Blue America Welcomes David Segal (D-RI)

Rhode Island's first congressional district, the eastern and northern parts of the state, including most of Providence, is an open seat this year because of the retirement of Patrick Kennedy. It's one of the safest Democratic districts in the country and McCain barely managed to scrape together a third of the vote. In 2008 Kennedy was re-elected with almost 70%. It's safe to say that whichever Democrat wins the September 14 primary will be the next Rhode Island congressman. There are 4 Democrats running: today's guest and the newest Blue America endorsee, state Rep. David Segal, Providence mayor David Cicilline, conservative businessman Anthony Gemma, and Bill Lynch, the Establishment candidate, a former Democratic Party state chairman and the brother of the state's Attorney General.

There are no actual John Barrows or Bobby Brights or Parker Griffiths among the Democrats. And although David Segal stands head and shoulders above the rest on every single policy issue without exception, the reason Blue America has decided to endorse in this race has more to do with his leadership potential. Everyone is always telling John and Digby and I that we need more Members like Alan Grayson in Congress. They don't grow on trees-- but we found one.

David Segal is one of us. He was elected to the Providence City Council in 2002 as a Green, and is now a lefty Democratic state Rep for Providence and East Providence. He has a very clear path to victory and he can win-- and if he does, he'll be among the strongest voices for progressives in the halls of the Capitol.

David's worked on the meat-and-potato issues: Jobs, the environment, housing, progressive taxes, all with success. He's successfully pushed for expanded renewable energy, more affordable housing, against predatory lending, and for foreclosure prevention measures.

But he's never shied away from the really controversial issues: He's been a vocal leader on criminal justice reform, standing up for the rights of immigrants and for gay rights, and has pushed as hard as one can from the state level against war spending. He's an ardent supporter of gay marriage, and was the sponsor of the last year's bill, which was passed over the Governor's veto, to allow gay partners to plan each other's funerals.

He's a co-sponsor of marijuana decriminalization, and just convinced the Governor-- after two years of vetoes-- to allow a bill to become law that ensures due process for people on probation.

He's sponsored the "Bring the Guard Home" legislation, and his first act on the City Council was to pass a resolution against the war in Iraq.

But, most importantly, he's an organizer at heart, who is committed to joining the Progressive Caucus-- and making it function better. Here's an excerpt from an interview with David Swanson:
"[I]n Rhode Island I've tried to develop alternative structures for legislators to lean on when the leadership makes such threats. I am the lead organizer for our progressive caucus. I founded a political action committee to support members of our progressive caucus so that if funding from sources dries up at leadership's request because something was done to offend them, that we would have at least some, some degree of money to fall back on to help fund our campaigns nonetheless. We funded ten, twelve races relatively modestly in the last cycle and hopefully we'll be able to do something in the forthcoming cycle."

Last week, many of us were disappointed as 148 Democrats, including Patrick Kennedy, joined Boehner, Cantor and 158 other Republicans to vote for more unjustifiable billions of dollars to throw down the Afghan sewer. The disgraceful supplemental demanded by the Military Industrial Complex passed 308-114, more Republicans voting for Obama's proposal than Democrats! Among the candidates running in RI-1, only David Segal came out publicly to say he would have voted NO.

I've been against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning. My first act on the Providence City Council in Providence was to sponsor an antiwar resolution in 2003, which of course was not going to end the war in its own right, but it was an opportunity for Providence to assert the negative impact of the war on the city’s ability to function-- to fund municipal services and education.

I don’t think there’s any indication that we’re preventing future terrorism by keeping our presence in Afghanistan right now. The CIA’s made it clear that the drone attacks there present a real risk of destabilizing the Pakistani government, which possesses nuclear armament and should be a grave concern to all of us.

I think that it’s unfortunate but it’s the case that our involvement in Afghanistan is effectively a quagmire right now; there is no neat and tidy way to get out and tie it all up in a bow wrap everything up and leave it neat and pristine and I think it’s time to recognize that and bring the troops home.

I am the only candidate in the Democratic primary for CD 1 in Rhode Island who has pledged that the only Afghanistan war funding I will approve is the funding necessary to safely and expeditiously bring our troops home.

That's the kind of straight forward answer we always look for from our candidates and it's part of the reason we endorsed Segal today, why we've asked him to join us below in the comments section for a chat and why we're asking you to dig deep and help him run his grassroots campaign, a campaign that accepts no corporate contributions. And it's also why Segal has also been endorsed by the PCCC, PDA, DFA, the
Rhode Island American Federation of Teachers & Healthcare Professionals and why we'll be hearing some interesting endorsements this week from other organizations that will comes as a bit of a shock to the Democratic Establishment.



Blue America Welcomes Tarryl Clark in Her Race Against Michele Bachmann

Hard to say who the worst member of Congress is. But there are few short lists that would exclude narrow-minded and extremist Minnesota religious fanatic Michele Bachmann. However, today isn't about Bachmann. You want Bachmann, you go to DumpBachmann; no one does it better. At the time of the 2008 election, Bachmann was just as odious as she is today. Blue America didn't get involved in that race though because her opponent simply seemed... "better than Bachmann." That standard is too low for us.

And today we're going to meet state Senator Tarryl Clark (below in the comments section), a hard working leader with a proven track record who would be a great candidate whether she were running against Michele Bachmann, or just some garden variety Republican.

People say this suburban/exurban district mostly north of the Twin Cities is too red for a Democrat. But that isn't true. Bush won it in 2004 with 57% and 4 years later McCain took 53% but, the district has also voted to elect Amy Klobuchar to the Senate-- and against Mark Kennedy, the kook who represented the district before Bachmann. And in the 15th senatorial district near St Cloud, the part Tarryl represents-- and which was a GOP bastion before she came along-- the vote totals in that 2006 race were very interesting. Because she knows what it means to work hard and work smart, and with a very committed Wellstone-style of campaigning, Tarryl outpolled everyone on the ballot:

Clark 15581 (56.30%)
Klobuchar 14980 (53.45%)
Pawlenty 14307 (51.1%)
Wetterling 13082 (46.81%)
Bachmann 12542 (44.88%)

MN-06 has the most devastating unemployment rate in Minnesota and the worst foreclosure crisis in the state. But Bachmann has neither understood nor been sympathetic to her constituents finding themselves in a jam because of the vicissitudes of an economy buffeted by disastrous conservative ideological experimentation. She has not only not contributed to finding solutions to these very real problems, she has tried to capitalize of politicizing them.

Tarryl's reaction, as a state legislator, has been the exact opposite. Instead of running around the country and ranting and raving at tea parties, she proven herself an effective leader for the people she represents, working to secure the funds to upgrade the facilities at Saint Cloud State University, working to ensure Central Minnesota’s nursing homes are paid fairly, working to establish a special law enforcement unit to fight gang activities in Central Minnesota.

Tarryl’s been a champion for issues including early childhood and higher education, health care, serving veterans, protecting Minnesotans from predatory lenders, and investing in the local communities that make America strong. Because of that her colleagues elected her to serve as the Senate’s Assistant Majority Leader. Bachmann's colleagues have recognized her as a clown and have tasked her with going on Fox to stir up divisiveness and animosities.

Tarryl’s record of results on reducing unemployment:

• Created 22,000 jobs with last session’s bonding bill

• Helped small businesses add new jobs with Angel Investor Tax Credits

• Authored the Central Minnesota Bioscience Initiative to bring jobs in the biotech industry into the 6th district

• Authored economic development bill that improved workforce development (job training) and expanded the Small Business Growth Acceleration Program, and entrepreneur and small business development grants.

Tarryl’s record of results on reducing foreclosure:

• Authored legislation to protect seniors from predatory lenders and reverse mortgages

• Helped families in keep their homes with the MN Subprime Borrowers Relief Act

• Authored legislation to reduce the burden of property taxes on middle class families

Tarryl is the newest member of the Blue America family. If you can volunteer for her campaign, there's a sign up form here and if you can help the campaign financially, she's on the Blue America endorsed candidates list.



When moderate Democrat Vic Snyder decided to retire from Congress, half a dozen Democrats jumped into a race that was sure to pit one of them against crooked Karl Rove protégé Tim Griffin, the sleaziest of the corrupt U.S. Attorneys who were appointed by Bush to turn the Justice Department into a punitive arm of the Republican Party.

In the end there was a formidable group of Democrats in the race to replace Synder, including his chief of staff, David Boling; the Senate Majority Leader, Joyce Elliott; and the House Speaker, Robbie Wills. Wills, who hails from Conway in Faulkner County north of Little Rock, is way on the right-wing fringes of the Democratic Party, a corporate hack who opposed health-care reform, tailor-made for the Blue Dog caucus Snyder never joined.

Meanwhile, Joyce Elliott has been a tireless and well-respected advocate for ordinary working families as a member of the Arkansas House (2000-2006) and then as a member of the state Senate. She came out on top in the primary last week, despite being outspent by both Boling and Wills and despite the never-ending din of "conventional wisdom" that an African-American woman could never win federal office in Arkansas. In the five-way race, she drew 39.7% of the vote to Wills' 27.8% and Boling's 19%, the other candidates in the single digits. Closet racists in central Arkansas currently have a mantra: "She can't win against Griffin so we have to support Wills" (who will vote like Griffin but at least wears a blue jersey).

Boling has endorsed Joyce, and Wills is scurrying around to find bit players to counter that devastating blow to his candidacy. Joyce was also enthusiastically endorsed by Blue Arkansas, which urges its readers to help her make history:

State Senator Joyce Elliott has been a progressive leader and champion in the state legislature long before Blue Arkansas was ever around to back her up. Now she’s running to represent the people of AR-02 in Congress. No matter what position she has taken or how hard the fight was, Senator Elliott has always lead with courage, intelligence, grace, and character. She is the best choice to succeed Vic Snyder and represent AR-02 in these tough times, and we will stand with her every step of the way, no matter how tough the fight is.

Today, Blue America also endorses Joyce, who will join us for a live blog session below in the comments section. I hope you can stop by to meet her and ask her the kinds of questions you think candidates for Congress need to address. Last week when I was on the phone congratulating her for her convincing win in the first round I asked her a tough one -- how she would have voted on October 3, 2008, when Bush was pushing his Wall Street bailout. I like the way she approached it:

Though I am an unabashed optimist, I am grounded in reality. The Wall Street debacle forced a clash between my worlds of reality and optimism. The indefensibility of the Wall Street debacle rendered this confluence particularly disturbing when taxpayers became “forced” partners to the bailout. While I accept it was better to pull our country back from the brink of economic disaster than to let the entire system crash, I find it wholly unacceptable that transparent, stringent accountability was not a part of the equation. Handing over the Taxpayers of America credit card to “too-big-to-fail” institutions with no strings attached or with strings so loose they were totally uninhibiting was bad policy. The gravity of the economic situation was threatening, I am sure; nevertheless, it is the responsibility of Congress to conduct business in a manner that is accountable to taxpayers who pay this country’s bills, even in under great pressure. While I won’t bog myself down in hindsight, I will use hindsight going forward to make sure I never cast a vote such as the “bail out” without holding institutions and/or individuals accountable.

Please consider making a contribution to Joyce's campaign today. In fact if you do so at the Blue America ActBlue page before midnight tonight, we'll enter you in a drawing for a rare, numbered, collectible and very beautiful print of Patti Smith, one of only six that were made. This one was signed by both Richard Aaron, the photographer, and by Patti Smith herself, who wrote on it, next to her signature, "People have the power." Joyce reminds me of Patti, which is why I dug it out and decided to give it away today.



Live Chat: Blue America is Proud To Welcome Utah Democrat Claudia Wright

Political punditry will never be the same if Claudia Wright is elected to Congress from Utah's sprawling second congressional district. The district encompasses the whole southern part of the state, the whole eastern part of the state and a nice chunk of Salt Lake City and its southern metro area, from Millcreek and Murray down to Sandy. Almost 60% of the district's population lives in the Salt Lake City area; the rest of the huge district is mostly beautiful park land. It's also Utah's relatively "progressive" district with a PVI of R +17-- which sounds pretty dismal until you look at the first CD (PVI of R +22) and the third district (PVI of R +26). McCain "only" won 57% of the vote in the 2nd (64% in the first and 67% in the 3rd). But the second has been sending a Democrat to the House since 2000-- sort of.

The congressman from the second is reactionary Blue Dog Jim Matheson, son of two-term Governor Scott Matheson, and he pretty much always votes with the Republicans on important issues. He first got elected by attacking Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore for his health-care reform proposals. Needless to say, Matheson was an eager aisle crosser when it came to the recent votes on health-care reform. And three weeks ago Democratic activists in his district -- despite a parachute jump in by wheeler/dealer Steny Hoyer-- were eager to deny Matheson the Democratic Party endorsement. They forced him into an open primary with today's Blue America endorsee, Claudia Wright.

Inside-the-Beltway pundits and political "pros" insist that Democrats only win in red areas like UT-02 by running on Republican talking points. Ignoring the outstanding campaigns run by working family champions -- from Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) to Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), each of whom ousted an entrenched Republican incumbent in a "red" district -- the conventional wisdom is that only corporate shills like Jim Matheson can win in places like Utah. We know conventional wisdom is wrong and ignores the reality of the district. And so does Claudia:

Mr. Matheson and the party wasn't prepared for the reception he got at the mass meetings we had last March. He had no idea how angry he made his constituents. He was booed and jeered... The party has misread its membership and misread the fact that we are witnessing a political realignment, not just here in Utah, but across the country. The alignment is shifting right to left and top to bottom. A Large number of delegates at our convention were actually moderate Republicans who are now more at home with our party than they are with the extremist right of the Republican Party. Grassroots candidates like myself agree with tea partiers in that we need to get corporate money and special interests out of politics so that our representatives are accountable to their constituents and only their constituents.

Claudia is running as a full on champion of working families and her campaign platform is about the issues that most concern real people, not the nonsense manufactured by Republican propaganda puppets like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Sean Hannity to persuade voters that hating each other is more important than electing people who will help protect them from powerful predatory special interests and the politicians (and media outlets) they own.

While the banking bailout may have been necessary, handing over billions of dollars of taxpayer money with no strings attached doesn't serve the interests of working families. We gave all this money to big banks so they could give enough credit to small businesses to jump-start employment but the banks used that money for their own purposes rather than what it was meant for. That's what I mean by "no-strings-attached;" it should have been a requirement that that money be used to loosen up credit for small businesses. There needs to be much more oversight of Wall Street than what is being proposed in the new legislation Congress is working on.

I'd like to ask you to consider two things now. Surf over to our comments section below to meet Claudia and also please consider making a contribution to her campaign through Blue America's ActBlue page. In fact everyone who donates to Claudia's campaign this weekend (offer ends Sunday at midnight, PT) will have their name entered in a contest to win an autographed copy of Al Franken's book The Truth AND an autographed copy of the Al Franken DVD God Spoke; the winner gets both.



Chris Carney, Comcast and Warrantless Wiretaps

Blue America has been asking for donations to help in our nonpartisan campaign to hold members of Congress accountable when they vote against the Constitution. For the past two weeks we've been running TV spots, radio spots and newspaper ads in Chris Carney's northeast Pennsylvania congressional district to make sure his constituents know that he is behaving like a Republican rubber stamp, not like the Democrat they thought they elected in 2006. Today the ACLU, as well as Senators Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold issued strong statements showing what a complete sham the "compromise" the Republicans and a handful of reactionary Democrats have worked out. On top of that, as Glenn Greenwald explained yesterday, Comcast-- Carney's #2 campaign donor-- is protecting him from his own constituents by censoring the debate and refusing to allow the Blue America ads to run (although all the radio ads, 7 full page newspaper ads and the non-Comcast TV ads have all been running). Listen to the Blue America radio ad that has been running all over Carney's district.

I'm sure you can guess which side of this battle John W. McCain is on. If you would like to stand with Blue America, most congressional Democrats and Barack Obama in preventing warrantless wiretaps on American citizens and preventing retroactive immunity for criminal allies of the Bush Regime please consider even a $5 or $10 contribution to the Blue America vs Retroactive Immunity fund today.




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