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) CrowleyBeto could give Biden and Bernie a run for their money Ocasio-Cortez's favorable, unfavorable ratings up: poll Feehery: Dems' embrace of socialism makes a Trump reelection look inevitable 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 HeitkampAnnual scorecard ranks GOP environmental efforts far below Dems in 2018 Overnight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary 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 CramerOvernight Health Care: Dems demand answers on rule targeting Planned Parenthood | Senators tell FDA to speed approval of generic insulin | Nearly 8 in 10 say drug prices are 'unreasonable' in new poll Senators tell FDA to speed up approvals of generic insulin Trump applauded for walking away from 'bad' North Korea deal MORE, by 16 points. President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE won North Dakota by double digits in 2016.

— Julia Manchester