When Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold was defeated in 2010, the Senate lost a progressive champion.
What’s worse is that he was defeated by Ron Johnson, a leader in the Tea Party movement. Johnson’s brand of extremism led to the irresponsible government shutdown, and he continues to rail against the Affordable Care Act and President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
We are asking supporters to sign our petition to encourage Feingold to run for the U.S. Senate in 2016. We proudly endorsed him before, and we want to do it again.
New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio delivered a strong message on behalf of progressives to the Democratic Party in the wake of the midterm election losses:
As a Democrat, I’m disappointed in last Tuesday’s results. But as a progressive, I know my party need not search for its soul — but rather, its backbone.
The truth is that the Democratic Party has core values that are very much in sync with most Americans.
We believe in taking dead aim at the income inequality that infects our communities — from big cities like New York, to small towns and rural areas across the United States.
We believe that the wealthy should pay their fair share so we can lift people out of poverty and grow our middle class.
And we believe in rules that prevent big corporations and Wall Street banks from unraveling workers’ pensions, suppressing employees’ wages and benefits, and rigging the system to reward wealth instead of work.
This year, too many Democratic candidates lost sight of those core principles — opting instead to clip their progressive wings in deference to a conventional wisdom that says bold ideas aren’t politically practical.
To working people, it showed Democratic weakness — a weak commitment to the change desperately sought by struggling families, and a weak alternative to a Republican philosophy that has held America back.
A week after midterm election losses for Democrats, Senator Elizabeth Warren is set to join the Senate Democratic leadership.
As the Strategic Policy Advisor to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, a newly created position, Warren will bring progressive priorities to Senate Democrats’ agenda.
“Life is about to get harder in the Senate when Republicans take over control, but this is a seat at the table for all of us — and that matters,” Warren wrote in a letter announcing her appointment.
She outlined the progressive agenda in a post-election op-ed in the Washington Post, where she called for better regulating Wall Street, making college affordable, protecting Social Security and raising the minimum wage. Warren also renewed her call for government investments in infrastructure, research and education.
But she cautioned against cutting deals in a reactionary attempt to counter the public perception that the Congress and the White House can’t get things done.
“Yes, we need action. But action must be focused in the right place: on ending tax laws riddled with loopholes that favor giant corporations, on breaking up the financial institutions that continue to threaten our economy, and on giving people struggling with high-interest student loans the same chance to refinance their debt that every Wall Street corporation enjoys. There’s no shortage of work that Congress can do, but the agenda shouldn’t be drawn up by a bunch of corporate lobbyists and lawyers.”
Talking to voters about what’s at stake in this election and how they can register to vote or cast their ballot for Sen. Al Franken is one of the most critical components of Franken’s grassroots campaign.
Former President Bill Clinton has written a letter to support 21st Century Democrats-endorsed candidate for Ohio Secretary of State, Nina Turner.
“Democrats like Nina know that expanding the franchise — not limiting it — has always been the hallmark of our nation and the bedrock of our party,” writes Clinton.
“During her career as a public servant, Nina has proven herself to be a qualified and capable leader who is committed to building a stronger Ohio that works for everyone.
“Be it women’s rights, workers’ rights, or economic opportunity for Ohio’s families, Nina is dedicated to ensuring that everyone has a fair shot at the American dream. She truly understands the struggles of working and middle-class families and, unlike her opponent, Nina has fought to make voting more convenient, simple, and secure.”
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.”