The progressive group making a huge impact in red states

By mid-November, it was clear that the midterm elections went really well for Democrats — and even better for progressives.

Grassroots activists were able to enact a slew of progressive priorities via ballot initiatives, even in states where Democrats rarely win elections. In Idaho, Utah, and Nebraska, voters overwhelmingly chose to expand Medicaid. In Michigan, they supported nonpartisan redistricting reform, expanding voting rights, and legalizing marijuana. In Missouri and Arkansas, voters voted to raise the minimum wage. Floridians, meanwhile, gave the vote back to over a million rehabilitated ex-felons.

The list of victories goes on and on, marking triumphs for a number of grassroots groups and the ascendance of one national organization: The Fairness Project, a DC-based 501(c)(4) that works to support local activists at every step of the ballot initiative process. The organization was involved in each minimum wage and Medicaid expansion victory, a win for regulating payday loans in Colorado, and a number of other ballot wins last month.

“By actually putting progressive wins on the board there,” Jonathan Schleifer, the Executive Director of The Fairness Project, tells Progressives Everywhere, “we demonstrated that Americans are much less interested in the divisiveness of the current administration and much more interested — when given the opportunity — to look out for each other and actually make progressive policy.”

After a week filled with lame-duck Republican legislators making a mockery of democracy and thumbing their nose at voters, it’s clear that direct ballot initiatives are going to be even more essential tools in our activism. With that in mind, here is Progressives Everywhere’s conversation with Schleifer about how The Fairness Project goes about supporting grassroots groups and what’s coming next.

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The biggest wins for progressive Democrats on Election Day

The headline here is obvious: Democrats took back the House of Representatives, overwhelming Republicans in suburban districts and introducing a vital check — and hopefully a motherlode of investigations — on the Trump administration.

Take a moment to breathe, smile, and take a sip of coffee (or something else, no judgment here, it was a long night).

The Blue Wave was powered by victories by so many of the candidates that Progressives Everywhere readers supported on a variety of fundraising lists. The list of candidates and their results, which I’m still updating, can be found HERE.

I’m specifically excited by victories by early endorsees Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), and Cindy Axne (IA-03); history-making victories by candidates such as Sharice Davids (KS-03), an openly gay former MMA fighter who became the first Native American woman in Congress; and New Jersey endorsees Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) and Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), who ran in the district where I graduated high school. I’m also excited to see Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), who we endorsed and interviewed when no one thought she’d win, finally take her seat in Congress.

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Huge win in the Wisconsin special election!

Democrat Caleb Frostman scored a major upset victory in the special election to represent Wisconsin’s 1st district in the State Senate. The local non-profit leader flipped a +17 Trump district that had been represented by Republicans for the last four decades. This is the second seat that Democrats have flipped in the heavily gerrymandered Wisconsin State Senate this year and it brings the partisan balance of the chamber to 18-15 in favor of the GOP. Taking control in Madison this November is looking more and more possible.

Progressives Everywhere is proud to have raised money for Frostman; you can find our original post about the race, from earlier this month, reprinted below. And you can give to more of our candidates at our ActBlue page!


 

Despite the fact that he ran a presidential campaign that made Jeb! Bush look like an exciting insurgent and ended before anyone other than debate moderators knew his name, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been one of the leading crusaders in the modern GOP’s holy war on humanity.

In two terms, Walker has turned a traditionally progressive state into a prison for working people. Walker has crushed public unions, restricted access to abortion, installed onerous voter ID laws that likely flipped the 2016 election, refused to expand Medicaid, and slashed education spending. He’s done it all with help from a Republican majority in the state legislature, but as we’ve seen in several special elections this year already, the tide is beginning to turn.

Even though Wisconsin’s elections have been rigged through heavy, illegal gerrymandering, Democrats have been picking up seats in the state all year, which scared Walker to the point that he wanted to suspend special elections for open seats until November. The courts shot that idea down, and the next special election in Wisconsin will be held on June 12, with two more pickup opportunities for Democrats there for the taking.

Caleb Frostman is the Democratic candidate for the 1st District of the State Senate. It’s a district Obama won twice that then swung to Trump, so Dems have a good chance here, especially with a good candidate.

Frostman is from a working family, went to public schools, and has worked helping small businesses grow as the Executive Director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation. His issues page focuses on expanding access to affordable healthcare, investing in education, and creating a fair tax system that undoes the damage of Walker’s tax cuts for the rich. You can read about his debate with the GOP candidate, as well as some of the local issues, at the Green Bay Press Gazette.

The State Senate is now 18-14 in favor of Republicans, and a win here will bring us one step closer to restoring fairness to Wisconsin.
Ann Groves Lloyd is running for Democrats in the 42nd Assembly District. She is a local alderperson, serving the community already after spending her career working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her family has deep roots in local politics, as her grandfather and great-uncle served in the state government as members of the storied Progressive Party. She’s focused on creating better jobs for her district, which has many people working in light industry and service jobs that don’t pay a living wage.

Click HERE to donate to Caleb Frostman and Ann Groves Lloyd on Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue Page!

A big evening of blue primary wins

Tuesday was one of the busiest days of primary season, as voters in eight states cast their ballots to decide who will represent their parties in November. By and large it was a great night for Democrats, who saw a surge in voter turnout from an energized base. Significantly, a number of the very progressive grassroots candidates backed by Progressives Everywhere — several of them decided underdogs — came out on top in their races.

The evening’s results were yet another sign that people aren’t just turning out to reject Republicans, but also to declare loud and clear that the time for spineless corporate Democrats (if there ever was one) has long since passed.

Progressives Everywhere candidates won six races and lost just one on Tuesday night. Here’s a look at how things went down and which candidates have the momentum.

Winners:

Abby Finkenauer (IA-01): The wunderkind 29-year-old state legislator running for Congress in Iowa’s 1st district won a decisive victory, with 67% of the vote. She faces GOP Rep. Rod Blum in what is considered by some to be one of the districts most likely to flip in November. She is on our main slate of candidates.

Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11): A former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor, Sherrill won the Democratic nod for the now-open seat in Northern New Jersey. The primary drew record turnout, with more Democrats going to the polls than Republicans. Sherrill is on our main slate of candidates.

JD Scholten (IA-04): The former pro baseball player won a three-way race to take on neanderthal GOP Rep. Steve King, Congress’s annual winner of the bigot triple crown for his odious racism, sexism, and homophobia. Scholten is an exciting young candidate who has a spot on our slate for immigration-focused races.

Cindy Axne (IA-03): Another Iowa candidate, Axne also won a three-way race. A former state government official and small business owner, she takes on David Young, a former chief of staff to confused Twitterer/Senator Charles Grassley and now one of the NRA’s top lapdogs. Axne is on our slate of candidates taking on remorseless gun nuts.

Kathleen Williams (MT-AL): An underdog winner in the Democratic primary for Montana’s lone Congressional district, Williams raised less money than her rivals but was bolder in her stances. She was defiant against the NRA in hunting-happy Montana and called for an assault weapons ban, a gutsy move that helped earn her the nomination. She will take on GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte, the guy who infamously assaulted a reporter during his special election campaign last year. Williams is also on our slate of candidates taking on remorseless gun nuts.

Andrew Janz (CA-22)The dynamic, outspoken, and very clever prosecutor formally won the right to take down top Trump lackey Devin Nunes in November. Janz has been relentless in his mockery of Nunes, both with stunts like billboards and substantive attacks on his record. Janz is not only focused on Nunes’ pathetic “oversight” of the Trump administration and Russia, but is also focused on local issues facing Central California, making him a strong contender to flip a normally red district. Janz has his own slate on Progressives Everywhere.

The one Progressives Everywhere candidate to fall short on Tuesday was Genevieve Jones-Wright, who was running an underdog campaign for District Attorney of San Diego.

Here are the other Progressives Everywhere candidates who have already received the Democratic nomination in their races:

Stacey Abrams (GA-Gov)
Lauren Underwood (IL-14)
Beto O’Rourke (TX-Sen)
Clarke Tucker (AR-1)
Zach Dickerson (OH-HD-42)
Jess King (PA-11)
Marc Friedenberg (PA-12)
Rachel Crooks (OH-HD-88)
DD Adams (NC-5)