US progressives show strength in primaries, predict more wins to come | Democrats

In the battle for control of the Democratic Party, progressives are increasingly confident of victory. This is how they explain why they continue to compete with save money Super Pac money flowing into nominating contests for safe Democratic seats.

“There is a set of people who are uncomfortable with a new form of politics,” said Maurice Mitchell, national director of the progressive Working Families party. “They’re trying to turn the clock back. But the genie came out of the bottle.

So far this election cycle, progressives have a mixed record. But a stronger-than-expected performance in last week’s primaries energized the movement and set the stage, they hope, for even greater success this summer.

In Pennsylvania, State Rep. Summer Lee overcome a deluge of outside spending to win its congressional primary. Lee was declared the winner after three days of counting. She tweeted: “4.5 million dollars” with a fire and trash can emoji.

Oregon Progressives cheered the victory of Andrea Salinas, who also faced a big money crush in her race for a newly created congressional seat. Meanwhile, seven-term Oregon congressman Kurt Schrader, whose conservative policies have drawn ire from the left, looks set to lose his seat to progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner, though that the results were delayed by a problem printing the ballots.

And in what will be one of the most competitive Senate races of the cycle, John Fetterman, an iconoclastic and liberal Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, defeated Congressman Conor Lamb, a rising center-left star.

The next progressive political power test will come Tuesday, in a Texas runoff between Congressman Henry Cueller, a conservative Democrat backed by party leadership, and Jessica Cisneros, a progressive immigration lawyer endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio -Cortez and Bernie Sanders. And after that there are competitive intra-party primaries in Illinois, New York and Michigan.

“We don’t do victory laps,” Mitchell said. “In fact, these losses and victories have redoubled our commitment and focus.”

Moderates see the cycle very differently.

They point to a trio of House races last week in North Carolina and Kentucky where the most moderate candidate won hands down. The victories came just two weeks after Democratic Congresswoman Shontel Brown won a hard-fought rematch in Ohio against Nina Turner, a progressive activist who worked on Sanders’ presidential campaigns.

“People who are well outside the mainstream of the Democratic conference make it harder for moderates to run in swing districts because their ideas and their rhetoric are used against people like Abigail Spanberger,” said Matt Bennett, co-founder of the center-left. thinktank Third Way, referring to the congresswoman from Virginia who singled out the Progressives for costing the party seats in 2020.

Bennett said it was important to distinguish between progressives. He argued that “liberal but not radical” candidates, like McLeod-Skinner in Oregon, pose little risk to swing-state Democrats.

Instead, “we’re worried about the Squad,” Bennett said, referring to the congressional progressive women’s group that includes Ocasio-Cortez, “because members of that wing of the party don’t see it as part of of their duty as Democrats to help ensure that we have majorities.

This argument irritates progressives. Following Sanders’ lead, they united behind Biden to oust Donald Trump in 2020, then spent a year and a half working with congressional leaders and the White House to push through the president’s economic agenda. And yet, it is the progressives who are being battered by external spending.

A number of controversial Democratic contests have been shaped by Super Pacs, such as one formed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC, another backed by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, and another backed by a crypto-billionaire.

Much – but not all – of the outside money backs moderate candidates, including Cuellar, the nine-term incumbent in his political life struggle.

“It’s kind of a battle between David and Goliath,” Mitchell said.

In a sign of growing resentment between the party’s two ideological factions, Jeff Weaver, former Sanders campaign manager, warned that progressives could launch third-party candidates in rotating districts to scuttle the chances of centrist Democrats.

The suggestion infuriated Bennett, who called it “the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever seen a Democrat say…perhaps ever, and especially in the face of a Republican Party that has lost its ever-loving spirit.” .

However, not all primaries fit neatly into ideological lines.

Oregon’s Schrader angered state Democrats after he voted against a provision to allow Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs. Local Democratic leaders voted for endorse his challenger McLeod-Skinner, in brutal break with tradition.

Experts believe Texas’ runoff will prove to be an indicator of Democratic sentiment in a political landscape that increasingly favors Republicans. Democrats have wafer-thin majorities in Congress, and the ruling party historically lost in the president’s first midterm election.

Democrats are also struggling to rise above Biden’s low approval ratings, weighed down by inflation and widespread frustration with Washington.

Since Cisneros forced Cuellar to a runoff earlier this year, the race has been reshaped by a proposed Supreme Court opinion indicating that justices are prepared to strike down a constitutional right to abortion.

Cuellar is one of the only remaining Democrats in Congress to oppose abortion. Cisneros, on the other hand, presented herself as an advocate for reproductive rights in a state that has effectively banned abortion.

They also clashed over immigration. While Cuellar is a strong critic of the Biden administration’s immigration policies, frequently appearing on Fox News to voice his grievances over the president’s handling of the border, Cisneros has advocated for a more progressive stance in this sector.

Regardless of what happens Tuesday in Texas, Progressives believe they have made progress in elevating candidates they are confident will mobilize the party’s base in November.

Kentucky Democrats nominated Charles Booker, a staunchly progressive former state legislator who easily won his Senate primary two years after surprising the party establishment by nearly defeating his chosen nominee.

Booker faces formidable odds in now challenging entrenched Republican Senator Rand Paul. But Booker believes his first victory is a sign that voters are hungry for new leaders.

If he beat Paul, he would be the first black senator in the state.

“The truth is, the people of Kentucky want real progress,” Booker said. “It’s just that nobody listens to us.

“The policies I raise, the issues I fight for, they’re not radical and they’re not coming from a national consultant. It comes from my lived experience of going through the struggle that most Kentuckians are familiar with.

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