Progressive groups endorse Dems in two key House races

Progressive groups endorse Dems in two key House races
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Two major national progressive groups have unveiled endorsements for Democratic challengers running in key House races in New York and California.

Democracy for America (DFA) and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) are backing Democrat Dana Balter, who’s running to challenge Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoMidterm results shake up national map How Republicans who voted against ObamaCare repeal fared in midterms Republican John Katko wins reelection in NY House race MORE (R-N.Y.), and Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, who’s looking to unseat Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterBipartisan lawmakers unveil bill to tighten some campaign rules California dreamin’ in the 2020 presidential race Proposed House GOP rules would force indicted lawmakers to step down from leader roles: report MORE (R-Calif.).

Both races are seen as top opportunities to flips seats and bring Democrats closer to taking back the House. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMemo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report Trump will likely win reelection in 2020 Lanny Davis says Nixon had more respect for the Constitution than Trump MORE won Katko’s district by more than 3 points in 2016. But President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll The Memo: Cohen fans flames around Trump Memo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report MORE won Hunter’s district by a comfortable double-digit margin.

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“Let’s elect game-changing progressives in the blue wave that’s coming — progressives are going to compete everywhere and they’re going to win,” said PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor.

“The Republican Party’s attacks on working families have opened up opportunities for Democrats to win in places they haven’t won in decades, and it’ll be essential for Democrats to embrace a bold, economic populist message in these districts.”

But first, both endorsed Democrats must navigate competitive primaries.

Campa-Najjar, a former Obama administration official, faces a tough challenge against retired Navy SEAL Josh Butner. All candidates regardless of party affiliation will square off in California’s so-called jungle primary June 5, where the top two vote-getters advance to the general election in November.

Democrats have a tougher path in trying to flip Hunter's seat given the district's long history of supporting Republicans. But Democrats believe they have a good shot at knocking off Hunter since he’s being investigated by the FBI over alleged use of campaign funds for personal expenses. Plus, both Campa-Najjar and Butner have previously outraised Hunter.

In New York, Balter, a community organizer, will square off against Juanita Perez Williams, a former U.S. Navy officer who unsuccessfully ran for Syracuse mayor in 2017.

The June 26 primary is the latest example of progressive groups at odds with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

Balter has been backed by local party activists, who have vented frustration over national Democrats’ push for Perez Williams in the primary.

Perez Williams told Syracuse.com that the DCCC helped her campaign collect signatures to make it on the ballot. And the committee has added her to its “Red to Blue” program, which highlights promising candidates though isn’t a formal endorsement.

But other Democrats have defended the need for the party to get involved in crowded primaries, as the party looks to flip at least 23 seats to regain the House majority.

“In too many districts across the country, the DCCC still doesn't understand that candidates who run on stale Republican-lite ideas and campaigns that continue to prioritize ever dwindling numbers of 'swingable' center-right voters actively hurt our chances of assembling the lasting majority we need in Congress,” said DFA Chairman Jim Dean.

“After all, a Democratic victory in 2018 isn't just about retaking Congress — it's about seizing control with a lasting majority that is deep, bold and visionary enough to win the even bigger, inclusive populist victories we need in 2020 and beyond.”