Part 3 : Ne – 02, A Strong Challenger Emerges From the Waves.
Enter, Kara Eastman.
The Lozier Corporation is a perfect gauge to measure the shifting sands of Nebraska’s Second Congressional District. Named Nebraska’s Manufacturers of the year in 2015, Lozier has long resided within Omaha and been a staple of their economy and culture. Allen Lozier’s company is not one you may have heard of, but you see his product in almost every single store you go into. They manufacture the shelves most products in grocery and retail stores sit on and have been since 1955. The company grew from 25 employees in a 20,000 sq ft facility in Omaha back in 1955, to now employing over 2,200 people with seven manufacturing facilities nationwide. In 1959 Allen was named president of the company at age 26, having retained that position since.
Allen Lozier also co-founded The Lozier Foundation in 1986 with Diane Seeman, which has focused on education, social services and women and children’s issues since it was started. The Loziers throughout the years have been highly active in trying to help communities and their people. Lozier has also taken an interest in growing economies and jobs, purchasing 10-15% of several companies as a passive investor and providing extra money to the company but staying out of the running of them. In 2014, he even saved a company and it’s jobs by buying Omaha Steel Castings Company. Steel Castings had been in Omaha for 100 years by then, and employed 125 people locally. Lozier bought the company, and kept every employee and the facility active; completing its foundry expansion that began the closure with unexpectedly high prices that drove it into debt. Lozier even went so far as to allow the discussion of repurchasing the company after a years time and stated Steel Castings would be run as a completely separate entity from Lozier Corp. That same year, he announced he would be opening three more plants and expected to add 650 new employees to his own companies ranks. It would seem the Lozier Corporation has a shining reputation around Omaha and other parts among the people.
Lozier Corporation also has a fairly respected reputation in the political donation ring. Having donated a total of $621,694 dollars to political campaigns since 1990, they aren’t afraid to support politicians they agree with. Since then, 87% ($542,564) of that has gone to Democrats with only 2% ($11,250) having gone to Republicans in all. Of that total given, every dollar has been labeled as an Individual Contribution, minus a 2012 “soft money” donation of $50,000 to Democrats. Reaching over $100,000 dollars in donations some years, Democrats mired in expensive election campaigns have always loved Lozier Corps money. In the last election cycle of 2016 alone they donated over $85,000 to Democrats, and $14,500 to Brad Ashford specifically. Brad Ashford (who was the incumbent in 2016) lost that election to current incumbent Don Bacon (Republican) but intends to retake his seat this election. He faces a major problem to this plan though; Kara Eastman.
Kara Eastman is a Justice Democrat, and Brad Ashford’s only primary opponent. According to OpenSecrets.org Eastman has raised $321,498 dollars as of March 31st, while Ashford has accumulated $563,303. At first glance it doesn’t seem like much of a race, but if the money’s tale tells true Ashford is in seriously hot water. The particular tale in question is Ashford’s previous campaigns and the amounts raised then compared to now. In 2014 Ashford was able to raise $1.23 million dollars, beating out his opponent (Lee Terry (R), who held the seat since before 2000) who had nearly three times the amount of money by a close 3% of the vote. More recently in 2016 Ashford raked in an impressive $2.5 million. The fiscal underdog was again the victor in this election though, being Don Bacon with only $1.6 million and also again by 3%. More than just election history for the underdog falls in favor of Eastman currently, the major factor is the *way* Eastman has raised her money compared to Ashford.
Going back to Lozier Corp, they have decided to back Eastman this election, and donated $2,700 dollars ($5,000 being the maximum amount accepted by a Justice Democrat) in individual contributions to her rather than Ashford. In small individual donations ($200 and under) Eastman raised $89,454 (27.82% of funds raised) by March 31st. Ashford at that time trailed behind at $65,771 which only contributed to 12.26% of his source of funds. The majority of funding for both candidates primarily comes from Large Individual Contributions ($5,000 and under), such as Lozier Corporation’s donation to Eastman. Ashford has the edge in this category with $315,176 (58.77%) coming from such contributors. Eastman is almost $100,000 behind with $226,303 but it accounts for 70.39% her cash raised. Ashford’s extra chunk of change for his campaign comes from PAC contributors for a total of $156,500 and 29.18%. Ashford is no stranger to PAC money either, in 2016 receiving $1,269,094 in PAC cash or over 50% of his money.
Following the telling of the money’s tale deeper, the truth lies not within the PACs this particular time, but the Individual Contributions. Ashford throughout his career has been funded from Individual Contributions by roughly 60%, for about $2.6 million dollars, and only a fraction of that number coming from Small Individual Contributions. His PAC money contributes to the other 40% with $1.7 million. Eastman has sapped a giant portion of Ashford’s Individual Contributors, as exampled with Lozier Corp, and converted many of them to her campaign. Even with Ashford holding a lead within this category, the numbers themselves must be seen in a more complex scale than simple more than or less than.
Lozier’s amounts given in the past have shown how much corporations are willing to give for the message they believe resonates with the populations they are attempting to reach. $14,500 dollars is a lot of money, but only a chunk of that years expenses for Lozier – $85,000 – and multiple other companies. Lozier’s running total this election? $2,700. Their donation to Kara Eastman is the only donation they have given to anything this year elections wise. There are plenty of other donors who have followed Lozier’s path and reduced the amount of money they put in this year, along with backing Eastman over Ashford. The result being Eastman has more supporters, including some of Ashford’s former backers, but less overall money from taking less per donation. Beyond the donors, Eastman has made sweeping performances so far with the major endorsements candidates seek to secure to better their positions.
Those endorsements are hard won through the years she has already been leading the charge to help communities and her desire for people to achieve better lives. They are also reflections of the voters deep desire of change for the better finally in a multitude of areas and the recognition of this by those both bolstered and threatened by it.
“I take ideas and turn them into tangible actions. I started Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance (OHKA) and have grown it from a small, start-up lead poisoning prevention organization to a nationally recognized, award-winning nonprofit that has raised more than $13 million to support green, safe, and healthy housing in Omaha. We have directly served over 4,000 Nebraska families over the last decade. In the process, I created dozens of jobs within the organization, in city government, and through partnerships with the small businesses and contractors we work with.”
– Kara Eastman, http://eastmanforcongress.com/about/
Eastman is running on a variety of platforms, all of them addressing progressive issues that the majority of voters are in favor of. While some of these points are global across the Justice Democrats platform, Kara Eastman has a few she is championing her own way or on her own all together. Just to list a few of the topics she is running on:
Medicare for all.
One of the more popular ideas among voters in years, conservatively polls at +60% and higher.
Raising the minimum wage and investing in infrastructure.
Polling across the country at +74% (April, Rasmussen)
Paid family and sick leave.
As of February, Rasmussen polls had this at +54% / -29% with 17% undecided.
As it continues to gain traction, Chuck Shumer has recently jumped on board and plans on introducing a bill to federally decriminalize marijuana and remove its schedule 1 classification.
Depending on the source, numbers range from +75% to +91%. It is *obvious* how voters feel about this.
Raising the Social Security cap.
About 50% of people say they would rather increase taxes rather than curb benefits (37%).
Making corporations pay their legitimate share of the tax pool.
Only 29% of people approve of the recent tax reform, with 53% opposed to it.
Wall Street Reform
78% of voters say strict rules and enforcement are required to prevent the practices that led to the recent economic crisis.
Ending Citizens United
73% of voters disapprove of the Supreme Courts ruling on Citizens United, and want to see it repealed.
71% want a standard that ends the practice on both sides.
Rejoining Paris climate accord and protecting environment from fossil fuel dependence and money.
With seven out of ten voters opposing Trump’s decision to withdraw from the accord, there is substantial support for this.
Expanding the small business health care tax credit.
Eastman’s company covers 90% of the employees health insurance, and wants to be able to give more small businesses the ability to follow suit.
Kara Eastman, when you watch her speak about these issues, seems like someone who knows what they want to accomplish. Someone who has real motivation and a powerful drive. An uncorrupted, hard worker who is willing to actually stand and fight for the people she represents and listens to, rather than the barrels of cash thrown at most politicians. Someone with something the Democratic party has largely lacked for decades; a spine and the courage to actually listen to what their voters want. Eastman’s endorsements, grassroots support and fundraising tactics all come in to play taking the principle of “The Politicians Poll” from last article – Part 2: Cali – into account. All the signs point to Ashford facing one hell of an uphill battle come May 15th against Eastman in the primary.
Of course, like Lozier Corp, this may be the first time you are even hearing Kara Eastman’s name unless you live in Nebraska. You almost certainly haven’t heard it on networks such as CNN or MSNBC except maybe in passing with a dismissal attached to the end. Googleing Kara Eastman won’t net you much more substance except her Congressional campaign’s site, Facebook, Twitter and a few quick videos with an article from Omaha World-Herald about Eastman and Ashford’s recent second debate. You have to actually dig around a bit to learn the story of NE-02 and how it’s unfolding. There are no primary polls to be found with Eastman in them, though some having Ashford and Bacon as the only choices for the general election; an underhanded technique to muscle out an unwanted interloper in elections. Even finding breakdowns for the two primary opponents finances (which are supposed to be closely tracked by the federal government) are tedious and require piecing together multiple articles and doing large sums of math for the average person.
This is not a contained incident either, you may not have heard most of the Justice Democrats names listed in the articles so far. You won’t hear about them outside of networks such as TYT, SecularTalk (who’s hosts are credited with founding the movement) or those like them. Most of the polls where Justice Democrats are running also mysteriously have their names missing from most or all the polls for their races, showing false numbers and propaganda designed to discredit them, a skill the establishment seems to specialize in. Beyond facing the propaganda in the polls, most of mainstream medias coverage about Justice Democrats come across as a badly written classic The Onion piece, back when it was fully satire. When one steps back and looks at the larger picture overall, the reason becomes crystal clear.
The establishment is scared. They recognize that if given a proper platform, Justice Democrats would emerge victorious across the country in such numbers it would be impossible to continue to silence, ignore and belittle them. That possibility is becoming a reality, with Justice Democrats moving on to general elections in good numbers with good chances already, and challengers like Kara Eastman leading the charge across the country.
UPDATE: 10:40 PM PST
Kara Eastman has won her primary in a close election, and will now be moving on to the general election in November! Congratulations to Kara Eastman, and all who supported her!