Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Dr. Kim Schrier to speak at NPI’s Fifteenth Anniversary Picnic on Sunday, August 26th

Ten days from now, the team here at the Northwest Progressive Institute will be hosting our annual summer anniversary picnic at Redmond’s Perrigo Park to commemorate NPI’s founding. This year, we’re celebrating our fifteenth anniversary, and we’re delighted to announce that pediatrician Dr. Kim Schrier will be joining us as a featured speaker along with State Senator Patty Kuderer.

The daughter of an elementary school teacher and an aerospace engineer, Dr. Kim Schrier says she thought she’d never leave pediatrics… that is, until the current Republican-controlled Congress came along and tried to take away the healthcare of millions of Americans. Disgusted by Dave Reichert’s refusal to stand up to his party and put his constituents’ health before Donald Trump’s agenda, Dr. Schrier became a candidate for the position Reichert currently holds in Congress.

Currently, there are no women doctors serving in Congress — not even one. Dr. Schrier is determined to change that. We’re looking forward to hearing about her priorities for the 116th Congress if she’s elected on Sunday, August 26th.

We cordially invite all Cascadia Advocate readers to join us for the picnic. As in the past, we are not charging admission to this event, but we do ask if you can make a donation of $25 or more if you can afford to. All proceeds raised from the picnic will support NPI’s essential research and advocacy.

After Washington’s Top Two election is certified next Tuesday, Dr. Kim Schrier will be moving on to the general election along with Republican Dino Rossi. The Washington State Democratic Party has not yet formally endorsed her, but the party is expected to vote to nominate her next month when it meets in Spokane.

At a unity event yesterday in Issaquah, Schrier was enthusiastically endorsed by Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski and by the two other principal Democratic candidates who also challenged Rossi in the Top Two election: attorney Jason Rittereiser and Dr. Shannon Hader.

The seat being vacated by Reichert is considered the party’s best pickup opportunity within Washington State, but WA-03 and WA-05 are also districts where the party hopes to oust a Republican incumbent this year.

It is worth mentioning that U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler (WA-03) — who is a four-term incumbent — actually has a lower percentage of the vote than Dino Rossi does in the 8th, to the astonishment of many national observers (but not progressive activists in southwest Washington).

Meanwhile, over in WA-05, Lisa Brown’s candidacy has really spooked Cathy McMorris Rodgers and the Washington State Republicans. Brown was only a few hundred votes behind on Election Night. McMorris Rodgers has since widened the gap, but Brown is still a threat of the highest order to her reelection chances.

Should Schrier, Brown, and Herrera-Beutler challenger Carolyn Long all win, Washington State would have nine Democratic representatives in the United States House: five women and four men. Republicans would be left with just one federal officeholder from Washington State: Central Washington’s Dan Newhouse.

To win a majority in the United States House this autumn, Democrats will need to capture districts like WA-08 with candidates like Dr. Kim Schrier. We hope you can join us on Sunday, August 26th for a thoughtful discussion about taking our country forward instead of continuing to resurrect bad policies from the past, as Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell have been attempting to do.

Jason Rittereiser suspends congressional campaign; congratulates Kim Schrier

Attorney and former prosecutor Jason Rittereiser announced moments ago that he is suspending his campaign for Congress after concluding that his chances of overtaking Kim Schrier in Washington’s Top Two election are slim to none.

Here’s the full statement released by his campaign.

Today, I have suspended my campaign for Congress in WA-08. Despite making up ground in the vote total since election night in this close race, with today’s ballot release, it has become clear that the path to victory is unlikely. As a result, I have reached out to Kim Schrier to offer my congratulations, support, and best wishes in the general election.

This race has always been greater than any one individual. The 8th Congressional District will help determine control of the House of Representatives. I care deeply about this district, and as Democrats, we must win this seat. The best thing for our party, the district, and our nation, is to come together to ensure we take back control of Congress and put a check on the Trump Administration.

To the voters in the 8th District, we are at a defining moment in America. We all want a nation that is secure, families that are healthy, a job that is stable, our children educated, and our environment protected. These values transcend political divides and define us not by party but as Americans. Please cherish the opportunity to affect our democracy by voting in November and send the first Democrat to Congress from our great district.

To our volunteers, I will be forever grateful for your tireless and dedicated work on our campaign.

It is our shared values and vision for better days ahead that united us in our effort to change the tide of politics and break through the partisan divide to connect with voters in every corner of the 8th Congressional District. Our campaign was better because of your work.

To our supporters, thank you. My wife, Michelle, and I remain overwhelmed by your encouragement, your generosity, and your commitment to us and our campaign. Please know that our gratitude is immeasurable, and we are forever thankful for your support.

Running for the United States Congress has been the privilege of my professional life. I am proud of our staff, the campaign we built, and the race we ran. We launched our campaign centered on living our values, to stand up for what’s right, and to send the next generation of leaders to Congress. Unfortunately, today, we came up short of our goal. But, there remains much work to be done to return progress to our politics and to deliver a better nation for the next generation.

We are just getting started.

As of this afternoon, Republican Dino Rossi had 72,185 votes (43.17% of the vote), while the top Democratic contender, Dr. Kim Schrier, had 31,312 votes (18.73% of the vote). Rittereiser is in third place with 30,196 votes (18.06% of the vote). He trails Schrier by 1,116 votes after five days of ballot counting.

Within his home county of Kittitas, Rittereiser is the top Democratic vote getter, with 28.15% of the vote. However, Kim Schrier is the Democratic candidate with the most support in every other county in the district, and appears set to move on.

Twelve candidates filed for the open seat being vacated by incumbent Dave Reichert last May. Now just two are left: Dino Rossi and Kim Schrier. They will be locked in a fierce battle for supremacy in Washington’s 8th Congressional District between now and the conclusion of the November general election in several months.

Good news: Washington State seeing highest August electoral voter turnout since 2012

After spiraling downward across elections for more half a decade, voter turnout in Washington State is finally on the rise, thanks in part to the removal of barriers to voting and thanks in part to the resistance and backlash to Donald Trump’s regime.

As of this morning, voter turnout in the August 2018 Top Two election stood at 38.45%, a level of participation not seen since 2012, when Barack Obama was the Democratic Party’s nominee for President for the second time.

An estimated 78,587 ballots remain left to be counted, which means the percentage will go higher before the election is certified a week from this Tuesday. If all the remaining estimated ballots are counted, turnout will climb above 40%.

And that would put us above the mark set in 2012.

Surpassing 40% would also be a nice symbolic accomplishment. The last time we saw August turnout that high was eight years ago, during the 2010 midterms.

Thanks to King County’s leadership, this election is the first in which every Washington voter was provided with prepaid postage on their ballot return envelopes. Stamps are no longer needed to return a ballot through the mail, which means that every post office is now effectively a ballot drop box.

Meanwhile, the number of drop boxes has also been increased as a consequence of legislation approved last year. It’s never been easier to return a ballot.

The turnout we’re seeing in this election is evidence that removing barriers to voting can have a positive effect on turnout.

Next year, more of the Access to Democracy bills are set to be implemented, including automatic, pre, and same day voter registration. These much needed changes will hopefully continue to lift turnout.

Here’s the percentages for every August Top Two election, going back ten years:

Prior to 2008, Washington held an open primary (also called a pick a party primary) as its preliminary election, in which voters chose nominees for partisan offices.

Here are the same Top Two percentages plotted on a chart:

Washington State Top Two Election Turnout: 2008-2018

The “mountains” in the chart are presidential and midterm election years; the “valleys” are local election years. Notice that even in the even-numbered years, turnout was on a downward trajectory. 2016 had worse turnout than 2012, for example, and 2014 had worse turnout than 2010.

When making comparisons, it is best to compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges, bananas to bananas, and so on. So when we’re looking at turnout, the most similar election is the one held four years ago in an equivalent cycle.

There are nine main election types, not counting special elections in April and February: a preliminary and a general election corresponding to each year in a four year cycle (presidential, local, midterm, local) and the presidential primary.

By our reckoning, this is only the second election in six years in which turnout has climbed above a preceding election of the same type.

The first to buck the falling turnout trend was last year’s Top Two election, which had slightly higher turnout (26.92%) than its 2013 predecessor (25.99%).

Washington State Voter Turnout By Election Type, 1996-2017

As we can see, the 2017 November general election sadly did not buck the trend.

Turnout in that election — which was a pitiful 37.10% — ignominiously became the worst in state history. More voters have already voted in this Top Two election than voted in last November’s general election, which really says something, because those are different types of elections and not directly comparable!

There’s more we can do to make voting easier and encourage people to vote, but we can be proud of the steps we’ve already taken. Unlike right wing dominated states, we are working to expand suffrage and participation instead of constrict it.

Senator Sharon Nelson’s successor will likely be either Shannon Braddock or Joe Nguyen

Good evening from West Seattle, where NPI is among the media organizations represented at Senate hopeful Shannon Braddock’s election results watch party. Braddock, as readers may know, is running to succeed Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson as the 34th District’s state senator.

The mood was light and optimistic at the beginning of the night, as supporters filed inside the pizzeria. The campaign ordered beers and pizza and encouraged a casual ambiance that was easy to feel comfortable in.

The candidate everyone was here to support, Shannon Braddock, has been deeply involved in advocacy for children and under-privileged in her local area.

As Deputy Chief of Staff under King County Executive Dow Constantine, much of her focus has been on funding for local schools and responsible firearm laws.

She hopes to translate her local experience with some of Washington’s most contentious issues into statewide policy, planning to teach and learn in the Washington State Senate, which Democrats gained control of last year.

While the mood was always bright, once the results rolled in, the atmosphere became more and more jovial.

It quickly became apparent that along with Joe Nguyen, Braddock was leading the pack and is likely to move on to the general election as one of two Democrats on the ballot. She stood up on a chair in the middle of the room, hands above her head, gesturing gratefully at the packed house that was there to see her.

Senate hopeful Shannon Braddock addresses her supporters in West Seattle

Senate hopeful Shannon Braddock addresses her supporters in West Seattle (Photo: Greg Evans/NPI)

“Standing for someone is hard,” she knowingly intoned.

“Thank you for all the support. Thanks so much.”

Her speech was brief, and lacked the sort of grandiloquence you might expect from someone angling for what could be called a promotion. She returned again to the sense of camaraderie and community that has been her strength up to this point, and rather delightedly added: “To think a single mother could do this.”

Her supporters cheered and applauded.

Her common refrain of responsible firearm laws, schools that work for all children, and intentional fiscal pragmatism was well received by everyone in the room. Obviously, her campaign has also been well received by a significant proportion of voters in the deeply blue 34th Legislative District. Braddock and Nguyen will face off in the general election later this year, on November 6th.

Braddock currently has 26.87% of the vote, while Nguyen has 27.69%. The next closest candidate is also a Democrat, Lois Schipper. She’s got just 9.51%.

Eight other candidates were also in the running, but it looks like they will all be out of the hunt when the election is certified in a couple of weeks.

Check out NPI’s Pacific NW Portal for up to date election results and continuing coverage of the August Top Two election, the first round of the state’s two part elections system, which concludes with the general election in November.

5th District Democrats celebrate as early returns put Bill Ramos and Lisa Callan ahead

At an election night watch party for Democratic state House hopefuls Bill Ramos and Lisa Callan in Issaquah, a cheer erupted as the initial election results appeared on the big screen. The numbers showed both candidates with a majority of the vote.

Ramos, an Issaquah City Councilmember, has 53.64% to Republican Chad Magendanz’s 46.36%, while Callan, an Issaquah school board member, has 52.92%. Opponent (and incumbent) Paul Graves has 45.67%. A third candidate, Ryan Dean Burkett, has 1.42% of the vote and will not be going on to November.

Callan and Ramos were joined at the Rogue Issaquah Brewhouse by a large contingent of family, friends and volunteers.

The night began with casual conversation and warm greetings as guests took an occasional peek at the developments in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, where Democrat Danny O’Connor remains locked in a fierce battle with his Republican opponent Troy Balderson in a special election.

Both campaign managers took time out to recognize some of the most active callers and door-knockers for their vital efforts over the past several weeks.

Minutes after the ballot drop boxes closed, the first results were posted and it was clear both candidates were going to finish the night in first place.

Ramos and Callan gathered with their campaign managers at the front of the hall, smiling and posing for celebratory pictures.

Happy phone calls were made and there were plenty of hugs to go around.

As the candidates took a moment to thank their guests and supporters, Callan made a point of highlighting the volunteers who fueled both campaigns, knocking on over 31,000 doors and making more than 3,000 calls to voters.

As she put it, volunteers formed the “backbone of this campaign.”

“It’s absolutely all about voter contact,” she added. “People are engaged, they’re listening, and they like what they hear.”

Ramos also focused on volunteer efforts and how they reached more than 30,000 donors so far. “And we’ll reach 30,000 more in the next ninety days,” he pledged. “The work pays off. It’s the work that does it.”

The evening continued with food, drink and joyful conversation as guests stayed to visit, celebrate, and watch the rest of the results roll in across the state, with cheers for every Democratic candidate leading and winning tonight.

Patty Kuderer, My-Linh Thai roll to victory in the 48th and 41st Legislative Districts

There were shouts of joy and sighs of relief as the initial vote counts were released in Washington’s August Top Two election tonight and Democratic activists from the 41st and 48th Districts saw that their candidates were all in first place.

Patty Kuderer, up for reelection to the Senate in the 48th District, was facing a challenge from Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat Rodney Tom, but is crushing Tom in the early results. Kuderer currently has 10,930 votes, while Tom only has 5,501, giving Kuderer 59.26% of the vote to Tom’s 29.82%.

Republican Bill Hirt (who is running as an independent) was the lowest vote-getter with 10.92% and will not advance to the general election on November.

After the thrilling announcement of Kuderer’s results, My-Linh Thai, the 41st District Democrats’ choice to succeed Representative Judy Clibborn for Position #2, heard that she was also winning her race, with 41.63% of the vote. She leads Republican Michael Appleby, who is currently has 33%, by over 2,100 votes and Wendy Weilker, a fellow Democratic contender, by nearly 4,000 votes.

Tana Senn is running for reelection to House Position #1 in the 41st and early in the night said she was feeling good about her chances.

Her confidence proved well-founded as she currently has 63.08% of the vote in her race, leading Republican Tim Cruickshank who currently has 34.95% and Libertarian Nathaniel Deily who is at 1.98% and will not advance to the general election.

After results were announced, Kuderer spoke first, and started by thanking all of her volunteers and supporters. “This is the halfway point; we’ve got to finish the race,” she said, saying there will still more doors to knock on and more voter to reach before the general election in November.

She said she was encouraged and relieved by the results.

“When I see numbers like that, what that tells me is people are paying attention, they care about their democracy, they understand what’s at stake and they’re willing to go to the ballot box.”

Senn said the results in the 41st and 48th “shows what we have known… that our area is becoming very blue. Not purple, but blue.”

Thai said that her first place finish is gratifying.

She characterized her likely victory as an incredible opportunity and incredible responsibility that she will be taking on. She noted that, if elected, she will be the first refugee to serve in the State House of Representatives. She also gave an impassioned, impromptu speech about the value of love.

“We do this because we believe in our cause. We do this because we love. Without love, nothing grows. We win because we love. Keep all of that in mind and we are going to go straight forward and make sure the world knows that the United States of America is a country of love,” she said to strong applause.

Also at the party to support her fellow candidates was State Representative Vandana Slatter, who is running unopposed for Position #2 in the 48th.

She talked about how important it is to have a Democratic majority in the House to be able to get bills passed. “When I got drafted into the Democratic Party, I felt like I got drafted into the Seahawks, because it’s a pretty awesome team that we have right here,” she said. “I might have a win today, but we are all winning together and we have to go forward together.”

Slatter listed off some of the accomplishments of this year’s legislative session, thanks to the new Democratic majority, and said maintaining that majority is vital. It’s “why we need these women here today,” she said.

An attendee shouted “Go She-Hawks!” and the whole audience cheered at the new moniker for this slate of progressive women candidates on the Eastside.

Shannon Hader concedes in the 8th CD after early returns put her in fourth place

Over fifty supporters packed Geaux Brewing in Auburn tonight to watch election results come in at the conclusion of Washington’s 2018 Top Two election with the hope that Shannon Hader would claim one of the top two spots in WA-08.

Hader and her campaign staff worked almost up until a quarter to the hour calling constituents to ensure that ballots had been turned in.

Initial results showed that Republican Dino Rossi had 43% of the vote.

In second place was pediatrician Kim Schrier with 18.82%, and in third place was attorney and former prosecutor Jason Ritteresier with 17.56%.

Hader trailed in fourth place with just 12.5%. She joined the party after these early election results rolled in, with many applause and cheers from the crowd.

When speaking with a volunteer who knew and respected all three candidates, he said Hader was the one who truly knew all the issues at their core.

“She’s the strongest candidate I’ve seen in years,” he told NPI.

The volunteer also noted that when canvassing, constituents seemed to identify with Hader’s message and he thought most would be likely Hader voters.

At about 8:45 PM, Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus took the stage.

“We know 100% why we are here tonight, because every one of us in this room have the best candidate for the 8th congressional district,” Backus said.

“Hader and this team worked their asses off for us [the 8th Congressional District]. And I am proud to support, and I will always support, Shannon Hader, because she is the answer to what we need in the 8th Congressional District.”

Shannon Hader at her Election Night party

Hader applauds her campaign staff and volunteers for their hard work and support.

Hader then took the stage.

She thanked everyone for showing up tonight to the election party and especially thanked those who continuously showed up during the campaign.

“What a privilege it is to see everyone in this room,” Hader said.

“Everybody here has contributed to an amazing campaign. It’s been a luxury to see people throw their hours and money and time behind me and this movement.”

She then proceeded to call the results.

“We came up a little short tonight,” she said.

“But we be should be enormously proud of being part of this incredible movement. [One] that we will continue on into the general election to flip this district blue.”

She noted that it was people who care about their hometowns, their state, and their country, that were here tonight and helped her along the campaign trail. She added that those who voted for her, and presumably for any Democrat in the race, were people who want an end to the “divisive politics that plague our nation.”

She commended those who had jumped in with both feet into her campaign and stated that “tomorrow is a new day.” She urged those in the audience to “think about tomorrow, where we come together and get behind the winner tonight.”

(If current results hold, that would be Dr. Kim Schrier.)

She closed by saying “Put that same support you so generously offered me during the primary and put it behind the Democratic candidate to flip this district and beat Dino Rossi in November.” The crowd cheered.

“It’s going to take all of us,” she finished.

Before leaving she added that she expressed thanks for how many of her friends were in the crowd cheering her on. She had friends from all walks of life, including middle school and high school, cheering her on this evening.

“It was a luxury in this campaign to meet so many new people,” Hader said, before walking into the crowd to give hugs and offer personal thank-yous.

Combined, the three main Democratic challengers to Rossi have almost 50% of the vote… more than Rossi’s 43%. That says something about this district’s political evolution. Two years ago, Dave Reichert won reelection with 60% of the vote.

Dr. Kim Schrier celebrates a close second place in 8th Congressional District contest

Washington’s August 2018 Top Two election concluded this evening, with candidates, activists, and journalists anxiously awaiting the results at watch parties at restaurants, campaign offices, and community gathering places across the state.

This election’s marquee race is widely considered to be the contest for the United States House in Washington’s 8th Congressional District, where incumbent Dave Reichert is retiring. The 8th is the only district this cycle with no incumbent running.

Republican Dino Rossi is running for the open seat and was expected to be the top vote getter in the election, but three credible Democratic candidates were all vying for the second spot: Kim Schrier, Jason Rittereiser, and Shannon Hader.

At Kim Schrier’s party at the YWCA in Issaquah, the crowd was energetic and excited, eager to watch the results of the election roll in.

The conclusion of voting (ballot drop boxes closed at 8 PM) ended months of campaigning and canvassing by Schrier and her team — many of whom were present at Schrier’s watch party to witness the effects of their hard work.

Their work in this election, however, may not be done.

The crowd of supporters erupted in cheers when the initial results were first put on the screen showing Schrier in the lead. Presently, she has 18.82% of the vote. Fellow Democratic challenger Jason Rittereiser is a close third with 17.56% of the vote. Shannon Hader, meanwhile, received 12.6% of the vote.

Less than 1,500 ballots separate Schrier and Rittereiser and it could be days before every ballot is counted and the result conclusive. Nonetheless, Schrier and her group of supporters and volunteers were excited and encouraged by the results.

“While ballots are still being counted, I am feeling very optimistic that we are on track to make history and send a Democrat to represent the 8th”, Schrier said.

She thanked the hundreds of volunteers who she said knocked on eighty thousand doors and made ninety thousand phone calls for her campaign.

She also thanked the other Democrats in the race who she said “stepped up, stepped forward, and gave a lively and competitive race”.

The initial results tonight suggest very strong Democratic turnout. Schrier, Rittereiser, and Hader combined to receive almost 50% of the vote. Republican Dino Rossi, on the other hand, is receiving only 43% of the vote.

“Dino better be worried,” Schrier said. “The real fight begins tonight. Now more than ever we need people in Congress who will speak truth to power, who will stand up for average families who are working hard to get by and feel like their politicians in the other Washington just don’t get it.”

“There could not be a starker contrast between me, the community pediatrician mom, and Dino Rossi, the career politician. I am in this to serve my community and he has been in this, always, to serve himself.”

While the race is too close to call at the moment, it is likely that Kim Schrier will be the Democratic challenger who goes toe to toe against Dino Rossi in November in a crucial district Democrats are hoping to flip from red to blue.

Here comes the blue wave: Early Top Two returns suggest a Democratic tsunami in 2018

Washington’s Democratic Party is poised to drastically increase its legislative majorities and has a chance of picking up not one, not two, but three U.S. House seats this autumn, early returns in the state’s August Top Two election suggest.

With all thirty-nine of the state’s counties having reported initial results, we can see that Democratic legislative candidates are ahead in sixty-nine out of ninety-eight state House races and seventeen of twenty-five state Senate races.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell enjoys a commanding lead over former State Republican Chair Susan Hutchison. She has 55% of the vote statewide, while Hutchison has a measly 24%. Cantwell is ahead in thirty-six of the state’s thirty-nine counties. Hutchison has a lead in the remaining three (Grant, Lewis, and Lincoln).

In the state’s U.S. House races, all six Democratic incumbents are comfortably ahead, while two of the three Republican incumbents seeking reelection (Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Jaime Herrea-Beutler) are running below 50%.

Democratic challenger Lisa Brown is presently only five hundred and twenty-five votes behind McMorris Rodgers, which is extremely impressive considering the margins by which McMorris Rodgers has won in the past.

The 5th is no longer a safe Republican district; Brown has made it competitive. She has real grassroots power behind her and represents the Democrats’ best chance of recapturing the seat once held by Speaker Tom Foley.

As for Jaime Herrera-Beutler, her woeful performance in the 3rd shows that Democrats have an opportunity to put another congressional district in play this fall. Presently, Herrera-Beutler has just 40.9% of the vote… which a shockingly bad showing for an incumbent. Democratic challenger Carolyn Long is right at her heels with 36.62% of the vote and will advance to November to face Herrera-Beutler.

Collectively, the four Democrats running in the 3rd (Dorothy Gasque, David McDevitt, Martin Hash, and Long) have 50.29% of the vote right now.

That’s a majority.

Democrats clearly have an opportunity to take the district, and the party faithful in southwest Washington will surely be demanding that the state party start giving WA-03 the same attention it’s giving WA-05 and WA-08.

Speaking of WA-08…

In the closely-watched 8th Congressional District, perennial statewide and federal office-seeker Dino Rossi is also faring poorly with a mere 43% of the vote.

His three principal Democratic opponents (Kim Schrier, Jason Rittereiser, and Shannon Hader) collectively have 48.98% of the vote — almost a majority.

It is worth noting that in, in 2016, Dave Reichert received 60.2% of the vote in the 8th over Tony Ventrella. Voters in the 8th also backed Hillary Clinton for President.

For Democratic activists and candidates, the strong performance of their ticket tonight — in jurisdiction after jurisdiction — is a cause for great celebration.

For Republicans, it’s a nightmare.

Republicans can forget about picking up any seats in either the Washington State House of Representatives or the Senate.

Not a single Democratic incumbent looks vulnerable. Not Manka Dhingra, not John Lovick, not Steve Hobbs, not Kristine Reeves, not Mike Pellicciotti, not Mike Chapman, not Steve Tharinger, and not Chris Kilduff.

The question isn’t which party is going to control the Legislature in 2019 and 2020: these numbers make clear it’s going to be the Democrats. The question is how big will Republican losses be. 2018 appears to be shaping up to be a redux of 2006, when Democrats scored massive gains in legislative races.

Republican lawmakers are in trouble in so many legislative districts that the party will have to make difficult decisions about where to allocate resources.

There’s no way to sugarcoat these numbers: they’re awful for Republicans.

Now, there are many ballots still waiting to be counted. But these initial returns are a horribly ominous sign for the party of Donald Trump.

And their problems could get worse. Republicans are free to hope for relief in the late ballots, but if 2017 is any indication, it won’t be coming.

Last year, at around this time, Republicans naively thought that they would make up ground in the late ballots against Manka Dhingra in the 45th District.

But instead, the opposite happened. Dhingra repeatedly widened her lead over Jinyoung Lee Englund, going on to win in a rout.

Republicans went on to throw the kitchen sink at her in the general election, but it didn’t matter. Dhingra crushed Englund, just as she had in the qualifying round.

At the moment, Dhingra has 63% of the vote for her reelection bid. Only one year after winning the most hotly contested special election in the state, she’s already putting up the kind of numbers that Democrats in deep blue areas get.

The 45th has ceased to be a swing district; it’s now safe Democratic territory.

The Democratic frontier, so to speak, is moving east.

For example, in the 5th District, Democratic challengers Bill Ramos and Lisa Callan are leading Chad Magendanz and Paul Graves. Magendanz is making a bid to return to the House after a two-year absence (he unsuccessfully challenged Mark Mullet and lost), while Graves is trying to win reelection for the first time.

And over in Eastern Washington, Jessa Lewis and Kay Murano are ahead of their Republican opponents, which is a really big deal. The 6th District hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Legislature in years, but it looks like that could change in 2018.

Back in Western Washington, in the 10th District, Republicans Norma Smith and Dave Hayes are under water and look headed for defeat.

Democrats have not won a race there in several cycles, either.

It is possible that some leads could change by the time all the ballots are counted. It is unlikely that most of the Republican incumbents who are trailing are all going to experience a sudden reversal of fortune thanks to a late Republican surge.

That means Democrats will come out of the Top Two election with a lot of preliminary victories — and a lot of momentum.

“Did you know that more than 95% of [Top Two] winners go on to win in November?” Washington State Republican Party Chair Caleb Heimlich asked his party faithful in an email sent last Tuesday, July 30th.

It is certainly true that candidates who do well in the Top Two do well in the general election. That is why Democrats have every reason to be fired up tonight, and Republicans have every reason to be panicking.

A blue wave is washing across Washington, and by the time it has receded, the state’s Republican Party may well be reduced to a pile of rubble.

It’s Top Two Election Day in Washington State – don’t forget to vote!

Readers, a reminder that today is the last day of the August 2018 Top Two Election, the elimination round of our dysfunctional two-part general election system. Ballots must be postmarked or returned by a drop box by 8 PM tonight, or they won’t count. Be sure yours is in, and then remind friends and family to vote, too. Chances are, many of them haven’t. Don’t assume – ask!

Participation so far in this election has been low, but not as bad as last year or in 2015, when it was utterly abysmal. As of yesterday afternoon, statewide turnout stood at 22.2%. King County’s turnout is just a smidgeon below the statewide percentage at 22.1%, which is an improvement over past years.

However, Pierce and Snohomish (the state’s next largest counties) are really, really lagging behind. Pierce’s turnout is an embarrassing 15.3% (it’s the worst in the state) while Snohomish isn’t faring much better at 17.3%.

Tiny Columbia County in southeast Washington currently has the best turnout, with 46.6% of ballots returned. On its heels are Garfield and Wahkiakum counties, which are also very small, at 45.4% and 45%. Of the counties with a population that’s well into five digits, Jefferson has the best turnout, coming in at 41.2%.

The team at NPI urges you to be a voter and get your ballot in. If you would like to use a drop box to return your ballot, here is a list of locations for major counties:

Need help voting? NPI doesn’t endorse or rate candidates for office, but the Progressive Voter’s Guide is available if you want to learn more about who’s on your ballot. You can also use the official voter’s pamphlet published by your county. And for judicial races, there’s

Starting tonight, after 8 PM, we will be offering live coverage of election results here on the Cascadia Advocate. Most counties will only report one batch of results tonight, and not update again till tomorrow afternoon.

We will be watching a number of races closely, especially the contest for Washington’s 8th Congressional District (where three Democratic candidates are vying for two spots along with Republican Dino Rossi), and legislative races in the 40th and 34th Districts, where large fields of candidates are again competing for just two spots on the November general election ballot.

Mainstream Republicans working to elect Rodney Tom in the 48th Legislative District

The Republican Party may not have anyone running under its banner for Legislature in the 48th District this year, but that doesn’t mean the party is bereft of candidates to support. As reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission show, the party apparatus is heavily invested in supporting the comeback bid of Rodney Tom, who claims to be a Democrat, but who Democrats say is really a Republican.

Tom, for readers who don’t know, is a perennial party switcher who started out his political career as a Republican, left for the Democratic Party in 2006, and rejoined his old party six years later as part of a backroom deal in which he was installed as Majority Leader in return for delivering the State Senate into Republican hands.

Before defecting back to the Republicans in 2012, Tom had won two competitive elections to the Washington State Senate as a Democrat with Democratic support. After delivering the Senate into Republican hands, the Democratic Party disavowed Tom, and he began making preparations to seek reelection to a third consecutive term in 2014 with Republican help — despite still claiming to be a Democrat.

But a few weeks after the end of the 2014 session, Tom abruptly ended his reelection campaign, saying his first priority had to be to look after his father.

Tom remained involved in state politics as a right wing political operative, but did not reenter the electoral arena as a candidate until this spring, when he let it be known he would be running for the position he previously held.

When the Republicans found out that Tom was interested in trying to win back his old job and take out Democratic Senator Patty Kuderer, their operatives began making plans to intervene in the race on his behalf.

First, they worked to clear a path for Tom by making sure that he wouldn’t have any Republican opposition (very important because Tom’s planned path to victory over Kuderer requires the support of Republican voters).

In this, they succeeded. You can see from looking at the candidate filings that Tom and Kuderer originally had two Republican opponents: Ken Seal and Richard Bennett. However, both of them withdrew their candidacies on May 21st, leaving just Tom and Kuderer and a third candidate named Bill Hirt.

Hirt (who by his own admission perennially runs for office merely to have a platform to denounce Sound Transit’s Link light rail project) was determined to stay in the race. He was, however, amenable to identifying as an independent in order to minimize the possibility of causing interference to Tom’s candidacy.

Second, the Mainstream Republicans agreed to endorse Tom. (The Mainstream Republicans are a group that is a part of the Republican Party apparatus in Washington State, but is administered separately, as opposed to being under the auspices of the Washington State Republican Party Central Committee.)

You wouldn’t know it from looking at their public list of endorsements — his name has been omitted — but sources tell us that Tom was indeed endorsed.

NPI reached out repeatedly to the Mainstream Republicans to confirm this information, but we received no response.

Last week, however, we got the confirmation we’d been seeking when mailers paid for by the Mainstream Republicans began arriving in the mailboxes of voters in the 48th District. The mailers instruct right-leaning voters not to waste their vote on Bill Hirt, but rather to support… Rodney Tom. Take a look — here’s the front:

Front of a mailer paid for by the Mainstream Republicans in support of Rodney Tom

And here’s the back:

Back of a mailer paid for by the Mainstream Republicans in support of Rodney Tom

This is the most overt effort we’ve seen yet to recruit Republican voters to support Rodney Tom so that he’ll perform better in the August Top Two election.

Tom had previously benefited from independent expenditures in support of his candidacy from another PAC that usually intervenes on behalf of Republicans. Now, he’s getting help from an arm of the party that has “Republican” in its name.

Meet the candidates vying to succeed Kris Lytton in the 40th LD: Tom Pasma

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final installment in a series about the candidates vying to succeed Representative Kris Lytton in Washington’s 40th Legislative District.

We’re hours away from the conclusion of Washington’s 2018 Top Two election, which will determine candidates advance to November 2018 general election. In the 40th Legislative District alone, four dynamic Democratic candidates are vying for the spot Kris Lytton is retiring from after many years of service. The district includes San Juan County, as well as portions of Whatcom and Skagit Counties.

We examined the candidacies of Alex Ramel, Debra Lekanoff and Rud Browne in previous installments of this series.

Today, we’ll meet Tom Pasma.

Pasma has a long history with the Democratic Party, serving sixteen years as an officer for the Washington State Democrats. His resume boasts many other volunteer service positions, including Volunteer Firefighter, Vice President of the Blanchard Edison Water Association, Board Member for the Skagit County Boys’ & Girls’ Club, as well as the Founder, President of his nonprofit, LEAD (Leadership, Education & Advanced Development).

“I have a history of getting legislation passed,” said Pasma in an interview with NPI over the weekend. “Everything I’ve ever done has been volunteer.”

As a volunteer, private citizen, Pasma spearheaded efforts to create a state program that fosters young farmers into environmentally sustainable agriculture practices. He was also involved in passing legislation that implemented current-use valuation programs for property taxes on agricultural land.

Pasma is also a volunteer auctioneer, helping to raise $100 million for nonprofits last year around the country.

He has done work with two different of Washington state’s governors.

In 2009, Governor Gregoire asked Pasma to take the lead on the Samish Watershed Initiative, which worked to clean up the watershed. In 2015, Governor Inslee awarded Pasma the Conservationist of the Year Award.

For work, Pasma has been in the agriculture business his entire life.

The same year he was awarded Conservationist of the Year, he hosted environmental and climate scientists at his farm, where they hoped to learn from its sustainable structure to potentially help others around the country.

In December, it will be his thirtieth year as a Washingtonian.

When asked what drew him here originally, Pasma said that it was “a guy named Ronald Reagan,” citing that during his term as president, there was loss of opportunity in his home state of Montana.“People move away from lack of opportunity and they move to opportunity… that’s what I did,” said Pasma.

When asked why he was inspired to run in the 40th District, Pasma said people all over the state asked him to run once the opening was announced.

“We have a lot of things we need to get done,” he explained.

“You need people that have some common sense and bipartisan support on ideas that show you can work across the aisle. I’ve never been a politician… We need people who are actually going to do something and have some kind of vision of where we want to go, how we’re going to get there, and be proactive about it.”

Should Pasma win, there are a number of key issues he hopes to focus on.

“Well, the first thing we need to do, is we need to fund our education system with a sustainable method. We have to make that investment… It’s the best investment you could ever make.” He says he’s also pushing hard for debt-free college, including for community colleges, technical and vocational schools.

Additionally, Pasma is a staunch supporter of green job development.
“If we’re truly committed to moving from a carbon-based economy to a green, sustainable economy, we have to have a superfund for workers,” said Pasma.

He cited the success of Superfund in cleaning up America’s most toxic waste dumps.

Pasma is also a proponent for universal healthcare and worked with the Obama administration to help encourage federal lawmakers across the region to vote in favor of the Patient Protection Act (PPA).

“[The PPA] totally transformed people’s lives all around this country. We could improve it and make it better, but we’re watching it get dismantled right now.” He hopes to make easily accessible universal healthcare a reality for Washingtonians.

Pasma believes that his strong background working to pass legislation, as well as his lengthy history of volunteer and public work will make him a successful representative for his district.

“People come to me with problems and I try to fix them. They know that I care about them,” said Pasma.

Washington State’s Top Two election ends tomorrow (August 7th, 2018), when ballots are due back. All ninety-eight positions in the State House of Representatives are being contested along with half of the Senate’s forty-nine positions. If you’re a Washington voter, be sure to get your ballot to a drop box by 8 PM on August 7th or to a post office that day by the last outgoing mail collection time.

Patty Kuderer hopes to return to Olympia to build a more inclusive, healthy Washington

A surprisingly contentious Senate race is unfolding in the 48th Legislative District this year, where Senator Patty Kuderer and perennial party switcher Rodney Tom are vying to see who will advance to the November general election with the most votes in the qualifying round, which ends this Tuesday, August 7th.

The district encompasses neighborhoods in Redmond, Bellevue, and Kirkland, as well as Clyde Hill, Yarrow Point, Hunts Point, and Medina.

Constituents there have until 8 PM this Tuesday to decide between Kuderer, a steadfast progressive who previously served in the state’s House of Representatives and was elected as a State Senator in 2017, or Tom, a Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-Republican again. When he was last in the Washington State Senate, Tom engineered a power coup that delivered the Washington State Senate into Republican hands and installed himself as Majority Leader.

A victory for Tom could threaten the progress made in its successful 2018 session and jeopardize any chance of progressive tax reform in the 2019-2010 biennium.

In an interview this week with NPI, Kuderer emphasized that Washington has already seen the disastrous results that divided government produces.

In 2017, the Legislature was in session way past its April Sine Die date and came very close to shutting down state government because the Republicans wanted to run out the clock in the hopes of extracting a more favorable budget deal.

And not only did Senate Republicans waste the public’s time and money for their own political ends, Kuderer says, but they killed off a lot of bipartisan bills that had majority support and could have passed the Senate if they’d been given a vote, just as they had during the preceding four years.

“That’s what you got under Republican control of the Senate — you got ruling,” said Kuderer, “What you got this year was governing.”

Kuderer noted that this last 2018 session (in which control flipped to the Democrats thanks to Manka Dhingra’s special election victory last autumn) was remarkable for a number of reasons. “First and foremost, ninety-eight percent of the bills that came out of this session [had] bipartisan support,” she explained.

This total includes six bills that she introduced. While she is proud of all the bills she introduced, two in particular are really important.

With Senate Bill 6160, the State of Washington took major steps forward to reform its juvenile justice system. “I’m a former prosecutor,” Kuderer explained, “so I was really alarmed about the one in three recidivism rate. This bill aligns with the science that says the brain doesn’t fully mature until the age around twenty-five, so it extends juvenile court jurisdiction [to that age].” SB 6160 also front-loads services like mental health, family dysfunction health and education.

“Education is really crucial here,” Kuderer told NPI.  “Because, again, as a former prosecutor, I know the correlation between lack of education and incarceration. And as taxpayers, we pay for this.” She believes by tackling the issue in the beginning, with easier access to education and mental health services when criminals first enter the system, tax payers actually pay less. “We’re going to be paying a lot more on the back end with the one in three recidivism rate… Everyone should be alarmed by that. I mean, that is a really high recidivism rate,” she said.

“So that bill is designed to make a dent in that rate and also to address the racial disproportionality that we have in our prison system,” Kuderer continued.

“This is part of the inequities that we have in the criminal justice system.”

She pointed out that while tackling these issues from the start may save tax payer dollars, ultimately for her, it’s about saving lives.

“We’re not just keeping [people] out of jail, we’re actually returning them to the community as productive members. They pay taxes, get jobs, buy homes and have families, so it’s critical that we’ve done this.” She observed that only a handful of states have decided to move in this direction and other states are looking at Washington’s success to potentially move for the same kind of bill.

Should she win another term, Kuderer hopes to also create a young adult court for those aged eighteen to twenty-five and put them on a similar path to set them up to be productive members of their communities.

“The other [bill] I’m really, really proud of,” Kuderer said, “is [one] that was part of a slate of bills that expands access to voting.”

This slate of bills, known as the Access to Democracy package, was designed to lower barriers to voting to expand participation in our elections. Kuderer, the Vice Chair of the Senate State Government Committee, was the prime sponsor of one of the Access to Democracy bills, which establishes same-day voter registration beginning in 2019. In the states that already allow same-day registration, it has been shown to increase voter turnout by up to ten percentage points.

Some Republican-dominated states are moving to restrict participation in elections by imposing voter ID requirements and other schemes to suppress turnout.

“Not in Washington. We’re not doing that,” Kuderer declared.

Here in the Evergreen State, we’re not just moving towards implementing same-day voter registration. Thanks to Kuderer and the Democrats, the Legislature also passed a bill providing for pre-registration of voters aged sixteen and seventeen, as well as automatic voter registration. And, after being stuck in the Senate Republicans’ Graveyard of Progress for many years, the Washington Voters Rights Act was passed to empower fair elections at the local level.

Kuderer noted that during her time has a trial attorney she handled complicated problems which have helped her as an elected representative. “I take assignments because I’m not intimidated by complex problems and I’m a natural problem solver,” she explained. “I also understand that sometimes problems don’t require one solution, they might require a lot of different solutions.”

Should she win another term, Kuderer hopes to improve access to healthcare for Washingtonians, as well as strengthen public education (preschool, K-12, and college). She also hopes to adopt sensible gun laws.

And Kuderer is ready to fight hard to reform Washington’s upside down tax code, which happens to be the most regressive system in the country.

“We’ve lost [the voters’ trust] when it comes to taxes because all we ever do is keep increasing them,” she explained, “So what I would like to do is lower property taxes and implement a capital gains tax [on the wealthy]. That’s the first step towards completely overhauling our broken tax system.”

Kuderer’s other top revenue reform priority is establishing a public co-op bank, an idea that has been discussed in Olympia for quite some time.

In 2017, Kuderer served on the State Bank Task Force and they wrote a bill that made it out of committee with bipartisan support.

This was the first time that happened for a public banking bill.

The public co-op bank model would allow local governments to borrow from the bank at a lower interest rate than for-profit, privately owned banks currently offer.

Kuderer says this race will decide whether ideas like those get a true opportunity to advance, or whether the Senate returns to being a place where good ideas die.

“If I go back, we will continue to govern, and we will not be mired in gridlock and disfunction like we were the last five years thanks to what my opponent did.”

Tom’s treachery five years ago is still fresh in the minds of Democrats everywhere, but especially in the 48th District. At their urging, Tom was censured by the Washington State Democrats for “gross disloyalty” and “perfidious behavior.” Tom has had no access to party resources since he defected to the Republicans.

“[Rodney Tom] never asked any of us for permission to do that,” said Kuderer,. “We gave him the authority to be there and to represent us.” She noted that she in fact knocked on doors during his campaign to persuade others to vote for him. “I didn’t vote for him […] so that he could go caucus with Republicans,” she said.

Kuderer’s re-election campaign is out in full force this weekend leading up to Tuesday’s Top Two election, with a goal to knock on at least 25,000 doors. She says she recently spoke with a constituent who said they were voting for her not because they disliked Rodney Tom, but because they believed in her.

“That’s a big motivator,” said Kuderer.

The 48th District Senate race is considered to be a competitive contest that might determine which party has a majority in the Senate, making it one of the top races of the cycle. As mentioned, ballots are due back this Tuesday, August 7th. If you’re a Washington voter, be sure to get your ballot to a drop box by 8 PM or to a post office that day by the last outgoing mail collection time.

LIVE from New Orleans: Candidates in tough races take center stage at close of NN18

Welcome back to our live coverage of Netroots Nation 2018.

It’s Day Three here in New Orleans of the country’s largest annual gathering of progressive activists, elected leaders, and advocacy journalists.

The Rev. angel Kyodo Williams started the closing keynote presentation by thanking those who participated in this year’s Netroots Nation and urged getting topics of race and love into our conversations going forward this election season.

“When I look out at you all, I see the future, not the past,” she said. “It’s time for us to build something new. We are not the past. We are a new America and we can do this together. Let’s do it with love and reach into our collective liberation.”

Next up was Arshad Hasan, Netroots Nation Board Chair.

He updated the crowd on the Joel Silberman Memorial Fund, which has already raised $30,000 during the convention. He said he’s “so proud and so happy” and that “the response has been really fantastic, so thank you so much.”

He continued by detailing how “big, beautiful, bold, and progressive audience” at this year’s Netroots Nation is. He also noted that it was the biggest Netroots ever, with almost three thousand attendees. The record turnout is cool, but ultimately, “it’s not about the number, but it’s about who and how,” he said.

He finished by saying that “the new American majority is all of us, and it is you.” Hasan then welcomed Helen Gym, an at-large member of the Philadelphia City Council; the first Asian-American elected to that governing body.

Gym began her remarks by noting that she is a daughter of immigrants, former teacher, twenty-year community organizer for racial and economic justice. She reminded attendees that Philadelphia is the poorest big city in the United States, referencing a history of policies of zero tolerance for petty infractions and mass incarceration, as well as significant tax cuts for wealthy corporations at the expense of essential public services and the de-funding of education and transit.

Gym continued by speaking about her work in community organizing before announcing that in 2019, Netroots Nation will be held in Philadelphia.

“In 2019 we need Netroots out there winning elections at the local level, all the way to federal,” she said. “So put your Eagles jerseys on… and let’s get ready to make some noise in my hometown. See you in Philly in 2019!”

The organizers then showed a video in which elected leaders like Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf welcomed Netroots Nation to Philadelphia.

Mary Rickles from the Netroots Nation staff then briefly took to the stage to tout their goal of showcasing progressive candidates who are bold and visionary running in states that are both red and blue. “Some of those in D.C. think Democrats need to be moderate to win going forward,” she said. “But our way forward for 2018 and beyond is to be unabashedly progressive, making sure we elect those who represent what this country really looks like.”

She then introduced Birmingham, Alabama Mayor Randall Woodfin, who ran and won against a longtime Republican mayor in 2017.

Woodfin began by saying, “The future is in this room. It’s people from all around the nation coming together, despite our differences, working toward a common cause. You are the people making change happen right now and you will be responsible for the change we need in November.”

Woodfin then spoke about being elected in Birmingham as the youngest mayor in the city’s modern history. “I am proud to tell you that times have changed,” he explained, “Just a couple generations ago, people turned a blind eye as evil crept across the South… Hatred thrived and consumed a city, state, and region.”

He spoke of his successful campaign for mayor, stating that they knocked on over 50,000 doors and made over 30,000 phone calls because they “believed that [their] time was now and because [they] deserved better.” He explained that they campaigned on a promise of putting people first and created a movement.

And they made history “in a place that has done it before.”

Woodfin continued by saying they “are investing in our communities and proudly stated that “our multiculturalism is the tapestry of America and the blueprint of our future. The struggle before us is bigger than a single person and their Twitter sessions. Everything must be about principle, and not a person.”

He finished by saying that “bottom line, it is time for all of us to go grassroots” and realize that “multicultural coalitions are key to all of our victories. The energy is right here, right now… Principle has been lost in Washington, but it hasn’t been lost in Netroots… Principle lives here tonight. We must fight for opportunity for all.”

Next up was Bill de Blasio, the Democratic Mayor of New York City. “Everyone here has a lot to feel proud and passionate about,” de Blasio told attendees. “With the activism here these last few days, I know things are possible.”

He spoke of championing healthcare for all, ridding our politics of structural racism, and finally making the wealthy pay for their fair share of taxes. “To get there, we have to talk about our strength and stay true to our values,” de Blasio said

He explained that there are three big lies that progressive candidates are told:

  1. Progressives can’t win
  2. Progressives can’t govern
  3. Progressives are a political minority in this country

“I don’t buy any of it,” he said.

“I was not supposed to get this job… they wrote my political obituary the day I announced my campaign.” He went on to explain that in his race, he did not water down his message and once he won, he moved speedily to implement progressive policies. “The voices of opposition will gather quickly, but if the people feel progressive change, they will want a whole lot more,” he said.

In his first six months as mayor, universal preschool was introduced in New York City and 70,000 children now get all day preschool for free.

De Blasio also advanced criminal justice reforms. The city subsequently got safer and saw 100,000 less arrests than four years previously.

The Mayor exhorted attendees to “ignore the bad advice because the things we believe in can be done. Our authentic message and values are exactly what will move everyday people in this country.”

He finished by remarking: “We make change with a bold, positive, progressive vision — not by talking about Donald Trump all the time. I’m more optimistic today than I was when I first started. I’ve seen progressive ideas take flight and become action. I’ve seen people’s lives change. I am genuinely optimistic because of you. We are unapologetic and we are bold.”

The keynote continued with a speech from United States Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who had previously spoken as part of two panels earlier in the day.

Ryan denounced Donald Trump’s baiting of legendary basketball player LeBron James over James’ most recent pledge to donate $41 million to a school in Ohio. (James is a native of the state Ryan represents and has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers for much of his career, although he is leaving Cleveland.)

Ryan then moved on to discussing his time visiting poor and dangerous neighborhoods in his district and beyond, where one constituent could only sell her house for $4,000 and was ultimately stuck in her unsafe neighborhood. “These issues aren’t in a particular geographical location, they are everywhere,” he stated.

He spoke of a friend who was detained and ultimately deported by ICE, even though he had lived in the U.S. for decades and owned a small business.

“Our systems are broken across the board, we have to fix it,” Ryan said.

He stressed that it starts with understanding the history of our broken economic system, our climate system, as well as our healthcare system and others. He went on to discuss the need to rewrite our trade agreements, make an actual livable minimum wage, and immigration reform that takes care of Dreamers.

He added that we need to “go big on protecting the environment.”

Ryan finished by quoting Mohammed Ali: “I’m always up, or I’m getting up,” before stating, “Well, the progressive movement is up my friends!”

Next up was David Garcia, the candidate who Democrats hope will reclaim the Arizona governorship for their party this year.

Garcia told attendees that he is a product of Arizona’s public schools, the first in his family to go to college, an army veteran, a father and a professor. He explained that the national rhetoric that is anti-people of color and anti-immigrants, unfortunately started in Arizona. “But it’s going to end in Arizona, too,” he said.

Garcia went on to say that “the strength of our adversity is going to make us rise to the top. It’s time for our most vulnerable to have their voices heard.”

He continued by saying: “We need leadership that reflects the people, all the people.” His campaign is “a grassroots effort that is taking over the state, block by block. In the Arizona heat, [our] team is knocking on 12,000 doors, completely volunteer. A victory in Arizona is going to be a direct rejection of Trump.”

He finished by saying: “As we come together to close Netroots, let’s take a second and imagine a brand new day in Arizona and across this country. A day where we’re all going to stand up, lean in, and speak up in English, Spanish, or any other language we believe in and give Americans something to vote for again.”

He said he’s looking forward to November 7th, 2018 — the day when he hopes that “Trump opens up his Twitter account and sees that in Arizona of all places, the good people elected a guy named Garcia as governor of Arizona.”

Paulette Jordan, the Democratic nominee for Governor of Idaho, spoke next.

“As an indigenous woman,” she said, “I am proud of the ancestry that I stand from. It is a legacy of leadership. Once we are governor of Idaho, people will see what it truly means to love our land and our people.”

Jordan said she looks forward to driving “more than politics into our community.” She hopes to drive “love, compassion, and humanity – that deserves to be in our governance.” She finished by saying that “we need a representative that is truly of this land. We are flipping our state for the better. Not to be blue, or purple — we’re doing it for the greater good.”

“We are truly about reflecting the good of the people,” she stated. “We will show everyone that we can take back the country. We are the new America.”

Kevin de León, who is challenging Dianne Feinstein for the United States Senate in California, was the next candidate to take to the stage.

De León, who has the endorsement of the California Democratic Party, explained that his mother cleaned the homes and worked to the bone to give her family a better life. “She crossed a national border against a wave of bigotry,” he said.

De León told attendees that he is the first Latino leader in the California State Senate in more than a century and authored some of California’s, and the country’s, most progressive policies on environmental responsibility and net neutrality. He was also involved in making California the first sanctuary state.

“Because of that law,” he explained, “Jeff Sessions sued the great state of California. To which I said: Bring it on.”

“I’m not just a proponent for the American Dream… I am a product of it,” he said. “I, like you, have never backed down form a fight.”

“We’re engaged in a battle for the soul of our nation,” he added.

León wrapped up by declaring: “Big progressive policies should not end at state borders. More than at any other time in our nation’s history, every one of us has to take our fight to Washington. A new, bold generation of leadership is needed in Washington, driven by values and not power. We’re not doing our best unless we are out in the streets getting our friends and loved ones excited about voting.”

He explained the Democrats’ message of inclusivity is what gets people excited to vote, and that we can’t move our policies forward if those in our nation’s capital keep resisting the progressive resistance.”We are not going to let one electoral aberration reverse decades of progress,” de León proclaimed.

Activists involved with the Black Lives Matter movement then made an unannounced appearance on stage to lodge a few grievances regarding how Netroots Nation 2018 was organized and scheduled.

They lamented that speakers were asked to pay to participate (instead of being compensated with honorariums) and that complimentary registrations weren’t made available to people who live and work in New Orleans.

They also told attendees they want more positions in conference and leadership and a say over programming, with one of the activists declaring: “We will no longer be tokenized by so-called white allies.”

The Rev. angel Kyodo Williams then returned to the stage to celebrate the importance of allowing protest at Netroots Nation (and indeed, as our Executive Director can attest, programming interruptions have long been a facet of the convention), before introducing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Party’s nominee for the U.S. House in New York’s 14th Congressional District.

“After spending the last two years knocking on doors, we’ve learned a lot of things,” Cortez said after receiving an enthusiastic welcome. “We’re not going to beat big money with big money. We’re going to beat it with big organizing.”

She explained that swing voters don’t vote for for timidity. “They vote for authenticity, for the person who is championing them the most.”

Referring back to the last election cycle, she added: “It’s no secret that [the Democrats] lost a lot of seats, but that’s alright. It’s always the darkest before the dawn. We need a burst between now and November. We need to realize the consciousness of the Democratic Party and I believe it’s time for us to come home. When people realize we will fight for them the most, they will fight for us too.”

Cortez spoke of her successful campaign and finished by saying that “the future of this party is to rediscover our soul. It’s time to realize we are the party of King, Roosevelt, those who went to the moon, who electrified the nation. We created Medicare and Social Security and the economic and scientific basis of our greatest accomplishments. There is no district too red for us to flip.”

Closing out the speaking program was Julián Castro, the sixteenth U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development under Barack Obama from 2014-2017.

Castro explained that in his life, he has been a beneficiary of progressive policies. He spoke of his brother’s opportunity to get to go to Stanford, something his grandparents could never have imagined. He said that this was one of those “moments in your life where you’re so happy that your dreams are coming true.”

But then he described the moment his family got the tuition bill.

Castro went on to explain the benefits of grants and working loans, saying “our country is its best when we invest in our people.”

He went on to say that “change does happen,” but “sometimes progress takes time” and it “takes our dogged commitment.”

He closed with an impassioned appeal.

“If you want leaders who unite our country, who are honest, who listen to the people instead of close circle of lobbyists, who want children in better classrooms instead of cages, an America that can move forward and progress, instead of backwards — the way we’re headed now — don’t waste a minute of your time feeling daunted that Donald Trump has a base of die-hard fans.”

“Richard Nixon did before he resigned, Roy Moore did before he lost, and so will Donald Trump before he loses,” Castro pointed out. “Mobilize the strong majority of Americans who want change right now in 2018.”

“Remember that we’re doing this because we know we live in an awesome and great country. But we also live in a country that can be better, more equal, more inclusive, and more prosperous for every individual.”

“You can make progress happen. We’re counting on you.”

And with that, Netroots Nation 2018 came to an end.

Thanks to all who followed the convention from home with us here on the Cascadia Advocate — we hope you enjoyed our coverage!

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