Monday, April 9, 2018

The Premature Death of Declarations of the Death of Our Revolution

Habitues of Medium may, in recent months, have encountered an infrequent writer fashioning himself "Investigator." The non de plume is promising--the corner of Medium focused on public affairs could certainly use a healthy dose of serious investigators--but closer inspection quickly reveals that this "Investigator" is just another apologist for the Democratic party Establishment, dishing out a string of badly argued attacks against progressives. His standard technique to date has been to shotgun his readers with a string of false, fallacious or grossly misleading assertions presented in a matter-of-fact manner, the volume of them alone meant to make them look impressive, and backed up by a wall of links he hopes his readers will never check, as examining them usually deflates whatever claim he's sourced to them. In his latest, he aims his guns at Our Revolution, the non-profit founded by veterans of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, and declares "The Premature death of Our Revolution."

Founded in August 2016, Our Revolution is a relatively new org. Its mission, as described by Newsweek at its launch, is "to revitalize American democracy by bringing millions of both working and young individuals into the political system; empower the next generation of progressive leaders; and elevate political consciousness by educating the public about issues confronting the country." The "Investigator"--let's call him Tig, for short--writes that the org's "goal was to get progressive candidates elected to Congress and also to push for certain ballot initiatives," a far more narrow representation of OR's mission than OR itself has ever offered. That very misleading framing is intentional. Tig's premise is that...
"Almost two years later now, I think it’s a fair assessment that Our Revolution has completely failed to get any important candidate or ballot initiative elected/approved."
...and it's much harder to make that claim if one examines the full scope of OR's activities, instead of just a narrow sliver specifically chosen to support that preordained conclusion. As it turns out, even the sliver doesn't support Tig.

Tig's assessment:
"The list of candidates endorsed by our Revolution and often by Bernie Sanders in person, who have lost their primaries/ elections is ever growing... Important Our Revolution endorsed candidates one by one lose their elections/ primaries.... The list of Our Revolution endorsed candidates who all lost their elections is huge by now. So far, not a single important race has been won by OR... So far, the electoral power of Our Revolution seems to amount to 0,0%."
Of the OR-endorsed ballot initiatives, Tig is equally as dismissive:
"All the important ballot initiatives Bernie fought for in 2016 were rejected by the voters: from California’s proposition 61, to Colorado’s Amendment 69, which would have introduced single payer healthcare in Colorado (defeated by 79 to 21%)."
OR keeps track of its endorsements and its wins/losses. The information is arranged by year on OR's site--2016, 2017 and 2018, where the contests have only just started.[1] Tig somehow declined to provide those links, and when one looks at OR's overall record, it's hardly this relentless failure Tig portrays. So far, slightly more OR-endorsed candidates have lost than won but that has as much to do with the campaigns it chooses as anything; OR backs grassroots progressives in many tough races, often in overwhelmingly Republican districts. OR-supported ballot initiatives have won more often than they've lost. From its launch, OR has endorsed 223 candidates in races that have, as of this writing, already played out. Of those, 101 won and 122 have lost. Of the 37 ballot initiatives backed by OR, 26 have won.

Tig offers some slick talk to justify his own conclusions. The slickest--and most jaw-dropping--is his declaration that he hasn't included in his assessment state and local races. "[T]his list does not include state senate or city council seats." OR backs grassroots candidates; its endorsements are primarily--and overwhelmingly--in state and local races. Tig is pretending to offer an appraisal of OR's record regarding candidates while ruling out from consideration nearly every candidate OR has endorsed. Tig contends that state and local races are entirely unimportant. "So far," he writes, "not a single important race has been won by OR," sentiment he restates throughout his article. Hilariously, he asserts that OR's endorsements in local races are just done by OR to game its success-rate. "OR tries to up its success number," he writes, "by listing city council and state senate candidates who would have won anyway, with or without OR’s help," the latter being an utterly empty claim that, like its direct opposite ("those candidates wouldn't have won without OR's endorsement"), could be made about every race (and, like Tig's version, wouldn't be entirely true in any race).

Ruling out these local races leaves Tig with a problem: a serious lack of material. When he wants to create an impressive-looking list of all those, as he defines it, "important" OR-backed candidates who failed to win in 2016 and 2017, there isn't much with which to work. His solution is to rattle off OR-backed U.S. House and Senate candidates who lost. He prefaces this with "to name just a few," but he manages to name nearly all of them. My quick scan found only one failed candidate in these categories that he missed. Even at this, he's forced to pad his list. Two of the candidates he includes--Arturo Carmona and Wendy Carrillo--both participated in the same very crowded race in California last year and OR didn't endorse either of them. Though Tig doesn't tell his readers this, at least three on his list were candidates in those local races Tig dismisses and says he isn't including; Dwight Bullard ran for state senate in Florida, Gabriel Costilla ran for state senate in Kansas and Vincent Fort ran for mayor of Atlanta. Then there's the other stuff Tig conceals from his readers. Nanette Barragan, Raul Grijalva, Rick Nolan, Marcy Kaptur, Pramilia Jayapal and  Tulsi Gabbard all won U.S. House races with OR endorsements in 2016. Jimmy Gomez won one in a 2017 special election in California. Though these fall into his "important" category as he, himself, has defined it, Tig entirely fails to mention any of them, while insisting OR hasn't won "a single important race."

When Tig turns to 2018, he lists three unsuccessful U.S. House candidates (Tig misspells Marie Newman of Illinois as "Mary Newman"), plus a mayoral candidate in Burlington, Vermont, a judicial candidate in Wisconsin and a gubernatorial candidate in Illinois. He describes all of these as "important," which is refreshing, if utterly random. He then spotlights two races as "typical" of those in which Sanders and OR involve themselves, and his examples are... that same Burlington mayoral race and Wisconsin state supreme court race he'd already covered. While he mentions Newman, he declines to mention Chuy Garcia, the OR-backed U.S. House candidate in Illinois' 4th District, who won his primary and advanced to the general election in November. He also declines to mention Laura Moser, who advanced to the runoff for the Democratic nomination in Texas' 7th District. Texas and Illinois are the only two states that have so far held their primaries this year, which also informs Tig's effort to portray OR as a failure in 2018, so he doesn't tell his readers that either.

Tig insists voters have rejected every important ballot initiative endorsed by OR. OR-backed initiatives that have passed include marijuana legalization initiatives in Maine, Nevada and California, medical marijuana in Montana, Arkansas and Florida, minimum wage increasess in Washington, Maine and Kansas City, a proposition to defeat a roll-back of the minimum wage in South Dakota, ranked-choice voting in Maine, anti-Citizens United amendments in Washington and California, an expansion of voter registration in Alaska, campaign finance reform in South Dakota and so on. Readers can decide for themselves whether these are, as Tig would have it, entirely unimportant.

Tig freely assigns to OR ridiculous motives pulled straight from his own orifices. "[T]o hide their complete lack of electoral successes, Our Revolution now proceeds to support moderate Clinton/Obama Democrats and claims their victory as their own." What he calls "a Perfect example," capitalizing the word, is Randall Woodfin, who ran for mayor of Birmingham. Tig describes Woodfin as "the Alabama State Director of Hillary Clinton’s campaign." What Tig doesn't describe is Woodfin's populist "Putting People First" campaign, which was pretty must straight Bernie Sanders--fighting for infrastructure investment, tuition-free community college for the city's high-school graduates and a $15 minimum wage (Woodfin's director of field operations was a 2016 Sanders campaign veteran). OR endorsed Woodfin in May 2017 and, alongside the progressive Working Families Party, worked on his behalf for five months, providing, among other things, 70 volunteers and making thousands of phone calls--Bernie Sanders recorded robocalls for the campaign--and text messages. OR chief Nina Turner went to Birmingham twice to campaign on his behalf. Woodfin won. To Tig, all of this was merely "to hide [OR's] complete lack of electoral successes."

Tig insists that "even conservative politicians are endorsed" by OR "based upon personal relations with Nina Turner, OR’s president":
"Dennis Cucinich who is running for governor in Ohio. There is literally nothing progressive about this candidate, who regularly goes on Fox News to defend Trump, who visited Assad in Syria and defended this mass murderer, and so on. Yet he won the endorsement of OR, most likely because his running mate (Tara Samples) is a close friend of Nina Turner."
Tig is maybe a young fellow and doesn't know it but before his perhaps questionable turn as a Fox News guest, Dennis Kucinich--Tig misspells the name--held several elective offices, most notably 16 years spent in the U.S. Congress, where he racked up one of the most progressive records in the body. Absolutely nothing about his platform--which includes a $15 minimum wage, public financing of state elections, ending fracking, marijuana legalization, etc.--would ever be mistaken for "conservative" or, indeed, anything other than uncompromisingly progressive. While Tig may believe his mindreading capabilities are top-notch, one suspects these facts, not Samples' friendship with Nina Turner, are actually behind OR's endorsement of Kucinich.

"Another way to judge how OR is doing," writes, Tig, "would be to look at its fundraising. Unfortunately it is impossible to get any info on this due to the form OR has chosen: it is a 501(c)(4) organization, meaning there is no need to disclose any numbers/ facts regarding its fundraising." Setting up OR in this way did indeed prove controversial among Berniecrats but OR does voluntarily disclose any donor who gives more than $250 in a year.[2]

Tig spends some time weaving a Clintonite persecution narrative wherein the news media uncritically treat OR as a threat to Establishment candidates. The corporate press has proven a virtual monolith of virulently anti-Sanders sentiment but in Tig's fantasy, "it seems the MSM blindly copies any pro Bernie stuff without even asking one critical question."

Yeah, I got a good chuckle out of that one too.

Tig's project is a familiar one from Clintonites, declaring the death of all things Bernie Sanders:
"Bernie’s electoral appeal never existed. Not in 2016 during the primaries, and not in 2016–2018 during down ballot races.

"In fact it’s a myth solely based upon C- rated, sleazy pollsters (Harvard-Harris) and bad unprofessional journalism."
Tig's bolding. The Harvard/Harris poll Tig mentions there has, of late, become a regular target of Clinton cultists, as it has shown, month after month, that Sanders is the most popular active politician in the U.S.. Tig, following the established talking-points, references 538's pollster ratings, which do indeed give Harris Interactive a C- but that's based on a relatively small average error of 5.5%--not enough to matter in this particular business--and those 538 ratings are, in any case, long out of date--the site to which Tig links makes clear they haven't been updated since August 2016, nearly 2 years. The Harvard/Harris collaboration began in 2017. The "sleazy" Harris is one of the longest-established pollsters in the U.S.--55 years and counting--and the "sleazy" Harvard is, well, you get the picture. Other pollsters rarely poll on Sanders' popularity now--fill in one's favorite speculation as motive for this--but when they still still did, their findings matched the then-contemporary Harvard/Harris numbers within a few points.[3] In January, when both H/H and Quinnipiac polled on Sanders; there was only a 5% difference in their results (with Quinnipiac showing a larger number of "don't know" answers than should have been the case). In February, even H/H mysteriously stopped including Sanders in its polls.

Tig despises Sanders so badly, he rhetorically links him to Trump more than once. He begins a sentence "Since November 2016, when Bernie was all too ready to start cooperating with Trump..." He rails against "bad unprofessional journalism... that, as was the case with the constant coverage of Donald Trump, wins by the suggestion Bernie is still a viable candidate." Tig can't stand the thought. He keeps insisting Sanders and OR are dead letters. "[T]he whole Bernie myth is basically history," as if the passion with which he clearly wishes to believe that could, itself, make it true.

Alas for Tig, nothing about his examination of an org that has yet to function through even one entire election cycle is going to convince anyone.



[1] In the 2018 cycle to date, only two states (Texas and Illinois) have held their primaries but Tig writes, "While the 2018 midterms are slowly approaching and while not every primary has been held, I think it's time to conclude that Our Revolution never accomplished much. Its candidates don't win, Bernie’s endorsement seems more like a kiss of death for candidates than anything else..."

[2] Tig suggests OR's "fundraising cannot be very impressive when we learn that OR could only contribute a measly 900 dollars to James Thompson's [2017 congressional] campaign [in Kansas], while for example Daily Kos contributed millions of grassroots dollars to Thompson." Tig's alleged source for the latter claim is a Huffington Post article that--what a surprise--doesn't say that. The actual amount Kos raised for Thompson was $143,000, most of it at the last minute. Progressive groups across the board underestimated Thompson.

[3] At the same time, many polling outlets poll on Donald Trump's popularity, and in evaluating H/H, one can match its findings against its contemporaries. The most recent H/H poll, conducted from 27-29 March, puts Trump's approval at 39%. At that time, YouGov had Trump at 39%, Morning Consult had him at 42%, Gallup at 39%, Ipsos at 40% and so on.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Mindlessly Promoting the Democratic Establishment Is Reactionary

Back in January, I critically examined a very poorly-argued article by Rantt's Kylie Cheung that alleged progressives have a problem with female candidates. Today, I came across her latest, "Blindly Smearing 'Establishment' Democrats Is Counterproductive," and featuring most of the defects of the earlier one--it's ill-informed, full of misdirection and glaring omissions and heavily dependent upon false Clinton-cult talking-points in place of any sort of sound premise--it's arguably as bad as that earlier one.

A false premise that pervades the entire piece is worked into the title. Progressives have, for years now, offered a critique of the Democratic Establishment that is both specific--meaning in no way "blind"--and based on specific actions of that Establishment--meaning in no way a "smear"--and Cheung, while attempting to dismiss it, never touches it, opting, instead, to set up and knock down a series of strawmen as stand-in.

In her subhead, she wheels out the tired Clinton cult line about progressives being "far-left purists." Talk of "purism" is the cult's stock dismissive description of anyone with any basic standards beyond party affiliation in what policies they want from a political candidate vying to represent them, and Cheung offers it here even as she, herself, clings to the sort of "purism" she makes a show of condemning. I'll get back to that in a moment. The "far left" talk is empty Clintonian triangulation--rhetorically marginalizing progressives in order to present "both sides" as extreme and artificially situate oneself as the sensible center (Cheung refers to this "far-left" as advocates of "utopic ideas and dogged, ideological purity"). The policies tagged by the cult as "far left" are, in fact, supported by huge majorities of Democrats and usually significant majorities of the general public; if they can be dubbed "far left," the designation has no meaning.

Progressives are all about policy--they have, in recent years, organized around a bold and ambitious slate of issues--but large swathes of their agenda, such as single-payer healthcare, a $15/hour minimum wage, conversion to renewable energy, etc., are absolutely anathema to entrenched Big Money interests and, by extension, to the politicians, pundits and political operatives in the pay of those interests. The latter would include the Democratic Establishment. This is an irreconcilable conflict; if progressives want those policies, it means going over, around or through the pols who are paid to oppose them. Moreover, the core conviction of the progressive critique of both the Democratic Establishment and government in general is that the bribery-and-donor-service system itself, the system that dominates American politics at every level, is fundamentally corrupt and must go. This view is an existential threat to pols like the Clintons who have thrived off prostituting their offices via that system and have used it as their power-base. This is the primary, nearly sole, root of the conflict between the progressives and the Establishment but Cheung refuses to even mention it by its name.

She tries, instead, to steer around it with oblique allusions about progressives demonizing "experience and Washington political networking." Her article--a love-letter to career politicians--is filled with paragraph after paragraph in praise of these things, framing the conflict as if they were the source of it. Assiduously avoiding that matter of money, she enters the mind of the political insiders on which she's crushing, assigning them entirely altruistic motives and, in turn, using this self-generated phantom to dismiss the progressive critique without addressing it:
"The idea that those who care enough to forge connections, educate themselves and develop literacy in policymaking and dealmaking, rack up years of experience, and align themselves with party leadership, are somehow unable to understand and work on behalf of 'real Americans' because of this proven dedication is baseless and damaging."
Most of these are just basic skills; a legislator will either learn them or he won't, and contra Cheung, progressives have certainly never taken issue with someone being good at what they do if what they do is, itself, good, but therein lies the rub, the one Cheung is trying not to rub. To note the obvious, it isn't the job of legislators to "align themselves with party leadership"; they're elected to represent their constituents. If a legislator isn't dong so, or, as is usually the case, he considers his Big Money donors to be his real constituents and serves them at everyone else's expense, that's a problem. As for "experience," Bernie Sanders, the pol who helped bring the progressive/Establishment dispute to a head, entered his first political race in the early 1970s and has held elective office since 1981--by any estimation, a very experienced pol. Sanders, who has significant political gifts, gained the support of progressives because he advocated the progressive policy agenda.

On this matter, all roads lead back to that. Policy. The rest is just squid's ink.

Cheung writes that Sanders "brought dangerous levels of divisiveness into the fold with his 'us vs. them,' 'anti-establishment vs. establishment' rhetoric," as if that rhetoric appeared in a vacuum as a pernicious alien import into the political discourse and had no basis in fact. The efforts by the party Establishment to tilt the 2016 primary/caucus process in Clinton's favor--everything from manipulating the debate schedule to establishing a major money-laundering scheme using the state parties as fronts for Clinton fundraising to the party Good Ol' Boys Club, with their superdelegate superpowers, lining up behind Clinton--are a matter of public record. The Sanders presidential campaign was a grassroots, issues-driven affair fueled by small-dollar contributions from Sanders' supporters, while Hillary Clinton was paying her bills with massive contributions solicited from entrenched Big Money interests while denigrating and dismissing progressive issues (or offering watered-down-to-nothing versions of them in an effort to undercut them).

That same situation is presently repeating itself all over the U.S. in the 2018 cycle. Sanders-inspired crowdfunded progressives have jumped into political races at all levels of government and the reaction of the Democratic Establishment has been to interfere in local primaries in an effort to defeat the grassroots candidates or bully them out of the various races in favor of corporate-backed rightist "Democrats" centrally chosen by the Establishment clique in the Capitol. In a political environment in which all the enthusiasm and activist energy in the party is with the progressives, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced in the Summer it was officially entering into what had, up to then, been a silent and unofficial alliance with the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of right-wing "Democrats" who are barely distinguishable from Republicans.[1] These are the kinds of anti-inspiring candidates the DCCC recruits, the ones behind which it throws nearly all of its support and resources. If one accepts the premise that it should be Democratic voters, not the D.C. Establishment, that choose their own Democratic candidates, the interference in these primaries by orgs like the DCCC is entirely inappropriate.

Cheung even mentions one of the races in which this has been an issue, Berniecrat Marie Newman's recent effort to unseat long-running Democratic incumbent Dan Lipinski in Illinois' 3rd District, though she declines to provide the context I just have. That's not all she leaves out either. The full extent of her take on that race:
"...none of this is to say that Democrats should never embrace change of any sort. In cases like the race of incumbent, notably anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski against progressive, liberal and notably female challenger Marie Newman, there are times when Democrats with dated, damaging values threatening to democracy and human rights simply have to go.

"But there is a significant difference between upholding basic standards of decency for our lawmakers and ruling out and smearing Democrats solely for their experience and connections."
The bolding on that dishonest strawman is Cheung's own, and at least shows that she's aware of her own hypocrisy in repeatedly damning "purists" while arguing against Lipinski from a purely "purist" perspective. Dan Lipinski, it's also worth noting, is an example of a pol with plenty of experience and Washington connections. He is, for example, one of the chairmen of the Blue Dog Coalition. And how did the Democratic Establishment handle this race? The DCCC endorsed Lipinski, throwing its money behind his ultimately successful effort to defeat his progressive rival. Steny Hoyer, the House Democratic Whip, and Joe Crowley, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, "contributed thousands of dollars to Lipinski’s campaign." House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was there for Lipinski too,[2] which is hardly surprising given that the DCCC is Pelosi's creature, but the actions of the party leaders here speak directly to both Cheung's reflexive defense of pols who line up behind the party leadership and her rather ludicrous citation of Pelosi, elsewhere in the piece, as an example of "strong, highly capable female leadership." Though everything I've just outlined directly impacts on everything else Cheung writes, Cheung declines to share any of it with her readers.

Cheung's piece wouldn't be a Clinton cult screed without the boilerplate appeal to weaponized faux-identity politics and the ugly implication that progressives are sexists.[3] "I would be remiss," she writes, "to conclude without acknowledging how this phenomenon"--progressive opposition to misdeeds by the party Establishment--"disproportionately affects women in positions of power." She frets that "generations could be deprived of strong, highly capable female leadership because of the lasting attitudes of the Sanders insurgency," a complaint instantly undercut by the fact that her examples of that great "leadership" include wretched political refuse like Clinton, Pelosi and California Sen. Dinosaur Feinstein (rather than keepers like, say, Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard or Nina Turner). I'd be remiss if, in the face of that identity rubbish, I failed to point out that the army of Sanders-inspired crowdfunded progressives currently running for office, the candidates Cheung relentlessly disparages and tries to render marginal and radioactive, is disproportionately made up of women and people of color (another subset of the populace Cheung makes a rhetorical show of defending), and that the Democratic Establishment Cheung is rhapsodizing is, in race after race, trying to defeat them. Marie Newman is only one example. In Texas' 7th District, Pelosi's DCCC conducted a very public smear-campaign against progressive Laura Moser, trying to push her out of the race. In Washington's 9th District, Sarah Smith is challenging incumbent "Democrat" Adam Smith and the party is trying to monkeywrench her campaign. Tanzie Youngblood, a black former teacher, jumped into the race for New Jersey's 2nd District seat only to have the DCCC endorse, instead, anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-death penalty state senator Jeff Van Drew, one of the most conservative Democratic elected officials in the state. The DCCC "Red To Blue" program hasn't endorsed a single black candidate in the 2018 cycle. And so on.

That's Cheung's Democratic Establishment. And in evaluating same, none of this merits so much as a mention from her.

Cheung does, however, spend a lot of time on Sen. Feinstein, calling her "moderate and pragmatic" and "the very image of a Clinton-esque, 'establishment' Democrat." That last one, at least, is about right. Cheung crows about the Dinosaur's "credentials" and "skill set," and for her, the bottom line is that Feinstein "has a long record of bipartisan dealmaking, upholding key relationships and experience in public service in a politically diverse landscape like Capitol Hill that these times require." For progressives, the bottom line on Feinstein is that she prostitutes her office to Big Money, opposes single-payer healthcare, is wrong on "free trade," supports the death penalty, is a war-hawk who, among other things, supported Bush's Iraq misadveture, supports the USA PATRIOT Act, has an absolutely horrendous record on civil liberties, is a fierce and long-time defender of warrantless surveillance and has repeatedly voted to expand it, voted to gut Glass Steagall, voted for the Bush tax-cuts (from which she--one of the wealthiest members of the Senate--derived a huge windfall), is wrong on the drug war and on into infinity--a great example, actually, of a Democrat "with dated, damaging values threatening to democracy and human rights." California is one of the most liberal states in the Union; it can do much better than this.

Cheung doesn't tell her readers about any of that either. While she complains that progressives aren't supporting Dinosaur and seeks to make a case for the long-running senator, her analysis of Feinstein is, like the rest of her article, almost entirely content-free insofar as policy substance is concerned, as if she believes one can do politics without the politics. Her talk of policy is almost entirely limited to the need to defend past accomplishments.

It's a particularly tired cliche of this dismal literature to melodramatically fear-monger about how past accomplishments could be rolled back if Republicans are given power.[4] From the worst of it, one would conclude that women, poor folks, people of color, those who are LGBTQ, etc. could be shipped to death camps at any moment. Clintonite pols use this in place of any positive platform as an argument for their own election. It's not only preposterously hyperbolic and utterly reactionary but a profoundly offensive inversion of reality in another way; it is and always has been progressives, not mushy "moderate" rightists, who fight for vulnerable communities. Cheung dives into the swamp anyway. "In the current national political landscape," she writes, "what we’re witnessing is an existential battle for the bare necessities" (bolding mine). But Cheung departs from the standard script and manages to offer an even more appalling--and even more reactionary--variant:
"President Donald Trump and his increasingly extremist party are not the only threats to marginalized peoples' rights in this country. Regardless of their well-meaning ideas and colorful visions for the future, electing people who lack the fundamental experiences and skill sets to fight for the basics place already vulnerable Americans further at risk."
This notion--that both votes for progressives and progressives themselves are a threat to "marginalized peoples" and that only the Democratic Establishment and those who cling to it are suited to saving the day[5]--is the central theme of Cheung's article. She restates it over and over again, doling out irrational fear in order to dismiss those progressives candidates[6] struggling to build movements to finally give their long-neglected communities a voice in government. Keeping them out of government denies them experience; their alleged lack of experience is then advanced as a rationale for keeping them out of government--a perfect exercise in reactionary circular "reasoning":
"If we fail to fight for the basics, today, by electing people who lack the requisite experiences and skills to fight for them, we could not only forfeit these basics but also lose even more ground."
Cheung even advances this ending of democracy in the name of democracy:
"When there is as much to lose--particularly for people of color, immigrants, women, low-income people, disabled people and LGBTQ people--as there is, taking chances on people with new ideas and little else backing them up is a risk our democracy may not be able to afford."
For a political party, what Cheung is peddling is the ultimate recipe for stagnation and death, and in an environment where people are so desperately clamoring for change that they turn to the likes of Donald Trump because they have some little hope he will provide it when the other side isn't offering any, it's a quick death too.

Cheung concludes by writing, "with basic decency, competency, progress and foundational Democratic values at stake, the onus is on us to make both the right choice, and the smart choice." Both the right choice and the smart choice--and the wise one--is to chuck in the nearest waste-basket everything Cheung has written here, and never think on it again.



[1] It's impossible to regard this move as anything other than breathtakingly tone-deaf and out of touch but it reflects the priorities and proclivities of the larger Democratic Establishment (and its financiers).

[2] In a man-bites-dog move, some elements of the larger Democratic Establishment lined up behind Newman but the elected leadership--Cheung's focus--was a monolith in supporting Lipinski.

[3] Among Rantt writers, the full litany of tired, mostly fictional Clinton cult talking-points seem to be treated as revealed gospel. Some of the others Cheung uncritically repeats include the idea that Hillary Clinton was "the most qualified candidate in U.S. history," that "we should recognize the role of [Sanders'] rhetorical talking points in helping to doom Clinton in the general election," that Sanders was "sidelining identity-based issues as purported distractions from 'real,' hard economic issues." I suppose Cheung deserves at least some credit for sparing us another rendition of "Bernie Sanders isn't even a Democrat."

[4] And given Cheung's steadfast defense of the party Establishment and her assertion in her subhead that "far-left purists will only keep Republicans in power," it's worth noting that Establishment has a terrible record when it comes to picking winners. In a progressive party, the rightists it recruits in nearly every race in which it involves itself brutally slay voter enthusiasm; in the 2016 cycle, the DCCC and the House Majority PAC spent over a million dollars in each of 30 races and lost all but 7 of them to the Republicans.

[5] This is like a steroid-infused variant on one of Hillary Clinton's 2016 smears of Bernie Sanders. Sanders advocated a single-payer healthcare system; Clinton insisted this meant Sanders wanted to repeal Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid--everything--leaving people with nothing while he tried to pass an all-new system.

[6] Again, since Cheung played the identity card, mostly women and minority candidates.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Some Thoughts On the Thoughts of That Liberal Who Couldn't Support Sanders or Corbyn

Tara Ella has written a piece, "Why This Liberal Couldn't Support Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn." It isn't very much about either Sanders or Corbyn; it's mostly a philosophical treatise from a self-described liberal who offers a preference for "smaller government." Some of my thoughts:

A lot of readers are going to look on your talk of preferring "smaller government" on rather vague "moral libertarian" grounds as allowing ideology to overrule reason. And they'd be right to do so. You don't actually engage with the arguments for the policies you're dismissing here, arguments that are much more practical than, as you seem to suggest, ideological.

The growing opposition to private health insurance, for example, doesn't flow from some ideological commitment to abstract socialism; it comes from entirely pragmatic considerations. Insurers don't add anything to patient care. They're just a middleman, and their rapacious pursuit of profit leaves huge numbers of people without any coverage, even larger numbers of people who theoretically have coverage without care or with constant bureaucratic intrusions into their care and it jacks into the stratosphere the price of care for everyone. One could perhaps do better with some theoretical public-private hybrid--it would be almost impossible to do worse--but any private involvement has to feature that profit motive, and it's just not a necessary expense.

You don't engage with any of this, and all you place against it is that ideological preference for "the smallest government method to achieve the aim…"

As another example, you write that "heavily restricting free trade is a retrograde policy that was discredited back in the 1970s," but this not only fails to engage with the objections to what is misleadingly called "free trade," it actively distorts them. The multilateral "free trade" deals to which progressives object have very little to do with trade. They're about granting legal superpowers to multinationals, establishing institutions that, among other things, allow them to collectively challenge democratically-enacted regulatory regimes and mete out economic punishment to nation-states that fail to fall in line. And falling in line means a race to the bottom for peoples everywhere in the name of profit by the few. Opposition to this is not, as you suggest, just long-out-of-date reactionary protectionism. Since you've expressed your preference for lesser government, it's also worth noting that these "free trade" agreements are, themselves, a major government intervention into economic activity, and are also protectionist (all of them extend new monopoly protections, for example, to "intellectual property"). It's just that it's carried out on behalf of these multinationals.

Now obviously, your article isn't about healthcare or this sort of "free trade" and it would be unreasonable to expect some sort of detailed discussion of every general issue you raise. What I'm describing is the impression you're giving by how you do deal with them.

When you discuss moral agency, you write that you believe "all individuals should have maximum liberty over their own lives" and that "a government that is too big is incompatible with this aim." But here, again, the issues you've raised beg questions regarding the application of this notion, questions you fail to address. Our experience with for-profit healthcare is that it utterly decimates large swathes of the population; all it takes is one injury or illness and that for-profit system can swoop in and take away everything one has, everything for which one has ever worked, completely destroying one's independence and one's opportunities in life. There's not much "liberty" left for someone in that fix. When the government facilitates the mass-export of jobs, that not only harms individuals, it devastates entire communities. This "maximum liberty" thing is a lot more complicated than you've treated it here; there's certainly much more to it than just some abstraction about the size of a government.

You ask a few questions that effectively critique elements of liberal democracy and, of course, that could be developed even further. Entrenched interests do exert undue influence over it, political representation usually isn't so great and politicians' actions frequently don't conform to public opinion--it's an extremely flawed system, arguably critically flawed. Still, the basic principle at the heart of democracy is self-determination, which is, of course, one of the most basic and indispensable principles of liberty. The liberal democracies are imperfect but they're an effort to apply this principle to a state system. Returning, in light of this, to one of those particular issues you raise, the push for single-payer healthcare is a democratic one. Advocates of the policy have been organizing, making their case for their preferred policy, supporting politicians who promise to enact it and so on. You write that the only way to preserve liberty is by limiting the size of government but that presents an obvious problem if the democratic consensus is opposed to that sort of limitation on government. That's a limitation on one principle of liberty. It may further others but again, that's an argument that must be made. You haven't made it, and your flat declaration that limiting government is the only path fails to acknowledge that the conflict exists.

Just some thoughts I had while reading your piece.


Friday, March 9, 2018

An Effort At A Contribution Toward Healthy Public Discourse On Progressives

Anthony Rogers-Wright has written a piece that asks, "Are 'Progressives' Becoming the Debasers of National Conversations?" It aims some criticism at Wisconsin congressional candidate Randy Bryce and Texas Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke, who are presently attempting to unseat, respectively, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Some of this criticism is appropriate, some not so much. My effort to unpack it:

It's an unfortunate habit of the left to consume itself and let the perfect be the mortal enemy of even the very, very good. In your piece, you get some important things wrong, and while these are probably honest mistakes, they do make portions of your article an example of this. You write:
"Bryce and O'Rourke have both been bankrolled by corporate donations from 1% corporations including Amazon, Apple, Time Warner, Google and Raymond James. Accepting corporate cash is profoundly antithetical to the platform of the Justice Democrats PAC, who endorsed Bryce while appealing for, 'a strong Democratic Party that doesn't cater to corporate donors.'"
But you don't establish that either Bryce or O'Rourke have gotten "corporate donations." Direct corporate donations to a candidate are, in fact, illegal. Such donations are still made, of course, but it's done through various backdoor means. Mostly, it comes in through PACs, super PACs and various dark-money groups but while you suggest--and at times even say--Bryce and O'Rourke are accepting money from such sources, you fail to establish this. And, in fact, both have forsworn corporate money from such sources.

You compare Bryce and O'Rourke unfavorably to Bernie Sanders "because as we see in the graphic above, some of their donations lack transparency and, therefore, could be characterized as 'Dark Money'--with warrant." But the only graphic above those words shows contributors to Bryce's campaign from ActBlue and various individuals. ActBlue is not a dark-money org; it's a conduit PAC. It merely provides, for a small percentage fee, fundraising infrastructure for campaigns engaged in grassroots fundraising. Donors earmark their contributions; the donors are disclosed.

Campaign finance law doesn't require disclosure of the names of small donors--those who give less than $200 to a candidate--but anyone who donates has to list his employer. Your chart regarding O'Rourke's fundraising lists various business interests as having made donations but your source, OpenSecrets, includes in those calculations anyone who works for a given company. If, say, 10 employees of Time-Warner donate $250 each to O'Rourke, that will be listed on OpenSecrets as $2,500 from "Time-Warner," even though it may just be from janitors, drivers, comic book colorists who work for parts of this huge corporation and don't even know one another.[1] The larger chart from which you drew the data you've used does make it clear that all of the money from these sources comes from individuals. This doesn't, of course, mean there's no possible corrupt influence here--that's a much more complicated matter[2]--but contributions from working people are just that: from working people. All of them work for someone. All who contribute have to list that someone. The big employers with the most employees have the most people who may decide to contribute to a political campaign. You can immediately see the problem your framing has created; presenting their contributions as "corporate contributions" is a profound mischaracterization.

You've accused Randy Bryce of accepting such "corporate contributions"--a toxic charge when it comes to progressives--but Bryce is, in reality, mostly funded by small contributions:

That's a larger percentage than Cathy Myers, his primary opponent whom you've spotlighted, though her cut from small donations--64.24%--is also impressive.[3] And compare either to Paul Ryan, who has a massive super PAC and has only raised 5.62% of his campaign war-chest from small contributions.

Among progressives, this kind of crowdfunding is a thing that should be encouraged, not met with ill-founded attacks.

The matter of Beto O'Rourke is a bit more complicated. He's been an advocate for campaign finance reform for as long as he's been in congress and has sponsored and co-sponsored a string of bills on the subject, but in his first two campaigns, he took the corporate cash like most other pols.[4] In the last cycle, he apparently had a come-to-Jesus moment or at least recognized the irreconcilability of this and dumped the corporate PAC money. Still, he's always had a disproportionate number of large contributors; they supplied over 86% of his funds in that 2016 run. The zeroes begin to increase in a Senate race but so far, he's at least improved on that--at present, 60.28% of his funds come from the larger $200+ individual donations. It will be curious to see if that percentage goes up or down as this year proceeds.[5] He's bragged about raising most of his money from Texans.

You write:
"Additionally, both Bryce and O'Rourke's campaigns have been bolstered by a who's who list of Hollywood celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow, to Charlize Theron, to Rosie O'Donnell who all live thousands of miles away from Wisconsin and Texas, and likely not fully informed of the specific challenges faced by the people who live in both states."
Hollywood celebrities are ideological givers. They give to causes in which they believe, not in an effort to purchase congressmen and receive favorable treatment for some business interest to the detriment of everyone else. Bernie Sanders received donations from a large number of celebrities. None of this is to say such contributions aren't potentially problematic but as corruption problems go, they're pretty far down the scale.

Down there with them at the moment is any serious fear of a "progressive Establishment," at least in the way you describe it. The last two years have seen the rise of a number of new orgs and a rejuvination of some older ones, all devoted to electing progressive candidates around the U.S.. This development is in its infancy--it hasn't even been through a single major campaign cycle yet--and as far as it has gotten, it's still a very tiny--cellular, even--David compared to the Goliathean forces arrayed against it. It's years--maybe decades--away from devolving into the kind of rich, fat, intellectually bankrupt and exclusive country club that perpetually rests on its flabby laurels, revels in old campaign war stories from the Glory Days and smothers innovation while complaining about those darn kids and their lack of respect for its Great Accomplishments. It may never make it that far; that remains to be seen. For now, it's an embryonic, neophyte, outgunned underdog, nowhere near the Man.

These criticisms aside, your larger point, that candidates should debate their primary opponents, is dead on target. It's a regular practice for frontrunners to refuse to debate their opponents. Some, like Nancy Pelosi, make it a regular practice to refuse to even acknowledge the existence of their primary challengers. One either believes in liberal democracy or one doesn't, and if one does, playing those sorts of games simply isn't defensible. For the new wave of crowdfunded progressive candidates that has arisen, carrying on in this way doesn't really debase the national conversation--that's pretty much where things have been for years--but it doesn't elevate it either, which is something such progressives should be in the business of doing. Any respect for a healthy public discourse demands no less. Something else it imposes is an obligation to try to get things right, and it's in this spirit that I offer my remarks here.



[1] OpenSecrets is, in general, an invaluable resource but its data when it comes to this sort of thing must be used carefully.

[2] Bundled contributions, for example, can be used by various interests to get around campaign finance law; on paper, they're just a bunch of contributions from individuals. When it comes to trying to track campaign finance, such bundling can cause some real headaches.

[3] The items listed on Bryce's ledger as "PAC Contributions" aren't the big business corporations either:

[4] Thought it was never a big part of his overall take.

[5] Back in the Summer, Politifact did a piece on his fundraising that turned into a great little primer on the difficulties of tracking some areas of campaign finance via the publicly available resources.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Texas Democratic Primary Wrap-Up

[I started this as a Facebook post, it ran a bit long, so I just decided to put it here--easier for those interested to share.]

Yesterday's Texas primaries were pretty good to the progressive House and Senate candidates spotlighted by this blog, most of whom either won or made it to runoffs to be held later this year (the Texas runoff system is triggered when no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote).

--Born-again progressive Beto O'Rourke handily won the Democratic Senate primary, beating progressie Sema Hernandez and capturing over 61% of the vote. He will face Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz in the general.

--In the much-contested 7th District, progressive Laura Moser will take on EMILYs List-backed corporate "Democrat" Lizzie Fletcher in a runoff. Progressive Justin Westin finished in 3rd place. This race drew a lot of attention because the DCCC savagely attacked Moser only days before the vote but corporate "Democrat" Alex Triantaphyllis, who was recruited by the DCCC, finished in 4th, drawing only 15.7% of the vote.

--In the 12th District, progressive Vanessa Adia's opponent withdrew from the race at the last moment. Adia will go on to face Republican incumbent Kay Granger in the general.

--In the 14th, progressive Adrienne Bell dominated Levi Barnes, raking in nearly 80% of the vote. She'll go on to face Republican incumbent Randy Weber in the general.

--In the 16th, progressive Veronica Escobar dominated a crowded field, capturing over 61% of the vote. She'll face off against Republican Rick Seeberger in the general but this is a very strong Democratic district, the seat Beto O'Rourke gave up to run for Senate, and her win in the primary virtually guarantees she's going to Washington.

--In the 21st, Progressive Mary Wilson and the DCCC's pick, self-financing "ex"-Republican Joseph Kopser, will face off in a runoff. Progressive Derrick Crowe fared relatively poorly, finishing in 3rd place with only 23.1% of the vote. Today, he endorsed Wilson.

--In the 22nd, progressive Letitia Plummer will face off against Sri Kulkarni (who seems relatively progressive) in a runoff. Progressive Steve Brown finished in third place.

--In the 23rd, progressive Rick Treviño will square off against Gina Jones in a runoff. Jay Hulings, the DCCC's conservative pick, finished in 4th place.

--In the 26th, progressive Linsey Fagan defeated Will Fisher--she will advance to the general, where she will face Republican incumbent Michael Burgess.

--In the 29th, Sylvia Garcia, who, when I was researching her, seemed a pretty standard-issue Democrat, crushed self-funder Tahir Javed in a one-sided massacre. This is a heavily Democratic district; Garcia is virtually guaranteed to win the general. Hector Morales suffered perhaps the worst progressive defeat of the evening, finishing in 4th place with only 3% of the vote.

--In the 32nd, Colin Allred and Lilian Salerno--the two progressives in the crowded primary--will now compete in a runoff. Ed Meier, Hillary Clinton hecubi and backed by the Clinton machine, finished in 4th place with only 13.7% of the vote.

--In the 26th, progressive Dayna Steele crushed Jon Powell; she will go on to face Republican incumbent Brian Babin in the Fall.

Other notes, both good and bad: The Associated Press reports today that turnout in the Democratic primaries was the highest it had been in 16 years. Believe it or not, Texas has apparently never sent a Latina to congress; wins in two heavily Democratic districts mean it will probably be sending two this year (Escobar and Garcia). The 28th District is heavily Democratic and could elect a good candidate but instead, Henry Cuellar, a "Democrat" who votes with Trump over 60% of the time, ran unopposed there and will be going back to congress next year. Trumpanzee Kathaleen Wall spent $6 million trying to get the Repub nomination in the 2nd District and ended up in 3rd place--didn't even make the runoff.


Monday, February 5, 2018

2018 Progressive Candidates

One of the historically important aspects of the 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign is that it very dramatically put the lie to the Clintonite notion that has dominated Democratic politics for decades, the idea that Democrats must either forever move to the right in order to draw big-money contributions from the oligarchy or they can't be competitive. Sanders came from nowhere--a few weeks before he announced his candidacy, 60% of respondents told the Gallup poll they'd never even heard of him--and with a grassroots campaign fueled by small-dollar contributions from ordinary people, he was able to match and sometimes even surpass the fundraising of one of the most powerful political machines in the U.S. and nearly defeat its legacy candidate. This campaign has inspired a major wave of progressives candidates, ordinary people who are saying "no" to the corrupt bribery-and-donor-service system, adopting the Sanders-popularized crowdfunding model and jumping into political races all over the U.S.. It has also led to the creation of an array of new organizations (and a reinvigoration of some already-established ones) devoted to supporting those candidates.

These are extraordinary developments. When it comes to this rising army of progressive candidates, this writer, who has been to more than a few of these rodeos, has never seen its like. When wearing my political analyst cap, I'm often called upon, in various venues, to comment on them, and last Summer, I began assembling a sort of informal list of them. Mostly pretty basic information--who they are, some details about their platforms and about the districts in which they're running, their opponents, etc. I've added to it over time as I've come across new candidates and have tried to keep it updated. It's been posted in several places around Facebook--its natural home is a group I admin called "Populist Revolt & Lounge"--and eventually began to draw an enthusiastic response in some quarters and to be treated as a valuable resource. As that kind of resource, though, it's somewhat limited, in that it's basically just a random list. I've long toyed with various ways to better organize and present it. Twitter offers the most ideal platform capabilities for it but its character limit rules it out. One Facebook group, "Flip the House, Flip the Senate," organized the information by states, but while that was certainly a big improvement over my original format, it still proved to be somewhat messy within the individual states, particularly as new information continued to be added. I finally just decided I'd put it in order and post it here.

No matter how extraordinary a development these progressive candidates collectively are, the corporate press is largely doling out the usual treatment it affords left candidates, blacking out their existence and trying to ignore them to death while, on the few occasions when they're mentioned, dismissing or attacking them. Rather than encouraging this remarkable wave of new candidates, nearly all of whom are Democrats, the Democratic party Establishment is up to what has become its usual hijinks, actively trying to monkeywrench them, sabotage their campaigns, push them aside. Party organs like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), its Senate counterpart (the DSCC) and Establishment-aligned orgs like EMILY's List have continued their dismal practice of actively interfering in Democratic primary contests, throwing their support behind the corporate-backed conservative Clintonite candidates who are trying to defeat the progressives, even in deep blue districts. These efforts to centrally direct the outcome of these contests rather than letting the voters decide have, in turn, elicited barely a peep from the corporate press. The left press, however, is finally getting hip to this scam, and several good stories documenting these corrupt practices have appeared; I've tried to incorporate their information here.

None of these candidates are incumbents in the seats for which they're running. Some have run before. Some have held other offices. Most are newcomers. Some will burn out quickly, others have long political careers before them, if that's what they want. Some are near-impossible longshots, others much closer to shoe-ins. I've long believed a blue wave is building for 2018, the sort of wave that can carry even some of the least likely competitors to victory. When primary contests kick off--some as early as this month--some will win, some will lose and there will be some surprises both way.

A few more items: While these progressive candidates have appeared in political races at every level, a comprehensive survey is beyond my capabilities, so I've focused here on U.S. House and Senate races but the list isn't even comprehensive when it comes to those contests. There are plenty of other races with plenty of other candidates and I'll be updating the information here as I go along, or that's the plan. When I outline a candidate's platform, I usually just highlight a small handful of marquee items, which, if this needs to be said, aren't representative of the candidate's entire platform or necessarily what that candidate thinks is most important; use the links I provide.




Republican Sen. Jeff Flake's impending retirement has opened a battle for his Senate seat in Arizona. The race has (so far) attracted a regular monster menagerie of awful Republican challengers (former Maricopa County sheriff/racketeer Joe Arpaio is only arguably the worst), a Libertarian, a Green and five Democrats. The Democratic Establishment is backing the loathsome Krysten Sinema. Sinema, currently the congresswoman from the 9th District, is an opportunist who reinvents herself every few years. Her current incarnation is as a Blue Dog "Democrat" barely distinguishable in any meaningful way from a Republican. There are two progressives in the race for this pretty Republican state, Deedra Abboud, running as a Democrat, and Eve Reyes-Aguirre, running as a Green.

Deedra Abboud is a Phoenix attorney and community organizer and, as she puts it, a former Muslim-hating Southern Baptist turned Muslim! She supports Medicare For All, net neutrality, the establishment of a living wage tied to inflation, etc.

Abboud interviewed by Cenk Uygur:

Abboud on Twitter:

Eve Reyes-Aguirre is a community organizer from Phoenix and, like so many here, a newcomer to politics. "It’s not every day a woman runs for Senate—and definitely not in Arizona. Eve Reyes-Aguirre won’t let that deter her, though. The 42 year old is trying to become first woman senator in the state and the first indigenous woman senator, at that.

"Reyes-Aguirre, an Izkaloteka Mexican Native who lives in Phoenix, is running as a third-party candidate with the Green Party and still needs to secure 1,000 signatures before she can appear on the ballot come November, but she’s not worried. She’s got until May and already has about 400.

"With current Republican Senator Jeff Flake retiring, that Senate seat is about to bust open.

"She joins the ranks of Republican candidate Joe Arpaio, the racist former sheriff for Maricopa County; Republican candidate Martha McSally, the first woman combat pilot in U.S. history; Democrat candidate Kyrsten Sinema, a U.S. representative who leans more toward the middle than most Democrats; and all the other third-party candidates.

"So Reyes-Aguirre’s got some serious competition. And she’s no politician. This mother of four has never run for public office and has a pretty limited voting track record, having vote for the first time 10 years ago for former President Barack Obama.

"However, she’s been politically active in other ways: serving on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from 2009 to 2017 and co-chairing the Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus until last year. She’s been a community organizer for more than 20 years and helped organize an indigenous women’s contingent at the Phoenix Women’s March last Saturday.

"Given the current political climate, the candidate decided in July 2017 to work from inside the system instead. Protesting outside capitol buildings can only get a girl so far. Reyes-Aguirre wants to offer a voice for people who—like herself—have become disillusioned with politics. She thinks she’s got what it takes. Hear it from the candidate herself...

Reyes-Aguirre supports making the minimum wage a living wage, fighting the expansion of the prison-industrial complex, divesting from projects that contribute to the depletion of the Earth's resources, etc.

Eve Reyes-Aguirre on Twitter:

Brianna Westbrook is running in Arizona's 8th District, the stomping-ground of Republican shitbag Trent Franks, whose political career was just ended by a sex scandal. During the last redistricting, the district was gerrymandered to be very conservative but its current state is somewhat untested. Democrats haven't fielded a challenger there for years--Franks won reelection in 2016 with 68% of the vote but faced only a third-party challenger. There are two other Democrats vying for the seat and both a Republican and an independent candidate have entered the race as well. Westbrook is a sales manager with a Phoenix Honda dealership and has never run for office; if elected, she would become Arizona's first trangendered congresswoman. She supports a Wall Street tax to pay for tuition-fee higher education, single-payer healthcare, a living wage and she's been endorsed by ActBlue and Justice Democrats:

Westbrook interviewed by Cenk Uygur:

Westbrook on Twitter:


Robb Ryerse is challenging incumbent Republican Steve Womack in Arkansas's 3rd District. Democrats haven't even bothered to put up a challenger to Womack in his three election bids but Ryerse, a pastor, is an example of that near-mythical beast, a liberal Republican. He's challenging Womack in the Republican primary and he has the backing of Brand New Congress, one of the groups founded by former Bernie Sanders staffers.

"'I think the influx of so much money has helped to really cause the toxic nature of our system and has really worked to corrupt the party establishment,' he told us. 'I am working with Brand New Congress and we’re not taking special interest money, we’re not taking big PAC money, corporate money. We are being supported, my campaign is being supported, by average citizens who believe and who donate. I think that’s the way it needs to be. I think when we’ve got politicians who are beholden to big corporations and big donors, is what happens is the very thing we have, whether Republicans or Democrats they put party ahead of people and we end up with the mess we’ve got now.'"

Ryerse supports banning private donations to politicians and instituting a public financing system for political campaigns, Medicare For All, ending for-profit criminal justice, etc.

Ryerse interviewed by Thom Hartmann:

Ryerse on Twitter:


California is quite progressive and quite large--lots of races with lots of candidates in them--and I confess that in compiling the portion of this directory devoted to it, the state has nearly broken me. It's probably worth restating that this project is in no way comprehensive. Though I've gotten lots of recommendations from readers, I'm basically a one-man show. There will probably be plenty of progressive candidates I've missed and a lot of them will probably be from California.

The state's jungle primary process, whereby the top two primary vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the general election in November, is an appalling incumbent-protection machine, as established pols can always call on a core of established supporters to carry them through a crowded primary, while it penalizes whichever side has the most enthusiastic slate of candidates, as the more candidates there are, the more atomized the vote, which can lead to all sorts of cockeyed outcomes.

When Dinosaur Feinstein announced she would be seeking an unconscionable 923rd term as a California Senator, it was hoped there would be primary challengers. It was encouraging to see Kevin de León step up to challenge her then dismaying to see him immediately set up a super PAC to suck up unlimited donations from Big Money interests. Fortunately, as things developed, Feinstein is going to face progressive challengers--two of them, so far, Alison Hartson and David Hildebrand. There's a good chance one of these challengers will make it to the general and in a strongly Democratic state, perhaps the Dinosaur can finally be made to go politically extinct.

Alison Hartson, a former high-school teacher, became an activist crusading against money in politics. She supports public financing of political campaigns, Medicare For All, tuition-free higher education, etc.

Hartson interviewed on the Young Turks:

Hartson on Twitter:

David Hildebrand is a Legislative Analyst for the state and a democratic socialist. He supports reversing the Citizens United decision, Medicare For All, term limits for congress, tuition-free higher education, etc.:

Hildebrand interviewed by Lauren Steiner:

Hildebrand on Twitter:

Audrey Denney is challenging Republican incumbent Doug La Malfa in California's 1st District. This is a Republican district; Le Malfa has won his recent reelection efforts by 57% or more. Denney is a farmer and ag educator who supports Medicare For All, raising the minimum wage to livable status and tying it to inflation, transitioning to renewable energy, etc.

Denney interviewed by Mike Richman and Aaron Haar:

Denney on Twitter:

Roza Calderon is challenging longtime incumbent Republican Tom McClintock in California's 4th District. This is a strongly Republican district and as of this writing, three Democrats and two Republicans, including incumbent McClintock, are vying for the seat. McClintock is a Trumpanzee--votes with Trump on nearly everything--who made some headlines last February when he had to flee his own town hall in his own district because his own constituents were so raucously protesting against his efforts to lecture them on "democracy"--basically pimping Trumpism. Roza came to the U.S. at 2 years old, a refugee from Reagan's murderous terror-war in El Salvador. She's a geoscientist and political activist who supports getting money out of politics, Medicare For All, tuition-free higher education, creating a path to citizenship for immigrants, etc.

A pretty good interview with Roza from TYT Politics:

Calderon on Twitter:

Brad Westmoreland is challenging Democratic incumbent Ami Bera in California's 7th District. The 7th is a battleground district, almost evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

"A 30-year-old lawyer who backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign last year has jumped into the race to challenge Rep. Ami Bera, a three-term Democrat representing suburban Sacramento.

"Brad Westmoreland, a Democrat and political newcomer, said he wants to shake up 'politics as usual.' He criticized Bera for his stance on health care and for accepting campaign contributions from insurance companies.

"'I believe in Medicare for all... I don’t think we can rely on Congressman Bera to go against his own interests and support universal health care when he takes money from people who are opposed to a Medicare-for-all type system, Westmoreland said, referencing Sanders’ push for a single-payer health care system. 'I think about my son growing up in a world where we continue to ration health care away from those who need it, and I think that’s unacceptable.'"

Westmoreland supports a constitutional amendment that "allows only natural persons who are eligible to vote for a federal candidate to make campaign contributions or independent expenditures related to that candidate," tuition-free higher education, a $15/hour minimum wage, etc.

Westmoreland on Twitter:

There are two progressives challenging Republican incumbent Jeff Denham in California's 10th District, Dotty Nygard, running as a Democrat, and Terra Snova, running as an independent. This is definitely a battle district; in 2016, Denham won reelection by only 3.4%. This has meant there is a crowded field; besides Nygard and Snova, there are 6 Democrats and another independent also vying for the seat.

"Nygard, a Democrat, is an emergency room nurse at Sutter Health in Sacramento and a member of the influential, progressive California Nurses Assn.

"Nygard said she was drawn to the race because of attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Denham voted for the House GOP repeal bill last week), her concerns about the environment and climate change, and a desire to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

"'My advocacy for my patients goes far beyond the bedside,' she said. 'I can’t idly sit by and watch the things that are happening.'"

"She does not plan to accept contributions from corporations or political action committees, she said.

"'That’s what our communities are wanting to see, people that stand for them and with them, not bought by corporations, not influenced by big money,' she said."

Nygard supports tuition-free education, raising the minimum wage to $15/hour and indexing it to inflation, legalizing marijuana and ending private prisons:

Nygard interviewed on the Young Turks:

Nygard on Twitter:

Terra Snover, who, if elected, would become California's first trans congresswoman, works for a non-profit helping people with disabilities get the support they need to live independently. "If there is ever a bill that tries to limit your rights, I will fight tooth and nail for you,"’ she says. "If ever there is an opportunity to extend to you the rights that others take for granted but we yearn for, I will not stop until we achieve those rights."

She supports a $15/hour minimum wage, Medicare For All, ending for-profit prisons, etc.:

Snover interviewed on "In My Humble Opinion":

Snover on Twitter:

Stephen Jaffe is challenging corrupt House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi in California's 12th District. This is a strongly Democratic district; there's no reason in the world Democrats should have to settle, in such a place, for the likes of Pelosi, a human slot-machine who tries to stamp out progressive candidates and issues and maintains her power in the House by virtue of her only real talent, successfully pimping out the Democratic caucus to any Big Money interest looking to buy a piece of it. Jaffe is an employment lawyer who was inspired by the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, for which he worked for a time, and is running on an ambitious program in support of single payer healthcare, campaign finance reform, raising the minimum wage, ending private prisons and reforming the Democratic party, among a great many other things:

Jaffe interviewed by Jimmy Dore:

Jaffe on Twitter:

Unfortunately, the state Democratic party is trying to game the system to shield Pelosi and other incumbents from primary challenges:

"The California Democratic Party’s bylaws stipulate that Democratic incumbents automatically receive the party’s endorsement for re-election unless a primary challenger acquires petition signatures from at least 20 percent of eligible participants at a pre-endorsement conference. The endorsement enables incumbents to receive funding and campaign resources for their re-election.

"Stephen Jaffe, the primary challenger to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in California’s 12th Congressional District, acquired the necessary 20 percent threshold of signatures to prevent the California Democratic Party from formally endorsing Pelosi. Jaffe acquired signatures from 37 out of 182 eligible delegates and submitted his petition with the $350 fee before the 5 p.m deadline on Jan. 17. The California Democratic Party rejected the challenge, later claiming there were 190 eligible delegates, and that 38 signatures were needed.

"The party never shared the list of eight extra delegates with Jaffe, who appealed the decision which will be ruled on by six members of the California Democratic Party’s Compliance Review Commission, who were all appointed by the party’s chair, Eric Bauman."

Two progressive Democrats, Brant John-Michael Williams and Ricardo Franco, are challenging Devin Nunes in California's 22nd District. This is a strongly Republican district--over 60%--which is, of course, the only way a clown like Nunes could hold his seat. Nunes has made a name for himself as a shamelss Trump sycophant who has spent more than a year trying to derail the Robert Mueller investigation into the Trump/Russia business.

Brant John-Michael Williams is the founder of the Vision 4 The Valley, an org committed to building a University of California in the Central Valley. He supports Medicare For All, marijuana legalization, and a pair of constitutional amendments, one to overturn Citizens United and another to create term-limits for congress, etc.

Williams on Twitter:

Ricardo Franco is an economist who works in Silicon Valley. He supports Medicare For All, tuition-free higher education, expansion of green-energy jobs, etc.

Franco interviewed on Central Valley Talk:

Wendy Reed is challenging Republican incumbent--and House Republican leader--Kevin McCarthy in California's 23rd District. This is a pretty strongly Republican district. Reed attempted to dethrone McCarthy in 2016. Now, she's back for a rematch. Wendy is a progressive activist and community advocate who, among other things, is the administrator of the Antelope Valley Conservancy. In her 2016 race, Reed focused heavily on an aggressive campaign finance reform and anti-corruption agenda:

"When Reed ran last year, her campaign largely centered on her contention that the political process itself needs to be cleaned up.

"'During the campaign in 2016 I was fond of saying that the 2016 election was not about political parties, the ‘blue team’ vs the ‘red team.’ The politics itself was the problem — what it was about at its heart was corporate control over the government vs. elected representatives who represent the people who elect them.'

"Reed said that what was then an academic argument now seems to have become real and she feels a new urgency from the many people urging her to run again."

Reed supports publicly-funded elections single-payer healthcare ("Insurance is not health care, and health care is a fundamental human right"), "massive investment in reversing climate change," etc.

Reed's campaign site:

Reed interviewed on We The People (the interview begins at the 13:30 mark):

Reed on Twitter:

California's 25th District is presently represented by Republican incumbent Stephen Knight but it's a battleground district, with only a very slight Republican majority--in a wave election, a likely Democratic pick-up. As a consequence, a lot of Democratic candidates are vying for the seat, including some progressives.

Jess Phoenix is a geologist who supports Medicare For All, tuition-free higher education, creating a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, etc.

Phoenix interviewed by the editorial board of the Santa Clarita Valley Signal:

Phoenix on Twitter:

Katie Hill is the executive director of PATH, People Assisting the Homeless, the largest non-profit provider of homes for the homeless in California. She supports Medicare For All, conversion to 100% clean energy, tax rebates for small-dollar donors to political campaigns, etc.

Hill interviewed by the editorial board of the Santa Clarita Valley Signal:

Hill on Twitter:

Bryan Caforio is a lawyer and federal law clerk. He supports Medicare For All, comprehensive immigration reform, publicly-financed elections, etc.

Caforio interviewed by the editorial board of the Santa Clarita Valley Signal:

Caforio on Twitter:

John Nelson is challenging Democratic incumbent Julia Brownley in California's 26th District. This is a Democratic district; the winner of the jungle primary will probably go on to win the general. Brownely is a conservative who opposes much of the progressive agenda, and there's no reason to have such a creature representing a Democratic district. There are other challengers in the race, including actor Antonio Sabato Jr., who running as a Republican. Nelson is a lawyer who, inspired by Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, supports Medicare For All, tuition-free higher education, transitioning to 100% renewable energy, etc.

Nelson on Twitter:

Angelica Duenas is challenging Democratic incumbent Tony Cardenas in California's 29th District. This is so strongly Democratic a district that in 2016, the two winners of the jungle primary there were both Democrats. There's no reason why a safe district like this should be represented by Cardenas, a member of the conservative New Democrat Coalition. Duenas, who is running as a Green party candidate, is an activist and member at the Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council and served as a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic convention. She supports Medicare For All, ending the War On Drugs[tm] and for-profit prisons, tuition-free higher education, etc.

Duenas interviewed on ManaTalk:

Duenas on Twitter:

California's 45th District has been, for some time, a Republican district but demographic changes have made it more amenable to Democrats; while Obama lost there twice, Clinton beat Trump there in 2016. A good potential Democratic pick-up. The current Republican incumbent, Mimi Walters, doesn't even live in the district, and never has; she's a right-wing rubber-stamp for Trump in a district that is outgrowing her. There are two good progressives in this race, Katie Porter and Kia Hamadanchy.

Katie Porter is a consumer advocate lawyer and a law professor at UC Irvine who studied with Elizabeth Warren at Harvard Law School (Warren has endorsed her). Porter supports Medicare For All, comprehensive immigration reform, renewable energy development, etc.

Porter interviewed by Cenk Uygur:

Porter on Twitter:

Kia Hamadanchy is a lawyer who, among other things, served as a staffer for Sen. Sherrod Brown and legal counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee under Sen. Tom Harkin. He supports Medicare For All, a federal matching system for small-donor contributions to federal campaigns, a lifetime ban on lobbying for all members of congress, etc.

Hamadanchy wrote an essay on Down With Tyranny to introduce himself:

Hamadanchy on Twitter:

In 2016, Doug Applegate challenged incumbent Republican car-thief Darrel Issa in California's 49th Distict, a race that turned incredibly ugly when the car thief filed a libel suit against his challenger for campaign ads criticizing his record. Issa barely won the race, squeaking by with a 0.6% margin of victory. His suit was laughed out of court in 2017 and Applegate declared his intention to go after Issa again. That's when a fly appeared in the ointment:

"Things never looked better for San Diego/Orange County Democrats to finally defeat Issa in 2018. But I know what you’re thinking, 'How are earth could they screw this up?'... Bring in the corporate, big money Democrats.

"Backed by entrenched big money interests, a newcomer, Mike Levin from San Juan Capistrano, has announced that he will primary Applegate, sucking energy and resources out of the crucial battle against Issa. Make no mistake: Levin, with zero name recognition in San Diego, is running against Doug Applegate, the most successful Democrat to have ever gone up against Issa, a candidate the DCCC has never challenged even once in his career. Levin whose claim to fame is that (1) he went to Stanford with Chelsea Clinton and (2) he bundled $500,000 for Hillary in Orange County. Levin somehow forgot to give a dime to defeat his own Republican congressman, Darrell Issa. Where was he in 2016 when Applegate had Issa on the run? Hosting cocktail parties for wealthy establishment donors who now think he'd make a better opponent for Issa based on... well, he's their friend."

Issa then added a new wrinkle; seeing the writing on the wall, he announced in January that he was retiring from congress after his current term.

Applegate remains. He's a retired Marine Corps colonel with a strong progressive platform, including a $15/hour minimum wage, single-payer healthcare, a path to citizenship for immigrants, etc.:

Applegate interviewed by Cenk Uygur:

Applegate on Twitter:

Ammar Campa-Najjar is challenging Republican incumbent Duncan Hunter Jr. in California's 50th District. This is a strongly Republican district--in his last reelection effort, Hunter took 63.5% of the vote--but Hunter is a scandal-plagued alcoholic wastrel being criminally investigated and on his way down. In addition to multiple Democratic opponents, two Republicans have also jumped into the race in an effort to take him out.

Campa is a small business owner and as the American son of a Palestinian immigrant father and a Mexican-American mother, he's sort of a walking advertisement for diversity personified. He supports Medicare For All, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, overturning Citizens United, etc.

Campa interviewed by Cenk Uygur:

Campa on Twitter:

This is yet another race in which the Democratic Establishment has interfered, the DCCC throwing its support behind former Navy SEAL Josh Butner, a squish long on platitudes and short of actual policy who thinks no one should be allowed to run for public office who hasn't first served in the military.


Levi Tillemann is challenging incumbent Republican Mike Coffman in Colorado's 6th District. This is a Democratic-majority district. Obama won it by a wide margin. Even Clinton won it and by nearly 9%. Sanders cleaned Clinton's clock there--perfect territory for a progressive populist and likely an easy Democratic pick-up. Tillemann, who holds a Ph.D. in international studies, is an entrepreneur and former official in the Obama Energy Department.

"'The normalization of Trump is one of the scariest developments our democracy has ever made,' Tillemann says. 'We've never had a moment, except maybe the Civil War, where our institutions were so under threat. That is why I decided to run.'"

Tillemann supports Medicare For All, cracking down on economic inequality, increased funding for public transportation, "100% renewable electricity by 2035," etc.

Tillemann on Twitter:

Unfortunately, this is another race in which the DCCC is interfering, getting together with the state party Good Ol' Boys Club--including Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives--to endorse Establishment "Democrat" Jason Crow, a candidate who doesn't even live in the district, while trying to push Tillemann out of the race. The DCCC has done this same thing in the last two elections in the 6th, supporting shitty Republican-lite candidates who, after spending a bloody fortune (the district has produced the most expensive races in the state for years), go on to lose in the general. As a consequence, Republican Coffman has managed to hold this seat for a decade.




Tom Wells is challenging Republican incumbent Ted Yoho in Florida's 3rd District. The district is pretty heavily Republican and Yoho is a Freedom Caucus yahoo. Wells is a physicist who previously ran a last-minute independent campaign for this same seat in 2016. He supports Medicare For All, public financing of campaigns, tuition-free higher education, etc.

Wells' candidate statement from News4Jax in Jackson:

Wells on Twitter:

Chardo Richardson is challinging Blue-Dog "Democrat" Stephanie Murphy in Florida's 7th District. This is a battleground district, almost evenly divided between Repubs and Demos and it's a major target of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. Richardson is a former president of the Central Florida ACLU.

"In his video announcement, Richardson, 37, says he's running because 'The citizens of Seminole County, Orange County, and America, deserve better. They deserve better wages, access to tuition free education and they deserve to be given opportunities to be entered into a new 21st century economy.'

"Richardson has recently had a visible role in his duties with the ALCU in battles opposing many of the White House’s policies and speaking out at rallies and marches. He’s pledged not to take any money from lobbyists."

Richardson has endorsed the Justice Democrats platform: Medicare For All, getting money out of politics, ending for-profit criminal justice, etc.

Richardson interviewed on WeThePeople:

Richardson on Twitter:


Lisa Ring is challenging Republican incumbent Buddy Carter in Georgia's 1st District. This is a strongly Republican district--slightly over 60% Republican. Ring, whose training is in history and philosophy, is a former corrections officer and a longtime grassroots organizer; she served as a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic convention. She supports Medicare For All, eliminating private prisons and mandatory minimum sentences, a path to citizenship for immigrants, etc.

"I plan to be the type of politician I’ve been looking for myself. I believe there is a void that must be filled of strong, trustworthy leadership who listens to constituents and puts the needs of the voter ahead of their own self-interests. It is time for a representative to protect the 700,000 constituents of this district, rather than protecting the profits of corporate and special interests."

Real Progressives interview with Ring:

Ring on Twitter:

Trent Nesmith is challenging Republican incumbent Rick Allen in Georgia's 12th District. In 2016, Allen won reelection by a commanding margin--61.6%-- but he, in effect, had no opponent in the race. Tricia Carpenter McCracken, the lady who appeared on the ballot as the Democratic challenger, was just the wife of a prominent local attorney put on the ballot so there would at least be some Democrat; she never campaigned, never even set up a website, but still managed to capture nearly 40% of the vote. Up until 2014, the district was represented by Democrat John Barrow, who won his five sequential victories by usually healthy margins. Nesmith is a roofer from Statesboro who supports Medicare For All, marijuana leglalization, a constitutional amendment "providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only," thus ending corporate personhood, etc.

Nesmith interviewed by Neal Blair:

Nesmith on Twitter:


Kaniela Ing is running for Hawaii's now-open 1st District. The incumbent Colleen Hanabusa has announced she wouldn't seek reelection in order to run for governor. This is a strongly Democratic district; in 2016, Hanabusa captured 71.9% of the vote there. The 28-year-old Ing is a real rising star who, for five years, has served in the state House after winning an impossible election against an incumbent who should have been unbeatable.

"I am running for Congress because Hawaii’s working families are being left behind and need a representative who understands today’s struggle of paying for college, buying a home, and raising a family. I will work to save Hawaii from climate change, fix our rigged economy, and ensure equal rights for all.

"Standing up to Donald Trump and the GOP is important, but it's not enough. Our leaders must be willing to stand up to big-money special interests, and offer a positive vision of progress beyond resistance.

"This means fighting for equal pay, Medicare-for-all, tuition-free college, universal basic income, women’s health, LGBTQ rights, a 100% renewable future, worker protections, the legalization of adult-use cannabis, an end to reckless wars abroad, sacred spaces, living wages, criminal justice reform, and a democracy free from big-money corruption."

Ing's campaign site ("It's not enough to simply resist Donald Trump. People are struggling and feeling left behind. Leaders must offer hope and progress beyond resistance."):

Cenk Uygur interviewed Ing:

Ing on Twitter:



Marie Newman is challenging Blue Dog "Democrat" Dan Lipinski in Illinois' 3rd Distict. This is a heavily Democratic district; last year, Republicans didn't even bother to offer up a candidate. They didn't need to offer one--they already have Lipinski, who has been skating on his father's name for years now, one of the good ol' boys in Chicago's Democratic machine. Lipinski lines up behind some of the worst elements of the GOP--vehemently anti-abortion, wants an anti-same-sex-marriage constitutional amendment and so on. As if trying to prove Lipinski isn't the absolute worst, the Republican nominee in the district this year is an actual Nazi; the winner of the Democratic primary will be going to congress next year. Marie Newman, on the other hand, is a marketing consultant offering a progressive alternative. Medicare For All, battling income inequality, livable wages, etc. Her platform:

In a reversal of the usual pattern in these races, Newman has managed to draw some support from elements of the Democratic Establishment (which really seemed to rankle Politico), but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, seemingly intent on getting wrong absolutely every race it touches, is backing Lipinski. House Democratic "leader" Nancy Pelosi--completely out of touch, as usual--has endorsed Lipinski as well. Bernie Sanders has endorsed Newman.

Newman and Lipinski have debated:

Newman on Twitter:

Longtime Democratic congressman Luis Gutierrez is retiring, leaving his seat in Illinois' 4th District open. This is a very blue district--Gutierrez typically won reelection with around (or over) 80% of the vote. The winner of the Democratic primary is pretty much guaranteed to take the general. So far, there are six competitors in that race (and even 4 Republicans looking to fight it out for the opportunity of facing the winner) and the good news it that the frontrunner is solid progressive, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, former state senator, Cook County Commissioner and the guy who, with the strong backing of labor, fought Clintonite Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Democratic machine to a runoff in the 2015 Chicago mayoral contest. In that race, Bernie Sanders endorsed Garcia, who, in turn, endorsed Sanders in the 2016 presidential race. Sanders has endorsed Garcia's congressional campaign.

"'Chuy Garcia is the right person at the right time for the work we have ahead of us,' Sanders said in a statement. 'He is ready and willing to stand up and fight for the working families of Chicago and our nation and take on the powerful special interests who have far too much power over the economic and political life of our country. He is also an experienced legislator who has risen up the ladder of Chicago’s brawling politics. That makes him well groomed for jumping into the House’s rough and tumble political battles.'

"Garcia said he stands with Sanders’s message of progressive reform, and they agree on key issues such as rebuilding Puerto Rico, universal health care, immigration reform, supporting higher education, and encouraging fiscal responsibility through tax reform.

"'I support America, a nation of rich cultural heritage and unmatched strength, whose founding fathers believed in building bridges, not walls,' Garcia said in a statement. 'I champion opportunity for all as an ally of independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. I will do everything in my power to move the nation forward on these crucial issues.'"

Garcia's website:

Garcia on Twitter:

Sameena Mustafa is challenging Democratic incumbent Mike Quigley in Illinois' 5th District. This is an overwhelmingly blue district--about 2-to-1--and the winner of the Democratic primary will amost certainly be going to congress. Despite the Democratic advantage there, Quigley is heavily financed by corporate America with a record to show it. Mustafa is a real-estate broker and comedienne backed by Justice Democrats.

"Mustafa described her campaign values as 'progressive,' which she said aligns with what voters want in a district pushing for Social Security expansion and a federal $15 minimum wage.

"One of Mustafa’s campaign priorities is expanding the Medicare program, which she said will become an “economic engine” as people will have greater economic mobility when they are less burdened by health expenditures, Mustafa said... Mustafa said she has experienced the political race as a system designed for 'people who are willing to take corporate PAC money' and 'people who are willing to compromise their values for their benefactors.' Mustafa and members of her team said the candidate is firmly against accepting contributions from corporate PACs."

Mustafa's campaign website:

Mustafa interviewed by Cenk Uygur:

Mustafa on Twitter:

Anthony Clark is challenging longtime incumbent Democrat Danny Davis in Illinois' 7th District. This is an ironclad Democratic district--over 80%. The winner of the Democratic battle will be elected. Clark is a high-school teacher and director of the non-profit Suburban Unity Alliance. He supports Medicare For All, ending for-profit criminal justice, tuition-free higher education, etc.

"'Career politicians, the top 1 percent, they're not listening to the people,' Clark said. 'It should be people before politics, but that's not how we're currently operating. The systemic issues that have plagued our society for so long still exist, and I think we see that with the current administration and the current tone of our society.'


"When reached for comment, Davis confirmed he would seek re-election in 2018, adding that someone having interest in running for Congress, even if it's for his own seat, is a good thing for American politics."

Despite those public words of encouragement, Davis proved to be one of those "career politicians" everyone hates and filed several frivolous legal complaints aimed at removing both Clark and Ahmed Salim, another primary opponent, from the ballot, then keeping Clark off the campaign trail and wasting valuable resources in court instead:

"The Davis campaign’s efforts to remove Clark from the ballot failed, but they did force Clark to spend vital campaign resources on legal fees. 'At the end of the signature challenge it was clear, we were roughly 497 signatures over the minimum requirements,' Clark told The Real News Network. 'It was his strategy to keep us off the campaign trail to have us expend a lot of our money. After that, instead of being done, he had his lawyer file a Rule 8 motion.'

"That motion claimed Clark and his mother fraudulently obtained signatures to make the ballot, and targeted signatures from lower income communities where it would be more difficult to subpoena individuals to deny the claims. Clark noted, 'A lot of their evidence was thrown out because it was hearsay. They tried to get notaries sign off on basically third-person accounts.'

"According to Clark, his campaign spent $12,000 on legal fees and had to coordinate for people to testify on his behalf. He alleged Davis supporters engaged in intimidation tactics against his campaign throughout the process, from harassing phone calls to social media trolling. Throughout this entire process, Clark’s campaign was essentially on pause, and many local activist groups and organizations were apprehensive about formally supporting his campaign until his place on the ballot was secure..."

The Illinois Democratic party has also denied Clark access to VoteBuilder, the Democratic National Committee's big voter database, which, as Wired puts it, is "the central nervous system of every Democratic campaign, housing years of information on just about every contact the party has ever made with every voter." The state parties are allowed to make their own rules about who accesses VoteBuilder and the Illinois party, well,...

"In Illinois, the state party prevents any candidate running against an incumbent from gaining access to VoteBuilder. 'We talk about growing the Democratic party, so how do you grow the Democratic party if you go after incumbents?' says Steve Brown, a spokesperson for the Illinois Democrats. 'The Democratic party is creating and maintaining and enhancing a tool. Why would you want to give it to outsiders who may or may not actually be Democrats?'"

Clark, who is 35, has been a registered Democrat his entire adult life.

Clark on Twitter:

David Gill is again challenging Republican incumbent Rodney Davis in Illinois' 13th District. This is a swing district. Bernie Sanders rolled right over Clinton there in 2016, then Trump narrowly defeated Clinton 49.7% to 44.2%. Davis has faced weak competition in the last two elections (a bad and hopelessly outfunded campaign in 2014 and a DCCC rightist in 2014) but back in 2012, Gill had challenged Davis and lost by only 0.3% (after another left candidate ran as an independent). Now, he's back for a rematch. Gill is a physician at Gibson Area Hospital and a former Assistant Director of the Illinois Dept. of Public Health. He previously ran two campaigns for congress as the Democrats' throwaway candidate against unbeatable Republican Tim Johnson in the 15th District. In the last redistricting, he was relocated into the 13th and nearly took Davis' scalp.

"Gill has long been at odds with the political elites of Washington, D.C., maintaining that their ties to Wall Street 'leave most Americans without proper representation; when both major parties grovel at the heels of Wall Street banks and large multi-national corporations, virtually all of us suffer economic injustice.'"

Gill supports single-payer healthcare, legalization of marijuana, a $15/hour minimum wage, public financing of political campaigns, etc.

An essay by Gill, "Beating Back Trumpism in the Heartland":

Gill on Twitter:


Dan Canon is challenging Republican incumbent Trey Hollingsworth in Indiana's 9th District. This is a Republican district but with ony a slight Repup majority; Ballotpedia has rated it a race to watch; there are three other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. Canon is an attorney specializing in civil rights and constitutional law. He's most famous for being part of the legal team that challenged Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage, a series of cases that were eventually combined, went to the Supreme Court and that guaranteed marriage equality.

"I have spent my life providing a voice to the voiceless. Throughout my career I’ve represented hundreds of individuals - workers, minorities, students, veterans, police officers, inmates, children, senior citizens, refugees, and more - against powerful corporate and government interests. Now I’m ready to represent you in Congress."

Canon supports campaign finance reform, Medicare For All, legalized marijuana, paid family and medical leave, etc. He wrote a brief article in September introducing his candidacy:

Canon's principles and priorities:

Canon on Twitter:


Courtney Rowe is challenging Republican incumbent Rod Blum in Iowa's 1st District. This is a swing district that, up until 2014, had been represented by Democrat Bruce Braley for many years. Braley retired to run for Senate and Republican Blum won a squeaker to become the new congressman. The Democratic Establishment threw a weak, Republican-lite candidate against him in 2016; Blum defeated her by nearly 7%. Rowe is an aerospace engineer who was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic convention. She's running on the Justice Democrats ticket; she supports tuition-free higher education, Medicare For All, campaign finance reform, marijuana legalization, etc.

Rowe at AfterBern:

Rowe on Twitter:

Iowa's 3rd District is shaping up to be a strong contest. A Democratic field of 7 candidates vying for a chance to tackle incumbent Republican David Young. This is a battleground district, almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. Donald Trump narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton there last year but Obama won the district both times; with the likely blue wave coming in 2018, it's very likely to go Democratic. The Democratic Establishment is backing Theresa Greenfield, who has followed the DCCC playbook for right-wing "Democrats"--talks in meaningless generalities, offers vague platitudes, declines to include any real issues discussion on her website (she has publicly said she opposes a $15 minimum wage but good luck finding out where she stands on most important progressive issues). In what should be a lesson to any political neophytes, Jerry Crawford, the shitbag Monsanto lobbyist who acted as an adviser for "Ready For Hillary" last year, gave the maximum allowable contribution to Greenfield. And also to Young.

Fortunately, there are, among Greenfield's rivals, two progressive candidates.

Pete D'Alessandro was Iowa campaign coordinator for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and went on to work for Sanders in several other states before going to the Democratic convention as Sanders' delegate director.

"He credits grassroots organizers for working to get the country ready to elect people who will push progressive agendas. But he says those agendas need to be front and center during the 2018 elections if Democrats hope to take back Congressional seats.

"He envisions a campaign less about opposition to President Donald Trump and more about a new plan for Iowans and Americans. 'It's not enough to say "I'm against this,"' D'Alessandro told the Register. 'We have to be offering a vision.'

"Medicare-for-all and a new living wage are part of D'Alessandro's vision; so are combating climate change with the development of renewable technologies and tuition-free college."

It turns out D'Alessandro was a college friend of lefty comedian Jimmy Dore. Jimmy interviews him here:

Bernie Sanders has given D'Alessandro his "strongest" endorsement:

D'Alessandro on Twitter:

Also in the race is Austin Frerick, a 28-year-old economist who worked in Obama's Treasury Department. Frerick is an anti-monopolist who has been outspoken in his opposition to the Monsanto/Bayer merger (which is how Clinton's pet Monsanto lobbyist mentioned earlier came into the picture). Opposition to that merger is, in fact, the very first item covered on the issues page of Frerick's website. Frerick supports reinstating Glass-Stegall, electoral reform, single-payer healthcare, "the creation of a universal higher education system through the expansion of free public community colleges and state universities," etc.

David Feldman interviews Frerick:

Frerick on Twitter:

J.D. Scholten is challenging Republican incumbent Steve King in Iowa's 4th District. This is the most Republican district in the state; King, a protofascist half-wit and racist, has won his reelection efforts by a hair over 60%, though against mostly weak competition. Scholten is a former pro baseball player and paralegal.

"Scholten was born in Iowa, but he was living in Seattle last year when Trump was elected president. He said he was inspired by the Seattle Women’s March to get more involved in the political process. 'I just got so moved by the passion and raw energy that happened — I had a moment of clarity,' he said. Around the same time, his grandmother died in Iowa. After attending the funeral, he felt compelled to move home and get involved.

"His immigration platform is diametrically opposite to where King stands on the issue. King has demanded surveillance of American mosques and cozied up to extreme nativist politicians like Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Just two months ago, he condemned the concept of diversity altogether, adding to his long history of demonizing immigrants and promoting a homogenous culture.

"In an interview with The Intercept, Scholten portrayed King’s views on immigration as not just out of touch with the northwestern Iowa district’s values, but also in conflict with its economic needs.

"'In this district, we have so many rural communities that are just using immigrant labor as a backbone for their economy,' he said, 'and to have him just spout these things it’s just, obviously on the moral side I’m against it, but on the just practical side, it goes drastically against the district.'"

Scholten supports Medicare For All, the $15/hour minimum wage, a major push for infrastructure investment, battling unfair trade deals, etc.

A Scholten speech:

Scholten on Twitter:


Brent Welder is challenging Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder in Kansas' 3rd District. This is a district that is slowly going blue. While John McCain and Mitt Romney both won there, Hillary Clinton managed to best Trump in the district in 2016; in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders destroyed Clinton there, winning by over 24%. In the congressional race, the DCCC backed Jay Sidie, a Republican-Lite "Democrat"; Yoder then defeated Sidie in the general. Sidie is back for another round in 2018. He, Welder and, to date, three other candidates will be vying for the Democratic nomination and the right to take on Yoder in the general. In a blue wave election--exactly what's likely to happen in 2018--this district is very likely to go blue.

Welder has worked for the Young Turks and Wolf PAC--an org with the singular focus of eliminating the influence of money in politics. He was a Sanders delegate to the Democratic convention and Sanders later chose him as one of his representatives on the platform committee. It was Welder in the latter capacity who proposed the amendment banning corporate money from elections.

"Bernie Sanders inspired me. From the first time I heard him speak, I knew I had found someone who finally said everything I knew what was right—from a $15 per hour minimum wage to single payer heath care system to creating a government that works for us, not the wealthy 1%... I am running because I am tired of billionaires and giant corporations having too much control over our government. We need to get money out of politics, that’s why I’m not accepting any corporate PAC money. I am committed to fighting for the issues I care for..."

Welder's issues page:

An interview with Welder at TYT Politics:

Welder on Twitter:

James Thompson is again challenging Republican Ron Estes in Kansas' 4th District. This is a strongly Republican district--Trump flattened Clinton by a near-30% margin there--but Trump appointed its congressman Mike Pompeo to his administration, leading to a special election in 2017 in which Bernie-inspired Thompson first fought Estes. Thompson's Berniecrat-style populism proved much more popular than Clintonism; with a campaign fueled by small donations and no real support from the Democratic party, Thompson came within 6% of winning. Now, he's back for a rematch in 2018.

Thompson is a civil rights attorney who supports infrastructure investment, mandatory paid sick leave and family leave, mandatory paid sick leave and family leave, campaign finance reform, etc.

Last year, Thompson took part in an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit:

Thompson on Twitter:


Scott Sykes is challenging very longtime Republican incumbent Hal Rogers in Kentucky's 5th District. This is an overwhelmingly Republican district--over 77%--and will be a very tough fight for any Democrat. Sykes is a teacher and former Elkhorn City Councilman. He managed Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign in Eastern Kentucky and was a Sanders delegate to the Democratic convention. He supports Medicare For All, a $15 minimum wage, tuition-free higher education, marijuana decriminalization, etc.

A profile of Sykes:

Sykes on Twitter:



Jared Golden is challenging Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin in Maine's 2nd District. The district leans Republican but only fairly recently, in what may just be a consequence of the DCCC's decision to back conservative "Democrats" there (the most recent race resembled the Jon Ossoff debacle in Georgia--it became the most expensive congressional race in Maine's history). Bernie Sanders beat Clinton in the district last year. Golden is a Marine Corps vet who put in time in both Iraq and Afghanistan then ran and was elected to the state legislature, rising to the position of Assistant Majority Leader.

"My campaign is going to relentlessly focus on economic issues: creating jobs with investments in infrastructure, from transportation and public works to renewable energy; strengthening organized labor because as they’ve declined so have wages; opposing trade deals that benefit our neighbors to the north and south more than they do us; pushing for Medicare coverage for all and a fair tax code that benefits the working class."

Golden's campaign site is still a work in progress:

Golden on Twitter:


In Maryland's 6th Distric, incumbent "Democrat" John Delaney isn't running for reelection and there are five Democrats and four Republicans lined up to compete for their parties' respective nominations. Among the Democrats is Andrew Duck, making what will be his 4th run for the seat. Duck is a veteran--spent more than 20 years in the Army. He runs a green energy company with his brother--his campaign website features a green cartoon duck--and does consulting work with the Pentagon. He backed Bernie Sanders in 2016 and has been involved with Our Revolution since. He supports a $15 minimum wage, Medicare For All, breaking up the big banks, a new Glass-Stegall, etc. A brief article he wrote to introduce himself:

His issues page:

A brief Nation of Change interview with Duck:



Matt Morgan is challenging Republican incumbent Jack Bergman in Michigan's 1st District. This is a Republican district, though not by the percentages recent election outcomes might suggest. Bernie Sanders completely destroyed Clinton there, capturing over 60% in the Democratic primary; Trump then destroyed Clinton in the general, a 20+% victory. Democrats ran a less-than-worthless candidate and Bergman won the seat. Morgan is former Marine, having recently retired from the Corps after 24 years as a Lt. Colonel (oddly enough, the same rank Bergman achieved). He supports Medicare For All, the $15/hour minimum wage, ending mandatory minimum sentences and privatized prisons, etc.

A radio interview with Morgan:

Morgan's campaign website:

Morgan on Twitter:

Rob Davidson is challenging Republican incumbent Bill Huizenga in Michigan's 2nd District. The district is strongly Republican, over 60%. Davidson, 46, is a physician who made some headlines when, during a townhall event in 2017, he challenged Huizenga in a lengthy exchange over healthcare.

"'As a doctor, I serve patients from all walks of life in West Michigan, and I hear again and again that they’re tired of career politicians in Washington putting wealthy corporations, insurance company profits and Wall Street bankers ahead of ordinary families,' Davidson said in a statement.

"'I’m running because I want to give back to this community and fight for the families who play by the rules and put in long hours at work yet struggle just to keep up with the bills.'"

Davidson supports Medicare For All, cracking down on polluters, "reducing the income gap," a path to citizenship for immigrants, etc.

Davidson interviewed by Andy O'Riley:

Davidson on Twitter:


Democratic incumbent Tim Walz is forgoing a run for reelection in Minnesota's 1st District in order to run for governor. This is a closely divided battleground district with a slight Democratic majority but among those Democrats, it's definitely Sanders country--in 2016, Sanders flattened Clinton there. Six candidates are battling for the Democratic Farmer Labor nomination (the state's Democratic party equivalent).

Johnny Akzam, one of them, is a contractor and website designer who supports Medicare For All, a $15/hour minimum wage, ending private prisons, etc.

An interview with Akzam:

Akzam on Twitter:

Jeff Erdmann is challenging Republican incumbent Jason Lewis in Minnesota's 2nd District. This is a very evenly-matched battleground district. Obama carried it by very small margins in 2008 and 2012; Trump won it by an even smaller one in 2016. It's also Sanders country; Bernie destroyed Clinton, taking the district by nearly 17 points. In a blue wave election, the 2nd has an excellent chance of going Democratic.

Erdmann is a high-school teacher and football coach. He supports Medicare For All, elimination of the electoral college in favor of the national popular vote, Bernie Sanders' "Too Big To Fail, Too Big To Exist Act," which aims to break up the big banks, etc.

Erdmann interviewed by We The People:

Erdmann on Twitter:

Unfortunately, the DCCC is interfering in this race. In 2016, Lewis' Democratic-Farmer-Labor opponent was Angie Craig, a wealthy, uninspiring Clintonite squish who outspent Lewis by a 4-to-1 margin and received fewer votes than even Hillary Clinton. Now, she's back for another round and the DCCC has jumped into the primary and endorsed her.

"'To feel that they need to come in and put their thumb on the scale for the candidate that has all kinds of personal wealth, you know that's frustrating that they're trying to taint the system,' Erdmann said.

"DCCC officials made it clear money drove their choice to back Craig, he added.

"'We didn't talk anything about my background, my success as a teacher, as a coach, any of the values that I hold. All they wanted to talk about was where we thought we could get money-wise.'

"Officials with the DCCC did not respond to numerous interview requests..."

Adam Jennings is challenging Republican Erik Paulsen in Minnesota's 3rd District. The district is an interesting contradiction, in that it's basically a blue district, 1% more Democrats than Republicans, yet Republicans have represented it for decades. Obama won it both times. Clinton defeated Trump there by nearly 10 points, but in that same election, Paulsen, battling a DCCC-supported conservative "Democrat," won reelection by over 13%. The district is Sanders country--he beat Clinton there by nearly 7 points. Jennings could be just what is needed to turn this district around.

Jennings in a Tonka Bay city councillor who supports Medicare For All, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, public financing of campaigns, investment in clean, green energy, etc.

Jennings interviewed by Democratic Visions:

Jennings on Twitter:

This, alas, is another race in which the Democratic Establishment is interfering, the DCCC throwing its support behind a primary challenger to Jennings, Dean Phillips, the wealthy heir to the Phillips Distilling Co. fortune.

"Jennings said the DCCC wouldn't even speak with him.

"'There is kind of an establishment big-money component to all of this, and the more I think about it the more motivated I get to run.'

"Jennings said the DCCC's choice to weigh in early has hurt his ability to raise money. He said potential supporters have denied him campaign contributions because national Democrats have decided to back Phillips..."



Angelica Earl is challenging conservative "Democrat" Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

"Angelica Earl, a former verification specialist for Obamacare who witnessed its flaws first-hand, is challenging McCaskill in support of a single-payer health care system.

"Earl told the Observer, 'I had to do expirations at one point. My second expiration ever, the second one I ever had to do, it was a three-year-old boy. That really upset me to have to expire a three-year-old child. There’s no reason people shouldn’t have health care, so I’m saying from all the people I’ve talked to, the hundreds of people while working at the marketplace, single-payer healthcare is the way to go.'

Earl wants to end Citizens United, institute a ranked-choice voting system, a switch to renewable energy and an "American Dream Tax Plan" that taxes corporate America at a 90% rate but allows corporations to greatly reduce their tax burden by things like manufacturing in the U.S., adopting renewable energy, instituting a parental leave system, etc.

Earl interviewed on WeThePeople:

Early on Twitter:


John Heenan is challenging Republican Greg Gianforte in Montana's At Large House district. Gianforte won that seat in a special election in 2017, infamously assaulting a journalist who asked him about his views on healthcare. Montana is, of course, a strongly Republican state but progressive populist Rob Quist came within 5.5 points and one strongly suspects Gianforte ultimately won only because of very heavy early voting (much of the total was turned in before this incident; Gianforte later pled guilty). Heenan is one of 6 Democrats contesting for the party nomination (Gianforte is facing a Republican primary challenger himself). Heenan is a consumer protection lawyer from Billings who has also worked as a special prosecutor for the state, prosecuting corrupt politicians in dark money cases. "I've spent my career fighting on behalf of Montanans against banks, against insurance companies, against greed," he says. "[W]hen I talk healthcare, it's not wonky stuff, it's 'hey, I've represented people with cancer that had their insurance claims denied. I've represented people and had to help them file medical bankruptcies because we have a broken healthcare system.'" Cenk Uygur interviewed him:

Like everyone else here, Heenan is running against money in politics, funding his campaign on small donations. Among other things, he calls for overturning Citizens United, standing up to Wall Street and the big banks, a $15 minimum wage, maintaining Montanan's access to public lands and gun rights:

Heenan on Twitter:


Kara Eastman is challenging Republican incumbent Don Bacon in Nebraska's 2nd District. The district is almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats--very possibly a Democratic pick-up in a wave election. Eastman is a social worker, the head of the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance. She supports Medicare For All, tuition-free higher education, a constitutional amendment allowing the states and federal government to set limits on money in politics, etc.

Eastman interviewed by Frank Schaeffer:

Eastman on Twitter:

To get to Bacon, Eastman must get through a primary battle with Brad Ashford, which, on its face, shouldn't seem too difficult. Ashford, who has a long history of opportunistic party-switching, has served two stretches as a state legislator over the years and a single unimpressive stint as the U.S. Congressman from the 2nd District until he was unseated in 2016. He's a conservative, anti-abortion, nearly always votes with Republicans but incredibly, the Democratic Establishment has chosen to throw its support behind him instead of Eastman. Ryan Grim and Lee Fang:

"The Democratic Party has largely lined up behind former Rep. Brad Ashford to take back this Omaha-based seat. The DCCC and other PACs have provided resources and endorsements to Ashford, who compiled one of the most conservative voting records for any Democrat in the House during his time in office. Kara Eastman... said that, after inviting her to candidate week, the party has attempted to shut her out of the campaign. 'Well, we have been in contact with people from the DCCC since we started the campaign, and I was told that they would be remaining neutral until after the primary, and now it’s clear that’s obviously not the case,' Eastman, who has raised more than $100,000, told The Intercept."


Amy Vilela is running in Nevada's 4th District. The district is just about evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, with a slight advantage to the latter. Vilela has originally intended to challenge the incumbent, Democrat Ruben Kihuen but a sexual harassment scandal caught up with him and he won't be running again. Vilela is (so far) unopposed for the Democratic nomination (two Republicans are competing for the GOP nomination). Vilela's signature issue is Medicare For All and it's a very personal one for her; her daughter was denied proper treatment for an easily treatable condition because of lack of insurance then died. Now, Amy is an activist. Her daughter's story:

Amy Vilela interviewed by Cenk Uygur:

Like everyone else on this list, Vilela is running on a progressive platform and crowd-funding her campaign:

Vilela on Twitter:

New Hampshire

Democratic incumbent Carol Shea-Porter is retiring from congress, opening up her seat in New Hampshire's 1st District. This is an utter swing district, almost evenly divided between Repubs and Dems and as one could expect, there's a crowded field competing for it, which is up to 8 Democrats, 4 Republicans, a Libertarian and an independent.

Among them, Mindi Messmer runs an environmental consulting business, served on Bernie Sanders' state steering committee (Sanders completely destroyed Clinton in NH) and, in 2016, was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

"Mindi’s work as a scientist made headlines in 2016 when she blew the whistle about what was later designated the Seacoast Cancer Cluster. In 2014 she discovered that an abnormally high number of children in New Hampshire’s Seacoast were getting cancer—an issue that the state initially sought to brush aside. She was appointed to the Governor Hassan’s Task Force in 2016 to take a leading role on the issue, and elected to the State Legislature later that year.

"As a freshman state representative, Mindi has already been successful in having several pieces of sponsored legislation related to the public health and environmental issues pass into law. She has made clean drinking water, adequate environmental regulation standards and increased scrutiny for public health issues that are triggered by environmental conditions legislative priorities in office.

"'I am running for Congress to ensure clean drinking water for all Americans, to take precautions to mitigate the environmental causes of cancer, and to stand up to industry-backed attacks on science federal agencies like the EPA by Scott Pruitt and others,' said Mindi. 'At a time when the EPA is being dismantled, and environmental policy and regulations are being decimated, I vow to fiercely advocate for evidence-based policy if elected to Congress.'"

Messmer supports Medicare For All, expending Social Security, a $15 minimum wage, etc.

Mindi interviewed by Real Progressives:

Messmer on Twitter:

Also competing for the seat is Levi Sanders, the son of Bernie Sanders. Levi, who has worked on his father's campaigns, is an historian and a paralegal who works for a legal aid group that advocates for applicants and recipients of Social Security disability benefits. When it comes to politics, he says the major difference between he and Bernie is that he's a vegetarian and Bernie isn't.

"The majority of voters in New Hampshire, and around this country, agree that we need a Medicare For All healthcare system which guarantees healthcare to every man, women, and child without out of pocket expenses. We need an educational system which says that whether you are rich or poor, you have the ability to go to a public college and/or university tuition free. We need to demand that we have a minimum wage which allows people to work forty hours a week without being in poverty. It is urgent that we address the opioid problem which is at a crisis level in New Hampshire. We must demand that women finally earn the same pay as men. It is unacceptable that we haven’t found the political courage to pass sensible gun legislation."

A hack-job interview of Sanders by CNN's Brook Baldwin:

Sanders on Twitter:

New Jersey

Longtime incumbent Republican Frank LoBiondo has announced his retirement from congress, opening up his seat in New Jersey's 2nd District. While Lobiondo was very popular and won his elections by wide margins, this is only a slightly Republican district. Obama won it both times but Trump narrowly defeated Clinton there in 2016. It's a winnable seat, particularly in a blue wave election, and there are two progressives competing for it, Nate Kleinman and Tanzie Youngblood.

Nate Kleinman is a farmer who has been a political activist for most of his adult life. He supports Medicare For All, tuition-free higher education, a universal basic income, a constitutional amendment ending corporate personhood, etc.

Kleinman interviewed on An Emerging Forest:

Kleinman on Twitter:

Tanzie Youngblood is a former teacher. She supports Medicare For All, a livable wage, making "college affordable to everyone", etc.

Youngblood's campaign kick-off:

Youngblood on Twitter:

Stop me if you've heard this before but this is yet another of those races in which the Democratic Establishment has interfered. The DCCC came to town and recruited its own candidate, state senator Jeff Van Drew. Van Drew opposes gay rights, opposes raising the minimum wage, supports requiring parental notification for abortions, supports the death penalty, sides with industry over the environment--he's the most conservative Democrat in the New Jersey legislature, a Republican in all but name. Exactly the sort of candidate hte DCCC tries to recruit. And, in fact, the org has tried, for years, to recruit him to run for this seat. Most of the rest of the state and national Democratic Establishment has thrown its muscle behind him.

"Cunningham, in a release this week, cited national interest in the dynamics of the race and called Van Drew a 'DINO,' a Democrat in Name Only, and cited Van Drew’s voting against raising the minimum wage and gay marriage.

"'His voting record hardly reflects the progressive values of 2018 Democrats, and yet he’s the machine’s top pick,' Cunningham said. 'But despite the establishment’s best efforts, they can’t hide his pro-gun agenda and lack of support for true democratic values.'"

"Youngblood—a retired school teacher and first-time black female candidate—figured the primary race might get crowded after 12-time Republican incumbent Frank LoBiondo announced his retirement in November. But she never anticipated that the ones attempting to sink her campaign wouldn’t be her primary opponents, but the Democratic establishment itself... 'They did me dirty,' Youngblood said. She alleged that some local officials have told her that she’ll never win the primary contest—it’s Van Drew’s turn... Youngblood and local grassroots activists say the Democratic Party may be stymieing this year’s anticipated blue wave and stepping on the Resistance by running moderate, veteran Democratic politicians, instead of the fresh progressive candidates hoping to be the future of the party.

"'I’ve been very loyal to this party, but I don’t feel the loyalty back,' Youngblood said. 'They don’t see the value in a candidate like me.'"

Jim Keady is challenging Republican incumbent Chris Smith in New Jersey's 4th District. This is a strongly Republican district--over 63%--and Smith is a seemingly immortal incumbent. Keady is a teacher, activist and founder of a non-profit, Educating For Justice. He suppots Medicare For All, tuition-free higher education, the $15/hour minimum wage, etc.

Keady interviewed by Jimmy Dore:

Keady on Twitter:

Here's an interesting one. Lindsay Brown, running to replace Republican Leonard Lance in New Jersey's 7th District:

"Her big goals include checking the influence money has in politics, fixing gerrymandering with nonpartisan redistricting, passing single-payer health care or, at the very least, a public option, addressing man-made global warming, raising the minimum wage so it keeps up with inflation and making sure cost-of-living increases from companies do the same, breaking up the banks, tackling student debt, taking in and welcoming Syrian refugees, and, of course, seeing more women and millennials represented in government. On top of that, she is socially progressive—a strong supporter of LGBTQIA, gender, and racial equality. What’s more, she plans to win by taking only small donations.

"Yet the Democratic Party, she says, has lost her, which has left her only one place to turn."

That's right--Brown is running as a Republican:

Brown interviewed on the People's Perspective & News:

Brown's issues page:

Brown on Twitter:

On the Democratic side, there's a pretty crowded field lined up to take on Lance, among them Peter Jacob, who ran against Lance in 2016. Jacob is a social worker who is running on the People's Party platform promoted by Our Revolution:

Here's a column he wrote to introduce himself:

"So far, the Platform includes Medicare for All, fully funded public colleges and universities, $15 minimum wage, strict protections for women’s reproductive rights with the EACH Act, the Automatic Voter Registration Act, and bold, drastic measures to combat the exponential climate crisis."

Jacob on Twitter:

New Mexico

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez is running for New Mexico's now-open 1st District. Incumbent Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham is leaving in order to run for governor. The National Republican Congressional Committee announced this as one of their big 2018 targets but it's a pretty strongly Democratic district--Lujan Grisham won her last reelection by more than 30 points--and it's probably just a contest to see who can capture the Democratic nomination. There are 7 other Democrats who, so far, have announced candidacies. Sedillo Lopez was a law professor at the University of New Mexico for 27 years and has, for the last few, run Enlace Comunitario, a non-profit that supports women who are victims of domestic violence.

"'I love our community, and I love our state. When I see what is going on in Washington I just see our constitution being ignored,' she said Thursday after sending out an email announcing her candidacy. 'This is the highest and best use of my knowledge, my skills, my values, to go to Washington and fight for our constitution and our state and our community.'

"She said Trump is 'creating an oligarchy where the one percent get richer and richer and the rest of us don’t' and several administrative actions show a 'total lack of understanding of the constitution.'"

Sedillo Lopez is taking no corporate PAC money but has managed to lead the Democratic pack in fundraising throughout the race.

Sedillo Lopez is running on a strong progressive platform that includes support for Medicare For All, building on the Violence Against Women Act, campaign finance reform, tuition-free higher education, protecting voting rights, etc.:

New York

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is challenging corporate "Democrat" Joe Crowley in New York's 14th District. This is a strongly Democratic district--more than 70%--yet its presently saddled with Crowley, a notoriously corrupt Wall Street shill and chair of the House Democratic Caucus. Alexandria, by contrast, is taking no corporate money, has no super PAC, she's advocating single-payer healthcare, campaign finance reform, a new New Deal.

Alexandria interviewed by Mike Figueroa:

Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter:

North Carolina

Two strong progressives are competing in North Carolina's 5th District for the opportunity to challenge Freedom Caucus shitbag Virginia Foxx, who, among other things, once declared the murder of Matthew Shepard to be a hoax while Shepard's mother was present in the chamber. The 5th is a Republican district; Foxx won her last reelection effort by more than 58% of the vote.

Jenny Marshall is a history teacher and political activist, who helped establish the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign office in Winston-Salem and founded Triad Progressives, "which helps voters find their way into the political process." She's written an article outlining her platform, which includes single-payer healthcare, raising the minimum wage and rebuilding America's infrastructure:

A lengthy "We the People" interview with Marshall:

More details from her campaign site:

Marshall on Twitter:

Denise "D.D". Adams is a member of the Winston-Salem City Council, representing the North Ward. She supports single-payer healthcare, a $15/hour minimum wage, marijuana legalization, etc.

An interview with Adams:

Adams on Twitter:

North Dakota

Dustin Peyer is challenging worthless conservative "Democrat" Heidi Heitkamp in the Senate race in North Dakota. The state is strongly Republican; currently, both houses of the legislature and the governor are Repub. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders completely destroyed Hillary Clinton there in 2016--64% to her 25%. Peyer is a wildland firefighter who, in 2016, served as a Sanders delegate to the state Democratic-NPL convention and ran for the state senate. He supports Medicare For All, marijuana legalization, tuition-free higher education, etc.

Peyer interviewed by Jeff Waldorf:

Peyer on Twitter:


Republican incumbent Patrick Tiberi vacated his seat in Ohio's 12 District, leaving his post in mid-term to run the Ohio Business Roundtable. This has opened the seat to a special election in May 2018, in which a large number of candidates are competing. This is definitely a Republican district--Tiberi won his last two elections with over 60% of the vote.

John Russell, one of the candidates vying for the seat, is a farmer and small business owner. He supports Medicare For All, a $15 minimum wage, tuition-free higher education, etc.

An interview with Russell by Indivisible:

Russell on Twitter:


Tom Guild is challenging two-term Republican incumbent Steve Russell in Oklahoma's 5th District. Guild is a professor of Political Science and Legal Studies at the University of Central Oklahoma and a former Republican who, like so many liberal Repubs, was basically driven out of that party by its continuing lurch to the right (in his case, during the Bush Jr. administration). In 2016, when Guild sought this same office and fought a primary battle against corporate Democrat Al McAffrey, McAffrey defeated him by only 40 votes. Russell then destroyed McAffrey in the general. Now, Guild is back and looking for Russell. Guild's platform includes "increasing Social Security benefits, supporting public education, increasing the minimum wage, reducing college student debt, keeping our country's commitment to Veterans, and investing in infrastructure by repairing crumbling roads, highways, bridges, and schools!"

Guild on Twitter:



Early in 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the partisan gerrymandering carried out by state Republicans, creating a new map that will be in play for the first time in 2018.

Scott Wallace is challenging Republican incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania's 1st District. Wallace is the grandson of the late, great Henry Wallace, Franklin Roosevelt's second Vice President. Wallace will have to get through two other Democratic candidates to score the nomination in a newly-redrawn district likely to lean heavily Democratic. Wallace is a lawyer and co-chair of the Wallace Global Fund. His campaign has gone hard against Trump's many abuses of power, promising reforms to render them impossible in the future. He supports Medicare For All, a $15/hour minimum wage, comprehensive immigration reform, etc. A wealthy man, Wallace has pledged, "I will personally match every dollar contributed to my campaign by a person within this district. I will be nobody’s Congressman but your own. You will never have to scratch your head wondering if that vote I cast was for my corporate benefactors, or for the people of this great district."

Wallace interviewed by Bob Herbert:

Wallace on Twitter:

Rich Lazer--have to love that name--is competing against a crowded field of Democrats vying to represent the state's newly-drawn 5th District. Rich, an activist from a young age, was, until leaving the post to run for congress, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's Deputy Mayor for Labor. He supports a $15/hour mininimum wage, Medicare For All healthcare, broadening student loan forgivenmess, etc.

Lazer on why he's running:

Lazer on Twitter:

Lazer has been endorsed by Bernie Sanders.

Greg Edwards is competing against a crowded field of Democrats to represent Pennsylvania's newly-redrawn 7th District. Edwards is the pastor of the Resurrected Life Community Church and head of the Resurrected Community Development Corporation. In his own words, he "has spent the last 20 years building a racially diverse, culturally rich, economically self-sufficient, and politically aware community that has addressed racial, economic, and educational disparities within Allentown and throughout the greater Lehigh Valley." Edwards supports Medicare For All, tuition-free higher education, public financing of political campaigns, etc.

Edwards interviewed on TYT Politics:

Bernie Sanders has endorsed and stumped for Edwards:

Edwards on Twitter:

This is another race that has made some headlines for all the wrong reasons; the DCCC suggested Edwards drop out of the race:

"The drama in Pennsylvania is centered on Greg Edwards, a pastor running for a newly drawn swing seat in the Lehigh Valley. On Thursday, he told The Washington Post that the DCCC had approached local Democrats to ask whether he could be persuaded to seek another office.

"'As far as I know, they only targeted one candidate to leave this race — the most progressive candidate, the only candidate of color,' Edwards said. 'Their inability to understand why that’s fundamentally wrong says everything.'..."

Jess King is challenging Republican incumbent Lloyd Smucker in Pennsylvania's 11th District. King is the executive director of Assets, an economic development organization.

"King, who has never run for public office, said she didn’t anticipate running for Congress until some members of the community approached her with the idea after last November’s election. Ultimately, she said she decided to jump in to 'help change the conversation.'

"That conversation, she said, should include a 'Medicare for all' health care system and tuition-free or very low tuition community colleges and state colleges. It should also include more support for workforce-driven institutions like Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology and further investments in small businesses and childcare, she said.

"Considering the district’s large Puerto Rican community, King said another priority of hers would be to advocate for more U.S. support for the Puerto Rican debt crisis — along with allowing it to become a state if that’s what its residents want."

King interviewed Emma Vigeland:

King supports the $15/hour minimum wage, reinstituting Glas-Steagall, strengthening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and overturning Citizens United:

King on Twitter:

Unfortunately, after King garnered substantial local grassroots support, the Democratic Establishment has opted to support one of her opponents in the Democratic primary, Christina Hartman, a candidate who already ran against Smucker in 2016 and, with the full support of the Democratic Establishment and a big tub of cash, lost by 11%. As Ryan Grim and Lee Fang have covered in the Intercept, "After spending $1.15 million in 2016, [Hartman] had finished with 42.9 percent of the vote. In 2014, a terrible year for Democrats, a little-known Democrat spent just $152,000 to win almost the same share, 42.2 percent of the vote."

Rhode Island

South Carolina

Mal Hyman is challenging Republican incumbent Tom Rice in South Carolina's 7th District. This is a Republican district--more than 55%--but Democrats have been eyeing it as a possible pick-up, and there's a crowded field of Demo contenders. Hyman is a professor of political science and sociology. He supports Medicare For All, expanding Social Security, reforming mandatory minimum sentences, etc.

Hyman interviewed by Jeff Waldorf:

Mal on Twitter:

South Dakota


Longtime Republican congressman John Duncan Jr. is retiring after his current term, which opens up Tennessee's 2nd District. This is an overwhelmingly Republican district--as in, over 72%. There are currently 7 Republicans and 2 Democrats battling over it but the pick of the litter is definitely Marc Whitmire, who is trying to bring back that increasingly mythical beast, the liberal Republican. Whitmire is a local small businessman and has been endorsed by Brand New Congress. "Our politicians," he writes, "have been bought and paid for by the elites and the corporations, plain and simple. Until we get money out of politics our representatives won't serve us and will just be beholden to their corporate donors. To make sure there is no question who I work for, I will accept no money from lobbyists or big money interests EVER. I take only small, private donations from people like you and me."

Whitmire supports Medicare For All, tuition-free higher education, a living wage and a "responsible tax system." He says he wants to "make the elites and the corporations pay their fair share. The middle class doesn't get 'tax holidays', why should mega-rich multinational corporations?"

Whitmire interviewed on "We the People":

Whitmire on Twitter:

Danielle Mitchell is challenging Republican incumbent Chuck Fleishmann in Tennessee's 3rd District. This is a strongly Republican district--Fleischmann has won his last three election efforts by more than 60%. Fleishcmann is a major shitbag, wrong on every major issue and with major bucks behind him. Mitchell is a physician serving the Chattanooga area and healthcare concerns loom large in her campaign. This is a fiery piece she wrote about how corrupt politicians sabotatge healthcare plans:

Mitchell supports a $13-$15/hour minimum wage, protecting the evironment, "I will hold large corporations responsible for taking care of their workers and will implement policies that discourage them from moving jobs overseas," etc.

Some of Mitchell's campaign ads:

Mitchell on Twitter:


Incumbent Republican Ted Cruz is facing two progressive challengers to his Texas Senate seat, Beto O'Rourke and Sema Hernandez. Something that could make this race very entertaining for political junkies is to see a genuine populist tackling Cruz's phony populist routine--financed by billionaires while talking about his great "grassroots movement" and making it sound as if he's doing voters a favor by running for office and giving them the privilege of casting their ballots for him. A stuffed shirt just waiting for someone to come along and kick the stuffings out of him. It's also the case that Texas is undergoing a demographic shift that will, in the coming years, turn it blue. That still has a few more years to go but if a progressive challenger to Cruz runs a good campaign, it may jump-start the process.

Like everyone else here, Congressman Beto O'Rourke is fundraising on the Sanders model. He's pro-infrastructure spending, pro-marijuana legalization, pro-term limits and in congress, he's already introduced the No PAC Act, which would prevent elected officials from accepting PAC contributions.

O'Rourke on Twitter:

Inspired by Bernie Sanders, Sema Hernandez is also trying to unseat Cruz. "I'm  daughter of immigrants, a wife, mother of four boys, baseball coach, small business owner, community volunteer, activist, Democratic Socialist and Berniecrat... I'm running for office to ensure that our children do not become the working poor. I'm running to break the cycle of corrupt politicians that vote in their interest and not ours. I'm running to break the cycle of systemic racism. I'm running to break the cycle of income inequality. I'm running to break the cycle of injustice across the board."

Hernandez supports Medicare For All, tuition-free higher education, a path to citizenship for immigrants, etc.

Tim Black did a good interview with Sema:

Hernandez on Twitter:

In Texas' 7th District, a crowded field of Democrats are competing for the opportunity to take on longtime Republican incumbent John Culberson. This has been a Republican district but demographic changes have been pushing it to the blue column; in 2016, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump there. Among the Democratic competitors, there are two good progressives, Justin Westin and Laura Moser.

Jason Westin is a physician, a cancer researcher at Houston MD Anderson Cancer Center--one of the top cancer centers in the U.S. He advocates Medicare For All, automatic voter registration, a clean DREAM Act, etc.

David Feldman interviews Westin:

Westin on Twitter:

Laura Moser is an author and journalist who founded Daily Action, a remarkable service that promotes progressive activism, providing subscribers with something they can do every day to further progressive causes. Moser supports Medicare For All, comprehensive immigration reform, paid family leave, etc.

An interview with Moser:

Moser on Twitter:

This race has made some headlines for all the wrong reasons; it's yet another in which the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has opted to interfere in the primary race. The Intercept has covered this sorry story. The DCCC, made up of Washington insiders, savagely attacked Moser as a "Washington insider" and published oppo research against her that seriously distorted some things she'd said. Moser has made an uncomplimentary joke about Paris, Texas, a town hundreds of miles from her own district; the DCCC's take:

"Unfortunately, Laura Moser’s outright disgust for life in Texas disqualifies her as a general election candidate, and would rob voters of their opportunity to flip Texas’ 7th in November."

If anyone at the DCCC recognized the ludicrousness of a D.C.-based org trying to centrally dictate the course of an election in Texas while claiming it's doing so on behalf of the voters there, they haven't let on.

Alex Triantaphyllis, one of the other Democratic candidates in the race, may be the DCCC's pick--he's a damn former Goldman Sachs analyst. He's been telling people he was recruited by the DCCC to run. EMILYs List, which is usually a rubber stamp for the DCCC, is backing Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, a corporate lawyer whose

"firm recently defeated local janitorial workers in a labor law case by studying social media feeds to ensure the jury had a healthy number of Trump supporters, a tactic it later boasted about publicly. Fletcher said she didn’t work directly on the case. But the local AFL-CIO made a rare non-endorsement in the race, urging residents to vote for any candidate other than Fletcher, and pledging to do what it can to defeat her."

The DCCC slams Moser as some sort of dirty self-dealer because she's using her husband's consulting firm for her campaign and as astonishing as it is to use this as some sort of charge of corruption, it is, of course, an outright joke when coming from the DCCC, which is notorious for insisting candidates employ the DCCC's own consultants. The Intercept documented how the Fletcher campaign employs consultans similarly connected to multiple DCCC officials. The real crux of this dispute may be a petty get-back at Moser for publicly criticizing the DCCC last year in Vogue:

Moser gives her side of the story here:

Fortunately, the DCCC's ham-handed effort to kill Moser's campaign has instead energized it and, as happened after every Democratic Establishment attack on Bernie Sanders during the 2016 cycle, has led to a fundraising windfall, as outraged progressives have written checks:

Vanessa Adia is challenging longtime Republican incumbent Kay Granger in Texas' 12th District. This is a very Republican district--more than 65%--and Vanessa, a science teacher, is going to have her work cut out for her but a potential Democratic primary challenger left the race, giving her--so far--a clean shot at Granger (who rarely interacts with the people of her district). "I believe strongly in separation of corporation and state," she writes. "I will not take money from corporate PACs because far too many elected officials consider how their vote will impact the corporations that fund their campaigns before they think about the people who they were elected to represent." Vanessa supports Medicare For All, criminal justice reform, guaranteed parental and medical leave, etc.:

Emma Vigeland conducts a good interview with Vanessa:

Adia on Twitter:

Adrienne Bell is challenging Republican Randy Weber in Texas' 14th District. This is Ron Paul's old turf. Weber has been sitting on it since Paul retired and won reelection in 2016 by nearly 62% of the vote. Bell is a teacher running on the Justice Democrats platform--Medicare For All, rebuilding American infrastructure, building a renewable energy future, etc.

An interview with Bell:

Veronica Escobar is challenging a crowded field of Democrats in the 16th District, the seat Beto O'Rourke is giving up in order to run for senate. This is a strongly Democratic district--the winner of the Democratic primary will almost certainl go to congress. Escobar is a former county judge who, in sort of a man-bites-dog story, has gained the endorsements of both progressive groups like National Nurses United and Establishment groups like EMILYs List, which typically support more conservative candidates. Escobar supports Medicare For All, ending Citizens United, giving the Justice Department more power to prosecute candidates and super PACs who coordinate, etc.

Beto O'Rouke has endorsed Escobar:

Escobar on Twitter:

There are a growing number of Democrats (and Republicans) vying for Texas' 21st District, whose worthless Republican incumbent Lamar Smith is retiring after the present term. The 21st is gerrymandered to be a strongly Republican district--as in, more than 60%. There are at least two progressives among the Democrats.

Derrick Crowe spent some time as a staffer for congressional Democrats and, among other things, a senior staffer for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. He's running on a platform of Medicare For All, breaking up monopolies and "too big to fail" firms, getting money out of politics, free public colleges and universities, etc.

A long interview with Crowe on "We the People":

Crowe on Twitter:

Mary Wilson, also vying for the seat is a teacher an activist. She supports Medicare For All, the $15 minimum wage, immigration reform, etc.

Wilson interviewed by Cenk Uygur:

Wilson on Twitter:

Unfortunately, this is another example of a primary race in which the Democratic Establishment has opted to interfere, backing one of Crowe's opponents Joseph Kopser, a wealthy tech entrepreneur and "ex"-Republican who is pro-fracking and a board-member of the Texas Association of Business (a conservative pro-business lobby). Ryan Grim and Lee Fang:

"Crowe... said he’s been shunned by the establishment. In an interview, Crowe said party leaders focused on Kopser, while ignoring the other candidates in the race. 'The party weighed in and brought someone into this race without any knowledge of the district, the field, whether that person has been fighting for progressive values,' added Crowe. 'They thought [Kopser] could raise the most money, but he doesn’t share our Democratic or progressive values.'"

Two progressives, Letitia Plummer and Steve Brown, are challenging Republican Pete Olson in Texas' 22nd District. This is Tom DeLay's old gerrymandered preserve. Olson is a major scumbag who, among other things, took part in an effort to impeach then-Attorney General Eric Holder for Holder's refusal to put the federal screws to states that decriminalized marijuana and for refusing to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. He once claimed Bill Clinton had confessed Vincent Foster was murdered and speculated that Clinton had threatened then AG Loretta Lynch with the same treatment if Hillary Clinton was indicted. And, of course, he won his last reelection effort with nearly 60% of the vote.

Letitia Plummer is a dentist who is running on single-payer healthcare, free tuition at public institutions of higher learning, a major infrastructure resurrection project, etc.

Plummer on Twitter:

Steve Brown is a clean energy developer who supports Medicare For All, a more progressive tax code, ending for-profit prisons, which he calls "a new form of slavery," etc.

Brown on Twitter:

Rick Treviño--not the country music star--is challenging Republican incumbent Will Hurd in Texas' 23rd District. This is the most competitive district in Texas--almost evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Hurd is facing a Republican primary challenge for the seat, while there are five Democratic candidates in competition. A blue wave will almost certainly take this seat but the DCCC is, as usual, on the wrong side, choosing to support right-wing Blue Dog "Democrat" Jay Hulings. Treviño is a San Antonio high school teacher who was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic convention.

"Although he’s entered the democratic field, Treviño has his critiques of the party, saying 'it's lost its way.' The sweeping congressional district runs from San Antonio out towards El Paso and holds about 40 percent of the Texas-Mexico Border. Asked whether he would need to be more moderate in his approach in order to appeal to a wider base, Treviño says he wouldn’t do that.'I’ve never seen a Democrat win an election running in the center, being Republican lite,' says Treviño. 'I am not going to compromise these principles and these values.'"

Treviño, who has been endorsed by Our Revolution, vows to fight income inequality, support Medicare For All, end mass incarceration, support a $15 minimum wage, etc.

Treviño interviewed by Cenk Uygur:

Treviño on Twitter:

Linsey Fagan is challenging Republican Michael Burgess in Texas' 26th District. This is a very strongly Republican district--as in, over 65% Repub since the last redistricting--and it's a pretty long shot, even in a blue wave year. Burgess, who is one of Trump's most loyal congressional lapdogs and votes with him 97.6% of the time, is facing a primary challenge before the main event.

"Fagan, a small business owner, said she did not originally intend to seek a life in politics but could no longer stand by while corporate interests influenced legislators at the expense of her neighbors. 'The American people deserve to be represented by someone who cares more about them than lobbyists and corporations,' Fagan said."

If elected, Linsey would be the first woman to represent the 26th. She supports Medicare For All, legalized marijuana, stands against Citizens United (she supports a constitutional amendment that would allow states to restrict money in politics) and "funds her movement with clean money, and will work tirelessly to protect and strengthen transparency in campaign finance regulation."

And hey, you gotta' love this header from her campaign website, right?

In January, Fagan took part in a debate against Will Fisher hosted by the Denton County Democratic party:

Very long-time incumbent right-wing "Democrat" Gene Green has announced he's retiring, which opens up his seat in Texas' 29th District. This is a strongly Democratic district--usually just shy of 60%--that has nevertheless been represented for decades by Green, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Oil posing as a congressman. Hector Morales, a teacher, is offering a progressive alternative: "Our campaign is about people, not parties or special interests. It's about guaranteeing healthcare, college for all, and renewable energy."

Morales' issues page:

A presentation by Morales:

For years, Texas' 32nd Disrict has been represented by Pete Sessions, one of the most conservative members of congress and a profoundly corrupt official with a long history of bribery scandals. The 32nd is gerrymandered to be a strongly Republican district but demographic changes in recent years have made it more hospitable territory for Democrats and Trump is unpopular there, which could be a particular problem for Sessions, as he has voted with Trump on nearly every issue. Hillary Clinton beat Trump in the 32nd in 2016 but Democrats didn't run a challenger to Sessions that year. This year, they overcompensated: over a dozen Democrats declared their candidacies. Half of them have since dropped out. The Clinton machine is backing worthless Clintonite Ed Meier, a former Clinton adviser who is enthusiastically prostituting his potential future office to Big Money backers at every turn. There are some progressives in the race though.

Colin Allred is one. He's a civil rights attorney and former linebacker for the Tennessee Titans who served as a special adviser in Obama's HUD Department. He supports Medicare For All, a $15/hour minimum wage, automatic voter registration at age 18, etc.

Allred interviewed by Emma Vigeland:

Allred on Twitter:

Another contender in the 32nd is Lillian Salerno, who was Deputy Undersecretary of Rural Development in the Obama Ag Department and helped create a company that desigend a syringe with a retractable needle to keep healthcare workers from being inadverantly stuck and infected with diseases like HIV. She supports Medicare For All, an anti-trust campaign against corporate monopolies, "killing Citizens United," etc.

She wrote a guest-article on Howie Klein's blog about her experiences dealing with healthcare monopolies:

Salerno on Twitter:

Dayna Steele is challenging Republican Brian Babin in Texas' 36th District. This is a major uphill fight--VERY strongly Repub district. Steele is a legendary local radio host, "the first lady of rock n' roll." It's a gig she's had since she was a teenager. She's running on single-payer healthcare, immigration reform with a path to citizenship, LGBTQ rights, a $15/hour minimum wage, etc.

An interview with Steele:

Steele on Twitter:




Garry Hubbard is challenging Republican incumbent Scott Taylor in Virginia's 2nd District. Though a Democrat represented it as recently as 2010, this is considered a safely Republican district--Taylor won the seat by a hair more than 60% of the vote in 2016. Trump won it that year by 4 points but Democrat Ralph Northam beat Republican Ed Gillespie there in the 2017 governor's race. Hubbard is a retired former owner of Hubbard Brothers, a construction company. He supports Medicare For All, a $15/hour minimum wage, major new investments in "STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)", etc.

Hubbard on Twitter:

The 2nd features a crowded field--there are 5 other Democrats duking it out for the nomination. Unfortunately, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has opted to interfere in the race, throwing its support behind Elaine Luria, a conservative Republican who has only just decided to start calling herself a "Democrat." So recent was this conversion that she votef for Taylor in both the Repeub primary and in the general in 2016.

"Months before Democratic voters select their 2nd Congressional District nominee in a June primary, national party leaders are already choosing whom they want to win.

"Of the six Democrats seeking to face Rep. Scott Taylor in November, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Tuesday that it has chosen Norfolk businesswoman Elaine Luria as its favored candidate.

"At least two other Democrats seeking the 2nd District nomination said the committee, which had not spoken to them, needs to let Hampton Roads voters – not a Washington-based group – choose the party’s candidate...

"Jake Rubenstein, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia, said the national group’s decision isn’t backed by the state party, which doesn’t play favorites in a primary.

"'We’re excited about all our candidates,' Rubenstein said. 'We think they’ll all be better than Donald Trump’s ally, Scott Taylor.'"

Anthony Flaccavento is challenging Republican incumbent Morgan Griffith in Virginia's 9th District. This is a strongly Republican district--over 60%. Flaccavento is an organic farmer and small business owner who unsuccessfully battled Griffith back in 2010. He supports Medicare For All, tuition-free higher education, publicly-funded elections, etc.

Flaccavento interviewed by Laura Flanders:

Flaccavento on Twitter:


Dorothy Gasque is challenging Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler in Washington's 3rd District. This is a strongly Republican district, about 60%. Gasque is a longtime Army vet, a mathematician and activist who worked on Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign in Washington.

"The influence of money in politics has moved our government away from a democracy and towards a plutocracy. In order to create a government that is truly accountable to the people rather than corporate interests, we need legislation that gets money out of politics once and for all."

Gasque supports Medicare For All, a constitutional amendment to overthrow Citizens United, building "a 100% renewable energy economy in 10 years," a $15/hour minimum wage, etc.

Gasque interviewed by Cenk Uygur:

Gasque on Twitter:

Sarah Smith is challenging long-running Democratic incumbent Adam Smith (no relation) in Washington's 9th District. This is an overwhelmingly Democratic district and there's absolutely no reason why it should be represented by the conservative Adam Smith, a member of the New Democrat Coalition. Republicans, so far, aren't even fielding a candidate there--the winner of the contest between the Smiths will go to D.C. next year. Among other things, Sarah Smith wants to end the War On Drugs and militarization of police forces, get money out of politics, promote a non-interventionist foreign policy. Her campaign site:

"Personally, Sarah Smith, within her first year, would like to introduce or cosponsor legislation 'to start the ball rolling on investment in revitalizing America’s infrastructure, Medicare for all (in the event HR676 does not pass), student loan reform, and investment in alternative energy.' Beyond these specifics, Smith would like to focus her efforts on creating a green energy economy within her district.

"Smith has her sights set beyond the short term, hoping that in five years an infrastructure overhaul will be nearing completion and Citizen’s United will be overturned. These two issues, as they lay the bedrock for her long term goals, seem to be the focus of Smith’s political agenda. She hopes that in the future her constituents will not longer feel afraid, but instead, energized."

A Jimmy Dore interview with Smith:

Smith on Twitter:

The Washington state Democratic party, trying to roadblock Smith's campaign, is giving her the runaround with regard to access to VoteBuilder, the party voter file.

"In Washington's 9th district, Sarah Smith, a Justice Democrat running a primary campaign against incumbent Democrat Adam Smith, was told that access to VoteBuilder required the endorsement of 50 percent of legislative district clubs, plus one, as well as the backing of the state party chair. But state legislators often wait until close to the actual primary to make an endorsement, Smith says, meaning her campaign would have to spend the majority of the race waiting around for endorsements before gaining access to the data. And even then, the likelihood of sitting party officials endorsing a challenger over an incumbent is low.

"Smith says she asked to see where that bylaw is written down, but was refused. The Washington state party didn't respond to multiple requests for comment.

"As a last resort, Sarah Smith's campaign spokesman asked the party for a letter stating they were being denied access to VoteBuilder; at least then, they could get access to SmartVAN. In response, the Smith campaign says they received a Kafka-esque email claiming that even though campaigns can't access VoteBuilder without the endorsements, 'in our eyes, a campaign that doesn't have endorsements hasn't been denied.'"

Smith has been forced to rely on another tool, Political Data, for this work. It's not only inferior, it costs $10,000.

Tamborine Borrelli is challenging Democratic incumbent Denny Heck in Washington's 10th District. This is a district created after the last census and has been Democratic from its origin, but Heck is a member of the more conservative New Democrat coalition. Borrelli became inspired by the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign to become involved in politics. She became a deputy field organizer for the Sanders campaign and a caucus site leader (Sanders completely destroyed Clinton) and went on to serve as a Sanders delegate to the Democratic convention. Borrelli supports single-payer healthcare, implementation of a system of public financing of political campaigns, marijuana legalization, etc.

Borrelli interviewed by Tim Black:

Borrelli on Twitter:

West Virginia

In West Virginia, Paula Jean Swearengin is looking to burn down the Manchin--Joe Manchin, the walking shit-show who filled Robert Byrd's old Senate seat. He's been a persistent tumor in the U.S. Senate, a rightist corporate "Democrat" who acts as the stooge for the state's coal industry. West Virginia is basically a red state--Donald Trump completely destroyed Clinton there, capturing 68.5% of the vote--but during the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders beat Clinton by more than 15 points, carrying every county in the state (Clinton had won WV in 2008; after she lost it by such a huge margin in 2016, the superdelegates gave her the state at the convention). A progressive populist may make a substantially bigger dent than a corporatist. Swearingin is running on the Justice Democrats platform:

Sarah Jones interviews Swearengin:

Swearengin on Twitter:

Kendra Huard Fershee is challenging Republican incumbent David McKinley in West Virginia's 1st District. This is a strongly Republican district; McKinley won reelection last year over his Democratic challenger by a more-than-2-to-1 margin. An Establishment Democrat isn't going to take this district but a populist might just have a shot. Bernie Sanders completely destroyed Clinton in the Democratic race there last year. Howie Klein of ActBlue notes that in Monongalia, the district's biggest county, Sanders took more votes than the top four Republicans combined. Unfortunately, Fershee is going to have to battle a conservative "Democrat" for the nomination, a millionaire named Ralph Baxter. Shortly after announcing her candidacy, Fershee wrote a brief piece to introduce herself here:

Fershee on Twitter:


Two progressives, Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers, are competing for the opportunity to take Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan's scalp in Wisconsin's 1st District. This is a very strongly Republican district--Ryan typically wins reelection with over 62% of the vote--a hard district for a Democrat.

Randy Bryce, who, of Ryan's Democratic opponents, has attracted the most attention, is an army veteran and iron worker. He supports Medicare For All, the $15/hour minimum wage, Bernie Sanders' $1 trillion infrastructure plan, etc.

"Monday, Randy Bryce launched his campaign to repeal and replace Paul Ryan in a southeast Wisconsin district the DCCC has always made clear to Democrats was 'off the table.' That’s where Randy lives and a bunch of political hacks in DC claiming his district is 'off the table,' isn’t going to stop him for a minute. The fish rots from the head and if Trump can’t be held accountable until 2020, Speaker Ryan’s time is now."

Bryce has been endorsed by Bernie Sanders:

Bryce interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell:

Bryce on Twitter:

Cathy Myers, also competing for the Democratic nomination, is a teacher from Janesville. She supports Medicare For All, a $15/hour minimum wage, ending private prisons, etc.

Myers interviewed by Jimmy Dore:

Myers on Twitter:


In January, Donald Trump's State of the Union Address gave another concentrated glimpse at the grim, wearying cloud of protofascist darkness that presently hangs over the United States. To handle their official response to this circus of horrors, Establishment Democrats sent out the unfortunate Joe Kennedy III, whose bland, platitude-filled nothing of a speech again proved their cluelessness and, perhaps more significantly, their complete worthlessness in combating this building nightmare. Of the idea that anything within the boundaries of American liberal democracy can beat it back, this writer is profoundly skeptical. The real Democratic response to the State of the Union Address was handled by the real leader of the Democratic party, and in this progressive wave outlined above, he sees hope for the future. I'll defer to his optimism and give him the last word here:

"We are seeing the growth of grassroots organizations and people from every conceivable background starting to run for office, and they're running for school boards, city council, state legislature, the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate. In fact, we are starting to see the beginning of a political revolution, something long overdue. And these candidates, from coast to coast, are standing tall for a progressive agenda, an agenda that works for the working families of our country and not just the billionaire class.... Yes, I understand that the Koch brothers and their billionaire friends are planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the 2018 mid-term elections supporting the Trump agenda and right-wing Republicans. They have the money, an unlimited amount of money. But we have the people, and when ordinary people stand up and fight for justice there is nothing that we cannot accomplish. That has been the history of America, and that is our future."