As we enter a new year full of opportunities to advance the progressive agenda, we want to take stock of what we accomplished together in 2012. Whether campaigning for candidates or organizing around an issue, our success comes from the dedication and energy of 21st Century Democrats’ supporters working together. We thank you for all the time, money and attention that you contribute to our shared goals.
The election dominated 2012, and we never lost focus on November. Starting in January, with the Republican presidential candidates still in their primary, we made sure people knew the real story about Mitt Romney and Bain Capital. When the GOP tried to package Romney as a leader on the economy, we focused on what Bain did to the employees of the companies it took over, reminding the public that we need leaders who fight for the people, not Wall Street.
We used our experience and network to counter the disastrous Supreme Court Citizens United decision and attempts by super-PACs, controlled and funded by the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers, to buy the election. We made sure your voices were heard when we fought back against the flood of dark money, and when we committed early to the reelection of Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana, two of the extremists’ top targets.
We represented our supporters at the Democratic National Convention, bringing together progressive Democrats for a chance to network and meet special guests, like Jim Hightower and Bill Press.
During the 2012 election cycle, we endorsed 12 candidates in some of the most expensive and competitive races in the country. Come Election Day, voters recognized the importance of the progressive agenda by electing 11 of them. We worked with supporters like to you to volunteer, make donations and support our endorsed candidates in every way, and we know that’s why our candidates had such a successful year.
We capped off the campaign with a special post-election briefing with Jim Hightower, Senator Sherrod Brown campaign manager Sarah Benzing, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and 21st Century Democrats board member Jere Glover. Hundreds of you tuned in to hear them answer your questions on the election results and what comes next for the administration and the progressive movement.
Of course, there was more to the year than the election. We never stopped fighting back against Tea Party zealots and their outrageous positions, from their relentless campaigning against Obamacare to the war on women led by Rush Limbaugh.
Throughout 2012, we collected thousands of responses to our petitions, which give our campaigns political clout, and our surveys, which told us what issues are most important to you and where you wanted your resources focused. We got our message out to thousands on Twitter and Facebook, and we rolled out new designs of our websites, allowing us to better communicate with existing supporters and reach out to new ones.
We also saw substantial growth in the audience for our AmericasDemocrats.org netcast, which had downloads in the tens of thousands. The netcast explores progressive perspectives on public policy, economic debates and national politics, and features weekly segments with Jim Hightower and Bill Press.
Through our interviews with top Democrats and progressive leaders every week, we brought listeners the latest news, like on Wisconsin and its gubernatorial recall; in-depth discussions on the Supreme Court health care, immigration and campaign finance decisions; and expert analyses of the presidential and congressional campaigns across the country.
We also featured talks with friends like Pete Seeger about the legacy of Woody Guthrie, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend on the role of religion in politics, and Barney Frank about marrying his partner and leaving Congress.
We are ending this very productive year by making sure the president hears your “no compromise” message. We will continue to call for the president and Democrats to stand strong for progressive values. And as you know, we have already seen the signs of conservative extremists intensifying their campaigns in places like Michigan, and we will be there to answer them.
Clearly, moving into 2013, we have many opportunities to further our agenda and make sure we protect our hard-fought progress.
We couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished this year, and we are so thankful to you for making our work possible. We know we can count on you to make 2013 equally successful.
This morning, we had three undecided races, and we can now report good news on all three.
Steve Bullock is the new governor of Montana, and retiring Representative Bob Filner is the new mayor of San Diego.
In New York, the AP and other outlets have called the race for Dan Maffei. While his opponent hasn’t yet conceded, with 99 percent of votes counted, it looks good for Dan.
Together we won!
Nov. 7, 2012, 1 p.m.
Thank you to all our supporters for your hard work. Because of you, today is a great day for the country and for our endorsed candidates.
Starting at the top, we are proud our country re-elected President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. They deserved a second term, and there’s no doubt the world will be better with them in the White House.
So far we know voters returned all three our of incumbent Senators — Sherrod Brown, Jon Tester and Kirsten Gillibrand — to the U.S. Senate. We’re especially satisfied with these wins because they bested their real opponents, Karl Rove and the Koch brothers, and that’s a crucial victory for democracy and the country.
We hare happy to report they will be joined in the Senate by two strong new Senators, Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren and New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich.
We have good news on the House side, too. Taking seats back from Tea Party Republicans are Florida’s Alan Grayson, Minnesota’s Rick Nolan and New Hampshire’s Carol Shea-Porter.
It’s looking good for Montana gubernatorial candidate Steve Bullock, but the state hasn’t yet finished its count in this close race. We also don’t yet have final calls on retiring Representative Bob Filner’s San Diego mayoral campaign and Dan Maffei’s bid to take back a House seat in New York from Republicans, but we’re optimistic for both of them.
Regrettably, we have one loss to report this morning. Betty Sutton narrowly lost her bid in one of the nastiest and most expensive races in the country. This was an incumbent-on-incumbent match in a new district drawn to favor Betty’s Republican opponent by including about half of his old district but only 20 percent of hers.
A Montana court has sided with Steve Bullock, ordering that his opponent in the state’s gubernatorial race, Rep. Rick Hill, cease spending any of an illegal $500,000 contribution he accepted and take down any ads that were purchased with those funds.
“This decision confirms what Montanans know – no one is above the law. Steve Bullock has led the national fight to make sure that it’s people, not corporations and special-interests, that decide our elections,” said Kevin O’Brien, campaign manager for Bullock, who has been called ”the biggest threat to Citizens United.”
“Montana voters know that Steve is not afraid to stand up to the out-of-state special interests and ensure that our government works for farmers and ranchers, small-business owners and middle-class families. Congressman Hill now needs to do the right thing and give the illegal contribution back.”
When leveling the playing field to only legal contributions, Bullock’s campaign raised twice as much as Hill during the last reporting period.
“I’m proud that I can say two things Congressman Hill can’t: All of our contributions are completely legal, and we have a strong fundraising base. In just 42 days, we raised over $320,000 from over 2,500 people – that’s three times as many contributors and double the funds as the Congressman’s campaign,” Bullock said. “I’m energized by the support we’ve received and proud we’re running a law-abiding campaign that Montanans can be proud of.”
Bullock raised a total of $321,461 from over 2,500 contributors this reporting period, for an average of $7,653 per day.
Hill received $163,830 in legal contributions this reporting period, from less than 900 donors, for an average of $3,900 per day, according to initial reports.
The Bob Filner for Mayor campaign today announced the endorsement of former President Bill Clinton.
“Bob has the experience to move San Diego forward – to create good-paying 21st century jobs, to support quality public education, and to put neighborhoods first, not special interests,” Clinton said in a recorded statement.
“As a Freedom Rider in the 1960s, Bob showed he had the courage to do what’s right, and that’s exactly what he will do as mayor of San Diego.”
Filner expressed appreciation for President Clinton’s endorsement: “I was proud to work with President Clinton to secure funding for major local infrastructure projects, to save ratepayers over $3 billion, and to strengthen our relations with Mexico, among other things. He represents the kind of bipartisan cooperation that puts problem-solving ahead of politics, and that’s the kind of mayor I will be for San Diego.”
Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and other extremist super PACs have spent $21.1 million on ads attacking Ohio’s Senator Sherrod Brown in his reelection bid, more dark money than any other Senate candidate has faced.
Going into Election Day, Brown’s opponent, Josh Mandel, has called Brown “un-American” for championing the auto rescue and has come out against Brown’s bipartisan bill to level the playing field for American workers by cracking down on Chinese currency manipulation.
The Brown campaign has responded with a new ad featuring Ohio workers speaking up about the false attacks on Brown by Mandel and the GOP special interest groups, praising Browns’s leadership on the auto rescue and China currency, and denouncing Mandel for opposing the auto rescue and Brown’s efforts to protect American workers by making China play fair.
“While Josh Mandel wears Politifact Ohio’s ‘Pants on Fire crown’ with dubious pride, his special interest friends continue pouring more than $21 million into Ohio for attack ads smearing Sherrod’s record of championing the auto rescue and protecting American workers by making China play fair,” said Sadie Weiner, spokeswoman for Friends of Sherrod Brown.
“Still, the contrast in this race couldn’t be clearer – Josh Mandel opposed Sherrod’s efforts to pass the auto rescue package; he opposes Sherrod’s bipartisan bill to level the playing field for American workers by cracking down on Chinese currency manipulation; and he’s quite simply a politician who can’t be trusted.”
Montana’s Republican Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger endorses Sen. Jon Tester
Montana Senator Jon Tester earned endorsements from all of Montana’s major newspapers. His opponent, lobbyist-turned Congressman Dennis Rehberg, criticized for suing firefighters for money and for protecting tax loopholes for millionaires, earned no endorsements.
And Tester has added one more notable endorsement, with Montana’s Republican Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger saying, “We need to return Jon Tester to the Senate to protect our Social Security.”
Below are key excerpts from Tester’s newspaper endorsements:
“In this year’s race for U.S. Senate, Montanans have a choice between the incumbent senator who is completing his first six-year term and the state’s sole U.S. representative who has been in that office for 12 years… A hard-working moderate, Sen. Jon Tester has accomplished more for Montana in his first term than Rep. Denny Rehberg has in twice that time… Tester brings a Montana can-do approach to Congress… as the candidate best able to work across the aisle and get important things done for Montana and the country.” – The Billings Gazette, 10/21/2012
“[Tester is] certainly not the rubber-stamp his critics portray him to be… Far from merely adding to the ever-increasing campaign noise, Tester has consistently shown that he follows through on his promises with meaningful action… Tester deserves applause for sticking his neck out to act on the concerns of western Montanans with a homegrown attempt to solve our timber, jobs and economic problems. No one else has even tried. So let’s send Tester back to the Senate, where he can keep working to do what’s best for Montana.” – Missoulian, 10/28/2012
“Tester has shown more willingness and ability to work toward solutions than has Rehberg, qualities sorely needed in Congress, perhaps now more than ever… We need statesmen, not political rhetoric.” – The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 10/14/2012
“In the wild world of politics, especially when closing in on an election, it’s nice to hand out praise for getting something done. U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s… ‘once-in-a-generation’ sportsmen’s act [advanced] with 84 ayes. The act represents more than 20 bills that ensure hunting and fishing access along with protections for species and land. The bill is supported by 56 groups ranging from the National Rifle Association to The Nature Conservancy.” – The Helena Independent-Record, 10/21/2012
“Congratulations, Sen. Tester on your leadership and collaborative effort in getting this positive outcome… We hope [Montanans] will consider demonstrated deal-making skills along with everything else when casting your vote.” – Montana Standard, 10/21/2012
The New York Times has endorsed Dan Maffei in his race against Rep. Ann Marie for New York’s 24th District seat, citing the Democrat’s record on the environment and his “reasonable views.”
“All that voters really need to know is that their conservative Republican congresswoman, Ann Marie Buerkle, was named one of the ‘Flat Earth Five’ by the League of Conservation Voters. She won this title for denying the existence of global warming,” the Times wrote.
Former Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida remains in the lead in his race to return to the U.S. House. In a new interview, the Washington Post asked Grayson his thoughts on how Democrats have defended health care reform.
How do you think Democrats have weathered the criticisms of health-care reform since its passage?
Grayson: Poorly, because Republicans have been effective at putting people on the defensive on the Democratic side in way that they don’t deserve to be, starting with Sarah Palin’s tweets about death panels.
I’ve tried to change that. There are a lot of good things in there. That’s why we passed it. Republicans, unfortunately, have imagined things that are not in the bill and quite effectively put Democrats on the defensive.
So how would you suggest that Democrats should defend the law?
Grayson: I think that it’s clear from the polls that the Republicans and the right wing have effectively conned most of America that this bill is bad for them, when, in fact, it’s not. Any objective observer would look at this and say that anyone — seniors, the insured, the uninsured — huge numbers of Americans have benefited from this bill. Sometimes narrow majorities say they like the bill, more often, narrow majorities say they don’t like the bill.
This bill provides coverage to 40 million Americans who don’t have it. The bill eliminates the doughnut hole for seniors, eliminates the ability of insurance companies to pull the plug on you when costs get expensive. It eliminates their ability to limit coverage or care based on preexisting conditions. I think if most people were to look at it and say does this bill help me, the vast majority would say that it helps them.
The reason why the health insurance companies took the trouble to spend $2 million to defeat me last time is because I introduced a four-page bill that would allow anybody to buy into Medicare at cost. And I got 82 co-sponsors in four weeks. And that threw the insurance companies into a tizzy.
So if you really think that I was defeated because I was outspoken, that shows a naivete in a political system that I find ridiculous. They spent that money against me because I wanted to have an effective public option and I made a lot of progress towards doing it.
Back in June, Carol Shea-Porter, running to represent New Hampshire in the U.S. House, called on her opponent, Rep. Frank Guinta, to sign a joint statement to ask super PACs to stay out of the campaign and let New Hampshire voters make their decisions without undue influence.
Shea-Porter also proposed they jointly ask all super PACs and all 501(c)(4) groups, such as the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, to stay out of the race completely.
“Mr. Guinta and I have an opportunity to start cleaning up campaigns, as the voters want us to, but he has so far refused. I hope he changes his mind,” said Shea-Porter at the time.
Now, just weeks before the election, Guinta says he doesn’t like the outside money. “In comes an outside group and has a negative ad on your opponent, and it reflects poorly on you as the candidate,” Guinta said.
Not so fast, says the Shea-Porter campaign, which called out Guinta’s for his own campaign ads that have attacked her just as much as the outside ads now flooding New Hampshire stations.
A new $2 million ad buy launched on Guinta’s behalf against Shea-Porter comes on the heels of the revelation that he is struggling to raise money as the campaign enters its final stretch, according to the Shea-Porter campaign.
“Outside groups have rushed in to bail out Frank Guinta’s failing campaign,” said Naomi Andrews, campaign manager for Carol Shea-Porter. “While he may not be able to afford his own attack ads anymore, voters should expect his campaign’s negativity and hypocrisy to continue.”
As we enter a new year full of opportunities to advance the progressive agenda, we want to take stock of what we accomplished together in 2012. Whether campaigning for candidates or organizing around an issue, our success comes from the dedication and energy of 21st Century Democrats' supporters working together. [more]