The Nation reports that Charles and David Koch held yet another highly secret summit on June 16 in California for Republican mega-donors.
Called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” the gathering was a who’s who of Republican billionaires — as well as some favorite recipients of their money, including Representative Cory Gardner, who is running against incumbent Senator Mark Udall in Colorado.
Reportedly, the goal of the gathering was to raise $500 million to win the Senate in the 2014 midterms and another $500 million “to make sure Hillary Clinton is never president.”
The conference attendees discussed strategy on campaign finance, climate change, health care, higher education and opportunities for taking control of the Senate. The draft agenda is available for viewing here.
While Gardner spends his time reaching into the pockets of the Koch brothers, Udall continues to personally reach out to voters in Colorado, fighting back against the onslaught of Koch money that has flooded the state with ads — and that has left every poll from Quinnipiac to Public Policy Polling showing the race is a toss-up, with Udall holding a slim 2-point lead.
Udall’s newest ad puts the spotlight on Gardner’s support as a state legislator for a bill that made abortion a felony and for two “personhood” ballot measures.
Candidate Sites: To learn more about Senator Mark Udall, visit his website, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
To support his campaign, please consider making a contribution.
Critical battleground states for Democrats at the national level, Ohio and Minnesota are also on the front lines of the national assault on voting rights.
In Ohio, the Republican-dominated state legislature passed a 2014 law that eliminates the first week of early voting in the state. Previously, Ohio voters were allowed to register and cast a ballot on the same day during that week.
The current Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted also issued a directive further cutting early voting by eliminating all voting hours during evenings, Sundays and the Monday before Election Day.
In the 2012 election, more than 157,000 Ohioans voted on the days that have now been cut. A disproportionately high percentage of those affected are low-income voters, and many are also African-American.
“The policies being pushed right now are immoral,” said the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, Nina Turner. “People are being faced with obstacles to thwart their access to vote.”
“The policies being used today might not be barking dogs or water hoses,” said Turner. “It’s a different battle but the same war.”
In Minnesota, conservatives pushed for a ballot initiative that would have required citizens present a photo ID to vote. In polls, 58 percent of voters supported the measure, and only 34 percent opposed it.
That’s when state legislator Steve Simon knew both voters and legislators needed to be educated. Simon helped lead the fight against the harsh voter ID law, debating its proponents six times. The measure was ultimately defeated.
Simon went on to author a groundbreaking “No Excuses” absentee voting law. Now, Minnesotans can use an absentee ballot without having to swear an oath that they will be out of town on Election Day. For the sick and the disabled, as well as those whose lives are simply busy, this is a major new reform.
Not stopping there, Simon also championed reform of Minnesota’s motor voter registration law, authoring a bill that allows eligible Minnesotans who get a new driver’s license to be automatically registered to vote.
Now the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, Simon’s reform agenda also includes reforming special interest domination of elections. An outspoken critic of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, Simon supports legislation to require shareholder permission as a condition of direct corporate spending on elections.
These are two candidates who have earned our support.
In answer to the unprecedented assault against voting rights across the country, the Democratic Party and former President Bill Clinton have launched the Voter Expansion Project.
The project doesn’t want to only push back against the Republican campaign to limit voting rights and voter participation. It intends to empower voters by expanding rights and opportunities to vote.
The Democratic Party Voter Expansion Project will work to ensure that every eligible voter can register, that every registered voter can vote, and that every vote is accurately counted.
“Today, there is no greater assault on our core values than the rampant efforts to restrict the right to vote. When we restrict who can exercise a right so fundamental, it affects everyone,” said Clinton. “As Dr. King reminded us, injustice to one group is injustice for all.”
We wanted to share this update with you from Mayor Bill de Blasio on the universal pre-K campaign in New York.
Statement from Mayor de Blasio on State Budget Agreement
“With the investment announced today, this state has made a powerful and historic decision that will change the lives of tens of thousands of children. We set out down this road nearly 18 months ago. Through ups and downs, we never wavered from our promise to the people of this city to expand full-day pre-K and afterschool for our children starting this September. Today that pledge became a reality. With this 5-year commitment, we can now move forward to deliver truly universal pre-K. We can add new high quality after-school programs and begin to address the challenges we face in our education system. These are foundational changes to our schools that will lift up every child.”
This budget also recognizes the unprecedented homelessness crisis facing this city and our shared commitment to lift up people facing crisis. It represents a new beginning in our approach to homelessness by clearing the way for a new rent subsidy program that would help families transition out of our shelter system. These new partnerships between the city and state will mean we can begin turning the tide and protecting our most vulnerable. And I’m heartened that the budget provides a rent cap for those diagnosed with HIV or AIDS.
“We applaud what Governor Cuomo and our state legislature have accomplished for the people of this city. I look forward to continuing to work together with the governor to move New York City forward. We owe a debt of gratitude to Speaker Sheldon Silver and the New York State Assembly, whose two decades of advocacy and leadership on early education brought us to this moment. Their unity and commitment to truly universal pre-K for every child have achieved something truly extraordinary today. I am grateful for Co-Leader Klein’s work in the Senate to put our youngest children first. We also thank Democratic Leader Stewart-Cousins, Co-Leader Skelos, the Senate Majority, Senate Democrats and the IDC for standing squarely behind New York City’s children.”
When ultra-conservative Colorado Representative Cory Gardner jumped into the race to challenge 21st Century Democrats-endorsed candidate Senator Mark Udall, the fight for the majority in the Senate became a lot tougher.
One of the top 10 most conservative members of Congress, Gardner is abandoning his core stances to move to the center for the Senate campaign. A longtime support of “fetal personhood” laws, since announcing his Senate run, Gardner has outright switched his position.
And as flip-flops go, this was extreme. Just four days before his reversal, Gardner sent a letter to his constituents, reiterating his support for personhood measures, according to The Denver Post.
It’s not the first time Gardner flipped on these issues, the subject of the Mark Udall campaign video above.
Immediately following the release of quarterly fundraising reports that showed Wendy Davis outraised her Republican opponent in the race to be the next governor of Texas, the right unleashed attacks on Davis’ character by questioning her life story.
The attacks focused on Davis’ time as a struggling single parent – the type of scrutiny typically reserved for only women candidates.
Davis responded with the following open letter:
As our campaign has gained momentum, our opponents have gotten more and more desperate. But now they’ve stooped to a new low by attacking my family, my education, and my personal story – playing politics with the journey that has been my life.
Mine is a story about a teenage single mother who struggled to keep her young family afloat. It’s a story about a young woman who was given a precious opportunity to work her way up in the world. It’s a story about resiliency, and sacrifice, and perseverance.
And you’re damn right it’s a true story.
Throughout this campaign, I’ve shared that story – not because it’s unique, but because it isn’t.
The story of my life is also the story of millions of single mothers who feel alone in the world, millions of young dreamers searching for their chance to become something more than what they were born into, millions of families all across Texas who would sacrifice everything to give their children a better future.
It’s those stories – your stories – that drive my campaign. But Greg Abbott and his allies don’t want to hear them. They don’t have anything to offer Texans who find themselves in the same difficult situation I was in when I was young. They would slam the doors I walked through and pull up the ladders I was lucky to be able to climb.
And now, instead of offering real ideas to improve your life, they’re attacking mine.
It won’t work. The only thing Greg Abbott and his allies have proved with these desperate attacks is that they don’t understand what it means to live a life like mine – a life like that of so many people all across our state.
They don’t know me – and, what’s more important, they don’t know you.
I’m not surprised that the Abbott campaign would resort to attacking the story of a single mother who worked hard to get ahead.
And I’m not afraid of their false attacks – I developed thick skin long before anyone knew my name.
What I am is deeply proud of the life I’ve built and the daughters I’ve raised – and deeply grateful to the many, many people who have shared their stories and offered their support as I’ve traveled our state.
No false attack can take away my story. And no sleazy political trick will stop me from giving voice to yours.
Your stories are why I’m running for Governor. And together, I know we’ll make sure that the Texas we leave to our children is a place where every young mother can build a better life for her child. . . where every family can work their way up the economic ladder. . . where every Texan can achieve their dreams and live out their own success story.
21st Century Democrats proudly endorses Wendy Davis, a true progressive, for governor of Texas. A rising star in the Democratic Party, 21st Century Democrats first endorsed Davis in 2008, when she won her state senate seat.
Davis has proven to be a powerful leader, an inspiring woman and a strong candidate, and 21st Century Democrats stands ready to help her win.
Davis rose to national prominence in June of this year, when she filibustered and protested for 13 hours against Texas Senate Bill 5, which banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and imposed new regulations designed to close clinics. While state Republicans eventually forced passage of the anti-abortion bill in a special session, taking the lead in that crucial fight helped Davis build a strong base from which to launch her campaign for governor of Texas.
A Democrat hasn’t won the Texas governorship since Ann Richards in 1990, but Davis has widespread support, already counting among her donors supporters in all 254 Texas counties. And she is on the right side of the policies — immigration reform, Obamacare and women’s issues — that will drive Election Day turnout among Latino, African-American and women voters.
Bill de Blasio – a true progressive Democrat – should become mayor of New York City. But Wall Street and the Koch brothers have other ideas and are pouring money into this race to make sure Bill doesn’t win.
Two polls just released show that New Yorkers overwhelmingly support mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio over his opponent, the Koch brothers-backed Ray Lhota.
The polls by the New York Times and Quinnipiac University both give de Blasio nearly a 50-point lead among likely voters.
Now a year into the campaign, de Blasio revisited the Association for a Better New York, where he first introduced his tax plan to fund universal pre-kindergarten and expanded after-school programs. More supportive than ever, the group of NYC business leaders greeted de Blasio with a standing ovation for his return visit.
Expanding on his vision for an activist-focused government, de Blasio laid out out his comprehensive agenda to tackle income inequality and end the “Tale of Two Cities.”
“We cannot resign ourselves to the mindset that says rising inequality is a necessary byproduct of urban success,” said de Blasio in his remarks.
“There is nothing divisive about acknowledging the struggle so many New Yorkers face. It’s not class warfare. As my old boss Bill Clinton would say, it’s arithmetic. And it’s reality, the daily experience facing so many across New York.”
Working to make up ground, Lhota began running TV ads in which he supports many of de Blasio’s positions, but says he won’t raise taxes.
De Blasio and Lhota will face off in three televised debates on October 15, 22 and 29.