It’s relatively easy to point out that you don’t agree with the person in power and declare your candidacy and hope more voters turn out on election day who agree with you than with the incumbent. But that is rarely the way people get into Congress. It’s especially difficult winning a primary against your own party’s establishment, something a reformer almost never accomplishes in one cycle. Take Ro Khanna, Donna Edwards, Alan Grayson. None of their first runs resulted in victories.
But those three had something else in common. They’re all very smart and they all worked like their lives depended on winning. And when they didn’t, they kept on running… and won the next time. In March we saw the same scenario play out in Illinois where progressive champion Marie Newman vanquished– on the second effort– DCCC-backed Blue Dog Dan Lipinski.
Lipinski spent $7,701,137 to Marie’s $1,968,537.Outside groups like the right-of-Center Trump-friendly No Labels, the Blue Dog PAC (Center Forward), Republican-oriented unions like the Pipe Fitters and Plumbers and the preeminent GOP anti-choice group spent another quarter of a million dollars bolstering Lipinski and smearing Marie but Round 2 saw her take out the established-backed 7 term congressman, 49,098 (47.3%) to 46,315 (44.6%). It was a tribute to Marie’s persistent hard work to build her name recognition and her ability to organize a grassroots movement around a compelling platform of progressive issues.
Last Tuesday, we saw something very similar in Omaha, Nebraska, where the progressive candidate, Kara Eastman and her grassroots army beat the DCCC-preferred “ex”-Republican, Ann Ashcroft, the wife of Blue Dog former Congressman Brad Ashcroft. This one wasn’t even close. In a 3-way race Kara triumphed, 40,456 (61.8%) to 20,656 (31.6%).
After her win on Tuesday, Kara issued this statement:
“Blue America invested in my race when no one thought I had a chance. It was transformative. The grassroots support turned my race around in 2018 and I am proud to partner with them towards a win in 2020. Together, we can fight for and win on issues like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal.”
That’s you she’s talking about. 1,182 of us contributed $21,393.74 through Blue America, an average of just under $20.
And now comes the hard part, defeating serial Trump enabler Donald J. Bacon in the ultimate swing district. Last time, Bacon edged Kara by just 2 points– 126,715 to 121,770. In 2018, Bacon and Kara each spent $2.5 million, but while the NRCC and Paul Ryan’s SuperPAC spent a million and a half dollars helping Bacon, the DCCC and Pelosi only begrudgingly kicked in $90,000 for Kara. This year Kara is working hard to unify the Democratic party around her campaign. And her district– unlike almost any other in the country, awards an electoral vote to the presidential winner, making it crucial in the battle to unseat Trump.
“When I first decided to run,” Kara told us yesterday, “I committed my campaign to the cause of de-linking employment and health coverage, and became a supporter of Medicare for All. I endorse Rep. Jayapal’s HR 1384 because it’s the best way to ensure that every person is covered. The fact is that our current trajectory of poor outcomes and high costs is not sustainable, so we need to move in a new direction.”
Please join Blue America in making sure Kara has the resources to make Round 2 the victory for her that it was for Ro, Donna and Alan. Consider clicking on the 2020 congressional thermometer on the right to contribute what you feel comfortable giving.
When you’re making up your mind, don’t think of what we’re saying, think of what Kara Eastman said to us:
“I believe that climate chaos is the most significant moral issue of our time. We can no longer kick the can of environmental unsustainability down the road. I believe the Green New Deal is an important step towards addressing this issue.”
So do we. Let’s bring this one home.
And in case you’re feeling flush, there are 7 other candidates on that page who are fighting their second congressional battles:
• J.D. Scholten vs Steve King in Iowa
• Mike Siegel vs Michael McCaul and Julie Oliver vs Roger Williams in Texas
• Audrey Denney vs Doug LaMalfa in California
• Kathy Ellis vs Jason Smith in Missouri
• Tom Guild vs Kendra Horn in Oklahoma
• Lisa Ring vs Buddy Carter in Georgia
Thanks for always doing what you can to help make a better world,
Howie, for the entire Blue America team