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We are excited to annouce our new president, Greg Speed. Greg will take over as president later this month following the retirement of Joan Fitz-Gerald, America Votes' president since 2009. You can read about Greg and the strength of the America Votes coalition in The Huffington Post today: Leading Progressive Group Gets a New President. Here's What It Means.
Joan has expressed her complete confidence in Greg and his ability to lead the progressive movement forward into 2014 and beyond. "I'm ecstatic that Greg Speed has been chosen to be the new president of America Votes. Our partners know and trust Greg, having worked with him for years as the executive director. He has the knowledge and the vision to take this valuable partnership to the next level. In this challenging environment for voting rights and progressive governance, I have no doubt that Greg will have great success."
Greg has worked as AV's executive director for the last six years, overseeing three election cycles. In that time, Greg has played a key part in taking AV and its partners to the next level of coordination and efficiency.
Before joing the AV team, he served as communication director for the DCCC in the 2004 election cycle and worked as press secretary for then-Democratic Caucus Chair Congressman Martin Frost. These are just a few of the progressives he has worked with since the beginning of his career. Greg also serves on the boards of Priorities USA, ProgressNow, and the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.
He is very enthusiastic about his new role as the head of AV.
"America Votes is a vital piece of the permanent progressive infrasture and will continue its long-term emphasis on supporting issue-based organizations and election reform in the states. This is a crucial time to focus on state elections for governor and key legislatures next year, and I look forward to building even stronger working relationships with our partners and increasing the types of efficiencies that deliver progressive victories," said Greg.
America Votes would not be where it is today without our partners; we are thrilled at the unanimous support that their leaders have shown Greg and the absolute confidence in him, they have going into our next election cycle:
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, co-founder and first president of America Votes: "Since 2003, America Votes has been the most important national organization to bring together groups, including Planned Parenthood Action Fund, to encourage people to vote and make sure everyone has an opportunity to participate in our democracy. Greg Speed is by far the best person to build upon AV's success in the coming years."
Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY's List: "EMILY's List is excited to move into the 2014 election cycle working with America Votes under Greg Speed's strategic leadership. Greg is veteran coalition builder whose energy, skill and inclusive vision for America Votes will help lead our table of partners to more progressive victories in 2014 and beyond."
Navin Nayak, senior VP for campaigns of League of Conservation Voters: "As we saw in the Virginia governor's race last week, winning depends on close coordination and using issues effectively. That's why the League of Conservation Voters has a strong partnership with America Votes, which will continue to thrive under Greg Speed's leadership."
Karen White, national political director of the NEA: "America Votes has been a crucial part of the progressive movement for the last ten years. The National Education Association is thrilled that America Votes will move forward under the leadership of Greg Speed, who has played a central role in the organization's success since 2008."
Brandon Davis, national political director of SEIU: "Working together is at the heart of what SEIU and labor unions stand for, which is why we are glad to be partners with America Votes. Greg Speed is a smart and well respected leader who will be an excellent head of America Votes as the labor and progressive movement moves ahead in the coming years."
Anne Bartley, America Votes board member and treasurer: "Our partners strongly believe that America Votes has played a fundamental role in progressive victories in our 20-state network, and building on the success of our organization is essential. Greg's strategic vision for our coalition and trusted reputation among our national and state partners will be an enormous benefit to the future of America Votes."
Denise Cardinal, executive director of ProgressNow: "We are seeing a lot more emphasis and interest from all groups in what is happening in state legislatures around the country, even in city council races. AV has been great in stepping into that space. Greg understands that there is sometimes a tension but that we also need to have a connection point between larger national entities and state based entities. He has lived it on both sides and seen it himself."
We would like to thank all of our partners for their continued commitment and confidence in America Votes as we go forward. Joan has been an inspiration to all of us and we will miss her dearly. Though we are sad to see her go, we wish her the best as she begins this new chapter of her life.
Greg put it best when he said, "Joan will be greatly missed after an outstanding tenure at America Votes developing a strong, trusting relationship with the organization's table of progressive partners and donors. She took our organization to the next level, we will continue to strengthen and amplify our successes in the coming years."
Congratulations on your new position, Greg! We look forward to your leadership!
Of the 50 US Governors, only 6 are female, two Democrats and four Republicans. When both Bev Purdue (North Carolina) and Christine Gregoire (Washington) retire at the end of their term this year, they’ll leave only one, newly elected female Democratic Governor, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.America Votes in conjunction with state and national partners worked tirelessly to elect Ms.Hassan to the Governor’s office as a part of a program to elect progressives across the state.
Our friends at the The Barbara Lee Family Foundation have just published new research showing gains for women candidates in campaigns for executive office and pinpoints key areas for women to master. The research shows that in 2010:• Women candidates ran on a more level playing field;• Voters prioritized more gender-neutral traits than in past years;• Women candidates showed some distinct advantages over men;• Younger women are no longer a reliable voting bloc.
Turning Point: The Changing Landscape for Women Candidates is the latest addition to their landmark Governors Guidebook Series, Turning Point is designed to be accessible and relevant to citizens, students, campaign consultants, and candidates at all levels and across parties.
When Kansas state Representative Pete DeGraaf made comments about his recently-passed law requiring women to hold a separate insurance policy for abortions in case they ever are raped as appropriate measures to "plan ahead," women were not as angered as CNN Opinion writer LZ Granderson felt they should be. The fact is that there have been other similar comments made by lawmakers trivializing rape and the effects it can have on women and there has not been enough pushback against these comments.
Not only is Representative DeGraaf comparing his new policy toward abortion to holding life insurance or carrying a spare tire, but Idaho State Representative Brent Crane went as far as to say that rape, "is the hand of the Almighty at work." Furthermore, Tea Party member Sharron Angle of Nevada said that women who become pregnant through rape or incest and don't have an abortion are taking a "lemon situation and making lemonade."
People with these views are shaping policy regarding everyday women's rights and only those women can make the moves toward preventing these policies by not voting for candidates who play down issues such as rape. It is all a matter of increased awareness and participation so we don't have to hear any more silly clichés or metaphors made about serious issues that women, no matter what their political affiliation, should care about.
Did you know that women hold less than 20% of House and Senate seats and less than 25% of seats in state legislatures? In a recent blog on the Huffington Post's website, Yashar Ali discusses the lack of women in public office and political campaign work, which he blames on the men running the campaigns.
Ali notes that it is hard for women to be motivated to run for office when it is always men running the campaigns. The downward trend of women's involvement needs to be fixed, as America is ranked 92nd in women's parliamentary involvement out of 181 countries for which data was provided.
The issue of women in positions of power was addressed this morning further on Morning Joe on MSNBC. Host Mika Brzezinski has recently published a book entitled "Knowing Your Value," and discussed the differences between women and men in the workplace that may lead to the issues Ali talked about in his blog. Brzezinski and her Morning Joe counterparts brought up some points that women often wait to be noticed while men more typically assume they have the right to lead. Watch more of the discussion.
The "Lame Duck" session of Congress is underway this week, and just as they have throughout the 111th Congress, Senate conservatives are still using the filibuster to keep important pieces of legislation from moving forward.
Rebecca Lefton reports for Think Progress that today the Senate voted 58-41 against allowing debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen the Equal Pay Act and help end discriminatory pay practices against women. The bill had already passed the House and would have surely been sent to the President's desk had it received 2 extra votes.
Every Republican (except Lisa Murkowski, who was not present) as well as Ben Nelson (D-FL) voted against cloture, including Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Both Collins and Snowe voted for the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Act at the beginning of the term, helping to remove barriers for workers seeking compensation for discriminatory pay practices.
According to the National Women's Law Center, even after the passage of the landmark Equal Pay Act, women still earn $0.77 for $1 men make, translating into $10,000 in lost wages per worker per year. Furthermore, mothers are the primary or co-primary breadwinners of 2/3 of American families.
Another important piece of legislation pending in the lame duck session is the extension of unemployment benefits. But Arthur Delaney reports for the Huffington Post that Democrats have not scheduled a vote on an extension because they don't believe they have the necessary votes to overcome the filibuster.
Jobless benefits are set to expire at the end of the month, putting 2 million people in jeopardy with the holiday season fast-approaching. Republicans have consistently opposed extensions, arguing that they add to the deficit. Reauthorization of benefits for a full year would cost at most $65 billion.
However, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island argues that the same people who oppose extensions for the unemployed because of deficit concerns have no problem supporting an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
On the one hand they want to provide $700 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans but not pay for them. And on the other hand they're demanding that UI benefits for the middle class be paid for. That's a little like someone on a diet who orders a Diet Coke and a Big Mac simultaneously.
Not surprisingly, one union has jumped into the action as well. Visitors to the AFL-CIO's homepage are greeted with a clock counting down until benefits expire.
UPDATE: The White House released a statement condemning a minority of the Senate from preventing debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act. It highlights that it not only helps families ensure they aren't bringing home smaller paychecks than they deserve, but also businesses that are at a disadvantage for not using such discriminatory practices.
UPDATE: Pro-Choice women's group EMILYs List published a blog post yesterday calling on the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Read it here.
Amanda Terkel reports in the Huffington Post that EMILY's List, the progressive pro-choice organization dedicated to electing women to office, is starting a new campaign targeting John Boehner's 'Boehner's Boys'.
Using twitter and a campaign website, the Boehner's Boys campaign is targeting candidates who are opposed to pro-choice measures, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to prevent wage discrimination and health care reform.
The organization, an America Votes partner, ran a similar campaign against Sarah Palin's "mama grizzlies," the 49 candidates Palin endorsed in the midterm election, launching a web site and an ad against her in the weeks leading up to the election.
EMILY's List president, Stephanie Schriock said, "The GOP may be pleased as punch about their new 'Boy's Club' leadership team, but Boehner's good ol' boys are up to no good when it comes to representing women,". "For those of us who care about equal representation, it's just a sad throw-back to a time we thought we'd left behind. We need leadership that gives voice to everyone; and so today EMILY's List re-launches Boehner's America to tell John Boehner and his cronies not to turn back the clock for America's women. Like ashtrays in offices, some retro ideas should stay in the past."
According to Politico, EMILYs List is working to turn out women voters in support of female incumbents across the nation.
A few America Votes partners have been in the news over the last 24 hours.
Alexander Burns writes for Politico about how EMILYs List is targeting female "surge" voters this cycle, especially in districts represented by their endorsed incumbents. According to a recent poll commissioned by EMILYs List, health care and abortion rights remain very important to these surge voters, and the pro-choice group is seizing on these issues in their GOTV efforts. Such GOTV efforts have already proven successful, as evidenced by Team EMILY! - a grassroots initiative that helped power EMILYs List endorsed candidate Ann McLane Custer to a 40 point win in the Democratic primary for NH-2.
At the Daily Kos, Mark Sumner interviewed Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune about the future of the environmental movement over the next few years. Brune discusses a path to reduced dependency on coal and oil (even if Republicans make gains this year), mountaintop removal mining, auto fuel efficiency and much more.
Last but not least, the Minnesota AFL-CIO held its state convention and a key focus was rallying attendees to support DFL candidates, especially gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton. Sen. Al Franken also urged labor to vote this November, and Tarryl Clark, the DFL candidate opposing Rep. Michelle Bachmann received a standing ovation. The convention was perhaps best summarized by AFL-CIO national secretary-treasurer who urged attendees to "roll up your sleeves"
Seven states plus the District of Columbia held primaries yesterday, including two AV states.
In New Hampshire, the big news was that establishment pick Kelly Ayotte survived a late challenge from Tea Party favorite Ovide Lamontagne to win the Senate GOP nomination. The race was incredibly close as Ayotte won by less than 2,000 votes out of more than 136,000 votes cast. She will face Rep. Paul Hodes in what many consider a toss-up election to suceed retiring Sen. Judd Gregg (R).
Staying in New Hampshire, the other big result for Democrats came in the 2nd Congressional District. Ann McLane Kuster, who had the backing of several high profile progressive organizations defeated Katrina Swett, former co-chair to Sen. Lieberman's 2004 Presidential bid. Kuster, who as we highlighted yesterday had the support of EMILY's List, the League of Conservation Voters, and other leading progressive groups, was leading Swett 65%-34% with many of New Hampshire's larger precints already reported when Swett conceded the race. Kuster will face former Rep. Charlie Bass in the general election. Bass claimed victory in defeating Jennifer Horn in a hard fought GOP primary.
Other notable New Hampshire results include Frank Guinta winning the GOP primary in the 1st Congressional District, advancing to face incumbent Carol Shea-Porter, and incumbent Democratic Governor John Lynch will seek re-election against Republican John Stephen.
Meanwhile in Wisconsin, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett cruised to the Democratic nomination while Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker easily defeated ex-Rep. Mark Neumann. In addition, Russ Johnson won the GOP Senate primary and will face Russ Feingold in the general election. He became the frontrunner almost immediately
New Hampshire and Wisconsin mark the last two America Votes states to hold their primaries, and each have exciting races to watch.
The main storyline in New Hampshire has focused on the GOP Senate Race. In recent weeks, Tea Party candidate Ovide Lamontagne has surged to challenge establishment and Sarah Palin-backed Kelly Ayotte, long considered the front runner and presumptive nominee. Polls conducted in the last week by PPP and Magellan have seen Lamontagne close the gap to seven points and four points, respectively. The winner of the primary will face outgoing Rep. Paul Hodes in what promises to be one of the most competitive Senate contests this November. But as John Distaso writes for the New Hampshire Union-Leader, while the Senate race may be the big story in the Granite State, it's just one out of four competitive GOP primaries taking place today.
While it's mostly Republican races that are drawing headlines, Democrats remain keenly interested in their outcomes. Along with the New Hampshire Senate contest, the GOP Senate contest in Delaware presents Republicans with a choice between an establishment candidate and a Tea Party candidate. Like Lamontagne, Christy O'Donnell has surged late in a challenge to Rep. Mike Castle in the First State. O'Donnell has drawn support in recent weeks from the Tea Party Express as well as Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint, who view Castle as too moderate. In both New Hampshire and Delaware, many Democrats are rooting for an upset of Ayotte and Castle, who they view as less radical and more electable. With Lamontagne and O'Donnell on the ballot, Democrats believe they have a better chance to win two crucial Senate seats. As DSCC chair Sen. Robert Menendez explains to the New York Times, "In a year where Republicans want these races to be all about Democrats, Republican nominees who have extreme positions help us make the contrasts we need to make."
While the Democratic side of the ballot may be quieter, the race to succeed Rep. Hodes in New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District also promises to be very close. The Democratic primary pits Katrina Swett, the daughter of wife of former Reps. Tom Lantos and Dick Swett, against attorney Ann McLane Kuster. The race drew the attention of Politico reporter Alex Isenstadt as one of three races where progressive candidates have the opportunity to make hay. Isenstadt writes that Kuster has received support from a broad range of progressive groups including AV partners EMILY's List and the League of Conservation Voters.
Finally in Wisconsin, Jason Stein for the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal reports that state officials are expecting a record-high turnout for today's primary. Leading the way is the GOP gubernatorial primary between Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former Rep. Mark Neumann, with the winner advancing to face Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Also of note is the GOP Senate primary in which three Republicans, led by plastic manufacturer Ron Johnson, are vying to take on Sen. Russ Feingold in the general election.