Focus On What's Hot: Florida


Tomorrow is the first day of early voting for the August 30 Florida primary. As always, the corrupt, self-serving establishment has candidates it's trying to slip in, incumbents like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and even worse garbage, like Patrick Murphy, that they are trying to advance up the ladder.

This is the last great stand of the 2016 Democratic primary season-- where genuine progressives like Alan Grayson and Tim Canova are battling the very worst the Democratic Party has to offer.

Grayson's wife, Dr. Dena Grayson, is the strongest candidate in his old district to beat back a challenge from a very conservative pro-NRA Democratic state Senator. "We progressives, not Republicans or faux-Democrats, are the only ones who are truly committed to helping people," she told us. "The way to turn Florida blue is simple. We need to stop running Republican-lite candidates masquerading as Democrats, and instead, support true progressive who recognize people's needs and will take action to improve their lives."

As the Sun Sentinel put it a few days ago, "A Canova win over Wasserman Schultz would send shockwaves across the country." Those are just the kind of shockwaves the Democratic Party establishment needs and needs badly. This morning Tim was finally able to force Wasserman Schultz into a serious TV debate after she dodged and ducked for months. She was the living, breathing embodiment of why Americans are sick and tired of self-serving career politicians and she refused to answer point blank questions, although at the last second of the debate, the moderator got her to admit she is pro-fracking. Unfortunately, almost 10,000 Democrats in FL-23 have already voted by mail. "Sadly, today, she takes hundreds of thousands of dollars from industries like Big Sugar, Wall Street banks, predatory lenders and private prisons," explained one of Canova's radio ads. "I believe you either represent the corporate lobbyists or you represent the people. You cannot do both."

Alan Grayson, the progressive in the Senate race for Marco Rubio's seat, understands better than anyone what's wrong with Democratic Party politics in his state. He told us yesterday,

“Florida Democrats are demonstrating Einstein's definition of insanity-- they keep nominating right-wing DINOs for statewide office, they keep losing, and they keep expecting that the results will change. They won't. We have now lost 14 out of the last 15 state government campaigns, going back to when Jeb Bush was Governor, because our Democratic voters have absolutely no idea what our candidates will do for them if they are elected. (The only exception was when a Democrat snuck into office because even Florida voters couldn't stomach a GOP candidate for "Chief Financial Officer" who was hopelessly corrupt.)

Florida Republicans promise abortion restrictions, pro-gun laws, cuts in social services, lower taxes and corporate welfare-- and they deliver. Florida right-wing Democrats promise I-don't-know-what, and they can't even deliver on that. As for me, I have promised to improve the lives of ordinary people in Central Florida, and I've delivered on those promises. And I'm the only Democrat to represent downtown Orlando in Congress in the past 42 years. Coincidence? No.”

Now Blue America is asking you to help make sure our slate of Florida progressives make it out of the primaries on the 30th to go on and beat reactionary Republicans like Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Matt Caldwell. You can pick and choose at the Blue America Florida page here.



Primaries Can Make Miracles. Meet Dave McTeague In Oregon's 5th

Tim Canova, the intrepid Democrat challenging entrenched incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a deep blue district in South Florida, wrote:

"primary challenges like mine are often the only effective way to force accountability on entrenched incumbents. Here at home, for instance, Florida’s 23rd Congressional District is seen as a safe Democratic seat. My opponent has been reelected over and over, and has never faced a primary challenger, ever! And with no primary challenger in a safely Democratic seat, there is no genuine discussion, much less debate, within our district as to the serious issues facing all of us, and the overall direction of our country."

Progressive activist and labor scholar Amy Dean sees Tim's campaign as a potential game changer: “If his insurgent campaign catches on, it could represent a serious problem for the Democratic Party establishment. It could signal an increasing willingness by grass-roots activists to use primary challenges to place champions for working people in office rather than accept lesser-evil candidates simply because they are incumbents.”

And Tim's campaign isn't the only race where Blue America is backing a proven progressive against an arrogant and out-of-touch incumbent. Alex Law is challenging the entire corrupt South Jersey political machine that has bolstered Chris Christie's administration by taking on boss George Norcross' conservative little brother Donald Norcross, whose first vote in Congress was to back the Keystone XL Pipeline. Missouri state Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, one of the heroes of Ferguson, is taking on William Lacy Clay, the kind of typical old school Democrat who has lost touch with his constituents while living the high life with his lobbyist buddies in DC. 

And this week, we welcomed a new challenger on board, Oregon former state legislator Dave McTeague, who is going after a character every bit as destructive and reactionary as Debbie Wasserman Schultz or Lacy Clay-- head Blue Dog, Kurt Schrader, a Republican in every way but the "D" next to his name

Inspired by Bernie Sander's principled campaign and his issues and incensed by Schrader's anti-environmental votes and his backing for the TPP and other job-killing corporate trade policies, McTeague decided it jump back into electoral politics, fully aware of the onerousness of the task of taking on an entrenched incumbent in a primary. But Oregon is one of the highest turn-out states in America-- 63% compared to 52.8% in New York, 51.7% in Arizona, 54.8% in California, 48.45 in Texas and 49.5% in Arkansas-- and the 5th district's voters are well-educated, environmentally-conscious and generally much more progressive than their Blue Dog congressman, who has an "F" rating from ProgressivePunch and a tense relationship with organized labor and with the environmental community. The League of Conservative Voters rates him as the most environmentally-unfriendly Democrat in Oregon's congressional delegation and he has been a big backer of clear-cut logging. The NRA, on the other hand, loves him and supports him-- because Schrader loves them and supports them.

When McTeague jumped into the race at the end of last month-- after attending a Schrader town hall where concerns about the TPP were cavalierly dismissed-- he told residents of the northern Willamette Valley, Salem, and coastal counties from Tillamook to Lincoln that he had joined Bernie's "political revolution to address growing income inequality and the decline of the middle class." He explained his reasons for running in a guest post at DownWithTyranny a few days ago:

These days a lot of voters, Democratic voters too, don’t feel represented by the Washington Establishment and want real change. This is evident in the success of Sen. Sanders’s insurgent presidential campaign, which I strongly support. The incumbent is the Co-Chair of the conservative Blue Dog Caucus. I would be a member of the Progressive Caucus.

I don’t have any illusions about this effort. Running against an entrenched incumbent is like taking on the Death Star in Star Wars especially one with access to a million or more dollars of PAC money.

So why would I do this? Because a lot of Democratic and independent voters want real fundamental change, a political revolution, and they’re not willing to settle for politics as usual. Those Democrats and independents deserve to have a choice just as they have a choice for real change in the Presidential Primary.

My candidacy’s purpose is to provide Democratic primary voters a progressive alternative to the establishment incumbent. I will not accept any funding from any corporate Political Action Committees. I agree with Senator Bernie Sanders we have to overturn our current corrupt campaign finance system to make real fundamental changes.

This community has been fundamental in helping Tim Canova get his campaign off the ground. Let's do the same for Dave McTeague by contributing here at the Blue America Progressive Congress page.



Blue America Welcomes Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH)

Blue America prefers not to endorse in primaries unless there is a clear case of one excellent progressive Democrat running against a conservative corporate shill. That's how we came to endorse Marcy Winograd against Jane Harman, Doug Tudor over Lori Edwards and Regina Thomas over John Barrow. But in the New Hampshire House race to replace Paul Hodes, who's running for the Senate, had a wrinkle. There was definitely an excellent progressive-- Ann McLane Kuster-- and there was certainly a conservative corporate shill-- Katrina Swett-- but there was another grassroots-type candidate running as well. He's now dropped out and we couldn't wait to invite Ann to come over to Blue America for a live chat. She'll be joining us today in the comments section below.

Annie is an example of a grassroots activist working with her neighbors on real world problems and then taking it up a notch by running for Congress. She's the polar opposite of the spoiled and entitled insider who's running against her, the daughter of one congressman, wife of another and, to top it off, the former campaign chair of the Joe Lieberman For President campaign. As the Concord Monitor pointed out, Annie's money is all coming in small donations from New Hampshire; Swett's comes in big chunks from the corporate interests salivating to get another corrupt special interests shill into the House Democratic caucus who will do their bidding for nickels on the dollar.

Ann McLane Kuster and Katrina Swett, the Democratic candidates for the 2nd District seat in Congress, have far fuller campaign accounts than their Republican counterparts. Their accounts have been filled from near and far. Respectively.

Sixty-one percent of Kuster's reported fundraising through March came from donors in New Hampshire, with her highest-netting ZIP codes including Concord, Contoocook, Portsmouth and Hanover, according to an analysis of federal campaign filings by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics. Swett, by contrast, had raised 11 percent of her money this election from in-state donors. The ZIP codes giving her the most money included Greenwich, Conn.; New York City; and the suburbs of northern New Jersey.

New Hampshire's most respected blog, Blue Hampshire, was in the same predicament we were in-- one candidate too many for an endorsement. That ended last week when they got behind Annie in no uncertain terms (and unanimously):

Nearly four years ago Blue Hampshire was born following a groundswell of political blogging that had sprung up in a successful effort to support Paul Hodes' election to New Hampshire's second congressional district.

Today, we believe the best person to continue the work in Congress begun by Representative Hodes is attorney and advocate Ann McLane Kuster.

As Laura Clawson pointed out on Daily Kos, Ann McLane Kuster "supports the public option, the Employee Free Choice Act, non-punitive immigration reform, and environmental regulation. Not only does she want to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, she wants to repeal DOMA, and she worked to help bring marriage equality to New Hampshire."

In addition, Kuster has been a vigorous advocate for health care access and affordability, especially and unwaveringly so for women's reproductive health. From Ann's website: "Ann believes a woman and her medical care provider should be making decisions about her health care, not the politicians in Washington. She is committed to ensuring that the anti-choice movement doesn't use abortion to derail health care reform, and also that they don't use health care reform to restrict a woman's right to choose."

When I spoke with Annie I asked her if she was satisfied with the way the healthcare reform bill had turned out. She's was clear that she views it as a work in progress and that that's something she would like to get busy on in Washington. "We should be proud that the health care reform we passed will extend coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans," she began, "and that it will stop insurance companies from ending your coverage if you get sick or have a pre-existing condition. Those are major achievements and they wouldn’t have happened without pressure from the grassroots. But our job isn’t done-- now we have to tackle the other (still broken) side of health care, which is the outrageous cost of care. Along with job creation, this is going to be priority #1 for the next Congress that is sworn-in next January and I believe the best way to tackle the cost issue is by using the public insurance option to increase competition."

And she doesn't seem overly thrilled by the way Congress is approaching the occupation of Afghanistan. It was relatively easy for Democrats to oppose Bush's wars. But now that they're Obama's wars, relatively few Democrats are willing to pressure him to end them-- in the Senate Thursday only 18 Democrats voted for Russ Feingold's proposal requiring "a plan for the safe, orderly, and expeditious redeployment" of our troops. There's no doubt where the ex-Chair of Lieberman For President stands on the war. Annie has a very different approach:

I will not let the same broken mindset that got us into Iraq get us bogged down in Afghanistan too. The real threat-- Al Qaeda-- is completely ignoring the borders that our military observes, and it has spread from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Meanwhile, seven years in Iraq and close to nine in Afghanistan have severely stretched our forces, and I am worried that further entanglements will prevent us from having the flexible force structure needed to meet this threat. Finally, this is about our economic security too-- we’ve spent over $1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we’ve done it by borrowing that money from lenders like China and Saudi Arabia, which poses a potential security threat in itself.

Today's first question to Annie will be how she would be voting on legislation like Barbara Lee's that would prevent funding any more escalations in Afghanistan and seeks only to provide for the safety of American troops as they redeploy out of the country.

Please consider joining the netroots supporters who have rallied to Annie's campaign. She's our newest endorsee on the Blue America ActBlue page.



Blue America's Alan Grayson Wins Florida Primary

Congratulations, Alan! Great news from a great progressive candidate.

Down With Tyranny:

(Tuesday) Florida had its congressional primaries and with about 93% of the vote counted it's looking like Donna Edwards may soon have a strong progressive with a reform-minded agenda working with her in Congress. (Oh, there's still the general election in November... but Keller barely managed to hold onto his party's nomination against Todd Long who's getting 47% of the Republican vote.) AP has called the race for Grayson but says it's too close to call on the GOP side. [..]

Which ad do you think will be most effective in the general election?

or this?

Both of them are hard to resist. Please consider donating to our Blue America ActBlue page so he can keep running the ads.




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