The Midterms Minute is a look at the candidates and races that you need to know about, shout about and support to make sure we have a blue tsunami on November 6th.
As we produced this episode, primaries wrapped up in four states where, altogether, thirteen Justice Democrats were vying for congressional and gubernatorial nominations. If you’re kicking yourself because you wish you’d taken more action to support progressive and liberal candidates in those primaries, time to double down.
Hawaii’s primary is August 11th and primaries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Vermont are on August 14th. Check out the links to our previous spotlights on the races in these states and then, whatever state you live in, take action. Both Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress offer Get Out the Vote online calling and texting tools, with scripts on individual candidates, allowing you to talk to primary voters from wherever you are. This is a great way to make a real impact.
Today, we’re going to talk about Alaska and Wyoming which both have primaries coming up on August 21st. Although these are states where Democrats, let alone progressives, don’t often thrive, there are a few candidates trying to change that this year.
AUGUST 21st PRIMARIES:
Governor: Alaska’s current governor, former Republican and current Independent, Bill Walker, and his Democrat Lieutenant Governor are up for reelection this year. But former Senator Mark Begich, a solid Democrat, threw his hat in the ring, causing Walker to run as a petition candidate. This has created a three way race that could divide left-leaning voters and so things may get very ugly as Begich and Walker each try to knock each other out. In July, the expected Republican candidate had a 5 point lead on Walker. Begich has the voting record of a relative moderate, but Walker was a former oil and gas lawyer with a long GOP history. Begich’s running mate is Debra Call, an Alaska Native and former executive of multiple Alaska Native organizations. Unfortunately, all candidates - on both sides - support the sale of drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As with every race for governor, the national importance is that whoever holds the office will be involved in the state’s redistricting process following the 2020 Census.
U.S. House At Large: Alaska’s sole congressional seat is currently held by anti-woman, anti-environment, anti-LGBT Republican Don Young, the longest serving member of Congress. The two viable candidates running for the Democratic nomination are both political newcomers. Progressive Democrat Dimitri Shein supports Improved Medicare for All, investments in renewable energy and his campaign does not accept corporate PAC contributions. Independent Alyse Galvin is a public schools advocate who supports investments in renewable energy and believes responsible natural resource development is possible, though she opposes the Pebble Mine Project.
Important Dates: Alaska Democrats have an open primary, but your registration must have been received by July 22nd to participate. Early voting is going on right now and we’ve included the link to the early voting locations in the show notes. Mailed ballot requests must be received by August 11th. Absentee ballots must be requested by August 20th and completed ballots must be received by August 31st.
We turn now to Republican controlled Wyoming, where, believe it or not, the state Democratic Party is feeling optimistic. A few state legislative seats appear likely to swing to the Democrats and others are at least plausible pick ups.
Governor: Wyoming’s current Governor, Republican Matt Mead, has reached his term limit and six climate science-denying GOPers are in a tight primary race for the nomination. But there is a clear frontrunner in the Democratic primary: former state representative, Mary Throne. She is the only candidate proposing the absolutely necessary tax increases to resolve Wyoming’s deficit after years of cuts by Mead. But unfortunately, she’s still pandering to Wyoming’s energy sector. Her opponents, Rex Wilde and Ken Casner, both lean more toward renewables. Wilde is advocating legalization of marijuana to increase tax revenue and tourism. Again, the national importance of governorships is that whoever holds the office will be involved in the state’s redistricting process in 2020.
U.S. House At Large: Like Alaska, Wyoming has just one congressional seat for the whole state and its held by Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick Cheney. Cheney is up for reelection this year but facing two GOP primary opponents. The Democrats eyeing Cheney’s seat are Travis Helm and Greg Hunter. Hunter wants to expand Medicaid in the state in the short term and supports “Medicare for All” as the long term solution. But this guy is from Wyoming, so when it comes to guns, he only supports more stringent requirements for AR-15s, not any ban of any kind. Hunter used to be a Republican, but switched parties in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq. His opponent, Travis Helm, has a similar political transition story, supports a public, universal healthcare system and keeping public lands under federal control.
Heads up! U.S. Senate: Wyoming’s Senate seat is also up for grabs this year, but Gary Trauner is the only Democratic candidate so he will move on to November. Six Republicans are running for the GOP nomination even though incumbent Republican John Barasso is running for reelection. So far, ninety-five percent of Barasso’s fundraising has come from outside the state.
Important Dates: If you’re a Wyoming resident, your registration must have been received by August 6th to vote in the primary. However, Wyoming does offer election day registration and voting, so you have another chance. Absentee ballot requests must be requested by August 20th and completed ballots must be received by 7pm on August 21st.
We want to emphasize registration cut off dates and absentee ballot request and submission dates are different for each state, sometimes even each county. We highly suggest reviewing your state’s information, and voter ID laws, at rockthevote.org as soon as possible to ensure you will be able to vote in both the primary and general elections.
To check out our previous Midterms Minutes segments, go to BestoftheLeft.com/activism.
So, if building the bluest of blue waves is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about supporting progressive candidates across the country via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
THE MIDTERMS MINUTE (QUICK LINKS):
For an easy way to donate to candidates, check out DownTicket.com on your mobile browser.
“15 Ways to Help a Campaign Win Their Election” (Political Charge)
August 21st Primaries:
Early voting happening now! Find locations
Governor - Mark Begich and Dana Call
Heads up for Nov. 6th! U.S. Senate - Gary Trauner (uncontested in primary)
Posted August 7, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1200: The Democratic autopsy and the progressive path forward