People Who Say It Cannot Be Done Should Not Interrupt Those Who Are Doing It

womensmarch2.jpg“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: Repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.” — John Steinbeck, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ (Based on last week’s election results, it’s working!)

Normally, Democrats win districts where the PVI is D+something and Republicans win districts where the PVI is R+something. The higher the "something," the more likely that party will win. But it's not always the case.

Allison Ikley-Freeman's successful campaign for a state Senate seat in Oklahoma last week-- a seat where Trump beat Hillary 61.4-32.7%-- was in a very red district southwest of Tulsa. No one thought she had any chance at all. It's the kind of area where the DCCC always says-- and always wrongly-- that only a rich Republican-lite Blue Dog could win. But Allison is a young progressive who was outspent 3-1, campaigning on a Bernie-like platform. And she's a proud lesbian, married to an African-American. She doesn't fit the DCCC model at all.

There are 5 Blue America-endorsed candidates we're always always being told are in "impossible" races. None of them are as "impossible" as Allison's race was. And all 5 are being run by exceptionally good candidates:

  • James Thompson (KS) R+15
  • Jenny Marshall  (NC) R+10
  • Tom Guild (OK) R+10
  • Derrick Crowe (TX) R+10
  • Dan Canon (IN) R+13

Since Tom Guild was the first person to tell me to watch Allison's race in Tulsa, about a week before the election, I spoke with him about what her victory meant to his race on the other side of the state. He hit the nail on the head:

"We have knocked doors for more than 5 months and visited with thousands of good, hard working, incredible people in our district. They want to earn enough money to pay their bills and provide for their families. They want affordable health care and peace of mind when they or someone they love get sick and need medical care. They want dignity and security in their golden years. They want the heavy burden of college student debt lifted from their shoulders after scrimping for years and burning the candle at both ends to attain their educational goals. Government should lighten our burdens and help us on our journey. Many times today, government frightens decent and honest people by threatening to take away their health care or jobs or affordable loans or programs like Social Security or Medicare that they have paid into for decades. We need to elect people to public office who want to help people and not hurt them. Public servants should make people’s American Dreams attainable instead of throwing roadblocks in their way. I’m willing to do everything in my power to make each person’s dreams a reality. I’m willing to provide a hand up not a cold slap in my fellow Americans faces. Together, we can create positive change in America. To go fast, go alone. To go far, we need to take our journey together and support one another.  We must help each person arrive at their unreachable star and celebrate with them as they achieve this miraculous victory."

Derrick Crowe is running in an Austin/San Antonio district due south of Tom's. "The establishment," he told us, "does not like to be proven wrong about past failures, and when you sign up to run in an ostensibly 'red' district,' the groups in D.C. will tell you that you're crazy. "Too red. Too conservative. Too long since the Democrats held the seat. Too much money on the other side"

Well, we just saw a socialist beat the former speaker of the Virginia statehouse, and a progressive member of the LGBTQIA community win in a solidly #MAGA district. It reminds me of the saying, 'People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.' Well, we're doing it. The progressive moment is here, the wave is barreling to shore, and people who want to run for office as progressive populists should step forward right now. There will never be another time like this, and you'll never be able to do more good. And when people tell you it can't be done, tell them it's rude to interrupt."

Jenny Marshall is also running in an "impossible" district in the South, held by an entrenched multimillionaire incumbent. The DCCC won't figure it out until the day after election day, but the way things have been going lately, maybe "entrenched multimillionaire incumbent" isn't what voters are looking for right now.

Jenny:

"People wish me luck when I tell them that I am running for Congress against Virginia Foxx. I tell them there is no luck about it, just hard work and a message that people believe in. The people in the 5th are struggling to make ends meet and they want someone who will fight for them. They want someone with the courage to stand up for regular folks and take on out of control corporate greed and Washington lobbyists. As I have traveled the district I have listened to story after story of medical care that is too expensive and jobs that pay too little. I have listened to veterans who can't get the help they need and college graduates saddled with enormous debt. I sit and listen as they pour their life stories out and I can relate. I know what it is like to have more month than money, to worry about health care costs and student loan debt. As we trade stories, I talk about the changes I want to see in Congress and by the end I have another supporter. Over the past 11 months I have met thousands and thousands of people at all kinds of events. The overwhelming message back to our campaign is “run, Jenny run!”  So, I am running, but I am not alone. We are building a top notch campaign team with more volunteers and donations coming in daily so that we can knock every last door in the district to get our message out. I believe that with hard work and our grassroots organizing we will win in 2018." 

Dan Canon is an exceptionally accomplished candidate running in Indiana, a state the DCCC fears and, when they even try-- always run a Blue Dog. Dan is far from a Blue Dog. "We are seeing on the ground," he told us, "genuine excitement for real progressive politics, not just with Democrats and Independents but also with Republicans and those who have never been involved or even voted before. With Indiana's abysmal voter turnout we know that if we get more people to vote, we win. Talking to over 40,000 voters already and registering over 4,500 new voters, we know that one-on-one conversations about progressive policies are what will win this race."

James Thompson was ignored by the DCCC and the Beltway elites when he ran in a special election this year. But he came incredibly close to flipping one of those "impossible" districts, this one in the Wichita area. He's running again and the DCCC is ignoring him again. (Fine... it's an opportunity to elect a real progressive instead of the kind of retrograde Blue Dog that Luhan and Pelosi would prefer.)

James told us that "Something is only impossible so long as people believe it is so. As long as you believe in your cause and are willing to work, nothing is out of reach. No state is too red. No precinct too Republican. As Nina Turner recently told me, we need to be “hard on issues and soft on people.”

"This battle is not between Republican and Democrat; that is their narrative. The battle for our country’s soul is between the privileged princes of Wall Street/corporate class and the working people of this country. Working people exist in both parties and we need to come together as one to take back the power the billionaire boys club siphoned from us for decades with tax breaks and loopholes. When We the People stand together nothing is impossible."

These kinds of seats, in a cycle like this, is exactly where the DCCC should be making big plays. They're not. But we can. Want to help? Every donation absolutely makes a difference.



Is 2018 The Year We Break The GOP Strangle-Hold On Texas?

Over the years, Democrats let Texas slip away. When Democrats were firmly committed to representing the legitimate aspirations and interests of working families, Texas was part of their coalition.

There are Texans today-- like gubernatorial candidate Tom Wakely, Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke and half a dozen outspoken progressives running for Congress who you could call modern day "New Deal Democrats" ...and they aren't having any of the "DC Dem" bull-pucky.

Saturday, Mark Jones, a political science fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and Joseph Jamail, chair in Latin American Studies at Rice University, penned an OpEd for The Hill, “Texas Democrats smell blood in the water for 2018.” Like every Texas Democratic candidate I've ever talked to, they bring up that Texas is less a red state than a "no vote state."

They wrote

"in non-presidential years, the Texas Democratic Primary tends to be a low-key affair, with statewide turnout involving only around 3 percent of the voting age population.

Contested Democratic congressional primaries tend to be scarcer than grass around a trough, with a plethora of safe Democratic incumbents and a paucity of seats in play." But they sense that that's not going to be the case next year. They're especially high on the prospect of Democrats taking back TX-07, TX-32 and TX-23.

In 2018 that is changing, as a talented group of high-quality Democratic candidates are coming out of the woodwork to run for Congress across the Lone Star State. And, if Democrats are to have any hope of taking back control of the U.S. House next year, they will have to flip at least a couple of Texas seats presently held by Republicans.

Tom Wakely told us that his campaign for governor will focus on 4 main issues:

1- Income inequality. I will fight for a raise in the state minimum wage to $15 an hour along with repealing Texas’s right-to-work laws. I also want to scrap the Texas business franchise tax system in favor of a Business Income Tax. It’s way past time for Texas’ largest corporations like IBM, Wal-Mart, ATT, Toyota, Dell Computer and Exxon, to start paying their fair share of taxes.

2- Healthcare. Texans need access to healthcare not access to health insurance. I will fight for the establishment of a statewide network of health clinics and hospitals similar in nature to the VA healthcare system that I am a part of. If you have health insurance through your employer and are happy with it-- keep it. If you have health insurance through the ACA and are happy with it-- keep it. For everyone else, the statewide network of health clinics and hospitals that I propose will be there for you.

3- Gun Violence Prevention programs. I will fight to ban the sale and possession of military-style weapons like the AK-47 and AR-15 in Texas. I will fight to repeal our state’s open-carry laws. I also support limiting the number of handguns and long guns that a person can lawfully own. In addition, we should require background checks at gun shows.

4- Global Warming. Through policies and practices like instituting a carbon fee on the burning of carbon-based fuels (coal, oil, gas), the carbon fee is at the core of my policy to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of fossil fuels whose combustion is destabilizing and destroying our climate. I will fight to ban fracking and flaring in Texas. I will work to see that scrubbers are installed on all cement factory smokehouses. These are all meaningful steps to mitigating the harmful effects of global warming."

Lillian Salerno, formerly Obama's deputy undersecretary of rural development for the Department of Agriculture, is running for a north Dallas Metro seat occupied by Trump rubber stamp Pete Sessions. She told us that since Trump’s election "much has been made of his rural, heartland voters, and how politicians can better serve them, with most discussion centering on international trade and globalization. But there is another political and economic disaster crushing the heartland-- one politicians could solve now, if they chose to:

For decades, rural America has been punished by bad policy that places too much power in the hands of distant financiers and middlemen through the formation of monopolies, which undermines small, local businesses and drains communities of resources... Corporate concentration has hit farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers especially hard. Many markets are entirely monopolized by a single company that dictates the terms of business to suppliers... It is a myth that the economic challenges that rural and small-town America face are caused by forces largely outside our control, like globalization or improvements in technology. We have the ability to help restore competition and economic vibrancy in rural America and beyond. The government has the authority to ensure markets are once again open and competitive so that communities have a chance to shape their own economic destinies."

Derrick Crowe is running in TX-21 in an effort to unseat the criminally ANTI-Science Chair of the House SCIENCE committee, Lamar Smith:

"At my core, I’m an organizer and an activist for nonviolent social change. I believe that we’re in a revolutionary time in the U.S., and that playing it safe could mean losing our democracy. We’re running a different type of campaign here in Texas 21, one that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with working people who are literally fighting for their lives under Trump and the GOP Congress."

The kind of economic populism Tom, Derrick and Lillian are campaigning about is a clear path to victory for enhancing a blue wave in Texas. It would be nice if the DCCC and the Texas Democratic Party would catch on, but that's not likely. This cycle-- thanks to Republican overreach and Trump's abnormality-- we can do it without them.

Turning Texas blue is going to take more than one cycle; let's roll up our sleeves and get started.



Turning Orange County Blue-- AND Progressive

SamJammal.jpgSam Jammal: "We aren't training people for the jobs of the future. Washington is focused on protecting the old and powerful industries, instead of investing in what's new and next. This hurts workers and our economy while lining the pockets of those who benefit from the status quo... This is our country too and we can’t continue to have a government that is out of touch and unresponsive to what people are actually going through. This is why I am running.”

The DCCC has now admitted that they are recruiting Blue Dogs to run for congressional seats all across the country. Along with New Dems and "ex"-Republicans, this is what makes up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party in Congress and what prevents Democrats from moving ahead with-- or even running on-- a popular progressive platform. Instead of promising Medicare-For-All, a $15 minimum wage, free state college education and other motivating proposals, last week the DCCC came up with a recycled, anodyne Papa John's Pizza marketing slogan: "Better Skills. Better Jobs. Better Wages." Sure, that's something everyone can agree with-- even Blue Dogs-- but... why not "Mother and Apple Pie" instead?

The DCCC has recruited a conservative multimillionaire as their candidate in northeast Orange County (CA-39), Ed Royce's district. And the guy is an "ex"-Republican living in a $10 million mansion on the beach 2 districts away! His only "qualification" is having won $266 million in the lottery and spreading some of it around to Democrats in Congress.

The real tragedy in that there's a fantastic progressive Democrat who was born and raised in the district, Sam Jammal, also running. Of all the Orange County districts held by Republicans that Hillary won in 2016, CA-39 had the biggest margin-- 51.5% to 42.9%. The DCCC has never contested the seat before and is completely clueless about how to go about it. So... of course a rich "ex"-Republican self-funder is where they turn instead of to someone who lives and breathes an inspiring agenda of progressive policies geared towards the district itself.

While the DCCC-backed character is running around the Beltway meeting lobbyists and writing checks in return for endorsements, Jammal is knocking on every door and talking with people in the district about single payer healthcare, the environment-- after a job in the Obama administration, he worked at Tesla as a policy director for their solar equipment provider-- and how to create new jobs in a rapidly changing economy.

This is what he told us last week when we talked with him about what made him decide to give up his job at Tesla and run for Congress.

There is currently a huge disconnect between politics and real people struggling to get by and trying to get ahead. I saw it every day as a civil rights advocate and staffer. Politics today is more about who is lobbying or donating than the needs of the people I grew up with.

I used to come home to visit my family and friends in California and hear about the issues that are important to them that are virtually ignored by their representatives in DC. I recall only 3 politicians-- President Obama and Senators Warren and Sanders-- even uttering the words “student debt.” You never hear anyone talking about child care costs or even what the cost of owning a home is today. And let’s not forget that significant under investments on the basics-- good roads and schools-- have sent a message of disregard to so many Americans.

There aren’t enough people in DC who are connected with regular Americans who work hard and want the best for their families. People just want a shot at the American Dream.

I come from a working class family where I had to take on part-time jobs to pay for my volunteer work in politics. I waited tables in DC at night to make enough money to cover my room and board when I was an intern. I have thousands of dollars in student debt, not including the debt my parents took on to help their three children go to college. I could probably count on one hand people like me in Congress.

One of the main problems I saw is that there are few people like me-- people who come from working class backgrounds and are the first generation in their family to graduate from college.

DC is a playground for the rich and powerful and their children. There aren’t many people from working class families who can make the financial sacrifice to take an internship or low-paying entry-level position when they are burdened by student loans. Unfortunately, it creates an environment of a millionaire Congress, which means no one is looking out for the rest of us.

Even though Wall Street and Washington declared victory on the Great Recession, most families still haven't recovered. Seniors lost value in their 401(k) and pensions. Many have had to stay in the workforce longer or count on Social Security to barely make ends meet. The rest of us are still recovering whether because of credit downgrades, job loss or a slow job market that put many millennials behind preceding generations.

Please consider giving what you can to Sam Jammal's grassroots campaign. The "ex"-Republican self-funding lottery winner has hired every consultant he could get his hands on. The DCCC should stay neutral in this race and let the citizens of Fullerton, Yorba Linda, Hacienda Heights, Brea, La Habra, Buena Park, Chino Hills, Diamond Bar and Walnut decide who they want to be the Democratic Party nominee. People are catching on now that getting policy like Medicare-For-All, isn't about electing corporate Democrats, it's about electing progressive Democrats.



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.



Why It's Not All Gloom And Doom Around Here


A few years ago Blue America's list of endorsed candidates had the biggest success rate of any PAC recruiting and endorsing candidates. We beat NARAL, the Sierra Club, the Human Rights Campaign and the League of Conservation Voters that year-- not to mention the NRA and Club for Growth. I laughed when I read the stats. Blue America isn't about picking candidates who will make the PAC look good. Blue America is about endorsing and working with the candidates-- like unlikely winners Donna Edwards, Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren-- who will fight for the legitimate aspirations of working families.

Last year, for example, we worked hard to elect Eloise Reyes to Congress in the Inland Empire. The DCCC had their own candidate, corrupt conservative Pete Aguilar. Aguilar won-- and promptly joined the New Dems and ran up one of the worst voting records of any Democrat in Congress. ProgressivePunch-- whose CEO argued with me when I told him how terrible Aguilar would be before the election-- gave him an "F" this year and, according to their algorithm, shows his crucial vote score for his one term to be less progressive than all but 10 Democrats, 2 of whom (reactionary Blue Dogs Gwen Graham and Brad Ashford) are leaving Congress in January.

Meanwhile, Eloise took stock of her loss, learned the appropriate lessons from it and one week ago absolutely clobbered one of the most corrupt conservative Democrats in the California state legislature, Chevron Cheryl Brown, beating her decisively and spectacularly catapulting herself into a position where she can do a lot of good for the working families she represents (who Brown had ignored). We count that as a big Blue America win, even though it isn't something you'll read about in the Washington Post or NY Times or hear about on MSNBC.

Eventually, all the progressive groups came around and endorsed state Senator Pramila Jayapal for an open seat in Seattle and we all worked to raise her the money she would need to win a tough primary and then the general election. Blue America was the first to endorse, and encourage her compelling leadership style, and emphasize it to other national progressives, some of whom whined about how it was "unfair" to take sides because the other candidates were good too. Last week Pramila made history, as the first America with South Asian roots to win a congressional seat.

When Nanette Barragán, a small town mayor and environmental activist, decided to take on the entire stinking California Democratic Party establishment by challenging their handpicked conservaDem candidate to fill a deep blue seat in one of Los Angeles' poorest congressional districts, Digby, John and I invited her to dinner, got to know her and Blue America became one of the first national PACs to endorse her and help make her case and raise her the money she needed to beat the "impossible" odds she faced in beating the establishment-- impossible odds she overcame to win a jaw-dropping victory last week.

Blue America didn't look for candidates who were likely to win; we looked for candidates who had a reasonable chance to win-- with help-- but who would likely be great legislators. We look forward to seeing Ruben Kihuen (NV), Jamie Raskin (MD), Carol Shea-Porter (NH)-- along with Nanette-- and possibly Doug Applegate (ballots in his tight race against arch-villain Darrell Issa are still being counted today) take eventual leadership roles in a House Democratic minority that sorely lacks cohesive and inspiring leaders.

And this was a good year for Blue America in terms of helping build a progressive, activist Democratic bench on the state legislative level. Aside from Eloise, we helped elect Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and Mike Connolly, both of whom beat powerful, entrenched corrupt Democrats to win seats, respectively in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Stanley Chang-- like Eloise, a 2014 Blue America congressional candidate-- came roaring back this year and beat the last remaining Republican in the Hawaii Senate-- and in the reddest district in Hawaii! Justin Bamberg, our Berniecrat candidate in South Carolina, was reelected and Wenona Benally, another 2014 congressional candidate, introduced to us by Raul Grijalva, won a hard-fought Arizona congressional seat last week. And our Berniecrat legislator in Colorado, Joe Salazar, not only won his state House seat but was already leading the Denver mass anti-Trump protests this weekend.

But before we say thanks for helping make this possible with your generous contributions, I want to point to one more victory-- an old one. When Sheldon Adelson suddenly struck in 2014 in the open CA-33 seat, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into a last minute sneak attack, then-candidate Ted Lieu went to Steve Israel at the DCCC for help in responding. Israel flat out refused-- not one dime, not one nickel to answer Adelson's half million dollar SuperPAC. So Blue America did it instead. Ted won, was elected congressional freshman class president, has been one of the most outspoken and successful bipartisan advocates on a series of crucial issues, from cyber-security to peace and climate change, and this weekend was in the news again, standing up against Trump’s "crazy shit", urging concerned Americans to follow him in becoming a supporter of the ACLU, while other congressional Democrats just cower in fear or plot personal career advancement. Ted Lieu-- one of Blue America's best ever investments!

So, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank the mind-boggling generosity of the Blue America members who gave-- and then gave again and again-- and helped progressive champions get into office where they are needed more than ever. And, fyi, right now we're busier than ever recruiting progressive candidates to run for what could be a really good 2018 cycle.



The Philly Suburbs Are In Political Turmoil

As we've explained before, political science professor Mary Ellen Balchunis is just too progressive for Steve Israel (Blue Dog-NY), Ben Ray Lujan (DCCC chair) and Nancy Pelosi who used to be from San Francisco but now represents some alternative universe. Mary Ellen isn't, however, too progressive for the Democrats who actually live in the Philly suburbs in Delaware, Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties.

They laughed when the DCCC tried to insert some Wall Street outsider, Bill Golderer, as "their" candidate. That's why Mary Ellen beat him in the primary-- beat him, in fact quite decisively, 51,525 (74%) to 18,276 (26%). And this despite a very aggressive sabotage campaign against her... by the DCCC! While telling institutional donors not to contribute to Mary Ellen's campaign, they helped Golderer raise the $351,551 he spent against her in the primary (and even added in another $14,500 against her-- $14,500 that unaware contributors gave the DCCC to be used against Republicans, not against progressives).

As soon as the votes were counted showing Mary Ellen's stupendous win, the DCCC packed up its tents and decided PA-07 was no longer one of the "top 10 congressional targets in the country." They started investing money in deep, deep red districts; in Utah, Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey, where they have right-wing Blue Dogs and New Dems running with virtually no chance of winning. Their hatred for progressives and progressive ideas is so blinding, they have adamantly refused to help Mary Ellen's campaign-- and determined to see her lose to sad sack GOP backbencher incumbent Pat Meehan. Does this make any sense to you? Will you help her show the DCCC (again) who the Democrats in PA-07 want to have representing them in Congress?

Hillary and Bernie split the counties that make up PA-07. They also split the affections of Mary Ellen, who is an old friend of Hillary's and a supporter of the same progressive agenda that made Bernie so beloved to the Democratic Party grassroots, much of which Hillary has now embraced as well, she says. This past Monday, Hillary was back in the Philly suburbs, campaigning with Mary Ellen in her hometown, Haverford... despite Pelosi and her conservative DCCC henchmen still purposefully ignoring the PA-07 race.

"I was first inspired by Hillary Clinton in 1992," Mary Ellen told us, "when I was teaching a class on State and Local Government, and our textbook discussed Governor Clinton of Arkansas appointing his wife, then  Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton, to chair a committee to improve education in their state. The Clintons viewed education as a key to economic development and I was impressed by how Bill and Hillary worked together as equals. I was honored to have Hillary lecture to my students and sign my textbook. One of my students asked her what her focus would be if she were to become First Lady of the United States. Hillary said she would work to help our children and she has more than lived up to that promise with her steadfast advocacy for children and families. Perhaps the most inspiring moment was when Hillary was working on the 1996 Baby Bill to extend maternity stays from 24 hours to a minimum of 48 hours at the same time my students were working on the issue. When the bill was  being signed, Hillary invited me and my two year old daughter to the Rose Garden signing ceremony. We were both part of the 24 hour 'McBirth' deliveries. In my classes, I teach by involving students. My classes have worked on reducing the time that rape kits sit on shelves, reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, bringing awareness of the problem of human trafficking, amongst others. Hillary inspired me to go further, saying: 'I know Mary Ellen Balchunis has just one of the best Women in Politics class in the nation.'"

Hillary seems to get it-- she needs progressives in Congress to help her pass the ambitious agenda Bernie and Elizabeth Warren helped her put together to run on. It's heartening to see her backing good candidates and not just the garbage the DCCC insists on backing. Mary Ellen is a values-driven fighter, not some kind of careerist hack. Hillary needs people like Mary Ellen Balchunis in Congress if she's going to get anything worthwhile done.

This is the kind of crucial race where the progressive grassroots can pick up the slack from a corrupted and conservative DCCC refusing to do its job. Please consider joining Blue America in supporting Mary Ellen Balchunis's race against Paul Ryan rubber-stamp, Pat Meehan in a district where Hillary is leading Trump by over 20 points! Let's use that opportunity to win back Joe Sestak's old House seat while the DCCC wastes their resources on a pack of Blue Dogs in districts far out of grasp. And, by the way, Joe Sestak, has been campaigning very actively for Mary Ellen in the district and helping her raise money as well.



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.



DuWayne Gregory-- Ready To Turn Long Island Blue Again


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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



The GOP Would Rather Fight Science Than Climate Change

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Credit: Wakely Campaign

One ominous development we've been watching with alarm this cycle is the DCCC's systematic discounting of the public's preference in primaries. It seems that every time a progressive wins, the DCCC decides the district is not winnable and they immediately abandon the district.

Steve Israel and Ben Ray Lujan have mandated this in every part of the country, from Long Island and the Philly suburbs, up to Wisconsin's north woods and down to Texas' Austin-San Antonio corridor. Today we want to introduce you to Tom Wakely, a progressive Democrat who backed Bernie in the primary and has rallied around Hillary for the general election. 

His primary victory over a self-described conservative Democrat was substantial and decisive-- 59-41%. But the DCCC has an odd definition of "party unity" and has never so much as returned a call from Tom. TX-21 includes deep blue downtown Austin and traditionally Republican suburbs of that city and San Antonio that have turned away from Trump. These voters aren't happy about the incumbent-- Science Committee chairman Lamar Smith-- and his enthusiastic backing for Trump, and his pig-headed denial of Science in regard to both Climate Change and the Zika virus outbreak, two absolutely crucial areas that Lamar's Science Committee has refused to act on. 

But never mind that. And never mind that TX-21 is ripe to flip from red to blue, a supposed “goal” the DCCC and DNC keep dangling under the noses of Democratic donors. They're acting as though Lamar Smith has no opponent this cycle, instead of acknowledging the primary winner and one of the most vibrant grassroots campaigns anywhere in America. 

Maybe they feel Wakely's progressive message is too strong for Texas-- although Texas Democrats found it just right. "As a labor organizer," Tom told us, "I was able to see progressivism as the necessary philosophy to extend our nation's promise to all of our citizens. As a former minister, I've always seen progressivism as a moral imperative. And as someone who has studied religious texts, I can't for the life of me find anything that grants humanity the ability to trash its only home without repercussions. With our government already relocating climate refugees from coastal Louisiana and Alaska, we cannot afford a Congress which turns two blind eyes to reality and objectivity."

That's a message that works in Austin and in San Antonio, even if it frightens Steve Israel and Ben Ray Lujan. Tom is promising to work to ban fracking:

"There is no middle man fuel if we're pumping any amount of excess carbon into our atmosphere. Banning fracking is essential in keeping drought-prone places (like in my home state of Texas) free from predatory corporations who cannot adequately return even a fraction of the water used back to our environment. While we've made progress, we can do so much more. While I've never and will never pretend to be an expert in climate science, I have listened to countless experts and scientists who all seem to be in agreement that we must act now. I've worked with Methodist Earthkeepers, who define themselves as missionaries of God's creation, to further cement in my promise to my constituents a moral imperative to leaving a better planet for generations to come. My guiding principle, and our campaign's motto, is that we must take care of each other. There's no better fight that exemplifies this creed than our fight to protect our planet. When I'm in Congress, you can count on me to always think of you."

His criticism of the seemingly unaccountable Lamar Smith is straight-forward and well-deserved:

My opponent, Lamar Smith, endorsed Trump this May and suggested that we could all become "enthusiastic" backers of the most unstable nominee either major party has ever seen. Trump's climate adviser claims the jury is still out on climate change. Trump himself sees climate change as a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese in order to harm American manufacturing. Congressman Smith has quickly become one of the most discussed House science chairs in recent memory for all the wrong reasons.

He's subpoenaed multiple climate groups and 17 attorneys general who are only looking into the mere possibility that the then Exxon lied to its shareholders and the public.
 
He's subpoenaed NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) scientists for presenting data he didn't like, wasting tax dollars to essentially reprimand scientists... My opponent has set an extremely dangerous precedent. First it's the climate science community, but what's next?
 
Lamar Smith is proud of this regressive activist committee he's built, which has Republicans clamoring to join for the sole purpose of political and capital gains. He's taken our last bastion of objectivity and turned it upside down. It should be considered a national disgrace. Our people should be angrier, but they're only just beginning to scratch the surface of a man who's managed to walk unscathed through the halls of the Capitol for nearly three decades.

This is a new Blue America ActBlue page we created to highlight progressives who have won their primaries and are being undercut-- rather than helped-- by a DCCC hostile to a progressive vision. We hope you’ll consider carefully the progressives, like Tom Wakely listed there, and give what you can.



A Clear Choice

Blue America endorsed Bill Ostrander in the 9 person race for the Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo CA-24 congressional seat. He ran a strong issues-oriented campaign, very much in line with Bernie's political revolution, to which he ascribed. He wasn't left standing on election night and voters in the 24th will have to pick between a garden variety careerist Democrat or a corruption-tainted GOP extremist. There are no good choices there. 

A few days ago, Bill called me and told me he's backing another "Berniecrat" though, Wendy Reed, who made it through the primary and will face off against Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in November in the district next door. In line with their policy of never challenging GOP leaders, the DCCC has refused to help Reed take on their onerous task. McCarthy, one of the most corrupt members of Congress-- only Paul Ryan has taken more money from Wall Street than he has this year-- has raised $6,727,189 this cycle something like 200 times more than Reed!

We need to do something about that, since McCarthy is not especially popular there; now a white minority district, with over 36% Hispanic population. CA-23 includes much of Bakersfield and Lancaster, as well as Tehachapi, Rosamond and lots of wide open spaces and national wilderness preserves that McCarthy wants to sell off to developers, including Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.

This morning, Bill sent me this note telling me why he is so enthusiastic about backing Wendy's campaign, over and above just helping her beat the odious McCarthy:

CA-23 is the district next door. The two districts meet at Los Padres National Forest, the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge and at the Carrizo Plain National Monument, space very much valued and cherished by people in both districts and space that Wendy has pledged to protect from rapacious developers. She is a land use planning activist who has worked in the community for 3 decades and, like myself, was immediately drawn to Bernie's values-and-policy oriented campaign. She went back to school to earn a Masters degree in Public Administration and is a land trust founder, and a climate change educator, with experience working with federal, state, county, and local agencies.

I saw a mailer that McCarthy sent out about her called "The Choice Is Clear." It featured a picture of Wendy and Bernie and excoriated her as a liberal. She probably didn't have the resources to create and send out a flier like that herself but I know it brought her a tremendous amount of positive attention. 

I was impressed that her top two platform commitments are (1) to get money out of politics/politics out of government-- as she said, "reversing or superseding Citizens United, eliminating loopholes for contributions, establishing limits for expenditures, excising lobbyists from the halls of government, establishing clear conflict of interest and insider trading restrictions and enforcing them mercilessly, prosecuting patronage at all levels of government, and supporting effective public funding for elections-- to restore representational self-government, and (2) to bring resources to this part of our state to invest in local infrastructure, upgrade the health and safety of our industries, and face the challenges of climate change. These aren't partisan issues and they appeal broadly to people in central California regardless of party ID.

McCarthy was advertising that he is a friend to veterans while he was whipping GOP efforts in Congress to slash Veterans Administration funding and services, and eliminate safety nets for military families. He blamed President Obama for FEMA's denial of services and loans to the Kern River Valley after the Erskine Fire, while he was whipping GOP efforts to slash FEMA funding, staffing, and services. McCarthy and the Republicans even tried to eliminate FEMA as an agency in 2012. 

McCarthy appears to do nothing for central California and nothing for the taxpayers of the 23rd district. That, along with Wendy's reasonable and innovative approach to the problems in our area, ise why I'm asking my supporters and the Blue America members who did so much to help me to contribute to her grassroots campaign today.

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

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team




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