Exclusive Profile: Millennial NYC Mayoral Candidate Collin Slattery

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In 1992, when Collin Slattery was just two years old, his father was diagnosed with leukemia. His health insurance was provided through his high-level corporate job, so when he was let go, the Slattery family had to pay for all of his health bills out of pocket.

In 1995, they moved from Illinois to New Jersey, one of the few states at the time that required providers to offer healthcare to people with pre-existing conditions. Collin’s father died in 1999, leaving 10-year-old Collin and his family bankrupt from the millions of dollars they had to pay out-of-pocket on healthcare.

Collin, along with his mother and two sisters, moved to New York City in 2003 so that Collin could attend a good high school. But though he attended Stuyvesant, one of the best STEM schools in the country, his life was far from good. He had a rocky relationship with his mother, who was more interested in how much money he won playing poker in an underground park than how he was doing in school.

Collin graduated in 2007, but was unable to afford college. His mother was evicted from her apartment in 2008, leaving Collin on the edge of homelessness.

For over a year, Collin had only one meal a day. He walked 9.2 miles to get to his minimum wage retail job. He was oftentimes single days from eviction. Though he is over six feet tall, he was only 150 pounds.

Then, in early 2009, he came across an incredible opportunity. He met a young businessman who created his own hedge fund, Elea Capital Management, in his early 20’s. The young businessman offered Collin a six figure per year job that could springboard Collin’s career and develop into a multimillion dollar per year job. The young businessman’s name was Martin Shkreli.

Martin Shkreli, now commonly referred to as “pharma bro,” earned the hatred of people around the world in 2015 for hiking the price of Daraprim, a medication used to treat people with AIDS, by 5000%, making it unaffordable to many who desperately needed it. Shkreli had taken similar action before, hiking the price of Thiola, a drug used to treat the rare disease cystinuria, by 2000%.

“It’s a great business decision that also benefits all of our stakeholders,” Shkreli explained on Twitter.

Later that year, Shkreli was arrested by the FBI for securities fraud. He ended up with a congressional hearing in which he refused to answer any questions beyond what his name was.

Though Collin could not have possibly known in early 2009 that Shkreli would hike the prices of essential drugs by thousands for his own benefit alone, Collin could tell that Shkreli was running a fraud. “I was faced with this moral dilemma,” Collin told me. “I was impoverished. I was so poor I can’t even afford to eat.”

But despite the opportunity to pull himself out of poverty, Collin declined Shkreli’s offer. Instead, Collin reported Shkreli to the SEC for running a fraud.

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Collin’s email to the SEC reporting Martin Shkreli’s fraudulent activity. Sent Sat, May 16, 2009 at 4:04 AM.

Seven months later, on December 23, 2009, Collin spent his last $134 to start a web hosting company. He named it Taikun. It became a side project after Collin acquired a job in March 2010, but in 2014, Collin began running Taikun full-time as a digital marketing agency. Taikun helps small- and mid-size businesses grow on the web. He currently isn’t making as much as he’d like, bit he can now afford healthcare, rent, three meals a day, and a MetroCard.

“I haven’t taken any money from anyone, I haven’t taken any venture capital. Just bootstrappin’ my way up.

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Collin with his grandmother.

After the election, Collin wanted to use his tech skills to take action. He started working to create a millennial, digital-based Super PAC that would engage millennials and help encourage them to run for office. He specifically wanted to drive nerds into politics. “The nerdier you are, the more likely you are to accept reality and facts,” he said. “So why don’t we have nerds in charge for a while?”

But then he had a thought. “Why don’t I just run myself?”

He was initially cautious, worried that people would find embarrassing pictures of him online that would be disqualifying in the eyes of voters. But that concern faded quickly. “Trump is a self-professed serial sexual predator. If that’s not disqualifying, literally nothing in my closet is even close to that.”

“Donald Trump should be in prison. I just got drunk and fell into a wall.”

Collin immediately knew that if he was going to run, he’d have to run for mayor of New York City. “There’s so much you can do as mayor to help people,” he said. “You can be this beacon of progressivism and good governance for the country.”

Initially, he thought about “doing a Mayor Bloomberg” – making money in the private sector, then going into politics. But with Donald Trump in the Oval Office, this is urgent.

Unfortunately, Collin has had some difficulty being taken seriously as a 28-year-old outsider to the political scene. “They think it’s a publicity stunt.” But that couldn’t be further from the truth, Collin says.

“I don’t want to be a career politician. I want to improve the lives of my constituents. I’m not trying to be governor. I’m not trying to be president. I’ve always wanted to run for mayor of New York.”

Good intentions don’t get you on the ballot, though. What does? 7,500 signatures, technically. But according to Collin, that’s not really the case. “You can’t just collect 7,500. You need more like 20,000. The establishment, the big money, they’ll try to declare fraud.”

Collin hopes that he can make up for the lack of establishment support by capturing the grassroots progressive enthusiasm that has driven the campaigns of Jon Ossoff in Georgia and Rob Quist in Montana. “There’s no enthusiasm for Mayor de Blasio,” he said. “Nobody wants a 60-year-old white guy who just barely avoided federal corruption charges.”

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Collin believes that mobilizing millennials in particular will give him a good shot of winning the Democratic primary, which many currently see as a lock for Bill de Blasio. “In 2013, de Blasio got 282,000 votes, and there are 1.9 million millennials in NYC.”

Collin’s “unabashedly progressive” platform is definitely one that could attract millennials. His slogan is “A New York for All New Yorkers,” and his campaign is focused on making the city more affordable for low-income New Yorkers. He took his experiences from his time in poverty to craft policies and a budget that will take care of those who most need help. He wants to make housing and transit specifically more affordable. As someone who had to walk 100 blocks to work because he couldn’t afford to ride the subway, this stuff is close to his heart.

He wants to give low-income New Yorkers half-fare MetroCards, as well as expand to Student MetroCard program to all NYC public schools. He also wants to decriminalize fare evasion, the most common reason for arrest in the city. NYPD data indicates that 90,000 people per year are stopped by the police for jumping the turnstile, 92% being people of color. “The city is just criminalizing people for being poor,” Collin said. “African-American New Yorkers are being rushed off to prison just because they couldn’t pay $2.75.”

Collin suggested that New York should stop paying to keep Donald Trump safe when Trump has the money to do so himself, and instead redirect the taxpayer money that’s currently being wasted to helping low-income New Yorkers. And ultimately, that’s what matters to him the most: helping the people of his city.

“Winning is not the most important thing. The most important thing is the issues I believe in getting coverage.”

http://slatteryfornyc.com/

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Indigenous Democrat James Singer challenging Orrin Hatch in 2018

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Indigenous activist James Singer officially launched his candidacy for the United States Senate this week. He will be challenging Senate president pro tempore Orrin Hatch as a Democrat in the 2018 Utah race.

Singer is a 34-year-old Utah native who has spent his life fighting for equality, particularly for Native Americans. He was inspired to run for office by the sickening treatment of indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock, and what that said about the American political system.

“I was moved to action as I saw my Native sisters and brothers stand against an encroachment which threatened not only their inherent sovereignty, but also their humanity,” the Navajo Mormon wrote in a campaign mission statement. “These water protectors were pummeled with rubber bullets, sprayed with powerful water cannons in freezing temperatures, attacked with dogs, and shot with pepper spray, while bulldozers cleared away sacred land and burial sites so that a pipeline could be pushed through. The love of money by a small, but powerful few, is sickening to the rest of Americans, regardless of political affiliation.”

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Singer has crafted a platform that successfully combines economic populism with equality for marginalized Americans, something the Democratic Party has struggled with, especially in the past year with the failure of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Inequality “exacerbates racism and sexism” and “has a direct effect on many of the social problems we face in healthcare, education, and the environment,” says Singer.

Though Singer is clearly running a quite progressive campaign, he, like many other liberal candidates, is trying to brand himself as an outsider who does not fall into traditional partisan categories. In his mission statement, he criticizes both Democrats and Republicans, essentially saying that they have become one and the same by embracing corporate capitalism that exploits working Americans. Like Bernie Sanders, who Singer states he was inspired by, Singer ends his mission statement describing “A Future to Believe In” – “We can move towards a socially democratic future of shared prosperity, justice, respect, greater equality, and cooperation.”

Democrats have not seriously focused on Utah for many years now. Utah has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1970. No recent Utah Senate races have even been competitive. In 2016, incumbent Republican Mike Lee crushed Democratic challenger Misty Snow by a whopping 41 points. In 2012, Hatch crushed his opponent by 35 points. And the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has already announced that it plans to focus its resources on re-electing the 10 Democrats who are running in 2018 in states won by Donald Trump. As with other Democratic Senate candidates in red states, it seems that Singer must rely on grassroots liberal enthusiasm if he is to compete with Orrin Hatch, or potentially Mitt Romney or Evan McMullin, in 2018.

So far, Singer has raised almost $3000 of his $5000 Crowdpac goal. This is nothing compared to Hatch’s $3.5 million, but it’s a start. And even if Singer doesn’t win the seat or even secure the Democratic nomination, he is still doing important work as an indigenous candidate. At his campaign launch, he told the crowd: “In 2018, there should be native people running in every contest.”

Support Singer’s grassroots progressive populism by donating to his Crowdpac here!

Can 1,000 Democratic candidates take back the House?

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The House of Representatives had 435 seats, and they’re all up for grabs in 2018. Democrats need a net gain of 24 seats to retake the majority. And with 1,000 Democratic candidates running next year, it looks like they might actually be able to do it.

Democrats have not had a majority in the House since the GOP landslide of 2010, where Republicans capitalized on the anti-Obama sentiments of their base and the fact that liberal voters tend not to show up on off-years to pull off a net sweep of 63 seats. That left Democrats with only 193 of 435 seats. Today, they still only have 194, though some special elections this year like Georgia’s 6th could potentially give the party an edge before the 2018 onslaught.

Most of this energy is coming from grassroots activists, who have formed organizations like Brand New Congress to replace corporate incumbents in the House with progressive outsiders. So it is not just your typical elite who was primed for politics entering these races; it is just your average dedicated American. The campaigns too are driven by grassroots enthusiasm, with much of the money coming in through crowdfunding, as has been the case with Jon Ossoff in Georgia and Rob Quist in Montana. With the DCCC and other national party organizations endlessly failing to invest in races the people care about, liberal activists have realized that if you want to get something done, you have to do it yourself.

According to VICE News, there has been an almost 60% increase from 2014 in the number of Democrats who have announced their candidacy at this point in the race. And this is just the beginning.

Incumbent Democrats and Republicans alike should be scared about next year. A new wave of enthusiastic citizens is coming, and it’ll be unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.

Democrat hoping to replace Chaffetz raises over $600,000

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Democrat Kathryn Allen has already raised over half a million dollars for her campaign to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz in Utah’s 3rd congressional district.

Allen created a Crowdpac for a potential 2018 campaign on February 11 of this year, but her campaign didn’t gain momentum until March 7, when Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz – best known for his obsession with persecuting Hillary Clinton – said regarding the GOP’s then-ongoing first attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare: “Maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”

Allen, a family physician, immediately contrasted Chaffetz’s words with her experience and compassion. “More medically trained people are needed in government,” read her fundraising page. “Congress is ailing and we have a prescription.”

Within just a day of Chaffetz’s insulting remark, Allen raised $40,000, a record for a Crowdpac campaign. At the time, her goal was $50,000. She promptly raised it to $75,000. The following day, her total was over $200,000 from over 5,000 individual donors.

By April 19, the day Chaffetz announced that he would not be running for re-election to the House of Representatives in 2018, Allen had raised over half a million dollars.

Allen was prompted to run by both Chaffetz’s awful performance in the House as well as Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory. She told USA Today: “I became very angry and interested in what I could do about it.”

The 63-year-old political outsider identifies as a progressive, but is running on a populist platform that uses nonpartisan language to appeal to all voters. This is incredibly important given that Chaffetz’s seat has not been won by a Democrat since 1994 and Donald Trump won the district with a 47% plurality to Hillary Clinton’s 23%.

“Coalitions of citizens are important for effecting change,” she writes in the 24-point principles section of her fundraising page. “It is my hope to bring together moderate democrats, moderate republicans, liberals, and concerned citizens of all stripes to fight against an administration which has threatened freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press.”

Her platform includes many popular bipartisan policies such as campaign finance reform, an end to gerrymandering, equal pay for equal work, healthcare as a right, and cuts to regulations that “hamper innovation and morale.” She even frames her progressive policies in in human rather than partisan terms, writing: “Empathy and respect should guide our interactions, even with those with whom we disagree.”

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the DCCC and other national Democratic organizations will contribute to Allen’s campaign, as they tend to focus on what they consider swing districts rather than traditionally red districts, as demonstrated by their lack of interest in Jon Ossoff in Georgia and Rob Quist in Montana. As with those two campaigns, Allen will have to depend on grassroots activism if she wants to flip Utah’s 3rd congressional district blue.

Donate to Kathryn Allen’s Crowdpac here!

Joe Biden still considering 2020 run

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Joe Biden speaks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

By Election Day 2020, Joe Biden will be 78 years old. But age isn’t stopping Biden from considering a run in the next presidential election.

According to POLITICO, Biden and his staff are already planning out the next three years, should the former vice president and Delaware senator decide to run again. Should he go for it, it will be Biden’s sixth time either running or considering running for the Democratic nomination.

Biden’s previous attempts have been wildly unsuccessful. He ended up dropping out of the 1988 race before the primaries due to several controversies, while he dropped out of the 2008 primary race after the very first contest, where he received only 1% of the vote.

Though he said that his 2008 presidential run would be his last, Biden seriously considered running in 2016. Despite the creation of a “Draft Biden PAC,” the then-vice president declined, stating that he needed to focus on family in light of the tragic death of his son Beau in 2015. However, he later told NBC Connecticut’s Keisha Grant that he regrets not running “every day,” though the decision was ultimately right for his family.

Since leaving Washington alongside his best bud Barack Obama, Biden has spoken at numerous colleges and political events. “He wants to have a voice,” a Biden adviser told POLITICO. “The more stuff he does like this, the more people hear his voice.”

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Joe Biden on the 2016 campaign trail with Hillary Clinton. (Dominick Reuter / AFP)

Biden believes that he has an answer to the question of what the Democratic Party should be in the Trump era. Though many commentators, strategists, and party leaders claim that Democrats need to abandon “identity politics” in favor of appeals to the “white working class” that supposedly delivered Trump his Electoral College victory, Biden has a vision for America that includes both the middle class and civil rights. This kind of populist message, one resembling Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, is what the Democratic Party truly needs right now. It is especially important in retrospect of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Biden, along with commentators from across the political spectrum, criticized Clinton for weak messaging rooted in her confusion as to why she was running in the first place. “I don’t think she ever really figured it out,” Biden told the Los Angeles Times. “She thought she had no choice but to run. That, as the first woman who had an opportunity to win the presidency, I think it was a real burden on her.”

Should Biden win the 2020 race, he will be the oldest candidate to be elected to the Oval Office. Ronald Reagan currently holds that mantle, being 73 years of age at the time of his 1984 landslide victory.

But does Biden actually stand a chance in the 2020 election? At the moment, it’s unclear. Early polling suggests that he would be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, with incredibly high approval ratings among Democratic voters. However, the same Public Policy Polling survey shows that only 8% of Democratic voters want a candidate in their 70s.

With a presidency as scattershot as Donald Trump’s, it’s impossible to know what the political landscape will be like in three years. But if Democratic leadership still aims to snatch up the vote of the “white working class” as well as mobilize minority voters who stayed home in 2016, Joe Biden certainly has a lot to offer.

Disgraced Anti-Gay Judge Announces Senate Run

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Both pro- and anti-gay activists protest outside of Moore’s 2016 ethics trial. (Julie Bennett / AL.com)

Roy Moore, the once-removed and currently-suspended Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, announced today that he will be running for the United States Senate in the 2017 Alabama special election to replace now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Moore became Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2001, but was removed two years later for intentionally ignoring a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building.

Moore went on to run for Alabama governor twice, losing the Republican primary by large margins both times. He considered running in the 2012 presidential election, at first as a Republican candidate and then as a Constitution Party candidate, but ultimately chose to return to the Alabama Supreme Court.

In 2014, just a year after his reinstatement as Chief Justice, Moore tried to organize a constitutional convention to ban marriage equality, reaching out to all 50 American governors to enshrine the belief that marriage is “the union of one man and one woman” into the United States Constitution. Obviously,  Moore’s efforts failed, but that did not deter from his crusade against equality.

In 2016, he gained notoriety nationwide for ordering all Alabama probate judges to violate the United States Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision by enforcing the state’s nullified marriage equality ban. He was subsequently charged with six ethics violations and unanimously found guilty on all six by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. Moore appealed to the special Arkansas Supreme Court, but it upheld the Judiciary decision.

But now Roy Moore is back, more disgraced and desperate than ever. “I share the vision of President Donald Trump to make America great again,” he told an audience at the State Capitol. “Our families are being crippled by divorce and abortion, our sacred institution of marriage has been destroyed by the Supreme Court, and our rights and liberties are in jeopardy.”

Moore is one of several Republicans to announce their candidacy for this Senate seat. His biggest opponent so far is Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed on February 9 to replace Jeff Sessions by then-Alabama Gov. Robert J. Bentley. Moore and Strange will face off in the primary on August 15. The primary runoff is on September 26, and the general election is on December 12.

Kansas Special Election: Did Democrats Really Lose?

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Sen. Ted Cruz campaigning with now-Rep. Ron Estes for Estes’ special election campaign. (Fernando Salazar / The Wichita Eagle)

As predicted, Kansas’ 4th district special election to replace now-CIA Director Mike Pompeo resulted in the GOP keeping their House seat. What was not expected, however, was the narrow margin of that victory in the deep-red district. It has pundits across the political spectrum asking two questions: What does it mean for upcoming special elections, and what it could mean for next year’s midterm elections?

Ron Estes, the Republican nominee, won a tightly contested race against Democratic challenger James Thompson by 7 points. Despite running in a district that President Trump won by 27 points, and one in which Pompeo has won in three consecutive elections with over 60% of the vote, Mr. Thompson nearly beat his Republican rival. If not for the intervention of the President and Vice-President, robo-calls, a late visit from Senator Ted Cruz, and ads paid for by the House Republican Campaign Committee, the 4th District might have had its first Democrat representative in over two decades.

So, how should we read the tea leaves? Did the Republicans nearly lose a “safe” red seat due to Estes’ ties to the Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, the second-least popular governor in the country? Did the political earthquake of Trump’s election victory energize liberals in traditionally Republican districts? How damaging, if at all, were the stumbles of the Trump administration to Republican voters?

Well, when it comes to parsing out the truth, the special election reads less like a clinical report and more like a Rorschach test. If it took the combination of Brownback’s unpopularity, Trump’s low approval numbers, and Estes’ own deficiencies as a candidate for Thompson to get as close as he did, Republicans might be optimistic about their chances come next year. It’s hard to imagine how much more unpopular Brownback can get, but if Representative Estes is able to build a rapport with his constituents and President Trump’s number improve, what was a narrow victory this April could become a commanding win in next year’s midterms.

But let’s look at the inkblots a little differently. Mr. Estes received a late-game infusion from House Republicans totaling nearly $100,000. How did the Democratic Party counter their rivals? On the national level, they provided no assistance until the last day of the election. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez told the Washington Post: “There are thousands of elections every year, though. Can we invest in all of them? That would require a major increase in funds.” Compare that with Perez’s comments in January of this year, in which he said “Organizing has to be a 12-month endeavor. You can’t show up at a church every 4 October and say, vote for me.” It seems that candidate Perez and Chairman Perez are at odds with each other.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee eventually aided the Thompson campaign by making 25,000 calls urging 4th district residents to go out and vote, but deliberately chose a low-key strategy in order not to energize GOP voters. At the state level, Mr. Thompson criticized the Kansas Democratic Party for their refusal to grant his $20,000 request. Stymied by his own party on a national and state level, Mr. Thompson was still only a few digits away from victory.

The Democratic Party didn’t financially back Mr. Thompson, but that isn’t to say he didn’t receive help. A substantial amount of money raised by the Thompson campaign, nearly $150,000, came from readers of the Daily Kos. In fact, most of the money raised by Mr. Thompson came by small donations. With a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll revealing that 67% of Americans believe the Democratic Party to be out of touch, a grassroots approach is the way forward.

Governor Brownback is unlikely to become a popular figure in Kansas politics, and if the Trump administration continues to disappoint their supporters, Democrats can finish what they started in April. Mr. Thompson has already indicated that he intends to run in 2018, and what he should expect then is more of what he received this past month. Small donations, early and often, can test the resources of the Republican Party. Republicans spent a small fortune to keep the reddest of districts red. What happens in 2018 when they are challenged across the board? The DCCC seems intent on playing it safe, but if the 4th District can be flipped, then the established idea of “safe” districts is upended.

It’s too late to contribute to Thompson’s failed special election bid, but there are candidates worthy of your attention. Jon OssoffRob Quist, and Alexis Frank are all potential upsets.

There are many ways to read the 4th District, but for a party that has had more to mourn than celebrate in recent elections, Democrats and like-minded supporters can draw some comfort from the adage “hope springs eternal.”