Crowley surprise tops huge night for left

Veteran Rep. Joseph Crowley’s (D-N.Y.) stunning defeat on Tuesday night rocked the political world, as progressive candidates stormed to victory in primaries held across the country.

Crowley, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus who was seen as a potential future Speaker, lost in a massive upset to progressive challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old organizer for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard moves to New Hampshire ahead of primary Sanders to join youth climate strikers in Iowa Saagar Enjeti unpacks why Kamala Harris's campaign didn't work MORE’s (I-Vt.) presidential campaign.

Other liberal candidates won primary challenges in top House and gubernatorial races. Former NAACP President Ben Jealous, who was endorsed by Sanders, won the Democratic primary in Maryland’s governor race. And activist Dana Balter won her House primary in upstate New York.

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Those victories illustrate that voters have an appetite to buck the political establishment as progressives seek to move the Democratic Party farther to the left.

Meanwhile, President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE solidified his political clout, with wins from two incumbent lawmakers he backed: Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.) and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R).

Here are the most significant takeaways from Tuesday's primary contests.

With Crowley, Dems have their Cantor moment

Crowley’s surprise loss on Tuesday is the biggest prize the reform-minded Democrats who backed Sanders have claimed so far.

Crowley’s loss is as stunning as then-House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorMeet Trump's most trusted pollsters Embattled Juul seeks allies in Washington GOP faces tough battle to become 'party of health care' MORE’s (R-Va.) primary defeat in 2014 — maybe more so, because while Cantor spent his fateful primary hobnobbing in Washington, Crowley had taken his challenge more seriously, actively campaigning for his own seat in a borough where he still runs the Democratic machine.

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But the result was the same: A member of Congress once poised for the Speakership is now out of a job.

Scheduling primary elections for federal contests separately from those for statewide office was supposed to mean a low-turnout affair that party bosses could control. It turned into a perfect opportunity for Sanders backers to score their biggest goal of the year — so far.

Crowley, 56, faced his first primary challenge in 14 years. He was seen as a potential successor to House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans On The Money: Falling impeachment support raises pressure for Dems on trade | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Biden eyes minimum tax for corporations | Fed's top regulator under pressure over Dodd-Frank rules Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Virginia moves to suspend Medicaid work rules | Powerful House panel sets 'Medicare for All' hearing | Hospitals sue over Trump price rule | FDA official grilled on vaping policy MORE (D-Calif.). And he had longtime roots in his deep-blue New York City district that include parts of Queens and the Bronx. He’s also chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party.

But Ocasio-Cortez’s victory shows that voters were itching for change in one of the most diverse districts in the country. Hispanics make up half of the 14th District’s population.

Ocasio-Cortez ran on the need for new representation, criticizing Crowley for living outside the district and for taking corporate donations.

The 28-year-old challenger gained some last-minute traction, especially after a viral campaign video in which she said the race was about “people versus money.” She garnered a number of progressive endorsements, including from Our Revolution, MoveOn.org and Justice Democrats.

Progressive Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Impeachment fight shifts to House Judiciary Democrats hit gas on impeachment George Soros, Charles Koch foundations help launch pro-peace think tank MORE (D-Calif.), who won his own primary challenge against an incumbent in 2016, issued a dual endorsement. He initially backed only Crowley, but walked it back after pressure from progressive circles on social media.

Progressives have a big night — not just in New York

Progressives — and Sanders allies — are taking victory laps in several other high-profile races in Tuesday’s multi-state primaries.

In Maryland’s Democratic primary for governor, Jealous — a first-time candidate — defeated Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker for the right to take on Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in November.

Jealous touted his endorsements from national figures in the progressive movement, like Sanders and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris posts video asking baby if she'll run for president one day Krystal Ball: What Harris's exit means for the other 2020 candidates Saagar Enjeti unpacks why Kamala Harris's campaign didn't work MORE (D-Calif.). Meanwhile, Baker had solidified support from local Democratic leaders like Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenGraham, Van Hollen warn Pompeo that 'patience' on Turkey sanctions 'has long expired' Overnight Energy: Protesters plan Black Friday climate strike | 'Father of EPA' dies | Democrats push EPA to abandon methane rollback Democratic senators push EPA to abandon methane rollback MORE, House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats debate scope of impeachment charges Hoyer on impeachment: 'This is not driven by polls' Live coverage: Witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses MORE and former Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Sanders, who’s made few endorsements and campaign appearances this cycle, stumped alongside Jealous prior to the primary. Jealous backs many of Sanders’s core issues including “Medicare for all” legislation and a $15 minimum wage.

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“Ben showed that running a progressive, issue-oriented campaign can bring all working people together in the fight for justice,” Sanders said in a Tuesday night statement.

But Jealous will face a tough general election race against Hogan, who’s highly popular and has strong job approval ratings.

In New York’s 24th District, Balter cruised to victory in a race where local and national Democrats clashed over their preferred candidates to take on GOP Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoHouse GOP criticizes impeachment drive as distracting from national security issues Progressive group unveils first slate of 2020 congressional endorsements Democratic lawmakers call on Judiciary Committee to advance 'revenge porn' law MORE in a top swing seat.

Balter, a professor at Syracuse University and progressive activist, consolidated support from four local Democratic county committees. Balter was also backed by Our Revolution.

But weeks out from the filing deadline, national Democrats made a last-minute recruitment that irked local activists. They encourage former U.S. Navy officer and prosecutor Juanita Perez Williams to jump into the race.

National Democrats have waded into a number of high-profile primaries where they worked to get a candidate through that they believe would be stronger in the general election.

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The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) added Perez Williams to its program that provides financial and organizational support to candidates.

While Balter and Perez Williams didn’t differ on many issues, local Democratic leaders accused the DCCC of meddling in its primary.

But national Democrats did get their preferred pick through a primary in a top race in Colorado. Army veteran Jason Crow defeated Levi Tillemann, who worked in the Department of Energy during the Obama administration.

LGBT candidates continue to shine

In 2004, the first governor in American history to tell his constituents he was gay did so in a speech announcing his resignation, using carefully poll-tested language.

A decade and a half later, LGBT candidates have made enormous strides. On Tuesday, Rep. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisDrudge faces conservative pushback after mocking Trump's Colorado wall comment Trump says remark about Colorado border wall was made 'kiddingly' Colorado governor mocks Trump for saying he's building wall there MORE (D) won the Democratic nomination for governor of Colorado, becoming the third member of the LGBT community to win a gubernatorial nomination so far this year.

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Polis joins Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D), the first bisexual person to serve as governor, and former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D), who faces an uphill battle against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in November.

Their wins do not mean LGBT members are equally represented in government by any means — only seven members of Congress are gay, lesbian or bisexual, and only one transgender woman has ever won election to a state legislature.

But it is a sign that — especially in a state like Colorado, where progressive Democrats compete with libertarian-minded Republicans — being gay is no longer a deal-breaker for voters.

In fact Polis's biggest hurdle come November won't be the fact that he is gay — it will be convincing voters to back his unabashedly progressive agenda. Polis supports “Medicare for all,” universal pre-K and slowly transitioning Colorado — a state with plenty of oil and gas business — to all-renewable energy.

But Polis will have plenty of opportunity to pitch himself to voters: Before his public service career, he built a massive fortune by running several internet startups. He has already spent $10 million of that fortune on his race for governor.

Trump flexes his muscles in primaries

Progressives weren’t the only ones who had a banner night. Trump also won big by helping to shepherd McMaster and Donovan through their respective primaries.

In one of the most bitter primary battles of the cycle, Donovan trounced former GOP Rep. Michael Grimm in the Staten Island primary. Grimm was looking to make a political comeback after serving an eight-month prison sentence for tax fraud.

Trump took center stage in New York’s 11th District primary, where the two Republicans battled over their loyalty to the president. Grimm sought to fashion himself as a fierce ally of the president, arguing that Donovan doesn’t support Trump since he voted against the GOP’s tax overhaul.

But Donovan earned a critical endorsement from Trump, who warned that backing Grimm could lead to another Alabama, where Republicans last year ceded a winnable race to Democrats. And in the final days of the race, Donovan got reinforcements from the White House, including Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpWhite House calls Democratic witness's mentioning of president's youngest son 'classless' Lawmakers to watch during Wednesday's impeachment hearing Top Democrats knock Trump on World AIDS Day MORE and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), who’s now Trump’s personal lawyer.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, McMaster also won his GOP primary runoff against businessman John Warren. McMaster faced three well-funded challengers in a primary earlier this month but failed to avert a runoff, which triggered Tuesday’s race.

Trump made a last-minute swing through South Carolina on the eve of Tuesday’s primary on behalf of McMaster, who was the first statewide official to back Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primary.

Trump has had mixed results when it comes to endorsements this year.

The president has been able to take down Republicans who don’t show unequivocal loyalty. He railed against Rep. Mark SanfordMark SanfordThe Hill's Campaign Report: Late bids surprise 2020 Democratic field Michigan GOP attempting to have Trump be only Republican candidate on ballot Weld files to run in GOP presidential primary in New Hampshire MORE (R-S.C.), an outspoken critic of the president who lost in a primary earlier this month.

And several lawmakers who have voiced opposition to Trump — Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ariz.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerRNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Tenn.) — have decided to retire.

But some candidates who earned Trump’s backing still couldn’t convince his voters to get behind them.

In Alabama, Trump got behind Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeState 'certificate of need' laws need to go GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama MORE (R), who lost a primary runoff to former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreThe job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Former AG Sessions enters Alabama Senate race Campaign ad casts Sessions as a 'traitor' ahead of expected Senate run MORE. The president went on to endorse Moore in the general election, but Moore fell short to now-Sen. Doug Jones in a big political upset for Democrats.

And in Pennsylvania’s high-profile special election in March, Republican Rick Saccone lost in a district that Trump won by 20 points in 2016, despite the president holding a rally.