I proudly endorse ironworker, U.S. Army veteran, and cancer survivor Randy Bryce for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin, which is currently held by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. Normally, when I endorse a political candidate, I mention the candidate’s background and/or political ideology, as well as criticize his or her political opponents. However, I’m simply going to share this web video from the Bryce campaign instead, since it’s one of the best web videos I’ve ever seen a campaign for public office in the United States produce:
Yesterday, Democrats lost the 6th Congressional District of Georgia special election runoff, with far-right Republican candidate Karen Handel defeating Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff by slightly less than 10,000 votes in an election where both major parties spent millions of dollars of money. On the same day, Democrats also lost the 5th Congressional District of South Carolina special election, with far-right Republican candidate Ralph Norman defeating Democratic candidate Archie Parnell by slightly more than 2,800 votes, even though Democrats didn’t invest a lot of resources into Parnell’s campaign. In other words, Democrats lost by a higher raw vote margin (not percentage-wise) when they actually invested the full resources of groups like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the U.S. House Democrats’ fundraising arm, than when they didn’t do so.
Already, a lot of people on the left, and even at least one Democratic U.S. House member, Kathleen Rice of New York, who voted for Tim Ryan over Pelosi in the House Democratic leadership race earlier this year (which Pelosi won), are calling for Pelosi to give up the position of House Minority Leader. Jackie Kucinich, the Washington bureau chief for The Daily Beast, said this on Twitter about calls for Pelosi to step down:
Regarding Kucinich’s first point, it is more correct to say that Democrats had an opportunity to replace Pelosi, but decided not to. As I mentioned before, Pelosi defeated Tim Ryan earlier this year to retain the leadership of the House Democratic Caucus.
Regarding Kucinich’s second point, such an internal anti-Pelosi coalition within the House Democratic Caucus, if one were to form, would mostly overlap with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which, although home of some of the most progressive Democratic members of Congress, doesn’t consider removing Pelosi from the House Dems’ leadership to be of any priority, at least for now.
Any movement to force Democrats in either house of Congress to change their campaign strategies or force party leaders like Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to step aside would almost certainly come from outside of Congress and the Beltway, and almost certainly from the anti-establishment left. In fact, Republicans on the right fringe of their party (i.e., the Tea Party movement) have had past success going this route, forcing a group of Republican members of Congress to successfully push for the ouster of then-House Speaker John Boehner in 2015 over perceived apostasies of parts of the far-right agenda. However, unlike the GOP circa 2015, when they controlled both houses of Congress, Democrats are currently completely out of power at the federal level, and forcing Pelosi to step aside would not do anything whatsoever to address serious underlying problems with Democratic campaign strategies, one of which is the bizarre email strategy that a lot of Democratic campaigns, and, most infamously, the DCCC itself, have used. The Democratic email strategy comes across as a bizarre form of mind control of Democratic voters and donors. The second problem is a lack of any kind of a coordinated campaign platform for Democrats running in U.S. House and U.S. Senate races in 2018, which would probably be similar to the British Labour Party’s manifesto from the British House of Commons elections earlier this year.
Today, Virginians will go to the polls to vote on major-party nominees for Governor of Virginia and other state offices. The most intriguing race on the Virginia ballot today is the Democratic primary for governor, in which Lieutenant Governor Ralph Shearer Northam is seeking a promotion against Thomas Stuart Price “Tom” Perriello, a former U.S. Representative and U.S. State Department official.
At first glance, the Virginia Democrats’ gubernatorial primary might seem to an internet observer of Virginia politics, such as me, like a rerun of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries/caucuses, where Hillary Clinton easily won the Virginia primary against Bernie Sanders. However, Ralph Northam is no Hillary Clinton, and Tom Perriello is no Bernie Sanders.
Jamelle Bouie, the chief political correspondent for Slate magazine, wrote this primer piece about the Virginia Democrats’ gubernatorial primary, and here is how he described the candidates:
Likewise, the contest isn’t a race between a liberal or a moderate, or between heterodoxy and orthodoxy. Both (Ralph) Northam and (Tom) Perriello have blemishes on their records that render them imperfect avatars of the progressive movement. Northam backed George W. Bush for president in 2004, and Perriello voted for an anti-abortion amendment to the Affordable Care Act. Both have apologized for their respective apostasy. Both, if elected, would be among the most liberal governors in the state’s history, having campaigned on free community college, a $15 minimum wage, and extensive job training.
Where they differ is in their larger view of where the state’s problems lie. Northam roots Virginia’s ills in gridlock and bills himself as the candidate best able to break that gridlock. “The politics of getting things done in Richmond can be very complicated, and it takes someone who has spent the time to know the issues and develop the relationships with key members of both parties to make progress,” said the lieutenant governor in a Washington Post interview.
Perriello, however, takes a broader view, seeking to change a political culture that is beholden to corporate interests and monopolistic power. “We have a crazy system in Virginia, where we allow unlimited corporate contributions,” said Perriello in a March interview with the American Prospect magazine (full disclosure: (Bouie) worked there from 2010 to 2013). “In an era of deep partisanship in Richmond, the only truly bipartisan consensus is taking money from Dominion Power.” Perriello has positioned himself against entrenched interests and for the small towns, rural enclaves, and inner cities that encompass the state’s landscape. It’s a variation on the populism of Bernie’s campaign, one that captures the spirit of Sanders’ appeal even if it doesn’t match the particulars.
(added context mine)
Again, you do see common themes of the 2016 presidential primaries/caucuses at play, but one thing that Perriello has done that Sanders completely failed at was actually trying to win over a diverse coalition of Democratic voters, which is necessary in Virginia, since a significant majority of Virginia Democratic primary voters are female and people of color are typically around one-third of the Virginia Democratic primary electorate and could be as much as 40% of the Virginia Democratic primary electorate this year. Very early on in his campaign, and unusually for a candidate who has also tried to win over white rural voters, Perriello wrote a Medium post about the strong correlation between income inequality and racial inequality in Virginia. Even if you are, like me, not from Virginia, I strongly recommend reading Perriello’s post, because it’s an important lesson for progressive outreach to people of color.
I encourage Virginia voters who have not already cast an absentee ballot to vote in the Democratic primary for Tom Perriello today!
I don’t think that this is the most ethical thing to do for me, since I’m currently serving a two-year term as an election judge in Vermilion County, but I proudly endorse the candidacy of Bob Daiber for the Democratic nomination for the office of Governor of Illinois, and, if Daiber is on the primary ballot next year, I will vote for him without hesitation. If I am asked to serve as a poll worker for next year’s bicentennial primary, I will carry out my duties in an ethical manner in which everyone who is eligible to vote will be able to vote in the primary of the major political party of their choice and for the candidates of their choice.
In the bizarro world of Illinois politics, only one candidate can beat both the Mike Madigan machine and Bruce Rauner’s oversized checkbook, and that is Bob Daiber. Daiber is a farmer and education official from Madison County, located in the Metro-East region of Southern Illinois. My endorsement of Daiber comes as POLITICO is reporting that Chicago power brokers like Mike Madigan and Rahm Emanuel, who are barely popular enough in Chicago to keep getting re-elected there and are absolutely despised downstate, are trying to bully Chris Kennedy out of the gubernatorial race and crown fellow ultra-wealthy person J.B. Pritzker as the establishment candidate in the gubernatorial primary:
…when Kennedy finally announced a bid for governor in February, comparisons to Camelot abounded. He took the early lead in polling and drew an almost immediate endorsement of a coalition of county chairmen in Southern Illinois.
Now, three months later, Kennedy has fallen out of favor with key labor groups and powerful forces within the Democratic establishment. And he’s facing a roadblock that’s unfamiliar to his family: pressure to drop out of the race.
There’s mounting evidence that powerful Democratic players in the state — from House Speaker Michael Madigan to Mayor Rahm Emanuel — are steering unions, interest groups or politicians to throw their support behind billionaire J.B. Pritzker, the brother of former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.
J.B. Pritzker’s political strategy is basically play the insiders game, run a bunch of TV ads paid for, at least in part, by his massive wealth, and hope that enough Illinoisans believe him to win both a major-party primary and the general election. That’s only a winning strategy if your name is Bruce Rauner. Just a couple of days ago, it was reported that Prizker deliberately let a very large house fall into a state of disrepair so that he could pay a lot less in property taxes! Illinois doesn’t need someone like Pritzker running the executive branch of the state government, and Rauner would defeat Pritzker in a landslide if he were nominated for governor.
If the Democratic primary for governor of Illinois is going to be a battle between the Chicago political elite, which is now behind J.B. Pritzker, and the rest of Illinois, than there’s only one candidate who is well-suited to such a campaign, and it’s Bob Daiber. Chris Kennedy comes from a large political family and is very wealthy himself, so he’s not well-suited to run the kind of anti-establishment campaign that Democrats need to regain the governorship. Daniel Biss has tried to cut public employee pensions in Illinois, so he’s no progressive.
On two of the biggest issues facing Illinoisans today (abortion and workers’ rights), Bob Daiber supports reproductive rights and supports workers’ rights. You’re not going to outwork, out-progressive, out-downstate, or out-Illinois someone like Bob Daiber.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a tweet that includes an image depicting violence against women. Reader discretion is strongly advised.
The Democratic Party is being increasingly dominated by two forms of progressivism. One form of progressivism prioritizes human rights issues, especially in regards to women’s reproductive rights, over other issues. This form of progressivism is associated with very liberal voters who voted for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries/caucuses, who are the core base of support, although not 100% of the support, of the resistance to the Trump Administration. The other form of progressivism prioritizes economic issues, especially in regards to efforts to reduce income inequality, over other issues. This form of progressivism is very strongly associated with Bernie Sanders, in fact, Sanders has often by criticized by progressive critics of Sanders for having supported candidates for public office who oppose abortion rights (although Bernie himself has a very pro-choice voting record as a U.S. Senator) and not regarding reproductive rights as an important issue.
Sanders has come under extremely heavy criticism for publicly endorsing Omaha, Nebraska mayoral candidate Heath Mello, who, as a member of Nebraska’s unicameral state legislature, voted for legislation that required doctors to give women who consider terminating a pregnancy a list of ultrasound providers. Although Mello has publicly disavowed his past support for anti-abortion legislation, the bill that he supported as a state legislator was designed purely to shame women, and nobody can re-write history.
Sanders’s support for Mello has prompted a large amount of criticism from progressive critics of Sanders. While most of the criticism has been over the fact that Sanders has, despite being pro-choice himself, endorsed anti-choice politicians from time to time, as well as Sanders not regarding women’s rights issues as important, there has been at least one example of criticism of Sanders that goes straight into the gutter of American politics. This was a tweet that somebody going under the alias “BroStoogeRally” posted about Bernie endorsing Jon Ossoff, a pro-choice and anti-interventionist Democrat who is running in a special election in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia:
Really? Bernie endorses a candidate with a realistic chance of winning a U.S. House seat that was previously held by a Republican who is now a member of the Trump Cabinet, and this guy has the gall to compare Bernie to a domestic abuser? Bernie is, to my knowledge, not a domestic abuser, and comparing someone like Bernie to a domestic abuser minimizes violence against women, which is a serious problem in America. Although these statistics date back to no later than late 2014, nearly 5 million American women each year experience physical violence by an intimate partner, one in four American women will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner, and over 38 million American women have experienced physical intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetimes. It is inherently clear that domestic violence is a major problem in America, and using graphic images of domestic violence to compare political figures who aren’t domestic abusers to domestic abusers minimizes the serious problem in America that is domestic violence.
I’m going to announce a whole slate of endorsements in a number of elections across the country, including special elections this year, Democratic primaries for general elections this year, and Democratic primaries for general elections in 2018.
6th Congressional District of Georgia special election – Jon Ossoff
Early voting is underway in the special election to replace Republican U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in the U.S. House of Representatives, and it is likely that Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff will get a plurality of the votes in the April 6 election, and, if no candidate gets a majority in the special election, a runoff between the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes in the April 6 election would be held on June 20. Prior to entering electoral politics, Ossoff was
Han Solo an investigative filmmaker and a baseball player. As an investigative filmmaker, Ossoff exposed judicial corruption in the African country of Ghana and uncovered acts of brutality committed by ISIS in Iraq. Republicans are so frightened that Ossoff might win one way or another, Republican-aligned political organizations have spent tons of money on television ads attacking him because he’s a fan of Star Wars. While I’m no fan of Star Wars, that is one of the most ridiculous things to attack a candidate for public office over. Should a runoff be needed, Ossoff’s most likely GOP runoff opponent would probably be Karen Handel, who, when she was the vice president for public policy at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, cut off Komen’s funding to Planned Parenthood, an organization that…you guessed it…provides breast cancer screenings to women! Only Karen Handel could mess up a charity seeking to eradicate breast cancer. I endorse Jon Ossoff’s campaign, and I encourage voters in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia to vote for Ossoff on April 6, and, if necessary, on June 20.
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts Democratic primary – Brianna Wu
I proudly endorse video game developer Brianna Wu in next year’s Democratic primary in the 8th Congressional District of Massachusetts. Prior to entering electoral politics, Wu, who was born in West Virginia and grew up in Mississippi but now lives in Massachusetts, was repeatedly harassed and doxxed online by a bunch of misogynists as part of Gamergate. Wu supports collective bargaining, internet privacy rights, and other progressive ideals.
At-large Congressional District of Montana special election – Rob Quist
Another special election is taking place across the entire state of Montana for the U.S. House seat vacated by Republican U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and Democrats have nominated musician and former Montana Arts Council member Rob Quist in the upcoming special election for the seat. Quist was born and raised in Montana, and he supports closing corporate tax loopholes and opposes Donald Trump’s efforts to take health insurance away from millions of Americans. Quist’s GOP challenger is Greg Gianforte, a wealthy carpetbagger from New Jersey who supports the Trump agenda and wants to bring New Jersey values to Montana. The special election in Montana will take place May 25.
Governor of New Jersey Democratic primary – John Wisniewski
Speaking of New Jersey, I proudly endorse John Wisniewski for the Democratic nomination for the office of Governor of New Jersey. Wisniewski has been perhaps the most vocal critic of Chris Christie there ever is, the most vocal critic of Chris Christie there was, and the most vocal critic of Chris Christie there will ever be, particularly in regards to the Bridgegate scandal. If nominated for and elected governor, Wisniewski will take on both the Republicans and the George Norcross machine that is holding back the New Jersey Democratic Party, and he’ll be a steadfast advocate for progressive ideals. New Jersey holds its gubernatorial election this year.
Governor of Virginia Democratic primary – Tom Perriello
I proudly endorse former U.S. Representative and former diplomat Tom Perriello for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Virginia. If nominated for and elected governor, Perriello will be a fighter for the people of Virginia by standing up for women’s reproductive rights, rebuilding Virginia’s crumbling infrastructure, expand broadband internet access in Virginia, and treat opioid addiction as a treatable illness, not a criminal act. Like New Jersey, Virginia holds its gubernatorial election this year.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post is completely separate from any election judge duties that the author may have in Illinois during the 2018 midterm elections.
Anzalone Liszt Grove, a Democratic pollster, recently did a pre-election opinion poll for the American Heart Association, and they found Bruce Rauner trailing “Generic Democrat” by a large margin. The poll found that Rauner trails “Generic Democrat” by a 47-32 margin, with that margin being quite a ways outside of the poll’s margin of error.
You may be wondering why a group like the American Heart Association, which is a non-profit group that aims to promote cardiac care, hired a political opinion pollster. However, the reason why the American Heart Association had Anzalone Liszt Grove release the polling data in the first place is because they were primarily interested in opinion polling on a proposed sugary drink tax in Illinois, which is considerably more popular than Rauner is according to the poll.
As someone who served as a poll worker during the actual voting during the November 2016 elections in Illinois, I can tell you that “Generic Democrat” or its Republican counterpart, “Generic Republican”, never appear on ballots. That’s because “Generic Democrat” and “Generic Republican” are merely designations for an unnamed major-party nominee that are used by pre-election opinion pollsters, typically with one calendar year or more remaining until the election for the office in question. There are three Democrats currently running in a contested primary for Governor of Illinois with more candidates expected to enter, so that explains why you didn’t see declared candidates being polled against Rauner, such as Chris Kennedy or Ameya Pawar, or potential candidates being polled against Rauner, such as Daniel Biss or Andy Manar.
In Illinois, it is not that difficult for a Democratic nominee to outrun “Generic Democrat” in a statewide race. Although “Generic Democrat” in Illinois is not a real-life person, if it were, it would be someone with a ton of political connections to State House Speaker Mike Madigan and/or Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, both of which are thoroughly despised by voters outside of the City of Chicago and are despised by strongly left-wing voters in Chicago.
However, Rauner does have one ace-in-the-hole that unpopular politicians running for governor in other states don’t have, and that is the redistricting process that Illinois uses (outlined by Article IV, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution). If the General Assembly (Illinois’s bicameral state legislature) cannot pass a congressional and state legislative redistricting plan prior to a certain deadline with either the governor’s support or by overriding a gubernatorial veto before June 30 of a year following a federal Census, an eight-member commission presumably consisting of four Democrats and four Republicans (per the state constitution, the State House Speaker, State House Minority Leader, State Senate President, and State Senate Minority Leader each appoint two members) would draw the maps, unless the commission can’t agree on a map by August 10 of the year in question; in that case, a ninth member, whose name is drawn at random and can be of either of the two major political parties, is added to the commission. The winner of the 2018 gubernatorial election in Illinois will, provided that he or she remains in office in 2021, have the power to approve or veto any maps that the General Assembly passes. If the redistricting process goes to commission, there is likely a 50-50 chance that the commission would approve a Republican gerrymander that Rauner would want.
Bruce Rauner is extremely unpopular in Illinois for a large number of reasons (mainly because his union-busting policies would destroy Illinois’s economy and his unwillingness to negotiate with anybody who doesn’t strongly agree with him), but the general election is a long ways away.
On January 21 of this year, millions of women in the United States and around the world participated in a series of Women’s Marches in protest of the horrendous policies of President Donald Trump.
Last night, the Women’s March scored its first major electoral victory in a Democratic primary for Mayor of Urbana, Illinois:
An eight-year Urbana city councilwoman who campaigned on the promise of improving economic development in Urbana is one step closer to becoming mayor.
Diane Marlin took the Democratic mayoral nomination by a landslide in Tuesday’s primary — piling up 2,427 votes to 12-year incumbent Laurel Prussing’s 1,510 and Evelyn Underwood’s 316.
Next up: An April 4 date with Republican Rex Bradfield in the consolidated general election.
Diane Marlin was a participant in the Champaign-Urbana, Illinois Women’s March, and now she has defeated a longtime incumbent mayor of one of Illinois’s most progressive cities. I live in another municipality in Illinois, but I wish Diane well in the general election in her city!
The election of Donald Trump to our nation’s highest office has emboldened anti-Semitic extremists in America. Two recent example of this involves the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in the St. Louis, Missouri and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania areas.
Last week, vandals damaged dozens of headstones in Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University Park, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. More recently, a similar act of mass vandalism occurred in Philadelphia at Mount Carmel Cemetery. While I don’t believe in God or the afterlife, I view grave desecration as blatant disrespect to the deceased and something that I have zero tolerance for. I thank those who have assisted in repairing the damage done to the cemeteries in Missouri and Pennsylvania, especially to the Muslim community in America, which has raised funds for, and assisted in, repairing the damage done to the Jewish cemeteries.
On a related note, after narrowly losing the Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair race this weekend, Keith Ellison was picked by new DNC Chairman Tom Perez to be DNC Deputy Chairman. While many on the right, and some on the left, have smeared Ellison by trying to paint him as an anti-Semitic extremist, Ellison’s first act as deputy chair was to condemn the desecration of Jewish graves:
Even before the desecration of Jewish graves in Missouri and Pennsylvania, there have been incidents where American Jews have been threatened since Trump’s election. Prior to Trump’s inauguration, a neo-Nazi website called for an armed march against the Jewish community in Whitefish, Montana. That march was postponed, and a block party in defense of the Jewish community in Whitefish was attended by several hundred people.
I call on Donald Trump to, at his address to Congress tomorrow, strongly condemn threats, intimidation, violence, and vandalism against Jewish people and institutions in America.
Unusually for a state-level Democratic Party organization, The Illinois Democratic Party does not hold an annual state Democratic convention. With Republicans controlling both the White House and the Illinois Governor’s Mansion, it’s clear that Illinois Democratic leaders should seriously consider holding state conventions on an annual basis.
Unlike many states, major political parties in Illinois are run by directly-elected state central committees, with elections for state central committee slots held during the spring primary elections in even-numbered years. For Democrats in Illinois, two state central committee members are elected from each congressional district.
While most or, if required by law, all party business can be conducted by the state central committee, an annual state Democratic convention would allow Democrats an opportunity to give prominent Democratic elected officials and activists an opportunity to get publicity that the local media, particularly the media in downstate Illinois, often will not give Democrats, as well as an event to rally the party faithful and encourage rank-and-file Democrats to organize political strategies to win over Illinois voters and advance progressive political ideas.
Illinois Democrats are in a great position to capitalize on the unpopularity of Donald Trump and Bruce Rauner. However, a state Democratic convention is needed to effectively rally the resistance to Trump, Rauner, and their Republican allies.