As the summer heats up, Democratic governors and candidates are working tirelessly -- and with great success -- throughout America. Recent polls show Democratic Governors Rod Blagojevich of Illinois and Brad Henry of Oklahoma with substantial leads in their respective states over Republican challengers.
Democrat gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter of Colorado continues to sizzle this summer and, if the election were today, would be the next governor of Colorado. Lt. Governor Charles Fogarty has taken this summer to show Rhode Islanders that he has the leadership, integrity and the platform to succeed as the next governor -- and they have responded. Fogarty has jumped up in the polls, and now leads the incumbent by 1%.
Governor Vilsack and Heartland PAC hope to have Bill Ritter and Charles Fogarty join Gov. Blagojevich and Henry as Democratic governors on November 7th.
Heartland PAC continues to support Democratic candidates throughout America as we build the bench. We endorsed candidates for Secretary of State such as Jennifer Brunner of Ohio and Ken Gordon of Colorado -- and the Heartland PAC Community has responded. These campaigns for Secretary of State have been touched by people all across the country -- and your impact on their races has been tremendous.
The Heartland PAC community continues to grow daily. With your support, we have seen the early success for candidates we have endorsed, as well as our Democratic friends running across America.
It's a big day for voting rights nationwide.
The House of Representatives will vote on the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. As I wrote last week, this is a critical vote for the rights of millions of disenfranchised voters.
From the DNC:
Today the House considers the Voting Rights Act reauthorization. Despite the promises of the Republican leadership to bring this bipartisan, bicameral bill up under suspension of the rules - with no amendments - the House will consider four extremely dangerous amendments.
You can watch the debate on the Voting Rights Act on C-SPAN or youtube (I highly recommend the ).
In other news, the Georgia Supreme Court and U.S. District Court blocked the state's voter ID bill for the second year in a row. Georgians will not have to show IDs to vote in next week's primary, or in the November general election, if the ruling stands.
This is a huge victory for voting rights - particularly for poor, elderly and minority voters- as the NY Times explains:
The Voter ID law, passed in March 2005 by the Legislature, which is Republican controlled, originally required voters to have drivers' licenses or other government identification or to buy a special state card.
The fight in the House and Georgia is the same fight that must continue nationwide to ensure that our rights as voters are protected. It's the fight that must continue in Florida, where Secretary of State Cobb continues to drag her feet on paper trails for electronic voting machines. It is the fight that must continue in Ohio, where Ken Blackwell is blocking voter registration.
It's time for us to get to work to defend the very essence of our Democracy.
It seems ridiculous that in this day in age, we can't guarantee every citizen the right to vote. But yesterday Republican lawmakers blocked the renewal of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, enacted to prevent discrimination against minority voters at the polls.
Lawmakers are divided on several issues, including whether districts should supply bilingual voting ballots and whether hearings should examine the impact of this week's Supreme Court ruling on Texas redistricting.
This is not a case of manipulating ballots, polling machines or precincts - this is overtly refusing to renew what the Department of Justice calls "the single most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress."
The principles of Governor Vilsack's VOTES Declaration are important, but only when combined with the precedent of the Voting Rights Act. Millions of once-disenfranchised voters rely on the Voting Rights Act to make sure they can stand up and be heard by their local, state, and national leaders.
If lawmakers in Washington won't stand for fair elections nationwide, it's up to state elections officials to lead the charge. The election of Democratic secretaries of state like Jennifer Brunner, Michael Mauro, Ken Gordon, and Ross Miller has never been more important.
As a Houston Chronicle op-ed states: "'Trust us' is what the Republicans in Congress essentially are asking minority voters to do. Trust, however, is easier to ask for than to earn."
Cross Posted at DailyKos
Today Kenneth Blackwell's morning did not get off to the best start.
Governor Vilsack and his wife visited New Hampshire recently and spent time with Democrats in many areas of the State. His visit was hallmarked by many activists noting how impressed they were with his message and his skills as a speaker.
Soon after the visit, as word spread about how the Iowa Governor represented a breath of fresh air to the nation, numerous Democratic groups have invited the Governor to return and meet with them.
I expect Governor Vilsack will do well in the first-in-the-nation primary state and offer my congratulations to the good folks of Iowa for electing him as their Chief Executive.
[Promoted to the front page -- Kevin]
To outline a comprehensive national strategy for our country to compete in our increasingly global economy, the Progressive Policy Institute will be a releasing a new report called "Raising Our Game." Governor Vilsack, the chairman of PPI's partner organization, the Democratic Leadership Council, discussed this strategy in an op-ed in today's UK Financial Times.
From Governor Vilsack:
As global competition intensifies, the US needs a comprehensive national strategy to make it the most innovative, productive country in the world, able to create high-wage jobs and redeem the promise that each generation can enjoy more opportunity than the last.
Click here to read more of Governor Vilsack's op-ed. Click here to learn more about the PPI report.
Democratic leaders in New Hampshire had the chance to meet Governor Tom Vilsack over the past few days as he took a tour of the state. Governor Vilsack spent time with Democratic activists campaigning for Governor Lynch, and spoke with New Hampshire citizens.
The Des Moines Register writes:
At every stop this week, Vilsack made an earnest pitch for New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat seeking re-election this year. Vilsack has made campaigning for Democratic candidates for governor his national political mission this year.
With invitations for future trips to New Hampshire, Governor Vilsack will continue to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidates such as Governor Lynch across the country.
Governor Vilsack spoke, among other things, about the future of farming and the impact of the Iraq War on communities.
From the governor:
"The Iraqis may not understand that at the end of all of this, it is their responsibility," Vilsack said, carefully noting his visit to Iraq in April. "The first step in the process is to make sure they understand it is their responsibility and ask them, require them, force them to show progress in recognition of that fact."
Tom Beaumont covered Governor Vilsack's trip to New Hampshire -- you can check out the video here.
Netroots activists from across the country are converging in Las Vegas this weekend for Yearly Kos, a convention that brings together bloggers, politicians and leading experts to discuss the importance of the blogosphere in progressive politics.
Governor Vilsack will be attending Yearly Kos, as the San Francisco Chronicle notes:
Iowa's Vilsack, another Daily Kos favorite, said it is important for a candidate to talk openly and honestly in front of this audience, many of whom spend their day with their political bull detector set on stun.
Governor Vilsack is a member of the education panel on Saturday from 9-10 am, along with Ken Bernstein -- known as teacherken on Heartland PAC and Daily Kos. Teacherken was a frequent blogger on Heartland PAC during our education discussion in the fall.
If, like me, you weren't able to make it to Vegas for the convention, fear not. You can subscribe to a live streaming feed of the entire convention for $10 at Air America Radio.
If you do watch the education discussion, please let the Governor know your thoughts by joining the discussion.
6/10 UPDATE: Found a nice article by Jeff Zeleny of the Chicago Tribune about Governor Vilsack and Teacherken:
Now, Teacher Ken and other leading online activists are just as likely to find a spot on a politician's dance card, which they did here at the first convention of liberal bloggers. The teacher invited the governor to share the stage with him Saturday at an education panel and Vilsack accepted, eager for an entree into the blogosphere.
I was particularly interested in finding out how Teacherken and Vilsack coordinated their outfits before their panel -- click the link for the entire story. The netroots truly are amazing.
Today none other than The New York Times called our friend, Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell, out -- and the editors did it smack in the middle of the editorial page. It seems he just can't resist the temptation to keep Ohioans from voting:
The latest sign that Republicans have an election-year strategy to shut down voter registration drives comes from Ohio. As the state gears up for a very competitive election season this fall, its secretary of state, J. Kenneth Blackwell, has put in place "emergency" regulations that could hit voter registration workers with criminal penalties for perfectly legitimate registration practices. The rules are so draconian they could shut down registration drives in Ohio.
First: that's an outrage. Second, he must be pathologically shameless. Even after taking a pelting for tampering with our basic right to vote -- most recently in a damning blockbuster story in Rolling Stone by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. -- Blackwell has no compunctions at all about conjuring more roadblacks to democracy out of thin air.
Third, the Times makes a brilliant point that squares perfectly with the VOTES Declaration: Blackwell, as a candidate for governor, has no business holding even an iota of responsibility for the rules governing this election. The Times says it well:
Amen to that.
Don't sit on your outrage. Send a message that we believe in our democracy -- and that we won't tolerate more Blackwell shenanigans. You know what to do: sign the VOTES Declaration today.
Say you're a student at Kenyon College -- a young idealist. It's 2004. You're ready to cast a vote in the first, most important election of your life. Do you think Ohio secretary of state J. Kenneth Blackwell might rise to the occasion by putting on a clinic -- by giving you a showcase study on how American democracy works?
Well, Blackwell gave students a clinic in democracy, alright:
At Kenyon College in Gambier... there were only two machines for 1,300 would-be voters, even though "a surge of late registrations promised a record vote." Gambier residents and Kenyon students had to stand in line for hours, in the rain and in "crowded, narrow hallways," with some of them inevitably forced to call it quits. "In contrast, at nearby Mt. Vernon Nazarene University, which is considered more Republican leaning, there were ample waiting machines and no lines." This was not a consequence of limited resources. In Franklin County alone, as voters stood for hours throughout Columbus and elsewhere, at least 125 machines collected dust in storage. The county's election officials had "decided to make do with 2,866 machines, even though the analysis showed that the county needs 5,000 machines."
Blackwell gamed the system -- and in the process, he made a mockery of the most basic right we have in our democracy. Sure, the Kenyon students could vote. But how could they make good on that right without voting machines?
That, in a nutshell, sums up why we need to support Jennifer Brunner and every secretary of state candidate who follows the ideals of the VOTES Declaration. Americans can fully believe in our democracy only when election officials respect it. It's clear Ken Blackwell doesn't respect it -- or Ohio's voters -- at all.
I wanted to draw your attention to an article that appeared recently in Rolling Stone Magazine titled "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" authored by Robert Kennedy, Jr.
Kennedy does an exceptionally fine job explaining the mystery of 2004 exit polling. He uses data by Steven F. Freeman, who specializes in research methodology, to support his thesis the exit polls were accurate:
This article is a must-read for our community and anyone who cares about the electoral process. And it's one of the reasons we are circulating the VOTES Declaration and will vigorously support secretary of state candidates who control the electoral process in their state.
This Declaration outlines five basic principles to ensure that what happened in 2000 and 2004 will not be repeated in the future.
We have collected close to 9,000 signatures, and with your help we hope to add even more. When we send the VOTES Declaration to every candidate and incumbent secretary of state, we want to send a clear and unambiguous message that voting is a right, not a privilege.
Twenty-two elections for secretaries of state who control the electoral process will be contested in 2006, including Ohio. Kennedy includes a quote from Rep. John Conyers:
Kennedy's article reinforces the importance of secretary of state races. I hope with the help of our community we can draw attention to these often overlooked races and help elect candidates who will work through fairness and integrity to restore our collective faith that voting matters and that our votes will be counted.
Next Monday we will introduce you to our first endorsed candidate, but first, help us gain momentum for this important effort by sending the article and petition to friends and relatives -- to anyone you know who is fed-up with voting systems that decrease turnout and increase cynicism.
With 27 votes in the Electoral College, Florida is too important to have questionable elections. Secretary of State Glenda Hood is picking up where Katherine Harris left off: falling short in ensuring free elections.
Anthony York of Salon.com wrote about the 2000 elections:
The Salon investigation of Florida's voter rolls last year revealed that many voters, perhaps thousands, lost their right to vote because their names appeared on a flaw-ridden list generated by DBT (which has tight Republican ties) that included purported "felons." The investigation revealed that the lists were used in different ways at each of the state's 67 individual county election boards. Some found the list too unreliable and didn't use it at all, but most used the file as a resource to purge names from their voter lists. A disproportionate number of the voters purged were Democrats.
Since 2000, the situation in Florida hasn't gotten much better for voters. Under new Florida law, the Secretary of State position is now an appointed position, instead of popularly elected. Jeb's appointee, Glenda Hood, hasn't fixed many of the problems with the Florida electoral system that became so evident after 2000.
The New York Times reports complications with the felon list:
Few of those wrongly purged from the voting rolls in 2000 are back on the voter lists. State officials have imposed Kafkaesque hurdles for voters trying to get back on the rolls. Depending on the county, those attempting to get their votes back have been required to seek clemency for crimes committed by others, or to go through quasi-judicial proceedings to prove that they are not felons with similar names.
Regardless of how these secretaries of state came to assume their positions, both have failed to ensure Florida's elections are free and fair. The felon list is just one example of the overt negligence on the parts of these secretaries of state.
Oklahoma has been ahead of the curve for election reform for decades. According to ElectionLine, "Oklahoma had uniform election equipment and other HAVA-required election procedures prior to 2000. The state's voters have been casting ballots counted by optical-scan machines since 1992."
One Political Animal commenter explains Oklahoma's system:
Oklahoma does have a good election system in place. The optical scan ballots require you to draw a line, with the pen they give you, between two marks to complete an arrow by the candidate of your choice. You then slide the ballot into a counting machine, face up or face down. If your ballot contains overvotes, or no valid votes at all, it gets kicked back to you and you get another one and start over. They're also paper ballots, making real recounts pretty easy.
Democrat Michael Clingaman, secretary of the State Election Board, believes that Oklahoma's high standards served as a model for the Help America Vote Act:
"Probably...they would not have passed the Help America Vote Act if all the states had done what Oklahoma did and the state Legislature did about 15 years ago."
In little over one week, 6,000 people have signed the VOTES Declaration and added their comments, all of which we will be sending on to the elections official in your state.
We wanted to highlight some of the comments, stories and opinions you have shared on our blog:
These are just a few of the stories and thoughts you have included with your siganture. If you haven't added your name please do so now or tell your friends to join us in signing the VOTES Declaration.
Over the next few weeks we are going to be exploring the good and the bad of elections in this country to highlight why this years elections for governor and secretary of state are so important.
Governor Vilsack will be on Charlie Rose this evening (Thursday) with guest host Mark Halperin, the Political Director for ABC News.
You can find out when the show is airing on your local PBS station by clicking here.
Find out more about The Charlie Rose Show here.
Acclaimed interviewer and broadcast journalist Charlie Rose engages America's best thinkers, writers, politicians, athletes, entertainers, business leaders, scientists and other newsmakers in one-on-one interviews and roundtable discussions.
Charlie Rose airs Monday through Friday on over 200 PBS affiliates throughout the United States. Programs are one hour. The show's schedule varies depending on your location.
Governor Vilsack recently spoke at the John C. West Forum on Politics and Society at the University of South Carolina. The purpose of the Forum is "to encourage informed civic involvement, advance public understanding of political processes and issues, and nurture new generations of informed, effective political leaders."
The governor spoke about his path into politics and gave advice to prospective public servants. In one question, he discussed the importance of bipartisan cooperation:
Neither party has a monopoly on only the great ideas. We need to learn from each other. And one of the things that I think I brought to the governorship was having served in the Senate. I had an appreciation for the difficult challenges that legislators face and that difficult issue of do I press the green button or do I press the red button. And I try to take that into consideration in dealing with legislators and I try to give folks credit.
To read a transcript of the entire interview, click here.
As we discuss healthcare, a lot of focus is on the gaps in coverage and how we have to figure out how to cover them. But President Bush and the Republican Congress claimed to have filled one of those gaps with Medicare Part D -- but based on the comments we've received it has seemed to create an even larger disaster than exist before.
Amongst the ideas we received a number of stories about the consequences of this bungled opportunity to ease and extend the lives of millions of seniors. Joan of California had one:
The results of this law are why much of this community is arguing that we must have a comprehensive, national solution to the healthcare issues we all face.
What do you think? Have you or anyone in your family had any experience with Medicare Part D?
In all of the submissions of healthcare ideas, we have also recieved many comments from people who have personally experienced problems in our healthcare system that affect millions of other Americans. One of those problems is coverage for the millions of self-employed Americans.
For instance, Erin from Albuquerque, New Mexico writes:
With approximetly 10 Million Americans self-employed, this is an issue we need to take a closer look at.
What are you thoughts?
Today Governor Vilsack asked the Heartland PAC community for more new policy ideas on healthcare in an e-mail:
What are your ideas on healthcare? Submit them today.
Transcripts are now available of Governor Vilsack's appearance on Tavis Smiley earlier this week. The governor discussed his recent trip to Iraq and Afghanistan and energy policies, among other things.
My favorite quote by the governor:
We are a party that must convince people that we can keep them safe. We are a party that must convince people that we're not about the status quo. That we're embracing reform. We're a party that understands that there are people struggling out there, and we need to be able to identify with those people again.
Remember to click here for the rest of the transcript.
Governor Vilsack will be appearing tonight on "Tavis Smiley" on PBS. Please check with your local PBS affiliate to find out when the show will be airing in your hometown:
Click here to find your local PBS station schedule.
If you miss the show, transcripts will be available on the "Tavis Smiley" website soon.
As an added bonus, singer-songwriter Ben Harper will be performing. Hope you can tune in -- or set your Tivos!
Jason was another person to submit "Common Sense for the Common Good" and in his explination about why he chose those words he touches on some important points -- especially how common sense is more than just a cliche, but part of our history:
Jason of Chicago, IL
"Common Sense for the Common Good"
Well, first I realized that there was no good way of summing up the generally agreed upon principles of the Democratic Party in 10 words--not only would that be next to impossible, given the variety of issues the country faces, but also probably pretty laundry-list-ish, pretty dull. I figured a slogan should be catchy and evoke a larger theme--maybe engage in some of that "framing" we hear so much about these days. "Common sense" is not only a desirable quality, but also the name of Thomas Paine's incredibly influential political pamphlet. And "common good" spoke to me, not just from a framing perspective (use of the word "good" is always good, I figured), but also as a fundamental concept that has virtually disappeared from public debate in this country--much to our detriment. We need to think a LOT more about the "common good," not only in our own country, but globally too. And since you've got "common" in the slogan twice, that makes the whole thing kinda catchy.
What do you think?
"Honest" and "opportunity" were two of the most often used words in all of the submissions and it was no suprise that one of the top three contained in them Rob's top three submission. Here is why Rob incliuded them:
Rob Sand of Decorah, IA
"Equal opportunities, better lives, and honest government for all Americans."
These are the most fundamental criteria for government, but all of them seem to have been forgotten lately. Leveling the playing field of opportunity, so that those born into difficult circumstances still have the same opportunities as those born into the best. I chose "better lives" because, for better or worse, government affects our lives. I'm tired of seeing too little public service from our "public servants," and its time government refocus on doing what is best for Americans in the long run. Finally, I chose "honest government" because I want to live in a nation where, whether or not one agrees with an elected official, they know the official is speaking the truth and representing their values. That means more accountability, more oversight, and getting the money out of politics.
What do you think?
One of our enteries was submitted by three different people at three different times. A testimate to its popularity from the beginning.
Brenda from Wakefield, RI shared her thoughts on why she submitted "Common Sense of the Common Good." and I proud to have people like Brenda involved in this project. When your done reading her thoughts I recomend you read Michael Tomasky's cover story on The American Prospect, she explained to me on the phone how effectively this article expresses the need for the Demcorats to return to the notion of the common good.
It is a great companion to Brenda's exploration of her submission after the jump Read More »
The final three submissions are short, pithy and of course less than ten words. So we asked the finalists to write a paragraph or two about why they chose their words.
Stacy from Inverness, FL
"The Democratic Party: The People Are Our "Special Interest'"
I chose my 10 words because I think the biggest strength the Democratic Party holds is that our party truly cares about the needs of the hardworking men and women of this country, where as the Republican Party only seems to care about the high dollar special interest groups and the corporate donors that fund them.. We are a government for the people, by the people, and the Democratic party has never lost sight of that fact. It's time to return the country to the hands of the people, and the only way to do that is to elect Democrats to every position on the local, state, and federal levels.. The Democratic party has only one "special interest group," and it's the hardworking men and women of this country..
We will be posting the others throughout the day. What do yout hink of Stacy's comments?