Issue #30

So Kennedy is actually going to do this, huh

New Developments

CA-53

Janessa Goldbeck, a self-identified queer woman and Marine veteran, has announced her campaign for California’s 53rd congressional district, a deep-blue San Diego seat left open by the retirement of Rep. Susan Davis. Goldbeck left active service in the Marines just six weeks ago; prior to joining the Marines in December 2012, she was a human rights lobbyist. She is also the founder of a foreign policy-focused consulting firm, according to the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. Goldbeck calls herself a supporter of the Second Amendment who also favors gun control; she says she wants to focus on “the cost of housing, access [to] affordable health care, and [the price of] prescription drugs.” If you think that message and that biography seem like a strange fit for a very blue district (even a military-heavy district like this one), you’re not alone; a consultant running on prescription drug price reform is not something many would readily associate with the left. However, appearances aren’t everything--for example, Goldman Sachs multimillionaire and former DNC finance chair Phil Murphy has been a staunch progressive as governor of New Jersey, so Goldbeck could, theoretically, turn out to be a staunch progressive. Goldbeck joins San Diego City Council President Georgette Gómez and 2018 CA-49 primary runner-up Sara Jacobs in the race. Gómez, like Goldbeck, identifies as queer, making this the rare election where multiple openly LGBT candidates are competing for the same office.

IL-03

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made her first endorsement of a primary challenger this week, when she backed Marie Newman over incumbent Congressman and anti-abortion fanatic Dan Lipinski yesterday morning. Lipinski then let loose with a stream of Republican talking points on the progressive ideas that Marie Newman and AOC both hold. Our personal favorite nonsense from that rambling statement is that Medicare for All would take away people’s Medicare. He then followed that attack up by saying “I think it’s always a bad idea for Democrats to go after Democrats, especially incumbent members of Congress. But I know that it happens. It’s unfortunate. We should all be pulling together against President Trump right now. It’s bad when we’re fighting each other and pulling in different directions.” You kind of have to pick one response, Dan. You can’t pair an attack on your opponent’s endorser with an appeal to unity.

MA-Sen

Joe Kennedy III is in! This is an earthquake in Massachusetts Democratic politics, on a level the state hasn’t seen in years or decades, perhaps not since the Dukakis/King primaries of 1980 and 1982. The news just broke, but it was a long time coming, and most politicians in the state have already weighed in. Kennedy has the early lead in the polls, while Markey has the establishment and environmental support. It’s going to be a long, bloody campaign, and it hasn’t even started yet.

Earlier this week, Sen. Ed Markey picked up endorsements from the DSCC (expected) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (perhaps less so). Ocasio-Cortez went all-in on her endorsement, even cutting an ad for Markey. Markey and AOC have been allied for months now in the fight for the Green New Deal, so there’s a clear motivation for her endorsement, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that most media outlets weren’t confused why she was endorsing an incumbent over a challenger. Joe Kennedy III did gain one prominent endorser: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a conservative (and anti-GND) Democrat from Arizona.

On Monday, money-in-politics news outlet Sludge reported on Kennedy’s financial connections to the fossil fuel industry, and it’s ugly. He owns between $800,000 and $1,750,000 worth of fossil fuel investments, mostly in Chevron and ExxonMobile, both of whom are financing large-scale efforts to kill the Green New Deal. Chevron in particular spent millions last cycle running ads against Democrats for supporting the Green New Deal. While Joe Kennedy did support the Green New Deal in the House, in the era of fossil fuel divestment, it’s worth wondering why he’s keeping those investments.

MA-06

Former Rep. John Tierney, who lost his seat to now-Rep. and erstwhile presidential candidate Seth Moulton in the 2014 Democratic primary, has informed the FEC that he does not intend to run for MA-06. Tierney could have been a serious threat to Moulton, despite his wife’s 2010 tax fraud conviction (which contributed to his 2014 defeat), as he still had $375,000 sitting in his campaign bank account after his 2014 loss, a pool of money he could have immediately rolled over into a 2020 campaign. This means that, for the time being, the field against Moulton remains limited to Salem city councilor Lisa Peterson and Salem State University trustee Jamie Zahlaway Belsito. Tierney could of course renege on his FEC statement and run, but this is a signpost in the other direction.

NY-12

This morning, Suraj Patel announced he’s running in the NY-12 primary against incumbent Carolyn Maloney. Patel, a hotel chain owner, ran in the NY-12 last cycle, in what was the most covered primary in the state before results came in and attention shifted next door to the surprise upset of Joe Crowley by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Patel raised a lot of money and ran a professional campaign, but ran into some bad press of his own making, most notably for a practice known as “Tinder-banking”, where volunteers would match with NY-12 residents on the dating app Tinder, then ask them to vote for Patel. Patel was also never on the greatest terms with labor, who largely endorsed Maloney, perhaps owing to his hotels’ labor violations. Patel even said this year that labor leaders had asked him to stay out of the race. His social media history provided some gems as well - joking about him hitting on a 16 year old acquaintance and saying that grown men sleeping with 17 year olds isn’t “that bad”. He’d also voted in another state in the previous election.

Patel, despite his money, was a very flawed candidate. And although he was making criticisms of Maloney from her left (her Iraq War vote, her anti-vax statements), he’s been a better progressive in some areas than others. For instance, he’s a supporter of single payer healthcare and abolishing ICE, but his climate plan is the same as John Delaney’s, and his plan for income inequality doesn’t involve raising his own taxes much. It says a lot about Carolyn Maloney’s hawkish, centrist record that Patel might still have been the better choice in 2018. She’s had plenty of scandals in her past (remember that time she said the n word during an interview?) Despite Maloney’s many vulnerabilities, Patel wound up losing that election 60-40.

That margin is imposing. While results are more open to changing year by year in primary elections than in generals, the expensive Patel-Maloney fight last cycle likely hit saturation point, and changing 20% of the results from last time is going to be hard. Since losing, Patel has stayed active in New York City politics, campaigning for socialist Queens DA candidate Tiffany Cabán. It’s not clear what Patel or Maloney would be doing differently this time around, and Patel’s messaging hasn’t changed in this cycle’s intro video, once again hitting the notes of his humble upbringing and the need for generational replacement in Congress. Further complicating things is the three candidates already challenging Maloney from her left (Lauren Ashcraft, Erica Vladimer, and Peter Harrison). Dawn Smalls, a candidate in the 2019 Public Advocate special election, is also considering. Patel’s entry may wind up pushing her out, but even if it doesn’t, the general rule of thumb is that the more challengers in a race, the more an incumbent has a chance to slide by on a plurality. Where is that ranked choice voting when you need it?

Note: Editor Sean McElwee, a former colleague of candidate Peter Harrison, recused himself from editing coverage of this race once Harrison entered, and continues to do so.

NY-15

Apparently, New York Assemblyman and DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake worked for Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, a ruthless debt-collection firm, in 2012 and 2013. On a July 2014 ethics disclosure from when Blake first ran for the Assembly, he noted that he had consulted for the firm but failed to disclose that they also paid him tens of thousands of dollars in 2013 when asked about income over $1,000. Blake later amended the paperwork to reflect the income, but not until after he was already sworn in.

Linebarger has used such heartless tactics that it directly inspired U.S. Senator Cory Booker to introduce legislation in 2015 against abusive debt-collection practices. The firm has reportedly been big on threatening and harassing working class people who are struggling to make payments, and in 2012, the firm was hired to collect a payment from the grieving mother of a young man who had been killed by an NYPD squad car for damages to the car that killed her son. This isn’t the first time Blake’s financial disclosures have been a bad look. Only a few years ago he revealed a salary in the tens of thousands from a Bermuda political party, leading to the question of whether he needed to register as a foreign agent.

Blake’s campaign hasn’t gotten off to a great start, with the once proud fundraiser getting absolutely demolished in the money race by Councilman Ritchie Torres. Blake hasn’t been getting much news coverage for his run, and now this revelation is another setback for a campaign in search of a motivation. Blake’s one of the more moderate candidates in the race and isn’t getting a whole lot of traction. Given the looming threat of Rubén Díaz Sr. we’d very much appreciate him taking the hint that this may not be his year.

New Primaries

DE-Sen

Delaware is a reliably Democratic state. Despite that, it produces terrible Democrats—Joe Biden is the most famous, but his Senate successor, Chris Coons, works overtime to live up (down?) to Biden’s terrible record. That was on display on Monday, as he went on Fox & Friends to tentatively endorse war with Iran because Iranian-aligned rebel groups attacked Saudi oil fields. Yes, Saudi—as in Saudi Arabia, the country that murdered a Washington Post columnist less than a year ago.

We don’t have anything more to say here. Someone primary this asshole.

MA-04

On Monday, while Joe Kennedy III continued to demur on whether he’d be running for House or Senate, Massachusetts Treasurer Deb Goldberg decided to stop waiting, and filed with the FEC to run for MA-04, the district that Kennedy is going to leave open while he runs for Senate, although at the time he had yet to make a public decision. She isn’t running just yet, however. She said she will only follow through with a campaign when Kennedy actually pulls the trigger, and the news he’s running isn’t old enough for her to have reacted to yet. It may seem strange for Goldberg try and jump the gun on this, but there is a value to being in early if it helps you muscle out potential competitors. This is especially true right now, since there is an FEC quarterly finance reporting deadline coming up on September 30th, and filing with the FEC lets Goldberg start raising money. She was probably hoping for more time to herself, but if those extra two days help her post some impressive numbers in the next couple weeks, that will go far in cementing her as a frontrunner.

One potential top contender, State Senator Paul Feeney, didn’t want to fight in a pre-primary like this, and made it clear he will not be considering running until after Kennedy makes his decision. So we’ll probably we hearing from Feeney soon as well. 

Now that this seat is open, expect to see a flood of candidates, those have already expressed interest and those who haven’t.

NY-Something

Readers will remember the nail-biting Queens District Attorney race last June: on election night, the inspirational socialist public defender Tiffany Cabán led by just over 1,000 votes, but then the machine favorite and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz tragically pulled ahead by 60 votes after absentee and affidavit ballots had been counted.

Cabán, fresh off that bitter defeat, has quietly opened a new state campaign account, and all eyes are back on her. Rumors are flying: is she planning a challenge to New York State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas? Is she going to primary AOC? Is she training for the WNBA?

The committee attached to the account was designated for a run for city or county office, so that would most likely be City Council or Queens Borough President. Cabán lives in City Council District 22, which is currently represented by Councilman Costa Constantinides. Thanks to New York City Council term limits, Councilman Constantidides cannot run for re-election in 2021. As for Queens Borough President, when Katz inevitably wins her DA race (the general election is in November), her Borough President seat will be open. 

There’s also speculation that Cabán could run for state or federal office, but she would have to set up a different committee in order to do so. As well as Councilman Constantidides’ district, Cabán also lives in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s NY-14 as well as New York State Senator Mike Gianaris’s district, and Simotas’ Assembly district. We don’t see Cabán as likely to challenge AOC, who endorsed her campaign. Sen. Gianaris has also been happy to buck the Queens machine lately, even backing Cabán for DA, and then there’s the fact that the Cabán campaign said last month that they “unequivocally” are not considering challenging Gianaris, but have not said the same regarding Simotas, about whom Queens progressives feel very mixed.

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