Young Turks founder says rise of populist progressives is biggest story in midterms

The founder and host of the left-leaning online show "The Young Turks" said Friday that populist progressives are the biggest story of the 2018 midterms.

"I think the rise of progressives is the biggest storyline there is," Cenk Uygur told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on "Rising."

"Whether it's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or Kara Eastman, or Randy Bryce, Richard Ojeda -- real populist progressives that are willing to actually fight for the progressive message, rather than the lukewarm establishment Democrats" he said, referring to candidates running for House seats in the Nov. 6 elections.

The Democratic Party's midterm primaries saw the rise of various progressive candidates, most notably 29-year-old Ocasio-Cortez's defeat of longtime Democratic incumbent Rep. Joe CrowleyJoseph (Joe) CrowleyA vacuum being filled by the inexperienced Ocasio-Cortez quotes Rorschach from 'Watchmen' in response to Dem criticism Top House Dem to Ocasio-Cortez: ‘Don’t attack your own people’ MORE in New York's 14th Congressional District.

"We taught them a lesson with Crowley, and we taught them several lessons, and we're going to keep on teaching them lessons," Uygur said.

He went on to say that candidates such as Ojeda have been successful not necessarily because they are liberals but because they are populists.

"It's not because he's the most progressive candidate, but he's a populist, and he closed a 40 point lead in the 3rd District of West Virginia. That is unheard of," Uygur said.

"Whereas [Sen.] Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampEPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks 2020 Election: Democrats can’t afford to ignore their Israel problem Hirono will donate salary earned during government shutdown MORE [D-N.D.] is sitting there playing Republican light in North Dakota and getting her ass handed to her," he added.

A recent poll found that Heitkamp is trailing her GOP challenger, Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerHopes fade for bipartisan bills in age of confrontation GOP senators propose bill to pay 'excepted' workers during shutdown Senators say questions remain on Trump strategy in Syria after briefing MORE, by 16 points. President TrumpDonald John TrumpVeterans groups demand end to shutdown: 'Get your act together' Brown launches tour in four early nominating states amid 2020 consideration Pence on border wall: Trump won't be ‘deterred’ by Dem ‘obstruction’ MORE won North Dakota by double digits in 2016.

— Julia Manchester