One thing that is going on throughout the United States: progressive candidates are challenging incumbent Democrats. Paula Swearengin is challenging Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) for his Senate seat.
WeWillReplaceYou.com is planning to fund challengers to incumbents. Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress, made up of groups of one-time aides to Bernie Sanders, are moving to organize challenges to incumbents.
What promises to be a really interesting fight will pit Nancy Pelosi against challenger Stephen Jaffe.
What promises to be a really interesting fight will pit Nancy Pelosi against challenger Stephen Jaffe.
What promises to be a really interesting fight will pit Nancy Pelosi against challenger Stephen Jaffe. “The 71-year-old employment attorney, a political novice, was one of many Democrats swept up in the fist-shaking presidential crusade of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Thus inspired, he’s now fixed his sights on winning a seat in Congress.
But not just any seat
“He hopes to knock off Nancy Pelosi, the former House speaker, the current Democratic minority leader and a political fixture in San Francisco for nigh on 50 years.” She has represented California’s 12th District (essentially the City of San Francisco) since 1987. By the end of July 2017, she had raised over $26 million for the Democratic Party. She had over $2 million in cash on hand for her own campaign as of June 30, 2017. She is the 15th wealthiest member of Congress. Roll Call estimates she has a net worth of $29.3 million. So beating her in a district that she’s owned since 1987 is going to be tough. But let’s look at reasons why he might win and she might lose.
The latest problem for her was Jon Osoff’s loss in a special election in June 2017 in Georgia. “[T]he fact that Republicans spent millions of dollars on TV ads tying Democratic hopeful Jon Ossoff to Pelosi — and the brand of progressive policies she represents — shows that she will once again be an issue for Democratic challengers in the very districts that the party needs to win to make her speaker again.”
“Pelosi still has a lot going for her. She remains the most successful nonpresidential political fundraiser in U.S. history, raising more than $560 million for House Democrats since she became leader in 2003, even though critics say all the money doesn’t matter if they keep losing. There’s also no question Pelosi remains popular with many House Democrats, despite her detractors.”
Then what about Jaffe? San Francisco attorney Stephen R. Jaffe, 71, is a lifelong Democrat and an employment attorney who became a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.
“I was a pretty hard-core Bernie supporter,” said Jaffe, who gave money to the campaign and volunteered during the Nevada caucuses. He was one of two attorneys who filed for an injunction on behalf of Sanders supporters in the California primary, requesting “re-votes” and an extension of the voter registration deadline. (The request was denied.)
Jaffe said he was “devastated” by Sanders’ loss to Hillary Clinton in the primary season and that Sanders, in part, inspired him to run. He says he supports single-payer healthcare and criticized Pelosi for raising money from corporations and special interests.
Pelosi, the highest-ranking Democrat in the House, has never faced a serious challenger on the left in her liberal San Francisco district. Preston Picus, another Sanders supporter who ran as a no-party-preference candidate, came the closest when he received 19% of the vote in November, according to the California Target Book.
“I know that Ms. Pelosi’s strategy has been to essentially ignore anyone who has challenged her, but I anticipate she’ll have a more difficult time doing that with my candidacy,” Jaffe said in an interview. He thinks if local, progressive activists can propel him to a runoff with Pelosi, he’ll have a “quite realistic chance” of winning.
“There’s a rumbling, a wave of activism here by people who have really never stepped forward before.”
Here are Jaffe’s many issues and his stance on them.
LGBTQIA health, jobs, & housing
The U.S. Constitution grants us equality – our spirit of independences gives us rights including happiness. Congress must act to improve the lives of LBGTQIA people in all sectors of our society, and to immediately ensure fair treatment in medical care, in prison, in the military, and in housing, by upholding and enforcing existing laws.
Welcoming and protecting immigrants
Our immigration policy is a national embarrassment. We are unconstitutionally targeting ethnic and religious groups for exclusion from the U.S. and ripping apart families with long history in their communities. This mean-spirited and counterproductive policy must end. There must also be an end to for-profit detention centers.
Women’s health and right to choose
I defend a woman’s right to control her own body and will always act to preserve the legal protections of Roe v Wade.
Restrain U.S. military adventures
The U.S. has been in a perpetual state of unnecessary wars for decades. All of these military incursions should have been avoided or ended by diplomacy. America cannot continue to make unilateral interventions abroad. I support humanitarian relief efforts.
Pass single payer health care
Health care is a moral right of every person. The U.S. is the only highly industrialized nation in the world which does not provide universal healthcare (Medicare for all) to its residents. I will join with Bernie Sanders and John Conyers to pass HR 676 or a similar single-payer bill. Universal health care does not cost more than our present system and reduces waste. Small and new businesses will flourish because entrepreneurs and employees will have their health expenses met by society. Single-payer now!
Free and open internet
This is a First Amendment issue over which there can be no compromise. Corporations should not be able to decide what we read and see based upon who will pay the most. Further, internet privacy must be greatly enhanced.
End the school-to-prison pipeline
Nationally, school disciplinary policies have been criminalizing ordinary childhood, thereby trapping children, especially Black and Latino youth into the criminal justice system. SF has shown that it’s time to end zero-tolerance, and other policies that criminalize youth.
Protect cities from gentrification
Concerted efforts by developers have gentrified our cities. Affordable family housing has been replaced with pricey developments for the 1%. Gentrification overwhelmingly hurts minority communities. In 1970, one of seven SF residents was black. Today, it is less than one in 20. Our Latino neighbors are facing
Investigate police shootings
Black Lives Matter – and African Americans are disproportionally targeted for police violence. I would write legislation mandating that the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice investigate all police shootings it independently determines were the result of violations or denials of the civil rights of the victims.
Fight global warming
No matter what the science deniers may say or think, climate change and global warming are real, scientific facts. We must continue to aggressively develop all forms of alternate energy, such as solar, wind, and tidal-powered systems and give tax breaks and incentives to the people who advance that cause. Stop fossil fuel subsidies.
No more dirty energy subsidies
We must transition away from fossil fuels, investing instead in clean energy such as wind, solar, tidal, etc. This will not only create jobs for Americans, it will free the United States from its dependence on fossil fuel and coal energy and allow us to focus on keeping climate change in check.
Ensure fair elections
We must use open source software on voting machines. Private corporations must not be involved in any way with processing of votes. We must also examine the use of paper ballots and hand counting of votes. I will work to restore complete transparency and confidence in our elections
Public campaign financing
We must end dark money from corporations, money laundering, and the purchasing of benefits from influencing our elections. It looks like bribery and it is, and it must stop. I advocate the public financing of political campaigns. This will go a long way towards lessening the corrosive effect of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Democrats must stop taking money from corporations, PCS or Super PACS with practices contrary to Democratic values.
Jaffe minimum wage plan
I advocate immediately raising the federal minimum wage to a base of $15, adjusted to the cost-of-living in the location where the minimum wage is actually paid. Under my plan, the worker in San Francisco will get paid more dollars than the worker in Kansas but the buying power of their wages will be equal to allow them to live more abundantly.
I am outraged that, in one of the richest countries in the world, over half a million people are homeless. , it’s a catastrophic crisis. Inadequate health insurance is a leading cause of homelessness. One way to address this issue is by implementing universal, single-payer health care.
Decriminalize mental illness
No one chooses to become mentally ill. The mentally ill are not criminals, but they are treated as if they are. Our jails and prisons are not hospitals. We must increase funding for: the safe housing and treatment of the severely mentally ill; further training for policer on how to de-escalate confrontations; and, more training of Crisis Intervention Teams
Abolish mandatory arbitration
I propose to end mandatory arbitrations for employees and consumers. Most large companies require their employees to sign mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of getting their jobs. Mandatory arbitration denies employees the access to the courts to which they are otherwise entitled. Further, when you buy an airline ticket, open a bank account, stay in a large hotel, or apply for a credit card, you will find mandatory arbitration language hidden in the fine print. Employees and consumers almost always lose arbitrations proceedings because the arbitration process itself is strongly biased against them. We must end this perversion of civil justice with strong federal legislation.
Income inequality and disparity is destroying the nation. The middle class is disappearing. I will introduce a progressive graduated tax structure to increase the taxes paid by the wealthiest among us and grant tax relief to the working middle class, which has historically been the bedrock of our economy. The more you earn, the more you pay.
Protect religious rights, and the right to no religion
Assure the full observance and enforcement of the No Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, i.e., separation of religion and government. There should be no religion in government and no government in religion. This includes fighting any any assaults on full marriage equality.
Many animals are sentient beings who have genuine emotions, memories, feel happiness and pain, both physical and psychological. They deserve the protection of the law by enforcing and expanding the Protected Species Act and the laws against cruelty and abuse, prohibiting the importation of “trophy kills” of animals slaughtered on “safaris,” such as elephants, lions, tigers, giraffes, rhinos and other magnificent innocent beasts. A recent outrageous and monstrous law by Trump and the GOP allows hunters to shoot and kill bears while they are hibernating. We must stop this horrific cruel conduct by the federal government.
Reform the Democratic Party
No more back room nominations. I will seek to abolish superdelegates from the nomination process, root corruption from the DNC, make the Party’s processes completely transparent and return to the Party to its mission representing working people, the poor, the disabled, minorities, and others in need.
Transform the economy
Why is 57% of Trump’s national budget reserved for the military? It is not because we need to constantly manufacture weapons so we can go to war when we need to. It is exactly the opposite. The constant state of war keeps the defense industries, which consume a huge portion of our national resources, in business. Our newest aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford, cost $12.8 billion – more than enough to replenish the combined budgets of many federal programs and agencies such as The National Endowment of the Arts. We must end our economy’s dependence on permanent war and direct our resources towards peace and our society’s must vulnerable.
Cap executive pay
The CEOs and executives of large corporations are paid obscenely high salaries, perks, and benefits. I propose to cap CEO and executive compensation at 30 times the pay of the lowest paid worker in the company. Aside from ending the gross disparity between the top and bottom workers in a company, this will incentivize the CEO to raise the pay of the company’s lowest-paid workers
Close private prisons
It is immoral for corporations to make profits for locking up human beings. Period. Reforming drug laws, decriminalizing marijuana, and retroactively reducing and clearing charges will allows the U.S. to close many of its private prisons and reduce our shameful incarceration races. This is a reform that cannot come quick enough, and must be a priority for all progressives.
I attended a “meet and greet” meeting held for Jaffe in Beverly Hills by Lauren Steiner, a former activist for Bernie Sanders, There were fifty people in attendance Jaffe pointed out in his speech that his race against Pelosi had every chance of becoming one of national interest, given Pelosi’s stature in the Democratic Party
Jaffe told us that he liked his odds.
“I think Ms. Pelosi is vulnerable for the same reason you’re saying that she is difficult to beat,” he said. “She stood up and said, ‘I’m against single payer.’ Single payer is part of the California Democratic Party platform. Seventy percent of Democrats in California—and probably higher than that in San Francisco—want single payer. And she just continues to defy it. And believe me, I’m making a big deal out of that.”
(Pelosi, for the record, didn’t actually say “I’m against single payer”—she has in fact said in the past that she supports the concept—but she declined to endorse the Bernie Sanders-sponsored Medicare-for-all bill that numerous other Democratic leaders have recently come out in support of, just as she has declined to support similar bills introduced in the House by left-leaning Democrats over the years.)
“She’s not voting for her constituents. She’s voting for her donors,” Jaffe said. “She’s not reflecting the values and the wishes of her constituents. She perceives herself as this national figure, and she forgets that the only people who need to vote for her, in or out, are the people of the 12th district of California.”
Jaffe, for his part, is still working to build up name recognition in San Francisco and nationally. He has been endorsed by Tim Canova, who lost his primary bid against Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in Florida, and Rob Quist, who lost his Montana House race to Rep. Greg “The Body Slam” Gianforte. He is being vetted as a candidate by Justice Democrats and by Our Revolution.