Sara Bitter’s Ohio race is a chance to rethink government

I hope this edition of Progressives Everywhere finds you safe and healthy. As a New Yorker, I’m fortunate to report that I’m healthy and hanging in there, even as I enter the fourth week of quarantine inside my apartment. The chaos and human suffering unfolding around the city is beyond tragic, and it’s frustrating that all people can do to help immediately is donate money to hospitals and worker funds (donate to our fundraiser for workers here) and order take-out from struggling restaurants.

While long-time readers will know that I’ve never been a fan of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, I can give him credit for taking charge and executing a plan with focus and something like compassion (we will talk about his proposed Medicaid cuts and refusal to tax the rich later). But the COVID-19 pandemic has made it crystal clear that no level of government is prepared to handle the demand for healthcare or other needs of working people or small businesses. Congress just doesn’t seem to grasp the seriousness of the pandemic — the focus there is still on ego and big corporate handouts. The kind of out-of-control ego and big corporate handouts that wind up exacerbating these problems and killing people.

We need people in government who understand what it is to struggle. We need representatives who are ready to advocate for disadvantaged groups that don’t have big money lobbyists or even the ability to fight for their own causes. We need people like Sara Bitter, an incredible candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives.

I first spoke with Sara before the outbreak really hit the United States, but I don’t think it could be more relevant to what we’re experiencing right now, when so many people are being left to struggle on their own. Sara is a lawyer in Ohio and a mother of two children with developmental disabilities. Instead of practicing law in the courtroom, she’s become a professional advocate for families with special challenges, fighting for policies that will help the millions of people in similar positions live with dignity and be full members of their communities.

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Republicans set the stage for the COVID-19 pandemic. These Democratic candidates explain how their policies can fix it.

Winning elections in November and flipping states blue is now a matter of life and death.

The Trump Administration has gotten plenty of stick for its absolute failure to respond to (or, for a while, even believe in) the COVID-19 pandemic, all more than deserved. Unfortunately, Trump’s nuclear stupidity and extreme culpability for the immediate crisis have overshadowed an important fact: the entire Republican Party bears responsibility for not only setting the conditions for the pandemic’s spread, but also guaranteeing the dire situations in which so many people now find themselves.

The COVID-19 response bill that the House passed on Friday (and is still waiting for a vacationing Mitch McConnell to take a look at) is egregiously flawed, but our safety net is so thin that it still contains the most basic contours of policies that should have been passed generations ago. From refusing paid sick leave and expanded healthcare coverage to the privatizing of hospitals and supply chains that have stores short on basic necessities, Republicans have created this situation with 40 years of assaults on government and economic equality.

Because so many of these policies are left to states to handle, flipping legislatures blue this year will be essential to ensuring Americans are not left helpless and vulnerable going forward.

With this in mind, Luisa Wakeman, a cardiac nurse running for State House in Georgia, is redirecting her campaign’s resources into efforts to help the community navigate through COVID-19.

“As a nurse, I worry about the healthcare system, and whether we will have sufficient resources to help the sick when the pandemic reaches a peak,” she tells me. “I worry about where we are in the progression of the virus since there are no data points that we could have had with preparation and testing. I worry about the healthcare workers who will forget to care for themselves while working long hours to save more lives.

“My campaign is in a unique position to have a pulse on the community, volunteers at the ready and a network of phenomenal people who care about helping others,” she adds. “As a nurse, I can be a resource for answering questions and sharing factual information.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Democrats running to flip state legislatures blue via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

Continue reading “Republicans set the stage for the COVID-19 pandemic. These Democratic candidates explain how their policies can fix it.”

Gerrymandered protection gone, one of NC’s most anti-abortion legislators is facing heat

Many modern GOP lawmakers are by nature whackjobs, but it’s their overwhelming job security that brings out the truly evil stuff. North Carolina, where a racist gerrymander allowed Republicans’ most reactionary lawmakers to run wild, is a prime example.

From the infamous “bathroom bill” to voter ID and abortion restrictions, it’s been a true conservative nightmare. Since 2015, State Senator Joyce Krawiec (R-SD-31) has taken advantage of her gerrymandered seat to push some of the worst Republican laws, including the noxious “born alive” anti-abortion bill, which she introduced and sponsored (it was later vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper).

Thankfully, the gerrymander was finally thrown out by a state court last fall, leading to redrawn maps that made Krawiec’s district significantly more competitive and give Democratic challenger Terri LeGrand a real chance at flipping it.

LeGrand, a lawyer who has spent years working in higher education, first ran for State House in 2018 and swung an extremely gerrymandered House district by 20 points; she made it competitive for the first time in years and drove its Republican into retirement this cycle. Now, in a fairer district, she’s got a chance to straight-up take down a far-right Republican and turn North Carolina blue.

“I always paid attention to politics, but before I ran in 2018, I just kind of assumed that there was a bold line between two groups of people and there were stark differences [between Democratic and Republican voters],” LeGrand tells Progressives Everywhere. “But as you’re out on the trail and you’re talking to voters and listening to voters, you realize that we’re all united in far more ways than we’re divided.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Terri LeGrand via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

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This Georgia election proves why every race matters, win or lose

Donald Trump being elected president is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the United States. It’s been a full-on catastrophe in all ways but one: The resistance to his regime also provided a jolt of new energy and determination to a Democratic Party that desperately needed it, motivating millions of activists and candidates to build grassroots infrastructure that generally takes years to grow.

Luisa Wakeman is a perfect example of this progressive revival. A resident of the Atlanta suburbs, she’d long figured most of her neighbors were Republicans, so she never spent too much time on politics; instead, she focused on her family and her dual career as a flight attendant and cardiac care nurse (really!). But when Donald Trump mocked of Gold Star families and disabled reporters in 2016, it pulled her off the sidelines; she began volunteering for the Clinton campaign that summer, and when Trump scored his unlikely victory, Wakeman vowed to get even more involved.

Fast forward a few years later and Wakeman is one of the most promising Democratic state legislature candidates in Georgia. She’s running a strong campaign in the rapidly changing and very flippable HD-43, a seat Democrats desperately need to win.

CLICK HERE to donate to Luisa Wakeman’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

“My parents were immigrants, my family is originally from Holland, and my grandparents were in the Dutch Resistance during World War II. I grew up with stories about what can happen when people look away,” Wakeman tells Progressives Everywhere. “I knew I had to get involved when I saw hatred infused without repercussions.”

This is Wakeman’s second run for the State House. In 2018, Wakeman came less than 800 votes of unseating long-time State Rep. Sharon Cooper, a Republican who hadn’t faced any electoral opposition since 2010. It’s a familiar story; for a decade, Democrats just ceded legislative seats like this one to Republicans, allowing them to enact all sorts of racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-democratic laws in states throughout the country. That’s especially true in Georgia, where extreme anti-LGBTQ laws and mass voter suppression have become the norm.

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Akilah ‘Brass Balls’ Bacy is a Texas badass

Flipping a state blue significantly improves peoples’ lives. Turning Texas blue has long been a brass ring for progressives, and as we get closer, Republicans are starting to fight back. Such was the case in the special election in HD-28, where Democrats had a great candidate and lots of energy but were overwhelmed by the Republican’s money (newly elected Rep. Gary Gates self-funded over $1 million) and every statewide elected official’s help.

We can’t be discouraged. There’s too much at stake — and some important math. There are 15 seats that were decided by closer margins than HD-28 in 2018, and Democrats only need to take 9 of them. Plus, they have an awesome candidate in HD-138, a suburban Houston district that was decided by just 47 votes in 2018.

Normally, a candidate who loses by just 47 votes decides to run again, especially after the incumbent announces they’re retiring. But in this case, 2018’s Democrat decided to step aside and back Akilah Bacy, a tireless legal warrior for the community and one of the most compelling candidates I’ve interviewed here at Progressives Everywhere.

When I called Akilah last Sunday, it was 7pm and very dark outside, but she was just wrapping up a weekend of door-to-door canvassing in her western Houston community. I was drained from a weekend of hanging with friends; she was bubbling with energy after two days spent walking and talking with voters.

“While I’m a new candidate, I’m not new to the community,” Bacy told me. “I grew up around the area and I’ve always been involved, working in the legal field first as a prosecutor and then doing defense work and then employment discrimination work. I always believe that you grow where you’re planted.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Akilah Bacy’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

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