Sunday, February 18, 2018

Up To Bat In March-- Progressives In Texas And Illinois


The first two states with 2018 primaries are Texas-- March 6-- and Illinois-- March 20. The thing is about the Texas primaries is that they're going to, in most cases, lead to primary runoffs on May 22. So we're going to be waiting for another couple of months before we know who the candidates we have going up against Republicans for blue-trending seats in Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas, all of which are likely to deny any candidates 50% on March 6. It's a wide open race in west Houston, where award-winning cancer researcher and doctor, Jason Westin, has a bunch of establishment candidates he's competing with, as well as another progressive. He can use some help. Our candidate in Austin/San Antonio, Derrick Crowe, one of the best candidates anywhere in America, is likely to be forced into a runoff with a multimillionaire Republican, Joseph Kopser, pretending-- although not well-- to be a Democrat. Same in Dallas, where our candidate, Lillian Salerno, Obama's deputy undersecretary of rural development for the Department of Agriculture, is facing off against two pretty garden variety establishment big money careerists.

And speaking of Lillian Salerno, tough primary, it's important to remember this is a woman with cutting edge ideas up against careerist hacks whose vision basically sees themselves as seat-holders. Lillian sees sees the ability of government to shake things top-- in a good way. "We need a wholesale, comprehensive, sustainable antitrust policy," she wrote. "We need efforts to protect and preserve the marketplace in all industries across all sectors. We also need to enforce the existing laws on the books."
When it comes to animals, we protect those on the brink or likely to be on the brink of extinction. We do this because history has taught us that regulations must be enforced and immediately kick into place to protect species whose survival is threatened. Habitat is preserved, illegal activities like poaching are prosecuted, and the public rallies for the survival of the species. Just look at the American Bald Eagle: in the 1960’s there were less than 500 nesting bald eagles. Today, there are over 14,000 breeding pairs. It all started when the government banned DDT in the 1970’s. We allowed and demanded the regulators do their job and the bald eagle was saved. That’s why we need a strong antitrust policy-- to save small businesses, family farmers, and independent manufacturers-- to bring them back from the brink of extinction.

I knew first hand as a small business owner and manufacturer that I was an endangered species. After speaking to literally hundreds of rural small businesses in my role as the lead small business official at USDA, I also knew that these folks were an endangered species. You might say, "Lillian, come on, there’s hundreds of thousands of small businesses every day. There’s hundreds of thousands of small farms too." Yet, it’s all about the numbers. You can name almost any sector of the economy and there are almost grotesque concentrations of market power. Here’s a few statistics just in the Agriculture sector:
2 Companies control almost the entire market for milk;
One company dominates the sale of corn and soy seeds and pesticides;
90 percent of all farms are classified as small. Yet, 3 percent of the farms-- the largest farms-- account for almost half of all food production.
When it comes to selling their products; Family farms, small businesses, and independent manufacturers face obstacles every step of the way to market. The massive corporate monopolists have set up an unforgiving obstacle course filled of anticompetitive contracting practices, illegal distribution schemes, and market manipulation.

What is so strange is that we all know this exists. At USDA we tried to help. We encouraged the growth of the small, local family farm. We invested in farmer’s markets and food hubs. We tried to grow the marketplace, preserve the habitat, and ward off the poachers. USDA might be seen as a friend of big agriculture, but the last eight years also saw the rise of the local food movement-- and I am proud to say that we at USDA played a small part in the movement to create more opportunities for the small farmer. But it is not enough.

We need a wholesale, comprehensive, sustainable antitrust policy. As great as the growth of the local food movement has been, it’s really like throwing sand in the wind. We need efforts to protect and preserve the marketplace in all industries across all sectors. We also need to enforce the existing laws on the books. We can’t take much more.

As a business person and as a USDA official anticompetitive contracting practices, illegal distribution schemes, and market manipulation all of these things diminish our potential and cause real hurt and real pain for Americans.
Goal ThermometerThe Illinois primaries later in the month have a more crucial sense of permanence. The candidate with the most votes will face off against the Republican. The race that's gotten the most attention is in IL-03, the Chicagoland district that starts in the southwest part of the city around Bridgeport and the Stockyards, snakes down through though Marquette Manor to Midway, through Palos Hills and to Orland Park, Homer Glen and Lockport just north of Joliet. It's one of those rare races where an excruciatingly bad entrenched incumbent, Blue Dog Dan Lipinski, is being held accountable for the first time. Progressives in the district, in the state and across America have backed Marie Newman, who would make a much-needed and excellent addition to the Illinois congressional delegation.

The Republican in the race, Arthur Jones, an admitted anti-Semite is the former leader of the American Nazi Party. No, not every Republican is a Nazi... but it's funny how they always find a home with the GOP isn't it? Remember Boehner's Nazi buddy in Ohio, Rich Iott? Anyway, whoever wins the March 20 primary-- the Blue Dog Lipinski or progressive Marie Newman-- will be sworn in next January because IL-03 isn't about to elect a Nazi to Congress. The district didn't even vote for Trump. He couldn't even muster 40% against Hillary, who had been defeated in the district primary by Bernie. Polling shows an extremely tight race and it's going to be Marie's field operation that wins this one and sends the DCCC and the Democratic old guard a message that voters are watching what they do and holding the, accountable.

The only other candidate endorsed by Blue America in Illinois is Dr. David Gill in IL-13, a sprawling central Illinois district that meanders southwest from Champaign, Normal and Bloomington down through Decatur and Springfield to suburbs north and east of St. Louis. This was Bernie-country in 2016 and he beat Hillary in the district. And Gill is the candidate who has been working on Bernie issues for as long as Bernie has. He has three big-money establishment primary opponents who will probably split the establishment vote and allow Gill to face off against Davis in November. He definitely needs financial help for his field operation that will be in full swing in the next couple of weeks. Remember, the last time Gill faced off against Republican Rodney Davis, Davis won by just a handful of votes-- 136,596 to 135,309, and that was because left-wing spoiler John Hartman, took 21,319 votes, throwing the election to a crackpot conservative.

"My campaign team and I," David told us, "have worked hard to position myself to succeed in the primary on March 20. Voters here have been very excited about my message of single-payer healthcare, a $15/hour minimum wage, and tuition-free access to public higher education and trade schools

"We view the November general election as a golden opportunity to move toward real change; given my past performance against the Republican incumbent, we have no doubt that I can defeat him this year. And when I get to Washington, I intend to be a game-changer, using my background as an emergency medicine physician to counter the myths advanced by those who oppose single-payer, and to help lead the charge to the type of health care system that FDR envisioned for us 75 years ago.

"But first, of course, I have to survive on March 20. And this primary is really a battle for the soul of the Democratic party. I'm taking on establishment-backed candidates who refuse to stand up for single-payer, the Fight for 15, or tuition freedom. I'll be out-spent, but not out-worked: my staff and I, and our passionate volunteers, have knocked on thousands of doors and talked with thousands of voters. And those Democratic voters are done with half-measures, they're done with Republican Lite. They are demanding a shift toward a government focused on ordinary people, and as a lifelong progressive populist, I look forward to being a part of such a seismic shift."

This week, we want to ask you to consider helping our Texas and Illinois candidates and leave the others for another time-- just this week. Let's make sure the progressives get into the Texas runoffs and into the Illinois general election.

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At 1:05 PM, Blogger Gadfly said...

Ignoring the Texas US Senate race, eh? (At least you're not calling Beto a progressive.) Ignoring Sema Henandez?

At 2:09 PM, Blogger PDiddie said...

Dr. Westin, while very good on Medicare for All, has declared himself in local candidate fora to be a moderate on all other issues and cautioned the voters of TX-7 not "go too far left" in selecting their candidate.

I'm voting for Laura Moser, the "other progressive" (your words) in the race, who is best on all my issues. If she doesn't make the runoff and Westin does, I'll vote for him in May.

Gadfly is correct in calling you out about "Bob" O'Rourke and Sema Hernandez. She is the same progressive populist Tom Wakely is, and you've given ample blog posts to him (I'll be voting for both on Tuesday, the first day of early voting).


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