As you’ll see in our special “Alternative State of the Union” issue, courageous and principled members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are fighting to reclaim the soul of the Democratic Party from within. But the movement to infuse the party with core progressive values is also reaching far outside of the Beltway. Across the country, scores of grassroots activists affiliated with Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) are forming progressive caucuses at the state party level.

Nation reader Kelly Patrick Gerling writes:

“In Kansas, a group of us established the first-ever progressive caucus in the Kansas State Democratic Party. We have been accepted as an ancillary organization in the Kansas State Democratic Party…At our state meetings, our Progressive Caucus meetings have had the largest crowds.

Our co-chairs Joey Sprague and Jeff Zamrzla, have a seat and a vote within the party as members of the Executive Committee. Our Progressive Caucus can, presumably, through our co-chairs, make proposals for the Executive Committee to consider and vote on…There are many progressive issues and methods that we can propose as we win the trust and respect of others in the party.”

In the past year and a half, sixteen state progressive caucuses have emerged and dozens more are in formation. Many of the caucuses are in so-called red states, including: Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, , Texas and Utah.

Click here to see how you can form a progressive caucus in your own state.

Sweet Victory Update: Minimum Wage Movement Rages on in Maryland

Last week, Maryland’s progressive legislature overturned Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich’s veto of the Fair Share Health Care Act. This week, the legislature overturned another pernicious veto attempt by Ehrlich, and Maryland became the 18th state to increase its minimum wage above the federal minimum.

According to Tim McFeeley of the Center for Policy Alternatives, more than 80 percent of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage, which, at $5.15 an hour is the lowest rate (adjusted for inflation) since 1955. “The minimum wage is a hot issue in the states,” said McFeeley. “Progressives have realized that Americans strongly support a higher minimum wage.”

We also want to hear from you. Please let us know if you have a sweet victory you think we should cover by e-mailing [email protected].

Co-written by Sam Graham-Felsen, a freelance journalist, documentary filmmaker and blogger ( living in Brooklyn.