Races for progressives to watch on Election Day

Here we are, two days out from the most important election of our lifetimes, which is a statement that is eminently dramatic but somehow undersells the gravity of what we are facing. I truly don’t know what American democracy will look like if Democrats don’t sweep up at the ballot box on Tuesday. And it’s not just because of the threat posed by Trump and his sycophantic posse. All across the country, there are pitched battles being fought over issues that directly touch the lives of tens of millions of people — and will, more broadly, impact us all.

Here is a guide to the biggest issues and races to watch on what will be a very nerve-wracking, exciting Tuesday evening.

Candidates we’ve interviewed

Over the last seven months, I spoke with candidates up and down the ballot. I focused on candidates who were running crucial races on the state level and true progressives running underdog campaigns against some of the worst Republicans (and a few bad Democrats!) on the national level.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14)
Jess King (PA-11)
Julie Oliver (TX-25)
Alessandra Biaggi (NY-SD-34)
J.D. Scholten (IA-04)
Cyndi Ralston (OK-HD-12)
Zach Dickerson (OH-HD-42)
Deidre DeJear (IA-Sec State)
Kriss Marion (WI-SD-17)
Janet Garrett (OH-04)
Miguel Levario (TX-19)

Voting Rights

As we’ve seen this fall, Republicans hate democracy and are continuing to do everything they can to make it impossible to vote. The sheer number of states that have surpassed their 2014 early voting numbers is heartening, but the overall numbers would be way higher without so much disenfranchisement.

After Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp purged over a million voters from the rolls without much national attention, his late flourishes of injustice finally provoked notice and outrage. Some of his ploys were overturned by courts, providing very limited relief to a small number of the disenfranchised, but the man is persistent in his quest to steal the governorship from former State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who has worked tirelessly to expand voting rights. Just today, Kemp’s office launched an erroneous investigation into Democratic groups.

The same thing is playing out in so many states. In Ohio, the purge of nearly 1.5 million voters was sanctioned by the right-wing Supreme Court. The nation’s leader in racist, anti-democratic quackery, Kris Kobach, is running for governor in Kansas. Iowa’s Republican leadership, if re-elected, has promised to finish installing strict voter ID. We spoke to Iowa’s Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, Deidre DeJear, about her very different approach — she wants to expand the electorate — earlier this fall.

There are a number of important Secretary of State races to watch on Tuesday: GeorgiaIowaOhioColoradoArizonaNevada, and Michigan (where voting rights expansion is also on the ballot, via Proposal 3). You can donate to the candidates in each of those races HERE. To help fight against Kemp and Kobach ascending to the governor’s mansions in their respective states, you can donate to Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Laura Kelly in Kansas.

In Florida, a whopping 1.5 million permanently disenfranchised people could get their right to vote back if Amendment 4 passes with 60%. In Nevada, approving Question 5 on the ballot will institute automatic voter registration.

In Ohio, it will be far easier to restore voting rights (and fix so many other issues) if Democrat Richard Cordray wins the neck-and-neck race for governor. His opponent is a right-wing creep, Mike DeWine, and he’s both for voter purges and throttling Medicaid.

Healthcare

The messy state of the American healthcare system has been neck-and-neck with Trump’s psychotic behavior as the most important issue in this election. And while we can’t force Trump to undergo a brain scan or hypnosis, we can fight to protect and expand access to healthcare.

After spending eight years trying to repeal Obamacare (an effort that is still ongoing) and undermining it at every turn, Republicans are sinking to new degrees of shamelessness to suggest they are in favor of protecting pre-existing conditions. We know that’s a lie and hope voters know it, too. First and foremost, you can give to Democrats running in toss-up races for Congress. If we win the House back, Obamacare is going nowhere.

Then, watch the races in a number of states where Medicaid has been limited by new and very onerous work requirements. In Wisconsin, the Trump Administration just approved new work requirements, so the gubernatorial and State Senate races are crucial; you can read our interview with one of the most important State Senate candidates and then donate to the Democratic candidate for governor, Tony Evers, and several State Senate candidates right HERE.

Michigan also just passed work requirements on Medicaid, making the gubernatorial and State House races there crucial to undoing the cruel limitation. You can help out the candidates right HERE.

Meanwhile, in Maine, voters overwhelmingly chose to expand Medicaid in the last election, but their gassy hate toad of a governor, Paul LePage, just outright (and illegally) refused to follow through. He’s term-limited and leaving office, so both the race to replace him, which is neck-and-neck, as well as to flip the State Senate, which is entirely up in the air, are absolutely crucial. You can donate to that effort right HERE.

And in several red states, voters will be deciding via ballot initiative to expand Medicaid. Despite ginned up fears about socialism and consistent support for Republicans, it looks like it will pass in UtahMontana, and Idaho, and be permanently enshrined in Nebraska.

There are a whole lot of other ballot measures, as well, including ones focused on legalizing marijuana, fixing gross gerrymandering, and raising the minimum wage. You can follow them via Daily Kos’s handy guide.

Flipping Legislatures and Fixing Education

Democrats have finally started to pay attention to state legislature races, awakened to their importance by the sheer number of Republican majorities that have installed heinous gerrymanders, limited voting rights, deserted working people, and let schools crumble. In a lot of the hottest state races that we’ve explored, teachers are running as Democrats to help restore funding and sanity to public schools that have been gouged by tax cuts and for-profit charter schools.

But winning majorities in most states won’t happen in one election, especially because Republicans are still spending more in state legislature races than Democrats. That said, we’re watching races that could either flip chambers or at least break super-majorities in a number of states. Here are the specific candidates for whom we’ve raised money and endorsed and are still in competitive elections (in New York, the primary was in many cases the real election):

Kentucky: Jeanie Smith (KY-SD-32), Tina Bojanowski (KY-HD-32)

Colorado: Faith Winter (CO-SD-24), Tammy Story (CO-SD-16)

Ohio: Erica Crawley (OH-HD-26), Lauren Friedman (OH-SD-29), Taylor Sappington (OH-HD-94), Lorraine Wilburn (OH-HD-48), Rachel Crooks (OH-HD-88)

Iowa: Jackie Smith (IA-SD-07), Lindsay James (IA-HD-99)

Oklahoma: Jacob Rosecrants (OK-HD-46), Angela Graham (OK-HD-66), Cyndi Ralston (OK-HD-12), Josh Martin (OK-HD-70)

New York: Anna Kaplan (NY-SD-4), Jessica Ramos (NY-SD-13), John Mannion (NY-SD-50), Monica Martinez (NY-SD-3), Rachel May (NY-SD-53), Robert Jackson (NY-SD-31)

Texas: Beverly Powell (TX-SD-10), Nathan Johnson (TX-SD-16)

Wisconsin: Kriss Marion (WI-SD-17), Julie Henszey (WI-SD-05), Lee Snodgrass (WI-SD-19)

Maine: All Democratic State Senate candidates fundraise online together.

Swing Congressional Candidates

Through a variety of ActBlue pages and initiatives, Progressives Everywhere raised tens of thousands of dollars for candidates in toss-up Congressional races. Here’s the list of candidates, along with Andrew Janz (CA-22).

Abby Finkenauer* (IA-01)
DD Adams* (NC-05)
Lauren Underwood* (IL-14)
Mikie Sherrill* (NJ-11)
Clarke Tucker* (AR-02)
Kathleen Williams (MT-AL)
Cindy Axne* (IA-03)
Hiral Tipirneni* (AZ-08)
Rick Neal* (OH-15)
Karen McCormack* (CO-04)
Amy McGrath (KY-06)
Abigail Spanberger (VA-07)
Andy Kim (NJ-03)
Antonio Delgado (NY-19)
Anthony Brindisi (NY-22)
Angie Craig (MN-02)
Gil Cisneros (CA-39)
Katie Hill (CA-25)
Katie Porter (CA-45)
Tom Malinowski (NJ-07)
Lizzie Fletcher (TX07)
Sharice Davids (KS-03)
Sean Casten (IL-06)
Harley Rouda (CA-48)
Jason Crow (CO-06)
Jared Golden (ME-02)
Dean Phillips (MN-03)

Iowa has a chance for a total Blue Wave

There’s a lot of insane things happening in America right now. Attacks on abortion rights. Voting rights at risk. Trade wars. Nazi sympathizers in office. And Iowa, the quiet heartland right smack in the middle of the country, is dealing with all of it.

What happens in Iowa this November will have an outsized impact on the rest of us. So let’s start with good news: While the last few years have seen Republicans play every angle and pull every nasty trick in their Jim Crow 2.0 playbook to disenfranchise voters, a judge delivered some good news for democracy (and Democrats) in Iowa on Thursday. In a crucial ruling, an injunction was placed on the state’s controversial Voter ID law, suspending the discriminatory practice and restoring the 11 days of early voting that the legislature eliminated last fall.

It was a major setback for Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, an old-school, corrupt creature of whatever would you’d call the cornfield-equivalent of the swamp in Des Moines. A few hours after the ruling, I hopped on the phone with Deidre DeJear, a former Obama campaign coordinator who is now the Democratic nominee challenging Pate this November.

“He commissioned this bill, then turned it over to a senator and they put it through committee and ended up passing it,” DeJear said, putting the onus directly on the man she is trying to unseat. “This is his baby and this is what he’s been working on for a while in our state. He hasn’t been promoting voting.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Deidre DeJear via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

Encouraging the electorate is engrained in her, as DeJear has been working to turn out votes since childhood. That’s not hyperbole — as a kid, she was drafted to help on her grandmother’s campaign for election commissioner of Yazoo County in Mississippi.

It should be noted that, when she was a kid knocking on doors for her grandma, Pate was being called a “big league sleaze” by political columnists in Des Moines. He’s made a habit of corruption and lying — just this spring he called an AP investigation into oversights in his financial disclosures “fake news,” before later adjusting those documents to account for millions of dollars in undisclosed property.

DeJear, meanwhile, has made a career out of helping small businesses. She was just out of college, working in the marketing department of a small local bank when the 2008 recession hit and wiped out the livelihoods of millions of Americans. People were laid off en masse and many felt forced to start their own businesses, and came to the bank looking for guidance.

So DeJear ultimately left to start her own company, which helps to launch and market new small businesses. The Secretary of State in Iowa also has a heavy hand in small business administration, another reason she wants to win the job.

“We have over 260,000 small businesses in our state and they provide jobs for about 50 percent of the workforce, so I want to make sure that whatever economic trials and tribulations come through the path of Iowa that our small business owners are going to weather that storm,” she said. “I remember in 2008 to 2010, there were just so many dilapidated buildings and empty storefronts. Now that they’re filled back up, I don’t want to fall by the wayside again. We’re also trying to further develop and redevelop rural Iowa, and rural Iowa isn’t too good right now, especially in light of all Trump’s trade war stuff, so we need to make sure that they’re getting resources.”

Her adult political career started around the same time as her formative business experience. While attending Drake University, DeJear helped organize students for then-Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. She took on a bigger role with his re-election campaign four years later.

“When 2012 came along, I walked into the office to volunteer and a couple of weeks later it became a full-time job,” DeJear, who now works as a small business consultant, remembered. “I traveled throughout the state. I was African-American vote director that year and my job was to get African-Americans engaged in the process because we knew by and large the African-American supported the President, but that didn’t necessarily translate into a vote.”

Her plan, a combination of canvassing and active citizen-to-citizen lobbying, helped increase the minority share of the vote in lily-white Iowa from 3% in 2008 to 7% in 2012 — crucial to a smaller margin of victory for Obama in his second go-round.

Five years later, as Pate pushed the law in the legislature, he promised that it would not make voting more difficult for Iowans. That was, as everyone knew at the time, a blatant lie. Beyond the fact that voter fraud is almost non-existent, which negates the cynical rationale for the measure, national statistics make clear just how much these laws deter eligible voters from casting ballots — even when they do show up to the polls with all their proper paperwork. And in Iowa, it quickly became clear during local and primary elections that the Voter ID law was the equivalent of scattering roadblocks and car wrecks across a highway and suggesting that people were still free to drive.

Clearing the path to voting isn’t enough. To exhaust the metaphor, DeJear is focused on getting more people actively on the road to the polls.

“We also have 2.3 million people eligible to vote, but only 1.9 million registered,” she said. “So we’ve got about 400,000 folks that are just kinda out there in limbo and he’s not really doing much to engage them either. So there’s a lot of work that can be done in that office to increase voter turnout.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Deidre DeJear via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

Pate promises to fight to make voting harder all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court, while DeJear’s plan to handle voter rights and election administration is fundamentally different. It comes down to a very simple philosophical difference: Unlike Pate, DeJear actually wants more people to vote and participate in the system. Headlining her agenda is automatic voter registration, a progressive policy that’s grown more popular over the last few years as Democrats have woken up to the importance of voting rights and expanding the electorate.

“Right now, when you go to the DMV, if you’re getting your driver’s license renewed or getting your ID renewed, you have to ask about applying to register to vote,” she said. “The situation that I would prefer is that people, if they’re eligible to vote, they’re automatically registered, and if they want to opt out, they can.”

In states that have implemented automatic voter registration, the rate at which citizens registered to vote increased dramatically. Anything that gets people out of the DMV faster is a public service — adding voting rights to the equation is nearly saintly.

CLICK HERE to donate to Deidre DeJear via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

So, why should you care?

Iowa is traditionally a swing state, but in recent years has tacked to the right, like many states in which Democrats largely abandoned their political infrastructure after 2012. And thanks to both that rightward shift and Democrats’ grassroots resurgence, the state has suddenly become a microcosm of the national political environment. For a landlocked, largely rural state, it’s got an astonishing number of issues at play.

The ballot will be crowded in the state this year. Along with the Secretary of State race, Iowa plays host to a gubernatorial election and what should be a number of very tight races in a GOP-controlled state legislature that is close enough that it could tip back to Democrats in a wave election. Wresting some control of the state will be critical to stopping a return of the medieval anti-abortion law that the GOP passed there this spring; it was quickly blocked by a judge, but as of now, GOP leadership plans on taking it all the way to a Supreme Court that may be far more conservative in just a few months.

Iowa is also home to Steve King, one of the most racist congressmen in the country (we profiled his challenger several weeks ago), and is being hit particularly hard by Trump’s trade war, which could begin to loosen rural voters’ entrenched support of the GOP. Maximizing voter turnout this year and going forward is absolutely crucial — and having a Secretary of State that actually cares about voter rights is an essential part of that.

With the legislature up for grabs, DeJear also recommended two other candidates running in the state this November.

Lindsay James is a first-time candidate who is running in Iowa House District 99, which is currently held by Abby Finkenauer, who is running for Congress (her name may sound familiar, as Progressives Everywhere endorsed her months ago). James is a college chaplain whose faith inspires her progressive beliefs and community service. Her resume is incredibly impressive and frankly makes me feel lazy; James serves as the Director of the Loras College Peace Institute, chair of the Community Development Advisory Board, elected county official and a board member for the NAACP and the Children of Abraham. She has endorsed Medicare for All.

Jackie Smith is a retired speech pathologist who is running for State Senate after over 30 years of serving her Sioux City community in the classroom. She now owns a small store in Sioux City and served eight years on the County Board of Supervisors, and is very focused on both education and job training. Smith is running in District 7, which was already considered a top pickup opportunity before its Republican incumbent retired.

Progressives Everywhere has already endorsed Iowa’s Democratic candidate for governor, Fred Hubbell, whose election should help squelch the battle over that awful abortion law.

CLICK HERE to donate to Lindsay James, Jackie Smith, Deidre DeJear, and Fred Hubbell via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

EXCLUSIVE: Iowa Judge Strikes Down Voter ID Law; Dem Nominee Reacts

We’ve seen the GOP work assiduously to dismantle the American voting system, through purges and strict ID laws that disproportionately target minorities and Democratic-leaning voters. Today in Iowa, a judge struck down the state’s pernicious and racist Voter ID law.

From the Cedar Rapids Gazette:

An Iowa judge Wednesday issued a temporary injunction barring the state from implementing some provisions of Iowa’s new voter ID law.

The ruling, for now, restores the absentee early voting period from 29 days to 40 days and blocks certain ID requirements of the law, passed by the GOP-led Legislature and signed into law by former Gov. Terry Branstad in May 2017.

Polk County District Judge Karen Romano ruled that elements of the state’s new system requiring state-issued voter identification numbers on absentee ballots could harm the rights of voters to participate in elections, “in contravention” of Iowa’s Constitution.

The law was initiated by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, who worked to get the legislature to adopt and pass it. The ruling is a direct rebuke and could hurt the GOP’s chances in November. Pate himself is up for re-election, and is being challenged by former Obama campaign coordinator and small business owner Deidre DeJear.

I was actually just on the phone with DeJear as part of an already scheduled interview for Progressives Everywhere, and she was ecstatic about the ruling.

CLICK HERE to donate to Deidre DeJear via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue Page.

“The judge ruled that they could not prove the law was necessary. So 40 days of early voting is back, the ID requirement is no longer there, and there were some strange requirements for the absentee ballot system that have been annihilated,” she explained. “Paul Pate commissioned this bill. This is his baby, this is what he’s been working on for a while in our state. He hasn’t been promoting voting. We have about 2.3 million voters who are eligible to vote in our state but only 1.9 million are active. He’s not doing anything to engage them and there’s a lot of work that can be done in that office to increase our voter turnout.”

In her role for the Obama re-election campaign, she helped activate the youth and African-American vote. In 2012, minorities accounted for 7% of the vote in Iowa, up from 3% in 2008.

She’s in favor of automatic voter registration and actively promoting voting, instead of discouraging it like Pate has done. And with Iowa as a crucial swing state, having as many active voters as possible is a good thing for Democrats — and most of all, for democracy.

CLICK HERE to donate to Deidre DeJear via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue Page.

A note about our crowdfunding campaign: Progressives Everywhere will always be a free newsletter. But as the midterm elections draw near, we want to up our game, and that costs money. We want to do more candidate interviews, develop a new website, and even launch a podcast. So we’re asking for donations via Patreon, as little as $2 a month. There are perks, too. Thank you for reading, and now back to the activism!

J.D. Scholten is taking on the biggest racist in Congress

It doesn’t seem like the obvious career path for an aspiring congressman, but J.D. Scholten, who is running to unseat uber-controversial GOP Rep. Steve King in Iowa’s 4th district, thinks that his time as a pro baseball player was ideal preparation for working as a lawmaker.

“I didn’t care where my shortstop came from, whether he was Puerto Rican or from Texas,” Scholten says. “We worked together to achieve that common goal. I didn’t care who my left fielder voted for, we worked our tails off for a common goal and I feel that one thing that’s lost a lot in government.”

That anecdote has the polish of a stump speech bit, a response prepped for skeptical voters who may have never heard of the 38-year-old candidate, even though he was a standout high school athlete in Sioux City and later played pro ball there, too. But the story also functions as a criticism of the man he is trying to unseat, whose most notable accomplishments in 16 years in office are being named least effective member of Congress and earning a national reputation as a divisive bigot.

Rep. Steve King also tends to get labeled a “populist,” because the word has somehow become synonymous with right-wing neo-fascists (and he is definitely a right-wing neo-fascist). But it’s Scholten whose life and policy positions — he’s in favor of Medicare for All and against agricultural monopolies — are more in line with the traditional, Midwestern progressive roots of the term.

This is where the career in baseball really begins to matter. Because during his years in professional baseball, Scholten never played in the Major Leagues. Never even really came close. Most of his time as a ballplayer was spent throwing his sinking fastball for independent league teams, taking the mound in small stadiums in even smaller towns. You don’t often think of professional athletes as working class Americans, but like everywhere else in the modern economy, most of the riches in pro sports go to the very few at the top.

CLICK HERE to donate to J.D. Scholten’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

I know this because I worked for years in a similar independent baseball league, and other than the occasional presence of a washed-up former big leaguer avoiding retirement, it couldn’t have felt further from the Majors. Players making far below the minimum wage subsist on fast food and PB&J sandwiches, sit on old couches in dingy clubhouses, and stay either in motels or in the empty guest rooms of community members who trade room and board for free tickets. Long bus rides take them through small towns that all start to blend together after a while (my words, not his), leaving a collective impression of an increasingly left behind America.

“The most I ever got paid was $1500 a month,” Scholten says, laughing ruefully at the misconception that being a pro ballplayer always means making millions. “In the primary, one of my opponents kind of hinted at that and I made sure it was very clear that I was no bonus baby.”

When his playing days ended, Scholten began a career as a paralegal, working for firms in Minnesota and then Seattle. He got his first taste of a political campaign when he helped out a colleague who ran for state legislature in Minnesota, and after the 2016 election, like so many other dismayed Americans, he resolved to get more involved in the process. Activism wasn’t foreign to him, as he had attended protests in the lead-up to the Iraq War and was personally progressive, but the truth was that he had felt a bit disconnected in recent years.

He knew that had to change, but at the time, actually running for Congress wasn’t anywhere near his radar. But then came a series of revelations that set his life on a very different course.

First, Scholten returned home to Iowa shortly after the election, taking time over Thanksgiving to visit his ailing grandmother, who had always acted as his conscience. She continued to play that role until the very end. “The last thing my grandmother said to me was that I should move back to Iowa and take care of our farm,” Scholten remembers, his reverence for her apparent in his voice.

He would be the last person to feed his grandmother, who died a month later. Scholten gave the eulogy at her funeral, but it was her words that stayed with him. It was time to come home.

CLICK HERE to donate to J.D. Scholten’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

So he began looking for jobs in the local Sioux City paper — his family was renting the farm to a friend, so he needed supplemental income — but couldn’t find anything much above the minimum wage, and none of the positions came with benefits. The scarce job market may have given him pause, but the Women’s March, the day after President Trump’s inauguration, erased any doubt about what he needed to do next.

“I knew in that moment of clarity that the most meaningful things to me were my roots and my family and everything was around Iowa,” he says. “So that’s when I started realizing, you know what, I’m going to come back and I’m going to fight.” He moved back to Sioux City, and though he still didn’t plan to run for office, things changed when King’s 2016 opponent ultimately announced that she wouldn’t seek a rematch. “That’s when I decided I couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore,” he says, marking the beginning of an unlikely journey.

Scholten had little political experience, but plenty of stamina. Long road trips as a ballplayer meant that driving the three hours across his mostly rural district hardly registered. He bought a Winnebago RV (manufactured in his district, he points out), painted a campaign logo on its side, and then hit the road with some staff and volunteers. He’s put 35,000 on his personal vehicle alone, driving on highways and rural back roads alike to visit the small towns and communities that dot the far-reaches of the district.

For many years, Democrats have hewed to the right in these kinds of rural districts, convinced that sounding like Republicans would inspire voters to vote for them instead of just voting for Republicans. That centrist strategy has largely failed in the Midwest, and as local Democratic parties collapsed over the last two decades, Republicans were able to consolidate power in the region.

The truth that national Democrats miss is that progressive policy solutions never became unpopular. The GOP — and especially King — merely shifted the focus so thoroughly and corrosively toward identity politics that a decent economy made technocratic debate seemingly unnecessary. His progressivism helped him win the Democratic primary in June, and with farmer income down 74% in Iowa since 2013 and Trump’s trade war now further pummeling local soybean and pork producers, Scholten sees King’s inaction on agriculture as both egregious and a weak spot.

“Even before the tariffs, farmers were struggling with consolidation and low commodity prices,” Scholten says. When Trump began threatening a trade war, King signed on to a letter sent by Iowa’s congressional delegation asking him to rethink the matter, but has not been vocal about it on his infamous social media feeds or in major public speeches. As the volley of tariffs has intensified over the last few weeks, putting Iowa farmers at risk of losing billions of dollars, King has gone silent.

CLICK HERE to donate to J.D. Scholten’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

“He signed that letter, which is just slightly above of not doing anything at all, and you see at how he doesn’t care,” Scholten says, his even-keeled optimism shifting to what sounds like authentically aggrieved. “He endorsed Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican primary, and Ted Cruz is trying to get rid of ethanol. The renewable fuel standard that is the bread and butter of the district, the top ethanol plants that are in my district.”

Scholten is laser-focused on the working economy, despite King’s dreadful national reputation. King was one of the Republicans who made Donald Trump possible, through years of inflammatory and racist remarks about immigrants and a vicious social media presence that openly and defiantly retweets Nazis. But voters in the district know all about King’s bigotry, he says, and it’ll be pocketbook issues that convince them to make a change.

Along with local agricultural concerns, Scholten says he plans to zero in on healthcare, a national issue with major local resonance. Iowa experienced one of the largest upticks in uninsured rates in the country last year, from 3.9% to 7.2%, leaping back towards the nearly 10% rate before Obamacare was passed. Scholten openly supports Medicare for All, and has a knack for reaching voters who have developed a skepticism toward government. In rural Iowa, he’s had plenty of practice explaining progressive policy in common sense terms, starting in his own backyard.

“I talked to them about Medicare for All and my neighbor hates that it is a government thing. And I go, well, listen, we’ve had decades for the health insurance industry to figure this out and this is where we’re at,” Scholten says. “I might not want it to be a government thing, but we can’t have a society with so many millions of people not covered. America is 4% of the population of the world, yet we’re 41% of the wealth. And of all the western developed countries we’re the only one not have some sort of universal healthcare? We can definitely pay for it.”

It’s this kind of one-on-one appeal that Scholten thinks can help him pull off the upset against King. He’s outraised King the last three campaign cycles, but he’s not throwing the money at consultants and broadcast spots.

“I’m convinced that the old school style of politics of getting out to the people is the way to go,” he says. “That last decade of politics where you just stay home and fundraise and do TV commercials, that’s not going to do anything here to change people’s minds. It’s when you get out there and talk about issues that are very important to you and talk about the reasoning behind them. Medicare for All might turn some people away, but when I talk about the path to get there and how it’s gonna benefit us and, and reason with them, they see the light and we can come together.”

CLICK HERE to donate to J.D. Scholten’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

A note about our crowdfunding campaign: Progressives Everywhere will always be a free newsletter. But as the midterm elections draw near, we want to up our game, and that costs money. We want to do more candidate interviews, develop a new website, and even launch a podcast. So we’re asking for donations via Patreon, as little as $2 a month. There are perks, too. Thank you for reading, and now back to the activism!

Trump is going to come after Roe v Wade. We need to elect SCOTUS insurance

There is nothing I can say about last week’s avalanche of bad news that you haven’t screamed in a fit of rage and/or despair. But, in the interest of riling you up and creating some urgency, let’s recap:

The Supreme Court, a sullied institution that has been transformed into an organ of oppression for old rich bigots, delivered several major blows to working people, democracy, and humanity. Having already greenlit voter purges and protected corporations from facing consequences for taking part in human rights abuses, the conservative majority went even further last week. The court hobbled public sector unions, upheld Trump’s racist anti-Muslim travel ban, and struck down California’s effort to provide pregnant women in crisis with information about abortion.

Then it got worse.

After the last decision was announced, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Though he was a conservative on economic issues, he was considered a swing vote because of his respect for Roe v Wade and stance on gay marriage. There is just about zero chance that Trump will nominate a “moderate” to replace Kennedy, because he’s literally never done anything moderate in his life, and that was before he got maniacs like Stephen Miller howling in his ear.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

So then what? Simply put, it will be up to the states to protect its citizens. Overturning Roe v. Wade — whether incrementally or in one fell swoop — won’t make abortion illegal, but free states to do so themselves. (And many states are already pushing the limit, restricting reproductive choice more and more.)

So here we are again, faced with the task of rebuilding state and local Democratic parties on the fly, now with no nominal safety net at the high court. And so this week, we’re starting a fund for candidates who will stand up for these rights in key states where they are under attack.

In Ohio, the state GOP is pushing a law that would ban abortions altogether, even in the case of incest or rape. State senators know that it would immediately be challenged, but again, that’s the point. They want to get this blatantly illegal policy into the court system, so that it has a chance of blowing up Roe v Wade for good.

Governor John Kasich has cautioned against this bill, but the GOP right now has the supermajority needed to override any veto. That means that not only do we need to elect a Democratic governor this fall — former Consumer Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray is the nominee in a tight race — but also fight to take back the legislature (or at least break that supermajority). That brings us to Lauren Friedman and Lorraine Wilburn, pro-choice candidates who are running for the legislature in districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

Neither woman was very politically active before 2016, but they were inspired to get involved by Trump’s election. Already, their activism and campaigns have led to some pretty fantastic stories.

One stellar example: Wilburn delivered a birthday cake to the office of her GOP congressman, Jim Renacci, on the 7th anniversary of the passage of Obamacare. “I’m sure they threw it away. We were actually removed from the office,” Wilburn said.

Friedman said it best: “When you’re desperate and your elected officials don’t listen to you, you have to get creative.”

So, what do they stand for? Per CantonRep.com:

Wilburn said they’re running on “health care, education, economy and jobs. These are the issues that impact us and our families. They impact our friends. We know these issues first hand. .. we’re not career politicians.”

She said she wants more accountability for charter schools and an actual fix to school funding.

Friedman said, “we’ll show up, and we’ll vote. We’ll be there. And we will listen. We will talk to constituents, and we will hold town halls and I think it’s a real good start.”

These are the kind of candidates that can create a sea change for Democrats this year — as long as we support them and don’t let the national party’s tired old guard lecture people about civility and being nice to Nazis. Both women quit their day jobs to run for office full-time and are talking about fundamental issues that impact working Americans of all political persuasions. As Trump gives away billions to his rich buddies,  kitchen table issues and bold progressive activists are our best chance of connecting with voters and saving democracy.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

Having women so involved in fighting Trump will be crucial even in the campaigns in which they’re not the candidate. Look at what’s happening in Iowa for an idea of just how much is at stake this fall when it comes to reproductive rights (and so many other issues, of course).

Earlier this year, Iowa passed the most restrictive anti-choice bill in the nation, banning abortion at the point at which a fetus has a heartbeat. That’s about six weeks after conception, which is often before women even realize they are pregnant. Planned Parenthood of Iowa almost immediately sued, and soon after, a judge placed a temporary injunction against the law — which was exactly what the Iowa GOP wanted to have happen. Now, the measure will work its way through the court system, with a chance to be heard by the Supreme Court.

That makes this fall’s Iowa gubernatorial campaign absolutely critical. If Democrat Fred Hubbell can unseat GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds, he can stop the state from defending the law in court, defusing that major threat. With that in mind, we are officially supporting Hubbell’s campaign in what should be a very close race.

Because there are so many other states that restrict abortion rights and so many races to be fought, we’re also backing Emily’s List, an organization that trains and supports pro-choice Democratic women running for office.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights