North Carolina Needs Our Help

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We want to make a different kind of case for our two progressive congressional candidates in North Carolina, Jenny Marshall-- who's opposing Virginia Foxx-- and Matt Coffay-- who's up against Freedom Caucus headman Mark Meadows. Normally we'd tell you about how extreme Foxx and Meadows are (and they sure are-- two of the very worst) and how awesome Jenny and Matt are (also a very accurate assessment). But today we want to make a special plea for the great state of North Carolina.

Our sisters and brothers in North Carolina are in deep trouble. As Michael Wines explained in the NY Times last week, the GOP has thrown away the rule book and is undermining democracy more overtly than any state in America ever has. The Supreme Court has ruled twice last month that the state's election laws are overtly racist and unconstitutional. The state's Republican leaders don't care what the Supreme Court says and "since November, when Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, reclaimed the governor’s office from the incumbent Republican, Pat McCrory, Republicans have redoubled their efforts to keep the levers of state government and state courts in their control."

The state Republican Party is not concerned with the rule of law-- other than their own perverted and unconstitutional laws. “What we’re seeing in North Carolina is an effort at political entrenchment that is unparalleled,” said Allison Riggs, a senior staff lawyer at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a Durham advocacy group that sued Republican leaders over the election law. “It requires a complete disregard for the will of the voters and political participation, and a disregard for the independence of the judiciary.”

A special session in December stripped the governor of most power to appoint state employees and university trustees, choose a cabinet without legislative approval and install majorities on state and local election boards. The latter move was stayed, pending a trial.

Now the legislators are taking aim at the state judicial system. In December, after voters elected a Democratic majority to the nominally nonpartisan State Supreme Court, the legislature expanded the jurisdiction of the Republican-led Court of Appeals and made the legal path toward other Supreme Court hearings more tortuous. Last month, Republicans voted to shrink the Court of Appeals by barring replacement of the next three retiring judges, denying Mr. Cooper a chance to nominate successors.

Foxx's and Meadows' districts are very gerrymandered and pretty red, respectively with PVIs of R+11 and R+13. Trump took 57.4% in Foxx's district and 63.2% in Meadows' district. But that had more to do with Hillary than with Republicanism. Bernie beat Hillary in Meadows' district and in every part of Foxx's district except Winston-Salem. These areas are looking for an authentic solution to the problems of working families.

Matt Coffay told us that "Last December, the Electoral Integrity Project-- which has monitored and scored elections in 153 countries-- ranked North Carolina's election integrity score at 58 out of 100. This places us alongside Cuba, Indonesia, and Sierra Leone. But when it comes to our voting districts, we received a 7/100 score. As the Charlotte News & Observer reported, 'North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project.' The worst in the world. That's where North Carolina stands."

I have hope that the cases currently before the Supreme court-- from both Wisconsin and North Carolina-- alleging unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering will be decided in such a way as to force a fair redrawing of our state's districts. But we have to keep talking about this issue, and keep fighting. When I'm elected to Congress, I intend to be a vocal critic of gerrymandering. Just like our broken campaign finance system, it dramatically endangers our democracy."

 

North Carolina Democrats have been fighting back and organizing, but they cannot do it alone. The political temperature there is on fire-- the people are hungry for the change Jenny and Matt's representation can bring. If possible, please consider making a donation to their campaigns today.



Heroes and Villains

Recently I was getting to know two new congressional candidates running for seats held by Republicans in California. I asked one why he had donated so much money to John Kasich's presidential campaign in 2016. He told me he "used to be" a Republican. And now he wants to be in Congress... as a Democrat? "Ex"-Republicans that were elected last year-- Charlie Crist (FL) and Tom O'Halleran (AZ), for example-- vote overwhelmingly with the GOP against progressive legislation, as "ex"-Republicans almost always do. Both have joined the Blue Dogs and the New Dems, the core of the Republican Wing of the Democratic Party. DO we really want more of that in Congress? I don't; the DCCC certainly does. That's exactly what they want in Congress. And they want you to help pay to put them there.

The other guy, running against a really reprehensible Republican is headed for the Blue Dogs too if he gets into office. When I asked him about healthcare policy he hadn't spent any more time thinking about the issues than Donald Trump had. He wasn't for Medicare-for-All and he quickly turned the conversation to something positive-- his support for the Second Amendment and the important work the NRA does. I'm pretty sure he's better than the Republican he's running against but is that a candidate I want to contribute money to-- or urge you to contribute money to? I don't think so.

After Thursday's 217-213 vote for TrumpCare and all that entails, a tremendous amount of energy was released on the left. It's a shame that much of that energy went to raising money not directly for progressive candidates but to DCCC front operations that will use it for candidates like the ones above.

There are some great progressive candidates with compelling biographies and powerful ideas about moving America forward who are running against TrumpCare Republicans in districts Trump lost. Blue America has endorsed several so far-- like Geoff Petzel, who's running against Peter Roskam in a suburban Chicagoland district where Hillary beat Trump 50.2% to 43.2%, and Doug Applegate in the Orange and San Diego county district Darrell Issa calls home and where Hillary won decisively over Trump, 50.7% to 43.2%... and where Applegate came within around 1,500 votes of ousting Issa in 2016. These are widely targeted districts and many groups besides Blue America will be helping in them.

But there are also districts that I like to call Heroes and Villains Districts:
NC-11 is a tough district-- very red... and the base for Freedom Caucus chieftain Mark Meadows, the congressman who turned the first horrible version of TrumpCare into the even worse monstrosity that passed Thursday. The DCCC is ignoring it because Hillary did so poorly there. Trump won it with 63.2%. But Bernie won that district too and would have done far better than Hillary did there. A Bernie organizer, a young farmer named Matt Coffay, founder of the Asheville Our Revolution group, is running against Meadows on a perfect progressive platform. Perfect. Up the road, another former Bernie activist, Jenny Marshall, a public school teacher, is running against another symbol of greed-and-hatred-driven reactionary politics, Virginia Foxx. Again, the DCCC has no interest in the district. And again, it was an area where Bernie excelled and where people are very open to his-- and Jenny's-- ideas. These candidates need and deserve our support.

Another Heroes and Villains situation where the DCCC isn't going to be on our side is down in South Florida, where Tim Canova is once again taking on the burden of holding accountable Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the symbol of all that ails the Democratic Party. "At this difficult time," wrote Tim yesterday, "when we must unite against the dangerous and inhumane policies of the Trump administration, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has reminded us of her central role in preventing progressive reform and bringing on the implosion of the Democratic Party... As long as Wasserman Schultz remains in public life, there will be no party unity-- and that’s because she has learned absolutely nothing from the setbacks and failures that she helped engineer."

We're all angry over the TrumpCare vote, but it's important to remember that except for politicians like Wasserman Schultz wrecking the Democratic Party brand, it's unlikely anything like Trump would have ever gotten anywhere near the White House.

Let's contribute strategically, to solid candidates like Jenny Marshall and Matt Coffay in North Carolina, to Doug Applegate in California, Geoff Petzel in Illinois and Tim Canova in Florida. That's how we make Congress a force for good-- not by electing a pack of Blue Dogs the DCCC hopes to sneak by you.




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