Eliz Markowitz is running in the first big race of 2020

All political analysts’ eyes are on Iowa and New Hampshire right now, but they should really be looking at what’s happening down in Texas: On January 28, the state will hold a special election runoff in the 28th district of the State House of Representatives. Why is it so crucial? Democrats are now down just nine seats in the chamber, as we’ve noted before, and this one is a great flip target.

The fact that Dems have the good fortune of running such an impressive candidate in the district makes it an even more exciting race. And given Eliz Markowitz’s backstory, it’s very easy to want to chip in and support her.

In 2018, Markowitz ran what she calls a “one-woman show” during her first-ever campaign, an uphill battle for a seat on the Texas State Board of Education. She served as her own campaign manager and “ran around Southeast Texas,” she says, pushing herself in a longshot race in a very red gerrymandered district and pulling to less than a 10 point margin.

She bounced back and ran a strong race in a special election for the State House this fall, qualifying for the District 28 runoff against Republican Gary Gates, a perennial loser best known as a “slumlord.” Now, her campaign has a bit more help — Beto O’Rourke has been working on her behalf, and Michael Bloomberg visited on Sunday. Build it and they will come.

Yet in conversation, Markowitz prefers to focus on the issues, including education, healthcare access, and gun violence. She’s not running for the notoriety or power, a fact confirmed by the roundabout way she got into politics in the first place.

Markowitz began her career in computer science, working for the Princeton Review. She thought she was going to go down the corporate path, she says, and got her master’s degree in business. Then tragedy struck. “My mom unexpectedly passed away and I moved back to Houston to be with my dad, who is my best friend,” Markowitz explains. “My mom had suffered from addiction for her entire life, and so I wanted to do something that was actually helping people from falling through the cracks of our healthcare system.”

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CLICK HERE to donate to Eliz Markowitz’s campaign at Progressive Everywhere’s ActBlue Page!

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Flipping Texas blue means lifting the cloud of dark right wing money

The most malignant and reviled Republicans in Texas is retiring in 2020, which is good news in and of itself. The even better news is that we have a chance to flip his seat blue.

I mentioned him briefly a few newsletters ago, but I really want to give district 92’s Rep. Jonathan Stickland’s record of neanderthal, hateful politics its proper humiliation and exposure, because it’s part of a much larger problem that still threatens millions of people and democracy in general.

Stickland himself is best known for killing countless bills in the legislature, voting against public education and public health, and boorish persona (the guy even voted against declaring June Veteran Suicide and PTSD Awareness Month). His Facebook page is a swirling cesspool of smug, far-right “jokes” and conspiracies, the sort of stuff that should get someone a place on a government watchlist, not a government salary. Here are a few “highlights” on different issues.

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There’s a war brewing in New York as Cuomo targets progressives, WFP

Though New York is considered a blue state lock in federal elections, it is far from a model of good progressive governance. Right now, there’s a pitched battle for control of the Democratic Party in the state, and two important headlines from this week indicate both how far we’ve come and how hard corrupt corporate are pushing back.

The good news? Thanks to laws pushed by progressive activists and passed by new lawmakers, rent is no longer ballooning and evictions are way down. The bad news? The governor is trying to squash those activists (namely the Working Families Party) to make sure they don’t do anything else that might help people.

So, a little context. In 2011, a group of crappy conservative Democrats in the State Senate broke away from the party and caucused with the Republicans, throwing control of the chamber to the GOP. Instead of being pissed at the new Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), Gov. Andrew Cuomo was perfectly happy to let it continue. The IDC gave him cover for not passing popular progressive reforms like rent protection, voting rights expansion, and crucially,  closing a gaping loophole in campaign finance laws that let corporations feed candidates with nearly unlimited donations.

By last year, things were starting to get really crappy, with skyrocketing rents and shady politicians constantly getting indicted.

Fed up with the status quo and no doubt energized by the national resistance to Donald Trump, progressive activists decided to fight back. With the help of organizations, especially the Working Families Party, a new generation of candidates took on the entrenched and out-of-touch IDC members. The Working Families Party also endorsed Cynthia Nixon in her high-profile primary challenge to Cuomo and Tiffany Cabán in her whisker defeat for Queens DA.

Activists busted their assses knocking on doors and organizing voters (we here at Progressives Everywhere raised nearly $17k for them) and while Cuomo bested Nixon, progressive legislature candidates beat most of the IDC members in the Democratic primary. It was truly a monumental win that changed the state’s politics in a major way.

Once sworn in this January, the newly Democratic legislature got to work, passing a huge host of reforms that expanded rent stabilization and limited landlords from jacking up prices, further expanded gun bans, protected abortion rights, introduced early voting, and much more.

And here’s the thing: their reforms are working. This week, the Wall Street Journal crunched the numbers and revealed that evictions in the state are down a whopping 46% since the tenant protection law — which limits rent increases and requires landlords to produce more proof before kicking someone out — passed in June.

One lawyer for landlords told the WSJ that “it’s like an earthquake in housing court,” because already, tens of thousands of people have been able to stay in their homes.

Great news, right?! Right! Unless you’re a real estate developer, building owner… or governor who takes millions of dollars from real estate developers and building owners!

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Big wins in Virginia and the suburbs!

Remember a few days ago, when Democrats started flipping out because some New York Times polls suggested they might have trouble in swing states in 2020?

Yeah, things are looking pretty good for Democrats all over right now, thanks in part to your hard work.

The big headlines are that Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear took down toxic MAGA-ite Gov. Matt Bevin in Kentucky and that Dems flipped both houses of the Virginia legislature to earn their first trifecta in the state since 1993.

We raised money for Beshear and a number of victorious Virginia Democrats, including newly minted Delegate-elect Josh Cole, who won his rematch in the 28th House district!

We also raised some cash for more local winners in Virginia, including Kenny Bodye, Andrea Bailey, and Victor Angry in Prince William County.

Ann Wheeler, meanwhile, will replace proud neo-Confederate and unrepentant racist Corey Stewart as Chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

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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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