News

Congressional Candidate Makes His Case in Unseating GOP Incumbent

November 13, 2017

MELBOURNE—In a rare opportunity for Americans living overseas to hear directly from a congressional candidate challenging an incumbent, the Victorian chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia (DAA) earlier tonight hosted Brian Forde, a Democratic candidate running for the U.S. House of Representatives in California’s 45th Congressional District for an hour-long discussion on several hot-topic issues. Less than an hour’s drive southeast of Los Angeles, the 45th District includes the Irvine, Tustin, and Mission Viejo urban centers along with several other notable Orange County communities.

Forde, a former senior White House official specializing in telecommunications and technology issues, is one of a handful of Democrats running in 2018 to oust the Republican incumbent, Rep. Mimi Walters. Mr. Forde joined DAA-Victoria during his visit to Australia.

The DAA-Victoria Chair, Thomas Lopez, welcomed Forde to Melbourne and offered gratitude for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with local Democrats. Other members also expressed appreciation for Forde’s willingness to learn more about the concerns of Americans living abroad.

With a robust discussion on how lawmakers could be doing more to include, monitor, test, and utilize information technology (IT), Forde spoke at length on his vision for the next Congress to consider more the role of IT in crafting U.S. policy. According to Mr. Forde, “People think autonomous vehicles are science fiction. In reality, the IT wave is already here, it’s happening now. Practically every aspect of modern life includes technology whether it’s the exponential increase of drone usage or analyzing algorithms of systems determining if a parolee is likely to fall into biased recidivism monitoring.”

Forde was asked by DAA members how his candidacy differs compared to the other Democrats running for the CA-45 seat. “I think I bring diversity in several ways. For instance, the average age of a member of Congress is 72. I bring youth, enthusiasm, expertise in the IT sector, the living abroad experience, and I’m the only candidate who has significant business experience that can relate to the everyday American worker -- something incredibly important in my district as there are many small business owners and operators.” Forde continued, “If I have the privilege of being elected, I’d love to serve on the Science, Space and Technology Committee, or the Education and the Workforce Committee to become more involved in promoting S.T.E.M. [science, technology, education and mathematics] education.”

Not all conversation was IT-infused. DAA member Josh Bendat, a local university student, stated, “I’m really glad Brian spoke about gun violence in America. This is a conversation that needs to keep happening until Congress does something about it. Brian said he’d receive an 'F' from the NRA [National Rifle Association]. And it was interesting to hear about California’s firearms database compared to other states.”

After the meeting, Chair Lopez offered his thoughts. “Brian is a formidable congressional candidate. He certainly brings a unique perspective to the race from his time in the White House and living in different countries, not to mention his business-related experience. We were fortunate to have Brian willing to speak to us especially since congressional candidates don’t often take time away from their busy campaigns to speak to their overseas constituents. I’m confident that our members in Victoria who vote in California’s 45th District will consider Brian’s and other candidates’ credentials and vote accordingly,” Lopez stated.

According to the Election Assistance Commission, the state of California led the nation in voting by mail in 2016, with absentee ballots representing more than 50 percent of the total ballots cast there.

CA-45’s incumbent, Rep. Walters, most recently won re-election but district voters favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Rep. Walters has also battled ethics inquiries in the past during her time in the state legislature, and since her time in Congress has received petitions calling for her to hold in-person town halls with constituents. Her voting record has been closely watched and has received even more scrutiny after her unpopular May vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Many political experts and observers view this seat as completely “flippable” in Democrats taking back the House of Representatives if voter outreach and resources are readily made available. Indeed, Democrats have targeted Walters’ seat and intend on hammering the congresswoman for her pro-Trump agenda voting record.

As California’s election primary is still several months away, as a standard policy, Democrats Abroad does not endorse any candidate when there is more than one Democrat running in the same race for any U.S.-based elected office as per its by-laws, thereby giving every Democratic candidate an equal opportunity to campaign on a level playing field.

FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY: To learn more about Brian Forde and his campaign, see here.

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Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia is an active and dedicated group of members whose primary focus is exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, in addition to raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.

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Chair’s Report: Congress Ripe For Democratic Takeover

GEELONG—In a room consisting of Americans from the Geelong and Melbourne areas, Democrats Abroad Australia’s (DAA) Victoria chapter heard from several members on matters ranging from expatriate taxation to registering voters on college campuses to congressional hearings. A larger-than-expected turnout led to higher participation among members in soliciting ideas and volunteering for chapter initiatives.

The Chair of DAA-Victoria, Thomas Lopez, opened the meeting with a discussion on why he and others remain involved with U.S. politics while living thousands of miles away from the homeland. Responses included reasons such as regaining America’s reputation lost to President Trump’s ill-advised policies, reforming the U.S. tax code to improve the financial well-being of Americans abroad, and several other reasons cited.

The dialogue then evolved to a reminder for members who vote in Virginia, Utah, Alabama, or New Jersey to cast their ballot in upcoming special elections. Meanwhile, the Republican majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives appear to be on edge stemming from their controversial votes supporting the repeal and replacement of the highly popular Affordable Care Act. As Democrats move forward in spreading a populist message on improving American policies, Republicans in Congress are scrambling in disarray and showing vulnerability in leading up to Election Day in November 2018. Only 24 House seats need to be flipped from red to blue in preserving a Democratic majority and thus halt the misaligned Trump agenda.

Chair, Thomas Lopez, explaining the Victoria Chapter's strategy for increasing and engaging membership.

Heading the DAA-Victoria task force on voter registration, Melburnian Marybeth Yarosh brainstormed several suggestions in getting local college students from the U.S. registered to vote and participate in DAA activities. With several ideas worth pursuing, members interested in assisting with the Task Force should contact the chapter’s Chair.

Lopez also reiterated the importance of Democratic get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts in 2018 in the chapter’s “take back Congress” goal heading into the mid-terms.

“Working toward a high voter turnout is our top priority, especially from U.S. citizens in Australia. But there’s so much more we as Americans abroad can do besides simply casting a ballot,” Lopez said. “We can encourage as many Americans in Victoria as possible to ensure their voter registration status is up to date back in their home state. We can make phone calls to voters in any U.S. district to remind them to vote. We can talk to our friends and family who are still undecided on who to vote for. We can donate to GOTV efforts in several capacities. With the Trump-McConnell-Ryan agenda slowly destroying everything great about America, I can assure you Victorian Democrats are fired up and eager to repeal and replace Republicans.”

Additionally, local members from the Geelong region expressed high interest in becoming more involved with DAA activism. Mr Lopez spoke of his desire to reach out to more Democrats outside of the Melbourne region and ensuring their inclusion in the chapter’s efforts. “One of the things I promised our members back when I was running for chair was that I wanted to do everything I could to bring into the fold those Democrats who aren’t able to regularly attend meetings in Melbourne. Today is only the first of hopefully many other face-to-face meetings around Victoria. I look forward to meeting all of Victoria’s members and encouraging them to become involved, volunteer, and ultimately, vote.”

Lopez hinted at a surprise special guest speaker at a chapter meeting shortly. The membership was reminded to save November 13th on their calendar as a potential meeting in Melbourne’s CBD area upon confirming details. With the American winter season inching closer, DAA members in Victoria approaching summer are scorching hot and motivated to take action and continue growing its membership.

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Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia is an active and dedicated group of members that primarily focus on exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, in addition to raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.
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Support Universal Health Care in America by Sharing your Overseas Experience Stories

It was late at night, and we were rushing to the emergency room. We didn't have time to think about things, so we took our baby to the closest children's hospital. We entered the emergency room, quickly checked in and were seen by a nurse right away. After being checked over by a doctor, she determined that we had nothing to worry about, that it was a false alarm. As we left the hospital, the nurses gave us smiles. We checked out quickly and drove home, tired but relieved. What we did not have to worry about was “how are we going to pay for this?”, or “does our insurance cover those tests?,” or ”was that hospital in our network?” because I'm an American living in Australia, where healthcare doesn't bankrupt people or force them into making major life decisions between health and finances.

Study after study shows that an emergency room visit in the United States can cost an uninsured person thousands of dollars. Thousands of Americans living homeless on the streets are there because of having to declare bankruptcy after paying skyrocketing medical bills. This means if your family is uninsured and something happens, you have to make the heart-breaking decision to take someone to the emergency room knowing it will ruin you financially. Choosing between health and money is a decision no one should have to make. Luckily the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) has shrunk the level of uninsured in America to historic lows. 

But the 60+ efforts of the Republicans to repeal the ACA will shrink back the level of insured in America by at least 30 million people according to the several independent reports. Millions of more Americans will have to go to the emergency room knowing it cost them dearly. As independent experts have confirmed over and over, Republican plans to repeal the ACA would leave tens of millions of Americans without essential health coverage, regardless if they call it the Better Healthcare Reconciliation Act, the “skinny repeal,” Graham-Cassidy, or any other disguise.

Having lived in the United States and Australia, I've experienced and experienced both healthcare systems. In Australia, health care is purely a decision about health, what is best for you or your family, how we can treat and prevent illness, and how we can all live better lives. In America, where health care is a for-profit industry, the decision is about health and money. The two have to be made together and often compromises the hard choices that must be made such as:

We need to see our General Practitioner; can we afford the deductible right now?

Our insurance premiums have gone up; can we risk being uninsured for a few months?

This procedure isn't covered by my insurance; can I go without it?

No one should compromise necessary health care due to the amount of money they make. No one should be forced into these decisions any longer.

Democrats Abroad want to hear about your overseas healthcare experience. Please go to http://www.democratsabroad.org/healthcare_stories to share your story. Our stories will be shared directly with members of Congress to show the importance of Universal Health Care

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No Signs of Slowing Down in Victorian Democrats’  ‘Resistance Summer’

August 19, 2017

MELBOURNE—In preparation for the 2018 congressional mid-term elections, members of the Victorian chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia (DAA) met Saturday afternoon at The Kingston Hotel with a full agenda up for discussion. Fresh off a chapter protest of the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United v. FEC campaign-finance reform case, those in attendance were clearly motivated to continue resisting Republican policies and taking political activism to the next level as evidenced by the numerous members in attendance.

After taking a moment of silence for the victims of recent violence by white supremacists, Klansmen, and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, members descended into spirited dialogue on what local Democrats could do to continue the Party’s “summer resistance” to the Trump administration.

Thomas Lopez, the state chair, laid out a strategic vision for what actions the members should engage in to improve their chances of Democratic victories in next November’s elections.

"I’m not at all surprised that our members like Marybeth and Liz immediately volunteered to participate in leading the newly-created local task forces in addition to others wanting to contribute to the Women’s Caucus 2018 calendar creation of noteworthy women in American history. I am proud to work alongside Democrats in Victoria who are always prepared to step up when called upon," stated Mr. Lopez.

Among the key points stressed by Mr. Lopez was a reminder to have every American living locally to vote in all eligible upcoming U.S. elections, and the importance of the chapter doing everything possible to regain a Democratic majority in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Longer-term goals discussed by Lopez included fighting President Trump’s anti-American policies and continuing to urge federal legislators to enact residency-based taxation, and initiative which was well-received. Democrats Abroad encourages all members to review its “RBT Campaign In A Box” (http://bit.ly/2rgYUSY) to become familiar with this popular issue among Americans abroad.

Also discussed were the various initiatives currently undertaken by Democrats across the globe including effective communications with legislators and issues important to the U.S expatriate community.

The next meeting of the Victorian chapter is tentatively scheduled for mid-November, with a possible in-between date in a regional Victoria location in committing to member outreach outside of the greater Melbourne area. The dates, times and locations will be posted on the DAA-Victoria web site once confirmed, Lopez said.

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Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia is an active and dedicated group of members that primarily focus on exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, in addition to raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.


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Welcome to the Democrats Abroad Victoria chapter!


Welcome to the Democrats Abroad Victoria Chapter!

The Victoria chapter is a dedicated group of Democrats living in Victoria.  We work with Democrats of all stripes to further the principals of the Democratic Party.

Be sure to visit the Events section for upcoming events in Victoria. Upon joining Democrats Abroad, you'll receive information about our Facebook group. Please join our facebook group at our Democrats Abroad Australia Victoria Chapter Facebook page.

New voting legislation requires that you register to vote every election. To register and request an absentee ballot, use the handy portal at www.votefromabroad.org, which outlines deadlines and requirements for each state. For answers to specific questions, it is best you contact your local Board of Elections. The US Consulates in Australia also have voter assistance - see http://canberra.usembassy.gov/voting.html

To see how you can help out with events and Get Out the Vote calling campaigns, contact the Chair, Thomas Lopez


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Democrats Abroad Takes Firm Stance Against Citizens United

Members of DAA Victoria Chapter take a stand against Citizens United.

MELBOURNE – Thursday evening at the University of Melbourne Law School, the Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia (DAA) braved wet weather and chilly temperatures with an organized demonstration against the highly-controversial Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision stemming from 2010. Chief Justice of the Court, John Roberts, who was visiting Melbourne, voted with the majority of justices in the 5-4 decision.

Local DAA members distributed literature and raised protest signs to illustrate everyday Americans’ displeasure with Mr. Roberts’ Citizens United vote and his support for the contentious “corporations are people” claim.

The 2010 decision allowed U.S. corporations and unions to contribute essentially unlimited amounts of money into American politics. As a result, money has flooded into federal campaigns and has given the top-earning 1 percent a significant financial advantage of political persuasion in reducing the influence of every day voters. This has also led to the rise of ‘SuperPACs’ which indirectly support one candidate while attacking the opposition thereby leading to an increased amount of negative discourse in federal elections.

With such a high-profile U.S. government official visiting Melbourne, DAA members ensured that their peaceful demonstration was felt on the street and sidewalks outside of the venue where Mr. Roberts was guest lecturing. Members had robust conversations with the public and attendees of the Roberts lecture, including a prominent political officer from the U.S. embassy in Canberra who was attending the lecture.

DAA Victoria Chairman, Thomas Lopez, led the local demonstration. “The Citizens United decision has only increased the political rift in the United States and inherently corrupts the system. The ruling should be overturned,” said Mr. Lopez when asked why he came to protest.
“Everyday Americans, even those living abroad, like me, are disgusted by the unlimited dark money flowing into U.S. elections. I came here to remind the Chief Justice that his vote to allow this assault on our democracy isn’t forgotten,” stated Michael Ramos, another local DAA member in attendance.

Chief Justice Roberts will reconvene the new session of the U.S. Supreme Court beginning in October.

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Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of DAA is an active and dedicated group of members that primarily focus on exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, and raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.
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Thomas Lopez elected Victorian Chapter Chair

Thomas___Ersie.jpg

 

Thomas Lopez speaking to members as outgoing leader Ersie Burke listens

 

At its annual general meeting, held on 25 June, the Victorian Chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia elected a new chair to continue the fight for everyday working-class Americans in the Trump era. Election officer Phil Kowalski declared a unanimous vote in favor of Thomas Lopez among all ballots cast.

 

Originally from California, Thomas is a US Army veteran and has lived in Australia since 2015. Those not previously familiar with the new chair had ample opportunity to ask questions and discuss how to become more involved with DA as members remained at the venue for several hours post-election.

 

“I look forward to working with each and every one of you to turn the tide against Trump’s terrible policies and his disastrous vision for America,” Thomas said. “With some hard work and dedication, we can take back the House in 2018.”

 

With Trump’s continuing controversial statements, racist policies, and conflicts of interest, Thomas’ comments are in line with the DNC’s recently launched Resistance Summer organizing initiative. There was also meaningful discussion between chapter members on ideas for upcoming meetings, activities, and the need to continue reaching out to Americans living in Victoria and encouraging them to vote from abroad.

 

The chapter’s meeting also marked a meaningful farewell to Ersie Burke and Chris Stueckle, the outgoing leaders from Melbourne who previously served DA both locally and as national officers. Despite having contributed countless hours of work on behalf of DA Australia, Ersie and Chris vowed to remain politically active and to support Thomas when they can.  

 

Democrats in Victoria were re-energized with motivation. Ersie confirmed her eagerness in hoping to see a renewal of political activism within the membership. “I'm so happy and relieved that someone as wonderful and enthusiastic as Thomas is the new Chair. He’s smart and savvy, a breath of fresh air. I know he’ll be an outstanding Chair,” she stated.

 

Thomas and the elected chairs from other Australian chapters will next join the national leadership as members of the executive committee. As Victoria’s sole representative to the executive committee, Thomas has stated that his priorities will include focusing efforts on getting members to exercise their right to vote in upcoming special elections, making preparations for the 2018 congressional mid-term elections, and working to make the Victorian chapter a place for all Democrats to come together and engage in sharing ideas.

 


DA Australia VIC (Melbourne)

Welcome to the Democrats Abroad Victoria (Melbourne) chapter!

Be sure to visit the Events section for upcoming events in Melbourne. Upon joining Democrats Abroad, you'll receive information about our Facebook group. Everyone is welcome to like our Democrats Abroad Australia Facebook page

New voting legislation requires that you register to vote every election.  To register and request an absentee ballot, use the handy portal at www.votefromabroad.org, which outlines deadlines and requirements for each state. For answers to specific questions, it is best you contact your local Board of Elections. The US Consulates in Australia also have voter assistance - see http://canberra.usembassy.gov/voting.html


To see how you can help out with events and Get Out the Vote calling campaigns, contact Ersie Burke.