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)

This week on GOTMFV: Helping Pennsylvania break the GOP’s supermajority

This year I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Chris Savage and Jason Sattler, who are better known on the internet as the guys behind Eclectablog and LOLGOP. They have a great podcast about progressive politics and candidates, and they’ve invited Progressives Everywhere to do a weekly segment about local candidates for people to support.

This week’s choice is Tina Davis, a PA legislator who is running for the State Senate. She’s running in a very swingy district — Hillary Clinton won it in 2016, but so did Republican Senator Pat Toomey — and she’s taking on an entrenched incumbent. But she’s made a name for herself in the legislature and is a very grassroots-focused candidate, with a great pro-worker platform.

Pennsylvania is deadlocked with a Democratic governor and Republican supermajority in the State Senate, but the GOP’s grasp on the chamber is down to just one seat, making Davis’s candidacy that much important.  I’ll work to interview her soon, but we’re already raising money for her campaign.

Electoral news roundup: The future is female in Texas

Trump and Putin’s press conference yesterday was nothing short of pathetic. It deserves all the outrage we can throw at it — but it’s also not the only pressing news story happening right now. Here’s a look at some of the most important electoral stories happening right now:

  • In Texas, women are running for office in unprecedented numbers. Right now, there are only 29 women in the 150-seat State Legislature and eight women out of 31 state senators. But women make up nearly half of the Democratic Party’s nominees this year — including its nominee for governor.
  • Defying conventional wisdom, bold progressivism — and democratic socialism — is on the rise in western Pennsylvania and the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Lt. Governor candidate John Fetterman, the ultra-popular mayor of Braddock, is helping the surge. Bernie Sanders recently visited Pittsburgh to rally with Fetterman.
  • Maine voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid last fall, but the state’s insane GOP governor, Paul LePage, refuses to carry out the will of the people. He’s now defying a court order to implement the Medicaid expansion, and just last week said he’d sooner go to jail than help working people go to the doctor. We’d like to see both happen.
  • Activists in Michigan delivered over 400,000 signatures to get a voter rights initiative on the ballot this fall. But a group of corporations is now suing to have the initiative removed from the ballot, a scary prospect given the fact that the State Supreme Court is made up entirely of Republicans. Citizens are fighting back, though, holding protests in Detroit to demand that the Chamber of Commerce, one of the lawsuits’ financiers, pulls out of the effort to thwart democracy.
  • The Koch Brothers are behind some incredibly misleading mailers to voters in Missouri, where Right to Work is on the ballot. Of course, they’re yet another attack on unions and workers.
  • New Hampshire is making it harder for people to vote, especially college students.

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!