Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Good News Out Of Maryland


Donna Edwards is giving up a safe congressional seat in a deep blue district (MD-04) in Prince George's County, where Obama won in 2012 with 78%, to run for the open Senate seat of one of her mentors, Barbara Mikulski. Last year Donna won her own reelection bid with 70%, the best of any incumbent in Maryland. But she's being challenged for the Senate seat by an establishment careerist heavily financed by the Wall Street banksters who are grateful for his assistance to their cause while serving as Ranking Member of the House Banking Committee and as the spectacularly failed DCCC chairman who handed the House over to the GOP, engineering the historic and catastrophic loss of over 60 seats-- Chris Van Hollen.

If Donna wins, she would be the first African American senator from Maryland and only the second African American woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate. If Van Hollen wins he'll be the 5 millionth crooked Wall Street-beholden white guy hack the banksters managed to buy an office for. Donna is a fierce and committed progressive. Van Hollen is a wishy-washy nothing who stands for nothing and is just looking out for himself and the people who finance his career. His term in Congress has been one of abject failure that wouldn't make anyone-- other than his cronies-- think he's earned a promotion. And that was reflected in a brand new poll from the Baltimore Sun this week that shows Donna beating him 34-28% in a field of 10 candidates and with a lot of voters who haven't made up their minds, although her lead increased to 10 points in a head-to-head match-up with Van Hollen. Donna is winning with women, African-Americans (67-16%) and voters in the Baltimore region.

Blue America has endorsed Donna-- as we have every single time she has run for office-- and you can contribute to her campaign here through ActBlue. Yesterday she published an oped on what the kind of real leadership she offers means to crucial parts of all of our lives like Social Security.
In the state of Maryland alone, over 763,000 individuals receive Social Security. Social Security lifts over 191,000 Marylanders out of poverty, and generates over $22.2 billion in economic output for our state. In my family and in yours, Social Security has been a promise from one generation to the next--  that we will look out for one another.

But Social Security has been under constant assault since its inception. Republicans have claimed that it’s an entitlement program our country cannot afford, and that it is bankrupting our country’s future.

The idea that a fund someone pays into for their entire working life would be considered an entitlement is proof of just how out of touch our Republican colleagues are with American workers. And unfortunately, every now and then they convince a Democrat to engage with them in this charade.

My opponent is one of those Democrats. He backed a plan that, if enacted, would have cut Social Security benefits and raised the retirement age for workers here in Maryland and all across our country. When his deal fell apart, he tried to walk back his support for the cuts. Then, upon entering this race for the Senate, my opponent signed onto legislation that would do the opposite: expand Social Security. We should be clear about why he made that decision--  political expediency.

From day one, I fought against the cuts he was willing to support in the Bowles-Simpson deal. From day one, I fought back against our own President when he proposed Social Security cuts in his own budget, leading letters with my colleagues in the House to oppose a cost of living adjustment that would have left our seniors with less in their monthly checks. My opponent sat on the sidelines. Now he and a majority of Congressional Democrats are standing with us.

I opposed the cuts because I understood what they would mean for real families. For so many retirees, Social Security is all they have. Pensions have all but disappeared, 401k plans have lost value because of Wall Street speculation, and it’s harder to save for retirement when you’re just trying to make ends meet. Those cuts supported by my opponent in order to get a budget deal would be catastrophic for elderly women and African Americans. 55% of beneficiaries are women, and almost 50% of unmarried, many widowed, senior women rely on Social Security for up to 90% of their income. The numbers are similar for African Americans: almost 50% of beneficiaries rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. Cutting what for many is a sole source of income would leave millions out in the cold. And, after a lifetime of paying into the Social Security Trust Fund, the benefits they have earned should be there when it’s time, not bargaining chips for Washington politicians looking to cut a deal.

I’ve fought every day in Congress to stop cuts to Social Security, and to change the conversation to one about expanding benefits for seniors and working families who rely on this vital program for their retirement security. Leadership is about taking a bold, principled stance and convincing others to stand with you: I wasn’t afraid to speak up to stand with seniors and working families when others wanted me to be silent. Now, my opponent’s reversal proves that we were right from the beginning.

We owe it to generations of American seniors to allow them to retire with dignity. We can’t leave them without the benefits they’ve earned. In the Senate, you can trust that will always be my position, and that I will never waver.

The other piece of good news is not unrelated. Blue America has endorsed the only candidate running to replace Donna who would be as progressive and as effective as Donna has been, state legislator Joseline Peña-Melnyk, who you can watch being interviewed by Marianne Williamson in the video above. This weekend, unexpectedly, the Washington Post abandoned the dull establishment shills in the race they would normally endorse and went with the bold choice, Joseline, who they asserted is "the best of them, by a good margin"and a "doer with a knack for making things happen."

Ms. Peña-Melnyk, a former federal prosecutor who has served as a state lawmaker since 2007, lacks the name recognition of her main rivals for the nomination, former lieutenant governor Anthony G. Brown and former Prince George’s state’s attorney Glenn Ivey. For that, she more than compensates with preternatural endowments of energy, grit and determination.

Those qualities have drawn rave notices practically from the moment she arrived in Annapolis, representing a district in Prince George’s, as a freshman legislator. They account both for her impressive legislative record and for her tireless service to constituents. By a variety of accounts, no one in the state legislature works harder.

That matters in a race in which the most viable candidates, liberals in one of the nation’s most left-leaning congressional districts, are nearly indistinguishable in terms of policy and ideology. All favor expanding an array of government programs and services; none has a detailed explanation of how to pay for it. Any would make a plausible successor to the incumbent, Rep. Donna Edwards, who is running in the Democratic primary for U.S. senator.

Ms. Peña-Melnyk, born in the Dominican Republic, grew up in an impoverished immigrant household and had the pluck to make her way through college and law school. She won a seat in the legislature without the support of Prince George’s local Democratic bigwigs, but quickly made a mark as a driven, detail-oriented workhorse, pushing through a variety of substantive bills and impressing colleagues who regarded her as an outsider.

She played a key role in patient-friendly legislation requiring the digitization of medical records in Maryland, the first state to enact such a mandate, which was initially opposed by insurance companies. And she was largely responsible for a fair-minded bill that protects the rights of urban areas of the state by designating prison inmates according to their home addresses, not the location of the facilities where they serve time.
Both women face the voters April 26-- as does another Blue America congressional candidate in Maryland, Jamie Raskin. A new poll, commissioned by Kathleen Matthews' campaign, and released this morning shows Jamie leading a long list of primary opponents, including Chris Matthews big-spending, conservative lobbyist wife, the de facto Republican in a district that has no plausible Republicans (just corporate Democrats like Matthews who are every bit as bad). Raskin leads Matthews 31-28% and the Trump-character of the race, multimillionaire David Trone, is at 13%. Edwards, Peña-Melnyk and Raskin can be found on the page that pops up when you tap this thermometer: 
Goal Thermometer

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At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

Great to see how far Donna has come.
DWT was with her from the beginning. Good job.


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