Thursday, May 03, 2018

Democratic Primaries-- The Good, The Bad And The Ugly


Perfect primary target

This cycle there are, literally, 7 fake Democrats in the House who have voting records worse than at least one Republican. This is the bottom of the barrel among Democrats (with their 2017-'18 ProgressivePunch crucial vote scores)-- along with the Republicans who vote more frequently along progressive lines:
Brad Schneider (Blue Dog-IL)- 44.90
Walter Jones (R-NC)- 44.83
Justin Amash (R-MI)- 41.84
Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL)- 39.18
Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)- 39.18
Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)- 37.76
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)- 32.97
Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)- 30.93
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)- 30.93
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- 29.90
Thomas Massie (R-KY)- 26.32
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)- 25.51
Jimmy Duncan (R-TN)- 24.74
Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)- 24.74
Note that former Democrat Walter Jones, for example, is nearly twice as likely to have voted with progressives than Collin Peterson, who the DCCC has spent millions of dollars to keep in Congress. All that said, Alex Seitz-Wald's report for NBC, that the anti-Trump wave may wash out some Democrats is either foolishness or wishful thinking. If Marie Newman couldn't beat Dan Lipinski Seitz-Wald's list of liberals is not going to beat beaten by candidates slightly more liberal. He's simply created some idiotic click-bait based on... thin air.

Many of the challengers he talks about seem really good. Some have called me to make their case for Blue America endorsements. But while Blue America was the very first national PAC to back Newman, none of the Seitz-Wald challengers has gotten our endorsement. He doesn't give due credit to Mike Capuano (D-MA), an excellent and hard-working progressive-- and makes him seem like a slug. It's Seitz-Wald who seems more like a slug in his attempt to build a mountain out of a molehill. After Trump's election, he asserted, "the liberal base began to demand more from its leaders than a party-line voting record."

OK, that's true but not in the way Seitz-Wald claims. The worst and most high profile Democratic Party leaders-- Pelosi, Hoyer and Crowley-- all have primary opponents. The only one making a case persuasive enough to attract any attention is Alexandria Ocasio's run against Crowley, which Seitz-Wald doesn't even mention. Instead he writes that "Capuano is facing his first primary challenge-- and he’s not alone, with a small but growing number of entrenched Democrats watching as insurgents out-fundraise them with a sense of urgency fueled by President Donald Trump and an unwillingness to follow the old rules of deference to party elders."
“I understand that this is uncomfortable for many people,” said Ayanna Pressley, Capuano’s challenger. “These are different times and it requires our being disruptive.”

Pressley, the first woman of color elected to the Boston City Council, has been dubbed the future of politics and fêted by Emily’s List, the Democratic women’s group, with a prestigious “Rising Star” award.

Even though she’s upsetting the applecart, Pressley has won support from major unions and a tacit nod from members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, who made the unusual decision not to support their colleague and sit out the race.

Unlike a recent Illinois primary fought over abortion rights, or the 2016 presidential primary, Pressley and Capuano hold virtually the same political views.

What sets them apart is volume, not pitch, with Pressley saying these times require “activist-leadership" from people with a wider ranger of life experiences.

“We have an opportunity here,” she said of the Trump era. “It can be a moment where we grow and build the most progressive movement of our times.”

Democrats are no stranger to messy primaries in open seats or ones held by Republicans. But they almost always defer to their congressmen once elected.

Since the tea party wave uncorked the bottle in 2010, Republicans have been significantly more likely to face primaries than Democrats, according to the Brookings Institution. Only two House Democrats lost their seats to friendly fire in the last election.

“Beating an incumbent of your own party is one of the hardest thing to do,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) who defeated an eight-term incumbent on his second attempt two years ago.
Khanna went after a progressive old-time, Mike Honda, who had lost the ability to campaign vigorously. But the first time Khanna ran against him Honda survived. Two years later, with Honda refusing to do so, Khanna backed Bernie in the primary and that made the difference. Another one of Seitz-Wald's make believe races is between Adem Bunkeddeko and Rep. Yvette Clarke, one of the dozen most progressive members of Congress, first elected in 2006. Her ProgressivePunch score is closet to Keith Ellison (who also has two primary opponents, Jamal Abdulahi and Peggy Flanagan, who even Seitz-Wald knows better than two stick into his silly story). Bunkeddeko case is that Clarke "has done not enough to promote affordable housing in her rapidly gentrifying district. At the end of the day, it’s about getting things done." Tell it to Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Trumpanzee.

Eliot Engel is a random New Dem in the Bronx and Westchester and he's not going anywhere but, yeah, there's a primary opponent, Jonathan Lewis. Basically a vanity candidate, like many of Seitz-Wald's challengers, he said, "If I told you there are nations in the world where people are running for election after election completely unopposed, you might wonder what country that is." Heavy. As for outraising Engel, he put $510,500 of his own into his campaign warchest, 81.38% of what he reported "raising." Bunkeddeko did better, raising $200,949 to Clarke's $606,274. And Cpauano's opponent, Pressley has raised a respectable $363,526 to his $838,222. Saira Rao is running a primary from the left against centrist Democrat Diane DeGette in Denver. Rao raised $255,329 to DeGette's $667,672. Rao is one of the challengers who has reason to hope "the super-charged Democratic base and widespread frustration with elected officials will let them catch incumbents sleeping."
“We have a big split in the party. I don’t know that the party establishment has fully wrapped its mind around it,” said Saira Rao, who is challenging Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO).

In hipsterifying Denver, the first-time candidate outraised DeGette, a member of Democratic leadership and a 23-year incumbent.

Rao volunteered for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, but grew frustrated with the Democratic Party for taking the votes of women of color like her for granted.

So she wrote an essay on Breaking Up With the Democratic Party that went viral, and the overwhelming response compelled her to run for office.

“We have a window (to save the country). It’s closing pretty soon. We don’t have until 2020 and I have zero faith that the corporate Democrats in Congress will do a damn thing about it,” Rao said. “Thank you for your service Nancy Pelosi, but we need new leadership.”

The odds are stacked against upstarts, and what few polls exist have shown them behind. Voters in safe districts don’t typically pay attention to congressional primaries, with some big city districts posting single-digit turnout in the past.

That’s a shame, says Suraj Patel, a 34-year-old Obama campaign alum and New York University professor challenging Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., an institution in Manhattan politics.

“No party should be satisfied with 6 percent turnout,” said Patel. “We don't just need to elect Democrats, which we do, we need to elect better Democrats.”

Patel has raised nearly $1.1 million, outpacing Maloney two quarters in a row, and built a massive campaign team for a congressional race, with 25 staffers and 49 interns.

As he sees it, Democrats should be using the safety of deep blue seats in progressive major cities to take risks on new policy ideas and champion a bold agenda.

“We're really wasting an incredible opportunity to lead from districts like this,” he said.
Maloney is a Wall Street shill and she should be a reasonable target for Patel and his progressive message. But does that message ring genuine for most East Side (from Yorkville to Alphabet City) and Astoria/Long Island City/Greenpoint voters? And, by the way... we're still vetting some of these candidates for Blue America endorsements even if the hill is too steep to get to the top of in one cycle. Saira Rao may is probably the most likely exception and we're probably going to be endorsing her. Blue America very much likes helping good candidates build brands for a long-terms strategic future runs as we did for Donna Edwards and Alan Grayson, first time losers and eventual winners who went on to be among the best members of Congress in decades. (And Blue America is far more likely to put effort into defeating bad Democrats-- like Joe Crowley-- than "pretty good" Democrats.)

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home