Paul for State Representative
CT-HD48 in CT http://www.jasonpaul48.com
769 Norwich Avenue
Primary Election Date: 2014-08-12 General Election Date: 2014-11-04
Who am I?
I am a progressive Democrat running for State Representative in Connecticut's 48th District, including the towns of Colchester, Mansfield, Lebanon, and Windham. I have been active in Connecticut Democratic politics and progressive activism for over a decade. My first campaign was in 2000, when I volunteered for U.S. Representative Sam Gejdenson’s campaign in the 2nd Congressional District. Since then, I have volunteered for dozens of campaigns at all levels of government, including Bill Curry for Governor in 2002, Deval Patrick for Governor and Joe Courtney for Congress in 2006, and Obama for America in 2008. As a student at Brandeis University, I led my school's College Democrats, and helped found a DFA chapter at Brandeis. I also ran a statewide campaign in 2010 and a campaign for state representative in 2012. I have been involved as a Jewish community leader for many years. I have also written political columns as “Jason the Greek” for CT News Junkie since 2010.
My maternal grandparents, Ernest Leff and Ada Goldberg Leff, both grew up in Colchester and graduated from Bacon Academy and the University of Connecticut. I have spent every summer at my family’s cottage on Amston Lake.
I am a graduate of Brandeis University with a B.A. in Politics. I am currently a partner in a consulting firm and will receive my J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law in May.
Why am I running?
Though I grew up around politics, I never planned to be a candidate for public office. My ambition has always been to help people in whatever way I can. Oftentimes, I've been able to do so through progressive activism. From Democratic precinct elections to campaigns for the presidency, I've been on the front lines fighting for progressive causes. For over a decade, I felt I was playing a substantive role in making our state and our nation a better place as an activist, rather than as a candidate.
That changed in 2013, when the Connecticut legislature passed legislation to strengthen our state's gun control laws. Democrats and Republicans came together to pass one of the most effective and far-reaching gun violence prevention bills in the country. I was proud of our legislators for doing this, knowing full well the political risk many put themselves at by opposing the radical gun lobby.
Unfortunately, some legislators didn't support this much-needed law. One of them was my state representative, who had for years earned endorsements and A ratings from the National Rifle Association. A typical Connecticut Democrat on most issues, she has historically been one of the most pro-gun Democrats at the state capitol. And after her vote against commonsense gun violence prevention legislation, I decided she needed to be opposed for renomination. Despite my longtime reluctance to seek public office, I knew that as an experienced political activist I stood the best chance of being successful in championing the progressive cause in a primary.
My opponent and I differ on three critical issues. First and foremost, I will never receive or accept the endorsement of the NRA. I am a strong proponent of gun control. My activism in the past has shown that, as will my future votes as a state representative.
Secondly, my opponent and I differ in our commitment to campaign finance reform. In 2013, my opponent voted to allow political parties to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to influence state elections. I would have voted against that bill. I will fight to preserve and expand Connecticut's system of public financing for state campaigns, one of the most progressive in the nation.
Finally, I'm one of the few candidates who will publicly oppose the drug war. Not one more person should be imprisoned for nonviolent drug use. We need to treat drug addiction like the public health crisis that it is, and stop sending people to jail instead of getting them the medical help they need.
My DFA Values
The policy goals I listed earlier dovetail nicely with the three values DFA believes in promoting. My commitment to a strongly progressive stance on gun control will help, in a small but significant way, to reduce the 30,000 annual citizens our nation loses to the scourge of gun violence, and in doing so improve the security of our communities, our state, and our nation. It's well past time the progressive community stood up and said "We will hold you accountable if you vote against the safety of our children." That's what my campaign is all about.
The value of community is also one that is at the heart of my campaign. I've chosen to participate in Connecticut's Citizens' Election Program, which provides public financing for campaigns strong enough to qualify. With this comes limitations on the amount of money I can spend, and where that money can come from. To demonstrate support, we've had to raise $5,000 in contributions between $5 and $100. It took our campaign less than two months to meet this goal. We're currently in the process of meeting the other two qualifications for the CEP: 150 contributors from towns I hope to represent, and ballot access, which is coming after the convention. Public financing, and reducing the corrupting influence of big money in politics is something I believe strongly in, and something I'll fight for as a state representative.
And finally, liberty. For us, liberty means an end to the drug war, which has taken took many lives, destroyed too many families, wasted too many resources that could have been spent clothing, feeding, and educating our nation's children. I'm not afraid to say I support a new approach to drug policy. I will vote for legislation to legalize marijuana, and I think it's high time we rethought how we deal with harder drugs as well. Instead of throwing people in jail, let's get them the medical help they need.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg for what we need to accomplish. I'm firmly committed to providing every child with a quality education, to fighting towards increased income equality, and I am a staunch supporter of LGBT and abortion rights. I also believe we need a renewed focus on sustainable energy and environmental protection, and I am dedicated to making college affordable and ending homelessness. The three issues outlined in more depth are the ones that my opponent and I most disagree on, but make no mistake: I am a solid progressive through and through.
My Campaign is People Powered!
This is an easy one: as an insurgent campaign against a sitting representative from my own party, and with a commitment to a public financing system that limits contributions to $100 per individual and a total of about $15,000 for the primary, my campaign has shunned establishment blessing and the support of big money. This means we can only be successful by engaging regular people. I'm honored by the outpouring of support I've already received from the progressive community, including from students. The Connecticut High School Democrats voted to endorse me back in January, and I've gotten strongly positive responses from members of local affiliates of the College Democrats, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and U.S. PIRG.