Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Race To Replace California's Worst Democrat In Congress


California is a blue state but the Republican wing of the Democratic Party is very strong in the state. There are 46 California Democrats serving in the House. Believe me, they're not all like Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu, Ro Khanna or Judy Chu. according to ProgressivePunch, 15 have voting records that score "A." Three more than that-- 18-- have voting records that score "F." The worst belongs to Blue Dog Jim Costa, who doesn't even have the excuse of being in a red or even a swing district. CA-17, his central Valley district has a PVI of D+9. Not even the DCCC at its most incompetent could lose a district that blue. In fact, although Democrats routinely get elected in red districts-- including strong red districts-- there is only one blue district in the entire country held by a Republican at this point-- NY-24 (D+3).

There is no conceivable reason why Democrats in Fresno, Merced, Madera, Chowchilla and Los Banos should have to put up with someone as conservative and someone as opposed to core Democratic Party values as Costa. Replacing him should be a priority for California progressives. Another conservative candidate from the party machine-- Esmeralda Soria, a long-time Costa supporter-- jumped into the race, a purely careerist move that may have inspired some anti-Costa activists because she surely wasn't going to be as bad as he is, even just because she's a woman and younger than him. But not even remotely a progressive. But then we met former Obama administration diplomat Kimberly Williams and quickly figured out that we do have a real progressive in the race-- under-financed to be sure, but someone with the values we need in Congress. Blue America endorsed her. So did the local chapter of Our Revolution. Then PDA came on board.

Goal ThermometerOne trusted progressive group didn't though-- Courage Campaign. They endorsed Soria. I contacted them and told them they had made a grievous error. They told me they hadn't made an error at all. Yesterday, I introduced them to Kim Williams and sent them-- with her permission-- this letter she had sent me, a letter that was a continuation of a week's worth of correspondence. She also said it would be OK for me to share it here at DWT. Please read it and consider contributing to her campaign by clicking on the 2020 Blue America Primary A Blue Dog thermometer on the right. his isn't about personalities or just getting rid of the odious Jim Costa. It is also about Medicare-for-All, the Green New Deal, affordable housing, debt-free college, criminal justice reform and whether California is going to send another conservative Democrat to Congress like Ami Bera, Pete Aguilar, Julia Brownley, Lou Correa and Scott Peters or someone who is going to stand up with Barbara Lee, Ro Khanna and Ted Lieu. Esmeralda Soria is a Dianne Feinstein Democrat. Is that good enough? Or do you want another member of Congress who has endorsed Bernie and is running on much of his platform?

Kim Williams' Letter:

I know several other people have reached out besides Kevin [Hall] to folks with the Courage Campaign. [Soria] has a terrible track record with environmentalists and homeless advocates, and she is not known as a progressive here by any actual progressives.

Those who are progressive know that Soria came up the ranks under well known conservatives in the Valley, and from the very beginning of this race, she has identified as a centrist. In fact, at our first meeting, she told me directly that I was further left than her and she thought we could help each other. Since that time last summer, we've done several candidate forums together and I've never heard her articulate a single word of progressive policy on anything from labor to healthcare. She frequently misstates basic facts and runs from hard questions around policies considered too far left by right-leaning Democrats. If she would have come out as a progressive, I would have dropped out of the race and supported her a long time ago. She never did.

My friends and I have knocked on nearly 6,000 doors and every time we passed out literature for my campaign, we shared Bernie's literature because our platforms have aligned from the start. I also endorsed him after he was hospitalized and pundits tried to say he was done.  We've backed progressive policies when it was unheard of in the Valley and even risky to do so. And we've paid for it in several ways. I've walked out of fundraising events without one dollar because I supported Bernie for president and a Green New Deal. We've been completely ignored by the local media which won't cover 500 people at an impeachment rally but will print astonishingly sexists op-eds because they want to reflect all view points. We have gone up against an ocean of structural bias and every manner of low-grade corruption in this race, but we never wavered in our support for progressive policies.

There's a reason PDA national, you, Our Revolution's local chapter, and DSA (who is expected to announce this weekend) have all backed this policy-driven campaign. We are showing up in all the forgotten places no other candidate has visited, and we are boldly backing a progressive policy platform that she quite publicly runs from. It’s why we have the progressive volunteer base that shows up every weekend. They understand, and frequently state,that if Soria doesn’t have the backbone to support Medicare for All and a Green New Deal at a debate, then she won’t fight for it when the Washington lobbyists come calling.

What has happened is unfortunate, and I get why someone outside the district might come to the conclusion that she’s progressive, especially when she calls herself one in front of progressive groups. But if you step outside the small circle of Fresno’s political class of older Democrats who speak Republican and insiders who embrace transactional politics, you will find hundreds of thousands of people living in poverty who are in desperate need of change.

This is why I entered this race, and this is why I stayed. We knew from the beginning this would be a David and Goliath battle but I wanted to shine a light on the horrific poverty that plagues this district and demand a progressive economic solution. Party insiders, of which Soria is very much a part, may shape the public narrative which has no doubt influenced the referenced poll I've never seen, but they do not speak for the masses. They are part of the political neglect that has denied the experiences of so many struggling families and are surprised by the fact that Bernie and his “far left” policies are resonating so loudly with a base of voters that needs housing, healthcare, and jobs. Soria is not backing Bernie now because she is brave, she’s doing it because he’s rising in the polls.

I wish the Courage Campaign could have connected with Emily Brandt, who wrote three in-depth pieces on each Democratic candidate in the race. She spent hours going over policy with Soria, and she would not commit to Medicare for All. They could have also checked with James Williams and Bill Hess with PDA's local club who know her long history of rising up through the ranks under conservatives and could speak to Soria’s public remarks on healthcare. And I wished someone could have connected with the young Democrats at UCMerced when she told them Medicare for All was impossible to achieve.

From my view, and I know I speak as a competitor, the Courage Campaign did not endorse a woman of courage who will defend progressive policies. They endorsed a woman who whispers support for Medicare for All in closed rooms and then reverts to conservative talking points when she's in front of establishment Democrats. She doesn't even support it on her website. I'd also add that whatever success she's found so far has been achieved through personal connections and by catering to the establishment. If someone is hoping that she'll cross the finish line by embracing progressive polices now that the progressives have done the hard work of proving there's a appetite for such a thing, can they really be sure she'll deliver in Washington?

Regardless of how this email is taken, I care about nothing more than lifting our families out of poverty. From the day I arrived, I knew I could leave. But I stayed because I knew there were thousands of families here that could not escape countless neighborhoods that literally resembled third world counties. I didn't care one bit about who moved the policies forward, I just wanted change no one else was calling for. Soria is part of the insider club that has helped maintain the status quo and I have no faith that she will deliver on any promise she might make now. 

Please feel free to pass my number along if anyone would like to discuss this race further.

All my best,


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At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A future note soon to be posted in near future by DWT, "California's Worst Democrat in Congress, Blue Dog Jim Costa, is NOT as bad as Trump".

At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

jim costa isn't even 1% as bad as Pelosi. costa cannot alone smother all progressive lege, browbeat progressives into relative silence, orchestrate a sham impeachment in order to sneak USMCA and NDAA past 65 million fucking moron voters, earn billions on HIS back with corporations and distribute it to enforce his corrupt neoliberal fascist principles and agenda. costa did not orchestrate big wins by refusing to do his fucking job, and then bigger bloodbaths because of those refusals in elections.

Pelosi does all of these things. costa is merely 1 out of a minimum of 218 seat-warmers that Pelosi requires to be the house tyrant. It he's replaced by a "better" democrap, he/she will STILL merely be that same seat-warmer and that is all.

so quit calling costa the worst democrap from California. Pelosi wins that title in a walkover.

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