I don’t want to be too critical of Justice Democrats because I love the organization, and I respect and admire its two co-founders, Kyle Kulinski and Cenk Uygur. As much as I love the Justice Democrats, something happened within the organization that was simply wrong. Not just once, but twice. Something is HORRIBLY WRONG with the Justice Democrats’ vetting process. Justice Democrats passed up two excellent candidates: one to take on California Senator Dianne Feinstein, David Hildebrand, and another to take on Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Irasema “Sema” Hernandez.
California: David Hildebrand
Most progressives agree: Dianne Feinstein has got to go! Simply perusing her record on Wikipedia gives you an idea as to why. She supported the Patriot ACT; voted for Mike Pompeo to head the CIA (who said Edward Snowden should be executed..); supports the death penalty; vetoed a city council ordinance as mayor of San Francisco that would have given spousal benefits to employees that have same-sex spouses; supports the drug war, including keeping marijuana criminalized; opposes single payer; voted to fast track the TPP; voted for the Iraq War resolution DESPITE believing the CIA had provided insufficient intelligence to conclude Hussein had WMDs; voted for the Bush tax cuts; the list just goes on and on.
A couple weeks ago, Justice Democrats announced that they had a primary challenger to Dianne Feinstein: Alison Hartson. Hartson was (and still is?) the national national director of Wolf PAC; an organization dedicated to getting money out of politics. As director of Wolf PAC, Hartson lead the effort (and succeeded) to get money out of politics in California. Hartson is definitely a progressive and a good choice to oust corporate Democrat Dianne Feinstein, but there is another progressive that may have been a better choice: David Hildebrand. Hildebrand informed Truth Against The Machine that his supporters have nominated him to run as a Justice Democrat on numerous occasions months prior to their announcement of Hartson’s candidacy.
Hildebrand told Truth Against The Machine he has been advocating for single payer for over a decade and that he has been a legislative analyst for six years. Hildebrand’s political positions include (but are not limited to): single-payer health care (obviously), a $15/hr minimum wage, banning fracking & combating climate change, ending “right to work laws” and strengthening unions, tuition-free public universities and colleges, a new glass-steagall, rent control, a tax on wall street transactions, raising taxes on the wealthy and big corporations, ending wars of aggression and implementing an end to regime change wars, a non-interventionist foreign policy. The list of progressive policies Hildebrand has come out in support of is very long. Hildebrand has been campaigning in California and gaining name recognition since March. Hildebrand really does seem like the perfect person for Justice Democrats to endorse. So, why in God’s name didn’t they?
“We are not going to run another man against her [Diane Feinstein],” Sandy Menor from Justice Democrats explanation for not endorsing David Hildebrand. “We want another woman in the senate but a younger woman with ideas to help this country out of the hole that has been dug by this administration and this Congress.”
Very, very strange. It’s an eerie reminder of when Democrats and the DNC kept saying we should support Hillary over Bernie because she is a woman.
Kuklinski, one of the founders of Justice Democrats, spoke out against the staffer for precluding Hildebrand based off his gender. However, Kulinski stood by Justice Democrats’ decision to endorse Hartson stating:
“David previously worked in transportation. Alison’s experience was crucial to our decision. Simply, we think she’s the best candidate and can win.”
“[Hartson] is a one-issue candidate that has been a salaried employee of a Super PAC controlled by Cenk for the last two years. I have worked for 6 years as a legislative analyst on transportation policy, and have been active in healthcare and labor policy for years,” Hildebrand responded to Kyle.
Just for clarification, WolfPAC is a PAC not a super PAC.
I believe Kulinski when he says Justice Democrats didn’t pick Hartson based off of her gender: he was constantly pushing for Bernie over Hillary last year. Kulinski also voted for Jill Stein in the general election. Kulinski does genuinely promote whoever he believes is the best candidate.
Despite all of that, it seems very strange to me that Justice Democrats didn’t endorse Hildebrand. Hildebrand has a history of advocating everything on their platform, he’s been campaigning for 8 months now, and he was interviewed by Jimmy Dore on TYT.
It was also very strange that Dore was sitting across the table from Uygur as he announced Hartson was going to be running against Feinstein, but never mentioned the fact Hildebrand was already in the race.
What’s done is done now, both Hartson and Hildebrand are leagues better than Feinstein. Hopefully one of them ousts her in the Democratic Primary.
Texas: Irasema “Sema” Hernandez
In Texas many on the left are eager to oust incumbent Ted Cruz. I don’t think I even need to list the reasons we want him gone like I did with Feinstein. I’ve written about why I believe the Texas Democratic Party establishment’s choice, Beto O’Rourke, is not the right guy for the job. I support his primary opponent, Sema Hernandez. I know Hernandez personally, so just know what I’m about to say came out of her mouth.
In March of 2017, Hernandez was actually nominated, and vetted, to be a Justice Democrat candidate. Hernandez passed the vetting process, and was told she would be running against Gene Green (who recently announced his retirement from congress) in Texas’ 29th congressional district. Hernandez was not happy about this because she wanted to unseat Ted Cruz, not Gene Green.
Hernandez was told that they could not back her in a race between Ted Cruz because Texas was a big state and would sap all of their resources. Justice Democrats also expressed skepticism to Hernandez that Texas could be flipped from red to blue. Justice Democrats also suggested that Hernandez run as a Republican to challenge Ted Cruz, which didn’t make any sense to her. Hernandez declined Justice Democrats’ suggestion to run for the Texas 29th’ congressional district.
Recently, one of the founders of Justice Democrats, Cenk Uygur, interviewed Beto O’rourke on TYT. Uygur has come out in favor of Beto O’Rourke. When I messaged Justice Democrats directly through Facebook, they informed me that they had not endorsed Beto because he has not cosponsored H.R. 676. When I informed them Uygur appears to have endorsed Beto, they stated Uygur is allowed to support whoever he likes and that Uygur was not involved in the day to day activities of Justice Democrats. Kulinski has also expressed a favorable view of Beto O’Rourke.
While Justice Democrats has not endorsed Beto, its two co-founders have come out in favor of his candidacy. Further, Uygur expressed that he would like to see, and has encouraged, Beto to join the Justice Democrats. Uygur stated that Beto “hadn’t joined yet.” (he said this at about the 8:00 mark in the Hartson interview). Given that Uygur wants Beto O’Rourke to join the organization and Kulinski has a favorable view of him, it only seems like a matter of time until he does.
Justice Democrats not endorsing Hernandez because Texas is too big of a state doesn’t make any sense now that they have endorsed Hartson for the California Senate. California’s population is 39 million compared to Texas’ 28 million. It also makes no sense for Justice Democrats to not to try to win Texas because it is such a conservative state. Texas is actually within the grasp of Democrats.
Justice Democrats has endorsed Paula Jean Swearengin in West Virginia to unseat the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, Joe Manchin. West Virginia is a much redder state than Texas, having gone to Donald Trump in 2016 by over 40%. West Virginia has just been getting more and more red with each passing election cycle while the opposite is true for Texas. Donald Trump won here by 9%.
All that being said, Justice Democrats passed up and refused to endorse two people that will fight for their platform relentlessly. They may end up endorsing Beto O’Rourke, who has only cosponsored 2 out of 8 bills on the People’s Platform at the current time. It appears neither Kyle Kulinski nor Cenk Uygur is aware of Hernandez’s candidacy because they are not involved in the day to day activities of Justice Democrats. The vetting process for Justice Democrats’ candidates needs to be reformed and improved.
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