Blue America Welcomes Alan Lowenthal

Alan Lowenthal will be the last official Blue America endorsement of 2012. As a state legislator, Alan has been an unabashed, unapologetic and very effective progressive from Long Beach. He's widely acknowledged to be one of the best California state senators when it comes to moving progressive ideas out of the realm of wishing and hoping and into the realm of solid policy achievement. If he can do half of what he's accomplished in Sacramento, in Washington, the whole country will be better off.

This week there was a brouhaha in his race because the confused Republican running against him told an audience filled with Fox News global warming deniers that he doesn't believe in Climate Change and that we can't do anything about it anyway and they should just recycle. Even the right-wing newspaper that always endorses Republicans was shocked. Alan's whole career has been based on doing something about it!

At the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, Alan drafted legislation which capped emissions and reduced airborne particulates by over 75%. Now, the two ports are the cleanest and greenest ports in the nation and a model for clean ports all over the world. That's called doing something about it.

Is Alan too principled and too wedded to progressive solutions to be able to work with Republicans? Well, maybe not Bachmann and Akin but Senator Lowenthal has been one of the most effective legislators in California history in bringing both sides together for the sake of ordinary families. He authored legislation which increased student success and graduation rates at all 113 of California’s Community Colleges, and linked the educational community in Long Beach by aligning common core standards from kindergarten to college. This was done with overwhelming bipartisan support. And as a founding member of the Bipartisan Caucus in the State Assembly, Alan also took the lead in authoring the legislation needed to create a new redistricting process which was more representative of the needs of the people, not the political self-interest of the politicians; the end result being the independent Citizen Redistricting Commission.

It's important to remember that his opponent, who is being heavily backed by Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, will never stray from right-wing dogma. Gary Delong will always walk in lock-step vote for the Party and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He is lying to Democrats, Independents, and progressives throughout the district about being a “new breed” of Republican, and trying to paint Alan's stellar legislative career as the worst thing to ever happen to this state-- blaming him for trying to ban styrofoam, passing AB 32 (California’s climate change plan), and choosing to save funding for schools and public safety instead of cutting them completely.

In officially endorsing Alan, Blue America joins the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Bill Clinton, the American Federation of Teachers, and DailyKos. Please consider helping upgrade Congress by supporting Alan Lowenthal for a swing district that spans Long Beach and parts of Orange County. He's joining us for a live chat in the comments section (below) today at 11am (PT).

Gary Delong-- Global Warming Denier... In Southern California?

Thursday we looked at how hostile to Science-- the engine of all economic progress-- the Republicans in Congress are. And, of course, like most reactionary trains of thought, Global Warming deniers are dominant in the old slave-holding states of the Confederacy. But in Southern California? Gary Delong, the Republican nominee who beat mainstream Republican Steve Kuykendall in the primary, roiled the race for the 47th CD congressional seat (Long Beach, Cypress, Westminster and Garden Grove) by making a stunning claim that he sees no scientific evidence of Climate Change. Does he think he's running for a seat in Mississippi or Alabma instead of California?

Delong removed the video from his own website, but luckily some of his fans had saved it and you can watch the whole thing here. (Delong gets going into Republican Fantasyland at 10:25.) David Allgood, Executive Director of the California League of Conservation Voters, was stunned. "Climate change and global warming are real. The denial of this scientifically proven phenomenon is not only a threat to our planet's health, but our economy and our children's future. Climate change deniers are nothing more than apologists for polluters, oil companies, and right-wing ideologues like the Koch brothers. Gary DeLong is not just wrong, his position is dangerous. We can't afford someone like him who puts politics and ideology ahead of science and the health of our community."

Thursday the editorial board of the very right-wing Long Beach Press-Telegram, the biggest newspaper in the district-- which has endorsed Delong-- was also mortified.

With the weather being so unseasonably warm over the last few days, one would think Long Beach City Councilman Gary DeLong would believe in a proven little fact like climate change. Alas, no.

The Republican congressional candidate recently told the Rossmoor Homeowners Association that global warming is "questionable."

When asked a follow-up question as to whether climate change is manmade, DeLong offered this doozy:

"No, you know there are scientists on both sides of it, but no, I don't immediately get there," DeLong said in a video posted on YouTube. "I don't see any scientific evidence."

These pages endorsed DeLong for the 47th Congressional District and hailed him as a moderate based on his own statements that he would buck the GOP's lockstep train of thought on social issues and the environment. ... Was DeLong pandering to the conservative views of a handful of Orange County voters in this new congressional district? With only 20 days left until Election Day, it's up to the voters to decide where DeLong's vision for the environment truly lies.

State Senator Alan Lowenthal is the progressive running for the seat. He also happens to be widely considered one of the most environmentally-conscious members of the state legislature and has been lauded for drafting the legislation that has made Long Beach and Los Angeles the cleanest ports in America and models for ports all over the world. Alan will be the Blue America guest at Crooks and Liars on Tuesday morning at 11am (PT). (You can contribute to his campaign on the main Blue America page.) His campaign was surprised to hear Delong take such an extreme, ideological position that is so diametrically opposed to that of most people in the district. Claiming that "now is not the time" to address the climate crisis, isn't something most voters in the 47th want to hear from someone running for office.

It is worth noting that DeLong went on record, and even wrote published editorials, opposing Alan Lowenthal’s bill SB 568, which places recycling standards on non-biodegradable expanded polystyrene containers that pollute the Los Angeles River and the Pacific Ocean.

“Climate change isn’t just a political issue, it is a scientific fact and an economic issue,” said Alan Lowenthal. “Economists Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth Stanton calculated that putting off adaptation and mitigation efforts could cost the United States 1.4% of its gross domestic product by 2025, and 1.9% by 2100. We can’t afford this hit to our economy just so polluters can avoid making sensible changes to stop fouling our air and water.”

A recent Pew Research study also concluded that 67% of Americans believe in climate change.

“Gary DeLong is now aligning himself with polluters and right-wing climate deniers like the Koch brothers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This is not a principled position. This is putting the future of our children and the health of our planet at risk in order to increase profits for oil companies and polluters,” Lowenthal spokesman Mike Shimpock said, “Climate change is a scientific fact, it is not a partisan issue or a talking point. Gary DeLong just chose politics and profits over the truth.”

California is the 12th largest emitter of carbon in the world, but has been widely recognized as the leader in climate change awareness and mitigation.

In 2006, Senator Alan Lowenthal voted in support of AB 32, the landmark law to reduce California’s carbon emissions, and serves as a national model. The law requires the California Air Resource Board to develop regulations and market mechanisms to reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, representing a 25% reduction statewide, with mandatory caps beginning in 2012 for significant emissions sources and was signed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Alan Lowenthal is a leader in reducing pollution and the amount of carbon emissions at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. His efforts helped cut pollution at the Port by more than 75%.

He is endorsed by shipping industry leaders such as Maersk, Inc., and environmental organizations such as Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.

“Climate change is real-- the facts are there,” Lowenthal said, “If Gary wants to continue denying it, then so be it; Californians such as myself will continue on a path of climate change mitigation, adaption, and cooperation with or without politicians like him.”

Blue America Welcomes Back Patsy Keever (D-NC)

The last time Patsy joined us for a chat she was going up against a conservative Democrat Steve Israel had recruited in the North Carolina primary. Patsy won-- and by a lot (Israel's candidate wound up with 26% of the vote)-- not just in her own Buncombe County but in every one of the district's seven counties.

Since then she's been running a grassroots campaign for a seat held by one of the banksters' favorite patsies, Wall Street shill Patrick McHenry who represents part of the district in the current Congress. The video above is a TV ad-- except it's not on TV. Patsy Keever has been one of the most consistently independent and progressive voices in the North Carolina legislature but that hasn't endeared her to the big money special interests she's been taking on on behalf on ordinary North Carolina working families. Meanwhile, as of June 30, McHenry had taken in over a million dollars-- only 2% of it from small grassroots contributions. He sits on the House Financial Services Committee and immense sums of money have flowed into his campaign from special interests with business before his committee. Wells Fargo, sleazy payday lenders Advance America Cash Advance Centers, American Bankers Association, Goldman Sachs, Koch Industries, and Moneytree, Inc. are among his biggest donors. They've been financing his scurrilous political career and counted on him to stab his own neighbors in the backs on their account. He adamantly opposes all regulations to keep banksters from ripping off consumers. And up against his million-plus haul, Patsy's grassroots campaign has raised $482,279. She doesn't have the money she needs to put that ad up on TV and she's going to be pushing it online. Blue America wants her to get it up on television in the 10th district.

Although cable TV is a lot less expensive and we can probably help her get the ad on Anderson Cooper's show in Gastonia, Rachel Maddow's in Asheville and Real Housewives of Atlanta in Hickory, because of the hard fought presidential campaign in North Carolina, broadcast TV rates have gone sky high. In Patsy's part of North Carolina it costs $322 per point. You have to buy 100 points at a time, and 100 points will guarantee that your ad will be seen once by your target audience in the space of a week. So we can say we want to target high-information voters... then 100 points will get us one ad seen by high information voters (during the news) in the space of a week. Would you like to help us try?

This afternoon (2pm, EST, 11am on the West Coast), Patsy will be joining us for a live chat here in the comments section. There are no races in the country where the difference between the two candidates is clearer and more stark. his week Patsy told us that "Patrick McHenry wants to end Medicare and replace it with a voucher system that would cost seniors at minimum an additional $6,000 a year for their health care. I want to keep America’s promise to its seniors and protect the current Medicare benefits that they have earned by paying into the program throughout their lives. I would never support any effort to voucherize Medicare." And that's hardly the only difference between the two candidates. "Patrick McHenry voted to allow taxpayer money to be spent on companies that have outsourced our jobs to China, India and Mexico," she reminded us. "I will vote to support companies that keep our jobs right here in America... I think the flood of money pouring into campaigns from special interests is turning voters off and threatening our democracy. During this election cycle alone, PACs have contributed more than $500,000 to Patrick McHenry’s campaign, with Koch Industries’, Goldman Sachs’ and Morgan Stanley’s PACs contributing $10,000 each. To date, I have received an average donation of $138 from more than 2,700 people, showing I have strong grassroots support from voters who live in the 10th Congressional District."

Here's the page where you can watch the ad and contribute to Patsy's campaign at the same time. Do you have any friends you could send the link to? If they ask you why they should care about a district way out in North Carolina, remind them that, as Patsy told us, "McHenry voted to cut student loan assistance to middle and working class families. As a former public school teacher, I know that every child deserves the opportunity for a quality education–from early childhood through technical school or college. When elected, I will do everything in my power to see that they get it."

Healthcare, Not Warfare: A Cosmic Thing

You may have noticed that Blue America is trying to monetize rock'n'roll collectibles to help progressives stay independent of the two corrupt Inside-the-Beltway party machines. This week, PDA and Blue America have teamed up to mark the 12th anniversary of America's violent involvement in Afghanistan by going after two senior Republican militaristic policy-makers who are dead set on extending the occupation of that country, House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan. Both espouse a radical Austerity agenda that cuts back on human needs for healthcare, education, infrastructure expansion, nutrition, basic research, etc while expanding military spending and continuing to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires. And, shockingly, both have "free passes" to reelection from the DCCC.

Although Obama won both CA-25 and WI-01 in 2008 and is expected to win both districts in November by even greater margins, the DCCC would rather spend money to try to replace powerless backbenchers on the Republican side with conservative New Dems and Blue Dogs than go after key GOP policy makers and replace them with stalwart progressives, in these cases, Dr. Lee Rogers in California and Rob Zerban in Wisconsin. That doesn't it well with us.

So... who remembers Cosmic Thing by the B-52's? It was the band's best-selling album and had two smash hits, "Love Shack" and "Roam." When the 1989 blockbuster had sold 4 million copies in the U.S., their record company, Reprise, where I was working, celebrated by designing a spectacular, customized, RIAA-certified, quadruple platinum award. Only a few dozen were ever manufactured and it is extremely rare and collectible... especially for a B-52 fan. Do you know any? Christmas is coming up fast.

We're going to pick one random person who contributes-- any amount; no minimum-- to Rob Zerban's and Lee Rogers' campaigns on this page: Healthcare, Not Warfare: A Cosmic Thing. And if you want to have a chance to win and can't afford a contribution, just send us a note at P.O. Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027 and tell us you want in and... you get a chance too.

Blue America Welcomes Dr. Syed Taj

The only Michigan Democrats Steve Israel is allowing the DCCC to help so far this cycle are Blue Dog Gary McDowell (MI-01) and virulent anti-Choice fanatic Steve Pestka (MI-03). No doubt John Boehner and Eric Cantor would prefer actual Republicans but they know they'll be able to count on conservatives like McDowell and Pestka most of the time. The race that's the most primed for a Democratic takeover, MI-11, is being studiously ignored by Steve Israel. Although three districts have around the same advantage with Obama on the ticket. Under the new boundaries MI-01 and M-011 were won by Obama 50-48 and MI-03 was won by Obama 50-49. MI-11, unlike the other two, is an open seat with no Republican incumbent-- a prime takeover opportunity. But, apparently-- and for whatever reason-- not in Steve Israel's eyes. For one thing, the Democrat running, Dr. Syed Taj, is a strong progressive, which isn't what Steve Israel is looking for in candidates.

But, regardless of the DCCC, when voters in the 11th head to the polls in November they will be presented with a stark choice. On the Republican line will be a far right-wing libertarian being backed by Ron and Rand Paul and on the Democratic line will be a pragmatic progressive who has spent his entire life dedicated to saving and improving lives.

This week Blue America is endorsing that pragmatic progressive Democrat, Dr. Syed Taj and he'll be joining us here for a live chat today at 2pm (ET). Normally we meet our candidates on Tuesdays but Dr. Taj informed me he meets with his patients on Tuesdays at that time. The excuse says a lot about who he is and what motivates him.

His opponent, Kerry Bentivolio, is an accidental candidate who wound up on the GOP line when the incumbent, Thaddeus McCotter, was forced to resign to stay out of prison after a series of election fraud scandals. Horrified, Establishment Republicans tried running a normal candidate but it was too late and they got stuck with Bentivolio, a reindeer rancher who made some extra money as an actor in a low-budget conspiracy film that blamed George W. Bush for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has a vision for obstruction and turning the clock back to the Nineteenth Century. He thinks the Ryan Budget is just a good start and he would go further in gutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the rest of the social safety net that we have fought so hard to build.

"My opponent," Dr. Taj told us this week, "will not just be another vote for Speaker Boehner. He will be a ringleader for efforts that build on the type of hyper-partisan zealotry the House Republican Caucus has come to use as their standard operating procedure. In short, my opponent has the potential to be one of the worst Members of Congress in history. That may sound like hyperbole but even his ultra-conservative primary opponent took to calling him 'Krazy Kerry'.”

Dr. Taj is running to make sure we never have to worry about “Krazy Kerry” causing Americans problems by a stint in Congress. Dr. Taj has worked for over 40 years as a physician and understands the vital roll that programs such as Medicare and Social Security play in everyday people’s lives. He told us he not only understands how important it is to keep the Affordable Care Act in place but that we urgently need to iron out the wrinkles, improve and expand it’s programs and insure that every American has access to quality health care without undue financial burden.

"I came to this country because of the great opportunities and freedom that it provides. My family and I have lived the American Dream. That is why it pains me to see the dream slipping away from so many people. These are good folks, they’re my neighbors and friends that played by the rules and worked hard but through no fault of their own now find their American Dream turning into a nightmare. I will fight to insure that our economy works for everyone, that we use every option available to spur job creation and continue to grow our economy. Here in Michigan we are proud of the work President Obama has done to save the auto industry and reinvigorate American manufacturing. My opponent opposed the GM and Chrysler rescues that have proven to not only have saved those companies but also our state and national economy. I support American manufacturing and real fair-trade that protects workers and the environment here and across the globe. I am running to provide voters a choice between going back or moving forward."

However, Dr. Taj needs our help to make sure every voter in the 11th District knows just how stark the differences are between him and the crackpot running against him.

"When the people of my district know all the facts they will make the correct choice and vote for me. The National Republicans and the Ron Paul Super PACS know this and they will spend limitless amounts of money to obscure the facts and play to people’s fears. I need your support so we can counter these attacks and layout the real choice that voters will have to make.

This task will not be easy, because as you may have noticed I do not have the most average name. Nor do I practice the same religious faith as most Americans. But only in America could an immigrant from India that proudly attends a mosque be able to run for Federal Elective Office. This is the greatness of our country and why I know that with your support we can win this election. So, please consider making a contribution to my campaign, we cannot afford more obstruction-- we truly need a 'Doctor in the House'.”

Blue America Welcomes Jay Chen (D-CA)

This week Blue America is endorsing our second California candidate, Jay Chen, who's running in a newly created district that takes in a chuck of L.A. and San Bernardino counties-- Brea, Buena Park, Chino Hills, Diamond Bar, Fullerton, Hacienda Heights, La Habra, La Habra Heights, Placentia, Rowland Heights, Walnut, and Yorba Linda. Jay will be joining us for a live blogging session here (in the comments section below) at 11 AM (PT). Try to stop by and meet him if you can. He told us that he's "fighting to restore the American dream that brought my parents to this great country, a dream that feels increasingly out of reach for the middle class with each day that Congress fails to move critical legislation forward."

Jay's opponent is Ed Royce, who represents a neighboring district in Orange County but is trying to make the move to Jay's area. That's a problem for him because he's made a career of exactly two things: serving the interests of the Big Banks that have financed his career, and demogoguing the most sordid kinds of racism and bigotry. And "his" new district is 30% Asian and 30% Latino. Royce proudly boasts being California’s “most effective conservative” and that he was a Tea Partier before there was a Tea Party. His 20-year record in Congress includes trying to end the Voting Rights Act, weakening laws protecting women, fighting against subprime mortgage regulation, and voting to privatize Medicare. He believes Arizona’s “Show me your Papers” law should be the national standard, and has been caught on film describing multiculturalism as “odious.”

The new 39th CD is full of the same folks that Royce has tried to disenfranchise over the years with draconian English-only laws and attacks on diversity. This district needs a Congressman who will fight to rebuild Main Street, not just fight to protect Wall Street. "We need new leadership," Jay told us, "and I intend to bring it."

"I was educated in the public school systems of this district, and fortunate to earn a degree at Harvard University. I’ve worked inside large corporations and within small businesses, but my main passion has been education. That is why I ran for school board for the same district that gave me my remarkable educational opportunities. As the President of the board I helped guide our district to increased achievement while avoiding layoffs and furloughs to K-12 education. As a Congressman, I will put money back into higher education and ensure that our students are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.

"I have faith that our government can work, because I not only help oversee a successful school district, I am also an officer in the United States Naval Reserves. Far too many Congressmembers are eager to talk tough on national security and send other peoples’ sons and daughters into battle. I will never send our troops into harms way unnecessarily, and will always make sure our troops have the resources they need when deployed, and the support they need when they return home.

"We have critical issues that need to be moved forward. I want to invest in our roads and bridges, ensure that our students can get the higher education they need, and nurture a green economy that will clean our environment and create good jobs. I also want to empower women to make the best decisions about their own reproductive health, and ensure that the diversity of our country is celebrated, not condemned."

Royce has been ducking the League of Women Voters' request to set up a debate. He's afraid of Jay-- and Jay says they have a lot to talk about... in front of the voters: "Recently, Royce voted to weaken the Violence Against Women Act, lower penalties and punishments for abuse against women and to remove the exemption for rape and incest that Republican anti-Choice legislation still has. As millions of families were still reeling from the subprime mortgage market he helped deregulate, Royce voted against a critical measure to help families save their homes. He also voted, again, to give insurance companies the right to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

Consider helping Blue America replace Royce with a sterling example of the next generation of American leadership. Jay is the kind of public servant we can all be proud to send to Congress. Please give what you can on our Act Blue page.

Blue America Welcomes Sue Thorn (D-WV)

Blue America is proud to be officially endorsing Sue Thorn today. Sue is a grassroots community activist whose ideas about the role of government hearken back to a time when West Virginians very much saw government as a way of balancing the inordinate power of corporations and the wealthy arraigned against ordinary working families. She'll be joining us for a live blogging session here in he comments section at 2pm (EST). Her opponent is freshman David McKinley, or, as folks in northern West Virginia like to call him, Moneybags McKinley. He's a millionaire member of the top 1% and Blue America wants to help Sue Thorn send him packing. Before coming to Congress, McKinely was already a career politician, working the system to please his dirty-dealing campaign contributors, sleazy coal CEOs and shady special interest groups, at the expense of or the ordinary working families. After a slim victory against his DCCC-backed Blue Dog opponent in 2010, McKinley joined the Tea Party caucus. Now that he’s facing Sue Thorn, a real populist Democrat with widespread grassroots support, he’s proved he’ll say or do anything to get re-elected. Anything? You betcha!

• McKinley ran for office railing against taxpayer-funded mass mailings, or franked mailings, during election years, calling them an “abuse” of taxpayer funds. Now, he ranks as one of the top spenders in the House, spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars mailing constituents campaign propaganda, full of conservative talking points.

• He campaigned with Tea Party rhetoric against big banks and bailouts, then accepted thousands in donations from the banking industry and supported legislation that turns regulatory power over to the bankers.

• McKinley says he is a “Friend of Coal” and claims to support coal miners, but refuses to sponsor coal mine safety legislation along with the rest of the WV Congressional delegation. Mining deaths and rates of black lung disease are on the rise in WV, but McKinley has proved to be a puppet for the profit-hungry coal industry, working in back-room deals to dismantle the EPA, weaken the Mine Safety and Health Administration, and push through anti-regulation bills that would pollute WV communities and poison the water supply.

Sue Thorn was asked to run for Congress because the people of West Virginia's first CD were sick of representation by conservative Democrats who vote with the Republicans and DC insiders who vote to slash safety net programs that benefit working families. Sue is not a career politician. She’s worked in economic development and community organizing and she aims to bring people together, not divide them. When we first spoke with her, we asked why she had decided to run.

“I’m running for Congress because I’m sick of the rich getting richer and the rest of us getting left behind. The extreme conservative Republicans currently controlling the House of Representatives don’t have the middle class in mind. They’re focused on passing bogus legislation that will keep campaign donations coming in from Big Oil, super PACs, corrupt CEOs and greedy special interest groups. At a time when the gap between the rich and the poor in this country is at its highest since the great depression, the House Republicans are recklessly voting for tax break for millionaires. I’m running for Congress because we need to rebuild the middle class.”

This is a winnable race, but Sue won’t be doing it with the help of the DCCC. They’re sitting this one out, after wasting a fortune trying to elect a Blue Dog Democrat in 2010 that the people of WV-01 didn’t want. Sue’s running in a traditionally Democratic district, previously represented by Democrats for over 40 years. She even pulled in 13,000 more votes than McKinley in the primary. But she also has to contend with McKinley’s campaign coffer of $1.4 million. Please consider helping her with a contribution here on our Blue America page.

We need to send the crazy conservative freshmen in Congress back where they came. Let’s start with David McKinley by helping to elect a true champion for regular people, Sue Thorn.

Blue America Welcomes Nate Shinagawa (D-NY)

Today, Blue America is proud to endorse Nate Shinagawa for Congress in NY-23, the old Eric Massa district composed of the Southern Tier and the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York. It was a district Democrats lost after Eric Massa's breakdown and resignation. The GOP extremist who took over, Tom Reed, is a backbencher who has an unblemished record as a proponent of greed and selfishness. But it's not some deep red Confederate-leaning district. Mostly the old NY-29 -- now NY-23 -- has been redrawn as a swing district. Under the new boundaries Obama would have beaten McCain 50-49%, instead of losing to him 48-51% as he did under the old lines. Reed has been so invisible that new polling shows only about a third of the district has even heard of him. And when voters are made aware of Nate's positions and Reed's votes, they prefer Nate. Nate is our guest right now for a free-ranging question and answer session below in the comments section. Please join us and feel free to ask questions. And, if you can please consider contributing to his grassroots campaign here on the Blue America page.

As we mentioned Sunday, Nate's compelling personal story is quintessentially the All American story. Like every last one of us, his antecedents had come to America, struggled, persevered and come to love and become part of their new homeland. His Japanese ancestors were interned in concentration camps but later his grandfather joined the U.S. Marine Corps to fight for the country they loved. That story helped to define how Nate saw himself as grew into the best America has to offer itself. And that story led him to explain his campaign to me as one "about being brave and fighting for a government that provides for its senior citizens, creates opportunities for its young people, and protects the pristine lands and waters of this great country."

As American as apple pie? Of course. But that's not the way the apostles of greed and selfishness who have taken over the Republican Party see it. And Nate happens to be running against one of the most radical and contrary Republicans of all, Tom "I got mine" Reed, a self-entitled freshman who insists he's both a teabagger and a multimillionaire. Before running for office, Reed was a medical debt collector who profited off of the misfortune of sick people and once he did manage to get into office-- as a result of the Eric Massa scandal-- he, in quick succession hired a former health insurance company lobbyist as his legislative director and voted to repeal mandatory funding for school-based health center construction. Reed, a huge supporter of Paul Ryan's plans to radically redrawn America in an Ayn Rand image, proudly supports raising the Medicare eligibility age (rather than bring down costs by expanding coverage the way Nate is suggesting) and has publicly said that Social Security had to be "on the table" for cuts.

Despite the congressional earmark ban, Reed has introduced earmark tariff bills that would only benefit individual companies that contribute to his campaign, exactly what less hypocritical and idealistic Tea Partiers said the ban was meant to put a stop to. In other ways, though, Reed, is more in line with knee-jerk GOP dogma. He insists that the Bush tax cuts did not need to be paid for or offset in order to be extended and he has opposed every attempt President Obama has made to make the tax system fairer and to bring jobs back to America. If Nate's story is quintessentially the All American story, Tom Reed's is quintessentially the All Greed story. Last fall when Tropical Storm Lee devastated much of his own district with floods and FEMA funding was running out, he stood with Boehner and Cantor and not with his own voters, a standoff that brought us to the brink of a government shutdown. While Reed was playing obstructionist games and posturing about his extremist ideology, people's lives and safety were in danger. Ironically, Nate was Incident Commander at his hospital, coordinating the emergency response in communities affected by the flooding from
from the same storm, even buying $3,000 worth of water with his own credit card when the hospital sewer system went down!

Nate couldn't be more different from Reed. "We need leadership committed to building up the middle class again," he told us, "and making government work again for all Americans. Voters have seen the Republican Congress give more advantages to the already advantaged at the expense of their own communities where working families continue to struggle as our economy slowly recovers from recession. It's time to prove once and for all that the American Dream is our future, not our past." It must make Reed's skin crawl to hear Nate drawing attention to the profound differences the two of them have:

"I believe that the job creators in this country are everyday Americans. They are our teachers, nurses, firefighters, construction workers who work hard every day. They are our small businesses and our entrepreneurs. They are our farmers, our students and our senior citizens."

If you'd like to help a smart, effective young progressive replace Reed in Congress, please consider making a contribution at the Blue America ActBlue page.

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

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

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

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

What Makes A Progressive Campaign?

-by Raúl Grijalva

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

That’s right, grassroots community organizing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blue America Welcomes Matt Heinz

Democrats generally cheered when Ron Barber won the special election in AZ-8 a couple weeks ago-- or at least when Jesse Kelly lost it-- to finish out the remainder of Gabby Gifford's term. No one paying attention exactly expected her district manager to be a progressive voice in Congress but I don't think anyone expected him to get into the House and immediately start voting for the Republican agenda-- against the environment on this first day and then against Eric Holder a few days later.

On August 28 there's a primary in Arizona and Democrats will be asked to pick a candidate for a new congressional seat, AZ-2, that includes much of the old 8th. It's significantly more Democratic and there's no need for a Blue Dog or anyone else who caters to Republicans and kicks his own party's values and principles to the curb. We covered it yesterday. Today at 11am (PST) Blue America is welcoming a young Arizona doctor and state Rep., Matt Heinz for a live blogging session in the comments section below. Matt is the newest candidate to be endorsed by Blue America.

Like many Democrats in the district, he was disgusted when Barber jumped right on the Boehner-Cantor team, giving them an opportunity to call their anti-environment jihad "bipartisan." Matt had a very different perspective. “I understand the importance of securing our borders,” explained Matt, “We cannot do it at the expense of our environment and civil liberties. Our environment is irreplaceable. We must be stewards of our natural wonders, particularly the unparalleled beauty of Southern Arizona's Sonora desert. We must stand on our convictions and principles to make the right decisions and not be cowed by hollow Tea Party claims that we need to degrade our environment in order to ensure our security and prosperity.”

Apparently Barber thinks he knows better than Mo Udall and senior agents of the Border Patrol. There is a difference between true bi-partisanship and caving to ideologues that are out-of-touch with the very agency they claim to support. Ron Barber failed to see that distinction. Matt had a 100% rating in 2011 with the League of Conservation Voters and a 100% rating with the Humane Voters of Arizona. Unlike Barber, people know where Matt stands on conservation, environmental and wildlife issues. Bipartisanship is about putting aside your politics for the greater good, not throwing out conviction for political gain.

Like most of us, Matt-- Doctor Heinz-- had mixed emotions when the 5-4 came down last week upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which he supports as a step in the right direction (and which Barber has more positions on that lead no where than Mitt Romney does).

“I feel strongly that every American has the right to see a doctor. I am dedicated to the solutions that ensure access to medical service for all Americans regardless of socioeconomic status.

"While I cheered the Supreme Court for finding most of the Affordable Care Act constitutional, I paused to consider the ramifications of Court’s ruling on the Medicaid expansion. The Supreme Court found that the federal government cannot penalize states for refusing to expand Medicaid eligibility to under-served populations. Without this incentive for states like Arizona to expand eligibility, the health and wellness of our most vulnerable populations remain at risk. This is a situation that we cannot stand for any longer. It is a glaring problem I promise to do all I can to fix.

“One day, a woman named Bobbie Thayer entered my legislative office and told me tested positive for breast cancer and had no idea how she could afford the treatment she needed to save her life. Her provider said because of a loophole and bureaucratic red tape, she did not qualify for insurance coverage for the treatment.

"As a legislator and a physician, I had to find a solution-- not only to help save Bobbie's life, but to make sure other women did not have to face near certain death because of byzantine loopholes because so many people face similar situations. No woman should be denied breast cancer treatment because of her income level.

"At that very moment, we embarked on our journey to change the law. Before our efforts, if a woman was not screened by a Well Woman Healthcheck Program provider (WWHP), she couldn’t receive treatment through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (our local Medicaid program). Uninsured women were denied lifesaving medical attention simply because they unknowingly walked into the wrong clinic.

"The law I passed will broaden WWHP access and lift age restrictions so we can save Arizonan women’s lives."

Matt has taken it on himself, as a doctor and as a lawmaker, to make sure women don't get pushed around by misguided right-wing ideologues. Arizona's state government, completely dominated by far-right Republicans with no checks and no balances, has been passing crackpot laws that have targeted the most vulnerable among us. Matt went on Fox News with Greta Van Susteren show to counter ultra-conservative attacks on women's privacy after Gov. Brewer signed HB 2625, a law requiring women to provide proof that prescribed birth control are taken for reasons other than the prevention of pregnancy in order to receive reimbursement. Under the guise of employer's rights, conservatives attacked women and Matt took them to task for it. I doubt I have to remind people that women are facing the same battle nationally and need someone who has proven themselves. Matt also denounced Arizona HB 2800, a ban on reimbursements paid to Planned Parenthood for non-abortion services provided to low-income women. That ban will impact thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood for preventive treatments and evaluations, including mammograms, cancer screenings and vaccinations. Matt: "Proponents of this law created a problem that does not exist in order to infringe upon a women’s privacy and freedoms. I am committed to efforts to repeal this
law.” So it probably won't surprise you to know that Matt is also standing up for equal pay for equal work.

“Promoting a woman's right to equal pay and societal status is another fight that is near and dear to me. It is egregious that an estimated 18% payroll gap exists between men and women who perform the same job. I support Congressional efforts to pass measures like the Paycheck Fairness Act. This law would ease wage dispute procedures and do more to hold employers accountable for salary gaps.”

Again, the primary is August 28. Early voting starts August 2-- exactly one month from today. Please consider making a contribution to Matt's campaign here on the Blue America ActBlue page.

Paid for by Blue America PAC,, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.