Monday, October 31, 2016

Looking For Candidate Advice-- From The U.S. Senate To State Legislatures


Blue America spends most of its time and energy on House races. As far as the 2016 Senate races go, after Donna Edwards (MD), PG Sittenfeld (OH) and Alan Grayson (FL) were defeated in their primaries by establishment candidates the only Senate endorsements we have left are for Russ Feingold (WI), who looks like he'll probably win a week from tomorrow, and two long-shots who beat their more conservative opponents, Ray Metcalfe (AK) and Misty Kathrine Snow (UT). Still, people are always asking who's worth supporting and who isn't. For anyone interested in my opinion, I have a list below of the 34 states that have Senate races being decided next Tuesday and what I would do in each one. Obviously, there is not a single Republican worthy of voting for, even Republicans running against the worst Schumercrats that the Democrats have put up.

I've rated the candidates from 1-4. A 1 means, they're good enough to contribute money to and badger your friends into voting for. A 2 means they're good enough to vote for. A 3 means bring along a clothespin and vote for the crap candidate. A 4 means don't vote at all in that race because the candidate is so bad that it would be better to see Schemer choke on their loss than see them win a Senate seat where they would be in position to do grievous harm for years if not decades.
Alabama- Ron Crumpton 2
Alaska- Ray Metcalfe 1
Arizona- 4
Arkansas- Conner Eldridge 3
California- Kamala Harris 2 or 3
Colorado- Michael Bennet 3
Connecticut- Richard Blumenthal 2
Florida- 4
Georgia- Jim Barksdale 3
Hawaii- Brain Schatz 2
Idaho- Jerry Sturgill 2 or 3
Illinois- Tammy Duckworth 2 or 3
Indiana- 4
Iowa- 4
Kansas- Patrick Wiesner 2 or 3
Kentucky- Jim Gray 2
Louisiana- Foster Campbell 2 or 3
Maryland- Chris Van Hollen 2
Missouri- Jason Kander 3
Nevada- Catherine Cortez Masto 2 or 3
New Hampshire- Maggie Hassan 3
New York- 4
North Carolina- Deborah Ross 2
North Dakota- Eliot Glasheim 2 or 3
Ohio- Strickland 3
Oklahoma- Mike Workman 2 or 3
Oregon- Ron Wyden 3 (although Gaius, who lives there, says 4)
Pennsylvania- Katie McGinty- 3
South Carolina- Thomas Dixon 2 or 3
South Dakota- Jay Williams 2 or 3
Utah- Misty Snow 1
Vermont Patrick Leahy 2
Washington- Patty Murray 2
Wisconsin- Russ Feingold 1
Goal Thermometer On the other end of the power spectrum are the folks running for state legislative seats, another area that Blue America hasn't gotten as involved with as we wish we could. But we have endorsed several of the best candidates who we've gotten to know. There are literally hundreds running. You can see all the ones we endorsed by tapping on the thermometer on the right. Below are a couple of random bits and pieces about the campaigns that have kept in touch. Let's start with our old friend and comrade Darcy Burner up in Washington state. Her race is a twofer-- getting an incredible progressive woman, a born leader, into the legislature and making sure the Democrats maintain their precariously narrow hold on the state House. Darcy is ahead by a fraction but the GOP is throwing a lot of money against her.

Thanks to Trump, Washington state Republicans are on the defensive down-ballot. The polling average has Hilalry up by 13.5 points-- 48.8% to 35.3%-- and the most recent poll, by Elway, just over a week ago, shows Democrats up and down the ticket picking up momentum. Hillary is up over Trump 48-31%, as he continues hemorrhaging support. Democratic Governor Jay Inslee in beating GOP challenger Bill Bryant 51-39%. Democratic Senator Patty Murray is beating GOP challenger Chris Vance 58-34%. Democrats are leading in most of the statewide races-- Lt. Governor, Auditor, Lands Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner, Treasurer and Superindant of Public Instruction. The Republican is leading, narrowly, in the Secretary of State race. Likely to help Democrats next week is the big lead-- 58 to 31%-- for increasing the minimum wage, gradually, to $13.50/hour by 2020.
“I think we have a lot of seats in play,” said Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon of the House Democratic Campaign Committee.

“Our plan all along has been to run as if we were behind, and as if we had a chance to lose the majority of the House. I don't think we're going to lose the majority of the house,” he continued.

Instead, Fitzgibbon believes his Party is in a position to grow its majority, in large part because of Donald Trump.

House Republicans, meanwhile, downplay concerns about a possible Trump effect down ballot, arguing voters will identify local candidates with local issues, not the national presidential race.

“I’m still pretty optimistic,” said Rep. Drew Stokesbary of the House Republican Organizational Committee.

“I know that Trump isn’t the most popular person in Washington State or the United States right now, but the fact of the matter is that Hillary Clinton is the most unpopular major party nominee in history among anybody not named Donald Trump, so there’s really an effect on both sides of the ticket,” Stokesbary argued.

But recent polling shows Clinton with a double-digit lead in Washington State, and Democrats believe that will give them the edge.

“A lot of voters who have traditionally considered themselves to be Republican voters feel more alienated from that party right now because of the kind of rhetoric they’re hearing at the state and national level,” Fitzgibbon told KING 5.

“I feel like there’s a realistic shot we’ll be at 52 (seats),” Fitzgibbon predicted.

Stokesbary believes Republicans could take the House 51 to 47.

So, here’s a look at some the most competitive races that both Parties are targeting:

...District 5 , East King County, Carnation, North Bend, Snoqualmie, Issaquah, parts of Renton.

House Position 2—An open seat vacated by Republican Rep. Chad Magandanz who is running for state Senate. Republican Paul Graves led Democrat Darcy Burner in the August primary.

Money raised: Graves, $249,698.20; Burner, $186,240.66

Independent spending: $14,140.91 in support of Graves, none in opposition, as of Thursday.

$1,131.96 in support of Burner, $45,938.91 in opposition.

Helping Darcy close that gap this week is urgent. Please contribute if you can. Another progressive woman, like Darcy, who we first met when she was running for Congress is our old friend Eloise Reyes, in San Bernardino County. She's running against a corrupt Democratic hack, Cheryl Brown, for a state Assembly seat. Brown is being heavily financed by Big Oil, which is running a massive SuperPAC independent expenditure campaign-- over $8 million-- against Eloise. Bernie has stepped in and has been helping Eloise raise money to combat the flood of oil money. This is the most expensive state legislative race anywhere in the country. And Eloise is running against a bribe-happy buffoon who abused her expense account more than any legislator in Sacramento and who solicits personal gifts from lobbyists and others with a legislative agenda. She's infamous for a gold watch she sports that was given to her by Russia when she was on a junket there.

Last week, the L.A. Times reported that the League of Conservation Voters named Brown to a list of what it calls the "most anti-environment" state candidates nationwide. The group's 'Dirty Dozen in the states' list, maintained by state chapters of the League of Conservation Voters, was first compiled in 2010."

Brown is the first Californian to be named to the state-level list, which is modeled after a "Dirty Dozen" list of federal candidates that the national organization has kept for 20 years.

Brown's environmental record in the Legislature has become a central issue in her pitched battle against fellow Democrat Eloise Reyes, who has received endorsements from the California League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups.

Reyes has criticized Brown for helping block a major provision in Gov. Jerry Brown's climate change bill last year, and for the $1.1 million Chevron has contributed to an independent expenditure committee supporting the incumbent. Overall, oil companies have contributed more than $8 million to various committees supporting Brown as well as other candidates this cycle.

Local environmental groups were up in arms earlier this year when Brown supporters sent out mailers calling the assemblywoman an "environmental champion," and some have dubbed her "Chevron Cheryl."

“The Inland Empire has some of the dirtiest air in the country. Yet time and again Cheryl Brown has sided with Chevron and Big Oil, who fuel her campaign, rather than act to protect the health of her constituents,” said CLCV Political Director James Johnson in a statement Tuesday.

This, in short, is LCV's case against Cheryl Brown:
Chevron is spending a mind-blowing $1 million to help re-elect Cheryl Brown, earning her the moniker “Chevron Cheryl.”
In addition, Cheryl Brown has accepted huge direct campaign contributions from Big Oil including BP, ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum, Tesero, and Valero.
Brown voted against a bill that would have prevented oil companies from cheating customers by manipulating the price of a gallon of gas.
Brown not only opposed expanding California’s landmark climate and clean energy law, but she tried to help Big Oil dodge complying with the law.
Brown is key player in the “Oil Caucus,” a group of oil-funded Democrats who work against reducing California’s dependence on oil.
Brown voted for MORE fracking and FEWER regulations on fracking.
Last race-- a third progressive we first met in a congressional campaign-- is Stanley Chang in Hawaii. There's is an especially interesting race because of the potentially historic ramifications. In 1980 the state Senate in Alabama was 100% Democratic. Same in Louisiana-- all Democrats, no Republicans. Today, only 8 of the 35 Alabama state senators are Democrats. And Louisiana has 14 Democrats in it's 39 seat state Senate. Hawaii has 25 state senators-- 24 Democrats and one Republican, Sam Slom. (The state House has 51 members and 7 of them are Republicans.) Our old friend, Stanley, is taking on Slom, who's been the state senator for 20 years. Obama beat Romney with about 66% but the district is wealthy and other Republicans have been elected there. But it's very tough because many people think it's unique to have the only Republican in the state Senate and people feel sorry for the 74 year old Slom, who's been in the seat for 20 years and who is sick and has been rushed to the hospital from the Senate floor several times.

But Trump is playing a role even in this race. His presence on the top of the ticket is so revolting to many Republicans that they've decided to just stay home, although Stanley says he's counting on his record to win, not on Trump's toxicity. Slom is a friendly guy but a big NRA supporter and a total economic reactionary. Stanley describes himself as an Elizabeth Warren Democrat-- and that's how we remember him as well.

Stanley Chang with Alan Grayson

Oh... and speaking of Alan Grayson... yesterday he asked his supporters to lend a hand to Russ Feingold's campaign. Like many of his, he was offended by loathesome right-wing billionaire, Diane Hendricks, shoving $5 million into negative TV commercials to poison Wisconsin voters' minds against Russ Feingold. "Feingold is winning," he wrote. "But some faceless whatsis billionaire has calculated that Ron Johnson might deliver a personal tax cut to her, so she has put her money where her math is.
If Feingold wins, then you can at least make the case that America is a democracy. (“Demos” = people. “Cracy” = form of government. “Crazy” = this year’s election.) Thanks to you and people like you, I was first among Senate candidates this year in percentage of money from small donors. Feingold was second.

But if Ron Johnson wins, then the only debate left is whether America is a plutocracy or an oligarchy. Kind of like Diet Coke vs. Coke Zero. One billionaire swings a Senate election with ten days to go by peeling off 0.1% of her net worth? Fuhgeddaboudit. Democracy R.I.P.

Please contribute $15, $40, $75 or whatever you can give in order to help Russ Feingold win, and help perpetuate government of the people, by the people and for the people.

On the day that the Citizens United decision was rendered, I appeared on MSNBC, and I said “if we do nothing, you can kiss this country goodbye.” This really is one of those crucial moments.

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At 4:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Feingold wins, and I think he will. Perhaps he can be the next Democratic Presidential candidate. My fingers are cross for Russ. If only the Dems put up more decent progressive candidates. Sigh.


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