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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 SandersBiden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports Biden tax-hike proposals face bumpy road ahead Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster MORE (I-Vt.) and Justice Democrats, scored the biggest victory of the night, ousting longtime Rep. Wm. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayRep. Bush calls Trump a 'white supremacist president' on House floor Democrats introduce legislation to strike slavery exception in 13th Amendment 'It's not a slogan': Progressives push back on Obama's comments on 'defund the police' movement 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 UptonUpton becomes first member of Congress to vote to impeach two presidents The Hill's Morning Report - Trump impeached again; now what? Kinzinger says he is 'in total peace' after impeachment vote MORE (R-Mich.). Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBiden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs Overnight Energy: EPA rule exempts many polluting industries from future air regulations | Ex-Michigan governor to be charged over Flint water crisis: report | Officials ousted from White House after papers casting doubt on climate science Ex-Michigan governor to be charged over Flint water crisis: report 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 TrumpGiuliani used provisional ballot to vote in 2020 election, same method he disparaged in fighting to overturn results Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Fox News' DC managing editor Bill Sammon to retire 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 EngelState Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment 2020: A year in photos MORE (D-N.Y.). Engel fell to another progressive, Jamaal Bowman.

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“People want to see fresh blood,” said Jon Reinish, a Democratic strategist and former aide to Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandDemocrats looking to speed through Senate impeachment trial With Senate at stake, Georgia is on all our minds Build trust in vaccines by investing in community workers 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-CortezOcasio-Cortez: Facebook, Zuckerberg 'bear partial responsibility' for insurrection Belfast's Troubles echo in today's Washington AOC's Ministry of Truth 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 BidenWoman accused of trying to sell Pelosi laptop to Russians arrested Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Trump moves to lift coronavirus travel restrictions on Europe, Brazil 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.”