There is only One Way to Stop Trump

photo credit: Justin Lane/EPA

Blue America hasn't spent precious time since the election asking you to sign petitions for impractical symbolic appeals to the electoral college, or to waste your money on an unwinnable pointless Senate race in Louisiana.

We are very focused on what can be done-- politically-- to break the back on Trumpism. And that focus is, clearly, taking back the House in 2018.

If Trump and Ryan do half the damage they promise, even an incompetent DCCC won't be able to keep the two dozen seats that need to change hands from flipping, effectively put ting the brakes on Trumpism.

Blue America is working daily to recruit solid progressive candidates in districts from coast the coast. You can follow-- and support-- the results of our progress here.

Let me introduce you to one of our first recruits, Jimmy Gomez-- if only they could all be this good!-- a young guy from my neighborhood. When Xavier Becerra was appointed by Jerry Brown to become California Attorney General, my first thought was to wonder if Jimmy could be persuaded to run for the congressional seat. It's a deep blue district and there's no Republican who could ever compete there. Obama got 83% of the vote in 2012.

It's going to be a campaign about who who will be the best Democratic candidate, the one with the best proven vision for the job. Before Jimmy decided to run, I started tweeting about his accomplishments and suggesting that Congress needed his unique combination of heartfelt progressivism and hard-headed ability to work with political adversaries to accomplish his goals. The first "push back" I got came, not unexpectedly, from Sacramento. It was from a top staffer of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. "Please," the staffer wrote to me, "don't do this. We desperately need Jimmy here in Sacramento."

Eventually Jimmy decided he would run-- and Speaker Rendon endorsed him, as did the President Pro Tem of the state Senate, Kevin de León and dozens and dozens of Jimmy's colleagues in the legislature. Monday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti weighed in on behalf of Jimmy as have virtually all the progressive office holders in the state.

Tuesday, our old friend, former congresswoman, former Secretary of Labor and current County Supervisor Hilda Solis added her name to the growing list of public servants backing Jimmy. She wrote that "Jimmy Gomez has proven to be the State Assembly's most effective and dedicated champion for working families. He wrote the nation's strongest family leave laws, and stands up for equality in the workplace, in our schools and colleges, and for women's health care. In fact, I've been proud of him from the days he worked for me in Congress, from his years fighting for better health care for all at the United Nurses Association of California and throughout his career in the Assembly. We need him in Congress, protecting the people of Los Angeles, and I'm proud to support him."

Last week I had dinner with Jimmy and his wife Mary in a neighborhood diner. He talked to me about his vision for the people in his district and how he's gone about implementing it in the state legislature. Halfway through I cursed myself for not having a tape recorder. Knowing how busy he is organizing his campaign in a field that grows more and more crowded every day, I asked him if he would write down everything he had just said so I could share it. I think he stayed up later than he wanted to to do it. 

Making The Progressive Reform Agenda Work For Everyone, Including Those Who Need It Most ----by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez

I’m proud of California because we are a state of firsts . . . we are the first to pass paid family leave, the 15 dollar minimum wage, paid sick days, and groundbreaking climate change legislation to reduce green house gas emissions and preserve our environment for future generations.

Yet, California isn’t perfect. Although our state continues to improve, we still rank last or near last when it comes to a number of social indicators: education, health, economic and environmental.

Why?

Why are the laws that we pass not working the way we intend and why are we not seeing the improvements we would expect to see?

Why are certain parts of the state getting left behind, while others are thriving?

I believe it's because a lot of our laws, policies, and programs are built on a misguided concept that anything that divides the pie equally must be fair and it must be effective in dealing with the problems we are trying to solve.

As we know, that is definitely not always the case.

There is a big difference between what is equal and what is equitable. And policy makers and politicians confuse the two. And just because it is equal doesn’t make it fair. And it definitely doesn’t make it effective.

A good example of this is California’s first-in-the-nation Paid Family Leave program that provides workers with a 55% wage replacement for up to 6 weeks to bond with a new child or care for an ill family member. Although the program has benefited millions of Californians, a Senate Labor committee report found that the people using the program the most were those making $82,000 a year or more, and those who were using it the least were workers making minimum wage or barely above minimum wage. Why is that?

Because it is unrealistic to expect a worker who is already living paycheck to paycheck on 100 percent of their salary to use a program for 6 weeks at only 55 percent of their wages. For many workers, California’s current Paid Family Leave program was simply an illusion. That’s why I authored AB 908, to fix this inequity and ensure all who pay into this vital program can afford to use it, regardless of their income.

Simply, my bill AB908 restructured the Paid Family Leave program and State Disability to increase the wage replacement for workers earning minimum wage to 70 percent, and 60 percent wage replacement for all other workers. This bill ensures that every worker gets the necessary funds to actually use the program and spend time with their newborn child or sick family member. When Governor Brown signed AB908, California was not only the first state to have paid family leave, it also became the first state to have a paid family leave program built on the concept of equity. A program that ensures that every family on the economic ladder gets what they need. And I’m proud of that.

This has been some year for all of us with highlights like helping elect Pramila Jayapal and Jamie Raskin followed by the unspeakable triumph of Donald Trump, something we have to be very clear and very focused in defeating. Don't get distracted; keep your eye on the ball: winning back the House in 2018.

Meanwhile, thanks for all you've done and... have a safe and healthy holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from your friends at Blue America.



No Exaggeration: The Survival Of Mankind


This week we've been working with our friends at ClimateHawksVote to win House seats for candidates committed to ameliorating climate change-- candidates who are in winnable districts that the DCCC is ignoring. With Trump's dysfunctional campaign and crude bigotry dragging down the whole ticket, it looks-- for the first time this cycle-- that the Democrats actually have a chance of recapturing the majority and retiring Paul Ryan from the Speakership. Imagine a House where Ryan's willingly ignorant committee chairmen no longer set the agenda!

The DCCC doesn't like taking on GOP committee chairmen. We do-- and we are. Our candidates are all running, in part, to address global warming, combat the fossil-fuel industry, and support renewable energy. If climate hawks are part of a winning coalition that takes over Congress in 2017, we can work towards halting toxic fracking, towards stopping extreme-energy projects; we can start the work it will take to put a price on carbon pollution, and we can make sure subpoenas are sent to ExxonMobil instead of climate scientists. Our candidates want to invest billions in renewable, resilient infrastructure to restore climate justice and end the fossil-fuel economy-- before it's too late.

Taking back the House is a big challenge-- Republicans currently hold a 30-seat advantage. But all across the country, Democratic registration is up and Trump's continuous stream of bile is turning off mainstream conservative voters who are telling pollsters they won't be voting for Republican candidates November 8.

Progressive candidates in the suburbs of Philadelphia (Mary Ellen Balchunis), Austin and San Antonio (Tom Wakely), New York (Zephyr Teachout and Duwayne Gregory), Los Angeles (Bao Nguyen and Nanette Barragán), Kalamazoo (Paul Clements), Miami (Alina Valdes), to name a few, weren't looked at as winnable by the DCCC.

That's all changed now... and if we're going to have a House ready to work on, for example, climate issues, it means taking back the House and not taking it back with Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- the ones who opposed single-payer and the public option and stuck us with a very flawed Obamacare. So... please dig as deep as you can comfortably do and pick out a candidate or two-- for the future of the country and the species and the planet.

Want to get a feel for how strongly our candidates feel about climate as an issue? Mary Ellen Balchunis told us yesterday that "While the Republican party is still debating whether climate change even exists, I am prepared to enact legislation that will reduce carbon output on day one. I will fight for a carbon tax while encouraging investment in clean, sustainable technologies to shape the clean energy economy. Beyond this, I will support public transit development and a modernized electrical grid, to make sure that we have the infrastructure to sustainably meet demand in the future. Unfortunately, my opponent Pat Meehan claims to care about climate change, but has voted to repeal the only carbon regulations on power plants, end research into the effects of fossil fuels, and even permit pipelines to run through our national parks and monuments. Pennsylvanian's deserve a legislator who prioritizes a healthy environment for their children's future ahead of oil and gas companies' balance sheets."

And our candidates have records of leadership on progressive issues. Take Nanette Barragan, for example. "While my opponent was filling his coffers with Big Oil special interests money from the most disreputable lobbyists in Sacramento," she told us, "I was leading a successful fight to prevent the drilling of 34 oil and water injection wells in Hermosa Beach and into the Santa Monica Bay. If you care about climate change, retire Isadore Hall and send me to Congress. We both have records that are as crystal clear as the water still is off Hermosa Beach." Does that sound like someone you want on your team, fighting for your issues? Her opponent, Isadore Hall, is one of Sacramento's most corrupt legislators, a disgrace to a legislature that can't wait to see him leave.

Paul Clements isn't just one of the strongest advocates of climate change action of any candidate running for Congress, he's up against the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Rep. who buries every climate proposal. "In this election, we have the opportunity to replace one of Congress's leading climate science deniers," he said. "Fred Upton has been called, appropriately, 'Congress's Number 1 Enemy of Planet Earth,' and has been using his position to block any meaningful action on climate change. Congressman Upton has taken $931,000 from the oil and gas industry, and has used his role as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee to keep energy companies from being held accountable for their actions, especially companies like Exxon and BP, in which he owns a quarter of a million dollars in stock. Despite his record, an outside group recently had the audacity to come into our district to promote Fred Upton as a 'clean energy champion.' The outrageous nature of their lies show just how important Fred Upton is to oil and gas, and how threatened they are this year. If Congressman Upton is reelected, we can expect two more years of obstructionism from Congress, and a dangerous lack of action on climate, our nation's most critical challenge. I look forward to working in Congress to reverse the damage that has been caused, and prevent climate catastrophe."

Tom Wakley is running against Science Committee Chairman and chief climate change denier, Lamar Smith. "What truly gets me worked up," he told us, "is this idea that you have to 'believe' in climate change. The notion that it takes some great leap of faith in order to see and feel destruction or pollution is simply maddening. This is basically a matter of rejecting reality. There is no option when it concerns our climate. We have to act now. We must end fossil fuel subsidies and find market based initiatives to turn over a new leaf. There's no going back if we continue to wait for the corruption to subside or wait for the oil to run out. Lamar Smith and anyone of his ilk must be retired. The livelihood of future generations depend on it."

You want the government to deal seriously with Climate Change? Help us bring on congressional change.



Who Decides Who The Candidate Will Be-- Locals Or The DCCC?

Just when we thought the DCCC was finally going to cave and support a real Democrat for Congress, they discovered yet another way to lose in California's newly-blue 25th District. This time, it is Beverly Hills lawyer Brian Caforio, who has absolutely no idea what issues are even important to the people in the district. He lives in Orange County.

Instead of supporting Lou Vince, the grassroots-backed candidate who has been endorsed by the local Democratic clubs (as well as by Blue America), the DCCC has parachuted in a wealthy lawyer because he claims to be able to raise large amounts of money. Sounds like a perfect fit for Steve Israel’s DCCC. No surprise, when the DCCC hatched this scheme, they neglected to talk to a single local activist and unsurprisingly, this week, the Simi Valley Democratic Club and the North Valley Democratic Club, two of the largest clubs in the district, voted unanimously to endorse Lou Vince over Caforio, the DCCC having already pressured Maria Gutzeit to get out of the race.

Please help show the DCCC that they should be fighting Republicans, not progressive Democrats. To make sure Lou has the support he needs to win this June, every contribution made to Lou Vince’s campaign this week (up to $5,000) will be matched.

And, to add insult to injury, the “we don’t get involved in contested primaries” DCCC Western Regional Political Director actually sent Lou an email to say he was making calls to California Democratic Party delegates to encourage them to not submit their pre-endorsement ballots for Lou. He wants to be able to funnel DCCC money to Caforio and Lou winning the CDP endorsement would dash those hopes.

We at Blue America know that Lou is the best bet for taking the Simi Valley/Santa Clarita/Antelope Valley district. A police lieutenant and a veteran, Lou matches the profile of the district perfectly. The hard-working families of the area have already made it clear that they don’t like carpetbaggers. Last cycle, Tony Strickland outraised Steve Knight 5 to 1 and claimed he was the chosen one. Yet, Steve Knight trounced Tony Strickland in the general election because Strickland was a carpetbagger, just like Caforio.

The stakes could never be higher for CA-25. The Porter Ranch gas leak is inside the district and Steve Knight has been noticeably absent. Knight and his Republican Neanderthals want to do away with the EPA, the very agency that should have prevented this disaster. Rather than supporting an agency that keeps us all safe, Knight wants to get rid of it and allow corporations to self-regulate. I think we’ve all seen how well that has worked for Porter Ranch.

While Knight stays cozy in DC, the DCCC has scripted Caforio to hit the issue, claiming he cares about our health and the environment. Problem is, he doesn’t even know what the other environmental problems are in the area and there are plenty. In fact, Ed Begley Jr. and Climate Hawks Vote leader RL Miller, two of the most important environmental activists in California have endorsed Lou because of his environmental stances.

Yesterday Lou told us that:

"The 25th district has numerous environmental issues due to years of Republicans pushing through the agenda of the developers who bankroll their campaigns. The Porter Ranch disaster is just the latest case in a long line of environmental damage that needs to be undone. While Steve Knight continues to have a minimal visibility on the issue, another one of my opponents has been seeking to profit politically from the disaster. With no connection to the district at all, he believes that by snapping some pictures with an unpopular Congressman that he 'knows' the environmental issues. Yet, he hasn’t said a single word about the upcoming Chiquita Canyon Landfill Expansion, which will site the largest dump in the United States within 500 feet of an elementary school in a primarily Latino community. Where is Bryan Caforio on Chiquita? Where was Bryan Caforio 2 months ago? The answer is: ‘not in the 25th District.’”

If Bryan Caforio wins the primary, the DCCC will undoubtedly lose in the 25th District once again, a long pattern of bungling for them. It’s not often we have a candidate like Lou run for an office who could truly have a huge impact on the House floor. Having a former cop stand on the House floor and call for criminal justice reform would be a powerful ally for all progressives in the chamber. Not to mention having a Marine veteran calling for common sense gun measures. Lou certainly has the credibility to speak out on those issues.

This is our chance to get a true blue progressive in the House and show the DCCC that it is the grassroots that really matter and that they should start fighting Republicans, not progressive Democrats. That’s why we want to make sure Lou has the support he needs to win this June and why us here at Blue America have decided to “go all in for Lou.” We will be matching every contribution made to Lou’s campaign on this page this week up to $5,000.



Lou Vince Brings the Uptown Funk! (yes, it's a contest)

Before moving to Arizona, Lee Rogers, last cycle's progressive Democratic candidate in CA-25 (Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles), worked with local Democratic clubs and progressive activists to find a candidate who could win the newly blue district. The locals were excited about Agua Dulce councilman Lou Vince, a former marine and ex-L.A. police officer.

If you think all former marines and ex-L.A. police officers are conservative, you haven't met Lou Vince, a dedicated progressive, and not just on the easy issues. "The banks that were too big to fail are even bigger now," he told us this week. "We need to re-implement the Glass-Steagall Act so that Wall Street can't gamble with Main Street's money. It's not right that Wall Street caused the Great Recession, didn't face any penalties, and is now richer than ever. We need to send a cop to Congress to keep Wall Street in line and put handcuffs on the bankers if necessary."

This week, Blue America is trying to help Lou raise campaign funds. Bruno Mars signed a guitar for us to give away as a thank you for one randomly-selected Lou Vince contributor. The autographed Fender Squier Bullet Stratocaster is a one-of-a-kind that Bruno, a Hawaiian Jewish Puerto Rican superstar signed specifically for this giveaway. So far he has won 2 Grammy awards and has sold over 100 million singles and albums.

Unlike the Tea Party Republican incumbent Steve Knight or the conservaDem also trying to run, Lou Vince is committed to doing something of Climate Change which he calls "one of the most pressing issues of our time. I am undoubtedly the most committed to protecting and safeguarding our environment to ensure our children and grandchildren have a sustainable future. The nation needs to follow California's lead and seriously tackle climate change on the federal level."

The fundraiser will end next Sunday when we select one lucky winner. It doesn't matter how much you contribute, just that you do.

In fact, if you're strapped for cash and can't give, just send a post card to Blue America PAC at PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027, and let us know that you want a chance to win the guitar too.



Road to Taking Back Congress Starts in WA-08

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Blue America’s last endorsement of the 2014 cycle was Jason Ritchie, the candidate running for the Blue-leaning seat currently held by conservative Republican, Dave Reichert in a district that stretches from the suburbs south and east of Seattle all the way out to Wenatchee and Ellensburg. At the time, Ritchie vowed he would make a concerted effort to win the seat over at least 2 cycles. "I'll be back in 2016 and we're building the infrastructure, identifying the voters, and organizing to win now and in the future." This year, Jason was Blue America's first endorsement.

We’re asking you, again, to consider chipping in whatever you can to help Jason, a stalwart progressive.

Reichert remains a GOP hack, continuing to vote like a zombie-- backing the Tea Party in their demands to shut down funding for the Department of Homeland Security to obstruct immigration reform, shutting down the government in 2013, suing President Obama and nearly 60 votes cast to gut the Affordable Care Act. Reichert, who may declare his candidacy for governor this year, has a clear record as a cog in the Republican Party obstructionist machine.

Jason’s platform continues to be advocacy of behalf of students in his support of America’s College Promise and reforming the student loan debt machine. Jason is speaking out on the dangers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and urging his supporters to pay attention to the details of the proposal. Jason says “The challenges of climate change, wage stagnation, income inequality and social injustice will not simply resolve themselves. It’s up to us as progressives to demand change and fight for a more fair future for our country. We must stand up against those who would seek to allow corporate control over our economy and our political system to drive us further into oligarchy. 

Jason told us that "the first duty of a progressive is to counter corporate influence and Big Businesses' corrosive impact on our communities and middle class. This is the fight that I am committed to in 8th Congressional District of Washington State... I believe in fighting for middle class, family wage jobs. I strongly support the Affordable Care Act, I believe earned benefits like Social Security and disability must be protected and I strongly support women's health care choices. Our social safety net must not be weakened, it must be reinforced.

The 8th Congressional District is one of 17 districts nationwide that was won by President Obama in 2012 but has a Republican representative. This district is a winnable, progressive district that we must turn blue if we are going to turn the House back to our side. Inexplicably, the DCCC has abandoned the district entirely, although they have indicated that if Reichert declares he's running for governor, they will have one of their conservatives to primary Jason. So far though, Jason has an open shot for this race. 

His campaign is already underway: "We have phone banks set up across the 8th Congressional District. We are identifying voters, growing our volunteer base and registering new voters every day.” He was a leader of the movement against the TPP in Washington, a state very divided over the trade bill, and he was willing to stand up against corporate Dems. Almost all Dems in Washington, though-- as well as plenty of Republicans and independents-- agree on one issue: the need for environmental protections.

"The 8th Congressional District," he wrote, "is home to some of the most beautiful land in the world. From Snoqualmie Pass to Mount Rainier, we have an obligation to nurture and protect our environment especially from the dangers of global climate change. The Mountains to Sound Greenway run through the heart of the 8th Congressional District and is our responsibility to maintain and preserve. It is an essential part of our commitment to the environment and our promise to future generations. Maintaining this treasure to the region must be our shared goal.” 

"Protecting local wilderness areas is just one part of defending our environment. As many members of the Republican Party continue to deny the existence of climate change, our planet comes closer and closer to the brink of ecological disaster. According to the EPA, rising temperatures are already affecting our local snowpack, stream flows, and forest cover, and we can expect worsening conditions if current trends are allowed to continue. The snowpack that our Cascades store every winter is expected to dwindle, threatening our agriculture, wildlife, and drinking water supply. Increased drought brings increasingly severe summer wildfires, and our already struggling salmon populations wouldn’t be able to survive in their remaining habitats. Pest and weed control are forecasted to become huge problems as well, which spells trouble for our local farmers. Climate change has far-reaching global consequences, and the potential damage to be inflicted on our own communities in particular motivates me to take action."

This flies right in the face of the virulent anti-environmental approach Reichert, a Climate Change denier, has taken. Please consider helping Jason replace Dave Reichert and bring another strong progressive voice to the House of Representatives.



People's Climate March. Because, Fred Upton.

As the UN prepares for a Climate Change summit hosted by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Tuesday, this morning New York saw a massive People's Climate March down the west side of Manhattan, one of dozens of climate change events around the globe.

Ban Ki-moon: "Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth... these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women's empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all."

All Blue America- endorsed candidates are "good on Climate." Our candidates are all enthusiastic about the march and about the summit.  And no one is better on this than Michigan congressional candidate Paul Clements.

He may be a progressive across all the important issues that Americans face but I always get the feeling that Climate Change is what motivated Paul to run for Congress. And he's running for the seat occupied by the #1 biggest enemy of the environment in the entire country, House Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton. Yep-- the man who bottles up all the environmental and climate proposals and never lets them see the light of day.

This morning Paul told us that "Climate change is the greatest threat facing Michigan and our world in the 21st century. We need bold leadership on combatting climate change, both domestically and internationally. America needs to lead this charge and create the economy of the future while doing so."

"Congressman Upton isn't just a part of the problem on climate change," he continued, "he is the problem. The L.A. Times named him "One of the biggest threats to Planet Earth.” That’s not hyperbole. Upton has led the effort to deny science and prevent any action on climate change. He hasn’t just worked to stop proactive legislation, but has consistently sided with polluters and worked to fast track devastating projects like the Keystone pipeline. He has voted to protect the tax breaks for oil and gas companies as their profits have increased to record levels."

After another pipeline explosion and more pollution this week, progressive organizations have joined with western Michigan residents in calling for Upton to give back the gigantic campaign contributions he's scooped up from Big Oil and Gas. Adam Green from PCCC: "Republican House Energy Chair Fred Upton has taken $2,091,236 from big oil, gas, and other energy interests-- and voted with them against his constituents. PCCC members are calling on Upton to give his money from big polluters to local cleanup efforts-- and to stop voting with his big-money donors." And May Boeve, executive director of 350 Action made a similar suggestion: "Companies like TransCanada couldn’t care less about our health or or climate. Greed is what drives them, and their campaign dollars are driving climate denial in Congress. Activists fighting TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline have known this for years: Members of Congress who take the most fossil fuel money are the ones most eager to help fossil fuel companies wreck our climate by building risky pipelines like Keystone XL. Voters need to know that Fred Upton is beholden to fossil fuel companies who don’t have their best interest at heart. We are proud to join PCCC in calling him out."

It's an issue that's effective in a part of Michigan that prides itself on its natural beauty and clean environment. More and more voters are starting to worry about what Upton's role has actually been in these matters. Clements pointed out that "At the same time he protected their tax breaks, Upton personally had at least $238,000 in oil and gas company stock and he has received over $644,000 dollars in contributions from the industry. Upton directly received contributions and profited from supporting tax breaks for oil and gas companies while middle class families pay the price. My passion for the environment, specifically climate change, is one of the main reasons I decided to challenge Congressman Upton and run for Congress. For years, I have studied the politics of climate change and how to make our economy stronger while combatting it. I'm proud of my friends marching in New York to change the status quo and save our planet. Activists like Bill Mckibben have been leading the charge while Congress has been absent, and it's time to change that."

 Blue America would like all of our members to consider supporting this week's Climate activities by helping Paul Clements replace Fred Upton in Congress.

The Democrats may not win the House back but the message of Clements beating Upton would resound decisively across the country. Please consider contributing to Clements' campaign here.



Blue America Endorses Paul Clements In Michigan

Last week, MoveOn and PPP polled some of the swing districts where the DCCC protects Republican incumbents. The results were breathtaking, especially for media folks who only get their information from Cook and the DCCC. Blue America candidates are on target to beat long-time Republican incumbents and one of the strongest showings was from first-time candidate, Paul Clements, who's running against Fred Upton in western Michigan. Upton is underwater in terms of his constituents' approval. Only 34% approve of his job performance. 53% disapprove. And if the election were held today, only 38% would vote for him, while 51% would vote for a Democrat. While that's really good news for Paul Clements, even better news is that when voters are told that Upton voted for and backs the Tea Party government shut down, his re-elect numbers really go south. Only 36% of those polled say they would vote for him. 56% say they would vote for his Democratic opponent.

Also last week, Paul Clements introduced Bill McKibben, America’s leading activist on climate change, to an audience of thousands in Kalamazoo. This is important because Kalamazoo is the biggest city in Michigan's 6th district, and in 2014 this district will be ground zero in the fight for action on climate change.

This part of Michigan has been represented by Fred Upton for 20 years but when he was first elected he ran as a mainstream conservative. Once Boehner appointed him to head the House Energy and Commerce Committee he transformed himself into a climate science denier and anti-environment zealot: Upton authored and passed through the House a bill to stop the Environmental Protection Agency regulating greenhouse gasses, he tried to stop federal support for clean energy technologies, and the L.A. Times named him Congress’s #1 enemy of the earth.

Clements got into the race because he sincerely believes we need stronger action on climate change. (There is also Upton’s denial of science on antibiotics, his cutting food stamps amidst rising hunger in his district, his votes against women, workers, seniors, the middle class, African Americans, immigrants, and LGBT equality, his vote to shut down the federal government …) Clements is highlighting that Upton changed his views on climate change to get the Energy and Commerce Committee chairmanship-- just one more example of Upton selling out, but in this case literally selling out all of humanity.

McKibben’s talk is the keynote of a 20-event series Clements has helped to organize to raise awareness and understanding of climate change-– the science, the politics, and what each of us can do. Upton is one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress but Steve Israel has protected his seat in the past and continues to do so today. Clements environmental series is a key step in building the coalition to defeat him in 2014.

In just the last 3 months, the American Chemistry Council and the American Petroleum Institute spent $340,000 in ads for Upton, and there will be much more where that came from. Defeating Upton will show that to deny climate science is, in political terms, a losing proposition.

Clements needs your help. Blue America is endorsing him for Congress because of his overall progressive vision, as well as for this opportunity to replace Congress' most toxic anti-environment crusader. Please consider contributing to his grassroots campaign here. This is a very winnable race if Paul can compete with the flood of corporate cash Upton has been sucking up.

We are all in this together,

Howie, for Digby, John and the Blue America team



Reforming the Filibuster, with the Progressive Congress Action Fund Fellowship Program

No one has to tell you at this point that Republican obstructionism in the Senate is probably the biggest impediment to the ability of Congressional Democrats to implement a progressive agenda. And I'm equally sure nobody has to tell you that the filibuster has been the single most frustrating weapon in the arsenal of the Republican obstructionists.

So it won't surprise you that when Congressman Barney Frank was asked recently what ought to top the progressive agenda going forward, he replied that it ought to be getting every Democratic Senator to sign on to restricting the filibuster, as you can see in the video above.

As you know, the filibuster and the need it creates to find 60 votes in the Senate is the reason we don't have a public option in the new health care bill. It's why we haven't addressed climate change. It's why a significant percentage of appointments to the Obama administration remain vacant, crippling the administration's ability to do its job.

The clamor for change-- and the American people's frustration with its pace-- is just starting to get traction inside the Capitol, where newer Senators like New Mexico's Tom Udall are pointing out that despite the Constitution clearly giving each house of Congress the right to adopt its own rules of procedure, just a handful of today's Senators have ever had the opportunity to actually vote on whether they want to continue working under the filibuster rule.

The opportunity to change that is coming, and momentum for it is growing every day. Senate precedents say that the beginning of each new Congress, the Senate has the opportunity to adopt or amend its rules by a simple majority vote, so January 2011 could be a real turning point. But organizing for such a big change needs to start now.

That's why I've been pushing for the launch of an organized campaign toward this end, and why I'm so pleased that the Progressive Caucus Action Fund has created a fellowship program to help support efforts like this one and others aimed at bringing the netroots into a working partnership in moving our the progressive agenda forward in Congress.

Over the years, I've built something of a niche expertise in unraveling the mysteries of Congressional procedure for netroots activists and the wider blog-reading audience. And lately, we've been seeing the positive effects of informing an engaged community about the ins and outs of the rules and other mechanisms that make the Hill tick. The public option, declared dead at least half a dozen times over the past year, survived as a possibility nearly up to the last minute of the health care reform debate because we identified the pressure points that kept it alive. “Citizen whip counts” driven by a new and better understanding of voting dynamics helped apply needed pressure for passage of last year's stimulus package. And when we discussed how the decision on renewing Joe Lieberman's committee gavel would go through the previously obscure Senate Democratic Steering & Outreach Committee, members heard in unprecedented numbers from thousands of you on a process normally conducted entirely behind closed doors.

We'd all agree that an informed citizenry is an empowered one. It's something we accept as an axiom when it comes to knowledge of the issues. But the same and more goes for Congressional procedure. It's something that's generally been shrouded in mystery for most people (and don't think Members of Congress don't sometimes like it that way), yet its critical not only to understanding why things on the Hill happen the way they do, but also to explaining why high-priced professional lobbyists tend to get their way so much more often than the millions of ordinary citizens who tend to want… something different. Getting what we want means understanding how to get it. Not just in terms of emails and phone calls, but in the mechanical terms of draft legislation, committee markups and floor procedure. There's a good reason why Congressman John Dingell of Michigan-- the longest-serving Member in the history of the House of Representatives-- once said, “Let me control the procedure and I'll never lose.”

So that's what this is all about. More than just the filibuster, though that's where we're starting. If you choose, we can make this a long-running project aimed at increasing our leverage in Congress over a broad range of issues. Not just with my help, but potentially with the help of many more dedicated activists who can put their time, energy and expertise to work for all of us.

What are we asking you to do? For starters, how about joining in our filibuster reform petition effort, sponsored by CREDO Action? By sigining on, you're also signing up to receive CREDO Action's alert e-mails, so you can stay on top of the latest hot topics that need your attention on the Hill and elsewhere in the government. Is it a list-building exercise? You bet it is. But the good news is that for every name we add to that list, CREDO Action makes a generous donation to the fellowship program.

And if you're in a position to do more and help us with a direct donation, we've got an ActBlue page set up for that, too. We'll try and make this as transparent as we can.

So if you felt like you were well-served with good procedural information during the health care reform debate, and want to see our ability to build that kind of knowledge continue to grow, think about pitching in with us and making it happen. I'd appreciate it, and I hope you will too!



John Amato: I hope you'll join Blue America in donating what you feel you can to the Coussoule campaign.

The idea of tobacco lobbyist John Boehner replacing Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House is not something many Americans would like to see happen. But today Blue America is proud to introduce you to the young man who plans to make sure it never happens, the Democratic candidate for Congress from western Ohio's 8th CD: Justin Coussoule.

16b&w_de8d3_0.jpgJustin will be answering question in the comments section below. You'll find an exceptional young man, a West Point graduate and former Army officer, married for 10 years-- he met his wife when they were both at West Point-- and the father of two young children. An attorney, he worked as a legislative assistant for outstanding progressive Rep. Maurice Hinchey, started and ran a small business and currently works for Procter & Gamble.

On Monday he did a guest post about John Boehner's role in trying to make sure we never hold Wall Street accountable. Read it; it'll give you some background about how he thinks and where he's coming from. On other issues, Justin comes across as a populist looking out for regular American families:
At the core of our national character is the belief that we all are entitled to a fair opportunity to achieve the American dream. Embedded in that belief is the notion that we all benefit and achieve as a society when we further the ideal of succeeding together. I believe that implicit in each of the topics above, including strengthening the middle class, preserving our economic and national security, reversing climate change, and reforming health care, is the American value that we all succeed or fail together and we must work to ensure we all have the opportunity to lift ourselves up.

And when Justin says "all," he isn't excluding anyone based on race, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation.

His strong stand against Boehner's obstructionism of financial reform has drawn the attention of one of America's most knowledgeable spokespeople for reform, Barney Frank, who was one of the first members of Congress to endorse Justin's campaign.

I support ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and finding ways to simplify the tax code to prevent the wealthiest corporations from exploiting tax loopholes.... I support re-regulating Wall Street to protect middle-class families from predatory loan practices and from paying for another bailout for banks whose irresponsible greed and lack of oversight directly led to the financial meltdown and Great Recession of 2008-09.
That was Justin. This was Barney, chairman of the House Financial Service Committee and voted, year after year, the smartest man in Congress by the Washingtonian this morning:

"I am pleased to endorse Justin Coussoule as someone who understands the necessity of passing financial regulatory reform to avoid repeating the current economic situation. Justin's support for this is especially important because his opponent, John Boehner, led House Republicans last year to vote unanimously to kill any kind of financial reform."

No one's kidding themselves that winning in a district that was gerrymandered specifically to be a safe seat for a Republican is going to be easy. But it isn't beyond hope either. Boehner has never faced a serious opponent since he slipped into office in 1990 by winning a primary against a typical Republican incumbent, "Buz" Lukens, who was caught on camera arranging to have sex with a 16-year-old girl. (Lukens later went to jail for fondling a House staffer in an elevator, and Boehner went on to make a name for himself as the go-between for GOP congressmen and the tobacco industry and was once caught on the floor of the House handing out lobbyist checks to his colleagues during a vote! He hasn't served time yet.)

(Please scroll down below the fold to read Alan Grayson's awesome take on this election and support for Justin Coussoule.)

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