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) CrowleyBoehner won't say whether he'd back Biden over Trump Poll shows congresswomen attacked by Trump with weak favorability ratings Ocasio-Cortez gets new Republican challenger: report 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 HeitkampTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments McConnell's Democratic challenger says she likely would have voted for Kavanaugh 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 CramerTrump puts hopes for Fed revolution on unconventional candidate Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Acosta on shaky ground as GOP support wavers MORE, by 16 points. President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE won North Dakota by double digits in 2016.

— Julia Manchester