Sunday, September 11, 2016

Building The Progressive Bench, Making It Strong... From Massachusetts To California


We spend an awful lot of time here talking about Trump-- way too much-- and a lot of time talking about Congress. We put too little energy into down-ballot races. But I do need to mention that this week there was a great result in a hard-fought legislative primary race in Massachusetts. Progressive champion Mike Connolly won a Cambridge-based seat against an entrenched incumbent, guaranteeing him a seat in the state House of Representatives next year. As far as I can see, only two incumbents were defeated, Rep. Marcos Devers, Lawrence's longest-serving politician, who was beaten in a 3-way race by 28 year old political newcomer Juana Matias, and Rep. Tim Toomey, and incumbent first elected in 1992, who was beaten by Connolly in the 26th Middlesex District. Connolly pulled in 2042 votes (52%) in Cambridge to Toomey’s 1828. While Somerville cast 704 ballots for Toomey and 884 for Connolly.

Connolly, who had been an Occupy Wall Street (Occupy Boston) activist, was endorsed by Noam Chomsky and by Bernie new organization, Our Revolution. I guess he's Our Revolution's first big win. Connolly ran a purely grassroots, door-to-door campaign, telling The Phoenix, "I basically knock on doors and ask if people are interested in donating no money to my campaign. When they ask why, I tell them that we're trying to set an example by getting money out of politics." His campaign was run by 200 volunteers.
[T]he 32-year-old has dubbed himself "No Money" Mike; though facing an entrenched 20-year incumbent, Tim Toomey, Connolly has taken zero contributions, and promises to never raise a penny if elected. For campaign muscle, Connolly is relying on a grassroots network of activists including some he met at Dewey Square during Occupy Boston. Together they've knocked on every Democratic, undeclared, and Independent door in the district, and on several more than once. Frank Gerratana, a fellow Occupier and intellectual property lawyer who is Connolly's campaign manager, says, "The conditions are great. Cambridge and Somerville are full of people who have more time than they have money."
Both candidates favor raising the minimum wage to $15/hour but Mike opposed casinos and favors marijuana legalization and Toomey was the only Cambridge rep to support expanded gaming and he opposes marijuana legalization, which is on the ballot in November.

Here in California, one of the most important elections in the state is a legislative seat in the San Bernardino area, where our old friend Eloise Reyes is battling it out with corrupt conservaDem Cheryl Brown, one of the worst of the incumbent Democrats in Sacramento. Big oil-- led by Chevron-- has made their jihad against Eloise Reyes a proxy war. Chevron is trying to show progressives that if they attempt to galvanize the will of the people, hell will be launched upon them. Eloise has withstood these attacks-- attacks that have already set California independent expenditure records of $6 million in negative advertising-- by telling the people the truth: that she can't be bought.

As anyone who follows Sacramento politics is well aware, Brown, has been bought and paid for by the charter school industry, Big Oil, and WalMart her entire career. From fancy trips to Maui to gold watch gifts, Cheryl Brown has come to exemplify the worst of modern politics. By electing Eloise, Californians will set as an example for all progressives under attack that money can only go so far. Additionally, electing Eloise will send a truly inspiring message to burgeoning Latino politicians that you don't have to sell out in order to get ahead. Like Hilda Solis before her, Eloise is setting an example that the state's Latino community will be a force to be reckoned with and a power center with the progressive community in newly emerging competitive districts. Please join Blue America in supporting Eloise, as well as Mike Connolly and the other candidates in state elections you'll find by tapping the Blue America thermometer below:
Goal Thermometer

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