Thursday, March 10, 2016

Meet Sellus Wilder, The Progressive Who Can Replace Rand Paul In Kentucky


I was excited last night because there were 4 special elections for Kentucky House seats. Although the GOP managed to hold onto Mike Harmon's Danville-based seat (very red Boyle and Casey counties), by winning the other 3 races, they keep their 53-47 majority in the House, despite the carefully planned and well-financed GOP operations to take over. The wins spurred me to call Sellus Wilder, the progressive in the Democratic primary to determine who the candidate will be to face Rand Paul in November. Schumer and the DSCC have recruited one of their typical self-funding old school conservaDems, Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington who has virtually no shot to beat Paul whatsoever. I asked Sellus to write a guest post for us about how Kentucky Democrats can start winning statewide again. He's part of Bernie's political revolution and the task came easily. Please give it a look and if you like what you see and want to help him win the primary and the general, you can contribute here.
Kentucky Voters Reward Authenticity
-by Sellus Wilder

Why do Democrats competing for federal office in Kentucky insist on running the same losing campaign over and over again? Our establishment standard-bearers and their advisers are convinced that we can't compete at the statewide level without pretending to be more conservative than we are. Our candidates always do their best to distance themselves from progressive values, and we compete with Republicans to see who can best embrace the coal industry while doing very little to actually help the miners and their families who have been left behind by the 21st century.

Many party leaders aren't happy that I'm competing in the Democratic primary for the US Senate. They think voters aren't ready for honest conversations about the health of our Commonwealth, the decline of the coal industry, or an economy that values power and profits more than the lives of real people. The establishment's candidate in the U.S. Senate race has so far declined to publicly support any progressive policies in his campaign, despite the fact that we lose elections every time we compete with the GOP to see who can be the most Republican. Kentucky Democrats deserve candidates who are open-hearted with the public about where we stand.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, progressives and conservatives can work together to accomplish great things without sacrificing their own values. I was proud to help defeat the controversial Bluegrass Pipeline with a diverse coalition that included Republicans, Democrats, tea partiers, churches, farmers, ranchers, environmental activists, grassroots groups, and non-profits. Many Kentuckians are ready to set aside partisan differences and join hands across political divides to lift each other up. Progressives don't need to sacrifice our authenticity (a rare and invaluable commodity in modern politics) just in order to win elections.

Particularly in light of Flint, Michigan, many Kentuckians now see the value of environmental regulations that prevent heavy industries from polluting our drinking water and our air. We need strong unions to elevate wages and working conditions for working families all across our Commonwealth. I support expanding access to affordable education, including increased funding for early childhood development. It's time for us to work together to protect the health of our people, our economy, our environment, and our spirits.

I signed up for this race because I saw an opportunity to engage and unify the progressive voice in Kentucky. Win or lose, I intend to set some new ideas on the table and finally start some honest conversations around our Commonwealth. I've since learned that many Democrats have been yearning for authentic statewide candidates, and I'm quickly finding the support I'll need to compete and win.

At a recent candidate forum in eastern Kentucky, I explained why coal jobs aren't coming back before laying out the new opportunities that we owe the many families that have sacrificed their land and their health for our state's economy. Rather than getting booed by the audience, most folks nodded in agreement and told me afterwards how refreshing it was to actually see an honest candidate. We need to be real about the challenges we face before we can own them and fix them.

This election offers a unique opportunity to forge a new direction for our Commonwealth and our party. We can debate whether or not my approach can win in November, but there's no denying that the traditional approach of the party establishment loses every time. I believe that sincere progressive values can compete in our Commonwealth. It's time for us to save the Kentucky Democratic Party from itself, and I hope readers will choose to be part of this wake-up call.
You can learn more about Sellus' campaign here but let me say he's a farmer, filmmaker, and former Frankfort City Commissioner was elected by his colleagues to become Frankfort's youngest Mayor Pro Tem. He's proud that he brought unprecedented levels of transparency and sustainability to Kentucky's capital and led the way as Frankfort became the first city in Kentucky to incentivize recycling. His latest film (The End Of The Line, about defeating a pipeline) recently won the "Spirit of Activism" award at the Colorado Environmental Film Festival. He'd make a lot better senator than Rand Paul, across a wide range of issues-- and without being part of the ugly Schumer establishment machine. Again, you can contribute to his campaign here. Democrats have been running Republican-lite candidates for the Senate for long enough; it never works. Isn't it time to try a progressive with a real vision for making Kentucky better and bringing disgruntled citizens into the process?

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At 6:28 AM, Anonymous Wilder For Senate said...

Thanks for the post! We'll do our best to answer any questions folks might have on this forum, or at #getwilder


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