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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Democrats could turn Mar-a-Lago blue

Back in October, Donald Trump declared Mar-a-Lago his official place of residence. Now we’re all focused on sending him back to his tawdry club in Palm Beach on a full-time basis, but you know what would be even sweeter? Sending him back to a Palm Beach represented by a progressive Democrat who is absolutely his polar opposite.

Jim Bonfiglio is running to represent the 89th district in the Florida House of Representatives after a razor-thin, 32-vote loss in 2018. As Democrats gear up for a run at flipping the Florida House this year, the 89th district represents their juiciest and sweetest opportunity. Bonfiglio actually lives miles down on the same street as Trump, but everything about Bonfiglio stands in stark contrast with the greedy, corrupt, and grossly incompetent president. The comparisons are pretty direct and frankly staggering:

Example 1: Trump spent his life as a predatory landlord and dirty real estate scam artist. Bonfiglio has worked as a foreclosure defense attorney for the last 32 years, fighting tooth and nail to save people’s homes.

“It’s very satisfying, trying to help people save their homes,” Bonfiglio tells Progressives Everywhere, noting that he’s helped see through beleaguered homeowners through three financial crises, dating back to the Savings and Loan Crisis in the 1980s.

“You get people at their worst and you try to save their houses for them,” he continues. “There’s usually a good reason why they fell behind on the mortgage. Most of the time it’s medical bills, loss of job or divorce. I like to try to help people get through the bad times and get to a better part of their lives.”

Example 2: Trump has a long history of bilking employees and contractors, refusing to pay them for their hard work. Bonfiglio, meanwhile, conducts free seminars to teach young lawyers across Florida how to protect working people facing unfair foreclosure.

During the 2007 economic crisis, which walloped Florida particularly hard, Bonfiglio also hosted free walk-up clinics with volunteer attorneys so that people facing foreclosure could get advice and legal counsel, free of charge.

“People would come all day long, we’d hook up an attorney with a client, and they’d sit down and talk to them and try to figure out if there’s any way they could save their house,” he says. “When foreclosure peaked in 2007 and 2008, I’d give my whole Fridays too. People would come in every half an hour and it was always illness, job loss, divorce, and if I can’t save this house, I don’t know where I’m going to stay.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Jim Bonfiglio’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

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Previewing the Virginia Legislative Elections and Our Candidates

Virginia has gone increasingly blue at the national level but has been hindered by Republican gerrymanders statewide. With those unfair districts vacated by courts and new ones drawn up, Democrats are well-positioned to finally flip both houses of the legislature. And if they can do that, they can make major progress on teacher pay and education funding, tackling coal companies, creating affordable housing, and making sure the state doesn’t get gerrymandered again in 2021.

Polling on the issues is looking good, but every donation and volunteer hour makes a difference. After all, control of the House of Delegates was determined by a coin flip in 2017.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to and supporting six candidates in Virginia over the last 8 months, and each represents an important element of the new progressive coalition. Barack Obama recently put out his Virginia endorsements, which include three of the candidates below (Cole, Mallard, Hernandez). You can DONATE to them all by clicking here; info on each and links to our stories are below:

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Josh Cole is a dynamic young pastor and NAACP chapter president who is running again to represent District 28 House of Delegates after losing his race in 2017 by just 73 votes.

He’s very focused on criminal justice reform and economic inequality, and he works the kind of hours that should clear how dedicated he is to public service.

Fun note: After his religious, apolitical mom insisted he enroll at Liberty University, he worked on the underground College Dems before ultimately quitting the school.

“I thought I was going to Liberty to learn what I should believe,” Cole says, “and I actually ended up learning how to defend what I already believe.”

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Beverly Harrison is putting it on the line to change Virginia

Less than a month out from Election Day, topline numbers look very good for Democrats in Virginia, as a number of exciting candidates, including several we’ve featured here, are poised to flip both houses of the legislature. Pundits will hail that as a bellwether for 2020, but to truly ensure a brighter (and bluer) future, we have to dig past the suburban seats already trending our way and listen to candidates like Beverly Harrison, who is running for Delegate in Virginia’s rural 15th district.

Progressive activists have spent the last two cycles pushing to have (good) Democratic candidates run for every office in every district in the country, a herculean task made that much more difficult by the fact that the party largely abandoned (and was driven out from) rural America over the last 40 years. The silver lining of the endless, obvious treachery of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and their cabal of thieves is that it has inspired a record number of enthusiastic Democratic candidates, many of them first-timers. We consider these cheap local races to support, but we don’t always quite appreciate the high price paid by the candidates running in the ruby-red districts.

“The stakes are high out here. You’re going to lose friends, you’re going to be ostracized,” Harrison tells Progressives Everywhere. “You’re probably gonna get some hate mail and ridiculed if you lose. That probably happens in a lot of places, but in the country, where we all end up at the same Walmart or the Food Lion every day, it’s very personal. I have Republican supporters who will not publicly acknowledge they support me, nor will they put up a sign in their front yard. When you run for office, you’re putting your name out there.”

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