Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Blue America Endorses Ruben Kihuen For Congress in NV-04


Nevada's 4th Congressional District is another blue district that fell into Republican hands in 2014 because of sheer DCCC incompetence. Although the gigantic district covers about half the state, almost the whole population lives in North Las Vegas in an area bounded by the 15 and 95 freeways and Highway 215. The Democratic voter registration advantage is 46-33% and growing. The PVI is D+4 and Obama won the district against McCain, 56-41%, in 2008 and against Romney 4 years later, 54-44%. The Democratic state Senate Majority Leader, Steven Horsford, won the seat in 2012 and then lost it to Republican teabagger Cresent Hardy, 63,435 (48.5%) to 59,800 (45.8%).

It is likely that in a general election during a presidential year, a Democrat will win the seat back. Even the GOP-leaning Rothenberg Report changed their rating on the race this morning, moving it from "Tossup" to "Tilts Democratic." Hardy counts violent far right crackpot Cliven Bundy as a close personal friend, and his "biggest accomplishments" so far include calling persons with disabilities "drains on our society" and cosponsoring a bill that would allow employers to fire pregnant women.

So far there are 4 Democrats running for their party's nomination: Ruben Kihuen, the progressive State Senator and state Senate Majority Whip; Susie Lee, a very wealthy person being funded by casino executives; Lucy Flores, the failed 2014 candidate for lieutenant governor; and John Oceguera, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the 3rd District in 2012. As of today, Blue America has endorsed Ruben Kihuen, the most progressive, most promising and most accomplished of the candidates. 

Ruben has been a longtime advocate for a living wage and policies that would level the playing field for working families. He walks the walk fighting for economic equality-- even marching with culinary union members on the Strip and construction workers in front of Nevada's capitol building. His first step to winning this seat back for progressives is to get through a 4-way primary where political insiders view his main competition coming from a first-time candidate Susie Lee, a self-funding socialite. 

With no real record to run on, she seems better suited for continuing to attend lavish galas where she and her union-busting husband are experts at winning auctioned first-class trips for African safaris rather than fighting on the front lines for working families. And since she has given thousands of dollars to Republicans, she might be better suited to run in the Republican primary against Hardy. 

We asked Ruben to introduce himself to DWT readers by telling us about who he is and why we should support his candidacy.
A Nevada Progressive For Congress
by Ruben Kihuen

My name is Ruben Kihuen. I am State Senator from Nevada and a candidate for U.S. Congress.

I am not the most likely candidate for Congress.

I am a proud son of housekeeper and a farm worker born into humble circumstances in Guadalajara, Mexico. My chances of obtaining a good education and a good-paying job, let alone ever become a Congressman, were low. The odds were stacked against me.

When I was 8, my parents made the courageous decision to move their young family to America in search of a better life. I saw first-hand how difficult life can be but I also saw what was possible in America.

I saw that if you work hard and played by the rules, the American Dream was within reach.

Unfortunately that dream is under attack. Powerful special interests and big corporations have rigged the system in their favor. They spend billions to buy elections and "lobby" our elected officials while working class families like mine struggle.

After working my way through college, I saw these changes taking place and had to act. I lived in an assembly district represented by a Democrat in name only, whose record didn't match my beliefs or the best interests of his constituents. At the age of 25, with no money or elected experience, I challenged my Assembly Member. I ran a grassroots campaign and knocked on every door in my district three times. Despite being greatly outspent, I won with 60% of the vote. Don't ever let anyone tell you money and power always wins.

I won that election for two reasons. One, I outworked my opponent. Two, I wasn't afraid to run as a progressive champion for working class families.

Since being elected, I have fought hard for progressive values. I stood up on the floor of the Senate for marriage equality and presented the bill to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. I am most proud of my bill to create the Silver State Opportunity Plan to provide grants to low-income students who want to go to college.

Last election cycle, Nevada, like the rest of the country, saw abysmal turnout and we lost control of both houses of our legislature. For the first time in years, we faced a Republican Governor, Assembly and Senate. My colleagues and I charged hard and proudly fought off attempts this session to end over-time pay, eliminate collective bargaining rights and prevailing wage and to allow people to carry concealed firearms on college campuses.

A lot of candidates talk a progressive talk but my record in the legislature shows I get progressive results.

We will take back the Nevada legislature in 2016. But, unfortunately, these fights will continue in Congress for years to come and we need progressive champions who get results in Washington.

I am running for Congress not just to protect Pell grants but to find new ways to make college more affordable. Community college should be free to all those who wish to attend and students should have access to 0% interest student loans. If the big banks can borrow money from the federal government at 0% interest, then so too should our students.

My opponent Cresent Hardy recently voted against consideration of the Pay Check Fairness Act. My mother works for a large resort on the Las Vegas Strip as a housekeeper. She has been there for nearly 22 years and, on average, hard working women like her make 70 cents on the dollar for a man doing the same work. This just isn't right, it is unacceptable. We need Congress to stop protecting big corporation’s bottom lines over equality.

Finally, we must protect Social Security and Medicare from the near constant attacks from Republicans in Congress. I will stand up every day to protect the promise we made to our seniors. I will fight against any attempt to privatize Social Security, voucherize Medicare or raise the retirement age. Period.

My story is only possible in America. The opportunities given to me particularly for a good education gave me a chance I wouldn't have had anywhere else in the world. I am running for Congress to make sure those same opportunities are available for generations to come-- everyone deserves a fair shot at the American Dream.
Please consider helping Ruben's grassroots campaign here on the main Blue America page.

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