Meet the Progressive Candidates Who Stand With Bernie Sanders
With less than three weeks until the Iowa Caucus, the political revolution is gaining steam, with Bernie Sanders ahead of Hillary in two recent Hawkeye State polls, winning among all voting blocs in a New Hampshire poll, and closing in on Clinton in two nationwide polls. In these exciting times, we must remember Bernie’s major message: This movement isn’t about one person, but ordinary people standing up and fighting back against an oligarchic system which benefits the one percent.
In other words, voting for Bernie Sanders isn’t enough, we must begin to participate actively in transforming our political system. Direct action and street marches are certainly necessary, with the #MarchForBernie happening across the country in less than two weeks, but we must not forget that a Bernie Sanders White House will also need a wave of progressive politicians winning seats in both the House and Senate.
With that objective in mind, we will present a few candidates who haven’t previously held Congressional office, and have strongly proclaimed that they #GotBerniesBack, running on his platform for a political revolution:
Gary Kroeger is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Iowa’s first district. He is best known for being a cast member on Saturday Night Live in the late 1980s, and has also made guest appearances on many other shows, including as a voice actor on Dilbert. He later opened a restaurant, which helped him learn the “difficulties many hard-working entrepreneurs encounter when economic policies favor larger corporate interests over the successes of small business owners.”
He returned to his hometown of Cedar Falls, IA in 2003 to raise his children to have the same “Iowa values” that he had growing up. According to his website, Kroeger is running for Congress because he has seen the middle class in Iowa disappear over the past three decades, as economic policies like NAFTA have sent thousands of jobs overseas. He also wants to ensure that “war profiteers and hawks have no undue influence in the decisions that send our young men and women overseas,” and believes in caring for our Veterans when they return home.
Other concerns he has raised include the catastrophic rise in student debt, and “the necessity of clean air, clean water and fertile land for the future generations of Iowans.” His platform includes addressing systemic racism in the justice system, implementing a carbon tax, full funding for climate research programs, expanded tax incentives for the middle class, supporting collective bargaining rights for unions, strengthening public education, and expanding the Affordable Care Act.
Tom Fiegan is a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, running for Republican Chuck Grassley’s Senate seat in Iowa. He learned about progressive activism at an early age, as his parents were members of the National Farmers Organization and Farmers Union, as well as avid supporters of George McGovern’s 1972 campaign for President. When the banks demanded payment of his family’s farm loans, which held an exorbitant 23% interest rate, he helped save their property and began volunteering at Farm Aid clinics. This experience led him to a career in agricultural law as a bankruptcy attorney. He has been the caucus chair in his precinct of Clarence since 1992, and was the only Democrat to beat a Republican incumbent in the 2000 Iowa senate race, serving as a State Senator until 2003.
His platform very closely mirrors Bernie’s, including free public education and the ability of former students to refinance, reform and reduce their loan burden, expanding social security, breaking up the banks, ending the internal conflicts of interest in the Federal Reserve, and allowing Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate for lower prices. He also wants to fight against increasing income inequality, promote small farms, care for our veterans, and switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
Alex Law is running for the U.S. House of Representative in New Jersey’s first district, against Democrat Donald Norcross. His campaign is notable because he is 24 years old, and if victorious, would be the first Millennial in Congress. Law grew up in Collingswood, NJ, studied finance at NYU Stern, and has worked as a strategy consultant at IBM.
Law’s platform includes campaign finance reform, opposing voter ID laws, promoting LGBTQ rights, and defending net neutrality. He also opposes corporate tax breaks, and proposes to use those funds to subsidize small business loans. Other highlights of his vision include reforming student loans, raising the minimum wage, immigration reform, legalizing marijuana, investing in green jobs and America’s infrastructure, and smarter defense spending.
His platform is very similar to Senator Sanders’, and his ideas mostly mirror the vision of millennials throughout our country who have been activated by Bernie’s political revolution.
Jesse T. Smith
Jesse Smith is a progressive Democrat running for the U.S. House in Alabama’s 3rd District. His life began in Holly Holmes Public Housing in Albany, Georgia, where he was raised by his grandparents. In High School, he was on the varsity basketball team and band, before moving to Washington D.C. to finish high school and escape life in the projects.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 1995 and served two tours in Bosnia followed by two tours in Iraq. In 2003, he was inducted into the Sergeant Audie Leon Murphy Leadership Club, and was nominated to attend the U.S. Sergeants’ Major Academy. After over a decade in the military, he was honorably discharged in 2008, and became a federal civil service employee at the Department of Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center.
Smith has endorsed Bernie Sanders, and his platform focuses on tackling economic inequality, raising taxes in the top 1%, breaking up “too big to fail banks”, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, free public college education, and overturning Citizens United. He also believes that climate change is a very serious issue, and has pledged to do everything he can to regulate carbon emissions.
Shawn O’Connor is running for the U.S. House of Representatives seat in New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district. He has an extensive Ivy League education, including an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar, and a Juris Doctor cum laude from Harvard Law School. He also majored in international politics at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
Shawn used his entire life savings to found Stratus Prep, which has become a major, independent test preparations and admissions counseling firm. Through Stratus, he has helped over 4,000 diverse applicants achieve admissions to top choice schools, and has helped students win over $20 million in scholarships. He also founded a related non-profit, The Stratus Foundation, which offers free test preparation and admissions counseling scholarships to college applications who are economically disadvantaged.
O’Connor is a strong ally of #FightFor15, and in a bold move, has pledged to only accept a minimum wage salary until legislation is enacted in Congress to raise the wage to $15/per hour. The remainder of his salary, which is $159,000, will be donated to New Hampshire charities by a citizens’ commission.
The rest of his platform includes restoring full funding to Planned Parenthood and overturning the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, increasing Pell Grants, drastically lowering student loan interest rates, overturning Citizens United, ending subsidies for fossil fuels, expanding Medicaid in New Hampshire, and regulating Wall Street.
Tim Canova is running for DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s seat in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. He was raised in Merrick, New York, before moving to Florida in the 1990s. He ran cross-country and track in high school and college, and worked many manual labor jobs in his early career.
Canova completed his undergraduate degree at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania, earned a law degree with honors at Georgetown University Law Center, and was a Swedish Institute Visiting Scholar at the University of Stockholm.
He has been a critic of Wall Street for decades, warning about the deregulation of interest rates and rise of subprime and predatory lending back in the early 1980s. Much like Senator Sanders, he opposed efforts to weaken Glass-Steagall in the 90s, and cautioned about the rise of complex derivatives and the growing housing bubble which together, led to the 2007 financial meltdown.
In 2003, he started a tenure-track teaching position at the Univeristy of New Mexico School of Law, where he led a grassroots campaign to abolish the state’s felony disenfranchisement law, and also became a vocal opponent of the “war on drugs” and expansion of private prisons.
Later in his career, Canova taught at Chapman University in Southern California, where he became an endowed professor in International Economic Law, and was a critic of the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, while also strongly opposing NAFTA and TPP. He also took part in Occupy Wall Street, teaching a workshop at the Occupy Los Angeles encampment, and was selected by Bernie Sanders to serve on an advisory committee on Federal Reserve reform.
Originally published at www.angrymillennials.com on January 14, 2016.