Founded in 2001 by Robert Borosage, Progressive Majority (PM) is a political networking group that aims to help elect as many “progressive champions” to political office as possible. Originally this organization focused on the campaigns of candidates for federal congressional elections, but beginning in 2004 it shifted its emphasis entirely to “building up a progressive ‘farm team’” of state and local officeholders. As The Nation magazine put it in June 2006: “The mission is deliberately narrow: Get progressives elected at the local level, and give them the tools to move up.”
To “lead the way against the anti-worker, anti-family, anti-environmental agenda being pushed by conservatives in power,” PM strives to identify and recruit “the best progressive leaders to run for office”—with particular emphasis on “candidates of color.” The organization provides these candidates with coaching and assistance in such areas as strategic messaging, campaign management, and technical support.
From its inception, PM identified its six chief areas of concern as follows:
* Economic Justice: “raising the minimum wage to a living wage that can sustain the family of a full-time worker”; “enforcing pay equity for men and women doing equivalent work”; “protecting Social Security and expanding pensions”; and “passing new initiatives to hold corporations accountable.”
* Civil Rights: “ending racial profiling and discriminatory sentencing”; “prohibiting bias and discrimination in employment”; supporting and enforcing affirmative action policies in the workplace; and protecting the purported rights of illegal immigrant workers.
* Health Care: expanding Medicare while “providing comprehensive health care for the uninsured and the underinsured”
* Education: “reducing class sizes”; “updating classrooms”; and “guaranteeing [taxpayer-funded] pre-school and after-school programs for every child.”
* Environment: the enactment of “environmental justice” policies rooted in the false premise that toxic waste dumps and pollution-generating enterprises have been situated disproportionately in or near black and minority communities; placing strict limits on “suburban sprawl.” (Author Stanley Kurtz explains that the “anti-sprawl” movement seeks to blend white and affluent suburbs, economically and politically, into the nonwhite and poorer cities which they border—chiefly for the purpose of redistributing large portions of property-tax and school-tax revenues from suburbs to cities.)
* Reproductive Freedom: As a Co-sponsoring Organization of the April 25, 2004 “March for Women’s Lives” held in Washington, DC, Progressive Majority sought to “identify and support candidates of color who will champion a broad progressive agenda” in behalf of taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand.
In these and other policy-related matters, PM does not tolerate any degree of ideological nonconformity. As The Nation magazine put it in June 2006: “Progressive Majority is uncompromising in its politics. Candidates must get 100 percent on a forty-item questionnaire that tests their commitment to economic justice and civil rights, including gay rights, public education, universal healthcare, environmental protection and abortion.”
In 2004, PM established a Racial Justice Campaign Fund (RJCF) “to support and elect progressive people of color at the local and state levels.” By June 2006, RJCF programs were active in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin—and had supported some 100 candidates for legislative office in those states. PM’s long-term goal was to add new state-level RJCF programs during each subsequent election cycle until their influence was felt “in the top 20 battleground states in the nation.”
In December 2006, John Nichols of The Nation wrote that PM deserved “a lot of the credit” for the Democrats‘ success in winning governorships and state legislative seats across the country in the previous month’s elections.
PM generally stays out of liberal enclaves and focuses instead on “swing areas,” because, as executive director Gloria Totten explains, “that’s where most of the opportunities lie.” In 2012 the group’s principal target states were Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Totten has been Progressive Majority’s executive director since May 2001. Before joining PM, she spent five years as the political director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL).
Among PM’s more noteworthy Advisory Committee members over the years have been Democratic Congressional Representatives Tammy Baldwin, Sherrod Brown, John Conyers Jr., John Corzine, Peter DeFazio, Rosa DeLauro, Lane Evans, Bob Filner, Barney Frank, Raul Grijalva, Luis Gutierrez, Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jerrold Nadler, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Nancy Pelosi, Jan Schakowsky, Hilda Solis, Pete Stark, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, Henry Waxman, and Lynne Woolsey.
During the course of its history, PM has received large amounts of funding from the Democracy Alliance. Other financial contributors to the organization include Stephen Bing; the AFL-CIO; the AFSCME; Friends of Rosa DeLauro; the Barney Frank for Congress Committee; the Friends of the Earth Political Action Committee; the Jesse Jackson Jr. for Congress Committee; Barbara Lee for Congress; [Jerrold] [Nadler] for Congress; the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education; Citizens for Eleanor Holmes Norton; the People for the American Way Voters Alliance; [Jan] [Schakowsky] for Congress; the Service Employees International Union; the Sierra Club; [Hilda] [Solis] for Congress; the Pete Stark Re-Election Committee; [Lynne] Woolsey for Congress; and the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union.
For additional information on PM, click here.