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 KatkoMcCarthy-allied fundraising group helps Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Bipartisan House group introduces legislation to set term limit for key cyber leader Hillicon Valley — Industry groups want more time to report cybersecurity incidents MORE (R-N.Y.), and Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, who’s looking to unseat Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan HunterTrump denies Gaetz asked him for blanket pardon Gaetz, on the ropes, finds few friends in GOP Trust, transparency, and tithing is not enough to sustain democracy 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 ClintonAttorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports Paul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book MORE won Katko’s district by more than 3 points in 2016. But President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE won Hunter’s district by a comfortable double-digit margin.
“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.”