Early voting has started and, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, Hillary leads Trump by a whopping 15 points among the 19 million Americans who have already cast their ballots– leading not just in blue states but in Ohio, Arizona and, yes, even Texas. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are out on the road, working their asses off for Democratic candidates– and although they've been smart enough and shown enough integrity to avoid pimping the worst of the Democratic establishment monstrosities (like Evan Bayh, Patty Justice, Ann Kirkpatrick and, worst of all, Patrick Murphy, who they can leave the the smartest dumbbell in TV news to pimp instead)– I often wonder if they're getting any guarantees at all from moderates like Katie McGinty (PA), Maggie Hassan (NH), Kamala Harris (CA), and Tammy Duckworth (IL) to back a progressive agenda. We'll see, I guess.
Two people both Warren and Sanders are pushing in a major way certainly don't need to be asked for any guarantees at all. There is, after all, no reason to think Russ Feingold (WI) and Zephyr Teachout (NY) won't be every bit as powerfully committed to working families than Warren and Sanders are themselves. Yesterday, within minutes of far right billionaire Diana Hendricks giving neo-fascist incumbent Ron Johnson a cool $5,000,000 for his SuperPAC, Bernie sent a letter to his followers reminding them that Russ isn't just another hack politician the DSCC is trying to pass off as a progressive.
All across our country, as a result of the disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, billionaires are trying to buy elections for candidates who will represent the wealthy and the powerful.
There is no better example of this than in Wisconsin, where big money interests are spending millions to defeat progressive champion Russ Feingold. Russ, throughout his career, has led the effort for campaign finance reform, civil rights, the protection of our privacy and the needs of working people. He opposed the war in Iraq, led the effort against the Patriot Act and wants to see that the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
It should be no surprise, therefore, that the Koch Brothers and the billionaire class want to keep Russ out of the Senate. The problem is, they're spending so much money in Wisconsin's Senate race that Russ could lose.
The billionaire class has already spent $7.5 million in outside spending to defeat Russ. He's seen his lead in the polls cut by more than half.
In my mind, this is exactly the kind of grotesque spending by millionaires and billionaires which is moving our country toward an oligarchic form of society. We need to overturn Citizens United, we need real campaign finance reform, and we need a progressive Senate
We need to help Russ Feingold win his election, and that means all of us need to stand together right now to support Russ.
…It is absolutely critical for Russ Feingold to win his election if we want to win a majority of seats in the Senate. As you know well, Paul Ryan is terrified of the prospect of losing the Senate.
Just imagine how much Paul Ryan doesn't want to see Senators Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold working together.
You have already raised nearly $2.5 million to help candidates for the House and Senate since last week. Your contributions are completely changing races for Congress across the country.
Now we must focus our attention directly to support Russ Feingold. His race is critically important, and we need people to stand together to take on billionaires trying to buy this election.
Warren has made similar efforts for Feingold. And, by the way, if you want to send him any last minute contributions to help combat that $5 million he got from Hendricks– who has given $5 million to Rick Scott's PAC, $5 million to the Koch brothers PAC, and millions more to right-wing candidates and organizations coast to coast– you can do it on the Blue America Senate 2016 page.
Both Warren and Sanders have also been supportive of Zephyr Teachout's race. Again, Republican billionaires– this time Paul Singer and Robert Mercer– have been pouring incredible sums into the race against Zephyr, who is leading by 3 points in a new poll, doing even better than Hillary in the district! Zephyr has been crushing her lobbyist opponent, John Faso, in the debates and this week the biggest newspaper in the district, the Poughkeepsie Journal endorsed her. “Voters in the 19th Congressional District,” they wrote, “are facing a fascinating choice between two starkly different candidates.”
Republican John Faso has plenty of political experience as a state legislator and knows the area well, having lived here for decades.
Democrat Zephyr Teachout, a sharp law professor at Fordham University, ran a spirited campaign in her party’s primary against Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014. She is new to the area but would bring a fresh perspective to Washington and governance in general. Voters have plenty of compelling reasons to give her that opportunity.
The two candidates recently exchanged ideas at a Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial Board meeting. That meeting was nuanced and substantive, indicative of the fact that voters will be choosing between two qualified candidates here.
Teachout wisely acknowledged she would have to work across the political aisle to get anything accomplished, recognizing the House of Representatives is most likely going to remain in GOP control after the November elections. And she pointed to specific places, such as in the fight against Lyme disease and getting broadband to rural places, where political consensus can and should be reached.
Let’s be clear: Teachout would have to employ such a strategy to be successful.
For his part, Faso is a veteran lawmaker who once served as state Assembly minority leader and unsuccessfully ran for state comptroller and governor. In the private sector, he has served as a lobbyist.
In general, Faso supports cutting taxes and regulations. He is in favor of lowering the maximum corporate rate but closing loopholes and limiting deductions. He also has offered several sound specific policies, including changing the tax code so that businesses could fully deduct investments in new equipment or technology in the same year those purchases were made. He believes this would be particularly helpful to small businesses, farmers and manufacturers, and he is right.
Teachout wants to close loopholes on hedge fund managers who exploit laws to get around paying a higher tax rate and end “taxpayer funded giveaways to oil and gas companies.”
She said more investment should be made to alternative energy sources, pointing to a fact that the Poughkeepsie Journal has long stated, “Renewable energy is not on an even playing field right now.”
Teachout would clearly be a strong defender of the Hudson River and the environment in general, calling for more cleanup of pollution in the river, opposing the Coast Guard’s large-vessel anchoring proposal and being out front in the fight against hydrofracking.
Teachout also was the first national director of the Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan group trying to make Congress more open and transparent, something that voters can be assured would be a high priority for her if elected.
To his credit, Faso did come across as more far moderate at the Editorial Board meeting than his voting record in the Assembly would suggest. He noted, for example, that a compromise is needed to keep Social Security solvent for generations and that raising the federal minimum wage should be looked at.
The Poughkeepsie Journal would urge the winner of this race to look at the person vacating this seat, Republican Chris Gibson, as a strong model. Gibson decided not to run again this year, but he built a strong and deserved reputation as a knowledgeable, honorable lawmaker willing to work across the political aisle.
At our meeting, Teachout acknowledged Gibson’s fine work, and she definitely brings a new and welcomed energy to politics. Voters should give her two years to see if she can use that energy and her intelligence to serve the district in the most fitting and admirable way.
As of yesterday, outside Republican groups had poured $5,470,727 into the race. The DCCC has responded, weakly, with $1,556,183. (They save most of their big money for Blue Dogs and New Dems like Pete Gallego, Joe Garcia, Josh Gottheimer and Charlie Crist, not for progressives like Zephyr.) Please consider giving her Get Out the Vote efforts a boost by tapping on the thermometer below:
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis