As proud co-chair of the Progressive Action PAC, it's my great privilege to introduce our great incoming progressive House freshman class of 2013. You'll be hearing more about each of these strong progressives over the course of the next few months. You helped send a great team to make the Congressional Progressive Caucus bigger, stronger, and even more diverse for the next two years. I can't thank you enough for all the time you spent as volunteers, activists, diarists, donors and supporters throughout the campaign. We're going to make you proud. Below the fold, we take a look at PAPAC's 2012 endorsee list and who these new CPC members are.
First, a quick note. If you missed Rush Limbaugh's take on the election results, here it is: "Conservatism did not lose." I'm tempted to sponsor his show from now on. Conservatives are buying what he's selling, and if he talks them into staying the course, we're looking at a permanent Democratic majority -- and a more progressive nation -- in no time flat. But none of it matters if we don't maintain the great level of activism and enthusiasm that made Tuesday possible. Conservatives aren't going to win any elections for us. We have to do the hard work. If that happens, Tuesday is just the beginning.
Now, without further ado, I give you the PAPAC-endorsed members of the 113th Congress:
Rep. Louise Slaughter - Like some of the other people on this list, my friend Rep. Slaughter needs no introduction. She's been a leader on the economy, on civil rights, on women's health and just about every other important issue in this country. National Journal ranked her the most progressive member of the 110th Congress. PAPAC didn't take a scattershot approach to endorsing sitting members of Congress -- Rep. Slaughter has stood for the progressive movement before it even had a name, and we're proud to have her back.
Rep. David Cicilline - There's a good reason President Obama endorsed my friend Rep. Cicilline: he's been one of the most consistent defenders of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in Congress, and he's already become one of the CPC's key voices on small business issues. He's earned 100 percent support from the progressive community.
Ami Bera - Although not every vote in Dr. Bera's race has been counted, we join nearly every media outlet following this race in projecting a win for him over long-time conservative Dan Lungren. Ami has been a netroots favorite since his initial run in 2010, and backing him was a complete no-brainer for PAPAC this cycle. His expertise on health policy is going to serve the CPC in good stead for a long time to come.
Lois Frankel - If you didn't follow Lois' race against former Florida House Majority Leader (and Allen West endorsee) Adam Hasner, you missed one of this cycle's clearest triumphs of progressive substance over conservative rhetoric. Lois won by emphasizing what we all know: you can't rob the working class, give the money to the super-rich and expect the economy to shine. She was the first female minority leader in the Florida state legislature, and local outlets are already predicting a quick rise for her in Washington. So do we.
Alan Grayson - If you don't know who Alan Grayson is, this isn't the post for you. Welcome back, Alan. We're glad to have you.
Jared Huffman - Although nobody could ever replace Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Jared Huffman is a great choice to succeed her. He's been a progressive leader in California for years, and the rest of the country is about to find out what Californians already know: he's the real deal. He builds coalitions instead of shooting from the hip, he knows the issues instead of relying on spin, and he takes the lead on good ideas instead of waiting for someone else. He chairs the Assembly Environmental Caucus and is going to be a leader right off the bat on many of the environmental and public lands issues near and dear to my own heart. PAPAC was proud to endorse him.
Dan Kildee - My longtime friend, Rep. Dale Kildee, deserves to have a progressive as strong as he was succeed him in Congress -- his nephew, Dan, is the right guy for the job. As county treasurer, Dan worked with the Michigan Legislature to create the Genesee County Land Bank, the first of its kind in the nation. The land bank kept families in their homes by preventing foreclosures and helped to give others a chance at home ownership. Dan then continued his work revitalizing communities as president of the Center for Community Progress, an organization that focuses on helping communities across the country make best use of their most precious resources – the land and their people. Dan has been a strong progressive voice at both the local and national levels and we’re excited for him to join us in the 113th Congress.
Ann McLane Kuster - The progressive community, Daily Kos included, has been working for this moment for years, and we can finally say it: Annie Kuster is coming to Congress. Instead of cashing in on Wall Street or K Street, she's spent years helping nonprofits build stronger relationships with the people they serve, working as an adoption attorney, and speaking to the New Hampshire legislature about the importance of education and better health care policy. She's a true public servant in every sense of the term, and she's going to be a great Congresswoman. PAPAC didn't hesitate to endorse her, and I expect her to end that New Hampshire House seat jinx with with a long and very successful tenure in Congress.
Grace Meng - New York's first Asian American Congresswoman is already facing a bigger challenge than many of the people on this list: she now represents many of the New Yorkers hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. Her commitment and her leadership is going to serve them well. Instead of the Republican mantra of downsizing needed government services, Grace has emphasized community, fairness and effective response through a tough couple of weeks, and she's going to bring that same spirit to everything she does for New York. Her record in the New York State Assembly spoke for itself when PAPAC was looking for progressive leaders to endorse, and her work helping her community through the recovery has spoken for itself. Her actions are only going to speak louder over the next two years.
Rick Nolan - Minnesota went handily for President Obama this year, but Rick Nolan won his way back to Congress and beat Tea Party Express favorite Chip Cravaack all on his own. Rep. Cravaack said he was inspired to run for office after hearing about Tea Party protests on right-wing talk radio. Rick previously represented Minnesotans in the House, and will do so again, because he actually cares about good public policy. He worked for Walter Mondale because he believes in a government that represents the people, and he ran a small business as a proud Democrat because whatever conservatives want to tell you, he knows that good business owners treat their employees well and pay them fair wages. His experience as a former House member is going to be a big asset, not just for the Minnesotans who elected him by a nine-point margin but for all of us in the CPC. He's going to meet a lot of new friends in January, and we can't wait to get started working with him.
Mark Pocan - I'm looking forward to working with each of our incoming freshman, but few quite as much as Mark, who took Senator-elect (and CPC member) Tammy Baldwin's House seat. We're all a little sorry to lose Tammy in the House, but Mark couldn't be a better successor. He was so incensed by ALEC's shenanigans while he was in the Wisconsin legislature that he joined the group, then released their records to the public and called them out by name. We need more representatives who don't take right-wing crap from anybody, and Mark is one of the toughest and smartest around.
Raul Ruiz - If you don't know Raul, do yourself a favor and look him up. His story is not only one of the most inspiring of anyone coming to Washington in January, it's a testament to the progressive values we all share and to the kind of country we're working to build. As the son of farmworkers, he decided to go to college and walked the streets of his native Coachella, California, asking local businesses to invest in their communities by helping to fund his education. When he got his Harvard medical degree, he went home to serve the people he grew up with as an emergency physician at Coachella's only nonprofit hospital. He's going to be a great leader, and a great inspiration, for the next generation of American progressives.
Carol Shea Porter - We were all sorry to see Carol leave in 2010, and we couldn't be happier to get her back in Congress where she belongs. She's rejoining a team that never truly felt they'd seen the last of her, and she's going to hit the ground running as hard as anyone on this list. With strong progressive roots and a committed New Hampshire base that isn't going to let the Tea Party steal another one, we're looking forward to Carol sticking around for the long haul as we get down to business creating jobs, protecting the social safety net, and making health care affordable for all Americans.
Mark Takano - As he's so powerfully described, Mark learned firsthand what lack of access to education meant to communities of color when he taught in the Boston area as a young man, and he's kept that lesson with him his whole life. There are plenty of reasons his endorsement list this year was a mile long, but one of the most important is his genuine desire to work for people who need help and haven't been getting it. His is the kind of commitment that just can't be faked. You have to respect and appreciate what Mark has been able to accomplish, both as a teacher and as as a community college board of trustees member, and the Progressive Caucus is going to be smarter and more dedicated than ever with him as a member.
Kyrsten Sinema - From my own state of Arizona, Kyrsten is going to be a quick riser in progressive politics. She knows how to get things done, work with the right people, take chances at the right time, and capitalize on opportunities when they present themselves. When she was young and her family struggled to make ends meet, she saw up close what it means to work hard, not get ahead, and have conservatives tell you it's your own fault. Instead of folding, she made a choice not every young people in her position would make: she took more than 60 credits worth of college classes while in high school to save time and money after she graduated, and she got her degree with a full scholarship. She's tough, smart, progressive and ready to work harder than anyone to represent her community.
Patrick Murphy - I'd be lying if I didn't say this race was a little personal for PAPAC, considering Rep. West called the Progressive Caucus a bunch of communists. Mr. Murphy is a newcomer to politics and we're looking forward to having a colleague who won't practice the politics that his predecessor did -- the politics of fear, division and hate.
We also lost a few tough races this year. PAPAC endorsees Val Demings, Jose Hernandez, Patsy Keever, Joe Miklosi, Sal Pace, Nate Shinagawa, Syed Taj, Manan Trivedi, Rob Zerban and David Gill ran good races and gave Republicans hell all the way to the end. We're looking to each of them to stay involved, consider their options and keep up the same fight for a better, more progressive future that they each so enthusiastically fought for this election cycle.
PAPAC contributed money where it was needed, lent its name and support everywhere we could, and made sure 2012 was as good a year for progressive candidates as we could make it. We're one step closer to cementing the Progressive Caucus as the most important center of gravity in the Democratic Party. Now it's on to 2014, when we take back the House and make an even louder statement about the kind of country we all want to live in.