Issue #21

FEC week is here again

FEC reports are in! Unlike the sparse number of challengers officially in the race last quarter, there were a lot of races whose numbers we needed to pore over. Enough, in fact that we’ll be sending out a full roundup in its own issue tomorrow. But there’s one thing we noticed that we can’t let slide even an extra day.

IL-03

Dan Fucking Lipinski, man. The worst Democrat in the House, bar none. Fundraising reports for the second quarter of 2019 were due to the Federal Elections Commission on Monday, and Lipinski’s report included one very telling donation. On June 27, 2019, Dan Lipinski received $100 from Majority Committee PAC of Bakersfield, California. Who runs that PAC?

Kevin McCarthy, the leader of House Republicans. It’s officially affiliated with him. The House Republican leader took the extraordinary step of funding a House Democrat’s campaign, and that tells you all you need to know about whose side Dan Lipinski is on. Thanks to one of our readers, @RamsiestheGr8 on Twitter, for flagging this.

New Developments

NY-10

This morning, Nick interviewed Lindsey Boylan, a former New York state economic development official now running to unseat House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler in the June 2020 Democratic primary. Here are a couple pieces of that interview, lightly edited for clarity. The full interview will be available to subscribers this weeked.

On the Supreme Court

Nick: Would you support expanding the Supreme Court?

Lindsey Boylan: Absolutely. This is not the first time the question has been called [...] I would absolutely push for it, as a Democrat who supports [...] Roe v. Wade.

On AOC and House leadership

Lindsey Boylan: Every leader is different, and I’m not trying to be anyone else, but I want to credit leaders like AOC on issues around the Green New Deal, because I think the only way we get something done in the short term is if we don’t give up on winning hearts and minds, explaining how important these issues are, explaining that there is no other choice than to act. When leadership of the party diminishes or minimizes or makes fun of something as important as climate change or the Green New Deal, it hurts us all, because if the Democratic Party is not going to lead...I don’t see where [else] that leadership is coming from.

Nick: I mean, Nancy Pelosi—who represents San Francisco

Lindsey Boylan: The “green dream”! She called it the “green dream.”

Nick: —I was going to mention that. [laughter]

Lindsey Boylan: I really hope that our leadership in Washington, in the Democratic Party, pivots and shows respect for the issues, and the people advocating for them, that are the most important issues of our day, issues around inequality and climate change. And I think a lot flows from that, not that other issues aren’t important—criminal justice reform has a tremendous amount to do with inequality. The war on women we’re seeing from the GOP has a tremendous amount to do with inequality. All these things are interconnected. When we try and diminish some of the most important voices of this new crop of leaders, we only hurt ourselves.

On House leadership’s handling of Trump administration oversight

Nick: Congressman Nadler [is] one of the most high-profile and powerful people in terms of the House’s approach to oversight of the Trump administration. How well do you think that’s being handled currently?

Lindsey Boylan: Well, I think you’ve probably seen how well I think it’s being handled. [...] What good is power if it’s not exercised? What good is authority if it’s not used? That is really, fundamentally, the lack of leadership that I see the congressman showing on issues of holding the president accountable. We should have begun impeachment hearings months ago. We elected our congressman in this district—and I’m one of his constituents—to lead us, and [we did] not [elect] the Speaker of the House. And, fundamentally, everything that Trump is doing now is exacerbated by the fact that we haven’t held him accountable in anyway. Whether it’s his blatant, blatant racism, his inhumane—and racist—policies on the border—and I’ll stick with the racism issue—his treatment of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, I’m just sticking on one particular element of the fundamentally damaging reality of the president and the lack of leadership by our congressman on a very basic level.

Nick: So, if you were in Congressman Nadler’s position right now, if you were House Judiciary Chair, what specific actions—

Lindsey Boylan: Impeachment hearings now. But not now, months ago. I called for them [...] with Michael Cohen’s second hearing in the House. When we talk about paying hush money to influence the outcome of a presidential election...it would be unbelievable if it hadn’t happened, the reality that we have almost become immune to, the daily abuses of power and obstruction of justice. When we saw Volume II of the Mueller report—I read the entire thing—there’s a dozen or so instances of obstruction of justice.

[...]

Nick: Nancy Pelosi has said, outright, she doesn’t want to impeach, and even though Congressman Nadler has said he thinks Trump has committed impeachable offenses, he would like to start an impeachment inquiry, [but] he’s not doing it, even though it’s well within his power, because the Judiciary Committee has the power to do that whenever they want.

Lindsey Boylan: Well, I think that shows us it’s not purely a tactical error, a tactical and moral error, it’s also, I think, a lack of leadership, because not only do we have someone who’s failing to take the actions that we think are necessary, but we have someone who’s trying to abdicate responsibility and blame someone else. That’s what I see that kind of response as [...] Right now, the reality is we have a lawless president, who is also racist. If you can’t stand and say enough is enough, and you can’t take responsibility for acting within your own realm of leadership and capacity, how on Earth can we expect leadership on the other issues of the day, like climate change. True leadership—inequality, mental health, mental illness, a public health crisis of today—how can we expect leadership on any of the issues that the people of our district need advocacy and leadership on if not only do you not act, but you also don’t accept responsibility for not acting?

NY-15

We also talked with Councilman Ritchie Torres about his Congressional run, which will also be available to subscribers this weekend. Torres came out in favor of sweeping public housing measures to fix the housing crisis in the US, among other things in the interview.

Opinion Haver: You've said before that you believe the federal government needs to intervene in the housing affordability crisis. What kind of federal solution would you push for in Congress?

Ritchie Torres: The role is government is to solve problems and correct market failures. The market has failed to create affordable housing for those who need it. So there should be a national commitment to maximizing social housing. We need to invest $32 billion in NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] housing. We need a Marshall Plan for NYCHA Housing, and some sort of green deal for NYCHA housing. We should reinvest $32 billion in public housing and not only build it in the same form, we should rebuild it with greater sustainability and greater resilience, right? Those dollars, we could make it much greener with wind turbines and solar panels, and green roofs. we could invest in worker owned cooperatives, MWBEs [Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises], incorporate public housing into land trusts. There's so much that can be done under the banner of revitalizing public housing.

I'm in favor of expanding the section eight program. A section eight voucher ensures that a resident pays no more than 30% of his or her income toward, ensure that tenants pay no more than 30% of their income toward their rent. One of the problems we have in New York City is that most of the affordable housing is unaffordable to the poorest New Yorkers. Whenever you're debating affordable housing, the most important question is affordable to who? And section eight ensures that affordable housing is affordable to the poorest New Yorkers.

And it seems to me, just very quickly, it seems to me every housing development that receives federal funding should be owned by the community, should be placed in a land trust. We should have a national stock of social housing, we should leverage the federal government power over federal funding to foster a national stock of social housing.

New Primaries

CA-16

Jim Costa is consistently one of the worst Democrats in Congress. We wrote an entire (subscribers-only) article about it. Long story short: In the California Assembly he was a tool of the real estate developers who wrote the law that killed and continues to block rent control in the state, as well as the state’s three strikes law. In Congress, he’s a Blue Dog and friend of Big Ag/Big Oil who’s been duking it out for the honor of being the worst Democrat on the environment. He’s also a notoriously lazy campaigner who has now twice nearly fumbled away what should be a safe seat to joke opponents.

Finally, it looks like he may be getting a serious challenger. Esmeralda Soria is the daughter of undocumented immigrants, a licensed immigration attorney, a Frenso City College Professor, and a former employee of the Obama administration. She was first elected to the Fresno City Council in 2014, and is currently president of the seven member body. On Thursday she announced that she intends to run for CA-16

Soria’s tenure on the council has been largely positive. The impetus of her first run for council was her opposition to the Republican mayor’s attempt to privatize garbage pickup. She’s generally supported the rights of the homeless in Fresno, and yesterday was selected by governor Gavin Newsom as an advisor on the issue. She’s been a staunch advocate for immigrants, as well. Recently she’s made news for paying a visit to the office of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after a local minor baseball team declared her an enemy of freedom at a game, to apologize on behalf of the city. However, she’s been described as “business-friendly”, particularly for siding against environmentalists on an office park project that was later struck down by the state. She’s also dating one of the most powerful developers in the city (we’re not really judging her for that one - it seems like she’s doing the necessary recusals and such - but it’s the kind of thing that’s hard to imagine not getting brought up in the campaign).

Speaking of the campaign, let’s look at Soria’s starting position. She represents a city council district of roughly 75,000 people, and likely is known by more throughout the city for her role as council president. She’s also quite good at raising money. In 2018, she raised over $150,000 for her reelection campaign, despite running unopposed. Costa has the party establishment behind him, with endorsements from governor Gavin Newsom, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein already locked down. Soria’s entrance immediately rockets this race up into the top tier of contests, and the finer details of whether she’s a progressive firebrand or mainstream Democrat don’t change that she’d be a huge upgrade from Costa. Costa, for his part, is “very disappointed” that he might have to actually campaign for reelection.

MA-01

Is Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse going to challenge longtime Congressman Rich Neal of MA-01? With every news report out of the district the signs point stronger and stronger to an answer of yes. On Monday he was asked about a potential run and said “I’ve been meeting with supporters and potential supporters from around the district. I’ve been very encouraged by what I’ve heard.” That’s as close as you’re going to get to a yes from a politician before they officially announce. There’s no date set for any sort of big announcement from him, but it sure looks like he’s ready to pull the trigger.

OH-03

Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty has been a fairly low-profile member of Congress since her 2012 election. She has avoided scandal, and, since her victory over former Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy for the newly-redrawn Columbus-based 3rd district in 2012, a primary. In 2020, it appears that will change.

Morgan Harper, a Columbus native, entered the race on July 1st. Harper, who served as a senior advisor to 2018 Ohio gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray during his tenure as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has received a fair amount of media coverage after her surprise campaign announcement. In an interview with the Intercept, Harper talked about how her upbringing in foster care shaped her belief in the urgency of addressing economic inequality and revealed that her campaign had already signed up hundreds of potential volunteers.

While the interview is very good and we recommend reading it in its entirety, one thing jumped out at us besides the volunteer number: the Intercept learned that the Harper campaign expects to raise more than $250,000 in the third quarter (which covers the months of July through September.) Campaigns don’t release fundraising goals if they don’t think they can easily clear them, and $250,000 is enough to fund the basics of a competitive campaign. This is a race to watch, especially with Harper’s very progressive platform (which includes reparations for Black Americans, the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and a federal jobs guarantee.)

Beatty is a vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the group’s hostility to primary challenges means they’ll most likely defend her vigorously. The caucus is so averse to primary challenges that it endorsed Rep. Mike Capuano, who is white, over Ayanna Pressley, who is Black, in 2018. While Harper is Black, if the caucus was willing to defend a white incumbent against a Black challenger, they will surely defend their own vice chair. (OH-03 is about one-third Black by population.)

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