In her introductory video (above), Lauren Ashcraft noted that "in 2018 there was a wave of nominations that changed what we thought was possible. People who were funded entirely by small dollars. They got loud and stood up for their principles against all odds. These are not the people who play it safe. These are the people who are making it safer for us. They were the first wave. I'm part of the next."
Lauren is running in a deep blue district (NY-12) that spans parts of 3 NYC boroughs-- Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. People think of it is the fancy upper east side district-- what was once the "Silk Stocking District." That isn't what it is anymore, even if the incumbent, Carolyn Maloney, doesn't quite get that herself. Until Trump moved to Mar-A-Lago last month, it was his home district. There are still some Republicans on Manhattan's Upper East Side and, in fact, Around 20% of the district's votes went to McCain and Romney when Obama ran. But in 2016, the voters knew exactly what Trump is and Hillary beat him 83.3% to 13.5%. The PVI is D+31.
Carolyn Maloney is what many Democratic voters think is all they can expect from their member of Congress. She's moderately liberal, serves the interests of the wealthy people of her district and takes immense sums of money from specula interests, particularly from Wall Street. In fact, since being elected to Congress in 1992, Maloney has taken $6,884,871 from bankster-related sectors, more than anyone else serving in the House besides two notorious crooks who should both be rotting in prison-- Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy ($9,472,747) and Democratic majority leader Steny Hoyer ($7,355,624). Maloney-- chair of the Financial Service Committee's subcommittee on Capital Markets-- is #3. Last year, the anti-Trump electorate in NY-12 dutifully marched to the polls and reelected Maloney against a Republican, Eliot Rabin, 217,430 (86.4%) to 30,446 (12.1%). This is how the 3 boroughs performed for her:
• Manhattan (from the Upper East Side, Yorkville, Lenox Hill and Midtown to Kips Bay, Alphabet City and the Lower East Side)- D+72The Republicans know Maloney is the best they can do in this district and so far this cycle, they're not even fielding a candidate. Maloney, though, may be in for the challenge of her life. She has 4 Democrats challenging her in the primary, Lauren Ashcraft, Peter Harrison, Suraj Patel (who took 40.4% of the primary vote in 2018) and Erica Vladimer. So far Ashcraft has managed to raise the most of the primary challengers. She's spending it all on grassroots organizing-- and while Maloney works strictly for the Upper East Side, Ashcraft's campaign is everywhere in the district, especially in the outer boroughs and in the southern Manhattan parts of the district where no one even knows Carolyn Maloney represents them in Congress. She told me on the phone that her campaign is all about prioritizing people over profit by fighting for urgent changes.
• Queens (Astoria, Long Island City and Sunnyside) D+80
• Brooklyn (Greenpoint and Williamsburg)- D+85
Like many of the people in the district, she worked in the financial sector and she is well-aware that trickle-down economics do not work no matter how much our representatives keep trying! "The Trump tax cuts," she told me, "resulted in record CEO bonuses, senior executive raises, and stock buybacks, but not in decreased layoffs or increased hiring or wages for average workers." She said she realizes that "we cannot expect CEOs to stand up for what is right, so we must elect representatives who stop trying old tricks to direct money to their corporate donors." She also told me she wants "to reinstate a modern Glass-Steagall Act. We bailed out the big banks ten years ago and we’re heading down a dangerous path where once again, the people will carry the burden to help big banks. Banks shouldn’t be allowed to gamble with our savings, much less take on massively risky behavior, but then ask for government bailouts. [She] wants to utilize her experience working in the financial services industry to sit on the Financial Services Committee and improve regulations which should hold banks accountable to the people, not the other way around."
She is campaigning on making corporations and billionaires pay their fair share of taxes, and on removing corporate influence from our politics. Like almost all Democrats, she said "we need to Get Big Money Out Of Politics! We need to end Citizens United and also introduce a Federal Tax Credit which can be used to donate to federal campaigns rejecting Corporate and Super PAC money." Her ultimate goal is public financing of federal elections. (Right now, though, you can contribute to her campaign here.)
She told me she "fully supports the Green New Deal because it recognizes urgent action is key" and calls for "a ban on single-use plastic by 2030 (and subsidizing compostable 'plastics')... and knows that we need to end subsidies to factory farms and the fossil fuel industry immediately and increase funding to research that will save our planet."
While Maloney is prepared to compromise on Medicare For All, Lauren "will specifically advocate for Single-Payer Medicare For All with immediate forgiveness of all medical debt. Nobody should be in debt for life because they got sick. Let’s remove the for-profit nature of our healthcare system completely."
I asked her to write a guest post introducing herself by talking specifically about her district and Wall Street and how her campaign is threading that needle.
What A Democratic Socialist Learned Working At JP Morgan Chase
-by Lauren Ashcraft
In my Congressional district of NY-12, 14.5% of folx are employed by the financial services industry, and over 70% of folx are employed in the private sector. My district possesses a deep understanding of what it means to work at a place that does not necessarily ideologically align with us in order to pay the bills. I am writing this blog entry from Long Island City, the former future home of Amazon HQ2, and also as a former employee of the financial services industry.
Until yesterday, I was employed by JPMorgan Chase & Co as a project manager who helped monitor banking regulation compliance. Working for multiple financial institutions since moving to New York has strengthened my already democratic socialist leanings, because I continued to see how the entire industry has been allowed [by representatives] to place its risks and burdens on the American people. That’s why I am a democratic socialist who seeks to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act and break up big banks.
Let’s look at the Trump Tax cuts as an example of why I feel this way. This legislation added $3.7 billion to JPMorgan’s profits, hence Jamie Dimon’s praise of the cuts. Dimon received $24.5 million of restricted stock tied to performance, an annual base salary of $1.5 million and a $5 million cash bonus for a 5.1% bump in pay thereafter. And the most important question: did these tax cuts trickle down to the average employee in the industry?
In addition to some hefty layoffs, according to a recent article in Bloomberg, JPMorgan Chase & Co along with much of the banking industry is considering shifting jobs out of New York City. This is despite the fact that our city is the headquarters for most big banks. In other words, even with tax incentives paid for by the people, the 14.5% of the district relying on paychecks from the banking industry are probably all too familiar with “relocation” talks at their companies. Because of at-will employment in our society, if one does not accept the relocated job they may be ineligible for severance, as it is not technically a layoff. So, despite handing these banks billions of dollars in incentives, my district will be hit hard by corporate greed.
Yes, we can rightfully feel anger toward the CEOs and senior executives of large corporations, but we cannot let those in government avoid blame. Our representatives have had the power to protect the people of their districts against corporate greed, but they have lacked the will. These same representatives have accepted money from these very CEOs and senior executives who have praised Trump’s corporate tax cuts. They represent corporations, and not people.
But there is so much hope in this progressive movement building around all of us. Community leaders across the entire country are coming together with their life experience and passion for change and are rejecting all corporate PAC influence while they run for office. I feel the call to utilize my experience in the private sector to replace my current representative and sit in the Financial Services Committee. I will hold the entire industry accountable to the people, not the other way around.