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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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Bernie Sanders' age should not disqualify him in 2020 Small-dollar donations explode in the Trump era 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.

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 TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation 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 CantorTrump gives Dave Brat his 'total endorsement' Former TV journalist gives GOP rare dose of hope in Florida Dave Brat trailing in reelection bid 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.

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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrump boosts McSally, bashes Sinema in Arizona Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Democratic candidate denounces attack ads on rap career 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) KhannaGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Silicon Valley tested by Saudi crisis Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Senators seek US intel on journalist's disappearance | Army discharged over 500 immigrant recruits in one year | Watchdog knocks admiral over handling of sexual harassment case 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 HarrisSanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Kamala Harris rallies voters in South Carolina On The Money: Mnuchin pulls out of Saudi summit | Consumer bureau to probe controversial blog posts on race | Harris proposes new middle-class tax credit MORE (D-Calif.). Meanwhile, Baker had solidified support from local Democratic leaders like Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDem senator: 'Shameful' seeing Trump serve as 'mouthpiece' for Saudi leaders Overnight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Democrats torch Trump for floating 'rogue killers' to blame for missing journalist MORE, House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi: I'd be a 'transitional figure' if Dems retake House Dems damp down hopes for climate change agenda On The Money: Stocks slide for second day as Trump blames 'loco' Fed | Mulvaney calls for unity at consumer bureau | Pelosi says Dems will go after Trump tax returns 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.

“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 KatkoCook Political Report shifts 7 more races towards Dems Midterms put GOP centrists in peril Cyberattacks are a constant fear 17 years after 9/11 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.

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 PolisHeritage: Repealing GOP tax law would raise taxes in every district Trump endorses Walker Stapleton in Colorado gubernatorial race #MeToo madness could destroy male college athletes 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.

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 TrumpElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Election Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B Eric Trump: Trump Org has 'zero investments' in Russia or Saudi Arabia 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 SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordOvernight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Haley shocks Washington with resignation | Turkish officials reportedly conclude Saudis killed journalist | Trump eyes second Kim summit after midterms GOP on timing of Haley’s announcement: 'Unusual' and 'odd' On The Money: House passes 4B spending bill to avert shutdown | Trump 'not happy' after Fed's latest rate hike | Trump says he refused meeting with Trudeau 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 FlakeTrump boosts McSally, bashes Sinema in Arizona Watch live: Trump speaks at Arizona rally Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi disappearance MORE (R-Ariz.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation Schumer: Fight for Senate is 'neck and neck' 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 StrangeTrump: 'I could pick a woman,' and she could be accused of misconduct Ann Coulter believes Kushner wrote anonymous op-ed bashing Trump Mulvaney: Trump regularly asks why Roy Moore lost MORE (R), who lost a primary runoff to former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreFormer campaign aide to New Jersey governor says she was sexually assaulted by his ex-staffer Mellman: When questions don’t mean what they say CNN's Toobin: It's Trump's ‘nature’ to not believe accusations of sexual assault 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.