Monday, April 17, 2017

IMPORTANT: Why Blue America Supports Geoff Petzel In His Illinois Race To Win A Seat Held By Peter Roskam


The first thing people tell you when you decide to run for office is that you need a 30 second statement on why you are running. I am running for Congress in the IL 6th District because, just like many people in my District, I am pissed off. I am angry, concerned and disappointed that Donald Trump is our President, that a right-wing extremist is my Congressman, and that the Democratic Party has abandoned the values that once made the party great. I am running for Congress because I believe we need to fight the establishment politics, big money and special interests that have taken our democracy away from the people. I am running because I am part of the Bernie Revolution and the anti-Trump Resistance. I am running because I want to make people’s lives better.

Last week, Illinois held local elections and we made some amazing progress. In townships in DuPage County, long considered deep red territory, progressives won seats on the College of DuPage Board, Lisle Township and in Naperville Township. In the Village of Algonquin 3 of 4 incumbents were thrown out of office and replaced by Progressives and in Elgin Township the entire Republican Board and Supervisor were replaced with a Progressive slate of candidates-- the first time Democrats have had control of the Township since JFK was President!

These local elections are important-- every one of these races occurred in the 6th Congressional District where my opponent, Peter Roskam, won by 18 points against his Blue Dog opponent last fall. These local victories were not just Democratic victories-- these were progressive candidates who won seats in historically Republican held territory.

Many local Democrats seem surprised by the victories. I’m not. Maybe it’s because I have always believed that we can win if we just show people what we stand for. After all, 15 years ago I was appointed as one of the first precinct committeemen when the local Democratic organization was formed in Dundee Township-- and by creating an active grassroots organization we elected a Democratic judge for the first time in 50 years and a state representative who later became a state senator. These victories point to something important-- that progressives can win in the 6th District and that momentum is on our side, but we shouldn’t be surprised.

The 6th District race is interesting-- I am currently running against 5 other primary candidates and I am the only true and tested progressive in the bunch. Of course, that means I will be ignored by the DCCC. The DCCC has targeted our race and they have already run ads against my right-wing opponent. The DCCC has targeted our race because even though Peter Roskam won big, Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by 8 points. They have also recruited their own candidate to run in the primary. She looks like she is straight out of central casting-- a woman and former Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and then worked in the Pentagon. There is one major problem-- she doesn’t live in the congressional district and never has. She lives an hour outside the District-- and has her entire life. In order to run for office, you don’t need to live in the congressional district you want to represent, you just need to live in the State.

I was asked recently if the hand-picking of a candidate by the DCCC would make me reconsider running in this crowded field. The answer is absolutely not. In fact now I have two battles to win-- beating Peter Roskam and his anti-choice, anti-environment, Pro-Trump agenda will be incredibly gratifying, but beating the establishment DCCC non-sense that has driven the Democratic Party away from its values is an ideological fight that motivates me just as much. Ultimately it allows voters a chance to determine what they value more-- a progressive and independent candidate or an establishment candidate. From the local election results last week, it looks to me like the progressive and independent candidates have the upper hand.

I know I’m drawing some big lines in the sand when I go after the DCCC and their establishment pick and I know that political consultants may suggest I should play nice with the DCCC. I ask, WHY? They have taken sides already, and I’m not on their side of the line. I’m okay being on the opposite side of the DCCC in our primary. I was raised in a strong Democratic family. My grandfather worked a union job for 42 years. He always talked politics and he always assumed I was a Democrat-- in his mind there was no way his grandson could be anything else. Being a Democrat was as sure of a thing in his mind as turkey at Thanksgiving and church on Sunday-- there was no other option. But the Democratic Party of my grandfather, the party that I grew up with, rarely exists in our national politics these days. The Democratic Party who cared for the worker, the environment, civil rights, and justice and proudly believed that big government, when done correctly and unapologetically can lift society to new heights just doesn’t exist outside the grassroots level. The DCCC doesn’t represent the Democratic Party of my grandfather and they don’t represent me.

With the DCCC picking a candidate who doesn’t even live in the district, they are living up to what many voters believe about our political parties-- that they care only about preserving the status quo and keeping the big money donors happy. Maybe I’m a little too idealistic to be in Congress, but I don’t think I’m too idealistic for the voters in our district-- Democrats and Republicans alike who are fed up with the rigged system that has been forced upon us.

I know what I see every day-- I see a national resistance movement that is demanding accountability and demanding action. And I think people like the DCCC have missed what that movement really is. The resistance movement isn’t just a bunch of pissed off Democrats. The resistance movement is made up of millions of Americans who are poised and ready to challenge Democrats and Republicans when they don’t properly represent the America my grandfather believed in-- one where playing by the rules and working hard allowed him to move his family up the economic ladder and guaranty that his children had more opportunity and a better life than he did. Those are the things I want people in my district and across America to believe in again. And I think the voters are dialed in enough to know that when the DCCC hand picks a candidate who doesn’t know anything about our district that no real change will come by electing a party hack carpetbagger.

Goal Thermometer There is no doubt that beating Peter Roskam and defeating the Trump agenda are important. But the long term future of our Party and the nation rests in electing progressives who can restore the Democratic Party of my grandfather to a party that represents the average person who works hard, wants a fair shake and expects a government who is working for them. Personally, I think the power brokers in Washington need to be taught a lesson. They must be defeated and we must elect Progressives like me who will buck the establishment and fight for the people. We need to re-establish the foundation and fabric of America that Abraham Lincoln so eloquently spoke of in his Gettysburg address when he said "government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

With the DCCC trying to corrupt our decision making process, our primary fight just got a little harder, but it also just became more important that we win. It is critical that we begin to restore our democracy and usher in new ideas and personalities. We need candidates who will push the limits of ingenuity, ignore establishment politics and fight to makes people’s lives better every day they hold elected office.

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