’m in Congress." --- Raul Grijalva

Raul Grijalva has been speaking out early and often about the greatest banking fraud scandal in American history. Unlike virtually every national Republican, he and other fighting Democrats came out swinging against these fraud merchants from the moment it became clear that banks and mortgage companies were so corrupt and inept that they were foreclosing on homes they didn't even own. (That's also known as stealing.)

His Republican opponent Ruth McClung will never stand up to these interests. Helping average people fight against powerful corporations goes against everything she believes in. After all, she belongs to a party that has been struck dumb in the face of this massive foreclosure fraud, so compromised by their ties to big business and Wall Street that they can't even speak up for average Americans whose homes are literally being stolen out from under them.

Progressive Democrats like Raul Grijalva are the ones out in front, asking for answers, demanding accountability while Republicans are doing everything they can to protect the banks.

If you want someone who isn't afraid to take on the big corporate interests, someone who isn't afraid to take on entrenched political power, who isn't afraid ... period, you'll vote for Raul Grijalva. He's got your back. Won't you get his?

You can donate to his campaign to help him fight the good fight, here.



Why Are Republicans Blocking Middle Class Tax Cuts? by Howie Klein

Last week when we had Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) over to Crooks and Liars for a live chat, we published the text of the letter on tax cuts that he, Alan Grayson and Mary Jo Kilroy had sent to Speaker Pelosi. A few days later Digby, Amato and I met with Raúl in person to discuss the letter and several other topics Digby covered yesterday. He told us that he, Grayson and Kilroy have been working hard to find co-signers and this morning Mary Jo's campaign sent me the list of Congressmembers who immediately signed on (as well as the nice photo of the congresswoman subtly hinting how much better off Ohio voters would be if they traded in golfer John Boehner for someone who cares about ordinary middle class families):

Mike Capuano (D-MA)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Eliot Engel (D-NY)
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Mike Honda (D-CA)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
Kendrick Meek (D-FL)
Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Tim Ryan (D-OH)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH)
Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Betty Sutton (D-OH)
Peter Welch (D-VT)
Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
David Wu (D-OR)

[UPDATE: Members who signed on in the last several hours: Robert Brady (D-PA), Andre Carson (D-IN), John Conyers (D-MI), Bob Filner (D-CA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Phil Hare (D-IL), and Jim McDermott (D-WA)]

It's worth republishing the letter:

Last decade, President Bush rammed through Congress a multi-billion dollar give-away for the wealthiest Americans on the backs of our nation's middle-class. In the process, the aforementioned Bush tax cuts eviscerated an unprecedented budget surplus and weakened our nation's fiscal health. As the Bush tax cuts are set to expire, we respectfully urge you to bring to the floor, before Congress adjourns in October, a vote on President Obama's recently proposed tax plan: permanent tax cuts for the middle-class while allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans to expire, using any additional revenue to close our budget deficit.

We must show the American people that our Democratic Majority stands for them-- people who have worked hard, played by the rules and depend on these tax breaks to make ends meet. We also need to get serious about cutting our budget deficit by allowing the Bush tax cuts for the rich to expire.

Some have argued that the Bush tax cuts help to stimulate the economy, or that allowing these cuts to expire would hurt our nation's small businesses. This is flat out wrong. According to a recent report by the Center for American Progress, the economy boasted 132 million jobs in June 2001, the month that the first of the Bush tax cuts was signed into law. By June 2004, there were just 131.4 million jobs-- a decrease of 600,000 jobs. Furthermore, a recent report from the Tax Policy Center states that, "Roughly 97 percent of small businesses would not be affected at all by increases in the top two tax rates."

Rather, extending the Bush tax cuts will result in an $830 billion give-away for the nation's wealthiest Americans, significantly increasing government debt, the interest on which will be paid by our nation's middle-class for years to come. This astronomical sum could instead be used to close our budget deficit.

It is critical that we pass the Obama middle-class tax cuts-- not providing an even greater lift for the wealthiest Americans who don't need it.

Leading the opposition in the House to middle class tax cuts-- with the proviso that they'll support them if and only if the wealthiest 3% of American families get gargantuan, unaffordable tax breaks that will further harm the economy and balloon the deficit-- are Wall Street shills John Boehner and the Young Guns. I spoke to Justin Coussoule this morning about the tax cuts for the middle class and asked him if he were representing southwest Ohio in Congress instead of Boehner if he would have signed onto the letter. He said he would have co-written it.

Alan Grayson was the first Member of Congress to endorse my campaign. Last week Mary Jo Kilroy became the first Member of the Ohio delegation to do so. In between Raúl Grijalva wrote a letter talking about John Boehner's failure to represent ordinary working families in Ohio and how he is endorsing me because that's exactly what I'm pledging to do. Between Boehner's steadfast agenda of giveaways to the wealthy, bailouts to failed Wall Street banks, trade policies that ship Ohio manufacturing jobs to low wage nations like China, coupled with an hysterical refusal to assist average families in a jam because of the very policies he's pushing, there is a clear difference for voters to see in this district.

Goal ThermometerDemocrats talk about an enthusiasm gap. There is no enthusiasm gap in Ohio's 8th district. Democrats and independent voters-- and more Republicans than anyone suspects-- are seriously considering making a change. The letter that Mary Jo Kilroy penned for Speaker Pelosi is a letter I would have been proud to work with her on. I will never support irresponsible, budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy few and I will always be looking for ways to decrease the burden on ordinary Ohio families and on the small businesses that are the engine of a healthy economy. John Boehner, who still refuses to participate in any debates in the 8th district, is holding tax cuts for 97% of families hostage to the Republican Party's mania to give away more and more to the richest families whose share of the wealth has increased exponentially since he was elected two decades ago. It's time for small business and middle class families to get a break and that's exactly what I intend to devote myself to if the voters in this district decide to replace John Boehner with me in November.

Do the Republicans have any solutions worth considering. Well... polling shows Sarah Palin is the most popular political figure among GOP voters. It makes her powerful inside the party. And in November she has her own slate of candidates running for both House and Senate seats. Here's a short video that highlights a few of them and explains their solution to unemployment, the economic collapse and tax fairness. Give it a look-see and then consider going here:



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:

Continue reading »



Fighting For Progressive Values: Blue America Adds Rep. Raul Grijalva

Leadership is nothing new for Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a booming voice on behalf of working families on every issue that comes before Congress. He helped lead the fight against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped lead the fight against Wall Street predators and helped lead the fight for equitable health care.

He was also the first member of Congress-- and, significantly, the only member from Arizona-- to stand up and take a principled and passionate stand against SB 1070, the foundations of an apartheid police state. He first called on Arizona's governor to veto the patently unconstitutional anti-immigrant bill. After she enthusiastically embraced it, he sent a letter to President Obama urging him to exercise his "authority to limit [federal] cooperation with Arizona officials in their enforcement of SB 1070." Finally on April 29, he released the following statement:

“The governor and legislature are blind to what this bill will really do to citizens, law enforcement and the state economy. Tourists will not come to a state with discriminatory policies on the books. Businesses will not move here. Hispanic workers and taxpayers will leave. If state lawmakers don’t realize or don’t care how detrimental this will be, we need to make them understand somehow. We are calling on organizations not to schedule conventions or conferences in the state until it reverses this decision. This is a specifically targeted call for action, not a blanket rejection of the state economy. Conventions are a large source of visitors and revenue, and targeting them is the most effective way to make this point before it’s too late. Just as professional athletes refused to recognize Arizona until it recognized Martin Luther King Jr., we are calling on businesses and organizations not to bring their conventions to Arizona until it recognizes civil rights and the meaning of due process. We don’t want to sustain this effort any longer than necessary. It’s about sending a message.”

The response has been a barrage of death threats from neo-Nazi groups, both to the Congressman and to his staff. It became so bad that he was forced to temporarily close down his constituents services offices in Tucson and Yuma. (One man who threatened “to blow everyone’s head off," has been arrested.

Blue America was, in great part, moved by Rep Grijalva's courageous stand to join with a broad coalition of groups, assembled by our own John Amato.

If you would like to donate to this strong progressive and reward his continued fight against the bigots in Arizona, go to his Blue America page here.



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Back Marcy Winograd, CA-36

Marcy Winograd was Blue America's first endorsed challenger for 2010. That's because we were looking for a progressive leader, not someone who leans in a progressive direction. Marcy's not a leaner. She's a leader -- and not the kind of corrupt ward healer à la Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emanuel or Chuck Schumer that sadly passes for a "leader" among Democrats -- because of what's in her heart, her soul and her brain. She doesn't command respect and admiration because of an ability to bundle cash from special interests but because of her intellect, her character and her passion.

We asked her back today because she was the first Democrat to stand up beside Raul Grijalva and denounce the xenophobes and bigots in Arizona. Monday is the first day of absentee voting in California. More and more frequently, elections are being won and lost based on absentee and early voting. In CA-36 approximately a third of the voters will vote by mail. And among older voters that number skyrockets to close to 40%.

Last week Marcy asked Jane Harman, the Blue Dog who currently holds the seat, to join her in calling on businesses and residents of the 36th District to boycott Arizona convention facilities and hotels in an effort to reverse anti-immigrant legislation. Harman ignored her and Marcy pressed on on her own.

"If Arizona is allowed to enact laws that promote racial profiling, other states may pass discriminatory laws, as well. That would be a travesty of justice, not only for immigrants summarily stopped and searched for citizenship papers, but for all of us who value civil rights and equality under the law... Rather than passing discriminatory state laws that scapegoat immigrants, we should support federal legislation for comprehensive immigration reform."

Winograd's immigration platform calls for the following:

• a path to earn citizenship for an estimated 10-12 million undocumented immigrants

• an end to brutal immigration raids and detentions in secret jails

• passage of the Dream Act to award citizenship to immigrants who graduate college

• no national ID cards

• no guest workers' programs

• repeal of unfair trade agreements that worsen unemployment in home countries

Like mine and like so many of ours, Marcy's family came to the U.S. from Eastern Europe to escape discrimination and seek a better life. "America," she points out, "is a land of immigrants and we must never forget our rich cultural heritage or the contributions of immigrants who pay sales taxes and often wage taxes while performing much-needed labor."

That video up top is the one-minute version of what will be a 30-second spot Blue America plans to run. When you donate to the Blue America PAC, it will help us get it on television. If you donate to the Winograd campaign, it will help them run their grassroots-oriented campaign, like the phone-banking Marcy talks about below. You can do either-- or both-- at the Blue America '10 page.




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