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.
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.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.
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.
###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.