Monday, December 11, 2017

TODAY, Pennsylvania's Supreme Court Could Deal A Fatal Blow To Gerrymandering

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As we mentioned late Friday, today is D-Day for gerrymandering in Pennsylvania. Yes... TODAY. There are 3 gerrymandering lawsuits wending their way through the courts in Harrisburg and the first one makes its judicial splash today. "The litigation," reported Reuters on Sunday, "is part of a growing set of legal challenges to partisan redistricting, including a U.S. Supreme Court case out of Wisconsin that could for the first time establish a constitutional standard to measure the legality of such map-making. The high court is scheduled to decide that case by June 2018, five months before the midterm elections.
In addition to the state case, two pending federal lawsuits also challenge the district lines as unconstitutional. Legal observers consider the state lawsuit the most likely to succeed in time for the voting next November.

The Democratic-majority state Supreme Court has ordered the presiding judge to render his decision by Dec. 31. The high court will then determine whether to accept his ruling or issue its own conclusions.

The state lawsuit asserts the redistricting included numerous examples of blatantly partisan lines.
It's so complicated that Reuters then flubbed the whole thing, writing that "Democrat-dominated Reading, one of the most economically depressed cities in the state, was carved out of the 6th district and placed into the reliably Democratic 13th, a move the plaintiffs said was intended to render the city’s votes meaningless." What reporter Joseph Ax should have written was "Democrat-dominated Reading, one of the most economically depressed cities in the state, was carved out of the 6th district and placed into the reliably Republican 16th, a move the plaintiffs said was intended to render the city’s votes meaningless." Reading's Democratic voters are swamped by Lancaster County's huge Republican majorities. If Reading was still part of the 6th, the 6th, a more swingy district, would be a safe blue district. I remember when my old friend Aryanna Strader (now Lt. Governor candidate Aryanna Berringer) ran against entrenched Republican Joe Pitts in the 16th in 2012. There are 3 counties (or parts of counties) in the 16th-- Berks, whose county seat in Reading, Chester and Lancaster. There were about 30,000 votes that came out of Reading and it was a landslide for Aryanna. She beat Pitts 65-30%. Chester County, which provided around 38,000 votes, is more swingy and Pitts was ahead by a nose-- 48-47%. But when Lancaster County came in, it was clear what the Republican legislators had done-- close to 190,000 votes from an exceedingly red county made Reading's voters meaningless. Pitts won Lancaster Co. 125,310 (60%) to 69,033 (33%).

Ax got his next example quote right though. It demonstrates another GOP tactic legislators use to make Democratic votes meaningless-- exactly what they did to blue, blue Austin, Texas, for example. "Montgomery County," he wrote, "where state senator Leach lives, has approximately 820,000 residents, slightly more than the 711,000 needed for a single congressional district, but has been sliced into five separate districts." Ax reported that Daylin Leach, the progressive lion of the state's Democrats, "is running in one of the country’s most gerrymandered congressional districts, one with such a twisting, winding shape that it has earned the derisive nickname 'Goofy Kicking Donald Duck.' The 7th congressional district has become a national poster child for critics of gerrymandering, the process by which one party draws district boundaries to ensure an advantage among voters. Democrats say the lines have helped Republicans like U.S. Representative Patrick Meehan, the four-term incumbent Leach seeks to unseat, to stay in office... Leach said he would make gerrymandering a campaign issue. 'It’s theft of democracy,' Leach said. 'This is horribly destructive.'... The 7th district is so precisely engineered that at one point it narrows to the width of a single seafood restaurant, snaking past two other congressional districts so it can link two far flung Republican-leaning areas."




“Three congressional districts all converge on this spot,” Leach said from the parking lot at Creed’s Seafood and Steaks last week, as cars whizzed overhead on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

“This is the sixth; over there is the seventh; and down that road is the 13th,” he said, pointing in several directions. “This is what gerrymandering looks like on the ground.”

...Critics of gerrymandering say it helps explain why Pennsylvania has sent 13 Republicans and only five Democrats to the U.S. House since the 2011 redistricting, despite being a closely divided swing state.

...The Democrats have targeted six Republican-held districts in the state as part of their quest to pick up the 24 House seats they need to overturn the Republicans, who also have a Senate majority and President Donald Trump in the White House.

Democrats need to win the nationwide popular vote by at least 10 points in 2018 to do so, in part because of gerrymandered lines, according to Michael Li, a redistricting expert and lawyer at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

“Pennsylvania is probably the most aggressive of the gerrymanders,” he said. “You look at some of the maps in the Philadelphia suburbs, and it looks like a 4-year-old just slapped paint around.”

The non-partisan League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania sued the state in June, arguing the maps violate the state constitution by depriving residents of a meaningful vote.

The litigation is part of a growing set of legal challenges to partisan redistricting, including a U.S. Supreme Court case out of Wisconsin that could for the first time establish a constitutional standard to measure the legality of such map-making. The high court is scheduled to decide that case by June 2018, five months before the midterm elections.

“The politicians are not supposed to pick their voters; the voters are supposed to elect their leaders,” said Mimi McKenzie, an attorney with the Public Interest Law Center who represents the League of Women Voters and other Pennsylvania voters.
Last week Rep. Matt Cartwright told us that ""Pennsylvania’s Congressional map is an abomination, a perfect example of politicians selecting their voters, instead of vice versa. I think we are fortunate to have a majority on the state Supreme Court willing to dive into this question and fix our preternaturally bollocksed up Congressional boundaries. It is hard to imagine that any tribunal could conclude that this map is not violative of any reasonable standard of electoral fairness. The real question is the one you have asked at the beginning:  whether the Supreme Court has the will to race time and put a new map in place for 2018. My prediction is that the Olympic-caliber foot-dragging Republicans in Harrisburg will test the high court’s resolve-- to do the right thing-- to the utmost."

Yesterday we discussed it with Daylin Leach again and he told us that when he started talking about the evils of gerrymandering 15 years ago, "I felt like I was talking to myself. It was on nobody's radar. Now, the issue is popping, and I'm extremely gratified that we appear to be finally on the precipice of progress on this insult to democracy. Hopefully, the courts will deal with this in a thoughtful, but aggressive way to consign the theft of votes that gerrymandering is to the ash heap of history."



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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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-by Noah

For yesterday's meme, I threw a glaring prison yard spotlight on the 22 Republican creeping lowlife senators who, led by Mitch McConnell, voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act back in 2013. You can consider today's meme Part 2. It too, reflects the basic attitude of Republicans towards women. It's not just about their legislation ideas. Groping is bad enough but, to them, as evidenced by Trump's own recorded statements, republicans just consider groping and forced kissing to be "foreplay."

You can start with the cretin in today's meme, Maine state representative Lawrence Lockman. As additional evidence, I offer the exact quotes from a few of our most disgusting lawmakers. I'm surprised that a psychotic like Paul Ryan hasn't introduced a bill to make rape legal. It would be so Taliban of him and his party of sociopathic knuckle-dragging cavemen. It would certainly fit the rest of his personality profile.

Here they are. You know there's a lot more where this came from. Some will be familiar to you as being from the lengthy catalog of the GOP's Greatest Hits. Others, not so much, but every bit as grotesque and heinous. I've added editorial comments in parenthesis for each of these sub-human morons. And, yes, there are bad Democrats, but this is about overwhelming percentages and an attitude that serves as a qualification of party membership every bit as much as being a racist does.

1. Clayton Williams (R-TX) - Rape is kinda like the weather. If it's inevitable, relax and enjoy it. (Texas. Say no more.)

2. Todd Akin (R-MO) - If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down. (Oh, the mysteries of them female bodies!)

3. Rick Santorum (R-PA) - Rape victims should make the best of a bad situation. (It's bad enough that Santorum dresses like the neighborhood perv, but, apparently, he wants credit for admitting that rape is bad.)

4. Richard Mourdock (R-IN) - Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended to happen. (Wow, that some god these republican talibanistas have!)

5. Jodie Laubenberg (R-TX) - In the emergency room, they have what's called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out. (Saving the "best" for last. This one comes from a woman, but, like Clayton Williams, she is from Texas. Do you think she'd feel the same way if, one night, her fellow Texan offered her a ride home and stopped the car on a dark side street and raped her?)

Like I always say, context is everything. Given the above quotations from such republican luminaries as these, is it any wonder that something like a Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) can just laugh at the press about pedophilia when they ask about his support for Roy Moore? For all we know, rape of an underaged girl is the best rape of all, in the mind of a Republican.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

For Those Who Believe The Democratic Party Is Salvageable...

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As you may-- or may not-- know, the DNC has been working to heal the wounds left from Wasserman Schultz's reign of terror, particularly over how she worked to undermine Bernie's campaign and rig the primaries for Hillary, making the party weak and un-unified and giving Trump more opportunities to gain ground. Over the weekend the 8 Bernie appointees to the Unity Reform Commission-- Our Revolution Board Chair Larry Cohen, Our Revolution President Nina Turner, Our Revolution Board members Lucy Flores, Jane Kleeb, and Jim Zogby, as well as former Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport, Jeff Weaver, and Nomiki Konst-- participated in the last of 5 meetings on how to reform the DNC. These were some of the top recommendations that came out of their work:
Reducing the number of unpledged, "superdelegates," in the presidential nominating process by 60 percent.
Electoral reforms and a process for rewarding states that have same day registration, same day party change, open primaries, other measures that increase civic participation
Commitment to re-evaluating allocation formulas so primary and caucus winners receive more pledged delegates
Commitment to reexamine the primary calendar, and offer incentives to states to ensure the calendar is appropriately spread out so voters in each state receive the necessary exposure to the candidates
Steps toward transparency and greater inclusion in Democratic National Committee spending including the creation of an Ombudsman Committee and strengthening the conflict of interest provision.
Larry Cohen, who served as Vice Chair of the Commission, reported that the "proposals, assuming adoption by the DNC in 2018, lead to a Democratic Party that would be a beacon in voting rights and transparency. Much of the attention of the Unity Reform Commission is on the Presidential nominating process, particularly the cut in unpledged superdelegates on the first ballot from 715 to less than 300. Just as important, the reforms mandated for party caucus and primary reform provide for same day registration and same day party registration. Similarly party leadership elections must be open and transparent rules for nominations and deadlines must be simple not controlled by insiders. In all of our recommendations we are saying to party officials in all states: This party must be inclusive in building membership and leadership-- no barriers."



Our old friend, Norman Solomon, one of the authors of the 2016 Autopsy, isn't as high on the Commission's work. He pointed out to the Real News Network that the chair of the commission is Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, a co-founder of Precision Strategies, a consulting firm that in the years 2015 and 2016 received more than half a million dollars from the Democratic Party. "Dillon, holding a gavel, oversaw a discussion about a series of proposals to basically cut back on what one Bernie Sanders supporter on the commission referred to as 'outright corruption of the Democratic Party,' involving consultants. So, the very measures that were aimed to eliminate financial conflicts of interest between the party and high-rolling consultants, those proposals were being overseen by a chairperson who had received a great deal of money, including in the four-month period between February and June of 2016, 230,000 dollars to the consultant firm that she co-founded. You look at the big picture, and you see that there’s a lot of money that keeps flowing to Clinton-aligned political consultants from the Democratic Party, and the majority on this commission clearly does not want to shake up that game, much less end it."
Keith Ellison is in a bind and a box, really, when he lost a close election nine months ago to be chair of the Democratic National Committee to Tom Perez. Then Perez immediately invited him to be deputy chair. In that role, Ellison is supposed to be a team player, but when it comes down to these nitty gritty power issues, he’s pretty much in a hamstrung position. So, we know that in 2016 at the national convention, 712 of the delegates were superdelegates. That’s 15 percent of the total. There’s a proposal on the table, and it looks like it’s now being recommended by the Unity Reform Commission, to cut that number back to perhaps about 250 or 300 superdelegates.

Just to sort of recap, superdelegates means that people get to vote for the nominee for president at the national convention without any accountability or relationship to what voters or caucus members have voted for. A good example is that 11 weeks before a single vote was cast in a caucus or primary in the Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton battle, Hillary Clinton had already lined up half of all the superdelegates. It’s as though in a race, the starting gun goes off and immediately one of the candidates, one of the people in the race in an instant is far ahead of the other.

That’s the way the corporate forces like it. Naturally, the superdelegates being made up largely of members of Congress who are Democrats, Democratic governors, not that there are many of those anymore, others who are on the Democratic National Committee, including a lot of lobbyists and elite insiders. They love being able to put their money down literally and figuratively with endorsement quickly for their preferred candidate. It puts them ahead as media frontrunner immediately. They’re part of the delegate count as superdelegate and also gives enormous fundraising advantage. It likes to or is aimed to put forward the image that perception as reality idea that hey, there’s a frontrunner. There’s a sort of inevitability.

Another way to put it is the superdelegate battle is the question of whether corporate power in the party is going to continue to dominate. As we say in the Autopsy report, “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis,” it’s really not possible for the leaders at the national level of the Democratic Party to have a close working relationship with the base when it’s afraid of the base. I think what’s happened here at this final meeting of the Unity Reform Commission is a further indication that those in control of the DNC by a small but significant margin are afraid of the grass-roots. They did everything they could for this ostensibly open meeting to prevent access by the public to even show up at the meeting.

...[M]ore than half, and we saw this on a number of votes today, more than half of the commission is composed of people who, when push comes to shove, when the chips fall, they make the chips fall in a way that protects corporate interests that prevent transparency or accountability about the hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent by the Democratic Party. It reminds me of something that Bernie Sanders said more than six months ago in speaking to a reporter from The New York Times Magazine when he put it this way, there are people in the Democratic Party who don’t mind being on the Titanic as long as they have a first-class cabin.

There are vested interests, both personal interests of lucrative contracts and power and so forth in and in relation to the DNC as well as the big Wall Street and big bank firms and so forth. And they want their party. It’s sort of a tacit division of labor. There’s an unspoken sense that yeah, you have African Americans and Latinos and lower, working class people. You want them to turn out and vote but when it comes to the policies, those policies that will be pursued by the Democratic Party are largely circumscribed by the donor class.

So, it’s talk about you support the working class. Have the ship steered by the donor class, by Wall Street. This is so corrosive because when you get real about politics and power and the future of the country, there is no way to split the difference and say we’re going to help the big bankers. We’re going to help the multimillionaires and billionaires and we’re going to help the working class. This Democratic Party has a split identity. There’s the rhetoric that says we’re for the working people. There’s the overarching policy and control the DNC that’s vested in those who feel a direct kinship, a connection with and often are of the banker and donor and Wall Street class. That’s a part of the battle that I think is being fought and must be fought.

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4-5-6-7... All Good Cretins Go To Heaven

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Haaretz is one of the most respected Israeli newspapers. Yesterday they ran an analysis of what was behind Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem in a few years-- less than an hour's drive: Armageddon? Bring It On: The Evangelical Force Behind Trump's Jerusalem Speech. "The U.S. evangelical community," they wrote, "is in raptures over Trump's decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, believing it moves the world closer to Armageddon." He was endangering world peace but shoring up his evangelical cretinous base before the big battle over Mueller and impeachment.

Friday night one of Trump's warm-up acts at his Roy Moore rally in Pensacola was Panhandle state Senator Doug Broxson, a very far right, mentally-disturbed sociopath. (Note: the drive time from Pensacola to Mobile is almost identical to the drive time between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem.) Broxson, a crooked insurance agent, went to Evangel "University" in Missouri. He's best known for in the legislature for pushing a bill that would allow motorists playing music-- especially rap music-- to be fined. But Friday night he may have outdone himself when he told a cheering throng of insane Trump fans in a half filled auditorium that Trump's decision to move the embassy will bring on the End Times. "Now, I don’t know about you, but when I heard about Jerusalem-- where the King of Kings... where our soon coming King is coming back to Jerusalem, it is because President Trump declared Jerusalem to be capital of Israel."

Messhugannah State Senator Doug Broxson (R-FL), "one of us, one of us"


Earlier in the day every member of the UN Security Council-- except the U.S. condemned Trump's decision as being "not in line with Security Council resolutions and was unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region." That was from a joint statement by the ambassadors from traditional allies Trump has been alienating with his erratic, anti-democratic behavior since Putin placed him in the White House-- Britain, France, Sweden, Germany and Italy. Meanwhile, council members Britain, France, Russia, China, Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay called for the emergency council meeting, as the Middle East exploded in spasms of protest and violence over Trump's boneheaded decision.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs is head America's Reform Union and the Netanyahu Regime is unhappy that he has spoken out against Trump's stupid and dangerous move. According to the Jerusalem Post, Jacobs wrote that although Trump’s declaration "affirms what the Reform Jewish movement has long held: that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Yet while we share the President’s belief that the US Embassy should, at the right time, be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we cannot support his decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process."
Jacobs also said that the White House should not undermine efforts toward making peace between Israel and the Palestinians by "making unilateral decisions that are all but certain to exacerbate the conflict."

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How About A Nice Piece Of Art For Christmas? Blue America Contest

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Gung Ho! by Nancy Ohanian

The wonderful Nancy Ohanian has donated one of her gorgeous signed prints, "Gung Ho," to Blue America to use for raising money for the candidates we've endorsed this year. She would like to see Congress flip from red to blue and so would we... and we know you would too. So this is how this contest works. Just contribute any amount (up to $2,700 per candidate) to any of our candidates on this page. One dollar; ten dollars, $1,000... it's up to you. Split it between all the candidates, or give it to your favorite candidate or split it between 2 or 3 candidates... all up to you.

Next week (Monday, December 17), we'll pick one name randomly and send that person the print by Nancy. Easy, right?

This is an especially important, even crucial, election cycle. I don't think there's ever been more at stake... with this madman in the White House and a Congress filled with enablers and cheerleaders. We can't get Trump out of office next November... but we can and will put a check on him by defeating lots and lots of Republicans in Congress, starting with Paul Ryan and working our way down through the ranks. And what makes this cycle even more exciting is that there seems to be a mammoth anti-Trump/anti-GOP wave building and intensifying. All the polling shows it. As we saw a few weeks ago in Virginia and last week in Georgia, there are no districts that are too red to flip-- IF the right candidates are running.

The men and women on this list are for-real progressives of good moral character and with solid work ethics. Most important, these are the people who will make Congress a better place and force Congress to make our country a better place. Please give as generously as you can. And if you want to have a chance to win but find yourself in a tight financial situation, just send a letter to Blue America at P.O. Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027 and tell us you want to be part of the Christmas "Gung Ho" contest (be sure to include your contact info).

Goal ThermometerThe FEC demands we make some lawyer language available for our contests. You can find it here. [Trigger warning: this is lawyer stuff and could make you glaze over real fast.] And one more thing-- this ActBlue thermometer on the right goes to the contribution page. These are the progressive candidates Blue America has endorsed so far this cycle. We talk to them-- sometimes for months-- and get to know them and don't endorse them until we feel as sure as is humanly possible that when they get into Congress they will earnestly endeavor to enhance the lives of working families and make the tough decisions necessary to move our country along in a more progressive direction. Let us know if you want more information on any particular candidate. You can write to me at downwithtyranny@gmail.com/

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In A Wave Election Cycle, Republicans Are Preparing To Wave Goodbye To Congress-- And Hello To K Street

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The DCCC brain surgeons are starting to figure out that PVIs don't count as much in wave elections and that this cycle there really are no safe Republican seats. Any seat where the Democrats + independents make up 50% + one of potential voters, is up for grabs. People are pissed off-- pissed off about Trump, pissed off about Putin, pissed off about Ryan's Tax Scam, pissed off about how the Republicans treat women (and children), pissed off... did I mention Trump?

Last Tuesday, in a Georgia runoff, progressive Democrat Jen Jordan broke the Republicans' supermajority in the state Senate by winning the seat abandoned by Hunter Hill, one of the crazy right-wing Republicans running for governor. That's a red, red district-- wealthy and white-- that includes Buckhead, Marietta, Smyrna, Vinings and Sandy Springs and Jen beat a conservative Democrat with a GOP-lite message by talking progressive issues. And we all know what happened in Virginia as seat after seat was taken from the Republicans in districts where they thought they were perfectly safe and as their Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate was swamped-- along with the other 2 statewide candidates.


Less well known was how Trump's top Republican ally in New York, Rob Astorino, Westchester County Executive, was beaten by state Senator George Latimer-- despite Mercer and Bannon throwing a million dollars into the race to save Astorino. Latimer took the race handily-- 116,767 (57%) to 89,463 (43%). That same day a Democrat, Laura Curran, won the Nassau County Executive job over GOP heavy-hitter Jack Martins. Did I mention people are pissed? At Republicans? About a month ago the DCCC put its toe tepidly into waters it never plays in, adding nearly a dozen new districts it claims it will contest:
WI-01- Paul Ryan
NY-02- Peter King
IN-09- Trey Hollingsworth
WA-05- Cathy McMorris Rodgers
UT-04- Mia Love
CA-04- Tom McClintock
WI-06- Glenn Grothman
TX-21- Lamar Smith (retiring)
OH-12- Pat Tiberi (retiring)
PA-11- Lou Barletta (retiring)
PA-15- Charlie Dent (retiring)
I'd normally say, "welcome, jump in-- he water's fine"... but-- hey this is the DCCC we're talking about and that means Republican-lite, corrupt conservative candidates will be deployed. They claim to have their eyes on 91 districts now-- their largest battlefield since Rahm destroyed the committee's DNA and made it completely useless and dysfunctional. Not even a complete lunkhead like Luján would be stupid enough to mess with the energy around the Randy Bryce campaign up in WI-01, but the DCCC can be expected to back their usual array of self-funding crap-conservative candidates in most districts-- take Joseph Kopser in TX-21, Liz Watson in IN-09, Tim Gomes in NY-02 as examples. Garbage from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- or even worse... actual Republicans pretending to be "Democrats" or, to quote a frequent DWT commenter, Democraps.

Whoever writes Luján's pathetic memos for him claimed that "the DCCC successfully outlined and built an 80-district battlefield by landing highly qualified recruits with records of service and authentic messages that connect with voters in their districts." The DCCC persuades itself this is somehow true-- none of it is-- and proceeds, cycle after cycle, to hand Congress back to the GOP. Most of the memo is about money, even though in wave elections money takes a back seat to grassroots energy. The DCCC has never and never will understand this, so they recruit energy-less candidates who turn off the base completely often because they are self-funding conservatives totally out of touch with a Democratic they have never interacted with. Great examples are horrifying DCCC recruits like Gil Cisneros (the lottery winning Republican in CA-39), Hans Keirstead (CA-48), David Trone (MD-06), Sarah Jacobs (the Qualcomm heiress- CA-49), Lucas St. Clair (the Burt's Bees heir-ME-02)... One day Pelosi will just empty her whole roladex onto the DCCC candidates page.



What the DCCC has going for itself this quarter has nothing whatsoever to do with the DCCC-- the disdain in which voters hold Trump and Paul Ryan. If only the DCCC knew how to use that disdain as anchors around the necks of Republican incumbents. These are Republican districts whereTrump's job approval rating is in the toilet. Approval/Disapproval:
VA-10 (Barbara Comstock)- 37/59%
CA-10 (Jeff Denham)- 40/57%
CO-06 (Mike Coffman)- 41/55%
WA-08 (Dave Reichert)- 40/55%
CA-21 (David Valadao)- 41/55%
VA-02 (Scott Taylor)- 43/54%
IA-03 (David Young)- 43/53%
CA-39 (Ed Royce)- 33/53%
NY-24 (John Katko)- 37/53%
PA-08 (Brian Fitzpatrick)- 40/53%
FL-26 (Carlos Curbelo)- 37/53%
MI-08 (Mike Bishop)- 37/52%
WI-01 (Paul Ryan)- 42/52%
IA-01 (Rod Blum)- 34/52%
MN-02 (Jason Lewis)- 44/52%
PA-06 (Ryan Costello)- 43/52%
PA-15 (Charlie Dent)- 46/52%
NY-23 (Tom Reed)- 41/50%
MI-11 (Dave Trott)- 44/50%
CA-25 (Steve Knight)- 42/50%
ME-02 (Bruce Poliquin)- 43/49%
Now, let's look at polling that's been done on Paul Ryan and his favorable/unfavorable rankings. He is absolutely toxic! Independent, especially, HATE this guy now.
VA-10 (Barbara Comstock)- 20/71%
PA-06 (Ryan Costello)- 21/70%
WA-08 (Dave Reichert)- 20/67%
AZ-02 (Martha McSally)- 23/65%
IA-03 (David Young)- 24/65%
MI-11 (Dave Trott)- 22/65%
CO-06 (Mike Coffman)- 25/64%
CA-49 (Darrell Issa)- 25/63%
MN-02 (Jason Lewis)- 29/62%
IA-01 (Rod Blum)- 26/61%
ME-02 (Bruce Poliquin)- 25/61%
PA-15 (Charlie Dent)- 25/61%
NY-22 (Claudia Tenney)- 26/52%
CO-03 (Scott Tipton)- 24/52%
PA-08 (Brian Fitzpatrick)- 30/52%
NY-27 (Chris Collins)- 29/51%
NY-24 (John Katko)- 32/49%
CA-25 (Steve Knight)- 26/48%
CA-39 (Ed Royce)- 26/43%


Now, if only the DCCC could use Ryan against Republican candidates, the way the NRCC used Pelosi against Democratic candidates! Politico had some interesting reporting on this same topic on Friday. Fortunately Randy Bryce knows how to use Paul Ryan against Paul Ryan. If you missed the first post this morning, go back and look.
California Rep. Tom McClintock, who represents one of the newly added districts, acknowledged “a huge enthusiasm gap that favors the Democrats right now.”

“I think in a lot of ways, it’s the 2010 dynamic in reverse,” he said.

Rep. Glenn Grothman-- one of two Wisconsin Republicans on the list, which includes House Speaker Paul Ryan-- told the local WISN-AM radio station last month that his campaign was “not raising as much money as we should.”

“I am very apprehensive about the future,” said Grothman, who represents a Republican-oriented district in Central Wisconsin. “Right now it’s kind of the calm before the storm.”

Though Grothman and McClintock easily won reelection in 2014, they have good cause to be apprehensive. Aside from the potential drag of the president’s low approval ratings, both incumbents face the unusual prospect of well-funded Democratic challengers.

In Wisconsin, the state Democratic Party hired a campaign organizing director in an off-year for the first time this year, said the party’s chairwoman, Martha Laning.

She called the effort to unseat Grothman and Ryan “realistic.”

“People are frustrated,” she said. “They don’t see things getting done that are helping them.”

In McClintock’s sprawling, largely rural Northern California district-- where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by more than 14 percentage points last year-- the congressman’s opponents are raising cash at a surprising clip. One of his Democratic challengers, Jessica Morse, raised more money than McClintock in the third quarter. Another potential Democratic foe, Regina Bateson, saw campaign contributions increase 10-fold the day after the Virginia election, her campaign said.

...Mark Graul, a Republican strategist in Wisconsin, was similarly skeptical about the prospect of Democrats toppling Ryan or Grothman. However, he said, “Anyone who thinks they know what’s going to happen a year from now is smoking crack rock.”

“You can certainly make a plausible argument that if you’re a Republican you’ve got to be on guard, and wary and ready to run a good race next year based on what we saw in Virginia,” he said.

The secret weapon for Democrats smart enough to use it

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Question: Is Randy Bryce Winning Yet? Answer: Yep

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Enjoy Randy Bryce on I Love America with Sarah Silverman above. I don't know how many people in southeast Wisconsin watch that show. Or Chelsea Handler's show. Or Pod Save America with former Obama aides Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor. All those appearances seemed like a big deal for Randy Bryce after he released his well-received introductory video that caused such excitement among national progressives. I know all the other candidates backed by Blue America would like those opportunities... would love those opportunities. But I'm not sure how much name recognition all of that has given Bryce in WI-01. Everyone there knows Paul Ryan-- who was first elected in 1998 and is basically on TV, as Speaker of the House, every single day. His name recognition is 92% and Bryce's is 21%.

Goal ThermometerFortunately for Bryce, though, all that Paul Ryan name recognition that has served him so well for so long, is turning sour-- very, very sour. I got my hands on an internal campaign poll of WI-01 voters-- 30% Democrats, 31% Republicans and 39% independents), conducted by the Global Strategy Group. The bottom line is good: Bryce and Ryan are very close when the "if the election were held today" question is asked-- 46% Ryan/40% Bryce-- in the district and when a positive line is read about each one of them, Randy then goes on to beat Ryan-- 48% to 41%. [Please consider tapping on the ActBlue Stop Paul Ryan thermometer on the right and contributing what you can to help drive up Randy's name recognition.] These were the two statements read by the pollsters:

1- "Paul Ryan is a Republican and fifth-generation Wisconsin native who serves as Speaker of the House of Representatives. A committed conservative and public servant, Ryan has spent his life advocating for real solutions that will expand opportunity for all Americans."

2- "Randy Bryce is a US Army veteran, cancer survivor, and ironworker from Caledonia. He joined the race for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District because he’s frustrated with DC politicians who continue to put politics and party over people and wants to put the priorities of hardworking Americans first."


The poll shows that Ryan's favorability has dropped from 50% to 46% since August. His unfavorability has grown from 41% in August to 47%. Bryce, still basically little known, saw his favorability grow from 7% to 15% and his unfavorabilty grow from 3% to 6%. Voters still don't know who he is, although his name recognition has grown from 10% in August to 21% today, without running an ads on TV or radio. That should be changing early next year... after over a million and a half dollars in small donations to his campaign.

A little context from the poll: Trump's net approval/disapproval has gone from 42%/52% in August to 42%/53% today. And Ryan's own approval has fallen from 52% to 47%. Meanwhile, his disapproval has grown from 42% to 46%.

Then poll respondents were asked if each of these terms was a good description of Paul Ryan. The number next to each represents what percentage of voters agreed it was a good description of their incumbent congressman:
Is part of the problem in Washington DC- 57%
Focused on helping millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations- 62%
Too close to campaign donors and Washington special interests- 57%
Out of touch- 54%
Has changed for the worse during his time in office- 54%
Focused on helping the middle class and working people- 49%
Cares about people like you- 51%
Focused on constituents in Southeastern Wisconsin- 48%

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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-by Noah

Back in 1994, Congress passed Senator Joe Biden's Violence Against Women Act by a bi-partisan vote (Times were different way back then). The act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The new law provided $1.6 Billion to investigate and prosecute those charged with violent crimes against women. It also imposed automatic mandatory penalties for convictions, and also provided for redress via civil cases. The VAWA also created the Office on Violence Against Women as a part of the United States Department of Justice.

Fast forward to 2013 when the law was coming due for its periodic reauthorization. A congressional battle ensued as numerous Republicans sought to deep six the law just as they do with civil rights laws and voting protections. In the end, the law was reauthorized, again by a bi-partisan vote. However, the 22 senators shown in today's meme voted against the reauthorization of the VAWA. Look at those faces. You will see what most Republicans proudly call their leaders, their "best people," if you will. First and foremost, you will see McConnell, Grassley, Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Graham, Hatch, and current Attorney General Sessions.

Context is everything. If you are still astonished that the Republican Party is fighting tooth and nail to get Judge Roy Moore, accused pedophile, into their ranks, even after well-documented evidence presented by his accusers, look no further than their attitudes towards women as expressed in their votes against the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. President Obama signed the reauthorization into law in March of 2013. Would you expect a President Trump or Pence to do the same? That's a rhetorical question. We know the answer.

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Paul Ryan Needs More Media Exposure

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Republican thinkers seem to find it Ok to heap all kinds of deprecations on Trump's head without hesitation. Even when their dissatisfaction and criticism are actually aimed towards Paul Ryan, it appears to be more comfortable for them to just use Trump's name instead. This week Joe Scarborough had no problem at all using a Washington Post OpEd, Trump's Mental Meltdown, to point out that Trump is mentally unstable, suffering from dementia and that there is some kind of consensus among people dealing with Trump that he's off his rocker and dangerous to the country. "That is a verdict," wrote Scarborough, "that was reached long ago by many of the president’s own staff. More than a few politicians and reporters across Washington have shared similar fears... Any Fortune 500 company would have fired a chief executive exhibiting similarly erratic behavior long ago. Unfortunately, the Washington leaders most strategically positioned to limit the damage seem to be frozen by fear." That's a clear reference to Paul Ryan, without even using his initials. "If Republicans don’t find their bearings soon, it may be America’s safety and security that are next to go," concluded the former Republican congressman from Florida.

Yesterday, David Brooks was even more brutal-- both to Señor Trumpanzee and to the unnamed speaker of the house from Janesville, Wisconsin, in his NY Times column, The GOP Is Rotting. Instead of going after Ryan, he picks a much sillier target to pair up with Trumpanzee: Roy Moore. Trump, he wrote, makes it impossible for Republican officeholders to just keep their heads down "until this whole Trump thing" passes "because Donald Trump never stops asking. First, he asked the party to swallow the idea of a narcissistic sexual harasser and a routine liar as its party leader. Then he asked the party to accept his comprehensive ignorance and his politics of racial division. Now he asks the party to give up its reputation for fiscal conservatism. At the same time he asks the party to become the party of Roy Moore, the party of bigotry, alleged sexual harassment and child assault. There is no end to what Trump will ask of his party. He is defined by shamelessness, and so there is no bottom. And apparently there is no end to what regular Republicans are willing to give him. Trump may soon ask them to accept his firing of Robert Mueller, and yes, after some sighing, they will accept that, too."
The Republican Party is doing harm to every cause it purports to serve. If Republicans accept Roy Moore as a United States senator, they may, for a couple years, have one more vote for a justice or a tax cut, but they will have made their party loathsome for an entire generation. The pro-life cause will be forever associated with moral hypocrisy on an epic scale. The word “evangelical” is already being discredited for an entire generation. Young people and people of color look at the Trump-Moore G.O.P. and they are repulsed, maybe forever.

...It’s amazing that there haven’t been more Republicans like Mitt Romney who have said: “Enough is enough! I can go no further!”

The reason, I guess, is that the rot that has brought us to the brink of Senator Roy Moore began long ago. Starting with Sarah Palin and the spread of Fox News, the G.O.P. traded an ethos of excellence for an ethos of hucksterism... The rot afflicting the G.O.P. is comprehensive-- moral, intellectual, political and reputational. More and more former Republicans wake up every day and realize: “I’m homeless. I’m politically homeless.”
I counted a dozen places in his column just calling out for Paul Ryan. It amazes me that David Brooks didn't invoke it even once. I guess voters will just have to refer to PolitiFact to find out about Ryan. He's been repeating a lot of the same lies Trump does about the Tax Scam, for example. A few weeks ago PolitiFact found is claim that the Tax Scam was "aimed at giving breaks to the middle class, not high-income earners" was "mostly false."


The statement of Ryan's they were referencing was made on Sean Hannity's show, where only lies are permitted: "People who are low- and middle-income, they’re the ones who are literally living paycheck to paycheck, who are worried about losing their job or they haven’t gotten a raise in years. This is about them and not about people who are really high-income earners getting a break."
The Tax Policy Center analysis found:

The framework would collapse the seven individual income tax rates-- which range from 10 percent to 39.6 percent-- to three: 12, 25 and 35 percent. The higher percentages are applied to those who make more money. Ryan says the current 10 percent rate is reduced to 0 percent.

The framework would also, among other things, increase the standard deduction, eliminate personal exemptions, increase the child tax credit and eliminate most itemized deductions.

So, depending on the details, the provisions could all increase or decrease an individual’s federal income tax bill.

One bottom line, according to the analysis: The top 1 percent of earners would receive about 80 percent of the tax benefit. This income group would see its after-tax income increase 8.5 percent, whereas the bottom 95 percent of earners would see an average 1.2 percent increase in their after-tax income.

Other details from the analysis:
In 2018, all income groups would see their average taxes fall, but some taxpayers in each group would face tax increases. Those with the very highest incomes would  receive the biggest tax cuts. In 2027, taxpayers in the 80th to 95th income percentiles   would, on average, experience a tax increase.
Looking ahead, in 2027, some higher-income taxpayers would pay more in taxes, but the richest would still get breaks. Taxpayer groups in the bottom 80 percent of the income distribution-- those making less than about $150,000-- would receive average tax cuts of 0.5 percent or less of after-tax income. Taxpayers making between about $150,000 and $300,000 would on average pay about $800 more in taxes than under current law. About 80 percent of the total benefit would accrue to taxpayers in the top 1 percent, whose after-tax income would increase 8.7 percent.
The analysis also included this important caveat: The framework does not specify the income brackets to which the individual tax rates would apply, nor the maximum size and phase-out parameters of the increased child tax credit. So, to some extent, projections are hard to make.

But while some in the middle class are projected to see tax cuts, the better-off do even better, according to the Tax Policy Center analysis.

...[I]t’s worth noting that some provisions in the framework specifically benefit the well-to-do, as PolitiFact National found in rating False a claim by Trump that the plan has "very little benefit for people of wealth." The plan would:
Eliminate the alternative minimum tax. This is a calculation that guarantees that certain higher-income taxpayers with large deductions pay at least a minimum amount of tax.
Eliminate the estate tax. Currently, for estates worth more than $5.49 million, the estate is generally 40 percent.
Reduce from 39.6 percent to 25 percent the tax rate for "small and family-owned businesses conducted as sole proprietorships, partnerships and S corporations"-- collectively, these are referred to as "passthrough" income. (Ryan argues that most small-business owners in Wisconsin, after business expenses are considered, are middle-class.)
Our Rating

Ryan says the Republican tax reform proposal is focused on tax breaks for the middle class "and not about people who are really high-income earners getting a tax break."

Missing details in the framework for the tax reform make it difficult to tease out exactly how various taxpayers would fare, so it’s possible there will be more for middle-class taxpayers. But based on the framework, while there are some benefits for the middle class, what’s more clear is there are specific provisions benefiting the wealthy.

For a statement that contains only an element of truth, our rating is Mostly False.

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Picking Between Democrats-- There Are Good Ones And There Are Bad Ones

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Most of the top pick-up congressional districts have half a dozen of so Democratic candidates vying for nominations this cycle. And often there are multiple viable candidates, racing good money and putting together competitive campaigns. So how do you know who to support? I hope you look at the Blue America endorsements and check out our endorsed candidates page (frequently). But let's leave Blue America out of the discussion for a moment.

Goal ThermometerI noticed that yesterday, another usually dependable progressive organization, DFA, declared for Laura Oatman in the costal Orange County district (CA-48) where Dana Rohrabacher-- Putin's favorite congressman-- bases himself. The DCCC has been trying to torpedo her campaign-- "too progressive" for the district they tell their institutional donors. When I caught them inviting Frick and Frack (more on them in a moment) to their DC Candidates Week and leaving Laura out, the claim was that "everyone was invited; anyone can show up." But they sent Frick an invitation. And they sent Frack and invitation-- but not Laura. Laura's the only progressive in the race-- and the only woman. Is the DCCC not aware of the energy around the 2018 election cycle? Of course, they're not, Are they ever? You can contribute to her campaign by tapping on the ActBlue California thermometer on the right.

Anyway, Frick and Frack-- Hans Keirstead and Harley Rouda (the Bobsey Twins of Orange County Democratic politics)-- were both endorsed by the New Dems. The New Dems are the Republican wing of the Democratic Party... and they're very strict about who they back. Anyone endorsed by the New Dems, anyone endorsed by the Blue Dogs: automatic bad news.

But let's skip over to Pennsylvania for a moment. In the 16th district, the best local organization is Lancaster Stands Up, a Bernie-oriented local grassroots group. This week they made their candidates' questionnaires public in time for the mid-December endorsement vote among their members. The active candidates are DCCC establishment shill Christina Hartman, grassroots progressive Jess King, and a guy named Gary Wegman. We'll stick to comparing the 2 frontrunners, King and Hartman, though you can find all 3 candidates complete answers to all the questions at the link.

The first question was "What will you do to ensure that each of your constituents has access to quality health care? Please address in your answer whether or not you support a Medicare for All / single payer system." Hartman followed the standard DCCC (fixing Obamacare) and never mentioned single payer or Medicare-For-All: "The Affordable Care Act has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured individuals, but that doesn’t mean that the law was perfectly designed. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, it was our participation in health insurance marketplace that that gave us the opportunity and the resources to have his illness treated effectively. We need to protect, enhance, and expand the Affordable Care Act, and I will legislate common sense solutions to increase quality and cost-effectiveness, such as expanding access and addressing market distortions that result from government negotiated drug prices as we work towards universal healthcare."


Same answer for the guy named Gary. But Jess actually answered the question in a way that will make voters want to get out and vote:
It isn’t right that in the richest country on Earth, 28 million Americans live without health insurance. We pay more for health care than any other industrialized country, but have worse health outcomes across the board. We can change that. We can pass Medicare-for-All and ensure that every American, no matter how rich or poor, has medical care. Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege.

We need to continue protecting Obamacare. Our nation is better off because nearly 20 million more Americans have health insurance and insurance companies can’t raise our premiums because of a pre-existing condition.

But Obamacare is not enough. It was a compromise with the big insurance and pharmaceutical companies who wanted to maintain a complicated, private healthcare system that made them millions of dollars. We can do better.

We can create a system of guaranteed, lifetime health insurance by expanding Medicare to all Americans. Imagine what small businesses could do if they weren’t pouring tens of thousands of dollars into managing their employees' medical plans. Imagine what our families could do if we didn’t pay thousands of dollars in premiums each year. I have written publicly in support of Medicare-for-All describing my vision and held a town hall outside Rep. Smucker’s office.
Clear as a bell, right? Another question asked each candidate what they will do to take on economic inequality. Jess had obviously put some time into thinking about it:
I believe that decades of rewriting the rules of government to favor the top 1% has been a disaster for working families in the United States. From allowing Wall Street and corporate monopolies to consolidate power, undercutting the power of labor unions, and suppressing wages, the policies of the corporate establishment in both parties must be reversed.

I decided to run for Congress because I was sick and tired of working my heart out for ordinary Pennsylvanians, only to watch all of us fall further behind. We need to level the playing field for working families, instead of allowing the biggest corporations to dominate the market. We need to enforce antitrust laws to break up monopolies, rein in Wall Street, and give small businesses a fair shot.

We need to defeat tax bills that fund a massive giveaway to multimillionaires and multinational corporations and reform the tax system so that the rich can’t take more than their fair share, including taxing capital gains more than we tax the multi-millionaire’s secretary.

We must recognize that all work has value and all working people have rights. We need to raise the minimum wage, as I have advocated for locally, and make it easier, not harder, for workers to join a union.

Together, we can create a fair economy for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected in Washington.
Hartman hadn't; just DCCC boilerplate bullshit: "Lancaster, Chester, and Berks counties are known for their strong small businesses and a culture of entrepreneurship. We want to see these businesses grow and encourage everyone to take part. Businesses, schools, and local government-- our largest employers-- need job-ready employees with the skills that match their industries. We need to eliminate tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs and provide tax incentives to small businesses, creating more jobs here at home. I will work tirelessly to expand vocational and training opportunities, as well as to raise the minimum wage in a way that does not adversely impact local small businesses."

Hartman refused to answer the question on confronting racism and advancing racial justice. She just left that question blank. Again, King went right for it:
In August, I joined a vigil outside Rep. Smucker’s office to honor Heather Heyer, the young woman who lost her life standing up against racism in Charlottesville. It’s important that we always speak out against the grave dangers posed by resurgent white supremacy. It’s also essential we take responsibility as leaders to heal the deep wounds of racism in this nation.

If elected to Congress, I will represent the communities of color that I have lived in for my entire adult life as well as the rural community I was raised in. I will call out white supremacy and will fight for policies that move our nation towards justice and reconciliation, including:

The Voting Rights Advancement Act (HR. 2978) to restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act and protect African-Americans, and all Americans, from measures that seek to disenfranchise them.

Legislation to reduce the mass incarceration and over-policing of African-Americans, including but not limited the bipartisan Sentencing & Reform Act (HR. 3713),

Legislation to form a National Truth & Reconciliation Commission for the purpose of righting injustices and inequities resulting from slavery, Jim Crow, and all forms of institutionalized racial discrimination.

Legislation to create jobs and wealth in communities impacted by decades of racial and economic discrimination, which I have advocated for in Lancaster.
Nor did Hartman answer the question about gender justice. Just left it blank, while King had quote a lot to say about it:
Women have a right to pursue our dreams, take care of our families, and make our own decisions about our bodies. At ASSETS, I co-founded the Women’s Business Center to move Lancaster towards parity for women in business. In Congress, we must pass federal legislation to ensure pay equity for women, comprehensive paid family leave, access to affordable child care, and guarantee that survivors of domestic violence have a safe place to go.

Full funding for women’s health: Empowering women means investing in an economy that works for all of us and our families. We must fully fund for women’s health centers like Planned Parenthood, expand access to crucial family planning services, and ensure that abortion is a last resort.

Comprehensive paid family leave: While the Family Medical Leave Act provides parents with 12 weeks of unpaid time-off, only three states - CA, NY, and NJ - guarantee paid time off for eligible workers. We need a national paid, time-off plan, modeled after the success of those states.

Defending and expanding funding for domestic violence shelters: Hundreds of women a day in PA are turned away from domestic violence shelters. No woman should have to stay in an abusive household because domestic violence shelters aren’t funded.

My work on the Women’s Business Center in the LNP: Why Lancaster Needs A Women's Business Center
Both Hartman and King responded to the question about a vision of public education, although Hartman refused to address the group's prompt to include whether or not she supports free public higher education. Hartman: "As a graduate of Manheim Township public schools, I believe every child should have the same opportunity to an excellent education that I did. High-quality schools and a strong economy give each of us our best chance to be successful. For too long, we’ve cut funding to our schools. Now is the time for us to invest again in our children’s futures and the future of our towns, villages, and cities. We need families to choose our communities as their homes, knowing their children will attend strong schools that will prepare them well for a future with our changing economy. We have a long and proud tradition of higher education here in central Pennsylvania, and I am committed to making sure that our students can afford to attend a four-year college or a vocational program. If we don’t make this a top-priority, we will lose our best and brightest students."

So now compared King's response:
Every American has a right to an excellent public education. The political establishment has abandoned our public schools, cutting precious funding and allowing big banks to take advantage of a growing student loan debt crisis. Attending a good public school should not be determined by where we grow up and how much money we have.

We must support strong neighborhood public schools that are governed by the local community. My two kids attend School District of Lancaster elementary and middle schools. SDOL is the poorest district in Lancaster County, where 85% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. The City of Reading fares even worse at 93%.

There must be equitable and adequate state funding for public education, including expanding the amount of Title I funding available for districts with high concentrations of poverty. School districts should have access to adequate funding regardless of their local property tax base.

We need to provide debt-free public college to all Americans. I am committed to engaging in a robust debate about the best way to establish higher education as a universal public good. I will explore policies that include imposing a financial transactions tax on Wall Street to eliminate tuition at community and public colleges and/or providing federal matching funds that ensure the costs of college never exceed what students can earn working 10 hours per week at the state minimum wage.
They wanted each candidate to address confronting gun violence. Hartman refused to answer. Again, King was well-informed and thoughtful:
My heart breaks for the people killed and injured in the the epidemic of mass shootings we have experienced. Our elected representatives should be passing more effective background checks to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. And we should be banning the sale of deadly, semiautomatic assault weapons.

During the 2016 electoral cycle, Rep. Lloyd Smucker received more money in outside spending and direct contributions from the National Rifle Association than any other House candidate: $221,736. Our community is outraged by the horrific death tolls in Las Vegas, Orlando, and Newtown, but it’s hard to stand up for what’s right when the NRA gives you more money in outside spending than anyone else. Rep. Smucker should be ashamed.

I grew up on the edge of farm fields in Leola, Pennsylvania. My community is home to hunters and sportsmen. I support the right to own guns, and I also know that none of us need to buy rapid-fire, assault weapons that are designed for warzones. Protecting our communities from assault weapons, banning bump stocks and accessories that transform legal guns into deadly automatic weapons, and creating a comprehensive system of background checks is just common sense.

My statement after the Las Vegas mass shooting.
Money in politics? Not a peep out of the DCCC fave, Hartman! King:
Free and fair elections are essential to an American democracy that works for all of us. But right now, Washington is rigged for the rich and powerful. On every issue we care about, from healthcare to gun safety to climate change to taxes, politicians are pulled to favor the wealthiest by armies of lobbyists and corporate donors who fund campaigns and SuperPACs. We need to end the corruption of big money in our politics.

Our campaign is funded by thousands of grassroots donors, and we reject money from corporate SuperPACs and the fossil fuel industry. If elected, I will advocate for a reformation of our campaign finance system and our lobbying laws, including:

Cosponsoring the Democracy for All Amendment that would overturn Citizens United, Buckley vs. Valeo, and McCutcheon vs. the FEC.

Cosponsoring the Government by the People Act (H.R. 20) that would establish a system of publicly funded federal elections.

Crafting legislation that requires that publicly traded companies disclose all political spending to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Hartman refused to respond to the question about criminal justice reform and drug policy. King, as you can guess, how a coherent, comprehensive policy agenda already developed. And then in answer to the final question, "Why should Lancaster Stands Up members vote to endorse you in the primary election? (which also urged each candidate to address strategic concerns about beating Lloyd Smucker in the general election.) Again, Hartman had an uninspiring rote response with no specifics, likely written by an intern: "People are really fed up with Washington. Right now, we need leaders in Congress who can get things done by cutting through the petty partisanship and legislative gridlock. For most of my life, I’ve been someone who brings people together to find solutions. Whether advocating for non-profits’ policy agendas domestically or teaching civic participation methods internationally, I have a long track record of achieving results. As the 16th district’s Congresswoman, voters can count on me to build the coalitions needed to implement solutions." Jess King ended with a bang, a bang that is likely to win her the endorsement:
We have a choice in 2018. We can allow the politics of fear and greed to divide us. We can allow Trump’s GOP to speak for working people. Or we can build a progressive majority that can win this district. The opportunity is clear. If a Democrat mobilizes the growing base of working people-- Latinos, Puerto Rican immigrants, African-Americans, students, small business owners, and anti-establishment rural voters-- we’ll break the GOP’s 72-year grip on this seat.

Washington insiders say no one can bring those groups together; Democrats can only try to win a few more Romney voters. But despite what they say, we see working people of every color and creed stand largely united. We want an America that works for all of us, not just the rich and powerful.

When the GOP is allowed to claim the mantle of populism and then sow seeds of bigotry, pitting neighbor against neighbor, we lose. When millionaire donors pour money into campaigns in exchange for massive tax giveaways, and Democrats don’t indict this corruption, we lose.

But a bold progressive populism that includes all of us can undercut the appeal of Trumpism, unite us against a political establishment that works only for the 1%, and mobilize that progressive majority of voters. Anger at Trump is important, but it won't bring together that diverse base of voters alone. We need to put the worries and hopes of working families at the center of our campaign, and champion policies that give all of us a better life.

Rep. Lloyd Smucker will say his tax bill is a boon to small businesses, and for too long Democrats have allowed the GOP to own the ‘small business’ argument. But as a first-time candidate with local, Mennonite roots, and a career of supporting Pennsylvanians to start their own businesses, I will dismantle Lloyd Smucker’s pro-business facade.

I got my first job at 8 years old, working in the paint shop my parents started. I live in Southeast Lancaster City alongside immigrants and hardworking folks trying to make ends meet. I know that too many of my neighbors feel that the Democratic Party isn’t for working people like us. But I know my story, and our vision for an America that works for all of us, can build a winning coalition in PA-16.

It will be hard to overcome the GOP’s advantage in PA-16. We can’t pour all our money into TV ads and hope we just get over the top. We need to talk to tens of thousands voters face-to-face, and start knocking doors early and often. That’s why we’re building an immense, volunteer-driven field program that can cover every corner of the district.

As I campaign, I think often of Thaddeus Stevens, who represented Lancaster in the mid-1800s. Now is the moment to ask ourselves the same question Thaddeus Stevens asked our nation: Is the revolutionary promise of freedom and equality real in the lives of the people, or just dry ink on parchment? We can win this election and continue the struggle to make real the promise of this nation. We will build an America for all of us.

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