The government is shut down. Help women take it over!

You know it was a busy week when the dirty and bizarre details of a porn star’s affair with the President of the United States does not register as the most prominent story of the last seven days. It’s disturbing and weird, but we have much bigger fish to fry (though we’ll leave sharks alone; they seem to really get under Trump’s skin).

Saturday was a perfect microcosm of the Trump presidency. On the year anniversary of his poorly attended inauguration, he shut down the government at the advice of his most bigoted advisers; cashed in on the presidency by charging outrageous prices to hang out with B-list cable news celebrities at his private club; and women across the country marched again, to not only protest Trump’s awful policies, but to send the message that they were organized and working to overthrow his anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-children, anti-human agenda.

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As noxious as Trump is, the women who attended the marches across the country represent the best of America. They’re compassionate, progressive people who care about their neighbors. They want to see everyone in this country treated equally, afforded opportunity and given help when needed. They were rallying for one another, but also for every American that couldn’t make it to a protest on Saturday. They were rallying for workers, for immigrants, for children, for people without a voice.

And guess what? It’s already working! As we noted earlier this week, Democrats won another special election, as Progressives Everywhere-endorsed candidate Patty Schachtner flipped a bright red State Senate seat in Wisconsin. It was a major victory for the state party, which is working to take back a government hijacked and gerrymandered by Gov. Scott Walker, and another sign that there is a seachange — a #BlueWave, as Twitter calls it — coming later this year… if we work for it.

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Local Candidates: Karla Bingham and Melissa Wagner for Minnesota State Senate & Legislature

Schachtner’s big win in Wisconsin — she won by nine points in a district the GOP has owned for nearly two decades! — proves that Democrats aren’t irrelevant in the Midwest, and that districts they may have written off in the past will vote blue if given the opportunity. It also proves that focusing on local elections is a crucial part of this resistance — after all, state governments draw up congressional maps and, even more crucially, are the most consistent government presence in people’s lives.

But local politics can be… complicated, and the nuances of county infrastructure can be a little bit hard to follow. It requires great patience, devotion, and even passion, which is why we are lucky to have lawmakers like Karla Bingham. A former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, and now a member of the Washington County Board, she’s doing the work that is so vital to rebuilding America on the ground level. She’s running for the vacated Minnesota 54th district State Senate seat, and the special election is on February 12th.

Read her biography, and you’ll see that she’s a get-it-done legislator who pays attention to nuance when most of us are wrapped up in reading about Trump’s spanking habits. Her focus on infrastructure and transportation is huge, given America’s crumbling infrastructure — especially since Minnesota became a poster child for that issue due to its infamous bridge collapse.

This is a crucial race because the GOP holds the power in that chamber by one seat. That’s the source of controversy, since the new Lt. Governor is also a State Senator. That may not be legal, so the balance of power is really up in the air. Beyond her qualifications, Bingham needs to hold on to this seat for Democrats, because a legal ruling could change everything. If she loses, no legal decision will change the balance of power.

CLICK HERE to donate to Karla Bingham on her site

Minnesota has another special election on the 12th, this one for a rural State House district. Melissa Wagner is a farmer and school social worker, so she’s very well-known and very beloved in Butternut Valley township. Rural America has gone to Republicans over the last few decades, which is absurd given their positions on the environment, infrastructure, public health, and big agricultural business.

People like Melissa really understand the issues faced by small farmers and rural citizens, and reading over her website, you know she’s going to be a great voice for her neighbors — and perhaps one day, large swaths of the country.

CLICK HERE to donate to Melissa Wagner using Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page.

Support Women Candidates through Emerge America

Unfortunately, the political system is still very much biased towards men. Due to a whole host of factors — historical, sociological, and cultural — men are much more likely to run for office. White men, who account for 31% of the population, hold 65% of elected offices. Mathematically, it’s absurd! Practically, it’s awful! It’s bad for our country for so many reasons, and it needs to change.

Luckily, women are running for office at record rates, and the organization Emerge America is playing a big part in that. It was founded back in 2005 but has really come into prominence over the past year. The group provides training, support, and expertise to progressive women who want to run for office, and was a huge factor in the Democratic wave that swept across Virginia in November.

In 2017 alone, the group helped 150 women win elected office — and that was a year without many elections. As more and more women decide to run for office, Emerge will only play a bigger role. And given how often they work with local candidates, a small donation can go a long way!

CLICK HERE to donate to Emerge America on its site.

A huge win in Wisconsin!

Not used to waking up to good news these days? Yeah, same here. But our goal is to change all that, and last night’s news qualifies as major progress. With your help, proud Democrat Patty Schachtner won the special election in Wisconsin’s 10th State Senate district, flipping a rural seat that has been Republican-held for decades.

This is not just a State Senate seat — this is a crucial victory in a state that goon GOP Gov. Scott Walker has dominated with gerrymandering, draconian voter ID laws, union-killing “reforms.” This is a crucial victory in the state that Paul Ryan, stooge of the rich and powerful, calls home. This is a crucial victory in a state that Trump — thanks to those voter ID laws — won in 2016. This is a crucial victory in a state that had long been a proud home for the worker’s rights movement.

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Schachtner didn’t just win; she crushed her opponent by 9 points, making for a massive swing — the state senator who vacated the seat to go work for Scott Walker had won with 63% of the vote in 2016. This portends both a huge wave for Democrats nationally and in Wisconsin. They’re one seat closer to taking back the gerrymandered State Senate. It proves Scott Walker has a whole lot to fear in November, when he’s up for re-election, and indicates to Paul Ryan that he should cash out now instead of running for yet another term.

This shows the power of kindness and decency. Here’s what Schachtner said last night to the Associated Press: “My message has always been be kind, be considerate and we need to help people when they’re down… We just need to be kind to people who are less fortunate and just help.”

It also shows the power of engaged citizens who decide to take a stand — both those running for office, and those who support them by donating time, money, and word of mouth. Progressives Everywhere highlighted Schachtner several times, and while we can’t any credit for her victory, our readers did send some money her way, and every little bit makes a difference in a local race.

So let’s get to work on helping more Democrats win big. Sign up for the newsletter here.

Round 5: Beto O’Rourke and a Wisconsin Special

It can be hard to sift through the idiocy; it all feels so unprecedented and yet entirely routine a year into this tragic era. Because we are now addicted to Twitter, waiting for the latest insane pronouncement, it’s only appropriate to relate our current situation to a meme: we are all that cartoon dog in the burning room, muttering “this is fine” as the flames flicker around us.

With every day comes a new story about the Trump administration that would have been a defining scandal in any other presidency. But absolutely nothing will happen about the huge amounts of dirty money being fed to Trump’s businesses, or all the porn stars coming forward to reveal they were paid off to not talk about their affairs with Trump, each of which occurred after he got married to Melania.

And yet, there’s one story this week that we cannot brush off or forget: the infamous “shithole” slur. To recap: during a meeting about immigration, Trump lamented the immigrants and refugees coming from Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations, which he considered “shithole countries.” Instead, Trump said he much preferred immigrants from places like Norway. It’s not hard to read between the lines there — the racism is blinding. And we only know this happened because Dick Durbin, the Democratic Senate minority whip, was in the room, so who knows what other hateful things Trump has said around his GOP toadies.

Not that we had any doubt that Trump was a racist — it has been the basis of his businesses and political career — but the clear confirmation is helpful. As we continue the fight for Dreamers, as well as the 200,000 El Salvadorians Trump wants to deport against all moral and economic logic, we must keep in mind that we are dealing with a president and party that are bad faith negotiators (not to mention assholes), and so ultimately, we must kick them out of office and replace them with smarter, more honest and compassionate leaders.

So let’s get to work on that. Visit our new site, and if someone forwarded you this email, sign up for the newsletter here.

Senate Candidate: Beto O’Rourke for Texas Senator

There are two reasons to support Beto O’Rourke: He’s a great leader… and he’s not Ted Cruz.

If it weren’t for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz would be a shoo-in for most noxious person in DC. He is the worst kind of faux-populist; a sneering, cynical liar who barks about populism and freedom while working to line the pockets of big business and Wall Street. He’s also pre-historic on a woman’s right to choose, immigration (ironic, since his dad’s from Cuba and he’s from Calgary), foreign relations, and just about everything else. Even fellow Republicans hate him.

For the last two decades, being a Republican has made it pretty easy to get elected in Texas. But Trump underperformed there in 2016, winning it by just nine points. Sure, he was a bad candidate, but Texans don’t like Cruz, and his opponent is far more likely to connect with the locals. O’Rourke is everything Cruz is not: affable, gregarious, generous, and Texan.

A native of El Paso, O’Rourke is a three-time Congressman from his home city. He’s made a name for himself by really putting himself out there. In 2016, he live-streamed a House sit-in on gun control, which C-Span used when Republicans shut down the cameras; last year, he broadcast a 29-hour drive across the country with GOP Rep. Will Hurd after a storm shut down airports. More importantly, he’s barnstorming across Texas, working to visit all *254* counties before the election.

As this story in Texas Monthly shows, O’Rourke is a tireless road warrior, driven to help people. After Hurricane Harvey, he drove all over the affected area, handing out supplies and checking in on people without ever mentioning the fact that he was running for Senate, or even a politicians.

O’Rourke is a bold progressive in a state where that is still considered a bit of a risk. He’s for universal healthcare and pro-choice; he has campaigned against the War on Drugs for years and doesn’t take money from PACs (while Cruz eats at the special interest buffet all day, every day). And even more bold for Texas, O’Rourke is a loud voice in favor of Dreamers and comprehensive immigration reform — and he wiped the floor with Tucker Carlson on Fox News last week by standing up for what he believes.

Oh, and he was also in a punk band, if you need any more convincing.

CLICK HERE to donate to Beto O’Rourke using Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

Special Election: Patty Schachtner for Wisconsin State Senate

Update: This election is on Tuesday. Send whatever last minute help you can!

Let’s send a message to Paul Ryan, who was put on this earth to cut taxes for the wealthy, gel his hair, and little else. He’s non-committal about running for re-election this fall, and it’d be great to show him that Wisconsin, a bastion of progressivism ravaged by Ryan and GOP sociopath/governor Scott Walker, is returning to its Democratic roots.

There will be a special election for a valuable seat in the Wisconsin State Senate on January 16th. After the GOP took power, it gerrymandered the state into an unrecognizable jigsaw of districts, with racism and partisanship the only factors in their shaping.

That’s under Supreme Court review, but we can’t rely on that gerrymandered court to save us. A GOP-held seat in the State Senate, representing District 10, is up for grabs, and Democrats have a great candidate in Patty Schachtner, a civil servant and lifelong resident of the region. Her issues page is chockful of smart, local-focused ideas and promises, including an emphasis on infrastructure, the environment (she grew up on a farm), better public education, healthcare (including expanding the state’s Medicaid program) and fighting the opioid crisis.

If Dems can win this seat, it’ll put them in a better position to win the State Senate back in November, when Gov. Scott Walker, perhaps the most draconian state exec in the country, is also up for re-election. That’s huge: It’d end gerrymandering, expand healthcare in the state, and help re-enfranchize tens of thousands of people who were stopped from voting during the election by Walker’s awful voter ID laws.

Had it not been for those laws, Hillary Clinton would have likely won Wisconsin. So yeah, this race matters.

CLICK HERE to donate to Patty Schachtner using Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

Round 4: Mikie Sherrill and Democracy in North Carolina

Congratulations! You made it through what was one of the most insane and unsettling political news weeks in a recent history filled with insane and unsettling political news weeks. Remember on New Year’s Eve, when you said that maybe 2018 wouldn’t be as batshit as 2017? That was only a week ago, and that notion has already been blown out of the water!

Somehow, Trump comparing dick nuclear button sizes with Kim Jong-Un is old news, and one of the least-discussed events of last week. The release of Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury, made clear that Trump is absolutely ill-equipped to hold any office, let alone the most powerful position in the world… and all the GOP can do is fall further in line with his delusions, pushing the FBI to investigate the Clinton Foundation yet again, as well as trying to bring criminal charges against the brave intelligence officials who tried to warn the US about Russia’s involvement in the election.

So it’s clear that toppling Trump in 2020 is not going to fix everything, or restore any sort of integrity to our fast-fading democracy. The GOP is now a far-right group of dangerous ideologues who go along with Trump because they agree with him. State and local governments have been infiltrated by these maniacs. And so in order to put America back on a progressive path, we need to take back governments all across the nation.

Congressional Candidate: Mikie Sherrill for New Jersey’s 11th District

The GOP’s evil swindle of a tax bill hurts just about everyone that isn’t extremely rich, and it’s even more damaging to residents of blue states like New Jersey. You’d think that politicians, regardless of party, would fight tooth and nail to stop laws that would make their constituents lives’ significantly worse… but c’mon, that’s just now how it works these days. And so really, it should come as no surprise that New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, surrendered what should have been significant influence and backed the GOP tax bill, despite it wallopping his home district.

Frelinghuysen has represented a moderate district since the GOP wave in 1994, and has become more and more out of touch with the voters in his home state. His actions this past year have only cemented his uselessness. Luckily, Democrats have an amazing candidate to replace the sell-out GOP lackey: Meet Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor who devoted her career to preventing crime in local communities and helping prisoners successfully re-enter society.

A mother of four school-aged children, Sherill left the federal prosecutor’s office in 2016 to work on criminal justice reform. That’s an even more important issue now that Jeff Sessions is ramping up an already lost war on marijuana and the prison industrial complex is flourishing under Trump.

Freylinghausen is a travesty, and has totally forgotten his constituents in New Jersey, opting instead to buy into the GOP’s racist kleptocracy. Sherill, a pro-choice champion with real experience in foreign policy, would be a major — and much needed — change for the district.

CLICK HERE to donate to Mikie Sherrill using Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page.

Local Candidates: Restore a Stolen Democracy in North Carolina

New North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued 14 vetoes in his first year in office… and 10 of those vetoes were overridden by the gerrymander-powered GOP supermajority in the State House. If that doesn’t sound like a functioning democracy to you, well, you’re not alone: A 2016 study by Harvard’s Electoral Integrity Project ruled that North Carolina, thanks to gross redistricting and other ballot access issues, can no longer be considered a full democracy.

The disgraceful state of affairs began in 2010, after Republicans took the state legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. That big victory was part of a GOP wave, and as in many states, newly elected Republicans didn’t just focus on installing new policy — they began work to undo fair representative democracy. The redistricted maps they drew up and used in 2012 and 2014 to get a supermajority were ultimately ruled illegal. And though the Supreme Court stopped special elections in 2017, the state will likely be forced to re-draw its districts based on recommendations from non-partisan experts.

The tussle over the exact district borders is still playing out in court, but the fact is that the best way to guarantee true democracy over the long term is fighting at the ballot box, winning elections, and drawing up fair and representative districts that won’t be subject to judicial decisions.

To that end, Cooper has launched the Break the Majority project, which is raising money to help local candidates and Democratic parties run competitive races across the state. With real backing and infrastructure, Democrats have a better chance of inspiring great new candidates (like DD Adams, a Progressives Everywhere pick!) and contesting every election. And as we saw in Virginia this fall, that makes all the difference.

CLICK HERE to donate to Roy Cooper’s Break the Majority campaign.

Round 3: Lauren Underwood and Ryan Torrens

This was not an easy year. In many ways, it was tragic. But 2018 can be a historically great year — if we work to make it happen.

As we have seen in recent special elections, and as polls continue to show, we have the opportunity to ensure that 2017 was a turning point in American history, when the systemic inequities in our democracy were finally exposed to the mass public and the many wrongs began to be righted.

recent CNN poll gave Democrats a whopping 18 point lead in the generic congressional ballot for the midterm election. Even if that’s an outlier, FiveThirtyEight finds that the Democrats have an average advantage of 12 points in the generic ballot, which would be the largest advantage held by any party since 1938.

At this rate, Democrats are favorites to take back the House of Representatives, and with strong candidates, the Senate. That would stop Trump’s agenda — the awful laws, the unqualified judges, the agencies stocked with lobbyists and idealogues — dead in its tracks.

Sure, gerrymandering, local politics, and the power of incumbency often give entrenched candidates an advantage that helps them overcome some level of national sentiment. But Doug Jones proved that no district is impossible for a Democrat to win when the base is motivated and the GOP candidate is exposed as a fraud. And it’s unlikely that the GOP — with its unpopular policies, the Mueller investigation, and Trump’s itchy Twitter finger — is going to see its position improve over the next 10 months.

So it’s up to us to keep the momentum going, and power great progressive candidates to victory. Not just on the national level, but as the Working Families Party has shown — and as was highlighted in the New York Times this week — on the most local levels, as well.

Congressional Candidate: Lauren Underwood for Illinois’s 14th District

Lauren Underwood is the sort of young, progressive, public service-oriented candidate that should be the core of a new Democratic Party.

A registered nurse, she worked as a senior advisor for President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services, helping prepare the nation for outbreaks and implementing the Affordable Care Act.

Now, 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 highwater mark of universal health care.

For two decades, Illinois’s 14th Congressional district was represented by Dennis Hastert. We know how that turned out. A Democrat won the seat in a special election with help from hometown hero Barack Obama, but it’s been held since 2011 by a Republican named Randy Hultgren. The GOP’s hold on the district is no huge surprise; Obama’s 2008 election was the only time it voted for a Democrat in a presidential election this century.

But Trump only won it by four points last year, and this suburban Chicago district is the perfect example of a moderate, very flippable target. The Democratic primary for the district is in March, and Underwood is in a competitive five-way race. She gave a great quote to the Chicago Defender about why her candidacy is so important, beyond the issues she plans to pursue if elected:

  • “It’s the gatekeeper’s comfort levels—by that I mean local party structures, traditional funders, their comfort levels with that kind of representation. Even in the Democratic party—that’s where I start to get angry. When you look traditionally at Democratic voters, at the core constituency of the party, what do you see? People of color, so why is there this active movement to keep our voices off the table?”

CLICK HERE to donate to Lauren Underwood using Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page.

State Candidate: Ryan Torrens for Attorney General of Florida

As America continues to grapple with the opioid crisis, it’s become clear that politicians really have no clue how to discuss, let alone handle, the epidemic of addiction. Ryan Torrens, a 32-year-old consumer protection lawyer from Tampa, says he’s uniquely positioned to buck that trend — because he himself is an addict.

A sober and recovering alcoholic, Torrens understands the cycle of substance abuse, and is putting that experience — married with a legal career spent protecting citizens from big corporations — front and center in his campaign. If elected Attorney General, he promises to sue big pharmaceutical companies, which have made record profits off of pain drugs, and has already put together a task force on the addiction crisis.

As an attorney, he’s also been focused on battling foreclosures, which makes him the rare politician willing to stand up to both drug companies and banks.

Winning this race would be even sweeter, considering that he’s running against Pam Bondi. Why does that name sound familiar?

Back in 2013, Bondi solicited illegal campaign contributions from Trump’s “charity,” and got a sweetheart deal on office space at Mar-a-Lago. The payoff? She dropped Florida’s investigation into  “Trump University,” which was sued by kids across the country for swindling them with a fraudulent “education.”

Other Attorneys General were not as openly corrupt as Bondi, and Trump wound up agreeing to pay a $25 million fine shortly before the election.

Now, Bondi is working for Trump, in addition to serving as the Attorney General of Florida. Ironically, she’s serving on Trump’s federal opioid panel, which has done little to solve the problem.

There could be no greater contrast between candidates than there is between Torrens and Bondi.

CLICK HERE to donate to Ryan Torrens using Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page.