October 1– the first day in the final sprint to election day. I've been getting a lot of e-mails and calls from Blue America contributors asking where to focus their money. Like this one from Jennifer on Rosevale Avenue near Ronkonkoma Beach on Long Island. She and her husband have been regular contributors since 2006, $20 here, $30 there and they usually give a pretty substantial amount to their favorite candidates in early October. Neither Jennifer nor Don ever asked me for a suggestion before but last month she wrote that she wasn't sure which candidates would use the money more effectively to win a House seat. They are sophisticated enough as contributors to know there are no guarantees but she was looking for reassurance that if she sent $200 to each of 5 campaigns, the money would be spent wisely and possibly make a difference.
I told her that she's in the last couple of blocks before the end of New York's second congressional district– Peter King's lair. In fact, we first talked when she and Don told me about a friend of theirs in neighboring Nassau County, a progressive Cuban-American county legislator named Dave Mejias who ran against King in the then more Nassau-oriented seat. She told me that the AFL-CIO had endorsed Mejias against King, the first time they ever went against King and, largely because of their efforts, Blue America wound up endorsing Mejias as well. Even with Steve Israel protecting King from the sidelines, Mejias did better against him than anyone had ever done before– or since. But now, right in their own backyard, there's a candidate running against King even stronger and better positioned to win, DuWayne Gregory, the Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature.
I told her DuWayne should be at the top of her list, not just because he represents her neighborhood (even if just by a few blocks) but because he's a principled progressive who won't let us down on any issues. The DCCC has refused to help him– thanks to Steve Israel again– but as of June 30 he had raised over a quarter million dollars. (In 2014 the Democrat running against King only raised $10,988 in the whole campaign and in 2012 it was $11,679.) DuWayne is breaking through in a way neither of them was able to.
I know she and Don want to back smart campaigns with good management and smart operations where there is a real shot at a win. I suggested that as of today, her smartest investments would be Zephyr Teachout (NY), Paul Clements (MI), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Ruben Kihuen (NV) and one longshot, Tom Wakely (TX). These are all candidates who fit the profile Jennifer and Don look for: staunchly progressive across the board, strong character and values, and a proven ability to stand up to bosses and bullies.
I'd love to know which of the Blue America candidates any DWT readers feel the strongest about. How about kicking off the month with a contribution– even just $5– to the candidate you feel is the best bet at this point. Just tap the thermometer on the right and it will go to our page of endorsed House candidates. You can't go wrong with any of them. Meanwhile, I want to say a few words about one of the candidates Blue America endorsed: Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire. We've known her as long as we've known Jennifer and Don. Blue America endorsed her first run for Congress in 2006 when, despite spiteful sabotage from Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC, she defeated GOP incumbent Jeb Bradley.
When we first met Carol she was a grassroots activist running on an anti-war platform. And a full decade ago she was already peppering her speeches with the not yet commonly used term “living wage.” Those issues frightened Rahm and he recruited a conservative establishment Democrat, Jim Craig, to run. Although Craig had the backing of the DCCC machine and spent $381,290 against her– more money than she spent in the primary and the general election combined, she kicked his ass because she knew how to run a grassroots campaign and he– like almost all DCCC canddiates– didn't. She beat him 54-34%. The DCCC immediately wrote off the district and Rahm called Democratic contributors and told them she had no chance and not to waste their money– a common DCCC tactic they still use against progressives today. But despite Bradley outspending her almost 4 to 1, she beat him in November 100,899 votes (51%) to 94,869 votes (49%) and beat him again in a rematch two years later, this time with a 54-46% margin.
Now she's fighting to regain the seat from a Trumpist Tea Party nut, Frank Guinta. I was reminded about what a kook he is when I watched the Wells Fargo House Financial Services Committee hearings on Thursday. A member of that committee, Guinta has managed to extort $1,103,948 from the Wall Street interests he's supposed to be protecting the public from. He was, by far, the most unhinged member of the committee when it came to questioning Well Fargo CEO John Stumpf. Guinta's agenda is unchanging when it comes to Wall Street– less regulations and a freer hand for banksters like Stumpf to rip off their customers. He aggressively advocates for wrecking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and has voted against it over and over and over. Thursday he asked Stumpf– no fan of the CFPB by any stretch of anyone's imagination– how many CFBP agents had been embedded with Wells Fargo. When Stumpf said he didn't know the number of agents, the deranged Guinta invented a Breitbart-worthy conspiracy theory on the spot, accusing Stumpf of plotting with the CFPB to withhold the information from the committee. The other members just rolled their eyes with embarrassment and breathed a sign of relief when Guinta's time expired. And, yes, he's solicited– and taken– substantial bribes from Wells Fargo's PAC.
The are virtually no issues on which Guinta hasn't managed to dig himself into a hole that pits him against his own constituents. Carol correctly points out that even on something as important to voters as Social Security, Guinta's crackpot privatization ideas are just plane dangerous to ordinary retirees and future retirees. Without naming in, she said that “Republican politicians claim they want to preserve Social Security, they actually don’t… Social Security will have problems paying at today's rate around 2034, but it can be fixed if the Congress would do what Reagan did in 1983– fix it. Raise the cap to make Social Security sustainable. Right now, people who earn under $118,500 pay tax on every single dollar they earn. People who earn over that do not pay on every dollar, just the first $118,500. It is not fair for lower-income people to pay on all of their earnings while the wealthy pay only on the first $118,500.” Like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren– and anyone serious about protecting Social Security benefits– she advocates scrapping the cap so that the wealthy pay their fair share. Guinta, just wants to turn Social Security over it Wall Street and let the chips fall where they may while his campaign donors make billions in fees and commissions off American workers' contributions.
Guinta barely survived his primary challenge, edging Rich Ashooh 26,229 (46.5%) to 25,580 (45.3%). The latest poll of the district, released this week, shows that most voters dislike Guinta, who has a negative favorability rating (26-47%), with fully 31% rating him as “very unfavorable.” And those people plan to vote against him in November. In a head-to-head matchup, Carol beats him 50-39% and in a five-way vote that includes third party candidates, she's still way ahead, 44-34%. Short version: very good investment of you're thinking about contributing $5.00 or even $500.
|And that's Carol in blue and Guinta all red|
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis