When your local communities are politically Progressive you can reach out but not too far

As explained my previous posts, I live in my hometown of Bainbridge Island, Washington, located on Puget Sound. In fact, Ash and I bought my family home and have remodeled and updated it.

We love living here, partly because of the Progressive social atmosphere. The fact is that Bainbridge Island voters vote 4-1 Democratic.

Our Governor, Jay Inslee, is the new chairman of the Democratic Governors' Association. He is also a resident of Bainbridge Island and a former 6th District Congressman representing our region. When he was still in Congress, Inslee co-authored a book called Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy and earned a reputation in Congress as a leading advocate of renewable energy.

Since his election as governor in 2012 and reelection in 2016, Inslee has tried to bring to Washington State his vision for clean energy policy espoused in his book.

Since Inslee has been Governor, Democrats controlled the Washington State House of Representatives. But until November 7, 2017, they had been one seat short of a majority in the Senate. The Republican Senate forced Democrats to compromise on a smaller state budget and, along with his clean energy initiative, killed Governor Inslee's other priorities such as providing adequate school funding, voting rights, and birth control.

The death of a Republican Senator created a significant political race in which the opponents were two Asian-American women,  Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund of Korean-American descent, and Democrat Manka Dhingra of Indian-American descent. The race set spending records.

The Republican side spent $4.7 million — between the campaign and outside groups making virtually unlimited “independent” expenditures — about 14 percent more than the Democrats’ $4.1 million, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.

Major oil companies including Tesoro and Phillips 66 dropped major cash to help Englund and possibly avoid new taxes on fossil fuels.

Billionaires Michael Bloomberg of New York and Tom Steyer of California did the same to help Dhingra and fight for climate change.

As one local radio station reported:
    Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington state Democratic Party,told the crowd they had just put the last brick in “the big blue wall.”
    “The big blue wall means California, Oregon, all of us together can pass statewide policies that are against the Trump agenda,” she told KUOW.
    About one in six Americans lives in the three states.
It did not escape my attention that both candidates were women of Asian ethnic minorities. But it is important that the Democrat,  Manka Dhingra, won

In my professional field - healthcare - in the United States government policy about everything from licensing and regulating doctors and nurses and technicians and hospitals and abortion clinics is controlled by elected state legislatures. Only healthcare funding has been substantially turned over the Congress. So I care about who gets elected to the Washington State Senate and House.

The State of Washington, with a total population of 7.4 million has 49 members in its House of Representatives each representing about 151,000 constituents.

In 1983 the voters of my state, Washington, created an independent Washington Redistricting Commission, a decennial body charged with redrawing congressional and legislative districts after each official federal census. The Commission consists of four appointees made jointly by the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate. Those four appoint a fifth member as non-voting chair. While not a perfect solution, it tends to avoid creating the truly peculiar shaped districts.

Each state legislative district sends one senator and two representatives to the Legislature. My District 23 Senator is Democrat Christine Rolfes and District 23 State House members are Democrats Sherry Appleton and Drew Hansen.

Rolfes, a native of New York, earned a BA in Economics from the University of Virginia and then an MPA from the University of Washington, served on the Bainbridge Island City Council from 2000 until 2006, then as representative of the 23rd district in the Washington State House of Representatives from January 2007 until July 2011 when she began her service as Washington State Senator for the 23rd District.

Appleton, a native of Providence, RI, who attended the University of Miami (FL), is a former two-term Poulsbo, Washington, City Council member, was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives in 2004, was appointed by Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to serve on the Washington State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, sits on the state’s Public Defense Advisory Committee,  Commission on Judicial Conduct, State Council on Aging, and the Joint Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, and previously served as chair of the NARAL PAC, board member of NARAL, and vice-chair of the State Women’s Political Caucus.

Hansen, a Washington native, holds a bachelor's degrees from Harvard, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and received a Master's from the University of Washington, and a J.D. from Yale Law school, is the author of The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Speech that Inspired a Nation , and successfully practiced public benefit law prior to elected to the Washington State House of Representatives in 2012.

So my family lives in a local community of people who elect Progressive Democrats to the state legislature. But I remain aware that in the State Senate the Democrats have a one vote majority and an election in November could alter that. And the Democrats do not represent a united front - not all are Progressives. So I have to be aware of this map...
...as Democrats set out to win more State Senate seats in November. But that isn't all. I live in the United States. So for discussion purposes, let's look at another map in recognition of the fact that one of the communities on my "responsibility list" is the United States:
The State of Wisconsin, with a total population of 5.8 million, has 33 members in its State Senate each representing about 175,000 constituents. Both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature are controlled by Republicans in 2018. And apparently having Republicans keep that control is very important to Neoliberals.

The Neoliberal group Americans for Prosperity, backed by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, poured $50,000 into a recent race for the rural Wisconsin 10th State Senate district supporting Republican Assemblyman Adam Jarchow. Jarchow is your average Wisconsin conservative Republican who also got $80,000 from the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, a GOP-aligned group funded by the business community and the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform, a Neoliberal group also with ties to the Koch brothers. (The Wisconsin Alliance for Reform $1.8 million on a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice race in 2017.)  But having a well-funded organization isn't everything....

In mid-January in Wisconsin, Democratic State Senate candidate Patty Schachtner beat Republican Assemblyman Adam Jarchow by nine points in a district Trump won by 17 points in 2016 despite the Koch/Neoliberal effort against her.

Schachtner is obviously no slacker. She is the chief medical examiner for St. Croix County, a former EMT, a member of the school board, a trustee for the local food pantry and sits on the board for a community center that helps victims of sexual and domestic violence. She’s been married to her husband, Joe, for 39 years, and they have six grown children and nine grandchildren.

Schachtner is part of her community which is why on her website biographical page the first paragraph reminds the folks that as a former member of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters’ Association she and her family have enjoyed hunting in Wisconsin for generations.

Hunting isn't my thing. But I do get her view and we share a professional concern about who controls healthcare policy in our respective states.

As a Progressive she explained to the Associated Press:
    People sent a message tonight: We don't want to be negative anymore. Change it up. I ran a positive campaign.
    My message has always been be kind, be considerate and we need to help people when they're down.
The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, backed by Barack Obama and Eric Holder, spent $10,000 on her campaign while the Greater Wisconsin Committee (GWC), a Progressive organization founded in 2004 in the face of the Neoliberal effort, contributed $30,000. And the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) provided advertising support.

For Progressives nationwide, that's part of a good, albeit modest, 2018 start to challenge Neoliberal control of state governments. As of December 2017, there are 7,383 legislators in the 50 state legislatures. Republicans have majority control in 32 of the state legislatures and the Senate-only in three.

Over the past seven decades, the Neoliberals have systematically accomplished taking control of the state governments through the efforts of the 152 affiliate and associate organizations of the Neoliberal State Policy Network, most funded by grants from the wealthy as explained in Wealthy Neoliberals Matter: How an Economic Ideology Took Control of  U.S. State and National Legislative Agendas.

Like all Progressives, in 2018 I would like to effectively help Progressive candidates in all 50 states. But in 2016 in my state, voters...
  • elected a Democratic Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Commissioner of Public Lands, Auditor, Attorney General, and Insurance Commissioner;
  • reelected Progressive Supreme Court Justices Barbara Madsen, Mary Yu, and Charlie Wiggins, despite their having endured months of attacks by the right wing;
  • elected a majority Democratic congressional delegation; 
  • increased the State House’s Democratic majority; 
  • brought state Senate Democrats to within one vote of a majority which, as discussed above, in November 2017 was increased to a majority; and
This year we must re-elect U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, plus increase the number of Democrats in our congressional delegation, State House of Representatives, and most importantly, in the State Senate. Cantwell is not in danger, though she is so important to the U.S. Senate scene that the PAC for a Level Playing field, Elizabeth Warren’s leadership PAC, donated to Cantwell Victory 2018.

Of particular importance, there are 24 State Senate seats up for election in 2018. We will have to make sure not to lose even one now held by Democrats and win at least five of the 11 now held by Republicans.

Unfortunately, Progressives here in Washington need to focus on activity supporting our candidates across our state. Reaching out to help in other states may not be an option for me in 2018 given the planned midterm election activity of the Koch Neoliberal network. Here in Washington we need to solidify “the big blue wall.” I will do my part and just hope that across the country others will do the same.

I encourage them to do so because when your communities are as deeply Progressive as mine you are surrounded by people embracing what Wisconsin's Patty Schachtner suggests: "Be kind, be considerate and we need to help people when they're down."