Progressive Breakfast for October 18

Morning Message

Ben Jealous is the Leader of Vision Maryland Needs Now

Voters in Maryland have a clear choice: Ben Jealous, the Democratic challenger, or Republican incumbent Larry Hogan. Jealous led the national NAACP, was a Rhodes Scholar and has a platform of clear, progressive and achievable goals: fully funded schools, health care for all and criminal justice reform. Hogan is a Congressman's son who cuts deals, gives favors and takes credit wherever he can. The Washington Post says Hogan “lacked, and continues to lack… a vision for Maryland’s future.” Who is the leader who has the vision Maryland needs now? Ben Jealous.

Trump Threatens Military Shutdown Of Mexico Border

Trump threatens military closure of Southern border to block migrants. Politico: “President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to order the military to close the U.S.-Mexico border if the flow of migrants making their way northward toward the U.S. is not stopped. ‘I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught – and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!’ Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday morning. Trump also hinted that the newly struck trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada could be in jeopardy if Mexico doesn’t take steps to stem the tide of immigrants traversing the country en route to the U.S.”

Dem Voters Open Path In Midwest

Democrats blaze Midwestern path. Politico: “Democrats are poised to chip away at Republican statehouse dominance in next month’s midterm elections, with wins appearing likely in some of the biggest states in the industrial Midwest. Three GOP-controlled governorships — Illinois, Michigan and New Mexico — are expected to flip to Democratic hands, according to POLITICO’s latest race ratings. But aside from those contests, the gubernatorial map remains remarkably fluid deep into the fall campaign. Strategists and operatives in both parties say the races in politically consequential states like Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin — all of them currently led by GOP governors — are still neck-and-neck. Those states, along with Maine, represent the bulk of the gubernatorial battlegrounds and the difference between a fruitful or disappointing night for both parties on November 6. According to the ratings, which reflect extensive reporting on the 36 governors’ races this year, Republicans are favored in 17 races, Democrats in 12 and the remaining 7 as toss-up contests.”

Small Donors May Tip Statehouse Races

Small donations pour in to flip statehouse seats and legislatures. The Intercept: “Kristin Bahner her campaign manager, Taylor Winkel, were out knocking on doors Tuesday night, as they have been most nights as part of their bootstrap bid to flip a Minnesota legislative seat — and potentially flip the state House from red to blue. As they wrapped up, Winkel told Bahner that they should go over the campaign’s finances that night. With two weeks until Election Day, they didn’t want to leave anything untapped. They later connected by phone and, after looking through their books, decided that they had enough to hire a canvasser at 15 hours a week, or perhaps spend a bit on digital advertising. It wasn’t much, but with an expected voter turnout of 20,000, every little bit counts. But then Winkel had a thought: ‘Wait,’ she told Bahner, ‘we haven’t checked Act Blue since Friday.’ Bahner logged on to the platform that processes small donations. ‘I look at it and I go, ‘Is that a typo? That can’t be right,’ Bahner said she told Winkel. Winkel responded, ‘Well, I did send out a newsletter and make a fundraising pitch.’ ‘No, Taylor, I think this is a little more than our average fundraising letter,’ Bahner recalled saying. “I dug into the reporting feature” — which gives details of each contribution — “and I’m like, ‘Holy cow, this is literally a Minnesota miracle.’” Winkel took a look for herself, and sure enough, thousands of dollars were flooding in from across the country. Bahner looked closer at who was giving. An engineer from NASA. A nurse manager in Seattle. A floor worker from Best Buy. A retiree from Ohio. Bahner’s campaign in Minnesota’s 34B District, it turned out, was the beneficiary of a project put together by Data for Progress, a scrappy left-wing think tank that operates outside the orbit of the Democratic Party. Earlier on Tuesday, the group had suggested on Twitter that if progressives wanted to ‘give smart,’ they should donate to eight state legislative campaigns around the country where the winner could tip the balance of power in the chamber. Contributors have the option of equally splitting their donations eight ways, or deciding how much to allocate to each of the candidates.”

GOP Senators Force Through New Judges


Senate GOP midterm agenda: Judges, judges and more judges. Politico:
“A handful of Republican senators did something unusual on Wednesday: With the Senate not even in session, and no Democrats in sight, they convened the Judiciary Committee to advance a half-dozen of Donald Trump’s judicial nominees. For Republicans, there’s nothing that matters more. They aren’t pitching a big visionary agenda to persuade voters to return them to power next year — there’s only passing mention in the midterms of repealing Obamacare, and little talk of making Trump’s border wall a reality. It’s all about the judiciary. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has given every indication that his primary focus — through Election Day and, assuming Republicans still control the Senate, in the two years to follow, will be the ongoing reshaping of the courts. ‘I love the tax bill and a lot of the other things we did. But I think lifetime appointments — not only to the Supreme Court but to the circuit courts — are the way you have the longest lasting impact on the country,’ McConnell said in an interview this month.’“The president and his team have sent up, in my view, excellent judges, and we’ve had the unity we’ve needed… to get them confirmed.’ That could mean a 2019 that looks a lot like the scene Wednesday: Reporters asking senators about unrelated issues outside the Senate Judiciary Committee, while inside the GOP continues barreling ahead with confirming a parade of younger conservative judges like 36-year-old Allison Rushing, who could serve on the Fourth Circuit for perhaps 40 or 50 years given her youth.”

Justices Thwart Gov. Scott’s Bid To Rig FL Supreme Court

Justices thwart Rick Scott’s scheme to keep Florida’s Supreme Court in GOP control for years to come. Salon: “his year, Florida has very good odds of electing Andrew Gillum, the charismatic, progressive Tallahassee mayor, as their next governor. But outgoing GOP governor Rick Scott thought he had a perfect plan to ensure that even if Gillum won, the state courts would remain in solid Republican control for years to come. On Monday, however, the Florida Supreme Court put a stop to his scheme. Scott’s idea was that on his last day in office, he would appoint three Republicans to the Florida Supreme Court. The state consitution says that three existing Democratic-appointed justices on the court would hit mandatory retirement on the same date he would exit the governor’s mansion: January 8. Scott twisted the meaning of this to interpret it as, the justices would be out of office at midnight on January 8, but he would still be governor until the moment the next governor is sworn in — meaning he would have a window of a few hours to jam his own cronies onto the court instead of the next governor. Last month, in anticipation of this, Scott ordered the judicial nominating commission — whose members he himself appointed — to give him a list of candidates to pick from on January 8. Had Scott gone through with this scheme, the Florida Supreme Court would have gone from 4-3 Republican appointees to 7-0, all but ensuring the state courts would become a rubber stamp for the GOP regardless of who won the governor’s race.”

Saudis Wire $100m Payoff To Trump

Saudis wire $100m as Trump proclaims Crown Prince innocent. Vanity Fair: “Over the summer, the Saudi Arabian government promised the Trump administration $100 million for the U.S.’s efforts to stabilize parts of Syria liberated from the Islamic State, a coup for Donald Trump, who regularly complains about other countries not coughing up enough money on defense. But despite the pledge, one official involved in Syria policy told The New York Times that it was unclear when, if ever, the money would actually materialize in American bank accounts. But as luck would have it, just this past Tuesday, it did—the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Riyadh to get some answers on the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist and dissident who entered the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey on October 2 and was never seen again. Some people have dismissed the notion that the two events are connected— ‘The specific transfer of funds has been long in process and has nothing to do with other events or the secretary’s visit,’ Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, told the Times. But others aren’t so convinced!”