Friday, April 20, 2018

Another Slimy "Ex" Republican In California Caught Lying, Pretending To Be A Democrat


Fake Democrat Butner and actual Democrat Campa-Najjar

Under normal circumstances, no one would be looking at as red a district as CA-50 (inland San Diego County) as flippable-- even in a wave election cycle. The PVI is R+11. Obama lost it both times (59-40% and 60-38%) and Trump thumped Hillary 54.6% to 39.6%. But Duncan Hunter is about to be indicted for stealing campaign cash and a Democrat has a chance to beat him. The progressive in the race, Ammar Campa-Najjar, was endorsed by the state Democratic Party. He's raised the most money in the race as well (as of the March31, FEC reporting deadline):
Ammar Campa-Najjar (D)- $707,571
Duncan Hunter (R)- $666,074
Josh Butner (D)- $594,695
Shamus Sayed (R)- $253,179
Campa-Najjar also has the most cash on hand. So why is the DCCC and the establishment leaning towards Butner? Is it because they're racists? That could be part of it. Is it because Butner is conservative, just like DCCC operatives Kyle Layman and Jason Bresler? Partially. But most of all, it's because Butner is an "ex"-Republican. The DCCC loves "ex"-Republicans. (They endorsed another one yesterday, Gil Cisneros in Orange County.)

Ryan Grim was the first to report that Butner was not just a Republican pretending to be a Democrat, but that he lied about it as well. Butner, wrote Grim "certified certified to the California Secretary of State in his election filings that he has been an independent-- known there as 'no party preference'-- since 2008. His filing shows he registered as a Democrat in 2016, four months before he announced his bid for Congress. But state voting records obtained by The Intercept from the Registrar of Voters contradict those filings, showing that he was a registered Republican at least through the 2010 election. Butner did not vote in any elections, either primary or general, between 2010 and 2016, when he ran for the school board. But the records show that at some point between 2010 and 2012, he switched his voter registration status from Republican to 'no party preference.'" And he refused to discuss the revelations with Grim.

He voted in the Republican primary in 2008. He's never voted in a Democratic primary until 2016 when he registered as a Democrat for the first time.
Butner was recruited to run in California’s 50th Congressional District by the Democratic leaders, yet his progressive opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, has won the endorsement of the state Democratic Party and the bulk of the activist groups in the district.

Elsewhere around the country, the Democrat leadership’s zeal for veterans to run for office has led them to back other former Republicans. In Texas’s 21st Congressional District, Joseph Kopser was previously registered as a Republican, having grown up in a conservative family. In Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, the party’s chosen candidate, Elaine Luria, voted for her own Republican opponent not once, but twice. Gil Cisneros, a candidate in California’s 39th District, is a Navy veteran and former Republican who had registered as a Democrat in 2015, after three years as an independent. He was named on Wednesday to the DCCC’s Red-to-Blue program, tantamount to an endorsement. Butner came under fire earlier in the campaign for insisted that military service should be a prerequisite for a run for Congress.

The shifting party loyalties are a mirror image, in some ways, of the debate over the party status of independent Bernie Sanders, who became a Democrat to run in the party’s 2016 presidential primary, and subsequently switching back to independent status after losing the nomination. He has been heavily criticized by Democratic partisans for refusing to wear the party label, but argues that he is able to to bring more people into the broad Democratic fold by appealing to voters disaffected by partisan politics. That may or may not be right, but at least it’s a rationale-- and Sanders has never hidden his lack of affiliation.

Butner has said that “local Democrats” recruited him to run for Congress, and his candidacy has been flogged by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Though the party committee has not explicitly endorsed him, the DCCC’s chair, New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján, gave Butner a $1,000 campaign contribution as early as June 2017 through his Turquoise PAC. Butner also cashed early checks from the New Democrat Coalition PAC and Serve America PAC.

New Democrat does not refer to candidates who are new to the Democratic Party, as Butner is, but is rather a coalition of Democrats with close ties to Wall Street. The Serve America PAC is run by Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat and veteran with national political ambitions. His PAC gave more than $1 million in the first quarter of 2018 to Democratic veterans, many running on business-friendly platforms, including a total of more than $80,000 to Butner, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

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What will The Senate Look Like In January 2019? The Map Predicts A Huge GOP Win-- But Voters Have Other Ideas


Schumer has chosen a handful of especially bad recruits as candidates for November. Keep in mind the DSCC did not recruit Beto O'Rourke and until very recently when they started seeing his eye-popping contributions and his even more eye-popping polling, they completely ignored him. Beto should hope Schumer keeps away; his race to replace Cruz is too close to call now. Cruz would like nothing more than to be able to equate Beto with Schumer.

Schumer's recruits-- Phil Bredensen in Tennessee, Jacky Rosen in Nevada and Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona are all very conservative. Bredensen is probably the only Democrat who could win in Tennessee (a state where he is universally known and liked-- and with an R+14 PVI). But Nevada didn't need a wretched conservative like Rosen. Hillary beat Trump there and the statewide PVI is D+1. And Arizona? The PVI is R+5. And Sinema is so far to the right that there's a danger the Democratic base could sit out the midterm rather than vote for her. She's unquestionably Schumer's worse recruit-- ever.

That said, the Republicans have their own Arizona problem. The GOP wants the race to come down to a race between mainstream conservative Martha McSally, who independent voters like, and far right Blue Dog Sinema, who many Democrats hate. But the Republicans might not get what they want. A new poll from the local ABC affiliate asked GOP voters who they prefer in the August primary and Republican strategists are ready to slit their wrists, McSally doesn't appear to be winning-- even though she's up against two far right lunatics who are splitting the far right lunatic vote:
Kelli Ward (far right lunatic)- 36%
Martha McSally (mainstream conservative)- 27%
Joe Arpaio (far right lunatic)- 22%
This is disastrous news for the GOP, since independents are likely to rejected Ward for Sinema in November.
These latest numbers show a huge swing since a January poll, conducted the same day Arpaio announced his Senate run, which had the former Maricopa County sheriff in a dead heat with then-front-runner McSally. In the January 9 results, Ward came in with the lowest percentage of the three candidates.

So how does Sinema stack up against all of the Republican candidates in a head-to-head race in November?

According to the ABC15/OHPI polling data, the Democrat is out in front to fill the seat previously held by Republican Jeff Flake, and is outpacing her GOP rivals in each of their potential races.

In an election facing Ward, Sinema holds a 10% lead, but 10% of likely voters remain undecided. A matchup against McSally is slightly closer, with Sinema ahead by 6% and another 10% of voters still undecided.

When paired up in a race against Arpaio, Sinema takes a huge lead, with 59% to Arpaio's 33%, and only 8% of voters undecided.

In a historically red-leaning state, a Democrat in the lead may seem surprising. But OHPI polling expert Mike Noble says there are a couple factors boosting Sinema's standing.

“The issue we are consistently seeing in the numbers is that Democrats are unified, Republicans are less united, and the all-important Independent voters are trending anti-Republican/Trump” said Noble, managing partner and chief pollster at OHPI.
These polling numbers would be bad enough in any year for the Republicans. But in a wave year? Wrist slitting time! McConnell is ready to dump millions of dollars into the race for McSally, but not for Ward and Arpaio. As of the March 31 FEC reporting deadline Sinema had raised $6,370,867, spent $1,945,831 and is sitting on $6,688,670. McSally had raised $4,155,612, spent $3,893,324 and is sitting on $605,712. Arpaio reported nothing and Ward had raised $1,438,804, spent $1,140,730, and has just $350,002 cash on hand. (Neo-Nazi elements have spent $576,984 on behalf of Ward.)

It's now conceivable that the Democrats will hold onto vulnerable red-state seats (West Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri) as well as purple state seats like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and win red-held Tennessee, Arizona, Nevada and even Texas. That would give the Democrats a bigger majority in the Senate than the Republicans have now. McConnell would be eating crow-- and paying for his authoritarian procedural way of running the Senate as Schumer takes over... looking for vengeance. Conceivable.

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Republicans Stoke White Resentment Over Discrimination In The World Of Car Loans


West Virginia is the Trumpiest state in the union. The PVI is R+19 and Trump beat Hillary 489,371 (68.5%) to 188,794 (26.4%). Trump won every single county in the state. (In the primary, Bernie also won every single county in the state and beat Hillary 124,700 (51.4%) to 86,914 (35.8%). In fact, on primary day, there were plenty of candidates where Bernie took more votes than Trump. West Virginia voters wanted change; they voted for change in the primary-- and took a gamble-- a bad one-- in the general.

Joe Manchin is a very popular politician in West Virginia and his popularity is despite him being a Democrat. so when he votes with the Republicans-- as he often does-- voters back home don't hold it against him. It helps bolster his popularity. Wednesday he took a very bad vote. He was the only Democrat to cross the aisle and vote with the Republicans on a bill that will hurt West Virginia voters. But it won't hurt his reelection chances; it will improve them. It shouldn't.

The Senate voted 51-47 to kill another pieces of Elizabeth Warren's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This pieces was a policy warning auto lenders not to discriminate against minority borrowers. An old friend, Karl Frisch, the executive director of Allied Progress, a consumer watchdog group, said that "Many auto dealers are actively discriminating against people of color. This behavior is pervasive, and the CFPB’s guidance would help to end it. They may try to dress it up with political spin, but today the Senate endorsed discrimination."

The Washington Post reported that "The fight centers on guidance issued by the CFPB in 2013 that took aim at a common industry practice that allows auto dealers to mark up interest rates offered by finance companies. Finance firms such as Ally set an interest rate based on objective criteria-- including borrowers’ credit history and the size of their down payments. Auto dealers are then free to raise the interest rates within certain limits. The finance companies and the dealers split the extra profits.
The CFPB argued that auto dealers were using that discretionary markup to charge black and Hispanic borrowers more than white ones, even if they had the same credit scores. Over several years, the agency fined several auto lenders millions of dollars for discriminating against minority borrowers, and some lenders stopped allowing discretionary markups, cutting into auto dealer profits.

The guidance quickly became one of the CFPB’s most controversial campaigns. House Republicans launched a multiyear investigation into the matter, arguing that the CFPB used faulty data to support the policy. The guidance, auto dealers said, made it more difficult to offer consumers discounts on their car purchases out of fear they would be accused of discrimination.
House Republicans are eager to follow suit. The grotesquely crooked chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Jeb Hensarling (R-TX),-- who sits safely in an uber-gerrymandered district that stretches from Mesquite and the suburbs east of Dallas all the way into the most backward and racist part of the state where Louie Gohmert's, Kevin Brady's and Brian Babin's districts meet (PVI is R+16) turned reality upside down with his statement on stoking white resentment: "Studies showed that the rule could lead to many credit-worthy borrowers paying more for their auto loans."

Goal ThermometerAntoinette Sedillo Lopez is a former University of New Mexico law professor who has used her legal background to fight for social justice. This outrageous GOP action in the Senate is in her wheelhouse... so I asked her about it. She told me that "If Congress votes to kill these provisions that protect consumers, it is effectively voting to enable discrimination in auto lending. The ECOA (Equal Credit Opportunity Act) exists for the express purpose of preventing the types of systemic discrimination that existed in the industry prior to the CFPB being created. The reversal flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence that when African Americans or Latinos go to purchase a vehicle, dealerships are twice as likely to add a markup to a loan than compared to their white counterparts. Congress should be in the business of protecting consumers and ultimately regulating systemic market problems like these, and not in the business of reversing important evidence-based reforms."

Hopefully, Alan Grayson, no fan of the sleazy kind of racism Hensarling practices, will be back in Congress in January-- working on issues like this again. After the vote he told us flatly that "This reflects a deep divide in America politics and society. You can be for an unfettered 'free market,' or you can be against discrimination, but not both. Many Americans had hoped that we had decisively chosen the latter over the former when we integrated lunch counters, but apparently not."

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Happy 420 Day-- A Guest Post From Kyle Frenette


As we explained about a week and a half ago, Kyle Frenette is the progressive Democrat running for the old Dave Obey seat in northern Wisconsin, currently occupied by Ryan ally Sean Duffy. Frenette is well known in the music industry as the manager of Eau Claire's Grammy-winning Justin Vernon and his band, Bon Iver. His platform includes raising the minimum wage, establishing universal healthcare and making broadband internet a public utility instead of a private luxury. And legalization of marijuana. He thought today would be an auspicious day to lay out his marijuana legalization plank. Here it is-- and if you click on the Green Wave thermometer below, you can contribute to Kyle's campaign and to other candidates with legalization planks as part of their platforms.

For Too Long, Marijuana Has Been Wrongfully Labeled And Misunderstood In This Country
by Kyle Frenette,
Candidate For Congress, WI-07

Goal Thermometer30 states have legalized the use of marijuana in some capacity. Nine states plus Washington, DC have legalized the drug for recreational use. It’s time for America to fully legalize marijuana.

The issue is not the drug itself, but the stigma surrounding it; a stigma caused by misconception, racism and criminalization. Marijuana has been proven beneficial for so many, and the drug’s illegal status has caused more harm to American society than its side effects.

Here in Wisconsin, I know folks who have had to go to extreme lengths to obtain marijuana legally for medicinal use or travel across state lines for a duration of time to use the drug for treatment. This shouldn’t be the case. I envision a future in which my children and their children view the federal prohibition of marijuana the same way we view the prohibition of alcohol today-- strange and unnecessary.

The progress we’ve seen by individual states in recent years on this issue has been nothing short of encouraging, but it’s time to act on the federal level. The benefits outweigh the pitfalls.


The federal legalization of marijuana would go a long way to ending the opioid epidemic in America.

There is no reason marijuana should still be classified as a Schedule I drug along with heroin and ecstasy—not when cocaine, methamphetamine and most prescription opioids, like oxycodone and fentanyl are classified as Schedule II by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Our country’s opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions. The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that more than 115 people die from an opioid overdose in the U.S. every day. And this plight has reared its head right here in the 7th district: from July 2016 through September 2017, the Midwest saw a 70% increase in opioid overdoses.

Opioids and methamphetamine, with their high-risk of addiction and overdosing, have continued to ravage communities in Wisconsin and across our nation. Meanwhile, marijuana has been proven an effective substitute for prescription opioids in treating pain.

In a recent study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health, it was found that out of a sample of 2,245 patients taking various pain medications to treat intractable pain, over half (58%) were able to reduce their use of other pain medications while taking medical cannabis. Specifically, opioid medications were reduced for 38% of those patients sampled.

As your Representative, I will champion the federal legalization of marijuana to help curb the opioid epidemic and prevent more lives from being lost and families from being ripped apart in northwestern Wisconsin.


On a national level, marijuana needs to be re-classified, decriminalized and recognized for its medicinal benefits so that more research can be done and the drug can continue to help more people.

Marijuana is not just an effective pain management tool; it has been proven to treat various other ailments. For example, many neurological disorders and their side effects like seizures caused by Epilepsy or muscle spasms caused by Multiple Sclerosis. Cancer patients use it to manage pain and reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy. It has also been used to increase appetite and limit weight loss in some patients suffering from HIV or other chronic illnesses.

Due to marijuana’s Schedule I classification by the DEA and the strict federal regulations surrounding it, research into other medical uses have proven difficult. For example, when it comes to certain psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety disorders, a correlation has been found in self-medicating in states where marijuana is legalized. But due to marijuana’s Schedule I classification by the DEA and the strict federal regulations surrounding it, research into these and other potential medical uses have proven difficult and slow-moving.

In Congress, I will support legislation to legalize marijuana in America to make studying the drug easier and to improve the overall health and well-being of those who benefit from its use.


Most Americans view marijuana as a relatively safe drug while too many futures are being tarnished due to its criminalization.

From the inception of the War On Drugs in the 1970s, our country’s prison population has increased at an alarming rate. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world with an estimated 2.3 million people behind bars. In 2016 alone, more than 80% of the 1.5 million drug arrests were for possession only. And enforcing such laws mostly pertaining to the prohibition of marijuana costs our country about $3.8 billion per year.

Our current drug laws are not only counterproductive, they are also racially skewed. While marijuana use is relatively equal across all races, minorities are disproportionately singled out when it comes to drug related arrests.

It’s said that restrictive marijuana laws have not limited the use and accessibility of the drug. In fact, marijuana use has more than doubled in recent decades. As a result, popular opinion has shifted in favor of legalization, particularly among younger generations.

The case for legalization is growing every day. Once elected, I will push to legalize marijuana so that money is no longer wasted and less futures are ruined by the enforcement of unnecessary laws.


It’s no question that the benefits outweigh the pitfalls when it comes to the growing and selling of marijuana.

Our country’s drug laws are outdated when it comes to marijuana and limit the drug’s economic potential. Economic growth due to the cultivation, sale and taxation of cannabis in states that have adopted legalization prove that it can be a high commodity.

In Colorado alone, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, the cannabis industry created 18,000 full-time jobs and brought in $2.4 billion in 2015. And when it comes to taxation, it’s reported that that marijuana has more than tripled tax revenue brought in by alcohol in that state. Nationally, at its current rate of state legalization, an estimated $40 billion in economic output is predicated by the year 2021 when it comes to the legal cannabis industry. Why not increase those odds with federal legalization? Think of all that those funds could be used for: investing in education, infrastructure, and more drug treatment programs to assist further in ending the opioid epidemic.

In Wisconsin, (where medical marijuana is legal but very limited in comparison other states) when signing a bill that legalized hemp farming for the first time in 80 years, Governor Walker proclaimed our state as “America’s Hempland.” This is a good step forward, but the restrictive nature and limited access to seeds due to federal regulations on hemp’s close cousin will stifle industrialized hemp’s economic benefits for our state.

As the Representative of northwestern Wisconsin, I will work to federally legalize marijuana to create jobs and spur economic growth not just for our great state but for the entire country.

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Ted Lieu To NRA: Please Give Me An "F"


The DCCC has been recruiting-- not just supporting-- NRA allies. Jeff Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ), Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY), Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ), Lauren Baer (New Dem-FL) and Paul Davis (Blue Dog-KS) are all NRA/DCCC candidates. There are others in Congress already who have had long records backing the NRA and, of course, the DCCC backs them too-- from Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) to Darren Soto (New Dem-FL). Ann Kirkpatrick is running for Congress again. A conservative shit head, she was once the NRA's top ally in Congress. As Mother Jones reported last month, "When the National Rifle Association kicked off its annual conference in Phoenix in 2009, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a first-term Democrat whose district covered an Illinois-sized swath of rural Arizona, welcomed its members with open arms. 'I am proud that my state is hosting the group that has protected that right for 138 years,' she said in a statement. 'This is a chance for Arizonans to show our nation’s leaders we will not let them take away our freedoms.' Kirkpatrick walked the walk, too; earlier that year she had written to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to shelve a proposal to reinstate the assault weapons ban. When she ran for reelection one year later, she boasted of an A-rating from the NRA." Here are the half dozen Democrats still serving in Congress who have taken the most from the NRA:

Other Democrats try to fudge the issue by whining that they back stricter background checks or higher age limits. Democrats who want to oppose the NRA agenda for real oppose the manufacture and sale of assault weapons to civilians. Ellen Lipton (D-OH), for example: "I back an assault weapons ban. I grew up in Alabama, and I understand hunters. Assault weapons are not for hunting." Duwayne Gregory is running for a red-leaning seat on Long Island occupied by Peter King-- but he didn't hesitate: "I would definitely support a ban on assault weapons!" Same with Randy Bryce, the progressive candidate who chased Paul Ryan out of Congress: "I would back it. The .223 round is designed to ricochet once it penetrates the body. I'll never forget being taught that in basic training." Alan Grayson has memories of Ryan too. He reminded me that when he was in the House he had already worked on a bill to ban assault weapons. "I introduced a one-sentence bill to accomplish that. I called it the Freedom From Fear Act, HR 5615. The wording was very clear and Grayson's co-sponsor was Barbara Lee (D-CA): "To reinstate the ban on semiautomatic assault weapons." Boom! That's it. Paul Ryan buried it in the House Judiciary Committee and refused to ever allow a vote on it. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez doesn't leave any doubt where she will stand when she's in Congress: "Yes, I unequivocally support an assault weapons ban. Military weapons have no place on our streets."

This week the NRA sent out candidate questionnaires to menbers of Congress. Every Democrat should do something like what Ted Lieu did. He invited them to give him an "F" and asked them about their money-laundering operation for Putin on behalf of Trump. He filled out their questionnaire and added a note: "Why haven’t you answered my letter asking you to clarify your links to the Kremlin? Also, please give me a 'F' rating." Ted is the regional vice chairman of the DCCC for the West Coast, but he doesn't seem in synch with them all that much.

Goal ThermometerHere at Blue America we're trying to persuade Ted to run for speaker if Pelosi decides not to and not just let this crucial post slip into the hands of corrupt conservatism. As I mentioned Wednesday, if you want to help persuade him. Click on that thermometer on the right. If you contribute to Blue America's IE PAC, we can collect any amount of money-- the way Republicans do. The Blue Momentum PAC (still listed as the LIEU PAC) is Ted's leadership PAC. You already know that Ted's own fund-raising page doesn't accept anything over $2,700. That helps his own reelection objectives. The LIEU PAC helps him contribute to other candidates (but not himself). Take a look at the new ActBlue page, The ProgressiveSpeakerFund. Please chip in what you can. And... if you know any millionaires...

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Dear Mr. So-called President:

You want a parade? Here's your fucking parade! We have no doubt that you will steal a jet ski to ride out and be in the middle of things.

Piss off!


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Thursday, April 19, 2018

How Badly Will The Republican Tax Scam Hurt The GOP In The Midterms?


In Pennsylvania an ungerrymandered congressional map spelled doom and gloom for the GOP. That's why, at least in part, Charlie Dent, Ryan Costello, Bill Shuster and Pat Meehan all announced early retirements and why Brian Fitzpatrick, Rothfus and Mike Kelly still may (or wish they did). The PVIs of these districts changed significantly enough to drive these Republicans out of office. Costello's old district went from an R+2 to a D+2. Meehan's went from a R+1 to a D+13. Dent's went from an R+4 to a D+1. Fitzpatrick's went from R+2 to R+1. Scott Perry's went from an R+11 to an R+6. And Rothfus' went from an R+11 to an R+3.

Yesterday Muhlenberg College and Morning Call released a new poll of Pennsylvania voters that indicates as choppy seas for Republicans as Republican incumbents suspected. Trump's numbers are in the toilet; only 39% of respondents approve of the way he is doing his job. And only 12% approve off the way the Republican-controlled Congress it doing its job. At the top of the state's ticket-- Governor Tom Wolf and Senator Bob Casey are both way ahead of all their potential GOP opponents.

Asked "If the elections for Congress were being held today, which party's candidate would you vote for?" The Democrats led 47% to 38%. At a Lincoln Day Republican dinner last weekend, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told the crowd that "The wind’s not at our back. It’s not at our side. It is firmly in our face. This election is going to be tougher than any one I have been involved with, including the recall... My number-one concern for almost a year has been complacency, not just of [GOP] voters but even of activists"

And, back in Pennsylvania, when the pollsters asked "Do you approve or disapprove of the tax reform law that was passed by Congress and signed by the President in December," only 39% approved and 46% disapproved. Those results very much fit with the results of a new national Gallup poll released this week. 39% approve of the Trump-GOP tax law and 52% disapproved.

More Americans realize the tax bill was a scam, "showering the wealthy with deficit-financed tax breaks, while leaving workers and the American middle class behind."
It makes sense that Americans continue to hold a negative view of the bill. For one, the overwhelming majority of the benefits are going to the already wealthy. In 2018, the richest 1 percent will see a tax break of more than $50,000, or almost $1,000 per week. The poorest 20 percent will see a mere $60 spread out over the course of the entire year, slightly more than $1 per week. Tax hikes will arrive for millions of Americans in the coming years, with some kicking in this year. For example, homeowners in Los Angeles will see a 30-year mortgage cost up to $76,000 more, thanks to new changes in the tax bill.

Republicans dismissed the concerns of critics, who warned their bill would primarily benefit corporations, not average Americans. As predicted, rich corporations are spending their Congressional kickbacks to enrich Wall Street through record-setting dividend payments and stock buybacks, not investing in workers.

According to USA Today, “it is the massive spending on dividends and share buybacks that critics pounce on, as this use of cash benefits the wealthy and company shareholders, rather than middle-class workers.” After all, the wealthiest 10 percent of households own an astounding 84 percent of all stocks owned by Americans, according to a New York University economist.

USA Today further reports that less than 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies gave bonuses to workers as a result of the tax bill. And the majority of workers say they have not seen any increase in their own paychecks. Speaker Paul Ryan once boasted about a secretary who will receive $1.50 extra per week. Six quarters is hardly the change Republicans promised.

Republicans claimed the bill would be a boon to small business. Instead, the unfair advantage given to wealthy corporations drew a quick rebuke from small business owners, who soured on a bill heaping even more advantages on the richest Americans, people who already have the most resources.

Claims that the deficit-financed boondoggle-- promoted as “rocket fuel” for the economy-- would lead to an abundance of new jobs and increasing wages for workers didn’t pan out either. The most recent jobs report from the Labor Department shows an economy performing largely as it did in years past. The economy continues to grow like it did under President Obama, except America is now saddled with more debt.

Thanks to a recent report, Americans now know 80 percent of gains from the tax bill are going offshore to foreign investors. In other words, the United States will borrow money to pay for an unpopular tax bill so that foreign investors can receive four out of every five dollars of economic gain. On top of that, there are provisions in the bill designed to incentivize corporations to outsource jobs and hide profits overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

The unpopularity of the tax bill isn’t only about its skewed rewards system. Massive changes to health care policy, which is leading to dramatic health care cost increases, is also an issue for the public.

In some parts of the country, health care premiums are estimated to increase by up to 94 percent in the next three years, mainly due to Republican-backed provisions in the tax bill. An estimated 13 million Americans will lose health insurance in the coming years.

And of course, the corporate kickbacks doled out are not free; Republicans in Congress decided to pay for the tax bill through a massive increase to the national deficit. It didn’t matter that Republicans like Ryan, who so loudly backed the bill, once called the nation’s debt and deficit the defining issue of the day. (“The facts are very, very clear,” he said in 2011, “the United States is headed towards a debt crisis.”)

Now, the Republicans’ tax scam is a major component in the nation’s additional $2.4 trillion deficit. The fiscal recklessness of the tax bill even threatens America’s credit rating.

The tax scam is so bad even Republicans struggle, and fail, when campaigning on its merits. In a recent Pennsylvania congressional special election, the bill was so unpopular Republicans stopped talking about it, pivoting instead to Trump-like race-baiting, anti-immigrant advertising. (In a district Trump won by 20 points, the Democratic challenger won.)
At the conservative, right-wing reporter David Drucker wrote that "Trump is undermining voter support for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with erratic messaging after it was gaining popularity, alarming Republicans counting on the law to save the party’s vulnerable House majority. Senior Republicans are declining to publicly finger Trump for the heralded tax overhaul’s sagging approval ratings. Views of the law steadily climbed during the first two months of the year on the strength of a unified push from the White House and Capitol Hill ahead of the midterm. Privately, Republicans complain that the president’s sudden shift to tariffs, with threats of trade wars, distracted from the positive impacts of $1.3 trillion in tax cuts and allowed Democrats to regain the upper hand. Concluding that Trump is unreliable, Republicans say it’s their responsibility to turn public opinion around."
In a fresh NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey conducted jointly by Democratic and Republican pollsters, the law was underwater: 27 percent approved, 36 percent disapproved. Those results track with private data Republicans have monitored, sparking anxiety about their chances of surviving a tough November election with their House majority intact.

"Republicans have a lot of work in front of them to make sure people understand the benefits of the tax bill, and nobody is going to be driving this but them. They need to understand that it’s not just-- we’ve done this, let’s go on to the next thing,” said David Winston, a GOP pollster who advises House and Senate Republicans.

“The signature achievement for Congressional Republicans for this Congress will have been the tax bill-- no matter what else they do,” he added.
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who is retiring rather than continue working with Trump said he wouldn't campaign against the Democrat running for his seat in November. And yesterday he described the White House as being the center of "constant chaos," blasting Trump's spending bill as "grotesque, adding ominously, "This president, obviously, is not a president who’s interested in fiscal issues. Is this president a president who cares about the fiscal health of our nation? No. No." Voters-- even Republican voters-- aren't going to be happy about that.

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The View from Japan on Trump and the Korean Crisis


Kim Jong-il, with whose government the U.S. negotiated the 1994 agreement

-by Reese Erlich

My recent visit to Japan drove home one main point: President Donald Trump has managed to piss off just about everyone in that nation.

After Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spent the last several months stroking Trump’s ego and stressing the similarity of their conservative political views, Trump waived aluminum and steel tariffs for Canada, Australia, and the European Union-- but not Japan. And Trump caught Japanese leaders by surprise when he agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Japanese of different political persuasions don’t trust Trump and they voice doubt over whether the talks between Trump and Kim will bear results.

“They are both unpredictable characters,” Koichi Nakano, professor of political science and dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Tokyo’s Sophia University, told me. “But Kim has a method to his madness. Trump is driven by ego.”

Sue Kim, a reporter with the rightwing South Korean daily newspaper Chosun Ilbo, told me South Koreans and Japanese are worried about the Trump Team’s previous calls for a pre-emptive military attack on Pyongyang. “Trump is sending out confusing messages,” she told me. “That’s the scary part for us. What is the end goal?”

President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) is scheduled to meet with Kim Jong-un on April 27. Then Trump and Kim are supposed to meet in May or June. But the United States has sabotaged previous accords, and that was before North Korea had nuclear weapons.

Back in 1994, the United States President Bill Clinton and then President Kim Jong-il, father of the country’s current leader, signed an agreement that allowed North Korea to develop nuclear power but not atomic weapons-- a historic breakthrough after years of hot and cold war.

North Korea agreed to stop its nuclear weapons program while western powers agreed to help it construct two light-water nuclear reactors, whose spent fuel couldn’t be used to develop bombs. While waiting for the reactors to be built, the West would provide heavy fuel oil to power the country’s electric grid. In response, the United States pledged to eliminate sanctions and remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

North Korea lived up to its end of the bargain, but hawkish Republicans and Democrats didn’t like Clinton’s “Agreed Framework,” claiming it would allow North Korea to develop nuclear weapons. Congress refused to approve the full cost of fuel oil, and the western allies never built the promised reactors.

The Clinton Administration only lifted some sanctions and didn’t take North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism. By the time George W. Bush was elected in 2000, Washington was ready to scuttle the agreement entirely, even blaming North Korea for the failure.

In 2002, Bush came up with his cockamamie campaign against the “Axis of Evil,” which included Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and North Korea. An orthodox Marxist-Leninist state, a nationalist dictatorship and an theocratic Islamic regime were somehow in cahoots to destroy the United States. The Agreed Framework was buried.

Had Washington carried out the signed agreement, the current U.S.-Korea crisis could have been avoided. Instead, in 2006, North Korea tested its first nuclear bomb, claiming it had the right to defend itself from outside attack. The United States still has 28,500 troops stationed in the Republic of Korea, and navy vessels carrying nuclear missiles cruise nearby.

North Korea’s dictatorial regime has angered ordinary Japanese in a variety of ways. In the 1970s and 1980s, the country’s soldiers kidnapped Japanese citizens and forced them to become language instructors and spies. For years, North Korea officials denied the kidnappings. Now they say all the victims have been returned to Japan or have died. Conservative Japanese politicians say some are still missing, and use the issue to stir up support for a stronger military.

Last year, North Korea test fired conventional ballistic missiles over Japan that landed in the Pacific Ocean. While the missiles weren’t aimed at Japan, they scared people. Prime Minister Abe won the 2017 parliamentary elections, in part, by playing on fears of a North Korean attack.

Abe and other conservatives use concerns about a Korean attack to justify expansion of Japan's military.

Leftist opponents of Abe say Japan doesn't need an offensive military. The North Korea threat is exaggerated, according to Professor Nakano.

The Trump Administration claims North Korea poses an immediate threat to the United States because its missiles may reach the U.S. mainland. In reality, North Korea is highly unlikely to launch an offensive attack since any first strike would bring a devastating response by the United States and South Korea, wiping out Pyongyang.

“North Korea is not going to launch a missile and end its regime,” Nakano said. “It sees the missiles as defense against the United States... If Iraq or Libya had nuclear weapons, the United States wouldn’t have attacked.”

Conservative reporter Kim strongly opposes the North Korean regime, but doesn't think it will act irrationally. “I used to think Kim was a crazy maniac,” she said. “He is controlling, but rational. Above all Kim wants his regime to survive."

North Korea will not likely give up its nuclear weapons. The best outcome of negotiations would halt expansion of the nuclear program in return for economic aid and normalization of relations with the west. At worst, the talks could fall apart in mutual recriminations and heighten the possibility of war.

The choice is up to Washington.

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Is Richard Ojeda, A Democrat Who Voted For Bernie In The Primary And Trump In The General, The Way Forward For Democrats?


Today I heard from a staffer in Richard Ojeda's campaign. Ojeda's a state senator running in an "impossibly red" congressional district-- WV-03, the southern part of the state, "coal country. Republican Evan Jenkins is giving up the seat for the dubious run against U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. The state has a PVI of R+19 but WV-03, the reddest part of the state, has a PVI of R+23. Obama lost with 42.3% in 2008 and with 32.8 in 2012. In 2016 Trump crushed Hillary 72.5% to 23.3%. It was Trump's only West Virginia district where he went over the 70% mark. Interestingly, Manchin won every single county in the district last time he ran. In primary season this was Bernie Country. Bernie didn't just beat Hillary-- and he did, in every county in the district-- but he got more votes than Trump did in many counties, like Fayette and Wayne, two of the biggest counties in the district. Ojeda was a real representative of his constituents in that way. He voted for Bernie in the primary-- and then switched to Trump for the general election. Now he's running for Congress... as a Democratic, perhaps the only candidate nationally who voted for Trump.

The primary is May 8and the campaign staffer was excited because his candidate had outraised his Republican opponents in the first quarter. "I just want to share our recent fundraising haul with you," he wrote. OK, I'll take his word for it, but the overall funding records for the top 4 candidates as of the March 31 FEC reporting deadline read like this:
Carol Miller (R)- $451,618
Conrad Lucas (R)- $238,335
Rupie Phillips, Jr. (R)- $193,851
Richard Ojeda (D)- $157,246
"We’re serious about out path to victory," he wrote, "we just have to do it a certain way in Trump country." Great! And I hope he wins. But there's not much chance he's going to be endorsed by Blue America. Why? Once he's in Congress voting, how many times will we hear "we just have to do it a certain way in Trump country?" A first-term state lawmaker, the NRA gave him an 86% rating. That's "a certain way in Trump country" but not a way I want to ask Blue America members to donate to. A year ago he voted for a bill that requires parent notification for abortions-- but he has a "D" next to his name. Why should I donate money to his campaign?

Last month Michael Kruse, reporting for Politico, made a big fuss about how he was a paratrooper "with 36 tattoos, bulging muscles and a dry-razored buzz cut" who drives a red Jeep. Give me a break. I just want to know two things about perspective members of Congress-- their trustworthiness and how they're going to vote. Another candidate who likes him and trusts him was impressed that he has the names of 13 friends killed in action tattooed on his back. It's tue, though-- Ojeda's been a populist on some issues: medical marijuana and energy companies paying more so striking teachers could get a higher salary. Kruse:
In hard red, Donald Trump-loving West Virginia, Ojeda has become a kind of one-man blue wave, threatening to defy a conventional belief that the only kind of Democrat that can win big races here—or anywhere, for that matter, in Appalachia or the industrial Midwest—is somebody like Joe Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the United States Senate, a pragmatic, pro-business social conservative. Because here is Ojeda, a pro-labor, twang-talking, plainspoken populist, scrambling the state’s recent rightward shift by harkening back to a deeper, more radical vein of its rich political history. In the early 20th century, miners fought and died for higher wages and safer working conditions while wearing red bandanas and carrying Winchester rifles. Now, teachers are the new miners; in fact, in a place all but defined by its coal heritage, there are some 20,000 teachers and fewer than 12,000 miners, making the teachers-- plus the 13,000 staff who walked off the job with them-- by far the largest union in the state.

After I introduced myself, Ojeda uncorked a nearly unbroken, 13-minute tirade in which he called lobbyists “the absolute scum of the earth,” said they should have to wear body cameras in the Capitol, said they shouldn’t even be allowed “in the damn Capitol,” and told me one of the first things he did as a state legislator was give energy industry lobbyists a tongue-lashing. “I threw Big Energy out of my office!” he said. “They said, ‘Well, is there anything we can do to change your mind?’ I said, ‘You can get yo’ ass out of my office.’” He continued by scorching lawmakers for making decisions based on corporate campaign contributions instead of the interests of their constituents.

“Bootlickers!” he screamed into the phone.


...As we raced toward Charleston, Ojeda railing away about lobbyists and “bought-and-paid-for politicians” and Big Pharma and Big Energy while taking the curves in the four-lane highway so fast it felt at times like we were riding on just two wheels, it was hard not to consider his improbable path to this juncture.

...“I think we have a very, very good shot of winning,” David Graham, the truck driver who’s the campaign manager, told me. He cited the recent internal polling that has Ojeda beating potential Republican opponent Conrad Lucas with Republican voters 24.3 percent to 23 percent (with 52.8 percent uncertain) and beating other potential Republican opponent Rupie Phillips with Republican voters 27.1 percent to 16.5 percent (with 56.4 percent uncertain). The overall numbers including all voters aren’t even close. Ojeda’s top foe in the primary, Huntington mayor Steve Williams, much more a Manchin-style Democrat and better-funded, dropped out of the race in January, saying it wasn’t right to run for higher office given the severity of the drug problem in his city. Supporters of Ojeda wonder if the energy around their candidate had something to do with it, too. When I asked Manchin about Ojeda, his answer was brief. “Rich is a populist,” Manchin told me. “He’s a people’s person”-- as restrained an assessment of Ojeda as I’d heard.

“If the election was tomorrow, he’d win in a landslide,” said Belcher, the miner turned videographer. “He’s got the working class with him. If you’ve got the working class in West Virginia, you’re set.”

The implications are compelling. “If Ojeda wins,” said Moffett from People’s House, “it changes the entire conversation about how we run candidates, what type of candidates we run, and where.”

“He’s JFK with tattoos and a bench press,” Randy Jones, his 25-year-old volunteer finance director from Huntington, told me.

“Someone who sounds like you, talks like you, looks like you, struggled like you-- who’s standing up and speaking truth to power,” added Dennis White, 34, an Army veteran from West Virginia’s Boone County who’s a student at Connecticut’s Wesleyan University and a remote-working jack-of-all-trades aide to Ojeda.

“I hope it’s a lesson for everybody, that these are the kinds of candidates that we need to recruit,” Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan told me. Ryan plans on coming to West Virginia later this month or in early April to campaign with Ojeda. An Ojeda victory in November, he said, “could be a signal to the Republican Party that Democrats-- we’re coming to your territory, we’re not going to play this coastal game anymore. If we get candidates like him and have a strong economic message, there’s not a state we can’t win in.”

In the red Jeep on the way back to Logan, I asked Ojeda about his vote for Trump, a fact that in another state could be seen as disqualifying for a Democrat.

“I voted for him because it was about family and friends,” he said. “Nobody else was saying anything. Hillary Clinton was coming here blowing smoke up everybody’s ass. Hell, I wanted Bernie Sanders”-- and he wasn’t the only one, obviously, as Sanders beat Clinton in the primaries in all 55 counties-- “but once Bernie Sanders was screwed over by Hillary Clinton, by the way, you had no other option.”

He regrets his vote for Trump.

“Sure do,” he said.


“Because he hasn’t done shit,” he said. “It’s been a friggin’ circus for a solid year.” Nothing’s changed. So many people in southern West Virginia are still poor and need jobs. The opioid epidemic rages unabated. “All he’s done,” Ojeda said, “is shown that he’s taking care of the daggone people he’s supposed to be getting rid of.”

And I asked him about 2018.

“We’re kicking ass right now,” he said. “We are winning this race. And we’re winning it by a large margin. We did a scientific poll! And, oh, by the way, you show me one of my opponents that can walk anyplace right now and have 500 people screaming their name. And guess what? It’s not just happening at the Capitol. This has been going on now for the last month. Everywhere I’ve been going for the last month has always had between 250 and 500 people. And when I get there, I’m the one they want to see. We’re kicking ass. The polls? Kickin’ ass!”


“I’m real,” he said. “I’m not polished. I’m sorry, but if you want a daggone, typical polished politician, vote for Conrad Lucas. But people are tired of that bullshit. People are tired of the same ol’ garbage. They want people that are willing to speak out, speak up, be open and honest with them.”

Kind of like … you know who.

“You know, hey, here’s the thing,” Ojeda told me. “Donald Trump, Donald Trump, made everybody excited because he said shit nobody else has ever said. But the difference is, Donald Trump wins, and he ain’t done jack shit to help us. Now let me tell you something about Ojeda. Ojeda won, and I’m telling you right now: I guarantee you there’s not one single freshman damn Democrat, there’s not one freshman friggin’ senator that’s ever made more damn noise than I have and has done more than what I’ve done.

“I get shit done!” he said. “I just started a friggin’ movement!”
I'm guessing he'd like to sound like Randy Bryce, the veteran who was doing outreach statewide in Wisconsin for fellow vets on behalf of the AFL-CIO and scared Paul Ryan off from seeking reelection. Bryce was also a Bernie supporter, but then voted for Clinton-- and has a fully progressive platform.

Not everyone has such an upbeat perspective on Ojeda. Eric London eviscerated him last month on the World Socialist website, asserting he's just "a capitalist politician whose cheap talk about supporting the teachers is aimed at giving Democrats and the union leaders influence over the strike so they can keep it under control and shut it down."
Furthermore, for all Ojeda’s talk about taxing corporations, increasing workplace safety regulations, and funding social programs, he supported the billionaire Donald Trump in the 2016 elections. “If he does twenty percent of what he promises, he’ll be a decent president,” Ojeda told the New Yorker magazine just after Trump’s election win. “And maybe he just will make America great again.”

Trump ran on a platform of gutting regulations, slashing taxes for the corporations and the billionaires, and Senator Ojeda cannot be surprised that Trump has carried these plans out. During Trump’s first year in office, deaths at US coal mines doubled after the president eliminated safety regulations and appointed a former coal executive to head the Mine Health and Safety Administration. The federal government has done nothing to stop the devastating consequences of drug companies pouring opioids into the state. Ojeda bears political responsibility for the impact of Trump’s policies on the working class.

Ojeda’s justification for voting for Trump changes depending on his audience. For example, in a January 2018 appearance on the “progressive” YouTube program Young Turks, he tried to downplay his 2016 vote for Donald Trump, saying “this was about my neighbors” and that he was upset over high unemployment in Logan County, a coal mining area in which he grew up. He explained that he could not vote for Hillary Clinton after supporting Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.

But when he was running for state senate in 2016 in a district that voted heavily for Trump, he struck a different tone, advancing xenophobic and racist sentiments in a cynical effort to win votes. In a language reminiscent of Trump’s fascist current and former advisers Stephen Miller and Steven Bannon, Ojeda told the New Yorker in October 2016:
“When you hear about illegal aliens getting benefits and you have people here starving to death and can’t get nothing, it’s just a slap in the face. When you start talking about bringing in refugees and when they get here they get medical and dental and they get set up with some funds-- what do we get? So when people hear Donald Trump saying we’re going to take benefits away from people who come here illegally and give them to people who work, that sounds pretty good.”
No worker can support a politician who calls for “taking benefits away” from the roughly 12 million members of the working class who happen to be in the United States without proper documents. How can any worker trust a politician who claims he supports the poor and working class, but supports forcing immigrant workers to live in total poverty with no public support? By pitting workers against one another based on race and national origin, Ojeda is employing a classic “divide and conquer” tactic of the corporations.

When Ojeda speaks to left-wing audiences like Young Turks, he changes his tune again. In an attempt to build his name recognition and raise money, Ojeda said in the January 2018 interview that his policy regarding immigration is that “open arms is what we should be all about. Let’s show people love regardless of where they’re from.” During this interview, Ojeda made not one criticism of the policies, deregulations, corporate tax cuts, and war policies Trump has initiated.

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Is Jeff Van Drew Really The Lesser Of Two Evils? Ask A Surviver Of Any NRA Gun Massacre


Jeff Van Drew, the personification of a 2018 DCCC recruit

It's hard to say which DCCC recruit will likely be the worst POS if he gets into Congress. But it's impossible to draw up a short list without including New Jersey Blue Dog/New Dem Jeff Van Drew. Van Drew has a record as a state legislature so we already know absolutely what a total turd he's going to be in Congress. And it's the reason why the DCCC selected him. They've been trying to recruit him for years but Van Drew is a notorious political coward and he refused to give up his safe state Senate seat until Frank LoBiondo announced he wasn't running again. NJ-02, which runs from Little Egg Harbor and Eagleswood Townships in the North, across to the Wilmington suburbs down through Atlantic City and all the way down to Cape May, has an R+1 PVI but voted for Obama-- with around 53%-- both times he ran. Trump beat Hillary 50.6% to 46.0%.

Thanks to the DCCC's efforts, he's likely to win the nomination and thanks to the blue wave he's likely to slither into Congress. As Matt Friedman reported in Politico over the weekend, "Van Drew has voted against raising the minimum wage and gay marriage. He often sides with industry on environmental issues and carries an A rating from the NRA... [T]he Democratic Party establishment-- at every level-- is throwing its collective weight behind Van Drew, leaving local progressives baffled, frustrated and more than a little angry." The DCCC is painting a false picture that only a Republican-lite reactionary like Van Drew could win the district. That's a completely false narrative. The wave would sweep any Democrat in. The problem-- backed up by history-- is that in the next midterm, 2022, Van Drew's Republican-lite voting record will turn off so many Democrats that his base won't be there for him and the GOP will capture the seat. 2006/2010 all over again-- a DCCC special.
The race is a showcase for whether the Democratic Party nationally will tolerate politicians like Van Drew, a state senator, in the name of winning the majority in the U.S. House for the first time since 2011. It highlights Democrats’ struggles to blend their stated ideals on issues like diversity and gun control with the political realities of a district, in this case a working-class bastion that voted for President Donald Trump by 4 points after twice voting for President Barack Obama.

Nationally, the Democratic Party has seen a surge of progressive activism in the wake of Trump’s election, and New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District is no exception. So liberal activists, who frequently gathered in front of LoBiondo’s office to demand a town hall meeting that never came, have turned their ire on Democratic leaders.

“It makes me feel a bit insulted and betrayed,” said Alison Arne, an Atlantic County activist who co-chairs the group Actions Together New Jersey Atlantic County.

Two other candidates for the Democratic nomination to replace LoBiondo fit the mold of 2018 Democrats.

Will Cunningham is an openly gay African-American attorney who grew up poor and despite being homeless at one point as a teen, went to an Ivy League university and became an Obama administration official, and an adviser to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Tanzie Youngblood is a retired African-American teacher and military mom. And Nate Kleinman, a farmer who runs a nonprofit and was active in the Occupy movement, was dubbed the first “Occupy candidate” when he sought a House seat in Pennsylvania six years ago.

Democrats spent two decades struggling to recruit viable candidates to run in the district against LoBiondo, who first won the seat in 1994. Now, Van Drew will almost certainly win the primary and is heavily favored to win the seat in November.

“The DCCC needs to take a look at themselves in the mirror and make sure we’re reflective of who we’re sending to D.C.,” Cunningham said of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has all but officially thrown in with Van Drew after trying for at least a decade to recruit him to run there. “We as the Democratic Party, if we’re going to talk the talk, we’ve got to walk the walk.”

The anger has spilled out into public forums. At one, high school student Emily McGrath confronted Van Drew-- who had one day earlier told her class he did not accept donations from the NRA-- about a $1,000 donation she had discovered. The videotaped confrontation, in which McGrath said “Senator, you lied,” made headlines around the state.

But don’t look for a nail-biter primary like in Illinois, where conservative Democrat Dan Lipinski narrowly survived a primary challenge last month.

The 2nd District, New Jersey’s southernmost and largest geographically, includes Atlantic City’s gleaming casino towers, farmland and the poorest county in the state. It’s more working class than its New Jersey counterparts to the north, with the lowest percentage of college-educated residents in the state. And Van Drew has represented the district’s most Republican portion in the state Senate and Assembly for 16 years, comfortably winning reelection despite several major GOP efforts against him.

To have a Democratic candidate who’s already popular in the most conservative part of the congressional district is like a dream to Democrats more concerned with flipping a Republican House seat than with ideological purity. They point to Conor Lamb, the conservative Democrat who won a deep-red House district in Pennsylvania in March.

“I think it’s a lot of the same criticism you heard about that guy,“ said Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman. “Do you want a guy who’s with you 70 percent of the time? Or do you want a Republican who’s with you 0 percent of the time?”

Meanwhile, there are some hints that Van Drew is moving leftward. Earlier this year, conservative websites pointed out that he quietly withdrew his sponsorship of bills to reinstate the death penalty and require parental notification for abortions.

“Candidly, I’m to the left of Jeff,” Suleiman said. “But I also want to win. Because I’ve been around long enough to know if there’s one thing Democrats are good at, it’s screwing up elections.”

Establishment Democrats stress that Van Drew has voted with the party on bread-and-butter priorities like paid sick leave and paid family leave.

While Van Drew doesn’t have the kind of voting record that generally plays well in a Democratic primary, he has some things that his challengers lack: organization and money. He‘s backed by the local Democratic organization in all eight counties in the district, which gives him advantageous placement on the ballot. And the three candidates running to his left threaten to dilute the progressive vote.

Then there’s the issue of money. Before LoBiondo’s retirement announcement, when Youngblood and Sean Thom-- who has since dropped out-- were the only candidates in the race, DCCC staff helped prep Youngblood for her campaign launch, and she attended its candidate week in October.

But national Democrats were left unimpressed with her anemic fundraising in a district that includes the Philadelphia media market-- one of the most expensive in the country. As of the end of last year, Youngblood had raised only about $50,000-- almost half of which came from her own pocket. Van Drew raised only about $80,000, but a campaign source said his next filing will show about $400,000 raised.

Cunningham and Kleinman entered the race after Van Drew.

“Sen. Van Drew has built the strongest Democratic campaign this district has seen in more than two decades,” said DCCC spokeman Evan Lukaske. “In addition to earning the unanimous backing of local Democrats, Van Drew has an unmatched record of service to this community, deep ties to grass-roots supporters and a proven ability to win tough races.“

But Arne, the activist, said she felt Democrats didn’t take the opportunity for a pickup in the district seriously until LoBiondo retired. Once that happened, even before Van Drew formally declared his campaign, all of South Jersey’s Democratic Party leaders rallied around him.

“Last year for the 2017 state legislative races, we really stood up and did a lot of work to get the local communities more engaged,” Arne said. “So when they turned it around like this on us, it’s like they didn’t listen and they don’t really care.”
There are 6 gun-rights bills pending in the New Jersey legislature-- but they won't be voted on until after New Jersey's June primary, making it a lot easier for Van Drew to avoid the topic. Incredibly corrupt and machine-bossed Jersey Senate President, Stephen Sweeney, set it up that way for Van Drew, just as George Norcross instructed him to. Van Drew has a 100% vote score from the NRA-- which is even worse than a 90% or 99%.

UPDATE: A Progressive Candidate Against Van Drew

This is a note I got from Emily McGrath, a high school student in NJ-02, a short time after the post went up:

My name is Emily and I am a senior at Egg Harbor Township High School. After the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, I confronted Senator Jeff Van Drew about his A-rating from the NRA.
I called him out after he lied to me and my classmates as to whether he’d ever accepted money from the NRA.  Our conversation went viral and people are finally realizing that Senator Van Drew is the wrong choice for South Jersey.

Until my peers and I are old enough to run for office, we deserve champions in Congress who will make our lives and well-being a #1 priority.

Will Cunningham will be the champion we deserve. After hearing his riveting speech at the March for Our Lives rally I joined Will’s campaign as a volunteer because I truly believe he’s the fighter our district needs in Congress. We need someone who will stand up to the NRA to pass common sense gun safety measures.

The fact is, we don't elect leaders to offer thoughts and prayers-- we elect them to take action... The Second District is full of both responsible gun owners and parents who fear saying goodbye to their kids each morning. Surely, we can come together to support sensible steps to prevent gun violence.

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