Meet Eloise Reyes, The Progressive Candidate Running For Congress In The Inland Empire

This week the Blue America team met with Colton attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes who's running for Congress in California’s 31st District. This is the only deep blue district in America with a Republican incumbent. The reason right-wing extremist (and carpetbagger) Gary Miller won last year is because the new jungle primary functioned badly and resulted in the two top vote getters both being Republicans. So while 57% of the voters were casting their ballots for President Obama in the general election, there was no Democrat on the congressional ballot. The weak candidate the DCCC picked, Pete Aguilar, had managed to lose to both Republican contenders, even in Redlands, where he had been appointed mayor. CA-31, which boasts a PVI of D+5, starts at Upland and Rancho Cucamonga and heads west along the 10 and 210 Freeways towards San Bernardino, Colton, Loma Linda and Redlands. The race there has been identified as one of the top five opportunities in the country for Democrats to take back a district, and with only a net of 17 seats needed to turn the House blue, this is a race that matters and that Blue America has big plans for.

Eloise Gomez Reyes is the grassroots progressive candidate running in CA-31, the woman facing a tough primary challenge from the same empty suit who was rejected by voters in 2012. Steve Israel, of course, refused too even meet with Eloise and anointed Aguilar the Democratic candidate, basically telling Democratic voters in CA-31 to shut up and do what they're told from DC. As Israel is about to find out, it's not that kind of district. After our meeting, we asked Eloise to consider the question: Where do progressives fit into California’s jungle primary system? This is her response:

With the passage of Proposition 14 in 2010, California adopted what is commonly referred to as the “jungle primary”-- a nonpartisan competition in which the top two vote-getters in a race advance to November regardless of party affiliation. The jungle primary system is designed to push candidates toward the middle. In theory, it makes politics more representative by crafting candidates, and ultimately elected officials, whose moderate stances appeal to a wider base of constituents.

But what happens when a Democrat is running in a truly blue district? Does the candidate with the backbone win the election, or does the catch-all candidate with most manufactured platform take the day?

California’s 31st congressional district is one such case study.

In the 2012 election, Barack Obama won over 57 percent of the vote in CA-31, yet the district sent a far-right Republican to Congress. In fact, two Republicans won in the primary election and faced off against each other in November. The unthinkable happened in CA-31 in 2012 because a field of weak Democrats cleared the way for two Republicans to fight it out in the general election.

CA-31 walked away from the 2012 election with a PVI of D+5, a radical Republican Congressman and proof that diluted platforms lose elections.

No Democrat won.

Despite lessons learned, Washington Democrats are lining up to run he same career politician for this seat in 2014. Pete Aguilar, the "moderate" Mayor of Redlands who came in third in his own hometown when he ran for Congress in 2012, has entered the race under the handling of the DCCC. And NRA-backed Joe Baca, who served in Congress and lost his seat in a neighboring district in 2012, is looking for a second chance here in CA-31.

This is a district that is bright blue. There is no reason for a so-called "moderate" Democrat-- let alone a far-right Republican-- to represent it.

Voters here want, and need, a progressive in Congress. The Inland Empire currently leads the nation in poverty. San Bernardino County, once a thriving hub of commerce and transportation, has suffered the consequences of our crumbling national infrastructure. Its unemployment rate has risen to 11.6 percent in 2013, and more than 220,000 Inland Empire homes were seized by banks and sold out of foreclosure over the last five years. With Latinos making up 34 percent of registered voters in CA-31, our district must be represented by someone who will fight for comprehensive immigration reform, and our senior and veteran populations need someone who is going to not just defend, but expand, their Social Security benefits.

This race is about more than providing another career politician with the next step on his professional ladder. It’s about making life better for people who desperately need a voice in Congress.

And I am the voice of California’s 31st raised in the Inland Empire. I was born and raised in the Inland Empire. I began working the fields here as an onion topper at the age of 12 and held up to three jobs at a time to put myself through college and then law school. Rather than leave my community’s challenges behind, I returned home to serve my community as an attorney. I became the first Latina to open and manage my own law office in the Inland Empire and for nearly three decades, I have volunteered with Legal Aid to provide pro bono legal services to families in need here in our community.

For me, the lesson from the 2012 election in CA-31 is that not all Democrats are created equal. And that’s a good thing. I am proud to be running as the progressive in this race, and I am ready to serve my district as a Member of Congress beholden to no one other than my community.

I invite you to visit my website at www.eloiseforcongress.com. We are hard at work winning this seat back and need you on our team!

And contributions to Eloise's campaign can be made at the Blue America ActBlue page starting... today!



Meet Barbara Buono, Chris Christie's Worst Nightmare

CROSS-POSTED TO CROOKSANDLIARS.COM

My first exposure to Chris Christie was when I saw video footage of him abusively browbeating a school teacher at a town hall meeting for having the temerity to question his education policies. I can hardly begin to explain the depth of my visceral repulsion at his bullying tactics. I can't imagine ever voting for him after seeing that and I don't think I'm the only woman in America to react that way.

But it's not just his vile personality. His record is execrable as well. Tom Moran at the Star-Ledger characterized his time in office this way:

New Jersey’s unemployment rate is the highest in the region, and yet he left $3 billion in federal money on the table when he canceled plans to build a tunnel under the Hudson River. The state’s credit rating has dropped on his watch, thanks to his habit of pushing costs to the future. New Jersey’s foreclosure rate is also among the highest in the nation, and the state’s response among the most inept...Christie opposes abortion rights and closed six Planned Parenthood clinics. He vetoed marriage equality. He vetoed a surtax on millionaires. He has retreated on climate change. And he removed the only black justice from the state Supreme Court.

He's also on record denying climate change and just last week declared himself the one true heir of Rudy "9/11" Giuliani with a national security speech that would have sounded better in the original German. Only in America would such a man be widely touted by the chattering classes as a voice of "moderation."

Luckily for New Jersey there is one feisty politician who knows better, State Senator Barbara Buono, the Democrat who'd like to save her state from any more of Christie's so-called "success" by denying him another term as Governor. Let's just say her record is as progressive as his is conservative. And there's no mistaking what she really stands for.

Buono is the daughter of a butcher and a substitute school teacher who put herself through law school. She vividly recalls her own early years of struggle, even having to apply for government assistance at one point. Her compassion for the concerns of average working families led her to politics in the early 90s, working her way up to become the first woman majority leader in the State Senate, where she took on Christie as the Chair of the budget committee. This woman isn't one little bit cowed by the thuggish Christie.

We know it's an uphill climb and so does Buono. But we all think that there are a whole lot of New Jersey Democrats, especially women, who will go into that voting booth and decide they just can't stomach the idea of Chris Christie as Governor again or ... gulp ... president and put a stop to him. If people get a chance to hear a reform-minded, anti-corruption progressive like Barbara Buono they may just realize they have a better choice. We'd like to help her get the word out and we hope you do too.

If you can donate something to her campaign it will not only help a true Blue America progressive but will also help to stop one of the most odious conservative villains in American politics. A twofer!

Please help me welcome State Senator Barbara Buono to Blue America.



We Won-- Thanks!

Blue America Progressive Ed Markey will face Gabriel Gomez (R) in MA Senate Runoff

Tuesday in Massachusetts progressives made their voices heard. Liberal icon Ed Markey, the Blue America-endorsed candidate beat ConservaDem Stephen Lynch 58- 42% in the primary for the Democratic nomination to replace John Kerry in the U.S. Senate.

Ed Markey would make the PERFECT partner for Elizabeth Warren
Ed Markey would make the PERFECT partner for Elizabeth Warren

Now Ed will face off against Republican Gabriel Gomez, an anti-Choice fanatic and typical lockstep Republican.

It's likely Ed will beat him June 25th. But it's never safe to assume anything. Remember Senator Scott Brown! The good news is that all three Republicans in the primary got fewer votes than Stephen Lynch. But Ed will still need contributions for the big money Republicans are expected to put into this race. You can donate to Ed's campaign on the special page Blue America has for Senate candidates</a>.

Thanks again!

We are all in this together,

Howie, for Digby, Amato and the Blue America Team



Support Daylin Leach, Who Wants To Save Social Security From Chained CPI

Media error

Hopefully, most of you have seen Alan Grayson and Mark Takano's letter to President Obama that states very clearly they will never vote for cuts to our social safety nets:

That’s why we write to let you know that we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits -- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.

More and more Congress critters are signing up to support this venture. In the above video, check out Daylin Leach's (PA-13) response to chained CPI fixes---errrr...I mean cuts to Social Security.

Leach: The last thing we should be doing is fixing Social Security on the backs of the senior citizens who rely on it to survive.

He's a true progressive in every sense of the word and if he's elected--will never vote for cuts against our social safety nets and that includes Obama's proposed chained CPI cuts.

Please check out our new single issue Blue America page: Saving Social Security and see if you can throw a little support to Daylin Leach (PA-13) and all our other candidates that have begun to speak out against these draconian measures.

And mucho kudos to Bernie Sanders today for delivering millions of signatures to the White House rejecting proposed cuts to Social Security.

I'll be posting more videos from our Blue America candidates as they come in who are standing up for our senior citizens when many of America's politicians are falling down on the job of protecting working class Americans.

And here's our Saving Social Security page again.



Blue America Welcomes Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-IL)

We all often talk about how crucial it is that our political leaders have some kind of inbuilt empathy system for the ordinary working families whose interests they're supposed to be serving. The alternative, as we've seen, is a kind of self-absorbed Ayn Rand Republicanism or, closer to home, the Blue Dogs and New Dems. That's why Blue America is so vigilant about congressional races wherever and whenever they happen. And the next congressional race coming up is for the seat Jesse Jackson, Jr. resigned from, IL-02, with a primary on February 26 and a general election April 9. The second district is very Democratic-- Obama beat Romney 80.7-18.5% and Jackson, who was hospitalized for the entire campaign, was reelected with 63%-- and the winner of the primary next month is all but assured a seat in Congress. Although there are nearly two dozen people running, the two front-runners are progressive state Senator Toi Hutchinson and self described "conservative Democrat" former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson. It's a majority African American district and Halvorson's hope has been getting as many African-Americans as possible to run to split the vote so she could sneak back into Congress.

Seeking to gauge exactly what kind of empathy we could expect from a Congresswoman Hutchinson, she told us about her grandfather who passed away a few months ago. "He started his career as a door-to-door World Book Encyclopedia salesman. He worked hard, and saved his money so he would have something to leave his children, but he lost almost everything in the financial collapse of 2008. It’s critical that we hold people accountable for our current economic collapse, but I’m grateful that he was able to stay in his home because of his veterans’ benefits and Social Security. I know how important those programs were to our family when my grandfather was passing, and I’ll never support any kind of cuts to programs like Medicare and Social Security that are so critical to so many people."

That's exactly the kind of Representatives we need in Congress. That kind of core attitude manifests itself across a wide spectrum of issues that Members of Congress have to deal with. Let's take the gun safety issues roiling the political elites right now. Sen. Hutchinson is on board with Obama's proposals, of course, but she knows that isn't the solution to a very real problem. "I am a cosponsor," she told us this week, "on two bills in Illinois that would outlaw assault weapons and high capacity clips, but that’s not enough. I know that kids on the South Side of Chicago aren’t being shot by AR-15s. We need to have a larger conversation about how our politics and our government are letting down poor communities that suffer every day under the yoke of violence. The source of crime and violence is hopelessness-- it is a generation of young people that doesn’t see a future, and view crime and gangs as the only path to supporting themselves. It is a generation of young men that can’t find work or a place to live, and crime becomes their only option."

Last two times Halvorson ran-- first against Republican challenger Adam Kinzinger who beat her 58-42% and then, after redistricting, in a primary against Jackson last year she lost 71-29%, voters telling her they weren't interested in her kind of corporately-oriented conservative politics. Fellow corporately funded New Dems in DC are pushing her candidacy again this year. Blue America has endorsed Toi Hutchinson and she will be joining us today for a live chat in the comments section (below) at 1pm (CT). If you'd like to help us raise some campaign money for her, please go to the special election page we set up on ActBlue.

Will Halvorson vote with the Democratic leadership on most bills? Sure... but will she fight for progressive values and issues? She never did when she was in Congress before and there's no reason to think she's any better now. She has a record; it isn't very good. Toi has a record too-- and it's a lot better. She worked with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to make their state "the first state in the country to mandate the testing of rape kits within 10 days of submission so that survivors of sexual assault can build their case in court. And while the State of Illinois was shredding the safety net in the name of fiscal discipline, I fought to pass a new tax on strip clubs that directed proceeds to help victims of domestic violence get back on their feet."



Blue America chat: Activist Debra Cooper for New York City Council

When the Netroots first appeared in the middle of the last decade, there were a few people who instantly joined up as supporters, benefactors and activists who "got it." But no one got it more clearly than our good friend Debra Cooper, a long time champion of women's rights, New York NARAL board member and Democratic Party activist. From the very beginning Debra understood the power of this new force in American politics and embraced our work and enthusiastically participated in our activities, often to the befuddlement of other experienced organizers who failed to see the potential of our new medium. Debra has been a stalwart supporter of Blue America since its inception and we are thrilled to return the favor by making her our first endorsee of 2013.

Blue America doesn't normally get involved in local races, but a New York City Council seat is not the usual local race ... and Debra is not the usual candidate.

As she says:

I have been an unabashed progressive my entire life. And I have been around long enough to see that it matters is we move forward as progressives and not react backward. If we aren't pushing forward on our agenda, the right wing is pushing us backward. And it goes from everything from women's reproductive rights to social security to the safety net to the issue of gun control. Those issues all matter. We have to push forward, we have to enlarge the conversation to include our solutions and not just react to their solutions.

I have been asked about my lines in the sand. Actually I have lines in quick drying cement. And those lines are about principles --- progressive and democratic principles. Lines in the sand are for tactics and for strategy. They are moveable and they are erasable. Principles are not. They are firm and they are clear. You use lines in the sand to negotiate. And over the long term, as a progressive , if we want to move the conversation in the right direction, we want to make the lines in the sand the same as our lines in cement.

A couple of years back Debra wrote a piece that I've often quoted on my blog because it's so important. She talked about abortion in the language of freedom, which is frankly something I've never heard anyone do before:

For women ALL Roads to freedom and equality - economic equality and most particularly the ability to avoid poverty START with control of their bodies. If they can't control how they get pregnant and when they will have a child then poverty is the result.

There is theory about something called the Prime Mover - the first action or the first cause. Well for women it IS reproductive rights. It precedes everything. It really is simple. Without the abilty to control your own body then you are a slave to everything else.

Frankly sexism, the need to control women's lives by controlling their bodies and the things that arise from it, are endemic to any social structure. It is ever enduring and even when it seems to be quashed it returns in another form. That is the story in the modern era of women's rights. One step forward after a long struggle - suffrage and then a step back. (And no way do I say that women are not complicit in their own subjugation. We are.)

I am reading The Reactionary Mind by Corey Robin. In the epilogue he makes a point of saying that the loss of power and control is what the elite and the reactionary fear the most. More than a specific loss itself the fear the rising volcano of submerged anger and power. And for them it is most acutely felt compulsion for control in the "intimate" arena. That is the most vexing and disturbing of all.

It is why they want to control women. And controlling their reproductive lives is the surefire way to control them.

It is why abortion rights are absolutely central to every other kind of freedom.

Wouldn't it be great to have someone who thinks like this in elective office? She is one of us, a stalwart progressive who has been inspired and motivated by our work --- and your commitment --- to throw her hat into the ring and represent our shared values in elective office.

John, Howie and I are proud to support her and we hope you will too.

Hopefully everyone had a chance to rest up during the holidays and take a breather. But the reactionaries never sleep. As Debra says, if we aren't pushing our agenda, the right wing is pushing us backwards. It's time to start pushing.

Please welcome Debra to Blue America for our first chat of the New Year.

You can donate to Debra's campaign here.




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