Issue #42

We have brand new polling for Delaware, and it points to a real race

DE-Sen

Data for Progress has polled Delaware to determine the potential for Jess Scarane, progressive challenger to centrist Senator Chris Coons, who has been in the race for about three weeks now. The poll finds that by a margin of 36 to 32 registered Democrats would prefer “a more liberal female Democrat” to Senator Chris Coons. The poll also tested a variety of pro- and anti-Coons messages, from the Green New Deal, to his support of Trump nominees, to his membership in The Family. They find that the most persuasive anti-Coons message is that he voted to confirm multiple judges who oppose Brown v. Board of Ed, while the most persuasive pro-Coons message is that he signed a letter opposing an anti-gay policy. While voters did move 45-24 to the side of “a more liberal female Democrat” after hearing only the negative messages, they moved back to the same 36-32 margin after hearing the positives as well, which suggests that while voters may not have intricate knowledge of the specifics, as a whole they understand the general shape of the choice presented. However, Coons’s popularity sinks from a very healthy 62-24 approve-disapprove from before any of the message testing to a much more anemic 49-35 after, a promising sign.

The poll surveyed 528 registered Democrats using the VITMS method. Crosstabs are here.

New Developments

CA-16

Fresno City Councilor Esmeralda Soria’s challenge to Blue Dog Rep. Jim Costa has had a seemingly unbroken streak of good luck in recent months, some of which we’ve covered in this newsletter. She managed to prevent the California Democratic Party from endorsing Costa’s reelection; she won the endorsement of the SEIU, a major labor union; and she got the endorsement of state Sen. Anna Caballero, who represents much of this congressional district in the state Senate. She got two more pieces of good news this past week.

First, only one Republican made the ballot in her race. Under California’s top-two system, the top two finishers regardless of party advance to the general election; with only one Republican on the ballot, it is now impossible for an all-Republican general election to occur, no matter how ugly Soria’s fight with Costa gets. Given the district’s strong, but not overwhelming, Democratic lean, this probably means the race will be decided in March; it’s hard to see the Republican coming in third here, meaning Soria will not have to fight Costa for Republican and independent votes in a Democrat-on-Democrat general election in November. The Republican beating either Costa or Soria in November is even less likely than the Republican coming in third in March; additionally, if you’re really worried about electability, that probably makes Soria the more attractive option, because Costa (in)famously often comes close to losing because he just doesn’t campaign.

Second, Soria was endorsed by labor activist and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta. Huerta cofounded the National Farmworkers Association (now the United Farm Workers) with Cesar Chavez; her endorsement carries serious weight with Latinx voters and labor unions, especially in the heavily agricultural Central Valley where this district is located.

It’s worth noting that Soria hasn’t embraced all of the left’s priorities - for instance talking about affordable public college instead of free. However, she’s much better than Costa--a current member and former chair of the awful Blue Dog Coalition--and taking him down would still be a massive victory for the left wing of the Democratic Party.

NJ-02

Two weeks ago, we told you about a potential primary for Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a conservative Democrat from a Trump-voting district in South Jersey. Back then, sources told the New Jersey Globe that Van Drew risked losing some of the all-powerful county party ballot lines if he voted against impeaching the president (which already seemed quite likely, since Van Drew was one of only two Democrats to vote against the resolution establishing the impeachment inquiry.) Now, the Globe has learned that Van Drew attempted to get the Democratic county party chairs in the eight counties of his district to back his reelection in an open letter. Multiple refused, and the letter was subsequently scrapped. 

One of those chairs is presumably Michael Suleiman of Atlantic County, home to Atlantic City. The county is the largest in the district and the single largest source of votes in most Democratic primaries. According to another Globe article, Suleiman warned Van Drew that he could lose party support in Atlantic County if he were to vote against impeachment. The next-largest county in the district, Cumberland County, also seems to be trouble for the congressman; Cumberland County Freeholder Jack Surrency is mulling a challenge, and Cumberland Democrats are still smarting from the humiliating loss of all three Democratic incumbents in Van Drew’s old legislative district last month. Van Drew hasn’t learned his lesson; in fact, he doubled down, telling CNN he planned to vote against impeaching the president. Since Van Drew seems determined to get himself primaried, it’s time to look at who might take him on.

Two weeks ago, Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and Adam Taliaferro, both of Atlantic County, were floated as challengers; since then, both have said no, although both hedged their language (Mazzeo said he “probably” wouldn’t run, while Taliaferro said he had no interest “as of right now.”) We’d keep them in mind, but we wouldn’t consider them particularly likely opponents.

Montclair State University professor Brigid Callahan Harrison has been mulling a run for weeks; while Montclair is very far from the district, Harrison lives in Longport and has been involved in Atlantic County Democratic politics for decades.

As mentioned above, Cumberland County Freeholder Jack Surrency is considering a run.

West Cape May (pop 1,000) Commissioner John Francis, an environmentalist first elected to the municipal commission of his small borough in 2017, told InsiderNJ that he is considering a run. Francis would be in the unique position of challenging Van Drew from his own backyard; Cape May County, where both men are from, has long been Van Drew’s loyal base. Despite voting for Donald Trump by 20 percentage points in 2016, the county even backed Van Drew in his 2018 election to the House. (However, while Van Drew may be popular at home, New Jersey has closed primaries, so the Republicans and independents who vote for him in general elections can’t save him in a primary.)

Indivisible Cape May, a local affiliate of the national progressive group Indivisible, has been actively searching for a primary challenger; InsiderNJ says Surrency and especially Francis are currently being considered by the group. Indivisible’s volunteer network could serve as a strong complement to the institutional weight of the county party ballot lines. Right now, it appears that some parts of the grassroots and the machine are in agreement about ousting Van Drew. While it’s unusual to see the grassroots and the machine agree on much of anything in New Jersey, voting against the impeachment of Donald Trump may be more than even the corrupt, conservative machines of South Jersey can stomach.

NY-09

New York City Council Member Chaim Deutsch looked at the list of announced candidates for NY-09, decided that what it was missing was a good old-fashioned homophobe, and then concluded that he should be that race’s homophobe. Deutsch has yet to officially file with the FEC, but he discussed his plan to run for Congress at a private event on Dec. 5th, according to an anonymous elected official. Deutsch does represent a part of NY-09, but only the most conservative part of the district, a collection of neighborhoods down in deep south Brooklyn that is not representative of this diverse district overall. 

A self-proclaimed “conservative Democrat” who’s well-loved by police unions, Deutsch also has a record of voting and speaking out against the rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers rivaling that of Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr. In 2017 alone, Deutsch voted against increasing support for LGBTQ students in NYC public schools and banning conversion therapy. He was also one of three Council Members (including AOC’s conservative challenger Fernando Cabrera) who refused to put rainbow flags on their desks as a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ community after the Orlando Pulse shooting in 2016. Deutsch is just bad, and he ranks high on our list of homophobes to keep away from Congress in 2020.

NY-15

Ritchie Torres has racked up a ton of notable union endorsements. The Communications Workers of America announced their endorsement on Monday, joining a coalition including local SEIU affiliate Workers United, Teamsters 237, Laborers LIUNA, and more. Torres also announced that his fundraising has continued to be strong, saying he’s already crossed the $1 million mark of total fundraising. This isn’t saying too much, since he was already at $878,935 last quarter, but having more than $121,000 banked before the final fundraising stretch is a good sign and means the entry of other candidates hasn’t hurt his fundraising operation.

Meanwhile, last week New York City DSA announced their endorsement of Samelys Lopez, giving her a major boost in an increasingly crowded field. DSA has a huge volunteer base that is ready to knock doors and organize for Lopez, and has had a huge impact on major progressive victories in the city over the past two years (i.e. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Julia Salazar). In a race where major New York City establishment organizations are rapidly consolidating their support, DSA’s endorsement could have a huge impact on Lopez’s chances. While Torres has always branded himself as a progressive, he’s not part of the DSA-style left. As a matter of fact, he has disavowed the group over its support of BDS in an interview where he embraces the views of the conservative and hawkish wing of the Democratic Party on Israel, calling the idea of conditioning aid to the country “absurd” and a “dog-whistle” and saying he found a “queers for Palestine” shirt “baffling” because of the presence of Hamas.

NY-17

This week, two of our least favorite candidates running for NY-17 received new endorsements. Wannabe Republican New York State Senator David Carlucci got the backing of the Rockland County Building and Construction Trades Council, which makes his second union endorsement. Ironic that labor would stand behind someone who spent over seven years caucusing with the Republicans in the Senate and blocking progressive, one might even say pro-labor, legislation. The building trades do have a reputation for being one of the more conservative and cautious branches of the union movement, often willing to play both sides. They were at the very least not antagonistic to the IDC (Democrats caucusing with Republicans) while it was active. They also backed former IDC members in 2018, as all but two were wiped out in primaries.

Assembly Member David Buchwald, who has never caucused with Republicans but did vote against tenant protections this year, is racking up the support of state and local elected officials. Back in November, he was endorsed by a group of over 40 local electeds, and now he’s secured the first county-wide endorsement of the race — Tim Idoni, Westchester County Clerk. This is a good sign for Buchwald, since his path to victory likely runs through Westchester, with Westchester County making up about half of the 17th district and being Buchwald’s home base. Buchwald’s strong establishment support here solidifies that Mondaire Jones is the only clear progressive in this race.

TX-28

It’s almost commendable how much effort Henry Cuellar puts into arguing why he should be voted out. When asked about Justice Democrats’ support and campaigning for Jessica Cisneros, Cuellar doubled down on conservative messaging about the race. He decried their “New York values” and called Justice Democrats “Justice Socialists”, a conservative Facebook page-level insult making it pretty clear that he’s not above right-wing framing to smear Cisneros and Democrats to the right of him.

Today, Daniel Marans published a piece in the Huffington Post on the small mystery of why Bernie Sanders hasn’t endorsed Cisneros, especially with so many high-profile endorsements from progressive groups. Cisneros put out a statement that Sanders’ support would be appreciated and that they welcome any endorsements from officials who “share our values.” (If anyone on Team Bernie, or really any presidential campaign, is reading this, please consider endorsing!) In October, Sanders said he will be getting involved in more primary challenges, but as of now his only endorsement remains for Marie Newman.

New Primaries

NC-06

State Representative Derwin Montgomery has joined the Democratic primary for NC-06. Montgomery represents a state house district on the Forsyth County side of the district, in Winston-Salem. Montgomery entered the Winston-Salem City Council in 2009, and was generally part of a more progressive wing on the board, pushing, for instance, to make the city functionally a sanctuary city in defiance of the state legislature in 2017, and pushing for an investigation into the police killing of a local black teenager. But he’s voted with Republicans quite a bit since he was elected to the General Assembly last year, on important issues from taxes to education to healthcare. Daily Kos Elections estimates that in 2016 the Democratic primary electorate was 48% black and 46% white, meaning Montgomery, who is black, could start out with an advantage over his only current opponent, Kathy Manning, who is white.

Meanwhile, City Councilwoman DD Adams, who we mentioned last week, has filed for re-election. She can’t run for both offices, which suggests she may not be interested in NC-06.

PA-HD-34

In 2018, an organizer and attorney from North Braddock named Summer Lee knocked off 20-year incumbent Rep. Paul Costa, of the infamous Costa family of the Pittsburgh Democratic machine. With help from the Democratic Socialists of America, Lee and now fellow State Rep. Sara Innamorato successfully primaried local Democratic machine incumbents a month before AOC made it cool. Lee is ideologically a leftist dream candidate — outspoken on issues from environmental justice to racial equality — and the fact that she is also a woman of color (the first black woman to be elected to the state legislature!) makes her a sorely needed member of the General Assembly.

Apparently, North Braddock (pop 4,700) City Council Member Chris Roland begs to differ, as he has announced that he’ll be challenging Lee in 2020. So far, Roland is not off to a great start: he’s already falsely claimed that Lee’s opposition to pollution is anti-union and admitted that he would be a strong police ally (vomit). It looks like Roland may have some institutional support, though — his campaign Facebook includes a picture of him with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is a big name in Allegheny County politics, and it is said that all Democratic political staffers in the Pittsburgh area end up working for him eventually. Having Fitzgerald’s endorsement could be a pretty big deal, given all his power and connections. Lee, who received little institutional support for her own primary challenge (Fitzgerald himself backed Costa), was quick to point out the irony in this, tweeting, “I remember when all the ‘powerful’ county Democrats were singing about ‘protect all Dem incumbents’ no matter what! Then a Black woman ran and won and it turns out it was never the incumbency they were protecting, but the self interest. Color me surprised!”

WA-10

A week after backbench moderate Democrat Denny Heck announced his retirement from WA-10, the field has begun to grow from where it was then, with socialist truck driver Joshua Collins as temporarily the only candidate in the race.

Between two Politicoarticles and one from The News Tribune we’ve got quite the crowd

  • Olympia (pop. 53,000) Mayor Cheryl Selby has been mentioned. Selby was first elected mayor in 2015, and has generally opposed progressive efforts in the city. She fought a ballot measure which would have created an income tax on the wealthy for Olympia in 2016, which was then narrowly defeated. In 2017 she appeared in an Uber PR campaign. She’s also been a proponent of getting confrontational with the homeless population in the city, to the point where the city council had to stop a police raid she supported on a homeless encampment. She has recommended one article on her Medium page - this shameful piece of anti-homeless dehumanizing agitprop that, among other things, recommends getting tougher on addicts, and blames “street subculture” for the rise in homelessness.

  • Phil Gardner, district director for Denny Heck has said he’s “very seriously considering” and will make a decision soon. Gardner’s has worked for Heck for the last 9 years and supports Buttigieg for President, so it’s a fair guess that he won’t be too different from Heck

  • St. Rep. Beth Doglio has been mentioned. Doglio has represented the Olympia area in the house since 2017, and before that spent years as a climate activist. She’s maintained a very progressive voting record and shows no signs of breaking from that pattern.

  • St. Rep. Mari Leavitt has been mentioned. Leavitt has only been around for less than a year, and it’s already clear she should stay out of Congress. She has an aggressivelyanti-taxvoting and rhetorical record, even when it puts her at odds with the entire party.

  • St. Rep. Christine Kilduff. Kilduff entered the House two years before Doglio and has built a voting record somewhere between Doglio and Leavitt (with whom she shares a district.) One major red flag appears in her past: she used to be a prosecutor, which perhaps helps explain her attempt to let prosecutors extend periods of involuntary confinement for the mentally ill.

  • St. Rep Laurie Dolan. Dolan is Doglio’s seat mate and a reliable party-line vote in the House. She used to live in Spokane, and ran for state senate twice there. She portrayed herself as a moderate in those campaigns, and it’s possible statements she made at that time could come back to haunt her

  • Ex-US Ambassador to Switzerland & Liechtenstein Suzan LeVine, an Obama appointee. Her main asset will likely be money, both from herself and from her business connections, which include executive positions at Microsoft, Expedia, and CellarTracker

  • Ex-Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland is said to be preparing a run. Strickland has only been out of the office of mayor for a couple years, but her truly terrible behavior since then has erased any bit of good will she might have had from those years. She now chairs the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and in that capacity has lobbied against the proposed Head Tax, a small tax on large business which was to be used to help the homeless. She also ran the following campaign to oust progressives in the chamber with a slate of 7 Amazon-approved and funded corporate lackeys, sparked largely by the Head Tax attempt. We covered the Seattle City Council election results on here before - they were a clear fight with progressive and grassroots groups on one side, and large corporations on the other. Strickland led the latter side, and lost, as she deserves to if she runs for Congress. It’s worth noting that most, but not all, of Tacoma is not in WA-10

Two potential candidates have said they won’t be running: Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and State Senator Sam Hunt.

Collins’s campaign has received more attention since Heck’s retirement, and as this profile in Law and Crime shows, he’s in it to win it. In the two days following Heck’s announcement, Collins raised $25,000, almost as much as the $30,000 he had already raised that quarter, speaking to a much better financed campaign than what he was running in the summer. He also speaks of a warming relationship with local parties and a well-developed canvassing and outreach strategy. He points out he also stopped working full time in September, which, as much as it discourages the working class from running for office, is important for a Congressional campaign. They are time intensive, and you need to be a full time candidate. Months ago, the Collins candidacy wasn’t far from a low budget shitposting effort a guy was doing in the little spare time afforded to a truck driver. And that’s why we weren’t covering him. But it’s come together to be a viable campaign just in time for Denny Heck to retire and all hell to break loose. It’s a real opportunity, and we’re excited to see if he can take advantage of it.


MD-05

Recently, Nick had the chance to speak with Mckayla Wilkes, who is challenging House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in the primary for Maryland’s 5th congressional district. Hoyer is the second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, and he’s been in office longer than anyof us have been alive. He repeatedly had his district redrawn to be whiter, because he did not want to face a majority-Black primary electorate. While he has more power than perhaps any Democrat besides Nancy Pelosi, his relationship with Pelosi has long been notoriously poor, because he is far more conservative than she is. We talked about Wilkes’s progressive platform, her recent endorsements, and how her upstart campaign has rattled the local Democratic establishment. Our subscribers will get to see the full conversation on Friday, but a preview is below.

NICK: How’s the campaign been going so far?

WILKES: The campaign has been going very, very well. We’ve been having a lot of positive things happening...our [number of volunteers] has been growing. We have, I think, close to a hundred volunteers now in the area. We’ve raised over $100,000. We’ve gotten endorsed by Brand New Congress, by our local chapter of DSA, as well as a few local figures. So I think things are going very great.

NICK: You told the magazine Marie Claire that a Democratic state legislator actually confronted you at an event because she was angry that you were challenging Hoyer. Is that reflective of how the establishment has reacted to your campaign?

WILKES: Yeah, I would say, overall, in regards to the establishment, it has been kind of that way, especially in dealing with some of Steny Hoyer’s staffers. I think [some] people from the establishment...have been supportive, kind of in private, but what I’ve noticed is that a lot of them are afraid to speak up publicly in support of our campaign because of how much power Steny Hoyer has in the state of Maryland and the nation as a whole.

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Issue #41

Denny Heck and North Carolina are only part of the busiest primary week so far this cycle

New Developments

IL-03

We had a sneaking suspicion this was going to happen. After Dan Lipinski narrowly survived a contest that took him by surprise in 2018, it was almost inevitable that the Chicago machine or Lipinski himself would try something dirty, and one technique struck us as particularly likely: putting up a candidate who serves only to appear on the ballot and suck away anti-incumbent votes. While candidate filing was open this week the three candidates who had previously announced and were running active campaigns - Dan Lipinski, Marie Newman, and Rush Darwish - all filed. On the last day, someone else did too, Charles M. Hughes. Hughes used to work for Lipinski’s father, Bill Lipinski and was part of the party machine during the elder Lipinski’s term in Congress. 

On the other hand, local newspaper the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark reached out to Hughes about his run, and Hughes actually claims he is running as a conservative alternative to Lipinski on fiscal issues. Normally, you’d expect a candidate intentionally placed in the race to draw votes away from a challenger to act more similar to the challenger than the incumbent, although he could be aiming for the niche of voters who find Lipinski’s social stances disqualifying and Marie Newman’s support for programs like Medicare for All merely off-putting. Additionally, in 2016 he ran for Democratic Committeeman of Ward 23 against Michael R. Zalewski, an erstwhile ally of Michael Madigan, supreme ruler of the Chicago machine. So is Hughes a plant? There are a lot of conflicting signals and it’s impossible to say for sure. Regardless, he’s run for office at least four times, and of those four has made the ballot once, so he may wind up a nonfactor after all.

Otherwise, it was a good week for Newman. She secured the endorsements of the state SEIU, who also endorsed her in 2018, and 350action, who were not around in 2018 to make an endorsement.

IN-01

Another candidate entered this week, growing the field to five declared candidates. Sabrina Haake is a lawyer who practices in Chicago, as well as a real estate agent who operates in the same city. Haake is running on an environmentalist platform and is the only LGBTQ candidate in the race. Her general policy outlook is decidedly mid-grade, favoring “Medicare for All who want it” and saying things like “I support strong Customs and Border Protection, because open borders are not sustainable or feasible.” She may run into carpetbagging allegations. For instance, a voter file analysis shows that in addition to working in Chicago, she voted there in 2018, instead of Indiana.

MD-07

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, aside from her aborted gubernatorial run in 2018, has had one major political leadership role, that of the Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, which she had from December of 2018 to only a few weeks ago. New reporting has cast doubt on her tenure, specifically on her spending choices. Cummings greatly expanded Party operations, staffing, and consulting without expanding their fundraising, leading to the party running a deficit during a year it would normally be building its reserves, and cut their cash on hand from $743,891.47 to $389,426.22. The interim chair, once he took over, immediately sounded the alarm about their finances and made cuts to staff.

Rockeymoore Cummings immediately pushed back against the story, defending her strategy as taking a longer view of elections by engaging voters year round, doing well in 2019 municipal elections, and pointing to fundraising numbers that she claims haven’t been reported yet.

MA-04

Democratic socialist and former Wall Street regulator Ihssane Leckey’s insurgent campaign for MA-04 got a major boost on Tuesday, with the endorsement of state Rep. Nika Elugardo. Leckey’s campaign originally began as a challenge to US Rep. Joe Kennedy III; the race is now wide open due to Kennedy’s primary challenge to progressive US Sen. Ed Markey.

Elugardo herself was an insurgent primary challenger in 2018, taking down a powerful member of the state House’s Democratic leadership team, Ways & Means Chairman Jeff Sánchez. (Among those who tried to save Sánchez in the final days of the campaign: Joe Kennedy III.) Elugardo lives in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, and MA-04 includes none of the city of Boston; however, her Boston-based state House district includes a small piece of Brookline, a deep-blue wealthy suburb entirely located within MA-04, so a small number of Elugardo’s constituents will actually be voting in the MA-04 race. 

This race includes a staggering number of notable candidates besides Leckey, among them former Obama speechwriter Dave Cavell, rich dude Alan Khazei, centrist Newton Councilor Jake Auchincloss, Newton Councilor Becky Grossman, and former Brookline Selectwoman Jesse Mermell. Mermell has recently picked up the endorsements of Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley; Diane Patrick, wife of former governor and current presidential candidate Deval Patrick; and former state Rep. Frank Smizik, making her an early establishment favorite.

NY-03

Progressive activist Melanie D’Arrigo has received the endorsement of Muslims for Progress, a progressive New York political group that formed in 2017 and that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez named as one of the most important groups for her 2018 victory. Incumbent Democrat Tom Suozzi is a pro-ICE conservative, and he deserves to be voted out. However, he faces a split field—and the other challenger is getting his own share of the headlines lately, although it’s not exactly good.

Meanwhile, the other challenger in the race, Michael Weinstock, has been engaged in a back-and-forth with the president of his former volunteer fire company Vigilant, who put out a statement saying that press should stop referring to Weinstock as a volunteer firefighter with Vigilant, since he quit the company September 30, 2001, and also that Weinstock was not involved in any of Vigilant’s 9/11 rescue efforts. Weinstock has always said that he flagged down an ambulance on 9/11, so the fact he wasn’t part of Viligant’s efforts is not surprising. Weinstock implied the letter was a political hit job and a Chief in the company who worked with Weinstock on 9/11 wrote a letter in response calling it a “falsehood”.

NY-12

A source reached out to us with some information regarding a poll being run by Suraj Patel in NY-12. They said that most of the questions were repeated lines from the 2018 primary; however, Patel appears to be mixing in something new: Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Patel’s poll included questions about AOC, and then asked how likely respondents would be to support an “AOC Democrat” in the race. This is an interesting tactic from Patel, suggesting he’s planning on leaning in on his progressive platform. But it could also set up an awkward situation for him if he chooses to run as an “AOC Democrat” while the organizations that supported her in her 2018 run are either looking elsewhere in the race or not endorsing at all, as is AOC.

NY-15

New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres had a good week. On Monday he received the backing of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s Bold PAC, beating out almost every other one of his opponents for the endorsement (all but one NY-15 candidate has Latinx roots). Then today, Torres received his eighth union endorsement from the Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board, Workers United, SEIU, which has 8,500 members in New York City alone. Having the support of Bold PAC should help Torres with institutional and financial support (not that he actually needed financial help, but it can’t hurt), while his union endorsements will help him get more boots-on-the-ground support.

In a move that was completely in character, New York State Assembly Member Michael Blake used Giving Tuesday, a day that is supposed to be about charitable giving, as an excuse to solicit contributions for his own campaign. While there are definitely issues with the philanthropy that Giving Tuesday embodies (such as the rich using philanthropy as an excuse to dodge paying taxes and have outsized power over deciding what causes are deserving of resources), there are good causes and organizations out there that do more to improve people’s lives than a corrupt politician like Blake ever will. Anyone thinking of giving to Blake should instead consider donating to a small, New York-based progressive org like one of the ones on this list.

Since we’re talking about NY-15, this is your regularly scheduled reminder that Council Member Rubén Díaz Sr., a bad person who once compared being gay to having sex with animals, currently has a shot of actually making it to Congress, since he isn’t splitting the conservative Democratic vote with anyone. Bronx leftists need to join together and pick a single progressive candidate to all get behind before it’s too late.

NY-17

Shitty Democrat-in-name-only David Carlucci has scored a major endorsement in his unfortunate run for NY-17. Carlucci, who for years caucused with a number of his fellow state senators to give Republicans control of the New York State Senate, was endorsed by IBEW Local 363 on Monday. The union local cites Carlucci’s support for labor as a reason for their endorsement; they conveniently fail to mention that he actively worked to give Republicans control of the state senate, likely preventing potential pro-labor legislation from ever being heard, much less enacted. Carlucci only stopped caucusing with Republicans when it became clear that all of the Republican-caucusing Democrats, known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), would face primary challenges. In New York’s September Democratic primaries, six of the eight IDC members seeking renomination were unceremoniously thrown out of office, with only Carlucci and Staten Island state Sen. Diane Savino surviving. We hope the voters of Rockland and Westchester counties give Carlucci the same treatment voters from Queens to Syracuse gave his colleagues in 2018.

TX-28

It’s been a really good week for Jessica Cisneros! A coalition of progressive groups including NARAL, Planned Parenthood, MoveOn, and the League of Conservation Voters endorsed Cisneros earlier this week. As a reminder, Henry Cuellar has repeatedly voted to defund reproductive health services and block environmental protections, so it’s good to see that mainstream progressive groups are willing to support challengers to incumbent Democrats. It’s hard to overstate the significance of this - even as the DCCC is threatening to blacklist vendors for working with primary challengers, a wide range of progressive groups (many with close ties to the establishment) are backing a primary challenge against an incumbent Democrat. This shows a sea change in how the some more establishment organizations think about primary challenges.

Cisneros was also featured in this year’s Forbes 30 under 30, the only Congressional candidate on the list. If elected, Cisneros, who is 26, would be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress (AOC was 29 when elected).

New Primaries

FL-05

Al Lawson may not be in the Blue Dog Coalition, but he sure acts like he is, as we explained earlier this year when local pharmacist Albert Chester announced a run against him. Chester’s run doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere, but Lawson will not be able to go through 2020 without a serious primary. Lashonda “LJ” Holloway announced another bid for FL-05 this week. She previously ran in 2016 against scandal-ridden incumbent Corrine Brown after redistricting significantly changed her district. Her challenge was surpassed by former Tallahassee state senator Al Lawson, who won the election with 48% of the vote to Brown’s 39% and Holloway’s 13%. In that race, Lawson had the advantage of being the only candidate from the Tallahassee side of the district, while Holloway and Brown were both from Jacksonville. Holloway, while taken seriously by party figures, struggled in fundraising, pulling in barely more than $20,000 during the campaign. Holloway has remained civically activesince then and hopefully will be able to mount a serious challenge to Lawson.

NY-07

A Brooklyn rapper by the name of Paperboy Prince (or “Paperboy Prince of the Suburbs”) has launched a campaign to challenge long-time Rep. Nydia Velazquez. Prince is 26 years old and an enthusiastic Andrew Yang supporter (so enthusiastic that he literally wrote a #YangGang anthem). Like Yang, Prince supports a universal basic income (he also lists Medicare for All as one of his first policies).

We don’t rate Prince’s chances too highly — after all, Velasquez is well-liked in the district and generally considered to be the second best member of the New York congressional delegation (after AOC, of course). She has also easily crushed every primary challenger she’s gotten since this district was drawn. Additionally, as a Latina, Velazquez is representative of this 40 percent hispanic district. 

Velazquez has been in Congress since 1993, though, and even the best politicians, Velazquez included, have flaws. When it comes to long-time incumbents in deep blue seats, primaries are a good reminder to keep moving left.

North Carolina

On Monday, a federal court upheld North Carolina’s new congressional map. This is both good news and bad news; the bad news is that the map is a gerrymander, probably costing Democrats and voters of color a seat in southeastern North Carolina. The good news is it’s far less egregious a gerrymander, and all but guarantees Democrats will gain two congressional seats in North Carolina next year: the Raleigh-based NC-02, currently represented by Republican George Holding, and the Greensboro/Winston-Salem-based NC-06, currently represented by Republican Mark Walker. The new versions of NC-02 and NC-06 both went for Clinton by more than 20 percentage points, which puts us in the unique position of being able to cover Republican-held seats; normally we avoid that, because our mission statement is risk-free moves to the left, but there’s no way in hell that Republicans hold either district, even if Reps. Walker and Holding are foolish enough to try for reelection. So now we have to evaluate the fields for those two districts, as well as survey the alterations made to existing Democratic districts.

In NC-02, 2016 Democratic Senate nominee Deborah Ross is running. Ross, formerly a state representative and the head of the North Carolina ACLU, lost to Republican Sen. Richard Burr in 2016, but she acquitted herself well in that campaign, running fairly close with Hillary Clinton despite starting out with little name recognition and declining to make any major ideological concessions. (However, it was 2016, so a good Democrat in 2016 is not necessarily a good Democrat by the higher standards of 2020.) Additionally, an Andrew Terrell has filed with the FEC to run; Terrell is apparently the head of the British government’s office in Raleigh, which...why does the British government have an office in Raleigh? But anyway, he was raised in western North Carolina, per his official bio, so we assume he’s at least actually an American citizen, which is required to serve in Congress. However, working for the British government under Boris Johnson (and presumably Theresa May and possibly David Cameron, depending on how long he’s worked there) is a red flag. We’ll reserve judgment on this race as we wait for the field to develop; Raleigh has a deep bench of ambitious Democrats after state legislative Republicans in the area were wiped out by court-ordered redistricting and the 2018 Democratic wave. Ross is alright, but we don’t know who else is running.

In NC-06, 2018 NC-13 nominee Kathy Manning is running. A large part of the old NC-13, including most or all of the very Democratic cities of Greensboro and High Point, is included in the new NC-06, and Manning lives in that part. Manning, like most Democratic nominees for swing districts (the old NC-13 went for Trump by about 9 points), is fairly moderate, and while there’s a chance she’ll tack left to account for her new district’s lean, we can do better. One potential way we could do better comes in the form of 2018 NC-05 candidate and Winston-Salem City Councilmember Denise Darcel "DD" Adams. The old NC-05 is ⅓ of the new NC-06, and DD Adams ran a strong campaign in 2018, so she’ll have name recognition from that run, as well as the fundraising connections that got her to almost $400,000. She ran on a progressive platform, especially for a red district, for instance supporting single payer Medicare for All. Adams hasn’t expressed specific interest in the new NC-06, but expressed interest in running for Congress again after she lost in 2018.

Finally, alterations were made to existing districts. NC-01 Rep. G.K. Butterfield lost about 40% of his old district, but he won’t miss it--while his district is now significantly redder, it’s still safely Democratic, and it no longer includes the booming college town of Durham, exactly the kind of place that tends to provide a strong base for left-wing primary candidates. NC-12 Rep. Alma Adams also won’t notice the change much--Adams, originally a Greensboro politician, won a special election for NC-12 back when the district still included parts of that city, but she moved to Charlotte back when the district was redrawn in 2016 to include only Charlotte (90 miles south of Greensboro) and some suburbs. The district is seeing some slight changes, but nothing that will affect Adams’s chances at renomination.

NC-04, the last of the three Democratic districts existing under the old map, changed significantly. 71.5% of the old NC-04 is now located in the new NC-02; however, NC-04 Rep. David Price will presumably stay in NC-04, because he lives in Chapel Hill, which is part of the 28.5% of the old NC-04 that will continue to be part of NC-04. Unfortunately for Price, that means 71.5% of his territory will be new to him; that includes all of the Durham turf Butterfield lost, as well as some Raleigh suburbs and exurbs formerly represented by Walker and Holding. A challenger from Durham, which is by far the bluest and biggest part of the new district, could give Price the fight of his life.

WA-10

In another surprise Wednesday retirement (no we’re not bitter at all about that time Susan Davis retired like 20 minutes before we were going to publish) Rep. Denny Heck, of WA-10 has announced he will not be running for reelection. Heck is a thoroughly mediocre congressman and represents a safe blue district anchored by Olympia, so this is a good opportunity for an upgrade. So far no new candidates have entered the freshly open race.

As of now, there’s just one candidate in the running: Joshua Collins. We’ve been meaning to mention him for a while now, and now seems like as good a time as any. Collins has been in the race for a while, and if you spend a lot of time on Left Twitter, you’ve definitely seen him pop up. Still, for the first few months of his candidacy he didn’t have a lot to suggest a strong campaign outside of Twitter - very low fundraising and few events or endorsements. Recently things have picked up - he’s raised over $30K in the past couple months and gotten endorsements from the Olympia chapters of DSA and Our Revolution. Collins’s platform is extensively detailed and universally left-wing.

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Issue #40

Have a good Thanksgiving everyone. And remember - that argument with your QAnon aunt isn't worth it

New Developments

CA-18

Saratoga, CA city councilor Rishi Kumar has been doing alright in his challenge to Rep. Anna Eshoo, who is a standard progressive but close to House leadership. He’s raised decent sums of money, although not astounding amounts, especially considering this Silicon Valley district is the nation’s wealthiest by median income. He’s had some problems; protesters were understandably furious about his support for India’s right-wing populist ruling party, the BJP, and its leader Narendra Modi; support for the Hindu nationalist BJP is frankly disqualifying. However, a much bigger problem for his campaign now looms: criminal charges.

In September, Kumar rear-ended another driver before driving away. Kumar reversed, drove up to the driver on the passenger side, and raised his hand at the driver (Kumar says he intended to indicate that he wanted to exchange information in a nearby parking lot, rather than in moving traffic); the other driver held up his hand to indicate he was on the phone, which Kumar apparently took to mean that the other driver didn’t want to exchange information. Kumar then drove off. It turns out the driver very much did want to exchange information, and told the police that much; Kumar has been charged with a misdemeanor hit-and-run (pleading not guilty.)

While Kumar could potentially face prison time if convicted, it seems far likelier he’d just have to pay a fine upon conviction. Regardless, it’s not a good look, and the criminal proceedings could keep him off the campaign trail.

HI-02

State Senator Kai Kahele is acting more and more like a frontrunner fending off challengers than the challenger he once was in HI-02. Recently, he’s been making trips to DC and receiving the kind of welcome a presumptive nominee might get, including with DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos, who continues to blacklist any consultant who worked with him before last month. He also found himself with the support of California Rep. Brad Sherman, who appeared by surprise at Kahele’s fundraiser; thankfully Kahele wasn’t seriously seeking out his support. Kahele’s tenure in the state senate, like many Hawai’i politicians’, is hard to ideologically define because most of the action happens behind the scenes. While he’s earned the support of centrists like Sherman, Kahele has taken a progressive tone in his Congressional race, for instance in his explicit support of a “single-payer, ‘Medicare-for-all’ system”, a Green New Deal, and housing as a human right, along with an endorsement from 2018 leftist Congressional candidate Kaniela Ing.

IN-01

State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, who was pretty clearly telegraphing her intention to run last week, has officially entered the race. Her announcement hit the typical themes of health care, jobs, and fighting Trump. She doesn’t have a website up yet, and she took the opportunity to scrub her Twitter account, instead of setting one up for her campaign. We checked through her account’s archive, and it seems like she did that out of an abundance of caution, not because she tweeted anything controversial or embarrassing (well, embarrassing for a politician, anyway—she wouldn’t be the only Democrat to retweet Bill Maher a couple of times.)

Meanwhile, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. announced that he has raised “more than $50,000” in the first two and a half weeks of his Congressional bid.

MD-07

Filing has closed for the upcoming special election for Maryland’s 7th District. In addition to the candidates we have previously discussed, several more have filed with the state to appear on the ballot:

  • Jay Fred Cohen, an 87 year-old ex-lawyer, isn’t going to win, but he was elected for a term to the Howard County Orphan’s Court in 2006 and took 2% of the vote in the 2014 primary for House of Delegates district 12, so he might have a handful of supporters left over

  • Nathaniel M. Costley, Sr. was a 2014 candidate for House of Delegates district 10, where he got 5% of the primary vote. His website from that run, which was, optimistically, made by a middle schooler, is still up for you to marvel at

  • F. Michael Higginbotham is a Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore. He specializes in race relations and has written two books on the subject in addition to semi-regular editorials and CNN appearances. He is the second cousin of Leon Higginbotham, a legendary black jurist with close relationships to national party figures in the 60s-90s.

  • Jay Jalisi, a member of the House of Delegates since 2015. Earlier this year, the House reprimanded him for “an ongoing pattern of bullying and abusive workplace behavior on the part of Delegate Jalisi toward staff — particularly female staff members,” such as forcing a staffer to stand up and say “I am incompetent. I am incompetent.” over and over after a mistake. He isn’t allowed to have House staff because he won’t attend anger management classes, and his adult daughter sought and was granted a 1 year restraining order against him after he hit her.

  • Paul Konka, a 2018 candidate for the 3rd Baltimore County school district.

  • Saafir Rabb, a local businessman who has also been active as a community activist, is running on a progressive platform

  • Minor candidates Dan Baker, Anthony Carter Sr, Alicia D. Brown, Matko Lee Chullin, III, Jermyn Davidson, Darryl Gonzalez, pulmonologist Mark Steven Gosnell, dentist Leslie Grant, Dan Hiegel, perennial candidate Adrian Petrus, perennial candidate Charles Smith, and Charles Stokes

Elijah Cumming’s two daughters have made an endorsement in the race - for Harry Spikes Jr, Cummings’s staffer. His son has not yet made an endorsement. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, while she was Elijah Cummings’s wife at the time of his death, is neither of their mothers. Mara and Elijah married in 2008, when one of his daughters was an adult and another was a teenager.

NY-15

We’ve reached that point in the newsletter where we again report on what new sketchy activity New York State Assembly Member Michael Blake has been up to! This week, it was uncovered that Blake has been using taxpayer money to fund political trips. There is a public fund to help legislators pay for rooming in and travel to and from Albany, New York’s state capital. Blake, however, has apparently been using money from the fund to pay for political trips, likely related to his role as vice chair of the DNC, since 2017. A spokesperson for Blake told Crain’s, the first outlet to report on this story, “All of the assemblyman’s work on those dates included official duties, and or time spent in Albany.” We find it pretty hard to believe he was doing official New York State Assembly work at the 2017 Spring Gala of Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center, though, especially considering that the trip caused him to miss votes back in Albany.

This is not the first time Blake has done something corrupt, and certainly won’t be his last. Our advice to the Bronx? Blake is not worth your vote and certainly not your money.

NY-17

Looks like NY-17 is the new NY-15! This week we saw two more candidates enter the race to replace retiring Rep. Nita Lowey, national security expert Asha Castleberry-Hernandez and former federal prosecutor Adam Schleifer, making seven Democrats total in the race now.

Castleberry-Hernandez is the first woman of color to officially enter this race. While it’s always nice to see more women of color in positions of leadership, Castleberry-Hernandez is sounding a bit too hawkish for our liking. She is a veteran and 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign advisor, and she says she will be “tough on national security,” all of which don’t really bode well for her foreign policy. She does list her top issues as “economic security, health care and gun violence,” which could be promising, but she doesn’t specify exact policies, so we reserve judgment.

Schleifer, the other new candidate, was a prosecutor in the “Operation Varsity Blues” case earlier this year, the case most famous for turning America against Full House’s Aunt Becky (AKA Lori Laughlin) because it turned out she had bribed USC to get her daughter into college (there were others charged as well). We love it when rich people have to pay for trying to game the system with their wealth, but we don’t love prosecutors, whose primary job is to increase incarceration. Schleifer hasn’t released any semblance of a platform yet, but don’t get your hopes up — he’s probably just another wealthy white moderate. And he is quite wealthy. His father, Leonard Schleifer, is worth $1.6 billion. Mondaire Jones greeted Schleifer’s entry to the race with a simple statement: “When I said we don’t need more millionaires in Congress, I didn’t mean we need more billionaires.”

New Primaries

NJ-02

Montclair State University professor Brigid Harrison announced earlier this week that she is considering challenging Jeff Van Drew, who was elected to the House in 2018. Van Drew hasn’t been in Congress long, but over this past year he’s come out against Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, he’s a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, and he was one of only two Democrats to vote against the impeachment inquiry. 

Harrison joins Cumberland County Freeholder Jack Surrency and West Cape May Commissioner John Francis in mulling a run, both of who could receive the backing of Indivisible Cape May. Additionally, six unnamed Democratic insiders tell the New Jersey Globe that Van Drew could even lose the powerful ballot lines at county Democratic conventions next year if he doesn’t change course, with one source even floating Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and Adam Taliaferro—hardly progressive firebrands—as potential challengers. For progressives in New Jersey, replacing Jeff Van Drew would be a serious shot across the bow to the establishment, especially against the backdrop of the brewing party civil war in the state, but NJ-02 is a tough district that Trump won 50.6% to 46.0%, so it will be a fight to hold it no matter who is the nominee. We make a habit of not taking sides in districts Trump won, and we’ll be keeping that tradition here.

NY-25

Robin Wilt, who ran for the late Louise Slaughter’s seat in 2018 and lost the primary to Joseph Morelle, has officially launched her 2020 campaign to replace him. Wilt is running on the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, and recently issued a statement that she was running for Congress because “we deserve representation that reflects the priorities of the people of our District, not merely corporations.” According to her website, she’s not taking money from corporate PACs, and will be running a grassroots campaign. In contrast, Morelle took more than $153k from the real estate industry and $76k from insurance companies in 2018.

In 2018, Morelle won the primary with 45% of the vote in a four-way race with no one else coming close, so it’ll be an uphill battle for Wilt, who got just 17% of the vote in 2018. But Morelle had pretty wide establishment support and was seen as the presumptive nominee, so that 45% was comparatively weak. NY-25 went for Hillary in 2016 by almost 20% and has been represented by a Democrat for decades, so this district should be treated as safely blue, despite the fact that Republicans took it semi-seriously the last couple cycles.

While Morelle has probably been better than the average Democrat in Congress - he’s a member of the Progressive Caucus after all - he’s nothing to write home about. Most notably, he doesn’t support single payer health care, and was one of the few Democratic votes against it while he was in the state Assembly. He also supports the electoral college. Outside of policy grounds, he was also an ally of both Andrew Cuomo and Sheldon Silver, the notoriously corrupt ex-speaker of the Assembly who is currently in prison for a number of crimes. He also told the press a young woman was lying about being raped by a colleague, who would be convicted shortly thereafter of raping a different young woman. Robin Wilt promises not only a full progressive platform, but one without the Albany grime of Morelle.

PA-HD-36

Jessica Benham, a University of Pittsburgh grad student union organizer and autism advocate, announced a primary challenge to conservative Democratic state Rep. Harry Readshaw in September, and she’s since gathered an impressive list of endorsements. County Councilors-elect Liv Bennett and Bethany Hallam (who both primaried incumbents earlier this year), state Sen. Lindsey Williams (who flipped a Republican-held district in 2018), Pittsburgh city councilor Erika Strassburgher, former Pittsburgh city councilor Natalia Rudiak, Bellevue mayor Emily Marburger, Pittsburgh school board member-elect Pam Harbin, and Etna councilor-elect Jessica Semler, all Democrats, have backed Benham’s campaign. HD-36 is a reliably Democratic district mostly contained within the city of Pittsburgh, but Readshaw regularly votes against abortion rights and gun control—even voting against a bill restricting domestic abusers’ access to guns that passed easily due to broad support from both parties. (A staggering proportion of gun violence is committed by domestic abusers, and the presence of a gun makes domestic abusers five times likelier to kill their victims.)

Benham supports single-payer, expanded rights and support for people with disabilities, increased infrastructure funding, and a living wage. Benham would be the first LGBTQ woman to serve in Pennsylvania’s state legislature; in Readshaw’s last primary, in 2014, marriage equality was a key difference between him and fellow state Rep. Erin Molchany, who found herself stuck in his district as a result of redistricting. Benham would also be the first openly autistic person elected to the legislature.

Conservative Democrats in the Pittsburgh area have suffered a series of humiliating losses in Trump-era primaries; before Hallam and Bennett took down county councilors, DSA members Sara Innamorato and Summer Lee easily defeated state Reps. Dom and Paul Costa, members of a titanic Pittsburgh dynasty which also includes state Sen. Jay Costa, the Democratic leader in the state Senate. (Jay and Paul are brothers; Dom is their cousin.) Based on the traction Benham is getting so early, it looks like Pittsburgh progressives are far from finished with their war on the conservative Democratic establishment.


Correction: Last week in our MD-07 piece, we correctly identified Terri Lynn Hill as a plastic surgeon. However, we failed to recognize that Terri Lynn Hill is also a Delegate in the State House, where she usually goes by Terri Hill or Terri L. Hill. This has been corrected on the website.

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Issue #39

Surprisingly, nothing to do with impeachment this week

New Primaries

DE-Sen

Chris Coons, the junior senator from Delaware since 2010, is the worst. One day he’s voting for unbelievably corrupt, insane, and otherwise monstrous Trump executive branch nominees; the next, he’s giving fanatical conservatives lifetime posts in the federal judiciary, or questioning whether diversity ruined the Senate. When he’s not tentatively endorsing war with Iran, he’s defending Joe Biden’s past work with segregationists. When he’s not co-chairing the National Prayer Breakfast (a conservative evangelical event that doubles as a way for moneyed interests to buy influence), he’s voting to loosen restrictions on the financial industry. A primary challenge was long overdue--and he’s finally got one.

Jessica Scarane, a 34-year-old marketing professional and women’s advocate, entered the race on Monday. She pulled no punches, highlighting her support for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal while swearing off corporate PAC money — setting her apart from Coons, “the GOP’s favorite Democrat,” according to a Politico profile. Scarane also identified the Senate, specifically, as a problem, saying she wasn’t challenging Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester because the House just isn’t as bad. She’s right. A Senate with Chris Coons, John Hickenlooper, Mark Warner, and Dick Durbin representing blue states is going to pass very little in the way of good legislation even if Democrats romp in the 2020 elections; they’re to the right of our candidates in tougher Senate battlegrounds like Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. A Senate with a couple progressives holding those seats instead could pass large portions of the legislative agenda of a President Warren or Sanders; the status quo will imperil even Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, to the small and sad extent one even exists.

NY-AD-35

Wouldn’t you think that being convicted of either domestic abuse or stealing public funds would be enough to disqualify someone from ever holding public office again? Well, the former New York State Senator and New York City Council Member from Queens Hiram Monserrate apparently begs to differ. Monserrate is guilty of not one but both of those aforementioned crimes, and yet he appears to be prepping for a run for New York State Assembly against Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry. In 2010, while serving in the Senate, Monserrate was “charged with beating and slashing his then-girlfriend, Karla Giraldo” back in 2008, backed up by security camera footage showing him dragging Giraldo by her hair in the lobby of their building to prove it happened. Monserrate’s colleagues in the Senate voted to expel him from the chamber for being misogynist trash. The same year Monserrate was charged with domestic abuse, he was also indicted for using city funds to pay for his State Senate campaign. Monserrate was eventually sentenced to two years in prison for this crime, and a gem of a judge told him off by saying, “Using other people’s money for your own purposes is way down in the lowest circle of hell.”

Other reasons to despise Monserrate include that he voted against the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York State in 2009, pushed for a Scientologist measure in the City Council, and last but not least pulled an IDC back before the IDC even existed and started caucusing with the Senate Republicans (which lost the Democrats control of the State Senate even though they had a majority).

For all the above reasons, Monserrate gets the hardest of passes from us.

Monserrate is also already getting the heavy backlash he deserves: someone appears to have purchased the URLs VoteHiram.com and HiramForAssembly.com and made them link to the previously cited New York Times article about Monserrate’s conviction for misuse of city funds.

Assembly Member Aubry, whom Monserrate would be challenging, certainly has his issues, but this is the sort of situation where the challenger is just so abominable that we can’t in good conscience discuss Aubry’s own flaws at any length. Also, one thing Aubry has going for him is that he is a strong advocate for criminal justice reform and has been introducing and sponsoring the HALT Act, a bill that would restrict the usage of solitary confinement, for a number of years in the Assembly. So, yes, we are all set for Team Aubry.

New Developments

CA-25

Hey, remember three weeks ago when we said this?

The Democratic field in the special election to replace her already seems settled. […] We’ll keep an eye out for new developments, especially on the Democratic side, but it doesn’t look like there’ll be multiple Democrats competing on the special election ballot at this time.

That one aged well, huh? On Thursday, media personality Cenk Uygur declared his entry into the special election field. 

Uygur has left an indelible mark on the American progressive landscape. His show and media organization, The Young Turks, was originally a political radio program during the Air America era of liberals attempting to break into talk radio, but in early 2006 he and his two co-hosts made the decision to become the first daily TV show to broadcast online daily, a gutsy move in the era when online radio was in its infancy. This helped TYT ride the crest of the increasingly online progressive political scene, and grew to include more commentators and shows, in addition to investigative staff, most notably Ken Klippenstein. Along with Kyle Kulinski of similar and affiliated political Youtube show Secular Talk, Uygur co-founded Justice Democrats. Without Uygur, there’s likely no Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

However.

Uygur is no longer with the Justice Democrats since being pushed out shortly after the group’s formation, due to sexist comments that were uncovered from his blog posts in the early 2000s.  Assemblywoman Christy Smith, his Democratic opponent and the more establishment candidate in the race, has already made the comments an issue. Uygur apologized for the comments in 2017, when they were first uncovered, but has been quiet about them in the campaign so far. He has also long been criticized for his denial of the Armenian genocide. He made these statements in his late twenties and early thirties, hardly comments from a dumb kid, and his first attempt to walk back those comments in 2016 consisted of him saying he didn’t know enough about history comment on whether the Armenian genocide was real. He didn’t admit it was until 2017. Uncomfortably, the actual historical group the Young Turks were the ones who committed the Armenian genocide. Also, Uygur unleashed Dave Rubin on the world. Not as bad a genocide denial, but something we just had to mention.

It’s not clear how seriously Uygur is taking the campaign so far. His campaign website is sparse and rushed, with an issues page that is, quite frankly, mostly vague platitudes. More establishment politicians can get away with that, but he isn’t the kind of celebrity who most voters are going to know, and if you’re a politician courting the progressive lane in a primary, you should probably stake out a few issues you differ from your opponent on, such as Medicare for All or the Green New Deal (both unmentioned on the site). It also has copyediting issues. Additionally, Uygur is running for CA-25, which is in the Simi Valley, while living in Newport Beach, which is on the other side of the sprawling Los Angeles metro. It’s the California equivalent of running for Congress in Long Island while living in White Plains. Still, he’s raised over $300,000 at this point. While Cenk’s obviously in a different tier of recognition as the owner, two TYT alums have run for office before, and both barely registered. Nomiki Konst took 2.3% in the crowded 2019 NYC Public Advocate Special election, and Dylan Ratigan, who is probably better known as a former MSNBC host, came in third with 11.8% in the 2018 NY-21 primary that Tedra Cobb won with 55.3%.

The California establishment, including Kamala Harris, has pretty thoroughly coalesced around Assemblymember Christy Smith, and the LA County Democratic Party, which covers about ⅘ of the district, has released a statement saying Uygur’s comments were “disqualifying” and that he “does not belong in Congress”. Uygur has the endorsement of Rep. Ro Khanna. Los Angeles is also known for its large Armenian population, the largest outside of Armenia, and the entire area has a larger-than-average population of residents with that heritage.

IL-03

Dan Lipinski only survived his 2018 primary because of Republican support in Illinois’s open primary, which allows Republicans to cast a Democratic ballot (and vice versa.) The viability of such a strategy is more tenuous in 2020, when Democratic turnout will surely soar for the presidential primaries, and when Republicans will have the chance to cast a primary vote for their sweaty, senescent savior, Donald Trump. So Lipinski, rather than moving left to accommodate the voters of the party whose nomination he is actually seeking, is ramping up his efforts to win Republican votes in the Democratic primary. (He can’t just switch parties, because this district is solidly Democratic; a party switch would surely result in an embarrassing reelection defeat for Lipinski, who has held this seat since 2005.)

A leaked campaign strategy memo revealed that while Lipinski intends to misrepresent himself to independents and Democrats as a reliable Democratic vote, he’ll also advertise his vote against the Affordable Care Act and his support for ICE human rights abuses in messaging targeted towards Republicans. He’ll also be reaching out to Republican officeholders and attempting to win their endorsements. We’ll give Lipinski credit for knowing who his voters are; Democrats in the district voted to replace him with Marie Newman in 2018, and they’ll do it again in 2020. He needs a repeat of his 2018 strategy, perhaps aided by a split progressive vote between Newman and lesser-known activist Rush Darwish.

Even Dan Lipinski knows he’s not welcome in the Democratic Party. We wish DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos would get the message.

IN-01

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr and his wife, Lake Circuit Judge Marissa McDermott, have landed in hot water with the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications over a $94,225 loan from Thomas’s campaign account to Marissa’s. The Commission to issue with a contribution of such size from a licensed attorney to a judge. They agreed with the Commission to return $50,000 to Thomas’s campaign account, which they expect to do in the coming months. While speaking publicly about this issue was McDermott’s choice, It’s a pretty bad story to get in the opening week of your campaign.

Meanwhile, the field continues to grow. State Representative Mara Candelaria Reardon, who we discussed last week, has said she will be making an announcement related to the district this week, and has filed with the FEC to run. She’s all but officially running at this point. Another potential entry to the field is Michael Griffin, who is currently serving his eighth term as clerk-treasurer for the town of Highland (pop. 23,000). Griffin and Visclosky go way back — he was an intern in the office of IN-01 congressman Adam Benjamin while Visclosky worked there, in 1979. He has said he will decide soon whether to run.

HI-02

Bernard Carvalho Jr, former mayor of Kauai has endorsed State Sen. Kai Kahele. This is an important endorsement for Kahele in two ways. Kauai is about a tenth of the district, so getting support from a popular local politician is helpful. More importantly, Carvalho was being mentioned as a potential candidate for HI-02. This not only means that Kahele will have one competitor fewer, but will also be the only Native Hawaiian candidate in the race.

MD-07

Two candidates are looking to enter this already crowded field, and one other potential candidate has taken herself out of contention

  • Harry Spikes Jr. has filed to run. Spikes was the Deputy District Director for Elijah Cummings, had worked for the Congressman for 14 years, and spoke at Cummings’s wake. Spikes ran for a seat in the House of Delegates in 2014. He did poorly, coming in 7th with 4.9% of the vote of a Top 3 primary. One of the winners was incumbent and potential MD-07 candidate Talmadge Branch.

  • Terri Lynn Hill, Delegate in the state house since 2015 and a plastic surgeon in private practice in Ellicott City has also filed. While she’s been a quieter member of the body, she’s remained active in her district, and plastic surgeons tend to both make a lot of money and know a lot of other people who make a lot of money, so she could probably fundraise her way into being a serious candidate if nothing else.

  • Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie-Rawlings Blake has decided not to run in the special election. As the only mayor of Baltimore since Martin O’Malley to not be forced out of the office mid-term amid criminal scandal, she was probably the biggest name who had not yet declared her intentions in this race.

MA-04

Former Massachusetts Comptroller and Brookline resident Thomas Shack has announced that he has opened an exploratory committee and will be launching a listening tour of sorts in anticipation of a possible run for Congress. Shack is another barely distinguishable centrist to add to this field which already has too many of them. He voted in the Republican Presidential and state primaries in 2008, according to voter records, and he was appointed to his position in 2015 by Republican governor Charlie Baker. His campaign announcement was also full of the kind of mushy meaningless language that called Donald Trump “greatest threat to our democracy in a generation” one sentence, and then soon after talked about “bridging the divides” with the Party that supports him unquestioningly every step of the way.

Also this week, two endorsements were made. Longtime state Rep. Ruth Balser endorsed fellow Newton politician Becky Grossman, and Diane Patrick, wife of former governor and current presidential candidate Deval Patrick, has endorsed Jesse Mermell.

MA-08

Another challenger has jumped into the race — Robbie Goldstein, a doctor and the director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Transgender Health Program, announced his candidacy Monday morning. Informed by his medical background and history of LGBTQ+ advocacy and care, Goldstein is running on Medicare for All and a larger progressive platform. Goldstein is the second queer candidate in the race (the other being Brianna Wu), and while Victory Fund hasn’t made an endorsement, they’ve recently started getting involved in competitive Democratic primaries, so it’ll be interesting to see if they make a decision.

It’s good for progressives to have options in this race provided we go into the actual primary election unified around one of the two, and there’s still plenty of time for that - the primary isn’t until September. As a reminder, Stephen Lynch is one of the worst Democrats in Congress, and is gunning for committee leadership next year, so either of them would be infinitely better than what we have now.

NY-17

Two new candidates announced their candidacy for the open seat in NY-17. On Thursday, activist and former NARAL chair Allison Fine announced and then on Monday, former Obama Pentagon official Evelyn Farkas jumped in too.

As a candidate, Fine is only, well, fine (sorry not sorry). She has mentioned reproductive rights as one of her top issues, and given her history working for NARAL, it’s probably safe to say that she means it. She has also sworn off corporate money. On the other hand, she supports a public health care option rather than Medicare for All, and sounds ready to continue Lowey’s hawkish stances on Israel (although, this position might earn her some votes from Westchester County’s large Jewish population).

Farkas served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and neighboring countries under President Obama until 2015. Farkas gained media in 2017 when during an MSNBC interview she mentioned concern over election interference from Russia and that she had urged her colleagues to investigate as much as possible before leaving office. Her comments led to Republicans to spread the lie that the Obama administration was spying on Trump. As someone who has a lot of experience dealing with Russia and Ukraine, Farkas could make an interesting Congress Member, especially with the contrast of the ongoing impeachment inquiry focusing heavily on Ukraine and Russia. Though, Farkas’ connections to Obama’s foreign policy make her more iffy. We’ll hold off final judgement until she releases more specific platform positions.

Fine and Farkas are joining a number of previously announced candidates, including State Senator David Carlucci, who sucks, and Mondaire Jones, whom we actually like. There are now three pro-choice women in this race, which means that EMILY’S LIST may choose not to endorse here.

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Issue #38

Minor internal news: we have more writers now!

We’re excited to announce that we have two new(ish) writers here at Primaries for Progress:

Ellie Applebaum has actually been a PFP writer since July, but she never got around to introducing herself. She’s also a big New York politics nerd. Follow her on Twitter at @ElForProgress.

Tisya Mavuram joined the team last week! You can follow her on Twitter at @tmavuram.

New Developments

IL-03

We’ve been warning readers about the danger of a split progressive vote in districts where a plurality can win, and finally someone listened to us. On Tuesday, attorney Abe Matthew, who had been running a low-profile campaign against horrible anti-abortion homophobe Rep. Dan Lipinski, dropped out and endorsed Marie Newman, who nearly took down Lipinski in 2018. That still leaves activist Rush Darwish in the race, but it puts the left in a better position today than on Monday.

Matthew had raised a credible $83,000 from April to September, so he had the resources to be more than some rando who got 0.5%; Newman, however, was always the only viable progressive in the race. You don’t have to take our word for it: Justice Democrats, EMILY’s List, Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and many, many more all came to the same conclusion, endorsing her against Lipinski.

Darwish, perplexingly, responded to the endorsement by echoing a Lipinski attack on Newman, criticizing her for supporting single-payer using the bullshit Buttigieg-esque “Medicare for all who want it” line. He may be running to Lipinski’s left on abortion, but he seems to be just as bad as Lipinski on healthcare. We still fear he’ll draw anti-Lipinski votes from Newman, but this indicates he might be trying to appeal to moderates uneasy with Lipinski’s social conservatism but unwilling to back a progressive like Newman.

MD-07

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings has resigned from her post as chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and launched a campaign to succeed her late husband in Congress. In her announcement, she said that Elijah Cummings wanted her to succeed him in Congress, and that she would refrain from campaigning actively for a couple weeks so she could undergo a preventative cancer treatment of her own. Cummings is known for being willing to take on the more centrist and entrenched elements of her own party. Notably, Cummings cracked down on Democrats backing Republicans after elected officials backed Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (who she has called a “dog-whistle white nationalist”). Meanwhile there was concern that the House of Delegates speaker candidate favored by the Legislative Black Caucus would seek Republican support to win the speakership vote, causing a verbal sparring match between her and LBC chairman Darryl Barnes.

Del. Talmadge Branch, who previously said he would enter the race, filed with the FEC on Tuesday night. Branch is the majority whip in the state House of Delegates, and has been a delegate since 1995, so he enters the race with connections and name recognition in Baltimore, which anchors this district. Branch has an ugly history of opposition to LGBT rights. In 2011 he was instrumental in killing a same-sex marraige bill, and in 2012 he voted against it again, even as it passed the House and Senate. He said he did so at the behest of his pastor. He also allegedly said at one point that there were no gays or lesbians in his district.

Sen. Jill Carter is considering, has filed with the FEC and has teased a “special announcement” scheduled for next week. There’s little love lost between Carter and Rockeymoore Cummings. When Cummings was considering running for governor in 2017, Carter’s response was “just being married to Elijah Cummings is not enough to elevate her to the top.”

In 2014, Carter attended a Louis Farrakhan speech hosted by a Nation Of Islam radio personalisty. In his speech Farrakhan talked about “conspiracies by ‘the white man’ to oppress blacks with fast food, debt, vaccines and government policies aimed at reducing the worldwide population targeting blacks. He implied that homosexuality is caused by estrogen and other chemicals being added to food today.” Intense homophobia and anti-vax rhetoric is commonplace for Farrakhan, as is insane levels of anti-semitism, so Carter’s decision to attend that speech and subsequent silence on the issue cannot be overlooked.

MA-Sen

On November 10, Massachusetts had its very first climate debate at Stonehill College — and guess who didn’t show up?

That’s right: Massachusetts’ very own golden boy, Joe Kennedy.

Kennedy’s campaign’s official stance was that the scheduling of the debate was unfair, but the debate had already been rescheduled once for him after his campaign voiced objections to the originally scheduled Nov. 18 debate at Tufts University. The Markey and Liss-Riordan campaigns agreed to two of his demands, and decided on a date that the House was not in session and a debate that wouldn’t be hosted by the Environmental League of Massachusetts, a group that had endorsed Markey.

Kennedy is still polling higher than Markey by almost double digits, mostly because of name recognition, but it’s not going to last forever — and for a candidate whose entire pitch to voters is generational change, Kennedy isn’t doing a good job convincing anyone that he will be any sort of an improvement over Ed Markey. If taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from fossil fuel companies and running against the original Senate co-sponsor of the Green New Deal wasn’t enough, skipping the climate debate is proof that he’s not serious about taking action on the climate crisis.

Also noteworthy: During the debate, Markey voiced support for ending the filibuster, a shift from his original position a couple of months ago. However, he stopped short of supporting a total ban on fracking, a position his fellow Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has embraced. Challenger Shannon Liss-Riordan supports a ban on all fracking.

NM-03

We’ve taken a fewcracks at Santa Fe DA Marco Serna for how his office blew a series of deadlines and got fined for it, but a recent investigation shows that that embarrassing saga was far from alone. Five separate incidents involving missing evidence, 4th amendment violations, broken rules, and charging a long-dead man all point to, generously, a disorganized office letting murder and rape cases slip through the cracks. In one case “a judge tossed out a case against a man who police said had confessed to fatally shooting a former Santa Fe librarian in 2016; the judge ruled the state had violated the defendant’s right to a speedy trial”. 

This is probably the worst kind of press DA seeking higher office can get, and we can’t say we’re terribly disappointed to see this happen to Serna, who has staked out a series of centrist positions in this primary - his goal is “affordable health care” and he opposes the Green New Deal - and recently said “With an economy based on mineral and oil extraction, our state is especially vulnerable to the international climate change movement” (emphasis ours). He also recently attacked Valerie Plame having a large number of small donors, which he said could be concealing white supremecist support. There’s a kernel of truth to the larger point he was making, in that Valerie Plame accepted $450 from anti-war former Congressman Pete McCloskey, who’s lost his mind in recent decades and spoke at a Holocaust denial confrence in 2000. He’s right that she should return or donate away that $450, but moving onto attacking the concept of small donors is just ugly.

NY-15

We reported a few weeks ago on how New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres accepted donations from the executives of a real estate contracting company that regularly underpays its workers. Well, the list of known shitty people that Torres is taking money from has grown. This week, the New York Daily News reported that Torres has accepted money of the maximum donation amount from billionaire Daniel Loeb and his wife Margaret. Loeb has made a number of weird, racist comments over the years. In 2017, he wrote in a Facebook post that then-Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (who is black) did “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood [i.e. the KKK]” because she chose to support teacher’s unions over charter schools. 

At the time, Torres was running for Council speaker and joined six other Council speaker candidates in opposing Loeb’s rhetoric. Torres said then, “What kind of message does it send to people if we accept money from people who would direct racially charged hostilities toward elected officials… Money in politics should reflect the people we represent, and our values as public servants.” Now, though, Torres is defending Loeb’s donations because “he apologized.” Torres is also trying to defend the donations by falsely claiming that Loeb is a “prolific donor to the Democratic Party and to progressive causes” — according to the Daily News, 77 percent of Loeb’s campaign donations this year went to Republicans and conservatives. Torres won’t apologize for accepting real estate donations either, because “members of Congress do not control land use in the city.” I mean, if he read Data For Progress’ progressive housing policy memo, he would know that there’s a lot that Congress can do about the housing crisis.

It looks like Ruben Díaz Sr. is running into some roadblocks this week as well. His son, Ruben Díaz Jr., current Bronx Borough President and 2021 mayoral hopeful, is having trouble deciding whether to endorse his father for Congress. Díaz Jr. is more consistently left than his father on social issues. While Díaz Sr. has said that the City Council is “controlled by the homosexual community” and opposed same-sex marriage, Díaz Jr. has consistently called on his father to apologize. Díaz Jr. is worried that if he were to endorse his father’s congressional run, leftists would be less likely to vote for Díaz Jr. in his own run for mayor, but if he doesn’t endorse his father, older minority voters would turn against Díaz Jr. for putting politics above family. Seems like quite the dilemma, but if he asked us, supporting bigots is never the way to go.

NY-17

New York State Assembly Member Tom Abinanti seems to be seriously considering joining the race to succeed retiring Rep. Nita Lowey and is taking steps towards forming an exploratory committee. When Lowey first announced her retirement, here’s what we had to say about Abinanti:

“Assemblymember Tom Abinanti’s name is also being floated. He’s another case of “what, why?”. Abinanti is seriously old to be running for Congress for the first time - he’d be 73 or 74 when he takes office, and the man’s a walking controversy for his anti-vax views, for killing legislation to make the minimum wage apply to disabled employees, and for a general prickliness. Abinanti is a Cuomo antagonist, which we support, but for him that means he’s boxed out from establishment support, while his own terrible record and the presence of Jones in the race means he’s not likely to get much progressive support.”

Seems like Abinanti has noticed his potential weakness with progressives, because he’s touting single-payer health care, clean drinking water, and the climate crisis as his top issues. To be fair, he has been a co-sponsor of the New York Health Act, which would create a New York State single-payer health care program, since at least 2016. We still stand by our previous criticisms of his candidacy, though, and wish he would get out of the way of Mondaire Jones, who is a true progressive candidate, a strong fundraiser, and most importantly not an anti-vaxxer.

TX-28

Jessica Cisneros has begun picking up union support in her bid to defeat Henry Cuellar, who has never been a friend of labor. The AFL-CIO rates him as the worst Democrat in Congress on union issues, and in the 2017-2019 Congress even put him below two Republicans, and AFSCME finds the same. Late last month, she was endorsed by Construction Workers of America District 6, which covers Texas and several other states; on Thursday, she picked up the National Nurses United endorsement, and on Friday, the American Federation of Teachers Local 4632, which covers the Lo Joya Independent School District and has over 1,500 members, endorsed her. While not making an endorsement, AFSCME Local 1624, which covers Austin, did hold a GOTV conference on Nov. 2 where they invited Cisneros but not Cuellar to speak.

Texas is one of the least unionized states in the country, with only 4.3% of the workforce being union members, so Cuellar may feel safer ignoring union concerns than he would in a state like New York, but unions are still an important force in primaries. Labor isn’t entirely lining up against Cuellar - this cycle he’s received contributions from the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, the National Education Association, and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association

This week, Cisneros has also received endorsements from progressive organizations the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and 350 Action.

New Primaries

IN-01

Two new candidates have waded into the recently open primary for IN-01, and another two are considering.

Frank J. Mrvan Jr. is a North Township Trustee and is the son of longtime State Senator Frank Mrvan Jr. In Indiana, all counties are split into townships which handle local government functions in the absence of incorporated cities and towns. While all of North Township (pop. 163,000) is covered by incorporated cities, the township still retains a few government functions. While Mrvan has a large constituency, the press he gets for his office is pretty small-scale. He’ll probably be better known for his father than his job. Mrvan contrasts himself with the aggressively moderate current candidate McDermott by unabashedly supporting impeachment.

Jim Harper is an ex-public defender and current medical malpractice attorney from Valparaiso, Indiana, a city in Porter County. In 2016 he entered politics as a candidate for SD-05, a more rural and Republican district he lived in. He lost 60-40, a bit better than the 59-36 Clinton was losing the district by. In 2018, he ran for Secretary of State and lost 56-41, about the same as the three statewide Democrats who weren’t Joe Donnelly did. Since both races were pretty well recognized as hopeless, Harper didn’t face a primary for either, but he did raise almost $500,000 for his Secretary of State bid, so he should have a healthy donor list. Harper has not yet announced his bid, but he has said he’s considering and just filed to run with the FEC. He describes himself as a “progressive voice” for northwest Indiana. 

State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon is interested. A former Visclosky staffer, she now represents HD-12, a light-blue, middle class, suburban district on the western border of the district. Her tenure dates back to 2007, but she is sadly best known as one of the five women to come forward and accuse Attorney General Curtis Hill of groping them, and as the first of the four to come public with her identity. The disciplinary case over those accusations is ongoing. She is the only Latinx candidate currently considering in this 12% Latinx district, and has generally been a progressive legislator.

State Rep. Ragen Hatcher, currently running for State Senate, has said “all options are on the table” regarding the race. She’s only a freshman in the House, but she also served a term on the Gary City Council before that. While she’s established herself more than Frank Mrvan Jr, she’s in a similar boat in that her father’s legacy precedes her. She’s the daughter of Richard Hatcher who served as mayor of Gary from 1968-1988, and was nationally known as a civil rights advocate, and Black political leader during that time. She is the only Black candidate considering in this 18% Black district.

Senator Eddie Melton, who represents a majority Black district anchored by Gary, has said he will continue running for governor instead of switching to IN-01.

TN-05

Blue Dog congressman Jim Cooper has represented Nashville in Congress since 2003, but from 1983-1995 had a stint in Congress from rural Middle Tennessee, and he’s always fit that district better than his new one, which is diverse and quite blue. Cooper has recently voted for Kate’s Law, a balanced budget amendment, small borrower protection rollbacks, and FISA surveillance, none of which is out of character for him. According to an FEC filing, that may have finally earned him a primary. Activist Justin Jones has filed to run. Jones is best known as a devoted tormentor of erstwhile state house speaker Glen Casada; his opposition to the speaker, who was such a raging bigot and obvious crook that his own Republican colleagues forced him out of the speakership, nonetheless made Republicans so mad that they’re now prosecuting him for allegedly throwing a drink at Casada (and attempting to frame him for other stuff, too.) He’s been banned from the state capitol for the alleged assault.

One caveat about any potential TN-05 challenge is that this could very well be the last year the district exists in anything resembling its current form. TN-05 contains Nashville and a few reddish suburbs making it a Democratic leaning district, but not overwhelmingly so. Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 18%. Bordering TN-05 is a lot of extremely red turf, and in the 2021-2022 redistricting cycle it would be trivial to split the city three or four ways and make districts no Democrat could win. Indeed, this was even proposed in 2011 before being ultimately scrapped. While that could happen again after 2020, odds don’t seem good for the continued existence of a Nashville district after this upcoming election.

Election Results

San Francisco DA

Chesa Boudin won!

Endorsed by Bernie Sanders, Tiffany Caban, and Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, Boudin joins a growing number of decarceral public defenders who are committed to using the office of district attorney to end mass incarceration. Boudin ran on a progressive platform of ending cash bail, restoring civil rights, and ending the war on drugs, and despite having never prosecuted a case, won against interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus, who was endorsed by Dianne Feinstein, Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris, and SF mayor London Breed.

Boudin’s win sends a powerful message to the Democratic establishment that voters are tired of tough-on-crime platforms and want elected officials that will take action to end mass incarceration. This is the first ever district attorney race that had two presidential candidates endorse opposing sides, showing that district attorney races are becoming increasingly nationalized, and are the next frontier for progressives taking on mass incarceration.

Seattle City Council

After a mediocre election night last week, the results are finally in for Seattle City Council -- and Seattle residents definitively voted against Amazon.

Last year, the city council voted to levy a head tax on large businesses of about $275 per employee to fund services for the homeless and low-income housing. Amazon and other large corporations in Seattle fought the tax, eventually leading to its repeal. In an attempt to prevent it from happening again, Amazon spent over $1.4 million to back seven business-friendly City Council candidates. Only one of them won.

While challenger Shaun Scott ultimately lost to Amazon-funded incumbent Alex Pedersen, Amazon’s other top target pulled off a win. Incumbent socialist Kshama Sawant, endorsed by Bernie Sanders, was down by eight points against Amazon-funded challenger Kai Orion last Tuesday night. But because a significant percentage of voters in Washington vote by mail (and most of those votes break left), in the following days she was able to close the deficit and declare victory on Saturday. Orion conceded Tuesday night after the last batch of votes came in, extending Sawant’s lead.

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