It's not every day that you get the chance to replace one awesome progressive with another. But thanks to Connecticut state House Speaker Chris Donovan, we do.
Yesterday, Markos wrote about Daily Kos's endorsement of Rep. Chris Murphy, an amazing opportunity to replace the odious Joe Lieberman with an unabashed progressive and an all-around great guy. Of course, because Murphy is running for Senate, that leaves his seat in the 5th Congressional District open. It's a swingish seat—the least-blue in Connecticut—that was held by Republican Nancy Johnson until Murphy dethroned her in 2006. The GOP of course wants it back, and we need to put our best foot forward.
Enter Donovan, who first won office in 1992 and has been speaker since 2009. Rather than dwell on his bio, though, I'd like to talk about his extraordinary record of accomplishments in the legislature, which have turned Connecticut into a progressive leader. Have some time on your hands? Good:
• Passed 12 minimum wage increases (just a sampling: 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008) and wants further hikesThanks to this record, Donovan has earned nearly a clean sweep in endorsements from labor unions, as well as the formal backing of the state Democratic Party and the Working Families Party. There's just no question in my mind that he's the sort of guy we definitely, definitely want in Congress.
• Established Connecticut's first-ever progressive income tax, which required millionaires to pay their fair share
• Closed a huge budget deficit last year without any layoffs of state workers
• Made Connecticut the first state to pass paid sick-leave legislation
• Instituted a state-level version of the DREAM Act
• Added transgender rights to state's anti-discrimination law
• Repealed the state's death penalty law
First, though, Donovan has to win his primary, which is on August 14. Unfortunately, EMILY's List, which is backing his chief rival, ex-state Rep. Elizabeth Esty, is on the attack—and they're going after Donovan using explicitly right-wing frames, calling him a "tax hiker." It's bad enough when Democratic institutions deploy such attacks; it's even more appalling when they level them at strong progressives like Donovan, who have managed to make Connecticut's tax code fairer. We need to make sure this anti-progressive agenda doesn't succeed.
And because we strive to be relentlessly reality-based, I also want to address an unfortunate incident that affected Donovan's campaign at the end of May. If you've followed this race, you know that Donovan's finance director was arrested by the FBI for allegedly engaging in illegal fundraising activities. Donovan hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing and says he has no knowledge of the alleged scheme. Since the story first broke, nothing's emerged to change that picture, but just as importantly, a week after the news came out, Donovan's allies in the labor movement held a packed rally for him, demonstrating that his friends don't doubt him and are proud to stick with him.
We should stick with him, too. Chris Donovan will do us proud when he's elected to the U.S. Congress. So please join Daily Kos in supporting one of the best progressives running anywhere in the country, and let's give Nancy Pelosi an awesome ally when she takes back the speaker's gavel.
P.S. As always, you can find Donovan's answers to our Orange to Blue questionnaire below the fold.
1. Do you support:
a) A public health insurance option, offered by the federal government and tied to Medicare reimbursement rates plus 5% (H.R. 3200, Subtitle B, including § 223(b)(1)(A), as introduced in the House, 111th Congress)?
Yes. I led the successful fight in Connecticut to open up the state employee health care program to municipalities and non-profits, the first step on the path to a Connecticut public option.
b) The Medicare You Can Buy Into Act (H.R. 4789, 111th Congress), which would allow all citizens or permanent residents to buy into Medicare?
Yes. I have been a leader in the fight for universal health care in the Connecticut General Assembly. I introduced a bill that would establish single payer health care in Connecticut and have been a strong advocate for opening up the state employee health care program to everyone in Connecticut.
I believe Medicare has been a reliable and efficient healthcare program and I think that increasing access would allow businesses and individuals to save money.
2. Do you agree that any immigration reform bill should:
a) Contain a meaningful path to citizenship — one that does not include overly-punitive fines or a touchback requirement — for law-abiding undocumented immigrants currently in the United States;
b) Ensure that expanded legal permanent immigration, rather than expansion of temporary worker programs, serves as the United States' primary external answer to workforce shortages; and
c) Ensure that any non-agricultural temporary worker programs maintain current caps on the total number of non-agricultural temporary worker visas issued, and also include a meaningful prevailing wage requirement keyed to the Service Contract Act and the Davis-Bacon Act?
Yes, yes, and yes. We are a nation of immigrants, and I will work in Congress to fix our broken immigration system. In Connecticut, I led the successful fight to pass the CT DREAM Act during the past legislative session.
I also led the fight to pass a standard wage act in Connecticut and I will continue that fight in Washington.
3. Do you oppose each of the following changes to Social Security and Medicare:
a) Raising the retirement age;
b) Eliminating or reducing the cost of living adjustment;
c) Directly reducing benefits;
d) Means-testing recipients; and
e) Privatization, so-called "personal accounts," and vouchers?
Yes to all. Social Security and Medicare are core American programs whose benefits should be off-limits. Americans pay into these programs and we should uphold the contract we have with our citizens and maintain those benefits.
4. Do you support the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409/S. 560, 111th Congress), including the provision known as "card check"?
Yes. I have introduced similar legislation in Connecticut, and I will be proud to co-sponsor it in Congress.
5. Do you pledge to vote against any efforts to extend the temporary tax cuts for income over $250,000 (Public Law 111-312)?
Yes. We cannot, and should not, attempt to solve our financial crisis on the backs of middle class families. I have worked hard to create a more progressive income tax in Connecticut and I will continue that fight in Congress.
6. If elected to the House, do you pledge not to join the Blue Dog Coalition?