Welcome to the big Wednesday edition of Progressives Everywhere!
(Note: We had some tech problems last night, so I’m resending this to everyone — thank you for your patience!)
We’ve got a lot of election news to discuss and an exciting candidate for you to meet, so let’s get to it!
Let’s End an Anti-Science Dynasty
So much of our focus this year has been on flipping state legislatures from red to blue in order to pass progressive legislation and end gerrymandering. It’s absolutely crucial work, but just as important as flipping those legislatures is defeating Republican governors and cementing Democratic trifectas in as many states as possible.
The best chance to do that this year is in New Hampshire, where Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has been acting as a giant roadblock to progressive legislation — he’s vetoed a record number of bills — and spent much of his time cashing in on his position since taking office in 2017. Democrats have a great opportunity to replace him with a very inspiring progressive candidate named Andru Volinsky, with whom I spoke earlier today.
Chris Sununu is a lot like George W. Bush, a scion of a political dynasty that has lorded over Republicans for multiple generations. In fact, his father John Sununu served as governor of New Hampshire and then as chief of staff in the first Bush White House, where he famously stopped an international climate treaty that could have saved the planet 30 years ago. Chris has continued the proud tradition of poisoning the environment by supporting coal plants, vetoing bills that would expand solar energy, and removing the state from a regional cap and trade. And his brother, Michael, is a lobbyist and straight-up climate change denier.
It’s not just the environment, either. Over just the past few months alone, Chris Sununu has vetoed laws that would have expanded red flag gun control, established paid family leave, approved independent redistricting, and created permanent no-excuse absentee voting. On the other hand, he has directed federal money meant to help low-income neighborhoods to pump money into a ski resort that his family owns, so it’s good to know he has some priorities.
It’s clear that the guy has got to go for anything good to happen. But who should replace him? Democrats have two candidates in a primary that is less than a week away. Andru Volinsky, by far the more progressive candidate, is running against an establishment leader who has raised a lot more money but done just a really awful job at spending it. Volinksy’s campaign has that Ed Markey coalition energy, riding a wave of support from young people and enthusiastic grassroots voters to a small lead in the most recent poll, out today.
As he joked in our conversation today, “everyone running this year is pretending to be a progressive,” but Volinsky is the real deal. He’s one of five members of the powerful state Executive Council, an oversight committee that serves as a check on Sununu. Volinsky has successfully blocked some of Sununu’s most corrupt gambits, including promoting an anti-choice Supreme Court justice and dispensing COVID-19 recovery money in secrecy.
Volinsky has a very long history of fighting for working people and progressive policies while combating conservative power. He spent years working as a public defender and fighting against the death penalty; in January, he took a week off from his campaign to put in a final, successful push to commute a 30-year client’s death sentence, pulling through with just a few hours to go.
Meanwhile, Sununu has said that he doesn’t believe that systemic racism exists in his police departments or elsewhere in the state.
“He said that in the face of Black Lives Matters, protests and other really appropriate challenges to how we do law enforcement, health care, and education,” Volinsky says, shaking his head. “But we know that four times as many young black people get arrested for pot as white kids and we’re no different on that score. We know that black and brown people have disproportionately poor health care outcomes compared to white people. And we know our two most diverse cities spend the least on their school kids.”
Volinsky is known for being the lead lawyer in a landmark case that required New Hampshire to better fund its schools. It was transformational, but he knows that there’s a lot more work to do on the education front; he told me that education will be one of his main priorities, along with the environment and a constellation of equality issues, including the legalization (and taxation) of marijuana. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that hasn’t done so yet, in much the same way that it’s the only state dragging its heels on solar energy and climate progress.
New Hampshire has been known as a fiscally libertarian state, but Volinsky is unbowed by that reputation. He refuses to take The Pledge, an outdated Republican oath to fiscal conservativism that prioritizes the wealthy and shortchanges working families, children, and seniors. Notably, his rival in the Democratic primary was happy to sign on. Volinsky is also against fracking, another thing that makes him unique in the race.
Volinsky has been a community leader for decades, on the vanguard of a progressivism that has come into vogue over the last half-decade. Now, Volinsky is seeking to make big aspirations like the Green New Deal — he wants to create a regional version if necessary — and expansive criminal justice reform a reality. He was Bernie Sanders’ New Hampshire campaign lawyer in 2016 and Sanders has returned the favor by endorsing his campaign.
“Now’s the time for bold ideas and courageous leadership,” he says. “I get some resistance from the insiders, who say ‘you can't do this during a crisis.’ But if you think about it, it was during our country's worst economic crisis, the Great Depression, when Social Security, a minimum wage, rural electrification, and federal home loans all started. And it’s because we had to make big changes.”
New Hampshire is a small state with an outsized influence on the country. If we’re focused on flipping states to make progressive policy a reality, we need to be fighting for candidates like Andru Volinsky.
Can You Pitch In?
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. That’s $3 million raised!
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Elections and Voting Rights
Massachusetts: Good news and bad news out of last night’s Democratic primary.
First, the good news: Sen. Ed Markey turned away Rep. Joe Kennedy III’s somewhat inexplicable primary challenge in what became something of a route, winning by 11 points.
And now, the bad: Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse fell short in his primary against Rep. Richard Neal, one of the worst Democrats in Congress.
This is a real bummer, for a number of reasons. First, Neal is awful. He’s nakedly corrupt, the biggest recipient of corporate cash in either party, he blocks progressive legislation and crafts bills and bailouts for special interests, and he whiffed on Trump’s taxes.
Second, Neal won in part thanks to a terrible homophobic smear campaign done on his behalf right at the beginning of early voting in the state. I’ve gone over it in this newsletter, so I don’t want to dignify it much more, but it’s clear that the inside hatchet job worked as intended. According to The Intercept, “Morse’s internal polling showed that even when told that the smear had been trumped up and orchestrated by allies of Neal, the scandal still made 1 in 5 voters more likely to support Neal.”
As for whether he’ll run again, Morse he said last night that he wasn’t ruling anything out, and in a tweet from earlier today, the use of his mayoral campaign slogan “we’re not done yet” could be hinting at his intentions.
Progressives Everywhere raised about $18,000 for Morse’s campaign over the last few months, and if he does run again, we’ll be there from the campaign launch.
Texas: As I outlined this weekend, Texas Republicans have filed multiple lawsuits over Harris County’s plan to send absentee ballot applications to all of its registered voters. Now, the state Supreme Court has weighed in on the matter.
As you probably guessed, the court has temporarily blocked the county, which is home to Houston and Texas’s largest, from sending those applications.
The county is still going to send them out to people aged 65 and older, who are actually eligible to vote absentee.
Republicans are being hypocritical over the whole thing, of course:
Washington, DC: Now that it’s clear that Democrats are likely to keep the House of Representatives and have a great chance of taking over the federal government at large this fall, we’re starting to see slimy business interests slink their way.
On Wednesday, word leaked that the Chamber of Commerce will endorse a whopping 23 House Democrats this election cycle.
All 23 Democrats are House freshmen who are facing close re-election fights, which means that the Chamber’s checks will be very helpful… and will have to be repaid in votes at some point.
The Chamber isn’t going all-in on Democrats, though, as it’s also looking to endorse 29 freshman Republicans.
Missouri: A state appeals court has given a boost to opponents of a ballot initiative that would gut the independent redistricting law passed by voters in 2018.
Republicans in the state are hoping to hoodwink voters to more or less undo the initiative they passed to end gerrymandering.
An appeals court judge basically called them out for lying, writing that the language on the proposed constitutional amendment “fails to acknowledge what [the initiative] would actually do – substantially modify, and reorder, the redistricting criteria approved by voters in the November 2018 general election.”
The court rewrote the initiative summary to make the grift more obvious. The initiative also includes further bans on lobbyist gifts, a pot sweetener meant to persuade voters to vote yes. In reality, that doesn’t represent much of a loss for the GOP, as the 2018 initiative limited gifts to the minimum you can put on a gift card, just $5.
National: Word broke today that over one million absentee ballots were sent late to voters during the primary, which disenfranchised voters across the country.
Around 80 million absentee ballots are expected to be filed in November, by far a record high.
Remember, if you’re going to vote absentee, request a ballot ASAP! Check out AbsenteeBallots.info to find the deadlines and application links in your state.
Tom Terrific: I just want to say a word about Tom Seaver, the Hall of Fame New York Mets pitcher who passed away today at the age of 75. Being a Mets fan doesn’t always offer many thrills or heroes, but Tom Seaver was the best of the best, an icon we could call our own. He’d been unwell for some time, struggling with dementia, but it was COVID-19 that killed him, making it all the more painful. RIP Tom Terrific.
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