While Tea Party candidates like Sharron Angle, Joe Miller and Ken Buck are receiving most of the attention for their extreme views, the Tea Partiers hope to make big gains on the state and local level to push their radical agenda. In Washington and Illinois, People For the American Way Action Fund is backing two young progressives who are fending off challenges from Tea Party opponents and their off-the-charts extremism. We urge you to do everything you can to support State Representative Marko Liias of Washington and State Senator Michael Frerichs of Illinois who are standing by their progressive principles as they run for re-election facing fire from the Far-Right and from Tea Party groups who hope to replace these progressive legislators with anti-government extremists.
Marko Liias of Washington has served in the State House since 2008, but is already making an impact: earlier this year, his anti-bullying bill passed unanimously in the State House and Senate. Liias, who is openly gay, worked with Equal Rights Washington to update and expand the state’s current anti-bullying policies to make schools safer for students, especially LGBT youth. He was also the prime sponsor of successful consumer protection legislation and co-sponsored the new law which provides domestic partners the same rights as married couples.
His challenger, Elizabeth Scott, is the darling of Washington’s Tea Party movement and an opponent of LGBT-equality. She backed Referendum 71, which attempted to repeal domestic partnership rights, and criticized equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians as “special rights.” Her platform calls for drastic budget cuts and privatization, and she wants to pass a law to allow Washington to “ignore federal laws and regulations on health care.” Scott is also a leader of the local “Tenther” movement, which believes that the majority of progressive legislation passed on the federal level is unconstitutional, including civil rights laws, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, workplace protections, and the minimum wage. At one of her “Tenth Amendment” rallies, she demonstrated her Far-Right views by pointing to the economic policies “during the Reagan years and during the 1800s” as successful blueprints for today’s economy.
The Herald newspaper describes the race as one of the “big fights” in Washington this year, and Liias and his family are already facing vicious attacks from Scott’s campaign and a group called “Red Snohomish PAC.”
While Liias is fighting back Tea Party attacks in Washington, Michael Frerichs of Illinois is facing his own Tea Party opponent.
In 2006, Michael Frerichs was elected to the State Senate by just over 500 votes against a former Republican State Senator. Troubled by the state’s regressive tax system, Frerichs proposed a Constitutional Amendment to repeal the flat tax, which places a disproportionate burden put on middle and low-income families. Along with supporting more fair and progressive economic policies, Frerichs cosponsored legislation to permit stem-cell research and opposed a wrongheaded school vouchers proposal.
Frerichs is also a champion of voting rights and good-government. He led the fight to boost access to early voting at state universities, and co-sponsored a bill to set limits to campaign contributions. Moreover, he passed a bill which would create financial incentives for homeowners and businesses to install renewable energy technology.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois awarded Frerichs the “Voice for Choice Award” in April for his commitment to reproductive rights, and Frerichs has spoken out against the rising number of states which “are being reactionary and trying to roll back access to reproductive health care.”
With such a progressive track record, it is unsurprising that Frerichs is a main target of the local tea party movement. In fact, the founder of the area’s Tea Party Patriots chapter, Al Reynolds, is running against Frerichs in the swing-district. Just check out the homepage of Reynolds’s campaign website and you will immediately see that Al Reynolds is a proud Tea Partier. Reynolds is an outspoken Tenther and supports “nullification,” the constitutionally-dubious proposal first used by defenders of slavery and opponents of civil rights laws. He also backs far-right GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady’s SR0181 bill that calls on the federal government’s powers to be restricted according to the Tea Party’s warped view of the Constitution.
While young elected officials like Marko Liias and Michael Frerichs are successfully spearheading progressive legislation in their states, local Tea Party groups want to drive them from office and replace them with Far-Right extremists. While progressives want to see government work for everyone, the Tea Partiers promoting privatization and nullification want to leave good-government by the wayside.
Check out Marko and Michael’s campaign websites and see how you can help them stand up to the Tea Party and fight for progressive principles in their states.