Sunday, August 25, 2019

Blue America's Newest Endorsed Candidate, Rachel Ventura (IL-11)


Rachel Ventura is the progressive Democrat challenging New Dem, Bill Foster in Illinois’ 11th congressional district. Ventura currently serves on the Will County Board, representing swing district #9. To win her 2018 campaign, she challenged the local Democratic establishment, was outspent 3:1 and still dominated the 5-candidate primary field by running a well-organized grassroots campaign. In the general election, the all-volunteer campaign knocked on over 10,000 doors and beat the Democratic candidate by 11% and the Republican by 8% of the vote with a strong GOTV effort.

At times during her first year on the board she became a controversial voice-- challenging Democratic leadership, but she also has had some early successes that are defining of the kinds of things she will fight for on the floor of the House of Representatives.

When the aquifer that provided water to the Village of Fairmont began drying up, village officials wanted to privatize Fairmont’s water system to a company named Aqua. Ventura stepped in and worked with regional governing bodies to move the Fairmont residents over to the Joliet public water system. Residents of Fairmont, a largely African American community, saved significant amounts of money on their water bills and dodged lead poisoning. Just recently, Aqua was sued by the Illinois Attorney General and the Will County State’s Attorney for failing to treat their water properly, causing elevated levels of lead in University Park’s water system.

Ventura also successfully fought for Will County to become the second county in Illinois to adopt the Greenest Region Compact, a framework to move Will County towards a green future. Recently, she led the battle to move all of the county buildings over to 100% renewable energy, a measure that would have created jobs and set an example for other municipalities to follow.

But if she is being successful at the county level, why jump to Congress so quickly?

This spring, Rachel realized that her ability to work towards meaningful change would have to have to come at the federal level. It began with a meeting with Rep. Bill Foster to get him to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Medicare for All bill being advanced by Rep. Pramila Jaypal. After sharing her experience with Foster as a single mother who had to go without health insurance for two years, she realized that Foster was not going to be moved. He promised a follow-up meeting and then the Our Revolution group was told by Foster’s congressional office that they would only be given one meeting per group, per year.

The group rallied outside of Foster’s office in early June of 2019.

Ventura shared her personal story of her fear in leaving her previous marriage with an abusive husband and losing health insurance in the process.

“If we do not have health care as a right, there are millions of people in relationships, abusive relationships, and they fear leaving,” Ventura said. “And they stay in a horrible situation because they’re too afraid. That is not a government that works for everyone.”

A similar effort in Aurora Illinois was organized by a coalition of progressive and environmental groups (Sierra Club, Progressives of Kane County, Our Revolution and DSA) who met with and rallied outside Foster’s office on June 22, 2019, seeking his support for the Green New Deal. Again, Foster refused to support the sweeping and necessary framework to tackle the climate crisis.

About a month later, on July 20th, she announced her candidacy.

Ventura is an aggressive grassroots campaigner and a little over 30-days into the campaign, she announced having attended 68 events, recruited 150 volunteers and raised money from 93 individual donors. It will take an intense door-to-door effort to reach voters in the suburban district.

Illinois 11th congressional district is one of those partisan gerrymanders that guarantees single-party rule. But this one wasn't created by the GOP; the Illinois legislature is firmly in the hands of the Democratic Party and the Democrats drew the boundaries on IL-11, creating a D+9 district in an area that Republican House speaker Denny Hastert used to call home. West of Chicago, the bulk of the voters live in Will and DuPage counties, with smaller numbers in Kane and Kendall counties. It includes Joliet (Will Co.) in the south and all of Aurora (Kane Co.) and much of Naperville (DuPage Co.) in the north. The district is 79.6% suburban and most of the people there are in blue collar, sales and service jobs. Almost half the population is white and the medium income in $68,154.

After 2 bruising election challenges by union carpenter John Laesch, Hastert was forced to resign or face certain defeat in 2008. (Laesch has remained active in union politics and is now Ventura's campaign manager.) Conservative multimillionaire, Bill Foster beat GOP multimillionaire, crackpot and frequent candidate Jim Oberweis 57 to 43%. Foster self-funded about $2 million into his race and Oberweis put close to $4 million of his own in. Pretty disgusting! The DCCC spent $1,349,399 on Foster's behalf, about the same amount the NRCC spent on Oberweis. The following cycle the voters kicked Foster out and elected Randy Hultgren (R). Then came the new gerrymander and in 2012 Foster ran against Republican Judy Biggert in the re-drawn district and beat her convincingly, after dumping another half million of his own into the race.

Obama won the district both times with healthy margins and Hillary beat Trump 58.9% to 35.4%. It's what you call a safe blue district. And not just safe, progressive. When given a chance to choose between Bernie and Hillary in the 2016 primary, IL-11 voters chose Bernie 52.3% to 47.7%. Foster joined the Wall Street-oriented New Dem caucus and earned an "F" from ProgressivePunch for his corporate-oriented voting record. After all these years in Congress his only two signature bills were naming post offices and he's probably best known for joining the Republicans and 32 other corrupt conservative Dems to gut Dodd Frank's consumer protections. He's considerably to the right of his own constituents. Foster has refused to co-sponsor Pramila Jayapal's Medicare-For-All bill, refused to co-sponsor AOC's Green New Deal resolution, refused to co-sponsor Lloyd Doggett's bill to lower the price of drugs... and he opposes impeachment:

So... the opposite of Blue America's newest endorsee, Rachel Ventura, a progressive member of the Will County Board who has challenged Foster to debate all the issues that are most pressing and most important to the people in the district, where he doesn't even seem to live, splitting his time between DC and New York City.

In framing the primary for Will County voters recently, Rachel said that she recognizes the national significance of the race as the divide spreads wider between the progressive Democrats and the New Dem Coalition and their so-called "Problem Solvers" allies, two conservative caucuses that Foster belongs to. "We are living through a tumultuous period of upheaval and crisis and I feel like our current representative is in a state of stasis," she said. "It is just too much inaction on major issues like climate change, meaningful health care reform, wealth inequality, and campaign finance reforms. We the people deserve meaningful actions to address the crisis facing our generation and the next."

Goal ThermometerIf you're with us about putting forward the kind of progressive agenda that both Bernie and Elizabeth are campaigning on, it is crucial we get rid of more dead wood from Congress like Bill Foster and replace them with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Democrats from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party-- like Rachel Ventura. Foster has accomplished nothing in Congress and it's hard to understand why he even wants to stay there. He opposes the tide of history and his time is up. Please consider contributing to Rachel's grassroots campaign by clicking on the Blue America 2020 congressional primary thermometer on the right and contributing what you can. There are already too many members of Congress from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. If you want to see action on Climate Change, the Green New Deal, banning the sale of assault weapons, a fairer tax system that requires the richest Americans to pair their fair share, we all need to step up and do what we can to replace slugs like Foster with can-do progressives like Rachel Ventura.

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At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel could be great and she could win. But then Pelosi will be speaker and everything Rachel might stand for will be stomped into shards by Pelosi and her cast iron pumps.

And Rachel will surely know this. And she will certainly endorse Pelosi (for a hefty donation next time, no doubt). So... by all means, elect Rachel; but to what end? nothing? that's the goal?


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