The perfect person for this moment

Another key to victory

Welcome to the big Sunday edition of Progressives Everywhere!

We’ve got a lot to talk about, including an amazing new swing state candidate, the latest in the battles for voting rights and civil rights, and much more.

First, though, I want to present the new and very improved edition 2.0 of AbsenteeBallots.info. It’s a one-stop voter guide website featuring all the registration, absentee ballot, and early voting information and links for every single state. Relaunched this week with the help of a very talented Progressives Everywhere member, it’s easy to use and continuously updated with the latest information.

Please send it to everyone you know to ensure that they vote — and that their vote is counted.

Also: Thank you to donors Tracy, Karen, and Helen!


The Perfect Candidate For This Moment

There are a few different paths that Democrats can take to win back the White House, but all of them require turning Pennsylvania blue. And to do that, Democrats need to continue what local leaders like Anton Andrew began in 2018: Reviving a moribund state party and energizing voters, turning long-time Republican strongholds into swing districts and Democratic victories up and down the ballot. 

Democrats need just nine seats to take back the State House and pass laws like marijuana legalization and start funding schools again. Winning those districts will also translate into a Joe Biden victory, so the stakes couldn’t be higher.

The change is coming from the bottom up. In Andrew’s legislative district, in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Democrats hadn’t even run a candidate throughout most of the last decade, with just two half-hearted campaigns between 2008 and 2016. In the wake of the Republicans’ sweep through Pennsylvania, Andrew, a former public defender and the chair of environmental and educational non-profits in the area, decided that he had to take action. 

As a first-time candidate, he tapped his deep community ties and won the Democratic primary, then took on the long-time Republican incumbent. The state party refused to help, reasoning that he wouldn’t come close to winning. But Andrew was used to being told he couldn’t do something and using it to fuel his passion instead of snuffing it out. 

He was born in the United States, where his parents were students at Howard University, but spent the first ten years of his life in Jamaica and Trinidad. Then they moved to Long Island, hoping to get Anton and his siblings a better education. On his first day at his new school, his teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. When Andrew answered “a lawyer or politician,” the class erupted into laughter — teacher included. 

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“It never occurred to me that [being black] was something like a permanent handicap, but one of my friends clued me in at lunchtime. He asked me, ‘Do you know of any black lawyers? Do you know of any black politicians?’” Andrew recalls. “I remember at that moment thinking, well, we're going to change that.”

Fast forward several decades and Andrew was an accomplished lawyer and educator running a grassroots campaign out in the suburbs. He knocked on thousands of doors himself, determined to turn the political tide. Even without the Democratic Party’s help, Andrew came within just 800 votes (or 2.5%) of upsetting the GOP representative in 2018 of District 160, a shockingly close result. 

Now, Andrew is running again to finish the job. He’s such a formidable candidate, in fact, that the Republican he nearly unseated decided to just up and retire, leaving Andrew with an even better shot of winning the seat. That he won the Democratic nomination again by over 20 points after a slim victory in 2018 is a very good start. An endorsement from President Barack Obama and a nice fundraising total thus far only help.

The day I spoke to Andrew, he was getting ready to go speak with the local police union, hoping to receive their endorsement. At first, I was surprised to hear that, considering both his party affiliation and everything I knew about his politics and past. But as he explained to me, he’s a coalition builder with enough credibility to reach out to seemingly opposite sides. 

Andrew spent years as a public defender in Miami, a career he pursued after seeing some of his Black and brown friends at Penn arrested by cops for no obvious reason and unable to pay for their own private defense. When he moved with his wife and young children to Pennsylvania, where they had no paid public defender positions, he did it in a volunteer capacity as he worked for Cheyney University, the oldest HBCU. Where Andrew lives in Pennsylvania, police had joined in with protestors during the Black Lives Matter marches, leaving him hopeful that change is possible.

“I absolutely think we need to reform the police,” he says. “We need to re-fund social agencies — as a public defender working in Miami, coming up with those alternatives to incarceration, I was really lucky to have a team of social workers, educators, and health professionals to help. Those groups barely exist within the criminal justice system anymore.”

Along with police reform, Andrew is passionate about the environment — he’s on the board of trustees at his local chapter of the Nature Conservancy — and is, like any responsible citizen, very concerned with how the state recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Legalizing and taxing marijuana, as Gov. Tom Wolf proposed, is near the top of his list, as is closing the loophole that allows many of the state’s businesses to incorporate in neighboring Delaware and avoid taxes. Education is key, as well — Andrew also works at an educational resource center.

The goal is to ensure that no Black child gets laughed at when they say they want to be a lawyer, but instead, they get every opportunity to make that dream come true. 

“This might be the moment where me being a black candidate in an all-white district, I can lean into that, and I have been leaning into that,” Andrew says. “And the polling is showing that the residents of the district are buying into it. I'm very happy about having the opportunity to be completely authentic, and have that be to my advantage.”

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Real Quick…

Together, we’ve raised nearly $1.5 million now for progressive candidates and causes, as well as another $1.5 million for bail funds and civil rights organizations.

To make this sustainable, I need your help. If you become a member of Progressives Everywhere, you’ll get nightly emails chock full of deep dives into elections and the crucial political stories not getting enough attention. You’ll also receive exclusive updates from candidates you’ve supported and interviews with other progressive leaders.

Becoming a member (just $5 a month!) allows me to bring you more original reporting and interviews and raise money for amazing progressives working to save the country. It also allows me to continue creating projects like AbsenteeBallots.info. And it’ll help you win debates with your conservative family members!


Elections and Voting Rights

National: Joe Biden leads Donald Trump in a new national poll that was taken during parts of both the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention.

  • Biden is up 47-40% right now, with Trump getting little-to-no bump from the convention.

  • Interestingly, people actually think Trump will win, which is mostly a reaction to his surprise victory in 2016.

  • Also, he’s going to try to steal the election.

Georgia: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger sent out absentee ballot applications to all voters for the state’s June primary, leading to a record voter turnout. Unwilling to risk having that kind of functioning democracy in the general election, Raffensperger ruled against sending out applications this time around.

  • They did, however, launch a website where people can request an absentee ballot. It went up on Friday. You can check it out here.

  • New York City also launched its own ballot request site last week. New York generally doesn’t have no-excuse absentee voting, but Gov. Cuomo signed an emergency bill blessing it for this November. It should be permanent, but that’ll take a while.

  • Speaking of online voter registration… well, the next story picks up the thread.

Texas: It was a big weekend for voter suppression in Texas. There’s some good news and bad news, though I’m not sure how much difference the good news is going to make.

Let’s start with the good: A U.S. District Court Judge ruled late Friday that Texas is violating the National Voter Registration Act by not allowing residents to register to vote when they update their DMV information online.

  • Legally, people need to be able to register or update their voting information when they interact with the DMV.

  • In Texas, where the Republican-run government hates online voter registration, they instead direct people to a form they have to fill out and send in via snail mail.

  • This is not the first time this judge has ruled Texas was in violation of the law, though his first ruling was overturned on a technicality.

  • The ruling orders Texas to create an online DMV registration by September 23rd, though the state is likely to appeal. Remember, this is the state where Attorney General Ken Paxton went to the damn Supreme Court to prevent expanded absentee voting.

OK, now the bad news: Texas’s very Republican Secretary of State is ordering election officials in Harris County to stop their plans to send absentee ballot requests to every voter in the jurisdiction.

  • Why is this such bad news? Harris County is home to Houston, where Democrats hope to flip several Congressional and legislative districts while running up the votes for MJ Hegar and Joe Biden.

  • There are two million voters in the county alone.

  • Hilariously/depressingly, the SoS’s office says they’re issuing the order to “protect the voting rights” of people in the county from “abuse” by the people trying to make it easier for them to vote.

  • This isn’t over — there’s no law that forbids counties from sending out applications. The Texas Supreme Court ruled against allowing COVID-19 concerns to qualify someone for an absentee ballot, but said it could be part of an overall diagnostic test for whether someone can vote by mail.

  • Right now, it’s just people over 65, people with clear disabilities that prevent them from going to a polling place, and those who will be out of town on Election Day.

Arizona: Many of the state’s ballot initiatives have been finalized. I’ve gone over these before, with marijuana legalization and tax increases on the wealthy to fund schools being the most notable. But there’s also one initiative that isn’t on the ballot that’s very noteworthy.

  • A criminal justice reform initiative looked like it was going to qualify; it would have cut “non-dangerous” offender sentences by up to half by allowing inmates to earn release time credits. It would have also given judges more discretion on sentencing.

  • Unfortunately, after she failed in trying to disqualify the initiative over its wording, the conservative Pima County Attorney challenged as many signatures as she could.

  • Pima County is home to Tuscon, the most liberal part of Arizona, and Attorney Barbara LaWall is a Democrat. It just goes to show you that there are plenty of bad Democrats on these issues. Luckily, LaWall is retiring.

Massachusetts: It’s the final weekend before the final primary elections, with two big races to watch.

  • Alex Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, is challenging conservative Rep. Richard Neal, as you all well know. Morse announced today that he raised $1 million in August, in part thanks to you.

  • Sen. Ed Markey leads challenger Rep. Joe Kennedy in a race that still doesn’t make much sense. It’s become something of a proxy battle between Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who endorsed Markey and Kennedy, respectively.


National Emergencies

Oregon: I didn’t get much sleep last night because I was following the disturbing events happening in and around Portland. A caravan of seething racist Trump supporters, carrying semi-automatic weapons, rode into the city looking to mess with Black Lives Matters protestors.

National: New York Times reporter Kevin Roose has been for years documenting the right-wing’s dominance on social media, especially Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s network has allowed (and even encouraged) right-wing lunatics to spread misinformation and racism while organizing events like the caravan in Portland and the militia patrol that put Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha.

Washington, DC: Big weekend for news about an autocratic federal government doing the bidding of an unwell madman.

  • Breaking this morning: Trump’s Department of Justice sabotaged Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president’s cheating and improper connections in Russia.

  • And here’s the key quote from the bombshell in the NY Times today: “Law enforcement officials never fully investigated Mr. Trump’s own relationship with Russia, even though some career F.B.I. counterintelligence investigators thought his ties posed such a national security threat that they took the extraordinary step of opening an inquiry into them. Within days, the former deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein curtailed the investigation without telling the bureau, all but ensuring it would go nowhere.”

  • The FDA is also a corrupt disaster. Good thing we’re not still in the middle of a deadly pandemic that has now infected six million Americans.

Wakanda: One last thing. As you’ve probably heard, the already-iconic actor Chadwick Boseman died on Friday from colon cancer at the young age of 43.


Real Quick…

Together, we’ve raised nearly $1.5 million now for progressive candidates and causes, as well as another $1.5 million for bail funds and civil rights organizations.

To make this sustainable, I need your help. If you become a member of Progressives Everywhere, you’ll get nightly emails chock full of deep dives into elections and the crucial political stories not getting enough attention. You’ll also receive exclusive updates from candidates you’ve supported and interviews with other progressive leaders.

Becoming a member (just $5 a month!) allows me to bring you more original reporting and interviews and raise money for amazing progressives working to save the country. It also allows me to continue creating projects like AbsenteeBallots.info. And it’ll help you win debates with your conservative family members!

You can also make a one-time donation to Progressives Everywhere’s GoFundMe campaign — doing so will earn you a shout-out in an upcoming edition of the big newsletter!

Donate to Progressives Everywhere!