For Unions, A ‘Which Side Are You On’ Moment

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Randi Weingarten says there’s an upside of being a year and a half into the most anti-organized labor administration in modern history and just two months removed a Supreme Court decision which socked union power and finances: clarity.

Union leaders and members now “know who the bad guys are,” says Weingarten, the longtime head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) — President Donald Trump and the five justices who signed on to the court’s Janus decision in June.

Early on, Trump’s support among organized labor was at astronomical levels for a modern-day Republican, with November 2016 exit polls showing him with the support of more than 40 percent of union households. A March 2017 Reuters-Ipsos poll gave him a 62 percent approval rating among union members, but by spring 2018, it had dropped to 47 percent. Continue reading “For Unions, A ‘Which Side Are You On’ Moment”

How to Raise an ‘Army of Angry Moms and Women’ From Your Own Kitchen

Shannon Watts has a bodyguard who travels with her. He doesn’t carry a gun—his job is to scope out the local hospitals and know which one to rush her to if she gets shot.

That’s been life for the mother of five since late 2012, when she founded Moms Demand Action, an organization that advocates for stricter gun regulations.

Watts says the threats of violence and rape started coming in within 24 hours of the group’s formation. Threatening strangers have shown up at her house. The National Rifle Association regularly features her in its magazine. Right-wing provocateur Dana Loesch, before she went on the NRA payroll, showed up with a camera crew to confront Watts off-guard at a protest she was leading near the NRA’s annual meeting.

It all started that day in December 2012, when 20 first-graders were mowed down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and Continue reading “How to Raise an ‘Army of Angry Moms and Women’ From Your Own Kitchen”

Tom Steyer’s $110 million plan to redefine the Democrats

Tom Steyer has set plans to spend at least $110 million in 2018, making the billionaire investor the largest single source of campaign cash on the left and placing him on a path to create a parallel party infrastructure with polling, analytics and staffing capabilities that stand to shape and define the issues the party runs on in November.

Steyer is building out an operation that’s bigger than anyone other than the Koch Brothers — and the billionaire and his aides believe the reservoir of non-traditional voters he’s already activated could become the overriding factor in House and other races across the country.

Yet Steyer’s oversized role also stands to position him squarely against Democratic Party leadership, which has shown little appetite this fall for pursuing one of his signature causes: impeachment.

Unlike the $80 million being spent by Mike Bloomberg, Steyer will put his cash toward building out NextGen Continue reading “Tom Steyer’s $110 million plan to redefine the Democrats”

Walsh: Working-Class Trump Voters ‘Forgot Where They Came From’

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BOSTON—Marty Walsh is a college drop-out and recovering alcoholic who grew up in a union household and worked his way up through organized labor and local politics. In many ways, he fits the profile of the kind of white working-class man who put Donald Trump in the White House.

He also happens to be the Democratic mayor of Boston, and he has a bracing assessment of the blue-collar white voters backing Trump: They “forgot where they came from.”

Walsh warns that his party’s never going to get those voters back with broad and abstract conversations about transforming the economy, like those which tend to come out of prospective presidential frontrunner and his own home-state senator Elizabeth Warren, as much as he likes and respects her.

“Those people that voted for Trump, they live in working-class neighborhoods. Continue reading “Walsh: Working-Class Trump Voters ‘Forgot Where They Came From’”

Michelle Obama, celebs launch voter registration drive for midterms

Michelle Obama is jumping into the 2018 campaigns with a voter registration initiative that will be strictly nonpartisan — exciting and frustrating top Democrats who’d like the popular former first lady to actively campaign for candidates.

The initiative, scheduled to be launched Thursday, is the result of months of quiet conversations and planning full of false starts and uncertainty about whether to go forward. It will have the former first lady appear in public service announcements and at live events throughout the country into the fall, according to multiple people informed of the plans.

She’ll be joined by several A-list celebrities, including actor Tom Hanks, country stars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Houston Rockets star Chris Paul, singer Janelle Monae and “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The first PSA will go out Thursday, with more in the process of being lined up, featuring other prominent activists and players. The group will Continue reading “Michelle Obama, celebs launch voter registration drive for midterms”

Obama on Trump: ‘We now stand at a crossroads’

Barack Obama didn’t say the names of Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin. But he condemned everything they stand for, everything about their paths to power, and the reorientation of the world order represented by Trump’s wrapping himself in deference to the Russian leader at their meeting in Helsinki.

In democracies, the former president said Tuesday during a lengthy speech in Johannesburg honoring the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, “government exists to serve the individual, and not the other way around.”

Obama argued that the current alignment won’t last — as long as those who believe in liberal democracy continue to rise up. They also need to recognize where they went wrong in allowing the seeds for what he called “the world threatening to return to an older, a more dangerous, a more brutal way of doing business.”

But sketching out the anxiety that he and many of Continue reading “Obama on Trump: ‘We now stand at a crossroads’”

Is There a Future for Latino Republicans?

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When Miami Mayor Francis Suarez—a Republican who didn’t vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in 2016—considers helping deliver the key state of Florida to his party’s nominee again in 2020, he sighs.

“Oh, that’s a long time away,” he says.

When asked about the lasting impact to the Republican Party’s support from Trump’s approach to immigration and other issues for people of color, Suarez sighs again.

“I don’t think right now the Republican Party is attracting Latinos or African-Americans in droves … even in drips,” Suarez told me, in an interview for the latest episode of POLITICO’s Off Message podcast. “The Republican Party has to decide to create a platform and coherently disseminate it that talks and speaks to the issues of those demographics. … Unless your politics speak to the people who you want Continue reading “Is There a Future for Latino Republicans?”

‘The Best Recruiter Out There Is Our Commander In Chief’

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To some, he’s a model of service and the future of politics. To others, he’s just self-serving.

To the group of now 35 Democratic candidates he’s backing, Congressman Seth Moulton is an essential part of building a network of support and raising the money they believe will help them win in November.

This week, the Massachusetts Democrat will announce a new round of endorsements from his Serve America PAC, which was formed with the aim of endorsing and supporting candidates who’ve served in the armed forces. The endorsements will expand the footprint of Moulton’s PAC beyond congressional races—stepping in for candidates for mayor, state legislature and even agriculture commissioner—and broaden its definition of service to include veterans of AmeriCorps, City Year and the Peace Corps, who demonstrate a commitment to giving back to their communities in other Continue reading “‘The Best Recruiter Out There Is Our Commander In Chief’”

Kander sets his sights on city hall instead of the White House

A snapshot of the Democratic Party—and national politics—right now: A guy who lost a Senate race two years ago surprised many people on Monday by jumping into a mayor’s race rather than a 2020 White House run. But he still believes he can and will claim a spot in the national conversation from city hall.

Jason Kander, the former Missouri secretary of state and failed 2016 Senate candidate, officially announced that he’ll be running for Kansas City mayor, becoming the first of potential Democratic White House contenders to pull the plug.

But just because he won’t try to run against President Donald Trump doesn’t mean that he won’t keep talking about him, Kander told POLITICO. He’ll just do it from the perspective of how administration policies are affecting his hometown.

“Everybody with a platform should speak out against those policies when they do” harm, Kander said. “I’m going to continue Continue reading “Kander sets his sights on city hall instead of the White House”

RNC chair, Labor secretary cancel on Latino conference

The Republican National Committee chair and the secretary of Labor both abruptly canceled appearances in front of the country’s largest non-partisan Latino political organization.

The National Association of Latino Elected Officials’ (NALEO) annual conference begins Thursday in Phoenix. Late Wednesday afternoon, organizers received word from the RNC that Ronna Romney McDaniel would not be attending to give a speech, scheduled for Friday afternoon in front of all the members.

McDaniel’s office provided no explanation for the cancellation, other than to express “regrets,” according to Arturo Vargas, NALEO’s executive director. He said the move was particularly troubling coming in the midst of the crisis over separating immigrant children from their families.

“Getting this last minute cancellation is deeply disappointing especially at a moment when the folks are gathering here are trying to understand what the direction of the country is,” Vargas said, adding that the invitation had been extended in November Continue reading “RNC chair, Labor secretary cancel on Latino conference”

Steyer ad links children crying to ‘lawless president’

Tom Steyer wants the country to hear the children crying.

The billionaire activist is launching a new ad Wednesday with 15 seconds of audio from within the detention centers, followed by his voice: “Terrible things happen when you leave a lawless president in power,” he says, in an early version of the ad obtained by POLITICO.

He then turns the attention to Congress: “If they won’t stand up to him, they’re just as responsible as he is.”

Steyer’s Need to Impeach organization is paying for the ad, which people familiar with the purchase say will run in the seven figures, and air on CNN, MSNBC and on Fox during the World Cup. It will also be pushed out heavily on social media.

Steyer has continued to travel the country pushing impeachment, but he has slowly expanded his focus to other issues — while linking them all back as reasons Continue reading “Steyer ad links children crying to ‘lawless president’”

Steyer ad links children crying to ‘lawless president’

Tom Steyer wants the country to hear the children crying.

The billionaire activist is launching a new ad Wednesday with 15 seconds of audio from within the detention centers, followed by his voice: “Terrible things happen when you leave a lawless president in power,” he says, in an early version of the ad obtained by POLITICO.

He then turns the attention to Congress: “If they won’t stand up to him, they’re just as responsible as he is.”

Steyer’s Need to Impeach organization is paying for the ad, which people familiar with the purchase say will run in the seven figures, and air on CNN, MSNBC and on Fox during the World Cup. It will also be pushed out heavily on social media.

Steyer has continued to travel the country pushing impeachment, but he has slowly expanded his focus to other issues — while linking them all back as reasons Continue reading “Steyer ad links children crying to ‘lawless president’”

Steyer ad links children crying to ‘lawless president’

Tom Steyer wants the country to hear the children crying.

The billionaire activist is launching a new ad Wednesday with 15 seconds of audio from within the detention centers, followed by his voice: “Terrible things happen when you leave a lawless president in power,” he says, in an early version of the ad obtained by POLITICO.

He then turns the attention to Congress: “If they won’t stand up to him, they’re just as responsible as he is.”

Steyer’s Need to Impeach organization is paying for the ad, which people familiar with the purchase say will run in the seven figures, and air on CNN, MSNBC and on Fox during the World Cup. It will also be pushed out heavily on social media.

Steyer has continued to travel the country pushing impeachment, but he has slowly expanded his focus to other issues — while linking them all back as reasons Continue reading “Steyer ad links children crying to ‘lawless president’”

Trump Is Pushing the ‘Devil’s Schemes,’ Says Gillibrand

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Kirsten Gillibrand has a different word for the family separation policy which the attorney general and White House press secretary call “Biblical.” Her word is “evil.” In the Biblical sense.

Referencing the “devil’s schemes” from the Book of Ephesians, the New York senator said President Donald Trump’s administration qualifies for that label “if you were talking in Christian language.”

“To me? Yes, these are all things that come from the darkness that are ripping children from their mothers’ arms. That’s outrageous. I mean, that is not a positive, good thing. It is an evil, dark thing,” she told me in an interview for the latest episode of POLITICO’s Off Message podcast.

She ducked calling Trump himself evil, or saying that the person she accuses of acting out the devil’s schemes is the devil himself. Continue reading “Trump Is Pushing the ‘Devil’s Schemes,’ Says Gillibrand”

Donald dreams of dictators

President Donald Trump reliably tells the truth on one thing: He likes the way dictators do business.

“He speaks, and his people sit up at attention,” Trump said on Friday morning of North Korean despot Kim Jong Un in an interview with Fox News – a network where he receives no shortage of praise. “I want my people to do the same.”

Some of the people who worked for Kim have been fired, Fox & Friends hype man Steve Doocy pointed out. Trump corrected him: “Fired may be a nice word.”

Some less nice words: Poisoned. Blown apart by anti-aircraft guns. Sent to work camps.

It’s not that Trump isn’t aware. Fox’s Bret Baier reminded the president of Kim’s record earlier this week during their Air Force One interview en route home from the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore that Kim is “clearly executing people.”

But the president Continue reading “Donald dreams of dictators”

‘This is the new Republican Party’

Put a blond combover on the elephant. Take down the pictures of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

It’s over. It’s Donald Trump’s GOP.

The anti-Trump candidates are fleeing, and the ones who stick around are getting trampled. The chill has gone out among whoever’s left: there’s no more speaking up, and if there is, it’s just for the sake of a speech, a protest quote that quickly disappears.

They chalk it up to party loyalty, or staying unified for the midterms. They say they still believe in the principles, but they don’t tend to do more than say the words. Then, when the microphones are off, they confide. They complain. They nurse fantasies that there’s a reckoning coming, that maybe this will all end with the Republican Party nominating someone like Eisenhower. Or at least like Paul Ryan.

And each time they watch another of their own go down, they Continue reading “‘This is the new Republican Party’”

Obama group announces midterms hit list

Organizing for Action, the group formed out of Barack Obama’s old campaign apparatus, is moving more directly into politics than ever before, deploying in 27 House races around the country this year.

Through an existing partnership with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, OFA will also work in nine states to campaign for ballot initiatives and Democrats running for governor and state legislature positions. The group is pushing for greater Democratic control over gerrymandering ahead of the next Census.

OFA explicitly stayed away from campaigns in previous cycles. The group used to say that direct politics wasn’t its purpose. Instead, it focused on pressuring officials already in office.

Last year, for example, OFA was a key player in helping organize the town halls around the country that helped amp up opposition to repealing Obamacare.

But OFA spokesman Jesse Lehrich said the change was necessitated by an “all hands on deck” moment.

Continue reading “Obama group announces midterms hit list”

Voto Latino aiming to register 1 million new voters by 2020

Saying that they feel Latinos are in President Donald Trump’s “crosshairs,” Voto Latino, the group committed to engaging and empowering Latinos in politics, is preparing to roll out a campaign to hit 1 million registered voters by 2020.

The roll-out of the new program comes as Voto Latino adds three members to its board, including former Housing Sec. Julián Castro, who is eyeing a presidential bid of his own in 2020.

The new initiative, called Somos Mas (We Are More), will focus on seven states: Texas, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida and California, including on 27 college campuses spread among them. They’ll also have a digital effort concentrated on North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

“I gently remind people that once Latinos register, their chance of coming out to vote is 80 percent,” said María Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino’s president and CEO. “The game is going to be played Continue reading “Voto Latino aiming to register 1 million new voters by 2020”

‘The Baton Got Dropped’: Obama Alums Run to Finish What He Started

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So many Obama administration alumni are running for office this year that the former president’s staff has lost count, but they’re keeping close tabs on whether they’re winning their primaries—and nearly all are, everywhere around the country.

That’s a big change from the years when Barack Obama was in the White House, when almost no one who’d worked for him stayed involved in politics and—with the exception of a few, like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Massachusetts State Sen. Eric Lesser—weren’t at all interested in running themselves.

They were done. They loved the president, and couldn’t imagine anyone or any campaign would live up. They cashed out. They marketed themselves on the strength of Obama’s strategy and cachet. Some took corporate jobs. They assumed Hillary Clinton would win, and they could settle down to watch their guy Continue reading “‘The Baton Got Dropped’: Obama Alums Run to Finish What He Started”

Inside Obama’s secret meetings with 2020 contenders

Barack Obama has in recent months met with at least nine prospective 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Deval Patrick, pulling them in for one-on-one sessions at his Washington office.

All the meetings were arranged quietly, without even some close advisers to the people involved being told of the conversations, in part because of how much Obama bristles at his private meetings becoming public knowledge. All have been confirmed to POLITICO by multiple people who have been briefed on the secretive sit-downs.

The meetings have been at Obama’s personal office on the third floor of the World Wildlife Fund building in D.C.’s West End neighborhood, and they show how a stream of ambitious, searching politicians are looking for guidance and support from the man who has remained the reluctant leader of the Democratic Party, eager to be involved, though not directly. He’s Continue reading “Inside Obama’s secret meetings with 2020 contenders”