California's North Coast is nearly synonymous with a New Age-y strand of progressivism. For two decades, Rep. Lynn Woolsey has represented it in Congress by denouncing the wars waged by both major parties' presidents:
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya. She proudly identified herself as the first former welfare mother in Congress. Now Woolsey is retiring, and the campaign to succeed her prominently features two self-described progressives vying for votes in a June 5 open primary.
Woolsey is staying out of the endorsement game, so voters in her district have been left to make up their own minds. Elect Norman Solomon, who has rallied against America's adventures abroad since Vietnam, or pick Jared Huffman, who has five years' experience in the California Assembly.
"Congress is in danger of losing a lot of its lifeblood, its moral center. We can't afford to lose Lynn Woolsey, Dennis Kucinich, other voices for good alternatives to war," Solomon told HuffPost. "We've got to replenish the strength of antiwar and social justice representation in Congress. Our district and my campaign are crucial to that process."
Solomon, whose hair is streaked with silver and whose face easily melts into a grin, wields a resume more typical of a soapbox rabble-rouser than a congressional candidate. He's never been an elected official. He took Sean Penn with him to Iraq in 2002 to oppose a then-looming invasion. He directed a documentary adaptation of his book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He touts his endorsement by Phil Donohue.
All of that, plus the support of liberal advocacy group Democracy for America, might make him seem liable to the same pitfalls that have befallen losing netroots candidates like Ilya Sheyman in Illinois. But Solomon is quick to argue that his candidacy has more than a virtual presence.
"For us the netroots support is important yet secondary," Solomon told HuffPost. "And frankly, that's the reverse of what some of the most publicized races have been. We started in the communities."
Over the last few years, he said, he's given at least 200 speeches and presentations in the district. He's built up a mailing list of 10,000 dedicated supporters who live in it. He has 850 dedicated volunteers, hundreds of whom pitch in for him every weekend.
When he visits his would-be constituents, Solomon said, he tells them they need someone to represent them who knows "the difference between compromise and capitulation." Someone who will carry on Woolsey's strident anti-war legacy. But Solomon added that his candidacy is about more than his opposition to war. Attending a fundraiser at Donohue's Fifth Avenue apartment in Manhattan on Tuesday, he wore button emblazoned with a "99%" logo.
"I was the Occupy candidate before there was an Occupy movement," Solomon said. "I started out of the gate in January 2011, declaring that our campaign is a campaign to challenge the undemocratic power of Wall Street."
Opponent Jared Huffman, the tem-limited California assemblyman who is also running for the 2nd District seat, said Solomon is kidding himself if he thinks he's the only progressive in the race.
"I've got a long and proven progressive record, and it's a record of actually getting things done as a legislator and public official," said Huffman.
Huffman has litigated on behalf of the National Organization for Women, served as a senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council, and garnered "On The Street" support from the "pro-Israel, pro-peace" group J Street. But Solomon is trying to flank him from the left, arguing that the district's representative shouldn't be afraid to criticize President Obama.
"There's a real contrast in my approach to speaking clearly, challenging the Obama administration when it's wrong, and the sort of silence, mumbling that's typical of my main opponent," Solomon said.
That kind of rhetoric clearly irks Huffman, who wrote on his website that he would "push for a much faster end to the war in Afghanistan" than Obama.
"Not everyone was able to travel to Baghdad with Sean Penn," said Huffman. "If this comparison is about who is the most consistently sanctimonious and loud and self-righteous, he wins. If it's about who combines solid progressive values with an ability to function with others and get things done, I win."
There hasn't been a public poll in the 2nd Congressional District for months. But thePress-Democrat, a local newspaper, tagged Huffman as the front-runner. He raised $586,131 in donations last year, compared to $311,817 for Solomon and $455,959 for Stacey Lawson, a Democrat who garnered the endorsement of EMILY's List, a group that supports the election of pro-choice Democratic female candidates. One Republican, businessman Dan Roberts, is also running, but pundits say the district is so liberal that he is unlikely to have much of an impact.
The top two candidates in June will go on to face each other again in the general election, which means that in November California's 2nd District could be host to a relatively rare phenomenon in American politics: two self-described progressives duking it out for a seat in Congress.
CLARIFICATION: This article was updated to clarify the level of J Street's support of Huffman. He has received "On The Street" support from the group, which is a step below an outright endorsement.
Link to original article on Huff Post
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement regarding the President’s inclusion of chained CPI in his 2014 budget proposal. The chained CPI is a cost index which helps to calculate the cost of living adjustments for benefit levels.
Washington, D.C.— Today, on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, Congresswoman Barbara Lee delivered the following statement on the House floor:
Washington, D.C.— During a day-long mark up of the Ryan bill, as a member of the Budget Committee, Congresswoman Lee offered an amendment to eliminate the Overseas and Contingency Operations (OCO) account in order to provide transparency and accountability to war spending and to bring it back into the base Pentagon budget.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is leading a small group of House Democrats in calling on President Barack Obama to release information regarding the Administration’s use of drone strikes.
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Lee released the following statement regarding the FY2013 Continuing Resolution, Defense and Military Construction/VA Appropriations Bills:
“As a member of both the Appropriations and Budget Committee, I rise in strong opposition to this Continuing Resolution.
This week, all eyes are on Congress. Sequester is looming, and these indiscriminate cuts would not only hurt the poor first, but hurt them the most. Nearly 50 million of our neighbors — almost 16 million of them children — live in poverty; in the richest nation in the world, this is deplorable, unconscionable, but above all, solvable.
Washington, D.C.— In reaction to the passage of a bi-partisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Congresswoman Barbara Lee issued the following statement:
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee joined Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer to launch the new Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) highlighted a new report by the House Committee on Appropriations detailing the impact of the sequester, the broad, across the board cuts that would go into effect on March 1st if Congress does not act.
Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced H.R. 808, the “Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2013” to create a cabinet-level Secretary and Department of Peacebuilding. The term “peacebuilding” refers both to activities that target the root causes of violence as well as the broad measures used to prevent violent conflict and create sustainable peace.
Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement in reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union Address to Congress:
Re "Obama agrees to release files on drone strike," Feb. 7
The recently leaked Justice Department memo that outlined the overly broad and vague legal boundaries used to justify drone strikes should shake the American people to the core.
Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) issued the following statement in response to the United States Postal Service announcement that they plan on ending Saturday delivery:
Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the “Audit the Pentagon Act of 2013” for increased transparency and accountability in the defense budget.
Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee joined fellow members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus at a press conference marking the introduction of The Balancing Act, a bill to repeal the sequester and achieve balance in long-term deficit reduction between revenue and cuts.
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement regarding immigration reform:
Washington, DC – Today Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) released a statement recognizing the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
“As we recognize the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remain vigilant in protecting a woman's right to access safe and legal reproductive and preventative health services.
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement in response to the President’s Plan to Protect our Children and our Communities by reducing Gun Violence.
As Afghan President Hamid Karzai returns to the United States this week, he will meet President Barack Obama at a time when the overwhelming majority of the American people and a strong bipartisan coalition of Congress believe it is long past time to bring the war to a safe and expedited close.
Introduces Key Legislation to Fight Poverty, Restore Equity and Promote Global Peace & National Security
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee reiterated her commitment to fighting poverty and creating opportunity, restoring income equity and promoting global peace and national security as she introduced a number of bills at the start of the 113th Congress.
After last night's Republican Plan "B" debacle and failure to find agreement within their own Caucus left them with no pathway forward, it is now time for all parties to unite around a new plan, a Plan "D" on the deficit deal.
Oakland, CA – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) provided the following statement concerning decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue of marriage equality.
Many of us in the Congressional Progressive Caucus recognize that no serious plan to address the deficit can go forward without defense spending reforms on the table. The bloated Pentagon budget has increased a staggering 95 percent dating back to 2000. We continue to spend billions upon billions of dollars on a nuclear arsenal and Cold War-era weapons system designed to fight a phantom Soviet army.
Bi-partisan letter to Obama: No military solution in Afghanistan, bring troops home
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) were joined by over 90 Members of the House of Representatives in sending a bipartisan letter to President Obama, calling for an accelerated end to the war in Afghanistan.
Oakland, CA – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement regarding the 2012 election results: "I want to thank the people of the 13th Congressional District for their resounding support in re-electing me to the United States Congress. It is such a tremendous honor to serve the most vibrant, forward-thinking and diverse constituency in the country.
Oakland, CA – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement on the Presidential Debate:
Oakland, CA – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) issued the following statement on the passing of Senator George McGovern:
"Today our country has lost one of its most committed advocates for the world's most the most vulnerable populations.
Oakland, CA – Barbara Lee issued the following statement on the Presidential Debate:
Oakland, CA – Barbara Lee issued the following statement on the Vice Presidential Debate:
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following response to the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three Embassy staff:
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-09) issued the following statement on the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001:
“Today, we as a nation commemorate the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. This anniversary is yet again a sobering moment for our country and a reminder that we must always remember those who perished in this appalling act of violence.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) released the following statement today after the Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act constitutional:
I urge you to vote yes on three amendments made in order last night to H.R. 4310, the FY13 Defense Authorization Bill.These amendments will safely and responsibly bring our troops home from Afghanistan, keep Pentagon spending within the limits of the Budget Control Act, and ensure a meaningful diplomatic option with Iran is on the table.
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee has been named co-chair of the Congressional Sudan Caucus in the House of Representatives. Lee has been a long-standing leader within the Caucus, focusing her efforts on bringing the world’s attention to the genocide in Darfur.
“The tragedy surrounding the senseless shooting death of unarmed, 17 year-old Trayvon Martin has pricked the conscience of our nation.
Washington, DC - Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) released the following statement today in reaction to the budget plan introduced by Chairman Paul Ryan and Republicans that would threaten Medicare and Medicaid and hurt our nation’s most vulnerable communities:
Lee Calls on Congress and the President to Invest in Job Creation, Decrease Wasteful Defense Spending
“Today the Pentagon previewed a plan to reduce military spending by $6 billion in the 2013 budget request. I am optimistic that current efforts to address runaway defense spending are headed in the right direction.
Washington, D.C.– Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement in response to the President’s State of the Union address:
Who doesn’t like a good comeback story?
That’s a question voters will answer come November in some of the most competitive House races in the country. For Democrats, who need to net 25 seats to seize back the majority, a handful of pickup opportunities rest with former members trying to win their old jobs back.
One of my opponents has a new ad, claiming that I will shut down all children's lemonade stands.
He says that I won't be acting alone, of course. I will do it in concert with my "progressive cronies" - the actual term in the ad. Presumably in return for corporate PAC contributions from Big Lemon.
Alan Grayson was a terrific Congressman during the term he spent in Congress. As a freshman member of the House of Representatives, he changed the national debate on health care, and made it stick. The Republicans have hated him for it ever since. They spent millions against him, to get him out of Congress in 2010. But now he's back.
Mitt Romney's plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program would enable him to pay for a massive tax cut for the rich, which former Rep. Alan Grayson described as Romney's "shell game" on PoliticsNation.
Alan Grayson was on national TV with Rev. Al Sharpton discussing Republican healthcare plans for seniors and the uninsured. Their old plan was “don’t get sick”; their new plans are far worse. This is what Alan said:
With early ballots in the mail, and only three weeks from the August 28th primary, State Senator David Schapira has emerged as the Democratic standard-bearer in a closely watched and increasingly nasty three-way congressional race in Arizona that many observers see as a litmus test for national Democratic chances to pick up critical seats in Congress.
“The primary in Congressional District 9 has pitted three of the brightest members of the Democratic Party in Arizona against each other. All three candidates are leaders in our state and I am honored to call them friends.
Endorsements are a funny thing. Most of them aren't worth anything at all. I have two friends running in the Democratic primary in Arizona's brand new 9th CD, Kyrsten Sinema and Andrei Cherny. Kyrsten is a progressive and Andrei is somewhere in his own world ideologically. But the third guy... well, he's the one who's been endorsed by Raúl-- and by PDA. Whomever wins the August 28th primary is, likelier than not, headed to Congress. That third guy is David Schapira, the Senate Democratic Leader.
On the May Inside the Party call, David Schapira (AZ-9) received the PDA National endorsement. Currently David Schapira is the Arizona State Senate Democratic Leader.
The Arizona Communications Workers of America (CWA) State Council announced today their endorsement of Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in the race for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. The state council is comprised of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association (AZCPOA), the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and multiple CWA local affiliates.
Congressman Raúl Grijalva, AZ-07, today announced his endorsement of Arizona Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in his campaign for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. “Voters are looking for candidates who stand up for what they believe in and can win, not by hiding their values, but by sharing them with voters. David is that candidate,” said Rep. Grijalva.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pushes the country's most anti-union agenda yet. David Shapira, Democratic leader of the Arizona state senate, slams his Republican colleagues. Welcome back to "The Ed Show." Jan Brewer and the Arizona Republicans are on a tear. they are on the offensive. they are on a mission to completely destroy public employee unions. have you heard the story before?
As predicted, former state Senator Kyrsten Sinema's not the only Democrat with her eye on Arizona's new Congressional seat -- this morning, state Senate Minority Leader David Schapira announced that he, too, will run in Arizona's newly formed 9th Congressional district.