Diving deep into Obama’s endorsements

First, a big push in Ohio: Tuesday marks the final big special election before the midterms. OH-12 is another GOP district that Democrats are close to turning blue thanks to a bright young candidate and voters’ disgust with Trump’s sloppy, treasonous, batshit-insane presidency. Danny O’Connor is running a great campaign and the polls are within the margin of error. Trump even left his padded TV den to visit Ohio this weekend, so you know he’s scared of losing. Donate to Democrat Danny O’Connor here!

Now, the big news: Last week, former President Barack Obama released his first round of endorsements for local and statewide candidates. I’m not saying he’s definitely a Progressives Everywhere subscriber, but he diiid have a number of the candidates that we’ve supported on his list — including Deidre DeJear, the Democratic nominee for Iowa Secretary of State, who I just so happened to feature in last week’s edition.

OK, so Barack Obama probably isn’t reading this newsletter. But his endorsements were a very welcomed development. The former president himself admits that state and local parties withered during his time in office. Now, he’s actively working to help a bunch of Democratic candidates — but who are they? And which of them are most worth supporting with your money?

First, here are the crossover candidates who have gotten both the Progressives Everywhere and Obama bumps: DeJear (IA-SoS) (Donate Here), Stacey Abrams (GA-Gov) (Donate Here), Kathleen Clyde (OH-SoS) (Donate Here), Richard Cordray (OH-Gov) (Donate Here), Lauren Underwood (IL-14) (Donate Here), and Tina Davis (PA-State Senate) (Donate Here).

All of Obama’s state legislature choices are in legislative chambers that are either up for grabs or under a breakable GOP supermajority. There are some great congressional candidates too, but this time around, I’m going to focus on very competitive state capitol races, where donations go the furthest.

Here are the first five candidates that especially excite me, in races that could make the biggest impact.

Tammy Story (CO-SD-16): There are two reasons to support Tammy Story’s campaign for State Senate in Colorado. First, she’s an active and accomplished public school advocate who helped lead the successful recall of three conservatives who had hijacked the Jefferson County Board of Education and went to war against teachers and students. She’s also a dedicated environmentalist and devoted to ensuring equal pay for equal work.

Second, she’s running against the embodiment of the modern Republican: Tim Neville is a noxious, far-right, mean-spirited nihilist who regularly sponsors bills that would strip rights and protections from LGBTQ Coloradans and make automatic weapons even more accessible. In 2016, to promote a bill that would allow concealed carry without a permit, an insane idea already, he went and held an AR-15 giveaway. The guy is a lunatic. That the GOP holds the Colorado state senate by one seat would make ousting this psycho even sweeter.

CLICK HERE to donate to Tammy Story and all our choices via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page for Obama’s Picks

Faith Winter (CO-SD-24): Few public officials have the guts that Faith Winter displayed last year. As the #MeToo movement began to rattle entrenched power in Hollywood and Washington, Winter, a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, stood up for herself and nearly a dozen other women who were sexually harassed by State Rep. Steve Lebsock. First, she spoke out in public, then called his bluff by filing a formal complaint. That Lebsock was also a Democrat made it an even braver choice, as political parties so often try to brush their members’ sins under the rug. It was a very messy fight and Lebsock did not go quietly — he basically went nuts — but he was ultimately expelled from the legislature. The fight goes on and Winter is helping to lead the way.

She should not be defined only by her fight against sexual harassment, because Winter has a slew of other accomplishments. She helped train women to run for office through the Emerge America program, introduced Equal Pay and Paid Family Leave laws (which went down in the State Senate), advocates for affordable housing, and fights for public education.

CLICK HERE to donate to Faith Winter and all our choices via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page for Obama’s Picks
Laura Fortman (ME-SD-13): When it comes down to actually passing legislation and influencing government, Frances Perkins will forever rank as one of the most important figures in the history of the progressive movement. As FDR’s Secretary of Labor, she helped rally workers and labor unions and enacted much of the New Deal’s most important policies, operating in FDR’s long shadow. So when a politician lists Perkins as a hero, you immediately take notice.

Laura Fortman has spent her career fighting for workers and women, as the head of the Maine Women’s Lobby and the Maine Department of Labor, then later for the US Department of Labor. She also served as the head of the Frances Perkins’ Center, a museum dedicated to Perkins’ legacy. Her understanding of the complicated web of issues facing the working class makes her an ideal candidate for a state that just suffered through Gov. Paul LePage, a grumpy old bigot who would rather go to jail than expand access to healthcare.

CLICK HERE to donate to Laura Fortman and her Maine Democratic colleagues, plus all our other choices via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page for Obama’s Picks

Erica Crowley (OH-HD-26): I’ve read a lot of personal statements from candidates over the years, and generally speaking, they are rote and filled with focus-group-tested buzzwords. Not Erica Crowley’s. Her life story is incredible, from a childhood raised by drug addicts (who have since recovered) to a decorated career in the military, a law degree, and a career helping non-profits serving her community’s most vulnerable people.

She is the kind of person who should be running our government at all levels. Smart, accomplished, and empathetic, with both ideals and actionable ideas informed by lived experience. This, from her website, says it all: “I refuse to idly stand by while income inequality, access to affordable and quality healthcare, and the fight for equitable education continue to be growing issues.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Erica Crowley and all our choices via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page for Obama’s Picks

Taylor Sappington (OH-HD-94): Speaking of policy informed by experience, Taylor Sappington‘s story is also one of dire circumstances in childhood leading to empathy and vision in adulthood. Growing up in southeastern Ohio, Sappington grew up in a union family that hit rock bottom when her mom’s employer downsized. Bills went unpaid and they lost just about everything, including electricity and even their car, a key to life in rural Ohio.

Thanks to public education and then a lot of student loans, Sappington graduated college and wound up on the local city council. His platform calls for better funding for public education, increased access to healthcare, better rural infrastructure, clean elections, and renewable energy. He is the sort of candidate that could turn the tide for Democrats in rural areas that have become reflexively Republican, a local boy who understands the region and can help it navigate the changing economy.

CLICK HERE to donate to Taylor Sappington and all our choices via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page for Obama’s Picks

Stick it to Nazis and help expand access to healthcare

Ignore Trump. Progressive activists are making real progress.

It’s increasingly hard to remember a time before Donald Trump’s demented id hovered over all facets of American life, blocking out the sun with a thick, gold foil-wrapped cloud of sexism, racism, and corruption. But even just a few years ago, Americans could enjoy a relatively quiet July 4th week, celebrating a very imperfect nation that seemed to be slowly progressing toward a more just and fair democracy.

That idea of America was probably a delusion, given the vicious policies we’ve seen the GOP pursue over the last decade, but still, the evil being wrought by the US government this past July 4th, ostensibly a time to celebrate our higher ideals, puts the urgency of our reality into deep relief.

Human rights abuses. Republicans in Russia. Trade wars. Healthcare developments. Scott Pruitt trying to steal the Declaration of Independence (probably). News from last Monday feels like it happened forever ago. Which is really part of Trump’s “plan,” if he has any: overload us until we crawl to our couches, turn on Netflix (the new season of GLOW is great!) and let him live-tweet Fox News in a froth while his cronies loot America.

Turns out, though, that the week was filled with news about the candidates and causes we (and by that I mean you, generous reader) are supporting here at Progressives Everywhere. And in fact, there was even some good news! So this week, let’s check in on the progress of the leaders and movements we’ve boosted with over $45,000 thus far, and try to help them even more.

Let’s start with some good news: Medicaid expansion looks like it will be on the ballot in Nebraska!

Last month, we spoke to an organizer at Insure the Good Life, the non-profit that was leading the campaign to bypass GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts and give voters the power to expand healthcare access for 90,000 working people across the state. Last week, they delivered 133,000 signatures to the Nebraska Secretary of State, far surpassing the required 85,000. Once they’re validated by the state, there will be a question on the ballot in this November’s election, and should it pass, Nebraska will become the 35th state to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

There will also be a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in Idaho and Utah, and all three are polling well right now. This is in line with the massive shift in public opinion in favor of Obamacare — and directly contrary to ongoing Trump and GOP efforts to sabotage the law and take away healthcare from millions of people (Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin just took dental and vision benefits from Medicaid recipients, simply because he’s an asshole). This should be THE biggest issue in the midterm elections, especially if progressives continue to press and play offense, working to expand access instead of punishing people for getting sick.

Click HERE to support Medicaid expansion ballot initiatives in Nebraska and Idaho!

Hate has always run America. It’s just that over the last 30 or so years, the bigotry has been the more subtle and insidious kind, inspiring discriminatory policy couched in platitudes about opportunity and freedom.

Thanks to Donald Trump and his embrace of the alt-right, both rhetorically and in public policy, the false niceties have fallen by the wayside. As Democrats run their most diverse slate of candidates in history, literal Nazis are running wild, trying to intimidate the progressives that are going to sweep them from power.

Rick Neal, an openly gay candidate running in Ohio’s 15th district, found a sticker for the Neo-Nazi group Patriot Front on the campaign sign on the lawn of his Columbus home.

Via NBC 4 in Columbus:

He lives with his husband and their 2 daughters who are both African American. He said he expected opponents to take shots at his personal life. “I’m the first openly gay nominee running for federal office in Ohio’s history. I mean it was bound to get some attention, right,” asked Neal.

But he never expected to see what he found Monday night. A sticker placed on his campaign sign in his front yard promoting the group “Patriot Front.”

Neal said he would have preferred it if the person who left the sticker would have simply had a conversation with him. “Neo-nazis. Or just the Nazis. Do you know what that’s all about? Do you know what they did? Do you know your history?” he said.

And though he filed a police report, he said he’s not overly worried and that if anything the incident reinforces his decision to run for office in the first place. “There’s too much at stake in this election to be intimidated,” he said.

His reaction to the situation is inspiring, but not surprising. Neal has spent his entire adult life giving himself to the cause of helping and progressing humanity. He joined the Peace Corps. out of college and then went into nonprofit work, traveling the world to work on issues like access to clean water, the Ebola epidemic, and refugee camps.

He’s running against Steve Stivers, who will have all the resources in the world as the head of the NRCC. He’s got a 99% Trump score — meaning he’s voted with Trump 99% of the time. He’s supported this paragon of hate over and over again, helping prop up his indecent presidency. Taking him down would be absolutely huge.

If you want to help support to Rick Neal, while defiantly sending a message that hate groups have no place in our politics and that we will not be intimidated.

CLICK HERE to donate to our ActBlue page supporting Rick Neal’s campaign.

On the immigration front, there has been slow, halting progress in reuniting families so cruelly ripped apart at the border by Trump and Jeff Sessions’ violent “no tolerance” policy. It’s become clear that the Trump administration had absolutely no intention on reuniting parents and children when it began this evil operation; because they kept such terrible and incomplete records, it’s been a mad scramble to identify children, locate their parents, and reunite the families.

There are some 12,000 children in government custody right now, and about 3000 of them have yet to be reunited with their parents. About 100 of them are under five years old — and it turns out that the government already deported 38 of their parents.

Immigrant rights organizations are working night and day to help families be reunited and get their fair day in court; right now, the administration is often forcing toddlers to represent themselves in front of a judge. (That is not a joke.) The conditions these families face are deplorable, and the entire ordeal has been devastating to the development of these innocent children. The sooner we can end this immediate catastrophe, the better.

CLICK HERE to donate to our ActBlue page supporting nonprofits working to assist abused immigrant families.

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

This is the only way to save Democracy

So, this week was a bummer, right? Exhausting, even. The outrages continue to hit us from all directions, stacking one crime against humanity on top of another, creating a tower of moral atrocities that threatens to block out whatever rays of light and hope remain. Innocent families being torn apart. Children — even babies! — being tossed into cages inside old Walmarts and desert huts. Proposals to cut billions from Medicare and strip health care from millions of kids. The obvious corruption. The racist tweets. The insensitive-to-insidious jackets. The lies denying that any of this is happening, followed by the lies that any of it is being fixed.

How is this parade of noxious absurdity happening? How are policies and moronic proclamations that feel like on-the-nose satire continue to flow like Trump vodka? How do these blunt bigots and monsters feel free to spout their bullshit? Why do they keep getting elected?

It all comes down to one thing: When you don’t let the people who disagree with you even vote, you feel pretty free to be your worst self. And the people who want to stop other people from voting tend to have pretty awful worst selves.

CLICK HERE to donate to candidates who will help restore voting rights in swing states across the country!

When the Republican Party began its (sadly, brilliant) effort to take over state governments across the country after 2008, they were playing for keeps. Conservatives (especially racists) have always been hostile to the idea that anyone but rich white people should be able to vote, and once they started seizing state houses, they promptly began working to disenfranchise working people and especially minorities in a number of ways.

There have been mass voter purges, which have taken people less likely to vote Republican off the voter rolls. Onerous Voter ID laws have made it harder for people still registered to vote. Gerrymandering has made the votes that do get through irrelevant by chopping up states into increasingly ridiculous districts, thus diluting the power of traditionally Democratic votes and guaranteeing more Republicans get elected. It’s dirty, undemocratic stuff, and it’ll only get worse if we don’t take care of it now.

Courts have rolled back some of the most flagrant violations, but the GOP can be very resilient when it’s trying to disenfranchise people. Just this past month, there have been a series of huge decisions and political maneuvers that could strip voting rights away from millions of people and allow the GOP to keep power this November. There are more than a handful of states dealing with these issues, but we’ll focus on the most recent struggles.

Ohio’s Republican leadership has thrown over two million people off the voting rolls since 2011 through their “use it or use it law.” Basically, the state can deregister people if they don’t respond to a mailer sent to their home and don’t vote for another four years. And wouldn’t you know it, the law has purged residents of predominantly African-American neighborhoods at twice the clip that it has residents of white neighborhoods.

The law is meant to combat “voter fraud,” which is basically an imaginary crime that conservatives have concocted to justify kicking minorities off the voter rolls. And unfortunately, because the Supreme Court was also stolen by conservatives, it issued a ridiculous decision earlier this month that strained and ultimately broke with all logic in order to side with the Ohio GOP and codify the racist voter purge.

CLICK HERE to donate to candidates who will help restore voting rights in swing states across the country!

Now, not only is the Ohio GOP free to stop Democratic voters from voting, lots of other GOP-controlled states are likely to adopt the same approach. That makes electing Democratic secretaries of state, the office that controls elections, absolutely essential. And as such, we’re supporting Kathleen Clyde, the Democratic nominee for Ohio secretary of state. She’s pledged to stop the voter purges, which would help restore fundamental freedoms in the state — a swing state that just so happens to be absolutely crucial to presidential elections.

In Pennsylvania, the issue has largely been gerrymandering. The state legislature has been unbalanced for years due to the GOP’s shenanigans, and up until a few months ago, the state’s congressional districts were equally preposterous. Activists took the issue to the State Supreme Court, which agreed that yes, the map was a terrible abuse of power, and ordered a fairer redistricting that will likely help Democrats this fall.

The PA legislature was supposed to submit a bill that drew new district lines, but at the last moment, Republicans slipped in a poison pill that attacked the very judiciary that ruled against their gerrymander. The gist is that it would create a voter initiative that’d entirely redesign the way judges are elected in Pennsylvania. Instead of statewide elections, appellate judges would be voted on by district, which, surprise surprise, would give the GOP an advantage in a state that has large rural swaths in between two metropolitan areas.

They have to pass this bill twice, which means that Democrats have to take back the PA state senate. As such, we are supporting several PA state senate candidates who have a great chance of unseating Republicans this fall, which would stop this major anti-democratic measure in its tracks. As of now, that includes Mark Pinsley and Maria Collett, who are running in PA-SD-16 and PA-SD-12, respectively.

CLICK HERE to donate to candidates who will help restore voting rights in swing states across the country!

Over in North Carolina, the GOP has been especially aggressive in its disenfranchising of likely Democratic voters. They’ve limited early voting and spent nearly a decade trying to establish permanent control of the legislature.

After the Supreme Court struck down their racist gerrymander, the GOP passed another version that was expressly meant to benefit Republicans. They didn’t even try to hide it. In 2016, state Rep. David Lewis said this on the floor of the legislature: “I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats, because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”

The Supreme Court struck down some elements of the gerrymander, but other districts were kept in place. And now the GOP is pushing new a state constitutional amendment to enshrine terrible Voter ID laws, which would help make its supermajority nearly impossible to topple.

That makes this fall’s election beyond important. North Carolina could become permanently Republican, making what was becoming a swing state into a GOP stronghold. And with that in mind, we’re supporting several Democratic candidates in the state, including Richard Chapman, who is taking on the aforementioned David Lewis.

CLICK HERE to donate to candidates who will help restore voting rights in swing states across the country!