Last night, as the Senate clerks were stuck in the Capitol reading the entirety of the 600+ page American Rescue Plan, I was talking with Tom Nelson, a Wisconsin lawmaker who is running for Senate in 2022. The overnight bill reading was triggered by an obnoxious, pointless point of order by Sen. Ron Johnson, and the whole thing had us fired up.

(Here’s where I say that I’m doing some work for Tom’s campaign because he’s the progressive, pro-worker candidate in the field… and, in my opinion, the most electable one.)

Tom remembered that back during the revolt against former Gov. Scott Walker’s assault on public employee unions, when protestors occupied the Capitol building in Madison, people would send pizzas to keep them fed. People from all over the place pitched in — one article said that concerned citizens from all 50 states and 14 different countries offered to send over sustenance. Knowing that the clerks and other employees of the US Capitol building had no choice but to stay the night, we thought it’d be cool to do a similar gesture for them.

After all, Senate clerks make just $23,000-a-year, which is a poverty wage in Washington, D.C. (and pretty much everywhere else). So we got to work.

I took on the task of calling the Capitol and seeing how we’d get the pizzas to the right people, given the late hour and otherwise emptiness of the building. Anyone who’s ever called the Capitol knows that it’s a whole lot of switchboards and transfers, so it took a while, but I finally got connected to the clerks’ office. I told them the story — we felt bad that they were stuck there through the night, that they couldn’t go outside to get dinner or return home to their families for the night. Would it be possible, I asked, to get them some pizza delivered?

The guy who answered the phone sounded tired, then surprised and appreciative. He said he was going to figure it out. And then shortly afterward, he came back with the verdict: They couldn’t find a way to accept the pizzas. Why? Security around the Capitol was too tight. Security necessitated by the violent coup attempt that was incited by lies spread by Ron Johnson.

White Supremacists and MAGA maniacs rioted after two months of being fed the Big Lie and no one laundered those lies through Senate hearings and TV appearances more than Ron Johnson. He held “electoral fraud” hearings, he repeated endless lies about suspicious “irregularities” and relentlessly pursued Hunter Biden in order to cast doubt on Biden’s legitimacy even before the election. His actions directly led to the feces-smearing white nationalist mob that overwhelmed the Capitol. He almost caused the deaths of several Senators and the Vice President.

Meanwhile, yesterday, March 4th, happened to be the day that some QAnon lunatic said that Donald Trump would storm back into power, revealing to the world that he had finally drained the swamp and had control of the military. (Or something stupid like that.) 

So it comes down to this: Ron Johnson forced those low-paid workers to spend the entire night at the Capitol. And he made it impossible for anyone to send them any help.

So instead of the pizzas, Tom wrote an open letter to the Capitol employees, apologizing for Sen. Johnson’s unending unhinged behavior. 

I don’t know how this guy lives with himself, but we’re doing our best to make it hard for him to do so. We have a billboard near his home calling him out for his sedition, which he has publicly stated he absolutely hates (listen to him say it here!).

We’ve got another billboard coming, too, changing up the message. I suspect he’ll hate that one, too.

I also want to make a note about Tom: The pizza delivery wasn’t some attempted stunt and he doesn’t even know I’m writing about it. Supporting workers is just his real obsession: Tom’s grandparents were dairy farmers, he grew up in a town built around a unionized mill, and he has a new book out next week about how unions worked to save another mill from a predatory bank (he was part of the fight, but the book isn’t about him).

If you want to pitch in to help Tom’s campaign, that’d be amazing — unlike Johnson and a few other candidates, Tom can’t self-fund (as you’ll see in the video below). I can’t stress enough how much of a difference it would make to have someone who would even think about the consequences for these employees in office. And again, he didn’t ask me to write this — I just felt like the story had to be told because it’s so emblematic of what Ron Johnson has done to DC.

CLICK HERE to Donate to Tom Nelson’s campaign!


P.S. I have a political newsletter called Progressives Everywhere, which focuses in-depth on voting rights, the filibuster, state legislatures, economic issues, and progressive policy. Every week, you’ll get deep dives on items like progressive ballot initiatives, saving the Supreme Court, the gig economy, and the economics of student debt. I also offer ways for people to get involved in creating progressive change by spotlighting important grassroots groups and voter registration organizations.

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