Happy Easter! Let’s take down the bigoted religious right!

Happy Easter! This Sunday is a holy day for millions of Americans, who pause their busy lives to participate in traditions forged by ancient religious text and cultural evolution. Inspired by a  message of love and kindness, people worship, reflect, hunt for Easter eggs, enjoy big family dinners… and then in far too many cases, return to the work of demonizing and denying human rights to millions of their fellow citizens, while pushing millions more into poverty.

Over the last 50 years, the Religious Right has hijacked Christianity in America, turning the pulpit intended to preach love and charity into a platform for hate speech and punishing capitalist propaganda. Huckster preachers like Jerry Falwell and organizations like Focus on the Family have weaponized faith and its intimate place in people’s psyche to create generations of soldiers in a war on women, LGBTQ Americans, racial minorities, and anyone who cannot afford massive donations to their ministries.

To help them in this hijacking of America, they have trained and financed several generations of radical politicians, who have passed decades worth of laws that have hurt Americans in every possible way. Thanks to Donald Trump, they have more power than ever before — but as we are seeing, our energy and determination is already starting to change that. Just look at how we beat Roy Moore, the pedophile Bible-thumper who everyone thought would be the next senator from Alabama!

This week, we’re taking aim at some of the most intolerant “Christian” lawmakers, who are really false prophets. They may be tweeting Bible verses on Easter, but they’re preaching hate and afflicting the powerless, so it’s time they’re taught a lesson.

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Ryan Watts vs Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC)

Rep. Mark Walker, of North Carolina’s 6th congressional district, is the head of the influential Republican Study Committee. What do they study? How to make life hell for anyone that’s not a god-fearing straight white man born into wealth.

He’s a former Baptist minister who went to Congress to do things like call his female colleagues “eye candy,” support any and all anti-LGBTQ laws, fight against Obamacare, pick fights with Bruce Springsteen, joke about starting wars with Mexico, and even try to take support away from baby ducklings.

Running against him is Ryan Watts, a young Democrat who would provide a breath of fresh air and new energy to stodgy old Washington. He’s already a senior management consultant and runs leadership seminars for groups like Boys & Girls Club, and is focused on economic development, not discriminating against anyone who doesn’t belong to a country club.

His issues page talks about protecting women in the workplace, equal pay for equal work, and guaranteeing a woman’s right to choose, all of which stand in stark contrast to Walker, to say the least. He’s also for a Medicare public option and gun control, making him a mainstream progressive.

Click HERE to donate to Progressives Everywhere VS the Religious Right!

Renee Hoagenson vs Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, of Missouri’s 4th district, was called “the most anti-gay candidate in the country” when she first ran for office, and during her tenure in Washington she has lived up to that billing. And it’s not just the LGBTQ community that she has worked to punish. Not by far.

Hartzler boasts a perfect score from the National Association of Awful Monsters, for taking up every vile far-right position possible over the last decade. She’s a birther, anti-gay marriage, voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, voted in favor of cutting food stamps, supports Trump’s “Muslim Ban,” pushed hard to have transgender soldiers banned from the military (she actually equated them to Putin, North Korea and ISIS) and voted against hate crime legislation. She is literally the worst.

Running against her is Renee Hoagenson, a single mother and businesswoman who is pushed toward a progressive platform by her Catholicism. OK, so her website isn’t much to look at, but her positions are firmly in our wheelhouse. She believes in Medicare for All, forcing pharmaceutical companies to pay their fair share in combating the opioid crisis they helped start, and ending partisan redistricting. And this passage, from her website’s section about family values, really speaks to the difference in both the candidates in this race, and the larger cultural conflict still raging in America.

“To reverse the decline of family values we must first create more good-paying jobs and increase wages for the thousands of Missourians whose wage increases have been outpaced by inflation,” she writes. “When our parents can afford to spend more time with their children they will have the time to help rebuild the moral foundation of our country.”

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Lauren Underwood vs. Randy Hultgren (R-IL)

All you need to know about Randy Hultgren, the congressman from Illinois’ 14th district, is that he said in 2010 that he believes in Intelligent Design. That should enough to disqualify him for national office. It’s insane, but what’s crazier is that he has also been recognized for his work promoting science and STEM education. So what are we to make of this guy?

Well, whatever his stance on the evolution might be, he’s clearly a regressive vote on just about every other issue. He’s an Evangelical Christian who believes God guided him through his initial race for Congress, and presumably, thinks the big man upstairs told him to oppose green energy policies, work against a woman’s right to choose and stem cell research, vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and fight to dismantle Obamacare. He chairs the National Prayer Breakfast, but after finishing his omelet, goes to work to make life miserable for just about everyone.

His opponent is Lauren Underwood, a nurse and Obama administration alum who we have already profiled here at Progressives Everywhere. The 31-year-old teaches nurses in a Georgetown online course and works full-time for a Medicaid plan in Chicago, helping low-income families get the medical treatment they need. Plus, she was born with a heart condition, so any attempt to undo Obamacare is not just political to her — it’s personal.

Underwood is also focused on bringing down prescription drug costs and increasing access to health care, because as every progressive (or anyone who has used the American healthcare system) knows, Obamacare should have been just the start, not a high water mark of universal health care. She is on the opposite side of Hultgren on just about every issue, and is building a great coalition in Illinois after winning the Democratic primary.

Click HERE to donate to Progressives Everywhere VS the Religious Right!

March for Our Lives, Fight the NRA

 

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Students, parents, and people with souls flooded streets across the country on Saturday to demand drastic changes to gun laws that have turned the United States into a war zone. Organized by the incredible survivors of the Parkland school massacre, the March For Our Lives featured a central protest in Washington, DC and satellite events in at least 800 other cities and towns, coordinated marches of angry footsteps that should ring in the ears of lawmakers across the country.

If lawmakers were interested in listening to their constituents, the March For Our Lives would be a clear message to those who have thus far refused to do anything about the scourge of school shootings, mass killings, and everyday gun violence that has drenched the nation in blood. But unfortunately, Republicans have sold themselves out to the NRA, which has showered them in money in exchange for their support for evermore insane gun laws. There has been hardly any movement toward the slightest of reforms in Congress, because the lives of children don’t factor into an NRA voting record or pay for 30 second TV ads. And so after we march, we must take on these corrupt Republicans head-on.

But of course, that’s not what happened. The NRA insulted the brave kids from Parkland and actually tried to make money off the march.

In a YouTube video, NRA host Colion Noir — aka Collins Iyare Idehen Jr — showed just how rotten this whole gun “rights” movement is down at its core.

“To all the kids from Parkland getting ready to use your First Amendment to attack everyone else’s Second Amendment at your march on Saturday, I wish a hero like Blaine Gaskill had been at Marjory Douglas High School last month because your classmates would still be alive and no one would know your names, because the media would have completely and utterly ignored your story, the way they ignored his,” he said. “I have to ask, what are you really marching for? Because from where I’m standing, it looks like a march to burn the Constitution and rewrite the parts they don’t like in crayon.”

This scumbag actually said that about the teenagers who are taking a selfless stand, fighting through incredible pain to try and make the country a better place. Their lives will never be the same; they’ve become targets for hateful, dangerous people. And yet, they push forward, working every moment to save as many lives as they can.

And what is the NRA doing? Calling the whole thing a conspiracy theory and trying to raise money with a membership drive.

“Today’s protests aren’t spontaneous,” it wrote on Facebook. “Gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites are manipulating and exploiting children as part of their plan to DESTROY the Second Amendment and strip us of our right to defend ourselves and our loved ones.”

Republicans were just plain silent. And that’s no surprise. There has been hardly any movement toward the slightest of reforms in Congress, because the lives of children don’t factor into an NRA voting record or pay for 30 second TV ads.

Just look at the tweets from the five members of Congress that have taken the most dirty NRA money as of this past fall. You’d have no idea that streets across America were filled with angry voters, demanding change.

In honor of the March For Our Lives, Progressives Everywhere has created a fund devoted specifically to Democratic candidates running against Republicans who serve the NRA, not their constituents. We are calling it — surprise — Progressives Everywhere vs. the NRA. Because just look at what they did yesterday:

Rep. French Hill in Arkansas’s 2nd congressional district. Hill has taken over $1 million from the NRA over the course of his career.

Hill didn’t tweet anything.

Clarke Tucker is running against him. Tucker, a brilliant young lawmaker who currently serves in the Arkansas legislature, has proposed several gun control laws during his time in Little Rock. They include prohibiting people convicted of domestic battery or stalking from owning guns, as well as making it a misdemeanor offense to negligently allow a child access to a firearm. What’s more, independent polling has put him within single digits of Hill.

Ken Buck represents Colorado’s 4th congressional district. He has taken over $800,00 directly from the NRA to vote against gun laws. He hasn’t tweeted in three days. His opponent is Karen McCormick, who been active in supporting school walkouts and the Parkland teens in their fight for sanity. Buck faces a primary challenge, which could leave him extra vulnerable.

David Young represents Iowa’s 3rd congressional district. Young has taken over $700,000 in the NRA’s blood money over the years. Young did not tweet on Saturday. On Friday, he tweeted about open office hours. Let’s hope people go in there and ask him why, exactly, he supports murder weapons.

Cindy Axne is one of several Democrats running in a competitive primary against Young, but has put out the strongest statements in favor of gun control. As a mother of two school-aged kids, she has been vocal in support of the Parkland students, as well. Polling shows Iowans prefer Democrats over Republicans for Congress this year.

Greg Gianforte, the body-slamming, journalist-assaulting Montana congressman who has taken over $300,000 in a very, very short time in office. He hasn’t tweeted in nearly a year. On Facebook, he asked constituents to fill out a survey; again, let’s hope they give him an earful, as there were multiple marches in Montana yesterday.

Kathleen Williams is running against running in a competitive primary race in a rural at-large district, but has come out against the gun lobby, anyway.

Lloyd Smucker, who has taken over $200,000 from the NRA, was with young people on Saturday — but it was the Young Republicans, and they were talking about international relations. Nothing about guns. Meanwhile, several thousand people rallied in Lancaster, which is at the heart of his district.

Jess King is running against Smucker in Pennsylvania’s new 11th congressional district. We’ve interviewed her at Progressives Everywhere, and know she’d be a strong voice for gun control.

We need drastic change. We have lawmakers who are either brain dead, or entirely bought by the gun lobby. We need to target each and every one of them.

CLICK HERE to donate to the Democratic candidates working to bring these GOP drones down at Progressives Everywhere vs. the NRA!

And if you want to donate to the rest of our slate of progressive, people-funded Democrats running against Republicans, CLICK HERE!

A GOP legislator in Ohio says students should carry guns. Luckily, his Democratic opponent is the real deal

As students across the country participated in walkouts and marches to protest America’s epidemic of gun violence on Thursday, their inspirational mass movement was met with impotent mockery by smug conservative politicians and internet pundits. It was largely the same cynical, fringe talking points that Republicans always trot out in response to anyone that might challenge the NRA’s reign of terror, but this time, perhaps inspired by the pained pleas of children begging for their own lives, some on the right wing rose to the occasion to offer more vile insults and truly unhinged policy proposals.

Niraj Antani, a state legislator from Ohio, became one of the most notable of these next-level lunatics when he suggested that not only should teachers be allowed to have guns, but students should also be permitted to carry firearms in school.

“Students deserve a chance to stand their ground and defend themselves,” Antani, who represents Ohio’s 42nd house district, wrote on Twitter. He later doubled down on the dystopian suggestion, tweeting (incorrectly) that gun-free zones don’t work and telling the Dayton Daily News that 18-year-olds, who are permitted to have long guns in Ohio, should be allowed to bring them into the classroom.

One of his prospective Democratic opponents in the race, Zach Dickersonseized on the comments during a tense Twitter exchange that gained local notice. Antani tried to clarify that he wasn’t proposing legislation to arm school children, but in a conversation with Progressives Everywhere, Dickerson used Antani’s comments and record on guns to tie the Republican to several terrifying gun proposals that are currently making their way through the Ohio legislature.

“There are a couple of other really dangerous pieces of legislation that I want to make sure get stopped,” Dickerson said. “One says that anybody can have a concealed weapon. Right now under current law, you’ve got to have an eight-hour safety training and a background check from the sheriff. It is informative and easy. I know because I took the class, I have a concealed carry permit. They want to do away with that. And then the other says that if you’ve got a concealed carry permit, you can take your gun anywhere you want. So you put those together, anybody can have a concealed weapon and they can take it anywhere they want — that’s crazy. It’s scary. It’s a dangerous policy and so I want to make sure that those things don’t get pushed through and get to the governor’s desk.”

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Dickerson, a first-time candidate who works as a researcher for LexisNexis, is originally from Texas, where he learned to hunt with his father, who is a Republican. So he thinks “there’s a place for guns in America,” but also believes in common sense gun reform. He’s been moved by the students from Parkland who have led the protests and echoes their calls for raising the age on gun purchases, the banning of bump stocks, red flag laws and extreme risk protection orders, and looking at larger laws around weapons of war.

“It gets a little trickier when you start talking about banning assault weapons, but I personally don’t think that an AR-15 and similar rifles need to be marketed for purchase by civilians,” he said. “It’s gonna be hard to define what an assault weapon is in that sense, but I think that’s something we need to look at.

Gun control has taken center stage in his campaign, but was not the initial inspiration for his run. Dickerson is part of a mass wave of local and state-level Democrats who have gotten personally involved in politics in response to the GOP’s lurch to the far right.

“I’ve always been engaged in politics, but there has been a slow creep of this really just corrosive, toxic partisanship,” he said. I like a lot of Democrats sat home on election night in 2016 and watched Donald Trump get elected, and I was like, OK, I gotta get off the bench. I come from a Republican family, so I’m a pretty moderate Democrat, and more importantly, I know how to disagree with people without demonizing them. I really think I could do a better job than the guy that’s in there. And I think I will bring a much more collaborative, cooperative atmosphere to the Ohio House of Representatives.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Zach Dickerson via his Progressive Everywhere’s ActBlue page! Or, donate to our entire slate of bold progressive candidates by CLICKING HERE.

Cooperation is always on Dickerson’s mind. One of his first focuses, both on his campaign site’s issues page and when prompted in conversation, is ending the partisan gerrymander in Ohio, which has one of the most brazenly anti-democratic maps in the country. In May, voters will have the opportunity to approve a bipartisan proposal that would give the minority party more influence in drawing new districts after the next census.

As Daily Kos has noted, the bill is not at all a perfect solution, and a new Cleveland.com analysis shows it may not solve the problem, but voters turning out at the ballot box to state that they do not want their democracy manipulated is a strong step and one that Dickerson fully embraced. Given the 42nd district’s population, which includes a “pivot county” that switched from backing Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016, fair representation is crucial.

“I think you’ll get a more moderate reasonable people because if you have to appeal to people in both parties and you cannot gerrymander yourself into a safe seat where you can take extreme positions, then you’re going to get better policy and things are going to get done,” Dickerson said. “And I don’t think somebody like Niraj Antani would be able to maintain the really extreme irresponsible gun positions he has if we had a more fairly drawn district.”

Antani is also virulently anti-abortion, which gets Dickerson more audibly outraged than even the gun proposals. “I think it’s a false choice to say is people are pro-life or pro-choice. I don’t agree with the framing of that argument. Everybody’s pro-life. There is nobody that is pro-abortion. Maybe that’s the small government conservative coming out in this Democrat, but I don’t want the government telling coming between a woman and her doctor telling her what she can and cannot do.”

Other major issues of concern in the district include the opioid crisis that continues to ravage the state — he’s in favor of more addiction treatment centers and helping former addicts with job training, “to help people build a life they want to run toward instead of, away from, because the majority of the people that are arrested for these kinds of drug issues are in poverty. If you want to get to the root of solving the opioid problem in Ohio, addressing poverty is a big part of it.”

In the same way, he preaches compassion in healthcare and social services, and would vote against job requirements for Medicaid, a pernicious policy that the Trump administration has granted waivers to states to begin imposing. “The people that are on Medicaid are in poverty and you’re kicking somebody when they’re down. It doesn’t encourage somebody to be employed to say ‘I’m gonna take away your healthcare.’”

Dickerson’s campaign is focused on local issues, but the national attention is beginning to build. He took off from work on Friday to handle the surge in phone calls and emails, and as always, hit the pavement in the evening.

“Money is obviously important in politics, but I know that the most powerful and persuasive thing I can do to convince people to vote for me is to knock on their door and introduced myself,” Dickerson said. “I go out after work and I may only get to 10 or 15 houses, but you know, 10 or 15 a day, five days a week, it adds up.”

The Democratic primary election is on May 8th. Dickerson faces off against Autumn Kerns, who has no obvious campaign infrastructure or website.

CLICK HERE to donate to Zach Dickerson via his Progressive Everywhere’s ActBlue page! Or, donate to our entire slate of bold progressive candidates by CLICKING HERE.

Democrat Conor Lamb wins the special election in PA-18!

You did it. Despite the incredible odds stacked against him, Democratic candidate Conor Lamb pulled off a remarkable victory in last night’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district. This is more than just a victory. This is history — and the promise of even more to come.

Lamb, a 33-year-old former Marine and prosecutor, defied so many odds. He won a district that voted for Trump by 21 points in 2016 and did not even field a Democratic congressional candidate in 2014 and 2016. And he did it despite the GOP throwing everything they had at trying to salvage the race, including visits from Donald Trump and Mike Pence, as well as $10 million in corporate money meant to tarnish Lamb and prop up their dopey GOP nominee, Rick Saccone.

How did Lamb do it? Well, Trump being a massive failure helped. But Lamb’s campaign would have been doomed if it weren’t for you. Grassroots Democrats donated to his campaign in droves, unions rallied to his cause, and locals walked the streets for months to knock on doors and talk to their neighbors. And Lamb won by less than 1000 votes, which goes to show that every vote really does count, as does every dollar. Progressives Everywhere raised nearly $1000 for Conor Lamb in just our first few months of existence, thanks to your generosity and vision.

We’ve now raised over $10,000 for bold progressive Democratic candidates, and we’re just getting started. You can read more about our current candidates below, and know we’ll be adding new ones throughout the rest of the year!

CLICK HERE to donate to our candidates via Progressive Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

Two awesome women are working to turn Arizona blue in a new special election

The next big congressional special election will take place in Arizona’s 8th district on April 24th, to fill the seat left by disgraced former GOP Rep. Trent Franks in the wake of several sexual harassment allegations. It’s normally considered a safely red seat, but as we’ve seen, this year, anything can happen.

In a closely contested primary, Democrats ultimately chose Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, an emergency room physician and cancer researcher who emigrated to the United States from India with her family when she was just three years old. As you might expect, she’s strong on issues like healthcare — she wants a public option for Medicare buy-in — and immigration, which is a hot point of contention in Arizona.

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She overcame a strong grassroots campaign by local activist Brianna Westbrook, who was making a bid to become the first transgender member of Congress. Westbrook took in nearly 40% of the vote on a platform that included single-payer healthcare, and got a lot of traction both on the ground and on the internet during her campaign.

Instead of letting any lingering rivalry continue, Tipirneni and Westbrook are coming together in order to continue to build the Democratic momentum. Westbrook has endorsed Tipirneni and is working to get her elected. In turn, Westbrook has shifted her sights and is now running for State Senate in Legislative District 22, a campaign that Tipirneni has promised to back.

Here’s a nice, uplifting look at Tipirneni’s campaign:

We should note the Republican that Tipirneni is facing is… well, she doesn’t seem all that kind. In a recent debate, Debbie Lesko just regurgitated bad GOP talking points, suggesting “free healthcare” was fiscally irresponsible and backing the construction of Trump’s Wall. She’d be another far-right drone for the extremist Republican Party, a warm body with a cold heart.

Tipirneni and Westbrook’s alliance is more than just a nice story about two women coming together to help one another (though that’s a crucial element). Local Democrats are energized and actively working to build the party in Arizona, which has trended red but has the demographics to turn blue.

Want to help them? Donate to Brianna Westbrook’s campaign via CrowdPac, and to Tipirneni’s campaign via Progressive Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

A Pennsylvania Democrat takes on the NRA and Amazon

Leading off: The special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district is less than a week away. Democrat Conor Lamb has a real shot at winning this thing — he led a recent poll! — but corporate GOP money is flooding in. Help him fight back.

Blue wave hitting Texas? Only if we all pitch in! The Texas primaries wrapped up yesterday, and Democrats showed up in far larger numbers than in 2010 and 2014. But there’s still a lot more work to do to turn the state blue. Beto O’Rourke, one of our candidates, won the senate primary, but has a lot of work to do in such a big state, so pitch in if you can.

Striking works: Victory for West Virginia teachers and all public employees! After showing extreme solidarity and bravery during a nine-day strike that shut down schools across the state, West Virginia lawmakers agreed to 5% raise for all teachers and public employees in the state, a big first step in giving fair wages to very underpaid heroes.

Congressional Candidate: Jess King fights for local values in PA-11

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Democrats nationwide celebrated when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the GOP had over-gerrymandered the state’s congressional districts, which had been manipulated beyond all geographic logic to maximize Republican power. On the whole, the late February decision — and the subsequent court-ordered redistricting — created a fairer map for voters, and gave Democrats several more competitive seats to target in November. But the results weren’t uniformly blue-friendly, as candidates scrambled to decide who was running in which new district, and a few new districts wound up being more Republican-leaning than their previous incarnations.

The new 11th district, which covers the Lancaster area, is one of those more conservative new districts. And while that creates an even steeper challenge for Jess King, a Democrat who was initially running in what was the 16th district, there was never any question of whether she’d look beyond the area for a friendlier district. She’s a Lancaster native, runs a community development non-profit in the area, and feels uniquely equipped to speak to local culture, concerns and values.

“We feel like the kind of campaign that we built, the message and platform and policies that we’re fighting for are as relevant in this district as they are in the old districts, and as relevant here as they are across the country,” King tells Progressives Everywhere. “So we really continue to fight for policies that work for working families, for people that have been disenfranchised. Really leading with our values, which is attractive to people who are really frustrated with the current state of politics in this country.”

King is still taking on Rep. Lloyd Smucker, who has complained about the redistricting despite it making the election more tilted in his favor. But he’s certainly feeling the heat: Smucker, who was one of the top recipients of NRA cash last cycle, outraised Smucker in the last quarter. And she’s now the only Democrat in the race, as former opponent Christina Hartman shifted to the 10th district.

King spoke to Progressives Everywhere about her local values, her unique campaign, and taking on both the NRA and big business.

You’re a local in what is a unique area. What do you think voters are looking for?

I grew up in the Mennonite community, and Lancaster County has more Mennonite and Amish folks than anywhere else in the country. What I learned from that tradition, which is a Christian tradition, is that other than loving God, you’re supposed to love your neighbor as yourself; that’s the most important thing that you do. And so I talk a lot about what it means to think about policies that reflect that kind of concern for our neighbors.
I grew up in a Mennonite church that wasn’t a raging progressive church. It was pretty conservative, and that church resettled refugee families when I was a kid in the ‘80s. I saw that living out in a conservative Lancaster County, and this community continues to resettle refugees. Today we’ve resettled 20 times more refugees than any other place in the country, and it’s a red district that went for Trump. I think that we have a real opportunity to win people over with the values of this place, talking about common sense policies and fighting for things that maybe they haven’t seen people really own up to in the Republican party.

How does Lloyd Smucker feel about refugees, if he’s a staunch Trump supporter?

He’s had a bit of an about-face from when he was in the State Senate. He actually sponsored Pennsylvania’s DREAM Act and since he has taken office in the House, he’s been pretty much one hundred percent in line with Donald Trump and has completely turned his back on Dreamers and even won’t even talk to folks about immigration anymore.

He’s also well-known for taking a lot of money from the NRA.

The majority of Americans believe in common sense gun reform. The majority of people believe we need to have a comprehensive background check approach to gun ownership that allows people access to guns. But the shooter in Florida should have been caught. There were enough warning signs. Are there enough people who raised those questions at that should be accounted for in our background check mechanism.

When you talk about that kind of stuff, people respond to it. We know that with women and domestic violence issues, if background checks were actually comprehensive, the majority of women who were killed by their domestic partners, those partners would not have access to guns because they have prior records, right?

There’s common sense things that the majority of Americans believe in, about banning weapons of war and making sure that assault weapons are not available on our streets, banning bump stocks and making sure that add-ons that turn non-automatic weapons into automatic weapons are not available.

You worked to call every Democratic voter in your district, though you now have more calls to make, thanks to redistricting.

With the redistricting in Pennsylvania, the timing of it was like, well we gotta make the most of this. We’re going to basically have an entirely new district a couple months before the primary and we have a ton of volunteers, people who really want to get involved, so let’s plan to call every registered Democrat in this district. We had hundreds of folks help us out, making phone calls last weekend and we made over 30,000 phone calls in one week. We definitely have still more to do. But like it was an unprecedented move in our district to call that many people at once. We got great responses from people. I think we’re going to do a ton of that with independents because there’s a lot of registered independents, too.

Your background is as a small business consultant, which is traditionally the realm of Republicans. But more and more it has become the party of big business.

I think a lot about some of the top competitors to small business. One is economic stagnation. Working families haven’t seen income grip in 40 years, meaning that the people who actually spend money in our economy don’t have money to spend and that’s a huge concern. And so getting more money into the hands of families, making sure that working families are doing better in their jobs, that they’re making more money, that they have fewer out of pocket expenses for things like healthcare and higher education. Working families then support business because folks have more money to spend in their local economies, in local businesses.

The other thing that really, really hurts small business is the growth of monopoly power and corporate power in this country. I look at that and think about the number of businesses that are trying to compete with Amazon, and they can’t. And so we have to be really thoughtful about this and we have laws on the books that our country wrote over a hundred years ago. Antitrust laws were about creating a competitive landscape for businesses. Because you know that once businesses get too big, there’s no way that a little guy can survive. And so what we’ve seen over the last 20, 30, 40 years, it’s just the increasing growth of big business, growth of mergers and acquisition, and that the laws on the books are not actually being enforced to hold that big corporate power in check. And it’s something that we really have to be talking about honestly.

We need pushing and making sure that we’re creating a landscape is going to work for small business because it’s not. It’s not. And when you look at the tax bill that Republicans passed, they did it under the guise of supporting small businesses, that trickle-down idea. But the majority of the benefit goes to big business, to very wealthy individuals and not to the small businesses in our community who are really the majority of the employers in our community.

Let’s say you get elected. What are going to be your priorities in office?

It depends on who else was elected. When does wave look like? Do we actually regain control of the House and the Senate? What kind of reaction do we get from the White House if that’s the case and how much of it is about building towards 2020 and making sure that we’re laying the groundwork for legislation.

But for me, it’s the stuff that I’m campaigning on. So I think it’s about addressing taking the steps that we need to take toward single-payer healthcare and recognizing that’s not going to happen overnight and we need a process that is going to phase us into that, but that we do need to get single payer healthcare in this country.
You know, debt-free public college is another huge priority that we need to invest in. Education and making sure people are going to get good jobs and not come out with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.

I mean there’s so many of these; campaign finance reform is another that we need. I think people that are not beholden to that broken system need to work on, whether it’s a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United or something else. That’s also a huge priority and something that voters really care about and feel like is a fundamentally broken part of the system.

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The GOP is playing dirty election tricks. Yet again. Because they suck.

Donald Trump has said he wants to arm teachers with guns. But we know that teachers are already heroes, willing to put their lives and livelihoods on the line for their students. It’s largely a thankless job — platitudes don’t pay bills — and it’s time that changed. In West Virginia, teachers are in the midst of a massive statewide strike due to the governor’s efforts to shortchange them on already skimpy salaries and benefits.

If you want to know just how much hubris the WV GOP has right now, and just how badly this strike is needed, look simply to this excerpt of an interview with a striking teacher, via the NY Times:

They told us that essentially if you weren’t a single person, if you had a family plan, your health insurance was going to rise substantially. As a West Virginia teacher — and I’ve been teaching 10 years — I only clear right under $1,300 every two weeks, and they’re wanting to take $300 more away for me. But they tell me it’s O.K., because we’re going to give you a 1 percent pay raise. That equals out to 88 cents every two days.

They implemented Go365, which is an app that I’m supposed to download on my phone, to track my steps, to earn points through this app. If I don’t earn enough points, and if I choose not to use the app, then I’m penalized $500 at the end of the year. People felt that was very invasive, to have to download that app and to be forced into turning over sensitive information.

The GOP majority should be heartened to know that the teachers will be getting those steps in on the picket line — and then some. The strike has lasted all week, and the stingy lawmakers are beginning to cave. And any win is huge not just for WV teachers, but for all works. The strike is a vital action at the exact moment that public unions face an existential threat at the Supreme Court.

So how can you help? Donate to organizations raising money for teachers, like the West Virginia Teachers Strike Fund and the IWW’s fund. You can put political pressure on Gov. Jim Justice via social media. And you can vote for politicians that support public sector unions instead of taking money from the corrupt, misleading National Right to Work organization.

You can support our candidates by using Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page right here.

Help Dems win the next big special election!

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Democrats are using small donors and political sanity to gain momentum in a hotly contested election… and the GOP’s billionaire financiers are striking back by dumping unlimited money into the race, in order to skew it and steal it at the last minute.

The special election in PA-18 has been moved to a toss-up by the Cook Political Report, which is the good news here:

The Cook Political Report updated its rating for the special election in the 18th Congressional district from ‘lean Republican’ to ‘toss up.’

According to the report, despite the district being strongly Republican, Democrat Conor Lamb has gained a lot of ground in the race.

“What’s made the race so close, many Republicans admit, is that Lamb has simply proven to be a stronger candidate than Saccone,” the report says.

And now the not so good:

One week later, Democrats in Allegheny County began receiving an unusual piece of mail. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan that has spent millions of dollars on the race, had created an advertisement thanking Lamb “for supporting our Second Amendment rights.”

It’s not clear who else is getting the ad, but registered Democrats in Allegheny County are, generally, more liberal than their counterparts across the district.

To be fair, Lamb has come under fire (pardon the bad term here) for being a bit timid on new gun laws. But the ad skews what he’s said, as if he isn’t for more extensive background checks and other reforms.

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Republicans are skewing his record in hopes of suppressing Democratic turnout, as part of a multi-million dollar effort to steal this election for their doofus Trumpite candidate. They’re also using racist dog-whistle ads on immigration as part of this last-ditch, desperate $10 million offensive.

Whether Lamb is the perfect Democrat is not the issue here — he will vote with the party, take us one seat closer to winning back Congress, and a victory in a red district like this will be more proof of Democrats’ momentum. And when people feel like their party is in a good place, they donate more money, volunteer more, and work harder to help win elections. I believe in sending the most progressive candidates to Washington as possible — and Lamb is helping lay the groundwork to make this part of PA blue and progressive again.

You can support Connor Lamb by using Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page right here.