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) CrowleyOcasio-Cortez hits back at Republicans for 'drooling' over footage of her to criticize Ocasio-Cortez backs campaigns to replace Dem incumbents with progressives House Dems split on how to tackle climate change 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 HeitkampBanking panel showcases 2020 Dems Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator North Dakota New Members 2019 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 CramerNorth Dakota New Members 2019 Rick Scott appears with GOP senators, ignores voter fraud question as recount continues How President Trump won last night MORE, by 16 points. President TrumpDonald John TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks MORE won North Dakota by double digits in 2016.

— Julia Manchester