Blue America, Onward And Upward: Good Guys Always Win In The End

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The first time he ran for Congress, Alan Grayson lost the primary. Two years later Blue America encouraged him to run again and he did. Derided by the political Establishment in Florida and in DC, he beat their favorite in the primary and went on to beat the incumbent Republican congressman in the November general. He then went on to inspire millions of Americans desperate for political leaders who could and would stand up to the conservative consensus that dominates Beltway politics. And when Grayson lost in 2010, he started working on the 2012 race. Blue America was with him every step of the way.

And on Tuesday we celebrated when he won the biggest congressional comeback in American history-- a 62.5% victory that saw him win the vote in every municipality in Florida's 9th district. He won among men and he won among women; he won the youth vote and he won the senior vote and he won the votes of people in between. He won among white people, among black people, among Hispanics and among Asians. He won the urban vote, the suburban vote and the rural vote and he won over 60% of the vote in Orange County, in Osceola County and even in red-leaning Polk County! 3,205 individual contributions from Blue America donors added up to $57,190 for Alan this year.

Yesterday, Grayson said in a statement that speaks volumes about his dedication to the ideals embodied in the men and women who put him back in office:

"Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that one Democrat is as good as any other, that we’re all interchangeable parts. We’re not. Some of us have a head, and a heart, and a spine, and some of us don’t. Blue America concentrates on helping the Democrats who deserve our help, the Democrats who can make a difference. Blue America’s encyclopedic knowledge of every Congressional race means that they do your homework for you. When you support Blue America, you’re supporting the best of the best, in the most important races in the country. It sure made a difference in our election.”

And Alan wasn't our only big win this cycle. After we helped a young reform-minded El Paso City Councilman, Beto O'Rourke, oust longtime corrupt incumbent Silvestre Reyes in a primary that sent shock waves through the DC Establishment, Beto went on this past Tuesday to roll up an awe-inspiring two-to-one landslide, beating his Tea Party opponent 65.5 to 32.8%. Aside for raising money for Beto, we also introduced him to Alan Grayson and Jared Polis so that he would have a base among other reform-minded Democrats in Washington and not just the corrupt, corporate-oriented glad-handing party leaders.

As you know by now, all three of the people Blue America backed for Senate -- Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin -- won incredible victories. Bernie was reelected with over 70% of the vote. Elizabeth was the only Democrat to dislodge a sitting Republican senator -- Wall Street's favorite member of the Senate, no less -- and Tammy Baldwin beat back a four-term governor to become Wisconsin's first woman senator, and the first openly gay person to even win a Senate seat in America.

In 2010, Annie Kuster and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter were both victims of the Tea Party wave that swept over New Hampshire. Tuesday that wave reversed itself, and both outstanding grassroots progressives won congressional seats and helped turn New Hampshire dark blue again-- with a new Democratic governor and an overwhelming victory in the state legislature. And across the country in California, state Senator Alan Lowenthal, a principled and determined progressive, who got no help from the DCCC, won a powerful 10-point victory over Climate Change-denier Gary Delong.

Blue America is very proud of all our winners, of course -- and very proud of our members who gave and gave and gave and gave so generously and so consistently. We're also incredibly proud of the candidates who didn't win their races but who fought hard, usually against overwhelming odds and with no help from the DCCC or the Beltway Establishment or the state parties that take their cues from Washington. Rob Zerban gave Paul Ryan the biggest fight of his career and came closer to ending it than anyone who's ever challenged him before. Rob will be back.

And Rob isn't the only one we will be working with again. Some of our youngest first-time candidates -- Aryanna Strader, Lee Rogers, Nate Shinagawa, Nick Ruiz -- have assured me that what we've worked so hard to build won't be wasted. Lee took on the powerful and entrenched chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and gave him the first close call of his long, corrupt career. Will McKeon even run again? None of these candidates had any help from the DCCC; all of them outperformed expectations and made a mark. The morning after his near victory over Tea Party debt collector Tom Reed, the DCCC asked Nate Shinagawa to suit up for 2014, which indicates that might actually support him next cycle. I'm certain, with your help, Blue America will.

Let me share with you a note I got on Wednesday morning from Aryanna Strader our candidate in PA-16, who waged a lonely battle against entrenched incumbent Joe Pitts:

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ARCHIVE: Blue America welcomes the original Netroots candidate, Darcy Burner

Help us fix what's wrong with our country by helping Darcy fix Congress. 

Back in 2006, when Blue America was just a young PAC, one congressional candidate seemed to emerge from out of our own ranks, so conversant with the way the new technology had merged with progressive politics that she was, in many ways, the first Netroots candidate. It was Darcy Burner of Washington state, a brilliant former Microsoft executive who famously declared that she knew she had to step into the arena when she realized that she needed to leave a better world for her young son. 

We endorsed her enthusiastically in both of her heartbreakingly close losses in 2006 and 2008 and followed her subsequent work in Washington DC with the Progressive Caucus Foundation with interest.While there she learned the inside workings of the congress, built relationships and alliances with other progressives and deepened her policy knowledge to truly impressive heights. Yet throughout it all, Darcy has closely maintained her connections to the Netroots and commitment to the Progressive Movement we've been trying to build from the beginning. She was one of those rare people with the integrity and backbone to be in Washington without being of Washington

Still, we couldn't be more thrilled that she is back home in the Pacific Northwest and ready to give it another go --- we are proud to endorse her for the congressional seat in the new WA-01 district.

We need people like Darcy in the congress more than ever because, as she says:

We can’t fix what’s broken with our country if we don’t fix Congress. Our Congress is full of crooks who trade on insider knowledge, of people who have sold their souls to the very people who have broken our country. Even the good ones, the members who want the right things, too often give up too easily on important fights, or can’t figure out how to fix the deep structural problems that undermine us.

We need people there who are tenacious and who won’t give up when things get hard.

Indeed we do. And Darcy is nothing if not tenacious.

It's not going to be a cakewalk. She's facing a primary with several dismal Dems, one of whom may very well get tacit backing from the Party. (Darcy wasn't afraid to speak her mind when she was in Washington. They know she will not be compliant.) And once she gets through that gauntlet, she will be facing a probable GOP opponent who will be very well financed.(Aren't they all?)

She's got great name recognition, even though this is a new district, and is she very popular in the populated Democratic part of it. We understand that the progressives are rallying around her in the more Republican rural area. So she's got an excellent chance.

But she's going to need our help. Big business isn't going to support a real progressive. Super-PAC gambling billionaires aren't going to support a real progressive. The Party is terrified of Big Business and Super PAC billionaires so it isn't going to support a real progressive. That's going to be our job.

Please read the archived comments back at the original post when we welcomed Darcy back for her first chat of the election season. She took questions for an hour, and they are amazing.

And please donate what you can to her campaign here. If you want to begin the real hard work of hope and change, this is the place to start.



Meet the Speaker: Blue America Live Blog with Chris Donovan

Beyond Just A Dependable Progressive Vote: Proven Leadership, Meet the Speaker: Chris Donovan's NOT the kind of progressive that sits around "being right" and not getting anything done. Let's get him working for us! Please give what you can to his campaign.

With so many state legislatures working against the interests of working families and against democracy itself, it was refreshing to meet the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives, Chris Donovan. Chris is running to represent the western and central Connecticut congressional district being left open by Chris Murphy's run for the U.S. Senate (to replace Joe Lieberman). Chris is the newest Democrat endorsed by Blue America and he's joining us for a live blog session at Crooks and Liars on Saturday at 2pm (ET). We hope you can join us then.

Chris isn't just good on the issues-- though he certainly is-- he understands the mechanisms of power that create public policy. He's not the kind of progressive that sits around being right and not getting anything done. That's why he holds the top position in the Connecticut legislature, and that's why the Connecticut legislature has been taking such cutting-edge positions on issue after issue at a time when reactionaries like Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Rick Snyder, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Tom Corbett, Paul LePage, Bob McDonnell, etc. are dragging their states backwards. Chris led the successful fights in the Connecticut House to pass 12 minimum wage increases, implement the strongest campaign finance reform legislation in the country, allow all Connecticut students to pay instate tuition rates through the CT DREAM Act, create the first statewide paid sick leave legislation in the country, ensure marriage equality, end discrimination based on sexual preference and gender identity, decriminalize marijuana, and implement a municipal pooling of health care and prescription coverage that will save both the state and its cities and towns money-- the first step on the path to a public option for Connecticut. 

Dream candidate? Absolutely-- and very much worth helping elect to Congress!

Like every candidate Blue America has endorsed this year, Chris has told us that jobs is the single most important issue voters in his district are concerned about. If you listen closely, though, Chris isn't using Republican Party/Inside-the-Beltway framing to discuss it. He's very much an advocate for public sector jobs and for the government playing a vital role in the general welfare of the nation. "Our private industries and small businesses need customers," he told me yesterday, "at the same time that our towns and cities need teachers, nurses, and public safety workers. Instead of calling for more jobs to be cut, Republicans and pundits in Washington and Hartford should join progressive Democrats in investing in quality jobs with strong benefits that benefit our communities. We need more teachers, more firefighters, more construction workers, and more nurses. The Republicans in the House claimed to be running on a jobs agenda in 2010-- more than 240 days and zero jobs bills later, it’s time for them to honor their promises."

He's one of the only Democrats I've heard slap back against Marco Rubio's deranged, alien claim that Medicare and Social Security have made us weaker as a people. "When I hear that the Inside-the-Beltway crowd is talking about cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, I am outraged. These programs make America what it is, a country that cares-- about our seniors, about our children, about our people. That’s what I’m going to fight for in Congress-- to protect our future, to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and to make sure they are around to protect our grandparents and our grandchildren." Chris Donovan-- our kind of candidate. 

Again, you can contribute to Chris' campaign-- and to our country's future-- here at the Blue America ActBlue page.

We are all in this together,

Digby, John, Howie and the Blue America Team



Alan Grayson's In-- Are You?

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

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

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

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



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Ed Potosnak, D-New Jersey

No signs of any rapture in New Jersey this morning yet. In fact, at 11am (PT; 2pm in NJ) Ed Potosnak -- the Blue America-endorsed candidate for the Congressional seat currently being held by health-care hypocrite Leonard Lance -- will be talking to us live from north-central Jersey. Ed will be joining us in the comments section (below) to accept the Blue America 2012 endorsement, live-blogging about his campaign and how New Jersey voters are reacting to the right-wing jihad against the middle class, seniors and the whole social compact. Meanwhile, contributions for Ed's campaign are gratefully being accepted at our Blue America page.

We endorsed Ed last September for the 2010 race against Lance primarily because of his emphasis on education policy and its role in innovation and moving the country forward. Ed himself is a chemistry teacher and small business owner and several years ago he was selected as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow.

"In my first year as an Einstein Fellow I helped craft legislation to improve science and mathematics education. This bill was introduced by then-Senator Obama; it passed, and is being implemented. In the second year of my fellowship I worked on legislation to ensure every student has access to a high quality education, establishing a 9-11 like commission to address the urgent crisis in our schools. This also passed and the Equity Commission is currently underway... There is so much more to do and I am running for Congress to once again get the job done."

The incumbent he's running against is a garden variety career politician whose decades in office has been more about self-service than public service-- something you may have noticed if you were tuned into the fracas between Lance and Blue America over his health-care hypocrisy, which led to this ad:

Ed performed extremely well in a devastating year for Democrats. Not one Democratic challenger unseated a Republican incumbent but, with a feisty yet under-funded grassroots campaign, Ed managed to hold his own against the red tidal wave. This year looks far more promising nationally -- especially in NJ's 7th, where Obama beat McCain 51-48% in 2008 and will probably do a lot better next year against Bachmann or Palin or Romney or Gingrich or Pawlenty or whichever sociopath they come up with on the right.

"The issues we care about today are as important as they were this past November," he told us, "creating jobs, growing the economy, improving education, promoting innovation, and protecting the American dream... Things need to get done in Washington. The GOP has done nothing to address jobs and the economy... According to Congress' Joint Economic Committee if the Ryan plan to turn Medicare into an inadequate voucher program, for which Congressman Lance voted, were to be signed into law, seniors across America would face bleak economic prospects.

"But with the exception of Florida, there is no state more disastrously impacted than right here in New Jersey. Congressman Lance has seen these numbers and well knows that by 2022, out-of-pocket expenses for the typical 65-year-old enrollee in New Jersey would jump from $6,832.43 to $13,892.47, the second biggest increase in America ($7,060.03). I'll fight against that ever being enacted every day I'm in office."

An openly gay candidate, Ed takes equality and social justice very seriously. "We need better representation in Washington to ensure that America's policies are fair and just for all. The future of America depends on the education we provide today and we need to act with urgency to improve our schools and foster innovation. We must ensure that every single child in America is prepared to help our nation overcome the challenges of the modern world, innovate, and lead the global economy."

If you'd like to help Ed's campaign, you can do so at the Blue America ActBlue page



Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Eric Griego (D-New Mexico)

This week the DCCC spent a quarter million dollars on media in the Buffalo suburbs to advance the candidacy of conservative Democrat Kathy Hochul. Hochul is certainly "better" than her opponent, GOP hack Jane Corwin -- but does Hochul deserve that kind of expenditure? Her first TV ad starts with her throwing the immigrant community right under the bus. Still, she is a Democrat and that's the DCCC's job: elect Democrats -- the good, the bad and the ugly.

Blue America has a different mandate: we leave the bad and the ugly to the DCCC and try to lend a hand with the Good. Let's see if anyone can find anyone better anywhere than our newest candidate, New Mexico state Senator Eric Griego.

Kathy Hochul brags that she "led the fight" to prevent illegal immigrants from getting drivers' licenses. Eric took a very different approach to the problem in his career. When New Mexico's new Republican governor signed an executive order attempting to mimic the Arizona "Let me see your papers" law, Eric became the champion in the fight to oppose her. It was the most controversial and politically risky issue he had tackled.

"She signed an Executive Order requiring state law enforcement to ask for immigration status for all 'criminal suspects.' I introduced legislation barring state and local law enforcement from ever asking about immigration status. I also led the fight against the repeal of drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants. The policy had been effect for several years and became an effective wedge issue for the new conservative Republican Governor and her cronies. In a rare showing of Democratic unity, the state senate thwarted the repeal of the drivers licenses."

A very different kind of Democrat than Kathy Hochul. And a very different kind of Democrat than the kind of conservative Big Business shill the DCCC is rumored to be recruiting to run against Eric for the Albuquerque seat opening up due to the departure of our old friend Martin Heinrich for the open U.S. Senate seat. Right now Eric's only declared opponent is an extremist religious-fanatic, Republican pastor named Dan Lewis, who is hellbent on wrecking government regulations.

The Albuquerque chapter of DFA first alerted us to Eric's decision to run for the seat, describing him as "a hard-nosed progressive fighter for families, children and workers who's ready, willing and able to take on the right wing attacks on education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid." That's the picture his record in public service paints. The first thing I ever heard him say was "The last thing we need to send to Washington is a Democrat who's a kinder, gentler version of the Republicans, frankly."

Blue America has spent weeks talking with him since then. He's exactly the kind of unapologetic progressive leader we need in Congress, an antidote to the dozens of Blue Dogs and conservatives always scurrying across the aisle to vote with the Republicans against the interests of working families and for their corporate donors. In contrast, Eric led efforts at the state level to do what our kind of Democrats are trying to do at the national level-- "Before cutting core spending on kids, seniors and working families," he told me passionately, "we should ask big oil and other corporate tax evaders to pay their fair share. We should also repeal the Bush tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 a year. For the Republicans to defend subsidies for big oil is indefensible given their outrageous profits. To say taxes on the richest CEOs and multinational corporations are 'off the table' is outrageous when at the same time the Republican leadership is willing to ration Medicare, Medicaid and limit Social Security."

In the state legislature he sponsored several tax reform bills that would have raised personal income taxes on the wealthiest two percent of New Mexicans and to limit subsidies to large out of state corporations. The bills were killed by state Senate leaders. "In my first year in the Senate, I passed a green jobs bill that provides state-funded training for solar, wind and other renewable energy workers. That year [2008] and in 2011 I sponsored comprehensive ethics and campaign finance reform legislation including public financing for all state elections, contribution limits, and a state ethics commission. The ethics and campaign finance bills never got heard due to opposition from Senate leadership." In 2005 Eric was behind the successful Albuquerque initiative to provide voluntary public financing for local elections. "We are now one of the few cities in the nation with public financing of local elections."

Kicking off his campaign a couple weeks ago, Eric told his supporters in Albuquerque why he's the right man for the job. Those reasons resonate perfectly with Blue America:

“We need a Democratic Congressional candidate who will unapologetically stand up for Democratic values. The current Republican leadership in Congress wants to dismantle the protections that it has taken generations to build, like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We need a strong courageous advocate for working families and who has a record of taking on those who put the interests of the richest two percent of Americans and the largest corporate interests ahead of our children, our environment and our local businesses.”

If that kind of message appeals to you-- and, by the way, I should mention that Eric is also the Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children, a non-profit research, policy and advocacy organization that fights for the state’s vulnerable children and working families-- please consider making a donation to our newest endorsed candidate, Eric Griego.




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