Creating a Winning Coalition Through Progressive Populist Values

The Lane Evans 2019 Presidential Candidate Forum is sponsored by the Lane Evans Progressive Populist Project, which aims to inspire a renewed commitment to authentic, values-based progressive leadership. The career and legacy of the late Lane Evans, who represented the 17th Congressional District of Illinois from 1983-2007, offers an example of authentic populist leadership grounded in progressive values that won the support of voters across the political spectrum.  His politics forged a winning coalition across lines of race and gender and spanned the urban-rural divide.  

Lane won and held his congressional seat through 12 consecutive elections, despite its having been represented by Republicans for nearly all of the preceding century. More importantly, Lane’s congressional career inspired a generation of Democrats in Illinois and Vietnam veterans nationwide. Recognizing a kinship in Barack Obama’s “politics of hope,” Lane was an early supporter of Obama’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2004. 

Lane Evans’ political success in America’s heartland as a working-class progressive in the Midwest populist tradition stands in sharp contrast to the divisiveness and nativism that is now paraded as “populism.” Lane’s brand of inclusive populism illuminates a path for a new generation eager to confront today’s cynical politics of division. 

WHAT:  All interested presidential candidates will be invited to participate in the forum, which will honor and promote the legacy of Lane Evans (D-IL) as a champion of working people and veterans. The Forum will enable candidates to offer ideas to attract working Americans to their banner, promote progressive ideas, and engage voters in the critical early nominating states. 

WHEN:  Saturday, October 19, 2019

WHERE:  Augustana College, Rock Island IL (Quad-Cities, Iowa/Illinois)

FORMAT: Friday afternoon/evening and Saturday afternoon candidate forum

    • Friday Panel & Audience Discussion:  Progressive populism and support for working families in the Lane Evans tradition.
    • Friday Evening:  “Friends of Lane Evans” and forum participants gather in honor of Lane and populism. Side interviews for sharing memories/stories about Lane will be conducted with attendees throughout the evening, to be included in an educational video/documentary and on social media. 


  • Saturday Morning: The keys to Lane Evans’ success. History of populism in the Midwest. Presentations on issues of the day to discuss later with candidates.


  • Saturday Afternoon: A welcome keynote followed by a moderated forum involving declared candidates for the 2020 presidential nomination. The focus will be a discussion of policies to help veterans and America’s struggling working families. This could include issues such as childcare assistance, pay equity and anti-harassment measures, education, strengthening unions, healthcare access, pensions and retirement, and other challenges facing working people and retirees.
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