Special Elections have Special Powers

Support Progressive Candidates on the State and Local Level

Finally getting Massachusetts back on track as the progressive leader we once were is a project with many fronts—grassroots organizing, legislative pressure, and electoral change … We need to build a better, more progressive Beacon Hill. Not just in name, but in actual policy-making and priority-setting.

To win on our issues: we need more legislators willing to stand up to the forces in the system that have pulled our policy too far to the right.


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2017 in the House: Miderm Review

A guide to the Mid-session Scorecard (View Spreadsheet here, website here) -- All numbers refer to the spreadsheet.

The 190th legislative did not have a very auspicious start.

Both House and Senate fast-tracked a bill to give pay increases to the Senate President, Speaker of the House, judges, the governor, and other constitutional officers; raise stipends to appointed committee chairs and select other legislative leaders; and increase the number of legislators eligible for stipends (1h).

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2017 in the Senate: Midterm Review

A guide to the Mid-session Scorecard (View Spreadsheet here, website here) -- All numbers refer to the spreadsheet.

The 190th legislative did not have a very auspicious start. Both House and Senate fast-tracked a bill to give pay increases to the Senate President, Speaker of the House, judges, the governor, and other constitutional officers; raise stipends to appointed committee chairs and select other legislative leaders; and increase the number of legislators eligible for stipends (1s). Here at Progressive Mass, we understand that it is important that elected officials be paid well for the work that they do (especially so that they don’t seek more lucrative work that leads to a host of conflicts of interest), but the bill reflected the endemic problems of Beacon Hill. It lacked any semblance of deliberative, democratic process, and its ultimate effect was to centralize power further in Leadership, creating a more hierarchical and less democratic Legislature. It also left out woefully underpaid staffers from the pay increase---and the countless workers across the Commonwealth facing stagnant and sub-livable wages. In short, we deserve better from our Legislature.

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Progressive Needham Sends Delegates to Convention

After a packed general chapter meeting on Friday night at the Kirks' home, many Progressive Needham members got up early the next morning to Caucus with the Needham Dems. 

It was a mini-reunion the next day, with many first-timers, as well as many people who had caucused before, but not in many years. 


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CAUCUSES: a chance to lean on the system

From our friends in the Progressive Needham chapter, a useful graphic on caucuses--and, below, some suggestions about how one might organize/engage to affect the electoral landscape


From February 3 to March 4, local Democratic town and ward committees across the state will be holding caucuses to elect delegates to the 6/2 Mass Dems Convention

Find your caucus location here: massdems.org/convention/2018-caucus-dates

Caucuses are one of the opportunities activists, organizers, and regular ol' concerned citizens have to exert some pressure on a "machine" (the electoral and Political Party apparatus).

By attending your caucus, you can vote for progressive delegates, and/or run as one yourself.

Bring the Progressive Mass Endorsement Questionnaires for Governor to your caucus (and, as they come in, those for for other statewide candidates). "Who are you supporting for Governor?" is going to be a popular topic of discussion! It's a great resources to share, browse during the boring bits, and give you material to ask follow-up questions. 

Check in with your Progressive Mass chapter and fellow members to ask if the group wants to organize for your Caucus. (There may already be a plan. If there isn't, offer to help get one started! Turn great ideas into action!). 

Below are some broad suggestions to get started on electoral work, in addition to Caucusing, whether on your own or with a group.


ongoing! - AMPLIFY/ADVOCATE:Use our materials materials (questionnaire, platform, agenda) to frame discussions and debates. Ask candidates follow-up questions. Raise issues you’re not hearing enough about. Remember, before you give your support,a candidate has a great incentive (trying to earn it!) to hear out your questions and concerns!  

ongoing! - ORGANIZE/EDUCATE your Community on progressive issues (including,sharing materials like questionnaire, platform, agenda). Work with your PM Chapter to host candidate andissue forums (volunteer to be organizational lead! great ideas need people to turn into action!).

soon - PM ENDORSEMENT: By joining together in endorsements as an organization, our members increase all of our voices/power, individually,locally, and as a progressive movement. Our endorsement is comprised of individuals’votes. Weigh your vote thoughtfully. Organize other members for the candidate you believe is the best candidate (or for non-endorsement, should that be your conclusion).

feb. 3-mar.4—DELEGATES & CAUCUSES: Run for delegate. Support delegates who caucus for progressiveplatform/issues, organize caucuses for candidates/issues you value as progressive. Once delegates are elected, reach out to yours: work to persuade them to vote for PM-endorsed candidates at convention.

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Achieving Liberty and Justice for All

The following letter was drafted by Caroline Bays and Jonathan Cohn from the PM Issues Committee and transmitted to the CJR conferees: 

House Chairwoman Claire Cronin, Joint Committee on the Judiciary

Senate Chairman William Brownsberger, Joint Committee on the Judiciary

Majority Leader Ronald Mariano

Chairwoman Cynthia Creem, Senate Committee on Bills in Third Reading

Ranking House Minority Member Sheila Harrington, Joint Committee on the Judiciary

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr




January 17, 2018


Dear Members of the House-Senate Conference Committee:

The Massachusetts incarceration rate, while low compared to other states, is three to four times higher than that of European countries. In fact, there are only seven countries with a higher incarceration rate than Massachusetts.

There has been a growing consensus that the policies of the “tough on crime” era were misguided. They did not make us safer, but instead entrenched lasting racial and economic inequities. Studies have shown that high levels of incarceration have devastating consequences for minority communities, including an increase in crime, poverty, and homelessness. They prevent individuals and communities from thriving and living up to their full potential and make cherished rhetoric of “liberty and justice for all” ring hollow.

We are grateful to the House and the Senate for their exhaustive work on Criminal Justice legislation. Both the House and Senate bills have many excellent provisions, and in the following letter, we identify (a) essential provisions in both bills that should be included in a final Conference report, (b) places where one bill or the other was superior and whose provisions merit inclusion, and (c) a few places where the bills stray from their intent. The subsequent recommendations will best help to achieve our mutual goal of ending mass incarceration in Massachusetts.

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Charlie Baker's Record On Consumer Protection and Climate Action

Charlie Baker didn’t run for governor on a platform of consumer protection or climate action. But now that he thinks climate change is real and man-made, he talks a lot about his administration’s work on clean energy and climate change, even as his messaging to his base, and his reelection campaign, evoke themes of “hold the line on taxes” and small government.

There’s nothing wrong with the Governor’s beliefs on climate change evolving and he’s not unique in disliking taxation (as much as we desperately need more revenue). And yes, it’s also really important to have bipartisan action on climate change. As I see it, the problem is pretty simple: beneath a rhetoric of climate action and balanced “combo platter” of energy solutions, the Governor has approved policies that are bad for ratepayers, bad for the environment and bad for democracy.

TLDR: YOU CAN TAKE ACTION to help reform the DPU and advance clean energy. Email your legislators today.

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Fuzzy, Xenophobic Math: Mass Fiscal

FIGHT_BACK_(13).pngThe Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a group that allegedly focuses on "fiscal responsibility" that has had xenophobia at its core from the start, has been targeting legislative supporters of the Safe Communities Act with mailers fear-mongering about undocumented immigrants. On the mailers, they quote a statistic from the ironically named white supremacist group FAIR: "Illegal Immigration costs Massachusetts taxpayers $1.8 Billion Annually." 
As should come as no surprise, there are major problems with both the messenger and the message.
First, FAIR's ties to white supremacist ideologies are well-documented. They are not a research center by any definition, and their obvious bias makes any analysis of theirs suspect.
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Not Having It: Rep. Calter claps back at Mass Fiscal


Mass Fiscal is sending out postcards to voters designed to mislead and provoke a backlash against the Safe Communities Act. We were delighted to receive Rep. Calter's comprehensive and emailed response to his constituents.

Bravo and thank you Rep. Calter, for being a strong advocate for due process, keeping our communities SAFE, and rejecting xenophobic fear tactics. 

The email is quoted in full below: 

As you may be aware, Mass Fiscal Alliance sent out post cards to residents that misrepresents the substantive elements of House Bill 3269, The Safe Communities Act. Because Mass Fiscal Alliance has a total disregard for truths that do not support its radical political agenda, I now need to set the record straight.

The legislation I co-sponsored does not even address the issue of Sanctuary Cities. It is an act that ensures that our Massachusetts tax dollars are devoted to protecting our communities and not to the enforcement of Federal immigration laws that fall under the sole authority of ICE(Immigration and Customs Enforcement). 

To learn more about what The Safe Communities Act does and does not do, please read below:

On January 23, 2017, the Trump administration introduced an aggressive immigration enforcement agenda that relies on the conscription of state and local law enforcement and facilities to identify and detain immigrants. This agenda is already having far-reaching consequences in our communities, and raises major public safety, public health, economic and civil rights concerns. A federal court has already ruled that such coercion is unconstitutional because-among other things-it violates the 10th amendment prohibition on commandeering state resources for federal purposes. 

It is no coincidence that The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was the first in the nation to find that state laws don't allow us to hold a person on an ICE detainer; doing so violates Massachusetts statute.

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2017. Building what we need.

Building what we want to see

IT'S BEEN A YEAR, this 2017. And as a community, we have risen to its challenges. But, it's not enough to fight back: we must lead a progressive path forward. While we fight, we must also create and nurture the infrastructure to be stronger the next round (there will always be a next round).

Progressive Mass started as a group of organizers--old hands and many, many newbies--who saw how much valuable time and energy was wasted rediscovering wheels and reduplicating work, over and over. Our conclusion: progressives lacked an infrastructure to support grassroots organizing and activism--and an umbrella organization to produce and share resources, research, plans, infrastructures, coordination, tools. It's not flashy, but it's important. 

And so, 

  • If you believe that local neighborhood teams, regular people, are driving big changes, and that this power, when coordinated and focused, is stronger together...
  • If you've found valuable any of these--the scorecards, the drill-down analyses (eg, this), the legislation tracking, the calls to action at critical junctures, the endorsements and candidate questions, the tweets, the information, the resources, the convenings and conference calls, the connecting and the camaraderie...
  • If you're tired of Top Down political parties that barely fuss around the edges and think we need a people-powered revolution in politics....
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