Focus On What's Hot: Florida


Tomorrow is the first day of early voting for the August 30 Florida primary. As always, the corrupt, self-serving establishment has candidates it's trying to slip in, incumbents like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and even worse garbage, like Patrick Murphy, that they are trying to advance up the ladder.

This is the last great stand of the 2016 Democratic primary season-- where genuine progressives like Alan Grayson and Tim Canova are battling the very worst the Democratic Party has to offer.

Grayson's wife, Dr. Dena Grayson, is the strongest candidate in his old district to beat back a challenge from a very conservative pro-NRA Democratic state Senator. "We progressives, not Republicans or faux-Democrats, are the only ones who are truly committed to helping people," she told us. "The way to turn Florida blue is simple. We need to stop running Republican-lite candidates masquerading as Democrats, and instead, support true progressive who recognize people's needs and will take action to improve their lives."

As the Sun Sentinel put it a few days ago, "A Canova win over Wasserman Schultz would send shockwaves across the country." Those are just the kind of shockwaves the Democratic Party establishment needs and needs badly. This morning Tim was finally able to force Wasserman Schultz into a serious TV debate after she dodged and ducked for months. She was the living, breathing embodiment of why Americans are sick and tired of self-serving career politicians and she refused to answer point blank questions, although at the last second of the debate, the moderator got her to admit she is pro-fracking. Unfortunately, almost 10,000 Democrats in FL-23 have already voted by mail. "Sadly, today, she takes hundreds of thousands of dollars from industries like Big Sugar, Wall Street banks, predatory lenders and private prisons," explained one of Canova's radio ads. "I believe you either represent the corporate lobbyists or you represent the people. You cannot do both."

Alan Grayson, the progressive in the Senate race for Marco Rubio's seat, understands better than anyone what's wrong with Democratic Party politics in his state. He told us yesterday,

“Florida Democrats are demonstrating Einstein's definition of insanity-- they keep nominating right-wing DINOs for statewide office, they keep losing, and they keep expecting that the results will change. They won't. We have now lost 14 out of the last 15 state government campaigns, going back to when Jeb Bush was Governor, because our Democratic voters have absolutely no idea what our candidates will do for them if they are elected. (The only exception was when a Democrat snuck into office because even Florida voters couldn't stomach a GOP candidate for "Chief Financial Officer" who was hopelessly corrupt.)

Florida Republicans promise abortion restrictions, pro-gun laws, cuts in social services, lower taxes and corporate welfare-- and they deliver. Florida right-wing Democrats promise I-don't-know-what, and they can't even deliver on that. As for me, I have promised to improve the lives of ordinary people in Central Florida, and I've delivered on those promises. And I'm the only Democrat to represent downtown Orlando in Congress in the past 42 years. Coincidence? No.”

Now Blue America is asking you to help make sure our slate of Florida progressives make it out of the primaries on the 30th to go on and beat reactionary Republicans like Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Matt Caldwell. You can pick and choose at the Blue America Florida page here.



Alex Law Makes A Case For ‘Our Revolution’

Many people are celebrating that Wasserman Schultz was finally given the heave-ho as DNC chair a few minutes ago, but that doesn't mean the job is done. She was causing great harm to Democratic Party values long before she was elevated to that post and unless she's thrown out of Congress by Broward and Miami-Dade Democratic voters on August 30, she will continue doing exactly that into the foreseeable future.

That said, it probably wasn't hard to figure out that among all of our wonderful congressional candidates upholding the ideals and values that make up Bernie's political revolution, Alex Law from South Jersey was one of the ones who most impressed us. His energy, his devotion and his strategic way of thinking reminded me of the first Velvet Underground album-- which didn't sell millions but launched the careers of scores of the most important rock bands in the world. The good news is that Alex is just 25 and will have other opportunities for public service. He contacted me this week and offered to help raise money for three of the Blue America candidates he was most impressed with this cycle: Alan Grayson (FL), Zephyr Teachout (NY) and Tim Canova (FL). This is the letter he asked me to send out to our members:

When I needed help in my campaign against political corruption in New Jersey, Blue America was there for me. This organization of committed progressives is an inspiring example of what we can accomplish when we work together. Because of your help, my campaign was able to fight back in a truly meaningful way and lay the foundation that will eventually win against establishment, machine politics.
 
I thank you for your support of my campaign, but our work this campaign season is not done. Three incredible individuals need your help more than ever: Alan Grayson, Tim Canova, and Zephyr Teachout.
 
I know all three of these wonderful candidates, and I personally urge you to support them as well.
 
Alan Grayson has been one of the most active, intelligent Congressman of the last decade. He is locked in a primary battle against an establishment, conservative politician in his run for US Senate in Florida. We need to help Alan win his primary because not only is he the best man for the job, he is also the only person that can make sure Marco Rubio does not return to Washington DC.
 
Tim Canova is one of the bravest politicians in America. We all know how awful Debbie Wasserman Shultz has been, but he actually stepped forward to run against her. Tim has put together one of the best campaigns in the country by tapping into the progressive revolution Bernie began. Not only will Tim make an excellent Congressman, we need Tim to win his primary so that we can shake up the DNC to make it clear that we will not accept the kind of leadership we have seen for too long.
 
Zephyr Teachout is someone I personally admire; she wrote a book called Corruption in America that was part of my inspiration to get into politics. She has been a champion to get big money out of politics working with Professor Lessig at MayDay PAC. Zephyr ran a principled campaign for Governor of New York where she shocked everyone, giving the machine there a real scare. Now, she is mounting one of the most important Congressional campaigns in the country as she has a real chance to flip a red district.
 
Bernie brought progressive politics to the forefront of America’s cultural attention more than any politician in my lifetime. We must continue the good work that he started by making sure leaders like Alan, Tim, and Zephyr are in Washington to fight for us. Join me in supporting them by contributing to their campaigns today.
 
Thank you!

-Alex Law



Primaries Can Make Miracles. Meet Dave McTeague In Oregon's 5th

Tim Canova, the intrepid Democrat challenging entrenched incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a deep blue district in South Florida, wrote:

"primary challenges like mine are often the only effective way to force accountability on entrenched incumbents. Here at home, for instance, Florida’s 23rd Congressional District is seen as a safe Democratic seat. My opponent has been reelected over and over, and has never faced a primary challenger, ever! And with no primary challenger in a safely Democratic seat, there is no genuine discussion, much less debate, within our district as to the serious issues facing all of us, and the overall direction of our country."

Progressive activist and labor scholar Amy Dean sees Tim's campaign as a potential game changer: “If his insurgent campaign catches on, it could represent a serious problem for the Democratic Party establishment. It could signal an increasing willingness by grass-roots activists to use primary challenges to place champions for working people in office rather than accept lesser-evil candidates simply because they are incumbents.”

And Tim's campaign isn't the only race where Blue America is backing a proven progressive against an arrogant and out-of-touch incumbent. Alex Law is challenging the entire corrupt South Jersey political machine that has bolstered Chris Christie's administration by taking on boss George Norcross' conservative little brother Donald Norcross, whose first vote in Congress was to back the Keystone XL Pipeline. Missouri state Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, one of the heroes of Ferguson, is taking on William Lacy Clay, the kind of typical old school Democrat who has lost touch with his constituents while living the high life with his lobbyist buddies in DC. 

And this week, we welcomed a new challenger on board, Oregon former state legislator Dave McTeague, who is going after a character every bit as destructive and reactionary as Debbie Wasserman Schultz or Lacy Clay-- head Blue Dog, Kurt Schrader, a Republican in every way but the "D" next to his name

Inspired by Bernie Sander's principled campaign and his issues and incensed by Schrader's anti-environmental votes and his backing for the TPP and other job-killing corporate trade policies, McTeague decided it jump back into electoral politics, fully aware of the onerousness of the task of taking on an entrenched incumbent in a primary. But Oregon is one of the highest turn-out states in America-- 63% compared to 52.8% in New York, 51.7% in Arizona, 54.8% in California, 48.45 in Texas and 49.5% in Arkansas-- and the 5th district's voters are well-educated, environmentally-conscious and generally much more progressive than their Blue Dog congressman, who has an "F" rating from ProgressivePunch and a tense relationship with organized labor and with the environmental community. The League of Conservative Voters rates him as the most environmentally-unfriendly Democrat in Oregon's congressional delegation and he has been a big backer of clear-cut logging. The NRA, on the other hand, loves him and supports him-- because Schrader loves them and supports them.

When McTeague jumped into the race at the end of last month-- after attending a Schrader town hall where concerns about the TPP were cavalierly dismissed-- he told residents of the northern Willamette Valley, Salem, and coastal counties from Tillamook to Lincoln that he had joined Bernie's "political revolution to address growing income inequality and the decline of the middle class." He explained his reasons for running in a guest post at DownWithTyranny a few days ago:

These days a lot of voters, Democratic voters too, don’t feel represented by the Washington Establishment and want real change. This is evident in the success of Sen. Sanders’s insurgent presidential campaign, which I strongly support. The incumbent is the Co-Chair of the conservative Blue Dog Caucus. I would be a member of the Progressive Caucus.

I don’t have any illusions about this effort. Running against an entrenched incumbent is like taking on the Death Star in Star Wars especially one with access to a million or more dollars of PAC money.

So why would I do this? Because a lot of Democratic and independent voters want real fundamental change, a political revolution, and they’re not willing to settle for politics as usual. Those Democrats and independents deserve to have a choice just as they have a choice for real change in the Presidential Primary.

My candidacy’s purpose is to provide Democratic primary voters a progressive alternative to the establishment incumbent. I will not accept any funding from any corporate Political Action Committees. I agree with Senator Bernie Sanders we have to overturn our current corrupt campaign finance system to make real fundamental changes.

This community has been fundamental in helping Tim Canova get his campaign off the ground. Let's do the same for Dave McTeague by contributing here at the Blue America Progressive Congress page.



We CAN Have A Better Congress-- And We Need To

Click the image to view Marianne Williamson previewing our Free Progressive Summit.

If yesterday's results are indicative of what it expect in November, it looks like Americans will be, once again, asked to choose between 2 really awful nominees... another less-of-two-evils election that is sure to turn off millions of Americans and hold down voter turnout. Who the hell-- other than what Trumpf calls his beloved "poorly educated"-- voters wants to be culpable for the kind of endemic corruption that would be at the heart of either a Trumpf or a Clinton Administration? Is he so much more than she is? Sure. She's the lesser of two evils, evil, but the lesser evil. Does that inspire you?

If you've been participating in the candidates progressive summit at SisterGiant.com, you've had a chance to meet candidates for the House and Senate who are not the lesser of two evils by any stretch of the imagination. Blue America and Marianne Williamson's organization have put together an on-going forum in which participants meet the stalwart progressive public servants.

Tuesday there were live interviews with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-MD), a state legislator with a record of accomplishment and a vision for America going forward; and Mayor John Fetterman, the alternative candidate in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Before that-- and still archived, of course-- were sessions with Maryland state Sen. Jamie Raskin-- whose video below I highly recommend-- Tim Canova, the intrepid and courageous progressive in South Florida taking on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the embodiment of the heart of darkness; Nanette Barragán, a small town mayor who took on Bill Oil and beat them and is now taking on the whole corrupt Democratic Establishment in Sacramento to keep a South Bay L.A. congressional seat out of the hands of the toxic special interests; Mayor Bao Nguyen, who, when elected from his Orange County district, will likely be the most progressive Member of Congress since 1950, when Vito Marcantonio left Congress; Washington state Sen. Pramila Jayapal, who has learned how to successfully build consensus around progressive values even in a legislature controlled by Republicans; Madison-based Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), the member of Congress with the strongest voting record of all; Alex Law, a millennial candidate willing to take on South Jersey's venal and corrupt Norcross Machine; DuWayne Gregory, the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature going up against entrenched neocon and Republican Peter King on Long Island; and fiery and dedicated Orlando Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL), who has put his foot down against Wall Street's attempt to replace Marco Rubio in the Senate with another of their puppets.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 7.32.00 PM.pngClick image to see Jamie Raskin's great new video.

Last night in session 5, Marianne presented 3 progressive challengers to 3 Republican incumbents: Tom Fiegan, who is taking on Iowa obstructionist Chuck Grassely, the Senator and haughty Judiciary Committee chairman who has declared that there will be no hearings for whomever President Obama nominates for the empty Supreme Court seat; Paul Clements, an environmental activist taking on multimillionaire scion of a Michigan family that enriched itself by moving tens of thousands of jobs to Mexico and China, Fred Upton; and Angela Marx, a Washington state grassroots activist challenging GOP tool Jaime Herrera Buetler.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.37.42 AM.pngWasserman Schultz and Murphy-- you don't get any worse than this.

If you don't vote in primaries, and “off years” you wind up with corrupt faux-Democrats like Patrick Murphy and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, two "New Dems" who are sponsoring a bill with the Republicans on behalf of the pay day lenders that would further debilitate Elizabeth Warren's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Zach Carter reported yesterday that "as the CFPB has moved closer to adopting new rules to shield families from predatory lending, the GOP has assailed the agency from every conceivable angle-- going after it's budget, attempting to tie its hands with new layers of red tape, fomenting conspiracy theories about rogue regulators illegally shutting down businesses and launching direct attacks on payday loan rules themselves." Now they have a handful of on-the-take, Wall Street Democrats-- Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (New Dem-FL), Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Alcee Hastings (FL), David Scott (Blue Dog-GA), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) and Lois Frankel (FL)-- working with them against protecting the public.

Wassermann Schultz's support for the right-wing Republican position, he points out, "undercuts efforts by liberals in Congress to draw contrasts with Republicans on economic issues." That's the special role Wasserman Schultz and, even more so, Patrick Murphy and Kyrsten Sinema always take on. Wassermann Schultz has been walking around the floor of the House trying to sweet talk other Democrats onto signing on, lying to them about a bill she helped write when she was in the Florida state legislature for which she has been handsomely paid off by the pay day lending industry, calling her bill a "model" for the industry. Every single consumer group has lined up against Wasserman Schultz's attempt to derail the CFPB's work in this area, especially consumer groups that seek to protect the minority communities the Republicans, Wasserman Schultz and Murphy are targeting as easy rip-off victims.

The Consumer Federation of America, the NAACP, The National Consumer Law Center, The National Council of La Raza, The Southern Poverty Law Center and hundreds of others wrote a letter to every member of Congress in December urging them to oppose the legislation.

"The problem here is that Florida's law is a sham," says Gynnie Robnett, director of the Campaign to Stop the Debt Trap at Americans for Financial Reform. "It was backed by the industry."

And by "the industry," they're including the crooked Members of Congress-- Republicans and rogue Democrats like Wasserman Schultz and Murphy-- who sell their services to the pay day lenders. Democrats have an opportunity to replace these corrupt conservative Democrats in primaries. Wassermann Schultz's opponent this cycle is Tim Canova and Murphy's is the indomitable Alan Grayson, both of whom are part of the Progressive Summit we talked about up top.

By the way, Congress writes the laws to explicitly exclude their own behavior from prosecution as bribery... even when the quid pro quo is as blatant as Wasserman Schultz's is-- not that she isn't completely typical of all the corrupt conservatives in Congress. Happy payday lenders have given her $68,000 in legalistic bribes since 2006, including $5,100 so far in 2016. She belongs in prison, not in Congress. Last night most Republican primary voters gave a big middle finger to their party's corrupt establishment. Last night most Democratic primary voters gave a big wet kiss to their party's corrupt establishment.

This is exactly the kind of issue that incenses Canova, who emphasized to Democrats in Broward County that "loan sharks should feel right at home in the party of Donald Trump, but con artists should have no place in the Democratic Party. Yesterday, he told his supporters that "predatory payday lenders stepped in to profit during the financial crisis. They targeted poor communities-- and people without access to credit from banks-- by offering them short-term loans at sky high interest rates. On an annual basis, these companies charge late fees and rates as high as 300 to 400% and many companies have even charged up 1,900% interest on loans, which is obscene. Worse, they target people-- particularly people of color-- who are unable to pay the loan back. If they fall behind, they are offered another payday loan to help cover the cost of the prior payday loan, with fees and percentages get higher and higher, trapping them in an process that never ends.

dark.pngClick the thermometer to help elect the Progressive Congress we need and deserve.
I have pushed for regulation of payday loan companies my entire career as a law professor and political activist. I worked with Senator Bernie Sanders and his staff on provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act of 2010, and I was heartened when Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to do just that-- to provide some basic minimum standards in payday loans to prevent the poorest and most vulnerable among us from getting ripped off and trapped in a downward cycle of debt. This is a reform that has been championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren and supported by President Obama. So why, then, is my opponent-- Debbie Wasserman Schultz-- introducing legislation in Congress to deregulate an industry that is already profiting from ripping off millions of Americans? Why is she fighting against Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, who are attempting to protect our neighbors from the worst abuses by payday lenders? The answer is simple: Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been taking millions of dollars from the same corporate interests that profit from payday loans. She recently reversed President Obama’s long-standing ban on corporate lobbyist donations to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), opening the door to influence peddling by the payday loan industry. Not only is Wasserman Schultz carrying water for an industry that is actively defrauding poor communities out of millions of dollars-- one company recently was forced to give $19 million dollars back to customers in illegal overcharge payments-- but she is actively convincing Democrats in Congress to do so as well. Which party does she lead again?

Today (Thursday) Marianne will sit down for sessions with Lou Vince (CA-25), Pat Murphy (IA-01) and Diana Hird (NY-18), each of whom is being opposed by the DCCC and the DC Establishment Democrats— and each of whom has to fight off a challenge from a Republican-lite fake Democrat before going to battle against the real Republican. Please check out all the sessions here and please consider contributing to the candidates who most appeal to you here.

And, one more thing... in Ohio, the Democratic Establishment has a tired old conservative candidate, Ted Strickland, running against progressive Cincinnati Councilman PG Sittenfeld. The winner of their March 15 primary gets to take on right-wing Republican and Trumpf-defender Rob Portman. Sittenfeld can beat him; Strickland will get slaughtered. Since Strickland is too scared to publicly debate, please watch the video below at the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Editorial Board endorsement interview. (This week the Plain Dealer endorsed Sittenfeld, pointing out that his "dynamism would give Portman a real race, the kind Ohio voters deserve.")



You’re Invited To Tonight's Free Online Progressive Summit


Please consider yourselves invited to join us and Sister Giant as Marianne Williamson hosts a free online progressive summit over the next three weeks. You’ll be introduced to some of the finest candidates running from all over the country. Together, we can help build a more progressive congress that will help keep Blue Dogs or New Dem alliances with the GOP from stalling important legislation and real change from happening.

As we’ve seen in the past few months, politics can be a dirty business. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. The idea for the Progressive Summit was born out of a desire to, as Marianne puts it, “make Congress reflect the better angels of our nature.” Does that sound like a good idea to you? Here’s what else Marianne has to say:

With the Presidential election in full swing, we can be tempted to minimize the importance of our Congressional elections. But they're equally important because Congress is a co-equal branch of the government. We need a political revolution in Congress as much as we need it in the White House!

I hope you'll join us for a Free Online Progressive Summit, co-hosted by SISTER GIANT and BLUE AMERICA, begins tonight, February 23 at 6pm PT | 9pm ET. The summit will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings for the next three weeks. Each evening viewers will be introduced to three progressive Congressional candidates from around the country. The interviews will be archived so you can begin watching at any time.

Please go to SisterGiant.com to register for the Free Summit, and view a continuing list of candidates participating. After you register, you will receive a link to the summit via email.

I hope you'll join in, and let others know as well. If we really want a political revolution, we can't just kinda sorta do it!

All my best,

Marianne



What Does A Win Look Like? Taste Like? Smell Like?

Tuesday, Wisconsin's most progressive elected leader, state Sen. Chris Larson-- the guy who led the Democratic senators out of the state rather than buckle under to Scott Walker's Koch-ordered tyranny-- came in first in a hard-fought, 4-way race for the second most important office in the state, Milwaukee County Executive. It's an office that can lead to the governor's mansion, as it did for Walker. The current County Executive, Chris Abele, the son of a billionaire, has worked with the Republicans to disadvantage teachers and the school system and to force struggling homeowners to bear the burden of $80 million in public financing to pay for the new Bucks arena. 

When the Shepherd Express endorsed Larson, the editorial board noted that the general election on April 5th comes down to a contest between "Larson’s solid record of public service vs. a ton of Abele’s family’s money." Abele, they wrote, "has consistently cut backroom deals on behalf of private special interest groups and on behalf of his fellow millionaire cronies at the expense of the average Milwaukee County taxpayers [and has] worked hard to impress and win favor from his mentor, Gov. Scott Walker... Since taking office in 2011, Abele has consistently worked to strip our local democratic institutions of their power and consolidate power in his own office, shutting out the public from debates and decisions."

Abele, who vetoed a referendum on campaign finance reform, spent $2,000,000 in the primary to Chris Larson's $100,000. He's already said he's willing to throw $5,000,000 of his father's money-- or even more if he needs to-- into the April run-off against Larson's grassroots campaign. Blue America endorsed Chris Larson and we'd like to ask you to consider making a contribution to his campaign here.

We also want to remind everyone to vote in Alan Grayson's GraysonPrimary.com to cast a vote directing him whether he should use his super-delegate vote for Bernie or Hillary. Grayson:

”Until yesterday, 'superdelegates' were simply puppets of the unDemocratic establishment and their determination to snatch candidate selection away from our voters. Well, that’s no longer true. I’m a superdelegate. And I’m injecting a full dose of democracy into the superdelegate process, by letting actual Democratic voters influence who should win my superdelegate vote... In just 24 hours, more people have voted at GraysonPrimary.com than for Ted Cruz, Donald Trump or Marco Rubio in the Iowa Caucus. (Or Jeb Bush, but that isn’t saying much.) Our poll already has drawn well over 70,000 votes, which is . . . incredible. Democrats are sick of feckless loser party bosses dictating to us who carries our banner in November. Who do they think they are? That’s not their decision. It’s ours... It’s refreshing to see unbridled democracy in action. True power in the hands of the people is multiplying as we speak, and it is electrifying.”


And that brings us to something Blue America is very excited to be doing with Marianne Williamson and Sister Giant, a free online Progressive Summit, which starts Tuesday, February 23. You'll have a chance to meet many of the candidates we have endorsed and some we are thinking about endorsing. The purpose, though, is to emphasize the importance of congressional races in a year when the media talks almost exclusively about the presidential race. No matter who wins that race-- hopefully Bernie or Hillary-- Congress will function better with more progressives and fewer conservatives.

That what the Progressive Summit, which will last all week, is all about. Among the incumbents taking part are Alan Grayson (D-FL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and among the candidates, you will get to meet Tim Canova, the intrepid Florida progressive taking on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DuWayne Gregory, who is taking on Peter King on Long Island, Alex Law, Nanette Barragan, Pramila Jayapal, Eric Kingson, Bao Nguyen and plenty of others. See you Tuesday? Register here at SisterGiant.com




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