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)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking on the New York political machine

As much as New York is a reliable blue state during presidential and senatorial elections, it is far from being a progressive utopia. We’ve already focused on the problems created by Gov. Cuomo’s embrace of the breakaway IDC in the State Senate, but the problem also extends to many of the state’s national representatives. This week, we’re talking with one candidate who is looking to change the toxic status quo.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign for Congress had earned a little bit of coverage, but her press team couldn’t find any news outlet willing to premiere her new campaign ad. “They were like, ‘no, no, no,’ so I was like, alright, I’m just going to put it on Twitter,” the 28-year-old political organizer tells Progressives Everywhere. “Thankfully it turned out really well.”

That’s a bit of an understatement, as the ad went mega-viral on Twitter, helped out by admiring words from progressive MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes. The entire sequence of events was a pretty tidy summary for Ocasio-Cortez’s career and campaign, a grassroots effort that challenges entrenched powers that no one has dared face down over the last decade and a half.

A Bronx native of Puerto Rican descent, Ocasio-Cortez is running to represent New York’s 14th congressional district, and in doing so, challenging one of the most powerful Democrats in the city and country, Rep. Joe Crowley. She is unbowed by the inherent odds stacked against her; she was an organizer for Bernie Sanders, who was unafraid to take on entrenched Democratic interests. Crowley spent years helping to control who got on the ballot in New York, but once Ocasio-Cortez qualified, it was game on.

Ocasio-Cortez argues that the relatively conservative Democrat, who has designs on Speaker of the House should Democrats retake Congress, has focused on fundraising and his national donors to the exclusion of progressive policy. On the other hand, she is more focused on the needs of the community, as she made clear during her conversation with Progressives Everywhere. The New York Democratic Primary is on June 26th.

What inspired you to take on such a big challenge?

I was at Standing Rock two years ago, I was seeing what was happening on the ground. I was looking at corporations that were literally militarizing themselves against American citizens. And these companies, they give money to Democrats too. And the day that I left Standing Rock, I got a call from Brand New Congress, which is an organization trying to field non-career politicians in the 2018 midterm to get money out of politics, and they asked if I’d be willing to run. I was like, whoa. So I took a look at what was happening in our community.

 

We have a lot of these Democrats who are just laying as low as possible and hiding under the “D” next to their name, but they really aren’t doing the right thing. That’s our case here with Joe Crowley. He runs a profoundly corrupt local political machine, silences candidates of color, that silences women, that silences working class grassroots candidates in order to rezone New York City for luxury real estate interests. He hadn’t been challenged in 14 years.

The demographics of the area have changed dramatically. The community here was not being serviced for its needs. We have Rikers Island in the district, and we haven’t had a champion on criminal justice reform.

Click HERE to donate to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page for New York candidates!

Should you get the nomination, what issue is Rep. Crowley ignoring that you will focus on?

One of the things that he does is takes money from luxury real estate developers and basically translates it into increasing the cost of living in New York City to provide a profit margin for his donors. He does this on a local level and on a national level. One of the only pieces of legislation that he’s even past in the past couple of years involves foreign investment and regulation. The FIRPTA is essentially designed to pad the pockets of luxury developers.

[Note: Crowley’s bill allowed foreign investment in US real estate to jump from 5 to 10 percent without facing a special tax. Crowley received a huge spike in donations from the real estate industry right before introducing this legislation.]

Slowly but surely our affordable housing policies have been tweaked and redesigned in very unsexy and boring wings. But they ultimately result in deregulations for the wealthiest. The United States invests $200 billion dollars in housing every year, but you would never know it because a lot of that money goes to the wealthiest people through things like tax cuts, designed for people who can take advantage of them.

Things like expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Things like permanently funding the Low Income Housing Trust in the United States. We have federal programs in place. NYHCA used to be the crown jewel of affordable housing in the United States. And you look at what happened this past winter, where people living in NYHCA didn’t have hot water. Some of them didn’t even have heat. That’s not because NYHSA doesn’t work, that’s because the federal government has slowly been defunding HUD.

We’ve basically been rolling back and shutting down all of our most progressive housing policy in the US. And it’s terrible because we know that these things work. We know that affordable housing works, we know that low-income housing works and we also know that we don’t have to live in a world of four-year wait lists for people to afford the cities that they live in.

This is very much a money in politics problem. The industries in particular that have completely captured our government and especially the Democratic Party are Wall Street, real estate, big pharma, healthcare. People talk about what quote-unquote Republican industries are and we think of the NRA, we think of fossil fuel corporations, things like that. But the real companies that are eroding our democracy are private equity and real estate. They by far contribute the largest amount of money to compromise both parties, but especially Democrats and Joe Crowley.

Click HERE to donate to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page for New York candidates!

Crowley is the chairman of the Queens Democratic Party and has a very formidable machine behind him — The Intercept article about your race laid that out. How do you beat that?

Joe Crowley has not been challenged in 14 years. So when we first started, everybody said there’s no way. He is way too powerful. But as the chairman of the Democratic Party, he has failed. Because as the chairman, he has not been expanding the electorate. He hasn’t been a good steward for the Democratic Party in Queens County. He’s brought in a lot of money, but when you go to an average Democratic Club in Queens, the average age nowadays is about 90. That’s not to be ageist, but there is no diversity in age. So even though he is chairman of the party and he is able to command a lot of automatic endorsements out of fear, that’s just money.

We’ve been doing a really, really good job as organizers. That’s what I am at heart. I’m an organizer. I’m not a big money kind of girl. I was born very working class. My mom cleaned houses and drove school buses. I knew that if I was going to compete in this race, I couldn’t do it on big money. What I could do is out-organize him and so that’s been our main strategy. We have been inspiring and expanding the electorate. This is one of the lowest turnout districts in the United States.

And honestly, if you’re chairman of the Democratic Party and you have presided over the total lowest voter turnout in America, maybe you do deserve to lose your job. Because your one job is to strengthen the Democratic Party and it’s completely languished under your 20-year tenure.

New York has a lot of problems with Democrats who don’t act like Democrats, but instead protect vested interests.

Crowley just endorsed an IDC member while claiming to be a real Democrat himself. We know that for him the only thing that matters is money. And it’s not to dismiss the need for a basic amount of funds to run a campaign. But really when you look at his tenure, when you look at his record, he endorsed the anti women’s rights candidate and put him over the top of Marie Newman in Illinois.

In the places where he actually has the juice, he doesn’t use it for the advancement of social, economic or racial justice. Everything else is just a press release. So with the IDC you have folks that are still taking all of this corporate money and have historically sanitized some of the most progressive legislation in America. Now they’re pretending to have dissolved the IDC, but they still have those corporate interests at heart. He’s kind of like a federal IDC member, he’s not as progressive as he says.

Click HERE to donate to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page for New York candidates!

We’re living in a police state. Just ask immigrants.

Update: There’s been a lot of confusion about what’s going on with the missing children. I was wrong in saying that they were separated from their parents at the border — Jeff Session’s unconscionable policy is a new one, and will create many orphans, but it didn’t cause this situation. And some of the kids went to family. But as the Washington Post points out, ORR really did lose track of the kids, and it’s likely that some are in bad situations. And nothing about this update changes the barbarism being inflicted upon immigrants and Latin Americans by ICE, Jeff Sessions, and the conservative lawmakers highlighted below:


Even during an era in which the velocity of breaking atrocities and outrages has numbed the senses, the latest dispatches from the ongoing nightmare at the southern border stick out as particularly devastating tragedies. This past week, it became more clear than ever to the general public that there is a fully authorized, government-sanctioned Gestapo terrorizing Latin Americans in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida and other states where refugees and hopeful immigrants tend to arrive and live.

First, there is the story of the missing children. It emerged that the Office of Refugee Resettlement has lost track of nearly 1500 young immigrant children who it placed into some kind of foster care — and that’s just during a three month period in 2017. The number of small children left to fend for themselves in this strange and scary country is probably far higher.

It is a breathtaking admission, and the product of a purposely cruel policy put in place by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. ICE, the aforementioned Gestapo, has been separating children from their parents and then processing them as orphans, ripping vulnerable refugee families apart as soon as they arrive in the United States, a country once seen as a welcoming beacon of hope.

(Update: As noted, this new policy isn’t responsible for the fuck-up. It’ll only make it worse.)

Via Washington Post:

“The type of devastation that we’re talking about … where a separated mother doesn’t know where her child is for four days, that’s entirely common right now in this administration,” Laura St. John, the legal director of The Florence Project, told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “Children and parents who are separated sometimes don’t have any way to communicate with each other for days, for weeks — I’ve seen months where a parent had no idea where their child was after the U.S. government took their child away.”

St. John noted her group also was seeing increasingly younger children being taken into custody by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, as opposed to the migrant teenagers who had previously crossed the border themselves.

“Just last week we saw a 53-week-old infant in court without a parent,” St. John told Hayes. “What we’re seeing now is that, because the government is separating the children from the parents, the government is actually rendering these children as unaccompanied minors and bringing them to the shelters.”

Sadly, this is a problem that has bipartisan roots. The Obama administration, faced with a skyrocketing number of refugees, relaxed the foster parent standards, thus placing some children into very dangerous situations. As much as Obama did for immigrant children — DACA should a prime achievement — his administration also failed in a number of ways.

So, where do we go from here? While the Trump Administration controls ICE and Homeland Security, Congress can and should have oversight of the executive branch. Unfortunately, the GOP has surrendered all pretense of checking the power of the Trump cabal, so we have to work to kick them out in November. Let’s focus on a few prime committees and candidates, starting with the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

Rep. Ken Buck, the awful far-right vice chair of the committee, is in line to succeed the retiring Raul Labrador, who just so happened to lose his primary election for Idaho governor earlier this month. Buck represents Colorado’s fourth district, and he has an excellent opponent in Karen McCormick, who we’ve already endorsed here at Progressives Everywhere as part of our focus on ousting NRA-backed politicians. Yep, Buck is also an NRA puppet, which goes to show just how awful he is. McCormick is a compassionate veterinarian and community leader who has already called for an investigation into the missing children — something Buck will never do in any serious way.

Click HERE to donate to our slate of candidates focused on immigration issues

Look at what Buck said about separating children from their parents:

I think it’s unfortunate when families are separated. But it’s also unfortunate when families make a decision to break the law [by coming here.] And there are consequences in this country. We are a country of rule – a country of laws. And we believe in the rule of law. And I think it’s just a sad reality that there is going to be some unfortunate separation of individuals when crimes are committed.

Steve King may be the most racist and noxious lawmaker in the House — or, at the very least, the most vocal about his malicious neanderthal beliefs. He’s long coasted to victory in Iowa’s rural fourth district, but he’s got some serious potential opponents this time around. The primary election is on June 5th, but there’s one challenger that really stands out.

J.D. Scholten has been out-raising King for the past several FEC cycles, even as he espouses a full-throated progressivism that we’ve long been told doesn’t play in rural midwestern districts. He was featured in The Intercept earlier this year slamming King’s immigration policy, and would represent as drastic a change as is possible in modern America.

Then there is Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Committee. He’s a border wall supporter, is in favor of sending the National Guard to police the crossing, and supports prosecuting parents — and thus stripping their kids away from them. Running against him is Mike Siegel, an assistant city attorney from Austin who offers an entirely new perspective on just about every single issue. His stance on immigration is no exception.

The other awful border story involves a local version of ICE, the Texas Department of Public Safety. Over the past few years, it has been turned into a militarized terror agency, haunting majority Latino towns and making life hell for everyone there. They police every corner of every street — both through on-the-ground officers and endless cameras — and make it so that people are literally afraid to drive to work. They can’t even go to Little League baseball games without being harassed.
The DPS buildup began as a way for then-Governor Rick Perry to look tough on the border ahead of a run for re-election. It’s now become a permanent police state.

From the Texas Observer:

“Hidalgo and Starr counties are now among the most profiled and surveilled communities in America, with residents forced to adjust to life under the persistent watch of aerostat surveillance balloons, observation towers, National Guard listening posts, drones, DPS surveillance cameras, DPS spy planes and a barrage of intrusive police stops.”
And this isn’t just impacting the people in those counties. It’s hurting all Texans. Again, from the Observer:

“Lawmakers slashed Medicaid funding by $2 billion and declined to fully fund the state’s child-welfare system, which has been in crisis for years. In the decade since the surge began, the state’s portion of funding for public education has dropped from 48 to 38 percent. But the Republican majority gave DPS another $800 million for border security.”

The obvious move is to take on the lawmakers enabling this horrible state of affairs. But it’s not so simple.
Rep. Phil King, who chairs the committee, has enabled bigotry and mass harassment for years (and is also an anti-choice, corporate ALEC and NRA stooge who doesn’t even want laws that require people to lock up their guns, even in the wake of the Santa Fe high school massacre). Once again, Rep. Phil King is running unopposed for re-election.

Also running unopposed for re-election is DeWayne Burns, a Republican on the committee who is equally as grating and noxious. We need to do better, and that starts by showing candidates that they will have support even in tough races.

Here’s where we start: Several Republicans do have challengers, however long their odds may seem based on their districts and fundraising disparities. A little money can go a long way in local races, especially in more rural markets, and even a somewhat tight race can push an extremist candidate towards more moderate positions.

Click HERE to donate to our slate of candidates focused on immigration issues

GOP Rep. Justin Holland is being challenged by Democrat Laura Gunn in HD 33, while Republican Rep. Will Metcalf faces off against Democrat Mike Midler in HD 16. Midler has a particularly interesting resume; a Marine who served in Vietnam, he spent his career as a history teacher, with a stop at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and his campaign literature cites the progressive visions of our Founding Fathers to rebuke the “Make America Great Again” crowd. You can donate at his… rudimentary campaign site.

Meanwhile, ultra-conservative Matt Schaeffer, who chairs the Texas Freedom Caucus, and brags about immigrant apprehension at the top of his campaign website, is being challenged by an unlikely leader in East Texas, a rabbi named Neal Katz. While he’s running as an independent as a nod to the politics of the region, Katz is a popular and progressive voice there, with support frombusinesses, community groups and even some church leaders. He’s not on ActBlue, since he’s an independent, so you can donate at his site.

Oh, and remember the Texas stooge who blamed doors for school shootings? Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is also an avid fan of destroying the lives of Latin communities, so once again, we’ll be supporting his opponent, Mike Collier, as a rational and pragmatic alternative.

Texas lawmakers’ response to the Santa Fe shooting ranges from insane to disgusting opportunism — so let’s beat them

santa fe

It happened. Again. This time in Texas, where eight students and two teachers were murdered by a lone gunman at Santa Fe High School. Thirteen others were injured by the shooter, a disturbed 17-year-old student who had a shotgun and a pistol. The massacre marked the 22nd school shooting of 2018, a spree of pointless and tragic murder that has become a sick routine.

A country has no greater responsibility than protecting and nurturing its children. In America, students are now going to school expecting the worst. In an interview seen around the world, a 17-year-old Santa Fe student named Paige Curry bluntly told a TV reporter that, because “it’s happening everywhere,” she just “kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too.”

Who can blame her? Especially in Texas. It’s an open carry state, which means people can openly possess guns just about anywhere. And instead of rethinking that barbaric law and working hard to protect children, Texas lawmakers are… blaming doors and pushing their own agendas.

Dig deep enough — or even just take a cursory glance — and you’ll find a plethora of insane lawmakers in Texas. They’ve become comfortable and complacent, unbothered in many places by more than cursory Democratic opposition, and so the Texas GOP has been able to slide to the extreme right on issues like guns. One of the most unhinged, dangerous Republicans in the state legislature is Jonathan Stickland, who represents district 92 in suburban Fort Worth.

He’s pushed for state constitutional amendments that would make carrying firearms an absolute right, which would, in turn, eliminate the state’s (already laughable) gun license requirements. He’s also a terrible person who has voted against employment discrimination laws and advocated for anti-trans bathroom bills, so rest assured we’re not targeting an otherwise productive and responsible government official. In fact, if you need any more evidence, check out this tweet that uses the Santa Fe tragedy to push his awful school voucher ideas.

Stickland’s opponent is a businessman and education advocate named Steve Riddell. Yes, another white guy, but one who wants to invest in alternative energy, create a more humane immigration system, and yes, focus on gun control measures. He’d be a far better (and more sane) member of the legislature, so he has our support.

Click HERE to donate to the Texas candidates and the rest of our slate of candidates via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

In a quote heard round the country, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said that high schools have too many entrances, which he thinks allow shooters to bypass security guards at schools (as if armed security guards at schools isn’t dystopian enough). He wants to redesign 8000 campuses in Texas, making them slaughterhouses and horrible fire hazards, instead of taking action on guns.

He then doubled down on Sunday, blaming violent video games, abortion, and removing religion from school for the shootings. (Ignoring that those traits are what we have in common in with countries that DON’T have these tragedies on a daily basis).

If you check out his website, you’ll understand that this wasn’t just a bone-headed comment; he’s absolutely obsessed with the proliferation of personal weapons of mass destruction. He touts his “A” rating from the NRA and offers a long list of insane gun bills that he either authored or sponsored, including laws that eliminated the educational requirements to renew gun licenses. He also continually fought to allow the concealed carriage of guns on college campuses.

Patrick is insane — and up for re-election this year. His Democratic opponent is a moderate businessman named Mike Collier, who comes recommended by the Dallas Morning News and other outlets. We don’t normally actively financially support former Republicans, but he switched parties back in 2011, when the GOP was hijacked by the Tea Party and went to the far right, so give him credit for that. Plus, he supports public education, asking the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes (no small thing in Texas), labor unions (again, no small thing in Texas), and a living wage.

Most significantly for us at the moment, in a tweetstorm on Friday, Collier called for emergency action to prevent more mass shootings, including new sensible gun laws. In Texas, that’s enough to earn our endorsement, especially given his opponent.

Beto O’Rourke, the dynamic El Paso congressman running for Senate, was even more active on Twitter in the wake of the shooting. Unlike his cowardly opponent, Senator Ted Cruz, O’Rourke openly called for major reform, including stopping the sale of new assault-style weapons and the banning of high capacity magazines. This is incredibly bold coming from a candidate trying to get elected statewide in Texas, which makes us even more excited about his insurgent candidacy — and glad that we’ve been helping raise money for his campaign for months.

You’ll notice we haven’t touched on Governor Greg Abbott, who is also up for re-election this year. He’s a bad person who has terrible beliefs on gun laws. He just doesn’t have a definite Democratic opponent yet, as the two candidates — Lupe Valdez and Andrew White — will square off in a runoff election on Tuesday. We like Valdez’s positions on many issues, but figure with just two days before the election, it’s better to add the winner and not ask you to invest money in a candidate that may not be able to use it. Check ProgressivesEverywhere.org on Wednesday to see who won!

Click HERE to donate to the Texas candidates and the rest of our slate of candidates via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

This Mother’s Day, help progressive women save America

Generally, we introduce new candidates each week at Progressives Everywhere. But because today is Mother’s Day, we wanted to step back and embrace the spirit of the holiday by recognizing the incredible work and sacrifices of the women that we’ve already endorsed.

Women are rising up and running for office in record numbers, inspired by the Trump Administration’s attacks on women’s rights specifically, as well as its gross assaults on the human rights that women have led the fight for over the last century, like education, affordable healthcare, and the right to vote. If we are going to take back America this fall, it will be thanks to the women who are sacrificing so much to run for office. Many of our candidates are mothers, while others act as important mother figures as teachers and other public servants.

You can find biographical information about our entire list of candidates on Progressives Everywhere, and donate to them on our various ActBlue pages, each of which offer the ability to give to one or more particular candidates.

You can choose from women on our main slate; women fighting against the NRA; women running against religious right wing extremists; women teachers running to help fix public schools; and women running for office in New York State to help end decades of corruption.

Any donation helps. Some of these races are very local and so any money makes an outsized difference. The bigger races will see the GOP candidates benefit from huge corporate donors, so grassroots money is crucial. Donate on behalf of a mother or woman in your life. Donate in the memory of someone who helped raise you or teach you. Donate because mothers know best, and that’s why we need them in office.