Progressives soaring after big primary night

Progressives soaring after big primary night
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Progressives crowed Wednesday after a number of their candidates scored pivotal wins in Tuesday’s primaries, pushing back against the notion that the party’s left flank faces barriers to electability. 

Cori Bush, a candidate backed by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Bernie Sanders' ex-spokesperson apprehensive over effectiveness of SALT deductions MORE (I-Vt.) and Justice Democrats, scored the biggest victory of the night, ousting longtime Rep. Wm. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayThe FCC must act to promote minority-owned broadcasting Cori Bush hits her stride by drawing on activist past Lobbying world MORE (D-Mo.). 

Progressive Michigan state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D) won the Democratic primary in the state’s 6th Congressional District, setting him up to go head-to-head with Rep. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonOnly two Republicans expected to back censuring Gosar Jarring GOP divisions come back into spotlight Trump allies target Katko over infrastructure vote MORE (R-Mich.). Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Tlaib 'fearful' as social spending plan heads to Senate For Democrats it should be about votes, not megaphones MORE (D-Mich.) also coasted to a primary win.

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The progressive gains also extended down-ballot, with St. Louis City Treasurer Tishaura Jones and prosecutor Kim Gardner winning their primaries.

“The progressive wing of the party is ascendant,” said Joseph Geevarghese, executive director of Our Revolution. 

Progressives argue that the wins underscore an embrace by voters of their candidates and issues. In Missouri, a state where President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE will be a big favorite this fall, a majority of voters voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It is the sixth state in three years to pass such a ballot measure.

“If mainstream Democrats think that running on a progressive agenda in a red state is problematic, I think the popularity of the Medicaid expansion, that single issue, is significant,” Geevarghese said.

Strategists say the wins show voters’ desire for new faces. Clay had served in Congress for two decades, but went down to defeat weeks after longtime Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelLawmakers pay tribute to Colin Powell NYC snafu the latest flub from a broken elections agency Cynthia Nixon backs primary challenger to Rep. Carolyn Maloney MORE (D-N.Y.). Engel fell to another progressive, Jamaal Bowman.

“People want to see fresh blood,” said Jon Reinish, a Democratic strategist and former aide to Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandFive ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Lobbying world MORE (D-N.Y.). “People want to see fresh leadership. If a certain member has been in power for 30-plus years, no matter how much great work they’ve done, respect they’ve engendered over those decades, that’s still a lot of decades.” 

The wins build on other victories in 2018, when several progressives won election to the House including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Greene: McCarthy 'doesn't have the full support to be Speaker' Omar calls out Boebert over anti-Muslim remarks, denies Capitol incident took place MORE (D-N.Y.), who unseated a longtime incumbent in Rep. Joseph Crowley (D).

“You've shown that the power of grassroots, mass-movement politics is stronger than gatekeepers & big money — it’s about advancing the tide of justice whose time has come,” Ocasio-Cortez, who did not endorse Bush in the primary, said in a tweet congratulating Bush on her victory. 

Progressives hope the victories will give them leverage against establishment leaders like presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist MORE who argue for more incremental steps on policy such as health care.

“Even though Bernie did not prevail at the top of the ticket, it is a clear message to Joe Biden and the other members of the political establishment,” Geevarghese said. “The base doesn’t want incrementalism.”