Monday, July 02, 2018

Not Every Red District Is Susceptible To The Blue Wave-- But Blue Districts Are Susceptible To The Progressive Wave


After Blake Farenthold was forced out of Congress earlier in April for being a workplace perv, there was a vague hope Democrats could win his seat in a special election-- very vague. The DCCC gave the seat a thumbs down and refused to engage, especially after it was clear that the leading Democrat, Eric Holguin, is a progressive. The very gerrymandered district (TX-27) stretches along the Gulf from Corpus Christie and Port Aransas up through Victoria and Port Lavaca to Bay City and, incongruously, west through Shiner and Gonzales into the exurbs southeast of Austin. The PVI is R+13, very safely red, and Trump won the seat 60.1% to 36.5%.

In the 9-person jungle primary on Saturday, the winner was Michael Cloud, who was already primarying Farenthold when he resigned in disgrace.Saturday, Cloud won enough votes to avoid a runoff. He spent $326,449 compared to Holguin, who came in second, after spending $65,722. Virtually all the outside spending, around $700,000, was in support of Cloud. Neither the DCCC nor any other outside groups helped Holguin. All 3 Democrats combined didn't get to 40% Turnout was very low. Cloud, this time as an incumbent, will face Holguin again in November for a full two-year term. Every Beltway pundit rates TX-27 as "safe Republican."

Cloud has been endorsed by the far right-- Club for Growth and the Freedom Caucus, which he is expected to join. Like Holguin, Cloud came out against Trump's family separation policy. Holguin took a very strong stand against Trump's child abuse policies, making Cloud nervous. Holguin on election day: "The human rights violations that are occurring on our borders right now is reprehensible, inhumane, and against everything that we as Americans stand for today When our children and grandchildren look back on our history, they will be asking 'Why?' we terrorized children. Now is our opportunity to unite to speak out."

Holguin's issues page on his campaign website looks pretty progressive, especially for such a red district. He comes out for single-payer healthcare for example.

Eric is a real long shot for the November election. But he's been a long shot before. In the original March 6 primary, he just barely made it to the runoff with 23.31% of the vote, while the frontrunner, a perrenial candidate with plenty of name recognition, received 41.22%. Then came the May 22 runoff and Holguin went on to win with over 60% of the vote, putting him in position to become the first openly gay Latino congressman.

He's campaigning for the November general election already.

These long shot races are still long shots, "a venture," says the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "unlikely to succeed, an entry (as in a horse race) given little chance of winning, a bet in which the chances of winning are slight but the possible winnings great." When Alexandria asked for a Blue America endorsement I thought she was a long shot. In fact, I thought she had almost no chance to win. Blue America endorsed her because we hoped she would build up skill and name recognition and run again in 2020 and win then. We saw something special in her, worth investing in for the long game. She's a hard worker and a smart worker with a dedicated crew around her. We decided to do more than endorse her; we spent money in the campaign independently. There were only two outside groups that did-- the Sierra Club spent money-- albeit just a small symbolic amount-- on behalf of Crowley and the establishment they always suck up to. And Blue America put down our biggest investment of 2016 (so far) on behalf of the candidate we felt was working the hardest and earned our support... even if we didn't think she had a chance. Even as the votes started coming in on election night, the returns in her favor appeared to be to be errors that would soon be corrected by the Department of Elections. But that isn't what happened. The distance between her and Crowley continued to grow. I thought it was impossible and that maybe the early votes were from the Bronx where our I.E. had been concentrated and where she worked incredibly hard and where no one has ever heard of Crowley. But I was wrong again-- she was winning in Queens as well... by a lot. A long shot that paid off.

That pay off is giving hope to candidates and campaigns across the country. Pelosi tried to tamp it down, calling it a fluke and an outlier (while working her knuckles to the bone to sabotage Kara Eastman who won her primary in Omaha and who Pelosi's DCCC absolutely refuses to assist. NE-02 was a must-win district when Pelosi was backing disgusting Blue Dog Brad Ashford but as soon as progressive Kara Eastman won, the district vanished as a DCCC priority. Pelosi will be pleading with Democrats to unite for November but that's a one way street for the lousy corrupt establishment. We have to united around their crap candidates while they work to crush ours.

I saw another Democratic Socialist, Kaniela Saito Ing in Hawaii, renew his efforts after after Ocasio gave him a shout out on Chris Hayes' show the day after the election. The establishment candidates, a bunch of establishment conservatives from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, are ganging up against him, with the assistance of the establishment media. But Kaniela is flighting harder than ever now to win the crowded August 11 primary, which includes conservatives Ed Case, Doug Chin, Donna Mercado Kim and Beth Fukumoto. While the establishment freaks out at the thought of a Democratic Socialist representing Honolulu, Civil Beat featured him in an OpEd as The real progressive in the race. Before you read this, keep in mind that Hillary was endorsed by every single Democratic politician in Hawaii who endorsed at all except by two Kaniela and then Tulsi Gabbard. Bernie beat Hillary by a preposterous margin-- 69.8% to 30.0%. Hawaii was clearly ready for an alternative to the status quo the establishment was offering again. Last week:

For those inspired by Bernie Sanders’ mantra that we deserve better than career politicians who are bought and sold by corporations, we can now wrap our enthusiasm around Kaniela Ing, candidate for U.S. Congress-- the only real progressive in the race.

For so many of us, the Democratic Party’s charge to advocate for working families has been totally undermined by its refusal to directly challenge corporate power, enabling our current president to masquerade as a voice for working people.

Prior to and since that election, progressive candidates have risen up in record numbers offering a different kind of Democrat who will truly represent and look like America, by virtue of  gender, race, religion, profession, economic status-- and most importantly-- who represent people, not corporations.

We’re fortunate to have one such candidate running for Hawaii’s 1st District seat in Congress-- Kaniela Ing. When Kaniela, a Justice Democrat, and his fellow progressive legislators arrive in Congress, they will start on day one, united around an agenda focused on people, not profits, to enact policies that the majority of Americans support:

Ending the corruption of big money in politics, allowing everyone access to a Medicare-For-All single-payer system, providing free tuition for public colleges, creating a renewable energy revolution, enacting common sense gun legislation, fighting for women’s equality and our LGBTQ family, enacting comprehensive immigration reform, implementing a real infrastructure plan, and more.

Not all Democrats are the same. A Democrat who takes corporate money, who’s been a Republican just before they became a Democrat, who talks about being “for the people” but whose votes imply influence by special interests, are not in this fight for the benefit of Hawaii residents and the American people.

Goal ThermometerIt’s only Kaniela who has demonstrated the political courage to turn his back on big corporate donors. It’s only Kaniela’s track record that is long and strong in fighting for working families. Kaniela is the only candidate who supported and aggressively championed marriage equality for Hawaii, while one of his opponents, who claims to be “revolutionary,” opposed marriage equality, and another opponent’s history includes homophobic rants.
Kaniela is a long shot worth gambling on. Blue America is-- and you can support his campaign by clicking on the 2018 congressional thermometer on the right. But, alas, not every candidate inspired by Bernie has an equal chance to win, nor is every one of them as smart and as hard a worker as Ocasio and Ing are. If deploying your limited resources wisely is a factor, it's probably better to concentrate them strategically. (If you have unlimited resources just go wild and write checks for every candidate endorsed by Blue America, Our Revolution, Justice Democrats, DFA, People For Bernie, PCCC, etc.)

I want to point to a low-key campaign in Washington state that I hadn't really looked into until this past weekend-- the primary in the 9th district, which is a heavily Democratic area in the southern and eastern Seattle Metro including Mercer Island, Kent, Bellevue and Renton. When Adam Smith, a conservative Democrat first won the seat in 1996, it was a more competitive district. Now the PVI is D+21. Hillary won 70.5% to 23.3% against Trump, even stronger than the 68% Obama got both times he ran. The district's minority make-up has grown tremendously and it is now just 50% white. A trajectory not unlike Crowley's 14th in New York, although not as developed... and Smith isn't as bad as Crowley. Bad not but as bad. There are a couple of Washington state Dems in Congress who are even worse than he is. Smith has a lousy voting record and ProgressivePunch rates him "F." He's a New Dem, a corporate tool and a stooge for the Military Industrial Complex. The district has outgrown him.

The only way to replace Smith is through a primary. No Republican is ever going to win that district. Adam Smith has raised $426,466 and Sarah Smith, his very progressive opponent, has raised $36,968. $37,000 isn't enough to let voters know who you are-- or even that you are. But there's still time. The local Fox channel (Q13) reputed on the race last week: Could progressive newcomer Sarah Smith upset 11-term incumbent in Washington primary?. She could like Ocasio:
Thirty-year-old Sarah Smith and a team of volunteers are hitting the pavement, knocking on door after door to spread the word: She's running for Congress and taking on 11-term Democratic incumbent Adam Smith in the primaries.

"I had to struggle to overcome this thought in my head of: I'm not from a political dynasty; I'm not supposed to go into politics; I'm working class; I haven't gone up the ladder; I haven't done it the right way; I haven't asked for permission," Sarah Smith said. "I had to really get out of that mindset because at the end of the day, we don't need to ask for permission to run to represent our neighbors."

Sarah Smith is a candidate under Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats, the same slates that supported New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who just dealt a crushing defeat to 10-term Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley.

"I cried when she got elected. I'm a sucker," Sarah Smith said.

Both women are part of a push to elect progressives aligned with Sen. Bernie Sanders. In a state that caucused strong for Sanders in 2016, Sarah Smith's platform is gaining ground.

"I am for single-payer medicare for all; I am for debt-free education; I am for abolishing (Immigration and Customs Enforcement); I am for investing in our infrastructure; and I am for getting us out of, what is it, nine to 11 different military occupations we're in?"

Her opponent is on the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Adam Smith has a long history in the 9th Congressional District. So who is Sarah Smith?

"I work full time," Sarah Smith said. "I manage a mechanic garage. I have student debt. I have a husband. I can't afford to have a kid. I'm every person in this district."

This political novice is putting the Democratic establishment on notice. The full-fledged progressive told Q13 News Correspondent Simone Del Rosario that compromise is a last resort.

"If you are elected to Congress you are not just representing the progressives in District 9, you will be representing everybody who lives in District 9. Are you prepared to do that?" Del Rosario asked.

"Absolutely I am," she replied. "I recognize that my platform is going to get me elected, so I want to commit to my platform as much as possible and as strongly as possible, because if I get elected it's because of my values and it's because of what I stand up for."

That's what she hopes to take to Congress.

Rep. Adam Smith has served in Congress for 22 years. Q13 News spoke to him over the phone to talk about the progressive movement, his opponent and the upcoming primary.

"For me, this is not about a national movement," Rep. Adam Smith said. "This is about the people who live around Sea-Tac Airport who deal with the noise problems. This is about helping the very large immigrant community that I have with immigration issues. This is about helping the education system in the city of Seattle and south King County.

"I've lived my entire life in the district; raised my children here; sent them to public schools in the district; and I have a very, very strong connection to the people there and I have been very, very effective in being their voice in Congress."
Again, Bernie won Adam Smith's district; Adam Smith was out of touch with his own voters. While Sarah Smith volunteered and then caucused for Bernie's campaign, Adam Smith endorsed Hillary and was a super-delegate for her. Ocasio didn't have a great deal of money-- around $300,000-- but it was enough to get her and her message out to the voters. Sarah is going to need more if she's going to square the circle in time for the August 7th primary.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This discussion of WA-09 is easily one of the dumbest writeups I have ever read on DWT, and I am a daily reader. There are three things you should know about this election.

(1) Adam Smith is hardly a Joe Crowley. His attention to his district and his constituent service have been pretty stellar all the time he has been in the House. He has staff members on the ground in the district who know everything that is going on in it.

(2) Nobody outcampaigns him. Nobody. He campaigns personally. He knocks people's doors. He shows up at local functions. He meets with constituents that his staffers recommend he meet with. What's more, he campaigns visibly for Democrats up and down the ticket, and they in turn campaign for him.

(3) Unlike Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, this opponent is a nobody who has no record of public service to speak of. Saying "progressive, progressive, progressive" 500 times a day doesn't make anyone a progressive, or qualify them for office.

Somebody took you for a ride, Howie. I'm not saying you have to like Adam Smith's voting record, but a puff piece for a nobody is hardly proof of "vulnerability."

At 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And one more thing. Pramila Jayapal was Adam Smith's constituent when she ran for the House in the adjacent district, WA-07. She had been redistricted into WA-09. She has since moved back into WA-07. Maybe you should ask her if SHE supports this challenger. I can tell you what the answer would be -- No and Hell No. Maybe you could have checked with her before posting this embarrassing mess.

At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will add that, as we saw in 2010, most blue and all purple districts are HIGHLY succeptible to the inevitable anti-blue wave.

Or did we conveniently forget about 2010? Only 8 years ago. google it if you can't remember.

To augment the prescience of Santayana: All who refuse to remember yesterday are prone to repeat all the same mistakes. Especially in a dumbfucktard shithole like the usa.

At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, mistakes and failure will continue as long as those accountable for both refuse to take responsibility for them and change.

To steal a couple of tired lies from that era, and correcting them for today: There is no hope without CHANGE! YES YOU CAN, "democrats"!

At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Satire 9:47?

those who need to take responsibility for the 37 years of failure and betrayal are not those that got elected, it's those who elected them. THEY need to change.

You cannot blame Pelosi for continuing to spend her life on her back. Her district keeps re-electing her. Why should she change?

Thus, the word 'democrats' should be 'voters'.


Post a Comment

<< Home