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Progressive Primary Challengers Hold The Moral High Ground

Eva Putzova: If we didn't want people to have a chance to reconsider their vote every 2 years, then we wouldn't have elections every other year baked into our Constitution. The seats don't belong to anybody but the people-- despite Democratic Party elites.
Progressive Primary Challengers Hold The Moral High Ground

On Thursday, Tom Neuburger wrote a fascinating post about a court case against the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz alleging that they weighted the 2016 primary election against Bernie. The attorneys in the case didn't deny the charges but instead claimed that the DNC does "not owe voters an impartial or evenhanded primary election."

Shortly into the hearing, DNC attorneys claim Article V, Section 4 of the DNC Charter-- stipulating that the DNC chair and their staff must ensure neutrality in the Democratic presidential primaries-- is “a discretionary rule that it didn’t need to adopt to begin with.” Based on this assumption, DNC attorneys assert that the court cannot interpret, claim, or rule on anything associated with whether the DNC remains neutral in their presidential primaries.

The attorneys representing the DNC have previously argued that Sanders supporters knew how the primaries were structured, therefore annulling any potential accountability the DNC may have.

The DNC attorneys insisted to the judge that the charter requirements  that elections be "impartial" and "evenhanded" were discretionary and not a requirement, in effect "We don't have to run an evenhanded primary, even if we say we're going to... To this day the DNC believes that if it wanted to 'go into back rooms' and 'pick the candidate,' this would 'have been their right,' and no one outside the organization would have any right to enforce the DNC charter or interfere in any other way."

Goal Thermometer I decided to ask some of the congressional candidates Blue America is supporting this cycle about this DNC perspective.

Marie Newman was already roughed up by the Democratic establishment in 2018 when she challenged conservative Blue Dog incumbent Dan Lipinski. This year, Cheri Bustos, the DCCC chair came up with a new rule to thwart her and other reformers: any consultant or vendor working for a candidate challenging an incumbent would be blackballed.

"Being a primary challenger is always hard because you are running against the establishment," Marie told us today, "but in IL-03, there is another layer called the Chicago Machine, which my opponent is a leader of and has been supported by for decades. The Machine and my opponent are very adept at subterranean tactics and outright, manufactured lies. It is a little like running against Trump. Logic, truth, facts and hard work don’t always work, but that is how we will win this time because we simply outnumber them and, we believe the Chicago area is clearly ready for a transformative force."


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Rachel Ventura is another progressive reformer running for a seat held by a Chicagoland conservative. Her take is similar. "The Illinois Democratic county chairman’s association has a standing policy of endorsing the incumbents in every primary race like mine. To date, only two out of the five county chairs have endorsed him. Running against a well-funded, multi-millionaire incumbent has proven difficult, but it isn’t my first daunting challenge. Our team effectively trounced the establishment in my race for Will County Board by 11 points and dominated a crowded primary field.  We did it by knocking on doors and taking our message directly to voters. Targeting voters will be harder this time around because just 2 1/2 weeks after I announced, I was denied access to Votebuilder. I was given this reason: 'I've heard from our Executive Director. Your request for Votebuilder for Illinois' 11th Congressional District through the Democratic Party of Illinois has been denied due to our regulations that we don’t issue subscriptions to candidates challenging an incumbent.'

At least one strong progressive consultant was initially interested in the race but declined because he didn’t want to be blacklisted. All that being said, I have found an incredible level of enthusiasm in voters who want less egotistical, more caring representative who is willing to listen to their concerns. The struggle for true democracy has never been easy, but I believe that it is worth fighting for. We have allowed wealthy, powerful insiders to run a rigged, undemocratic system for far too long. It's time to take our country back from the wealthy elites."

Kim Williams is a first time candidate against another loathsome Blue Dog who is a shill of corporate interests, Jim Costa. "At a candidate event this week, a young man questioned Jim Costa on his fundraising. He noted that he takes money from questionable sources and wanted to know if he would commit to refusing corporate PAC money. Jim said no. He then tried to defend himself by saying that plenty of progressive organizations also support him. And, to me, this points to an awfully big problem few people talk about. When the DNC stacks the deck in favor of their own and backs hands-off, conservative incumbents, it has a chilling effect on so many outside organizations. Several groups, including Planned Parenthood, have told me that they will auto-endorse incumbents who have voted in line with their platform. They openly acknowledged that this policy hurts first-time, women candidates and expressed interest in my candidacy if I make it through the primary. But this policy, and their endorsement, will unquestionably send a message that Jim is more pro-woman than he is. It ignores his consequential pro-life votes and the fact that he was once arrested for soliciting a 19-year-old prostitute. So these backroom deals are far-reaching and unquestionably impede change. And for a poverty-stricken district like mine, this undemocratic rigging doesn't just hurt primary challengers, it misleads and hurts the very people the Democratic Party claims to protect."

A lot of this establishment bullying is directed not just towards progressives, but especially towards progressive women. Eva Putzova, a former member of the Flagstaff city council and the chair of Flagstaff's Living Wage Coalition, is running for a vast Arizona district held by "ex"-Republican Tom O'Halleran, a very, very right-wing Blue Dog. Ex-progressive Nancy Pelosi and her squad is backing him.

"If," wrote Eva, "we didn't want people to have a chance to reconsider their vote every two years, then we wouldn't have elections every other year baked into our Constitution. But this issue is not controversial-- there is no movement to create a different system. The U.S. House of Representatives is the People's house; the seats don't belong to anybody but the people despite what some of the Democratic Party elites think. If we truly believe in democratic institutions and democracy as an organizing principle for our society, we should encourage the competition of ideas in contested primaries and not thwart the efforts of people willing to present a different vision for our country. We know that too often, our representatives do not reflect people they serve: women are underrepresented by a factor of two and those 65 and older are over-represented by the same magnitude. Here in AZ-01 we are running a grassroots campaign with $0 from corporate PACs or any PACs for that matter and that is difficult. But the alternative is to become a part of institutionalized political corruption that serves the highest bidder and not the people. That we won't do."

We know you are all relaxed after a Labor Day weekend but please consider contributing what you can to these 4 progressive women who are running against conservative incumbents in Illinois, California and Arizona. Each is being undercut by the DCCC, by Cheri Bustos and by Nancy Pelosi.

Who remembers when Pelosi used to say something like "when women win we all win" or something like that? These 4 women reformers are running against 4 corrupt conservative men. The challengers support Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Their opponents oppose Medicare for All and oppose the Green New Deal. Let's help these 4 women win in 2020... for our country.

This is part of our continuing coverage of the 2020 elections.

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