Courage California in the News

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Still figuring out who to vote for? Courage California has some suggestions for you.

The progressive group this morning released its statewide voter guide, offering recommendations for federal-, state-, county- and city-level races across California.

“California needs a straightforward, reliable resource to learn how to vote their values and bring progress to our communities. The 2020 Courage California Voter Guide is the solution for those who want to vote courageously, and hold our elected officials to the same standards,” said Courage California Executive Director Eddie Kurtz in a statement.

Though Courage California has yet to offer an endorsement in the race for Assembly District 57, the group has some questions about candidate Sylvia Rubio’s political sympathies.

In a strongly worded letter to Rubio, Kurtz demanded to know who Rubio voted for in the 2016 primary election; Politico recently reported that Rubio was a registered Republican from 2010 to 2017.

“Should we assume you voted for Trump in the 2016 Republican primary? And if not, for which Republican presidential candidate did you cast your vote?” Kurtz wrote in his letter. “You have stated that you now share Democratic values, which we applaud, but this does not explain your voting history. In fact, it raises more questions than answers. At what point did your values change? What happened in 2017 that caused you to register as a Democrat?”

Rubio’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Rubio, whose sisters Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio and Sen. Susan Rubio already serve in the Legislature, is running against Lisa Calderon to fill the seat which is being vacated by outgoing Assemblyman Ian Calderon.

In fact, Waldron couldn’t have fared worse to standing up to corporate interests if she tried. She managed to vote against the people’s interests, and for corporate lobbyists, on 39 out of 41 bills graded by the Courage Campaign. One of the two votes she didn’t flunk came when she didn’t vote.

At least, Waldron is consistent. She has failed the courage test every year since the group started keeping score in 2015.

DOWNEY - A California progressive organization has named State Sen. Bob Archuleta to its Hall of Shame for a voting record “most closely aligned with the corporate lobbyists and campaign contributors that exploit Californians.”

Archuleta, from Pico Rivera, represents Downey in the state Senate.

“For far too long, Californians have suffered under skyrocketing housing costs, a failing healthcare system, a broken criminal justice system, and a deeply underfunded education system,” said Eddie Kurtz, executive director of Courage California, which produces the annual Hall of Shame. “That’s why voters made California a one-party state with a legislative supermajority: they had faith that Democrats would have the courage to stand up to corporate lobbyists and find solutions to our most critical problems. It’s time for Democrats to deliver.

“Legislators must truly represent the values of Californians, and take action to make real, bold progress on the array of challenges our state faces.”

In total, a dozen legislators from throughout California were named to the Hall of Shame.

The progressive organization Courage California named three of the 15 unopposed lawmakers to its “hall of shame” this year, complaining that the Democrats aren’t liberal enough. Yet the group now has no realistic chance of unseating them.

“Elections are the ultimate accountability tool, and if you don’t have challenges of folks that are doing a terrible job, then you can’t have accountability,” said Eddie Kurtz, the group’s executive director.

Stafford also announced her campaign is endorsed by Courage California and one of the larger labor unions in the state, California's branch of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The SEIU has collective bargain agreements across a variety of organizations nationally and has advocated for things like the Affordable Healthcare Act and increases in minimum wages.
In making the announcement, Stafford said their endorsement was "courageous even for that organization because what you will find it that most unions stay out of it rather than get involved" in the time leading up to primaries. Stafford added along with financial assistance, the SEIU will phone bank and walk precincts.  

Costa, 67, appeared vulnerable after he was unable to win the state Democratic Party's endorsement for the seat. But he's stockpiled nearly $1 million for the contest, and his prominent supporters include Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sen. Kamala Harris, the former Democratic presidential contender.

He argues that he’s delivered in Congress, including routinely securing funds for farm programs in a district where agriculture is the backbone of the economy. His campaign declined a request to interview Costa but provided a written statement in which the congressman said he's “focused on the issues that matter.”

His main Democratic challenger, Esmeralda Soria, 37, a lawyer and Fresno City Council member, sees it differently. She calls Costa, first elected in 2004, a captive of big-money politics and argues that “nothing has changed” in the farm-belt district that struggles with drinking water problems, poverty and homelessness.

Echoing Sanders and Warren, she says health care is a human right. And she's rejecting corporate PAC funds that she blames for corrupting Congress. “Washington is broken, corrupted by the greed of those at the top. It's time for new leadership,” she says on her campaign website.

In an interview, Soria, the daughter of Mexican immigrant farm workers who is backed by labor icon Dolores Huerta and the liberal group Courage California, called Costa a friend but also ineffective and too close to corporate interests, particularly in farming.

“Just because you have a D after your name,” she said, referring to Costa’s Democratic affiliation, “that’s not enough.”

The progressive group Courage California inducted 12 lawmakers into its “Hall of Shame,” calling out four senators and eight assembly members “who are most out of step with their constituents, and most closely aligned with the corporate and wealthy special interests that exploit Californians.”

Democratic Sens. Bob ArchuletaSusan Rubio, Glazer and Dodd all received an “F” grade from the group’s annual Courage Score Report Card, as did Democratic Assembly members Patrick O’DonnellTimothy GraysonFreddie RodriguezBlanca RubioTom DalyJim CooperJim Frazier and Rudy Salas.

If you haven’t read the scorecard yet, it’s flush with witty digs at the lawmakers, i.e. Dodd’s: “This wine country rep’s coziness with corporations uncorks a bitter vintage of bad votes.”

Courage California spokeswoman Madison Donzis described the report card as “a progressive north star” for liberal groups based out of California. The report card measures how legislators voted on “critical statewide bills and the extent to which elected officials accurately reflected the values of their constituents.”

As for who got an “A,” more than 20 senators and assembly members were listed as “Courage Score All-Stars.”

The full report card will be released Tuesday morning following a 9:30 a.m. rally at Southside Capitol, 1400 10th St., where Courage California Executive Director Eddie Kurtz will speak.

“Legislators must represent Californians, and take action to make real, bold progress on the array of challenges our state faces,” Kurtz said in prepared remarks. “Until then, Courage California will continue to call out state leaders—and we’re happy to name names—for their complicity, and make sure voters hear our message loud and clear.”

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Progressive booster Courage California (formerly Courage Campaign) is laying down markers in a handful of Democrat-on-Democrat races, endorsing Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria (challenging Rep. Jim Costa), Marisol Rubio (seeking to unseat state Sen. Steve Glazer), Assembly hopeful Tracie Stafford (running against moderate Democratic Assemblyman Jim Cooper) and state Sen. Holly Mitchell (vying for an LA County Supervisor seat).

As of January 2020, Courage California — formerly known as Courage Campaign — has officially changed its name. Since its founding in 2005, Courage Campaign has focused on progressive organizing in California, and the 2020 rebrand as Courage California serves to deepen the organization’s commitment to the state.

Eddie Kurtz, executive director of Courage California, explained:

“Courage California recognizes that California must be a beacon of progressive democracy. We understand that California — the 5th largest economy in the world, and the United States’ largest and most diverse state — is uniquely positioned to serve as a model for the country.

“Courage Campaign’s name was changed to Courage California because it better reflects our mission, vision, and values, and our belief that California must seize upon its unique position to build a progressive, equitable, and truly representative democracy. We must prove that democracy in the U.S. can still solve the thorniest problems facing our state, our nation, and the world, while also serving ALL of our people — regardless of race, gender, or economic status.

“To do so, Californians must have the information and infrastructure they need to hold elected officials accountable when they are not working for the public’s benefit, instead prioritizing corporate lobbyists and campaign contributors.

“Courage California will help our great state reach its potential by calling out institutional corruption and oppression, improving coordination and collaboration between progressive organizations, and demanding that our state and local representatives be both accountable to and reflective of the Californians they seek to serve.

“We are building a courageous California, we are Courage California.”

A billboard with the word “impeach” in all capital letters next to a picture of President Trump has gone up in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco.

The billboard features a link to CouragetoImpeach.com, which features a petition for people to sign indicating they support impeaching Trump.

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