We Can Win!
By Mike Rhodes
Progressives in Fresno and the Central Valley have an opportunity to win political power but only if they vote on Tuesday, June 5. We can have a left-leaning City Council in Fresno. We can replace right-wing Republicans with progressives in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. The only way we can lose is if we fail to get ourselves, supporters and allies motivated to vote. The CVPPAC urges you to take up the challenge and get everyone you know to vote and vote for the candidates (like the ones listed on this page) who share your values.
Every election cycle, members of the CVPPAC go through a thoughtful process of evaluating, selecting and supporting progressive candidates in local races. The work is probably more challenging than you think.
It is not enough to simply select the candidate who is the “most progressive” because we want to support someone who not only has good politics but also has a chance of winning. Sometimes that can be challenging because progressives don’t always agree about the criteria we need to endorse a candidate. Do you select the farthest left candidate regardless of whether that person has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning? Some members want to endorse a candidate if that person is perceived to be more centrist and has a chance to beat the incumbent. We had that happen in the Congressional District 22 race this year.
There were a significant number of members who wanted us to support Andrew Janz, who is running against Devin Nunes in the 22nd Congressional District. Everyone agrees that he would be better than Nunes, but there are two other candidates¾Ricardo Franco and Bobby Bliatout¾running in the primary. Many CVPPAC members think they are to the left of Janz and believe that if voters have an opportunity to elect a progressive, they would. In this situation, CVPPAC members had a spirited discussion but ended up not endorsing anyone because we need 2/3s of members attending the meeting to support a candidate.
The CVPPAC does not allow for proxy voting, so members must attend the endorsement meeting and listen to each other before deciding who to support. A lot of the time the vote is unanimous, but sometimes there are several good candidates to consider. We have come to understand that we will not always agree on who to endorse in primary elections. When you see a list of endorsed CVPPAC candidates, you know they have been carefully selected and have the support of a super majority of members.
In addition to endorsing candidates, the CVPPAC provides much needed funding to help get progressives elected. Given the electoral system we have, it is necessary to raise and spend money in an election. Without money, you would have no viable way to get your message out and run a campaign capable of winning an election. We have just started to have the ability to contribute the maximum amount to our supported candidates. Veva Islas, for example, was given $4,200, which is the maximum a group like ours can contribute in a Fresno City Council race.
That is why it is essential for progressives in this community to not only contribute to candidates who share their values but we must also do more. The advantage progressives have over big corporate donors and fat cats is that we have people power. You are not going to see the millionaires and CEOs walking door-to-door or making phone calls for the candidates who represent their interests. Progressives have people power, and that is what will help us overcome our disadvantages. If every progressive backed good candidates (financially and through working on their campaigns), we would see a huge change in the political landscape in this area and throughout the country.
We also must fight against voter suppression and for campaign finance reform.
Why is the voter turnout so high (85%) in precincts north of Herndon and low (30%) in southeast and southwest Fresno? It is because we are not playing on a level playing field. If you move, you have to re-register to vote. Who do you think moves more¾poor and working people living in apartments or rich people living on the bluffs? Who do you think has an easier time going to the polling station? Someone who is working two or three jobs and that has transportation issues or someone who has a reliable vehicle and has no trouble taking time off from work? And what about the 3,000–4,000 people who are locked up at the Fresno County Jail on Election Day? They literally can’t get out and vote, even though 66% of them have not been convicted of a crime and are just awaiting trial. Those people in the jail are overwhelmingly poor and working people because the rich fat cats can more easily buy their way out using the bail system.
Yes, we need to change the electoral system here in the Central Valley, but we can’t wait for that to happen before we struggle for political power. The CVPPAC believes that a majority of people in the Valley share our progressive values. They want to earn a living wage, universal healthcare, clean air and their children to attend excellent schools.
If grassroots community groups and all the people who support social and economic justice joined together and elected candidates that represent their values, we would win political power. That is the dream of the CVPPAC, that we can build unity, increase voter turnout by ending the disenfranchisement of poor and working people and get progressives elected by having an electoral strategic plan.
We are fighting for our lives and we urge everyone who shares progressive values to step up and elect candidates who will represent their interests. That is why the June 5 primary is so important. We need you to join us as we push these candidates over the top¾to show that another world is possible.
The next meeting of the CVPPAC will be Saturday, June 9, at 3:30 p.m. at the Fresno Center for Nonviolence at 1584 N. Van Ness Ave. For more information about the CVPPAC, call Pam Whalen at 559-994-9390 or visit www.cvppac.org.
The Central Valley Progressive PAC has endorsed the following candidates in the June 5, 2018, primary:
Fresno City Council District 3
More information about Daren Miller and his campaign can be found here: http://www.electdarenmiller.org
Fresno City Council District 5
More information about Jose Barraza and his campaign can be found here: http://josebarrazafordist5.com
Fresno City Council District 7
More information about Veva Islas and her campaign can be found here: http://voteveva2018.com
State Assembly District 23
More information about Aileen Rizo and her campaign can be found here: https://www.aileenrizo.com
State Assembly District 26
More information about Jose Sigala and his campaign can be found here: https://sigala4assembly.com
State Senate District 14
More information about Melissa Hurtado and her campaign can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/hurtadoforsenate/
Fresno County Clerk/Registrar of Voters
More information about Adrian Rivera and his campaign can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/Adrian4Fresno/
Fresno County Board of Supervisors District 1
More information about Brian Pacheco and his campaign can be found here: http://pachecoforsupervisor.com