Thursday, August 06, 2015

While The DCCC Sabotages Progressive Candidates, Joseline Peña-Melnyk Explains The Importance Of The PCCC Candidate Training


Maryand's 4th Congressional District is as blue as they come. The PVI is D+26 and Obama beat McCain 77-22% and four years later beat Romney 78-21%. The current congresswoman, Donna Edwards, has one of the best records on Capitol Hill and last year the district's voters gave her 70% of the vote. She won 77% of the vote in the last presidential year, beating out the other 7 Maryland incumbents. 

But with Donna running for the U.S. Senate, it's crucial that the next rep from MD-04 be as stalwart and effective a progressive as she's been. That's why Blue America endorsed Joseline Peña-Melnyk for Donna's seat. She's up against a slew of better-financed and far more conservative Democrats, as many as a dozen of them, including ex-Lt. Governor and failed gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown and corporate-oriented Donna antagonist Glenn Ivey. You can help Joseline beat back the challenges here. Meanwhile we asked her to tell us why she was so excited to join the other great candidates who took part in the PPP candidate training last week. Her guest post:

Progressive Boot Camp Invigorates the Party’s New Blood
by General Assembly Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk

The Tea Party and their radical conservative agenda have taken America by storm. These opponents of progress are energetic, organized, focused on their cause, adept at attracting media attention and effective at appealing to donors and raising money. As a result of their efforts, Congress is paralyzed and important work has been delayed. In this environment, being a Progressive can sometimes feel lonely.

But Progressives are energetic, creative and resourceful too. That much was clear last week at a Washington, D.C. boot camp hosted by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). I was there with over 200 Progressive candidates from all corners of the U.S. who gathered for four days of intensive training. This group of new leaders is not about to cede Congress to the Tea Party right. We are building a strong team to take Congress back.

Elizabeth Warren welcomed us with a message about Progressive values and what drove her into politics. Progressives believe in basic fairness. We care about the small, struggling people in society and advocate for basic rights and needs. We don’t believe in trickle down, but in building people up. Elizabeth Warren shares our view that America’s middle class is in a tailspin. Our emphasis on access to affordable healthcare, sustaining wages, job training, affordable and debt-free higher education, defending social security, and closing corporate tax loopholes is not a random wish list, but a prescription for re-invigorating the American middle class.

In her work as a law professor researching and teaching about consumer law and bankruptcy, Warren learned that most bankruptcies affected middle class families that had experienced a financial setback through divorce, job loss, or illness that wiped out their savings. That led Warren to question the impact of the law on middle class families and to various positions overseeing banks, the bank bailout after the collapse in 2009, and in helping to design the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

And it’s here where the law of unintended consequences took hold. Only after Warren’s nomination by President Obama to head the CFPB in 2011 was rejected, largely due to Republican opposition, did Warren turn her energy towards politics and a run for the Senate. And in that new role Warren has become a powerful voice for Progressive change and a much worse problem for Republicans than she would have been at the CFPB. Progressives have rallied behind Warren’s ideas and have been drawn to her charisma, and the Democratic Party has new life.

If Warren’s address to the crowd at the P trip C boot camp provided the inspiration of a Marine drill sergeant screaming in our faces to run farther and do another push up, the majority of the weekend was more in the nature of the nuts and bolts of effective campaigning, like learning how to disassemble your rifle, clean it, and put the pieces back together in under a minute. We focused on fundraising and working the donors, of course, and internet tools, effective organizing, strategies for collecting endorsements, dealing with the media, and estimating the right "win number." There was role playing and hands-on practice too. We learned how to walk into a room, how to speak and how to stand in front of an audience, and how to present ourselves to an editorial board. We even were recorded on camera and heard a critique of our presentation skills.

Like a unit of new Marine recruits, we gradually formed a band of brothers (or sisters). I was able to mentor two young Latinas, from Georgia and California, and we’ll likely stay in touch after they return home and get their campaigns underway. I think I can speak for all the aspiring Progressive candidates there that we feel that our movement is building and we’re comforted in knowing that we’re not alone. We came home with more power and determination to win-- and more skills to boot. It feels good to be a part of a movement that will turn around politics in Washington and make America a fairer place for the people on the margins, without money and power.


You can help keep MD-04 inspirationally progressive and not just meaninglessly blue... right here.

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At 6:23 PM, Blogger Vickie Feminist said...

Pena-Melnyk outworks her competition, speaks Spanish, and has been a strong progressive in the state legislature. Price Georges and Ann Arundel Counties are lucky to have such an excellent visionary candidate.


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