Please Note: Democratic Candidates May Have Lost, But Progressive Issues Won

— by David Morris (reposted from CommonDreams)

Ballot initiatives more accurately take the ideological pulse of the people because debates over issues are not disrupted by the personality politics and subterfuge that dominate candidate races. (Photo: Susy Morris/flickr/cc)

On November 4th Democrats lost big when they ran a candidate but won big when they ran an issue.

In 42 states about 150 initiatives were on the ballot. The vast majority did not address issues dividing the two parties (e.g. raising the mandatory retirement age for judges, salary increases for state legislators, bond issues supporting a range of projects).  But scores of initiatives did involve hot button issues.  And on these American voters proved astonishingly liberal.

Quote01Voters approved every initiative to legalize or significantly reduce the penalties for marijuana possession (Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Washington, D.C.)  It is true that a Florida measure to legalize medical marijuana lost but 57 percent voted in favor (60 percent was required).

Voters approved every initiative to raise the minimum wage (Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota). Voters in San Francisco and Oakland approved initiatives to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018.  The good citizens of Oakland and Massachusetts overwhelmingly approved more generous paid sick leave.

Both Colorado and North Dakota voters rejected measures that would have given the fertilized egg personhood under their criminal codes.

Washington state voters approved background checks for all gun sales and transfers, including private transactions.

By a wide margin Missourians rejected a constitutional amendment to require teachers to be evaluated based on test results and fired or demoted virtually at will.

By a 59-41 margin North Dakotans voted to keep their unique statute outlawing absentee owned pharmacies despite Walmart outspending independent pharmacist supporters at least ten to one.

The vote in Colorado offers a good example of the disparity between how Americans vote on candidates and how we vote on issues.  A few years ago the Colorado legislature stripped cities and counties of the right to build their own telecommunications networks but it allowed them to reclaim that authority if they put it to a vote of their citizens.  On Tuesday 8 cities and counties did just that. Residents in every community voted by a very wide margin to permit government owned networks even while they were voting by an equally wide margin for Republican candidates who vigorously oppose government ownership of anything.

Republicans did gain a number of important victories. Most of these dealt with taxes. For example, Georgia voters by a wide margin supported a constitutional amendment prohibiting the state legislature from raising the maximum state income tax rate. Massachusetts’ voters narrowly voted to overturn a law indexing the state gasoline tax to the consumer price increase.

What did Tuesday tell us?  When given the choice between a Republican and a Democrat candidate the majority of voters chose the Republican.  When given a choice between a Republican and a Democrat position on an issue they chose the Democrat.  I’ll leave it up to others to debate the reasons behind this apparent contradiction.  My own opinion is that ballot initiatives more accurately take the ideological pulse of the people because debates over issues must focus on issues, not personality, temperament or looks.  Those on both sides of the issue can exaggerate, distort and just plain lie but they must do so in reference to the question on the ballot.  No ballot initiative ever lost because one of its main backers attended a strip club 16 years earlier.

I am buoyed by the empirical evidence: Americans even in deeply red regions are liberal on many key issues. And I am saddened that these same voters have voted to enhance the power of a party at odds with the values these voters have expressed.  The challenge, and in an age where billions of dollars in negative sound-bites define a candidate it is a daunting one, is how to make the next election on issues, not personalities.

  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

David Morris is Vice President and director of the New Rules Project at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which is based in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. focusing on local economic and social development.
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Voters Reject Oil Titan Chevron, Elect Progressive Bloc in Richmond, California

Tom Butt elected mayor and slate of progressive candidates all win city council seats after grim battle with corporate power

— by Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams staff writer

Members of the Asia Pacific Environmental Network march against Chevron in Richmond, California on August 9. (Photo: Malena Mayorga/Flickr)

A slew of progressive candidates were elected in Richmond, California on Tuesday night in a resounding defeat of corporate power, after a multi-million-dollar opposition campaign funded by Chevron brought national attention to the race but failed to take control of City Hall.

Local politician Tom Butt, a Democrat, was elected mayor with 51 percent of the vote, beating the Chevron-backed candidate, Nat Bates, by 16 points. Richmond Progressive Alliance representatives Eduardo Martinez, Jovanka Beckles, and outgoing  Mayor Gayle McLaughlin also won three of the four open seats on the City Council.

Collectively, those candidates became known as Team Richmond.

In a victory speech from his campaign base, Butt said, “I’ve never had such a bunch of people who are dedicated and worked so hard. It’s far away above anything that I’ve ever experienced.”

The sweeping win in the David-and-Goliath story was seen by many as an excoriation of corporate influence in elections after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Uche Uwahemu, who finished third in the mayoral race, said, “The election was a referendum on Chevron and the people obviously made it clear they did not appreciate the unnecessary spending by Chevron so they took it out on the rest of the candidates.”

Chevron spent more than $3 million funding three political action committees that executed an opposition campaign including billboards, flyers, and a mobile screen, spending roughly $72 per voter in hopes of electing a slate of candidates that would be friendly to the oil giant.

Martinez, Beckles, and McLaughlin have all criticized the company and promised to tighten regulations on it. Chevron has an ugly history in the city, particularly in the wake of a large and destructive fire at their refinery in 2012, for which Richmond sued the company.

Butt spent roughly $58,000 on his campaign—a shoestring budget relative to Chevron’s resources.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Who is Andrew Martin?

If you were at Winnemucca’s Labor Day Parade or the Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, you would have had an opportunity to meet and talk to or at least wave at Andrew Martin who is running for State Controller on the November ballot.

As an Assemblyman and member of the Economic Forum Andrew has worked on Nevada’s budget, understands our finances, and knows what needs to be done to improve our economy.  Andrew  is a business owner, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF), and Certified Internal Controls Auditor (CICA). Mr. Martin has over 28 years of professional experience providing accounting, advisory, audit and tax services to a diverse group of business, individual, governmental, and non‐profit clients.

His opponent, Ron Knecht,  is a “limited government conservative” who was a member of the “Mean 15” and who has signed onto Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” of no new taxes.  He’s a proudly professed NRA member (who also proudly supports “campus concealed carry) and who was elected to the Nevada Assembly once and NOT returned.  But, most importantly, where Andrew clearly holds certifications beneficial for the job, Mr. Knecht is a Mechanical Engineer by profession and has managed a few budgets and made a few investments.

Really?  That’s the best fiscal and financial expertise the Republican Party has to offer up? Somebody who diligently works side-by-side with Sharron Angle to shut government down?

“Fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability isn’t just a campaign slogan, it is what I believe in, and they are the principals by which I will operate the Office of the Controller.” — Andrew Martin

As our Nevada State Controller, Andrew Martin has pledged to:

  • Strengthen the State’s fiscal oversight and accountability, which will benefit the economic health of Nevada and improve our outlook for the future.
  • Assure that our tax dollars are being spent wisely to accomplish tangible results, linking dollars spent to measurable outcomes that are tied to state-wide priorities, such as higher student test scores, lower crime rates, and a healthier population.
  • Collect debts owed to the State so that Nevadans who work hard and pay sales, gas, real estate and other taxes don’t have to carry the load for businesses that don’t.
  • Make sure the worldwide financial community knows that Nevada is a great place to invest, improving Nevada’s business climate, boosting our economy and stimulating job creation.

Personally, when I’m looking to hire a State Controller, I’m looking for someone who is pledging to do what’s best for Nevada’s citizens, not someone who is beholding to Grover Norquist, someone who doesn’t live in Nevada, and who most likely knows absolutely NOTHING about the needs of Nevadans.  I don’t know about you, but I’m planning to pony up to the voting booth during early elections to cast my vote for the best qualified candidate for the job: Andrew Martin!

Less than 100 Days ’til the Election

— by Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Speaker of the Nevada State Assembly

MarilynKirkpatrickWith less than 100 days until Election Day and just over 80 until Nevadans start voting, I am writing to update you on the Assembly Democratic Caucus, something I hope to do periodically over the next few months. It has been my great honor to serve as the Speaker of the Nevada Assembly since 2013 and the leader of our caucus.

For the past several sessions, our caucus has proposed a legislative agenda of job creation, education, stemming the rate of foreclosures, making health care more accessible and affordable, and improving public safety. We have successfully fought for measures to —

  • Put more Nevadans back to work and improve our economic diversification efforts.
  • Increase funding for education and other critical state needs.
  • Help ensure a quality teacher in every classroom.
  • Improve the quality of our health care systems in Nevada.
  •  Strengthen laws to prosecute both white collar and violent criminals.

We want to continue to fight for these priorities in 2015. As we do in every election cycle, we have worked to recruit men and women who will not only be strong candidates capable of winning their seats, but who will also be legislators who can hit the ground running once they are elected.

We believe 2014 will be a good year for our caucus. Currently, 27 of the 42 members of the Nevada Assembly are Democrats. We have six outstanding new candidates running for six open seats, and 21 of our 27 Democratic incumbents are running for re-election, all of which have solid Democratic registration advantages. We are confident we will be successful in all of our races and that we have an opportunity to even pick up a seat for a super majority.

I am assisted in our efforts by Jason Frierson, our Assistant Majority Leader. All of our incumbents are working hard to win their own seats and to mentor our new candidates to help them win their races and get prepared to serve. And, of course, we are already working to develop our policy agenda for 2015, with legislative proposals that will continue to move our state forward.

If you would like more information on any of these races, or any other information on our caucus, please email us at info@nvassemblydems.com.

Really? Updated College Sexual Assault Prevention Guidelines are Federal Overreach?

by Zach Hudson, NSDP Communications Director

Remember Todd Akin, the GOP Senate candidate in Missouri who talked about “legitimate rape?”  Akin’s comments were ignorant, insensitive, and out-of-touch.  Which is why we were disappointed Nevada Republicans seem to be taking their cues on women’s health from Todd Akin.

Last week, the Republican nominee for Nevada Controller, Ron Knecht, wrote an op-ed where he essentially said new guidelines to prevent sexual assault on college campuses are an example of federal overreach.  He even blamed programs to prevent sexual assault for the increase in college tuition!

Let’s make sure Republicans like this never get elected to office – join Democrat Andrew Martin’s campaign for Controller by clicking here today.

Ron Knecht’s comments were moronic, but unfortunately not surprising.  Whether it’s Sen. Dean Heller’s support for restricting access to contraception, Rep. Joe Heck’s votes to ban abortion for rape victims and to weaken the Violence Against Women Act, or Nevada Republican Senate Leader, and former Tom DeLay operative, Michael Roberson, supporting “personhood” measures which could outlaw forms of birth control, Nevada Republicans time and time again demonstrate they are completely clueless when it comes to women’s health.

Fortunately, Nevadans have a clear choice in the election for State Controller.  While Ron Knecht is focused on criticizing programs to help sexual assault victims, Democratic nominee Andrew Martin will focus on managing the state’s finances.

Click here to join Andrew’s campaign and tell Nevada Republicans when it comes to women’s health decisions, #ItsNotUpToThem.