Issue #76

Tennessee Primary Preview included

Incumbent Challenges

MA-Sen

A SuperPac backing Joe Kennedy is set to drop $1.3 million on ads for this particular step in America’s largest political dynasty. Markey is mostly relying on his own campaign funds for ads, and he just put up a doozy. Markey’s new ad focuses on Alexandria Ocasio Cortez as she gives an enthusiastic endorsement, praising his leadership on the Green New Deal, and getting in the oblique jab at Kennedy “it’s not your age that counts, it’s the age of your ideas”.

We also got a new look at the state of this race this week, via a poll from JMC. The good news is that Markey leads in the poll, 44% to 41% when leaners are pushed. The bad news is that we have a serious problem with the methodology. JMC is a Lousiana-based firm, and thanks to intense racial polarization in that state, successful polling doesn’t require weighting on anything but race, including education. This poll does not appear to have any reasonable education weighting. It’s is roughly evenly split between those with no college degree, those with a bachelor’s only, and those with graduate degrees. It doesn’t seem like any weighting took place, since the 2:1 relationship between college and non-college voters is the only way to reconcile the crosstabs. That is very unlikely to be the reality for the electorate, to the detriment of Markey, who leads in college educated voters.

Finally, Markey was endorsed by the Working Families Party. It’s good to see national progressives stepping up to defend one of the best members of the US Senate when he needs it most.

MA-01

The Working Families Party endorsed Holyoke mayor Alex Morse’s primary challenge against House Ways & Means Committee Chair Richard Neal this morning. This comes at a time when the race is clearly heating up, with allies of both candidates spending heavily on TV advertising: per FEC filings, Fight Corporate Monopolies, a group associated with former Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir and former OH-03 candidate Morgan Harper, has spent $300,000 attacking Neal so far, and Justice Democrats, which has endorsed Morse, waded into the race with an additional $100,000 supporting Morse. Meanwhile, a PAC called American Working Families--not to be confused with the Working Families Party--has spent just over $180,000 attacking Morse, and the National Association of Realtors recently spent a little over $63,000 supporting Neal. Both sides are acting as if this is a tight race, and it’s worth noting that all of this spending came before Cori Bush’s stunning upset of Lacy Clay in MO-01. The center and the left both viewed this as competitive even before the left got an unexpected shot in the arm.

MN-05

The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (the state affiliate of the Democratic Party) has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Antone Melton-Meaux, who is challenging Ilhan Omar in the primary next week. Melton-Meaux, who is backed by Republican and centrist Democratic donors, has a lot of money--and he is using it in a peculiar way, funneling most of his campaign expenses through shell companies.

MinnPost, a nonprofit news outlet, reported that the campaign had spent nearly $100,000 on two newly-formed Delaware consulting firms (both of which were tax delinquents, by the way) that Melton-Meaux’s campaign even admits have little experience doing political consulting. (Since they were formed so recently, do they have experience doing...anything?) Both firms seem to be associated with a disgruntled former Omar staffer, K. Davis Senseman, but the campaign has signed a non-disclosure agreement with the firms--so, beyond the incredibly vague “strategic consulting,” we have no idea what the firms actually do for Melton-Meaux. Pretty shady, and of questionable legality--campaigns are supposed to make public the true recipient of all expenses, and if either consulting firm spent the money on campaign-related expenses, it could be a violation of the law.

Additionally, freelance reporter Andrew Perez found that Melton-Meaux actually funneled $1.2 MILLION through shell companies. Newly-formed Delaware shell company WPCA, which is even more opaque than the two consulting firms, has received $1.1 million--and given the size of Melton-Meaux’s media buys, which were made by Canal Partners Media, this means an unknown amount was routed through the shell companies to Canal Partners Media, which is not listed on Melton-Meaux’s FEC filings. We’re not lawyers, but that doesn’t seem aboveboard.

This all seems like an inventive way to circumvent the DCCC’s vendor blacklist (though an ultimately pointless one, since FCC filings revealed that Canal Partners Media, a well-established mainstream Democratic consulting firm, is violating the blacklist.) The blacklist is bad, but the centrist firms that would help a candidate like Melton-Meaux may be unwilling to violate it--but unfortunately for them, and Melton-Meaux, that may be illegal.

Ilhan Omar is the last member of the Squad to face a primary: AOC and Rashida Tlaib were easily renominated, and nobody filed to run against Ayanna Pressley. It’s not a good sign for the center that their well-funded challenger is potentially violating the law to the tune of over a million dollars.

Los Angeles County District Attorney

California Attorney General Xavier Berreca has filed charges against the husband of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey for pointing a gun at protesters who had showed up to the couple’s house. At the time, Lacey definitely stood behind her husband’s actions at a press conference, but she has not commented on the charges. This is a scandal which will not be forgotten by election day.

Open Seats

CA-53

We have another poll of CA-53, courtesy of RMG group, which seemed to be primarily interested in support for term limits for some reason. RMG is the new outfit for Scott Rassmussen, previously of Rassmussen polling, which never had the best reputation. They find Jacobs up 32% to 17%, which isn’t too far off from the 29% to 20% finishing in the March primary. Both candidates are still mostly unknown, and it’s reasonable to say the race has largely been stagnant.

MA-04

Jake Auchincloss is emerging as the man to beat in this race, much to the chagrin of everyone who would prefer, you know, a Democrat in the office instead. On Thursday, he was endorsed by Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan. Fall River is on the far other end of the district, away from the Boston suburbs where all the candidates are from. Fall River isn’t entirely in the district and will only contribute about 5% of the primary voters, but as the largest city in that region of the state, the endorsement could signal to more voters than just those inside the city limits.

On Friday, the Super PAC his parents are funding waded into the race with a $180,000 ad buy. Luckily, this won’t make up a large proportion of the ad spending in this crowded race, but it is another example of self-funding in a race that already has too much of it, and could portend much more spending.

Also on Friday, Politico uncovered a handful of social media posts from Auchincloss: one wondering why “we” can’t burn the Quran if “they” [Muslims] can burn “our flag”, another calling attempts to change the name of Columbus Day “taking PC too far”, and a third about his desire to give Steve Bannon a speaking slot a campus. We’d actually found the Bannon tweet back when he announced. 

So the Boston Globe took it all in: his recent past as Republican operative, his bigoted posts,  defence of the Confederate flag, his undisclosed money likely coming from his parents, the literally 8 other candidates who haven’t done those things, and endorsed him. After pushback, the Globe restated that they would be sticking by Auchincloss, and would in fact be giving him more media space to campaign in so he could justify their endorsement. All-around great choices here from the Globe. One opinion columnist used her editorial space to make the case for Mermell the week after, but the Globe’s endorsement stands.

A variety of endorsements came in for other candidates, and it’s a total crapshoot: NARAL for Jesse Mermell, Michael Bennet and former NAACP President Cornell William Brooks for Alan Khazei, and state Sen. Cynthia Green for Becky Grossman.

Election Results

Note: we don’t know the results of many races in Washington and Arizona yet due to the large number of mail ballots, so we’re only going to cover races in those two states where it is abundantly clear who won.

Successful and near-successful primary challenges in the House from the left usually shared a few traits, in 2018 and in 2020. White incumbents in majority-minority districts often struggled: Joe Crowley, Mike Capuano, and Eliot Engel’s losses all fit into this category. Incumbents who were extreme ideological outliers also had a rough go of it: Dan Lipinski’s 2018 near-loss, Henry Cuellar’s 2020 near-loss, and Lipinski’s 2020 loss. Districts undergoing rapid population changes, and with large numbers of young, college-educated whites, were also quite willing to find alternatives to their incumbents: Joe Crowley and Mike Capuano’s losses, Yvette Clarke and Carolyn Maloney’s 2018 close calls, and Carolyn Maloney’s 2020 closer call. And past House primary challenges have shown that voters are unforgiving of representatives embroiled in high-profile scandals, particularly corruption: Chaka Fattah and Corrine Brown’s defeats in 2016, for example. These commonalities allowed the Democratic establishment to brush off defeats, because most Democratic representatives don’t have any of the aforementioned vulnerabilities. Of course, it’s still earth-shattering that multiple members of Democratic leadership have lost renomination to insurgent leftist campaigns; we never said the establishment’s logic was good, exactly. But there was an element of truth to it: many incumbents didn’t have much demonstrable reason to fear. The left could threaten a lot of Democratic representatives, including some very high-ranking members, but enough of the rank and file (and enough of leadership) still felt safe. That should change after last night.

Lacy Clay fit into none of the aforementioned categories of primary losers, which is why he was always going to be difficult to defeat, and why Cori Bush’s 20-point loss in 2018 was itself pretty damn good. So when absentee votes came in, showing Clay leading Bush by a similar margin as he did in 2020, we were disappointed, but not crushed; it wasn’t a landslide, and Clay’s vulnerability in 2018 wasn’t a fluke. Then election day votes came in, and holy shit.

Missouri has fairly restrictive rules for absentee voting, so the bulk of votes were still cast on election day, but Clay’s margin in absentees was strong, so much so that Decision Desk HQ, an AP competitor, called the race for him. As the first batch of election day votes came in, it was immediately clear the call was premature; in the end, Bush won on the strength of a crushing election day performance, leading Clay by a margin of three percentage points and just over 4,600 votes. Clay made many poor campaign decisions, but he wasn’t caught napping; he ran an extremely negative campaign against Bush, including a mailer which leaned heavily on Islamophobia and artificially darkened Bush’s skin (first reported by one of your beloved authors.) He attacked Bush for once losing her nursing license (over unpaid fees), for previously struggling to pay her taxes (because she was broke), and for taking a modest salary from campaign funds (because she needed to keep the lights on, and taking a salary is legal)--all of which were because Bush, like most of this district, is working-class, not the scion of one of St. Louis’s preeminent political dynasties like Clay. Some of his attacks may have backfired, or at least fallen flat, but the fact remains that Lacy Clay took Bush seriously, had all of the demographic and biographical advantages previous losers lacked, and still lost. If Lacy Clay isn’t safe, no establishment Democrat is.

With that, the rest of Missouri’s results are below:

SD-05: Establishment favorite state Rep. Steve Roberts narrowly won this open seat over St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green, who was backed by Bernie Sanders, DSA, the Working Families Party, and several local unions. Her near-win is impressive for a white candidate in a plurality-Black senate district, and it’s also heartbreakingly close.

SD-07: establishment favorite state Rep. Greg Razer easily prevailed over former Kansas City Councilman Michael R. Brown.

SD-09: labor favorite state Rep. Barbara Anne Washington easily beat Raytown Alderman Ryan Myers.

SD-13: Angela Mosley, a candidate from two prominent Black political families, narrowly beat state Rep. Tommie Pierson Jr., with awful anti-abortion state Rep. Al Green in a very distant third.

HD-19: State Rep. Ingrid Burnett appears to have narrowly held off a challenge from Phyllis Hardwick, but punk musician and “pansexual glam rockstar” Wick Thomas pulled a strong 25% of the vote.

HD-23: As expected, Michael L. Johnson won the primary to succeed Barbara Anne Washington in this Kansas City district.

HD-24: Emily Weber, who was both the establishment pick and the most identifiably progressive candidate, easily defeated her two opponents for this open seat.

HD-25: Healthcare exec Patty Lewis was actually the more progressive candidate here, and she easily defeated attorney Drew Rogers, the choice of cruelly anti-homeless ex-mayor Sly James.

HD-36: State Rep. Mark Sharp held on, despite controversy over past misogynistic and homophobic statements on Facebook.

HD-66: Moderate Marlene Terry easily won Tommie Pierson Jr.’s open seat.

HD-67: Moderate Neil Smith narrowly defeated Aaron Craig, the choice of the AFL-CIO.

HD-68: Jay Mosley, the husband of SD-13 winner Angela Mosley, held on to his seat with ease against business-friendly opponent Mike Moehlenkamp.

HD-74: State Rep. Mike Person held on to his seat against Yolonda Fortson and Gary Johnson (not that one), but it was a weak finish befitting a man who almost lost a deep-blue seat to a Libertarian.

HD-75: State Rep. Alan Gray held off third-time candidate Teona McGhaw-Boure’, but this was McGhaw-Boure’’s best performance yet, getting 40.5% of the vote.

HD-76: In a result we did not see coming at all, state Rep. Chris Carter lost renomination to local attorney Marlon Anderson.

HD-77: Kimberly-Ann Collins defeated Darryl Gray 61% to 39%; we preferred Gray, but both candidates were great, so this isn’t a bad result at all.

HD-83: Jo Doll and Tyler Merkel both ran as progressives, but Merkel, who had the support of labor unions and progressive groups, lost to Doll 61.5% to 38.5%.

St. Louis City Circuit Attorney: Kim Gardner, one of the first reform prosecutors elected in the wave of reform prosecutors that still shows no signs of stopping, had no trouble fending off her primary challenge from Mary Pat Carl.

St. Louis Sheriff: Unfortunately, incumbent Vernon Betts won another term easily, 61% to 27% for his main challenger, Alfred Montgomery.

Jackson County Sheriff (Kansas City): Darryl Forté defeated crooked ex-Sheriff Mike Sharp, and it wasn’t close: 77% to 23%.

Arizona:

In AZ-01, Tom O’Halleran has been renominated against Eva Putzova, but it’s embarrassingly close for an incumbent; Putzova already has 41% of the vote, and late ballots tend to lean left.

SD-24: Incumbent Lela Alston has defeated challenger Ryan Starzyk in a race without the clearest ideological stakes.

SD-26: Progressive state Sen. Juan Mendez easily turned back more moderate primary challenger Jana Granillo.

HD-02: Winners unclear.

HD-03: Incumbents Alma Hernandez and Andrés Cano have clearly won renomination.

HD-10: State Rep. Domingo DeGrazia has won renomination, and he’ll be joined at the state capitol by Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, who leads Paul Stapleton-Smith 37% to 22% for the second Democratic spot on the November ballot.

HD-19: Activist Leezah Sun’s progressive challenge to incumbents Diego Espinoza and Lorenzo Sierra fell short.

HD-26: Winners unclear.

HD-27: Conservative ex-state Rep. Catherine Miranda failed in her comeback bid, falling short of incumbent Diego Rodriguez by more than 10 percentage points.

HD-29: Moderate state Rep. Cesar Chavez is getting another term, but it’s not clear yet whether progressive state Rep. Richard Andrade or business-backed challenger Teddy Castro will join him.

Pima County DA: Laura Conover, the most progressive and decarceral candidate by a long shot, currently has 57% to Jonathan Mosher’s 36%. No Republican has filed, meaning Conover is the next DA by default.

Pima County Recorder: Gabriella Cázares-Kelly, an indigenous activist backed by Arizona progressives and Tucson DSA, easily defeated Kim Challender, the choice of the outgoing county recorder; Cázares-Kelly has 62.5% of the vote so far, while Challender has 37.5%.

Kansas

HD-10: Christina Haswood, who had both progressives and the establishment behind her, defeated inscrutable self-funder AJ Stevens in a landslide, getting more than 70% of the vote.

HD-22: Moderate Lindsey Vaughn defeated progressive businessman Randen Smith in a true blowout, getting 87% of the vote.

HD-32: Incumbent Pam Curtis defeated little-known underdog Oscar Irenia 75% to 25%. If Curtis sticks around in 2022, a better-funded Hispanic candidate might be able to beat her.

HD-35: Incumbent Broderick Henderson turned back a challenge from moderate former Louisiana state Rep. Nelson Gabriel 65% to 35%.

HD-37: Aaron Coleman, a 19-year-old left-winger best known for a joke gubernatorial run in 2018 and for saying he’d laugh if Republican politicians died of COVID (the latter got him denounced by many Kansas Democrats), leads incumbent Stan Frownfelter by one vote, 768 to 767. Provisional ballots and other uncounted votes will decide this one.

Douglas County Prosecutor: Punitive incumbent Charles Bronson is a goner, but it’s not clear that’s a good thing; Branson is in third with 27.6%, while conservative Suzanne Valdez leads progressive Cooper Overstreet 39.8% to 32.7%.

Michigan

MI-12: Rep. Debbie Dingell won with 81%, unsurprisingly.

MI-13: Rashida Tlaib was certainly favored to win renomination, but crushing Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones 66% to 34% is definitely what was seen as on the higher end of plausible outcomes beforehand. Jones had support from much of the city’s Black establishment, as well as all of the other candidates her and Tlaib had run against in 2018’s Democratic primary. In the end, it meant little, as she got about the same share of the votes as she did in 2018--but in a one-on-one contest. Encouragingly, Tlaib did nearly as well in the city itself (65% to 35%) as she did in the suburbs (68% to 32%.)

HD-02: State Rep. Joe Tate easily defeated progressive challenger Taylor Harrell, 69% to 31%.

HD-03: Unfortunately, rich carpetbagger and failed 2018 gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar is headed to Lansing, with 35% of the vote enough to put him comfortably ahead of a crowded field.

HD-04: Sanders-endorsed progressive Abraham Aiyash has easily won the Democratic nomination for both the special and regular elections to replace the late state Rep. Isaac Robinson, who tragically died of COVID earlier this year.

HD-05: After beating Rita Ross, sister of Motown legend Diana Ross, by just 7 votes in 2018, state Rep. Cynthia Johnson put up a much stronger showing this year, with nearly two-thirds of the vote.

HD-07: Helena Scott, an organizer for the labor activist group Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice, came out well ahead of a crowded field, with 36% to labor favorite Cynthia Johnson’s 18%.

HD-08: Former executive director of the Community Education Commission Stephanie Young, the candidate preferred by organized labor, defeated business-friendly candidate Reg Davis 45% to 31%.

HD-09: Trump-loving, hydroxychloroquine-promoting state Rep. Karen Whitsett looks set to hold on to her seat over progressive Roslyn Ogburn, who had the support of everyone from the Democratic establishment to Bernie Sanders. This is a disappointing result.

HD-10: Mary Cavanagh, the Chamber of Commerce-endorsed daughter of former state Rep. Phil Cavanagh, has defeated Kevin Lamont Harris, a criminal justice reform activist endorsed by most labor unions, 29% to 21%.

HD-12: State Rep. Alex Garza has easily defeated his two challengers, Romulus School Board President Ed Martell and Derrick Gyorkos.

HD-13: Tullio Liberati, the brother of term-limited state Rep. Frank Liberati, won the race to succeed his brother. There was no clear ideological divide in this race.

HD-21: Obama administration alum Ranjeev Puri, who was backed by both establishment and progressive groups, easily defeated Democratic activist Ethan Petzold.

HD-22: As expected, Roseville City Clerk Richard Steenland easily won.

HD-27: Oak Park City Councilor Regina Weiss, who seemed to be the favorite, won in a rout, with 47% of the vote; the next-closest candidate, attorney Kevin Kresch, had just 18%.

HD-34: State Rep. Cynthia Neeley, the wife of Flint mayor Sheldon Neeley, easily won her first full term in the legislature, with two-thirds of the Democratic primary vote. She had appeared vulnerable because of her weak victory in the special election to fill this seat after her husband resigned to become mayor.

HD-35: State Rep. Kyra Harris-Bolden easily defeated centrist, anti-tax real estate agent Shadia Martini.

HD-37: Union-backed candidate Samantha Steckloff defeated her fellow Farmington Hills city councilor Michael Bridges 49% to 30.5%, with former Farmington Hills city councilor Randy Bruce in third with 20.5%.

HD-53: Democratic Floor Leader Yousef Rabhi won renomination with more than 90% of the vote.

HD-60: Julie Rogers, a county commissioner who had recently been ousted from her position as chair of the commission over allegations of staff mistreatment and public intoxication, narrowly defeated fellow county commissioner Stephanie Moore; the ideological stakes were unclear here, but before the allegations, Rogers led in endorsements. (It’s unclear how many endorsers, if any, retracted.)

HD-95: Saginaw County Commissioner Amos O’Neal, the choice of organized labor and the Democratic establishment, won this open seat with 46% of the vote.

Oakland County Executive: Appointed incumbent Dave Coulter defeated his more progressive opponent, County Treasurer Andy Meisner, 54% to 46%.

Genesee County Prosecutor: Old-school incumbent David Leyton defeated establishment-friendly and vaguely reform-oriented challenger Trachelle Young 66% to 34%.

Oakland County Prosecutor: Incumbent Jessica Cooper was resoundingly defeated by reform-oriented challenger Karen McDonald, getting just 34% of the vote to McDonald’s 66%. Criminal justice reform won, and the era of tough-on-crime politics lost, in the wealthy Detroit suburbs of Oakland County.

Washtenaw County Prosecutor: Sanders-endorsed decarceral candidate Eli Savit prevailed over his more moderate opponent Arianne Slay, 50% to 43%. This is a huge win for criminal justice reform, and a blow to mass incarceration.

Wayne County Prosecutor: A strong performance in absentee ballots allowed incumbent Kym Worthy to overcome her narrow loss in election day ballots, and defeat decarceral challenger Victoria Burton-Harris 63% to 37%.

Washington

WA-02: Rick Larson has over 50%, while Jason Call and a host of Republicans are fighting it out in the low teens of vote share for the #2 spot.

WA-06: The vast majority of Republicans coalesced around one candidate, locking Rebecca Parson out of the top 2, despite her being in the 20-30% of Democratic vote share range that seemed like it would have been enough beforehand.

WA-10: Centrist ex-Tacoma mayor Marilyn Strickland is currently leading with 21.5% of the vote, a disappointing result. Luckily, progressive Beth Doglio is currently in second place over Kristine Reeves, and only solidifying that position as mail-in ballots come in.

Lt. Governor: Marko Liias and Denny Heck will advance to the runoff, but Heck’s 27% to 17% lead is distressing.

SD-05: Anti-tax warrior Mark Mullet is currently trailing progressive nurse Ingrid Anderson by a handful of votes, a gap which is likely only to grow as late ballots arrive. Still, this is just a preview of November.

HD-11(1): Landlord and anti-tenant (but we repeat ourselves) incumbent Zack Hudgins trails his challenger David Hackney 42% to 36%. Late ballots should widen this gap even more.

HD-22(2): Establishment but pretty progressive choice Jessica Bateman won this one easily.

HD-23(1): Centrist Bremerton Councilor Leslie Daugs got crushed by Tara Simmons.

HD-29(2): Centrist and political fossil Steve Kirby is currently up Bernie-endorsed Sharlett Mena 33.0% to 28.3%. That’s not quite enough to call the race yet, as stranger things have happened with late ballot returns, but it’s not looking good for Mena.

HD-30(1): As expect, Jamila Taylor won this in a walk over AirBnB host Cheryl Hurst.

HD-32(1)/HD-32(2): Despite finding some purchase with party activists, neither Shirley Sutton nor Gray Petersen came close to ousting the incumbents in these races.

HD-36(2): Business-friendly Jeffrey Cohen was absolutely destroyed, leaving Liz Berry and Sarah Reyneveld to fight it out in November, with Berry starting slightly ahead.

HD-37(1): Incumbent Sharon Tomiko Santos will face John Stafford in November, but considering she got over ¾ of the vote here, she doesn’t have to worry.

HD-37(2): Former interim Seattle City Councilor and head -tax-supporting progressive Kirsten Harris-Talley crossed the 50% threshold, which is a seriously good sign for November. As expected, she will be facing Chukundi Salisbury.

HD-43(2): Big happenings in Seattle. Ex-speaker Frank Chopp is only at 53%, and will likely finish under 50% against two challengers to his left. His opponent for November will be sex worker advocate Sherae Lascelles, who currently has 28% of the vote, but that will rise. To give you a sense of how sharply late ballots can change things in this part of the state, on election night Chopp led Lascelles by 26.1%. The first ballot drop yesterday was Chopp+15.4%. And it only goes left from there.

HD-44(2): April Berg, the more progressive candidate favored by labor beat painfully centrist Anne Anderson

Tennessee Primary Preview

Tennessee holds its state primaries today, on a Thursday. It’s the only state that does this, and we’re still not sure why. At any rate, this very Republican state is relatively quiet as far as Democratic primaries go.

TN-05: Jim Cooper (i) vs Keeda Haynes

Tennessee’s 5th is primed for a primary challenge: incumbent Jim Cooper is an old-school Southern Blue Dog who’s been in office forever and is out of sync with an increasingly liberal and diverse Nashville district. It hasn’t received as much attention as it could have, because of one glaring problem: the district likely isn’t going to exist in two years. It’s trivially easy to carve this district up in 3 or 4 districts that Trump won by 20% or more. Republicans in Tennessee almost did that in 2011, but chickened out, probably because they weren’t sure if rural Tennessee would stay as red as it had been in 2010. Rural Tennessee has instead gotten redder since then, so it’s a pretty safe bet that the district will be gone.

Cooper is being challenged by formerly incarcerated public defender Keeda Haynes. She’s running on a broadly progressive platform, with a focus on criminal justice. She has endorsements from local defense attorneys, a city/county councilor, PCCC, DFA, and Our Revolution, among some other groups and local figures. Haynes raised about $100,000, which isn’t much, and that’s in no small part because this district’s in its final days.

TN-09: Stephen Cohen (i) vs Corey Strong

While holding onto this majority-Black district, Steve Cohen’s faced his share of Black challengers who seem, on paper, to be somewhat formidable challengers, but their bids all fizzled and Cohen dispatched them with ease. The same looks to be the case for Corey Strong, former chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party, who never raised much money, nor particularly differentiated himself from the incumbent.

HD-15: Rick Staples (i) vs. Matthew Park vs. Sam McKenzie

Longtime Knoxville incumbent Rick Staples has run into issues with money before, but this year he’s been in scandal after scandal regarding campaign spending, so he’s seen as vulnerable. Former Big Brother contestant Ovi Kabir was running for a few months before residency issues ended his campaign. Matthew Park, a young, gay progressive and Sanders supporter is running with the support of the Sierra Club, Sunrise, and local DSA, among a few other local progressive groups. Sam McKenzie, a scientist at nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, launched a campaign in mid-June. HD-15 is majority white, but has a significant Black population. Park is white, while Staples and McKenzie are Black.

HD-52: Mike Stewart (i) vs. James Turner II

Rev. James Turner has made social justice a key facet of his work in the ministry, and has been involved in multiple protests since the George Floyd killing. Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart has represented this district, which covers part of Nashville and its inner suburbs, since 2008. He’s been a reliable vote, and is best known for buying an AR-15 online and then bringing it into the House Chamber to make a point about gun control. This majority nonwhite district, which has been changing as Nashville grows, may be looking for someone like Turner, who is more involved in the daily struggles of Nashville, but Stewart has been active and involved as well, unlike most of the representatives who get taken by surprise in similar situations.

HD-54: Vincent Dixie (i) vs Terry Clayton

Vincent Dixie and Terry Clayton both ran for this open seat in 2018, which resulted in Dixie being elected 34% to 30%. This rematch between the two doesn’t have massive ideological stakes, but in 2018 Clayton’s girlfriend took out a restraining order on him alleging domestic abuse, so here’s hoping for another Dixie victory.

HD-84: Joe Towns Jr (i) vs. Dominique Primer

Joe Towns is on the perpetual shit list for being a supporter of Lyndon LaRouche, which is just the weirdest fucking thing. Lyndon LaRouche, if you’re not aware, is a onetime leftist who went insane in the 70s and formed a syncretic political conspiracy cult that has some left and right wing beliefs, but is mostly concerned with issues such as Queen Elizabeth’s drug trafficking and the dispute between Platoism and Aristotelianism (note: neither exists). He’s a crank, and by the time Towns was attending his conferences in the late 90s/early 2000s, the LaRouchites were known primarily for getting together randomly to protest about some generally unexpected, invariably insane, issue. Super crazy that Towns is into that, right? At any rate, he has a primary challenger, and she seems like she’d be a good representative.

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8/4 Primary Preview II

Missouri needs fewer state house districts

Missouri

MO-01: Lacy Clay (i) vs. Cori Bush (vs. Kat Bruckner)

For this race we really need to start in 2018, when Ferguson Black Lives activist Cori Bush first challenged incumbent Lacy Clay. She was direly underfunded, and to outside observers (okay fine to us) it seemed like the last minute money and national attention she was getting were going to a doomed campaign. That was correct in that she did wind up losing, but only 57% to 37%. Clearly her story and the relationships she built in her community were strong, despite her not having the money to get the word out to too many voters.

From a bird’s eye view, it’s not wrong to say that in that race she did strongest in the southern, whiter part of the city. But that misses that she did very poorly in the wards of the city that are almost all white, just as she did in the wards that are almost all Black. Her strength really was in diverse, younger, more highly educated precincts. In other words, the places that resemble where voters are, judging from a variety of primaries in Missouri and nationally in the last few cycles, more likely to seek out primary challengers to vote for. 

For Bush, victory means expanding beyond her 2018 coalition, likely with older, more moderate Black voters. Reaching older, more traditional voters involves the money to reach them on paid media if you don’t have the option to go through traditional party channels. This cycle has been much better for her on that front. Her $570,000 so far is over three times better than 2018 to be specific. She has also, unlike 2018, received significant help from outside spending: $150,000 from Justice Democrats and $90,000 from Fight Corporate Monopolies, which appears to be a project of former Bernie Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir. Bush has outspent Clay on TV and radio; meanwhile, his digital ad presence is slim and he hasn’t run Facebook ads since May.

Clay is giving off mixed signals about how worried he is. One on hand, he’s not spending frantically on ads and in fact is still paying his sister’s law firm its customary $10,000 a month, but he’s gone not just negative, but into the realm of gutter politics. He’s called her corrupt and compared her to Trump in an ad, told the New York Times that her challenge is racist, and put out mailers attacking her for taking a picture with Linda Sarsour. In that mailer, the photo is altered so that Bush is darkened while Sarsour is not. The Bush campaign responded by decrying the photo manipulation as racist.

Others are clearly worried on behalf of Clay. The Congressional Black Caucus* sent out a mailer attacking Bush’s “radical left-wing agenda”. Nancy Pelosi dropped $14,000 in Clay’s campaign account on Thursday. 

Bush made inroads into the St. Louis County establishment in a way she didn’t in 2018. It’s not a lot, but she did get a handful of local officials on her side. The biggest name is St. Louis County Council Chair Lisa Gray.

Lacy Clay has always been lazy about campaigning, even in the face of challenges from elected officials in 2012 and 2014. That didn’t change in 2018, and it hasn’t changed now either. In all those races, Clay performed poorly, with less than ⅔ of the vote as an incumbent. But he didn’t truly come close to losing either. So maybe he thinks he doesn’t need to work hard to win against Bush and shouldn’t have to. Maybe he’s right. If we’re really, truly thinking about the difficulty of beating an incumbent who hasn’t done anything “wrong”, yeah we do think odds are better than not that he’s going to be right about that again. But we’ve underestimated Bush before, and we’ll say this: refusal to actually attempt to win over an electorate which is clearly moving out from under one’s feet is not the mark of a politician who is long for their office. Clay’s days in Congress are numbered.

*Okay, so we technically can’t say it was them, since the source was the Protecting Our Vote SuperPAC, but the CBC PAC provides most of its funding, and its treasurer is on the CBC Foundation’s Board of Directors and used to run the CBC PAC’s independent expenditures, so it’s pretty obvious what’s going on.

SD-05: Megan Ellyia Green vs. Steve Roberts vs. Michelle Sherod 

Unlike in MO-01, which has seen a whirlwind of changes in the last month, SD-05 is roughly where it was when we introduced it last month. At the risk of shortchanging you, we’re just going to reprint what we said then.

Megan Ellyia Green is running for SD-05 with the endorsement of Bernie Sanders, the SEIU, Working Families Party, DSA, and Unite Here, among others. Green is an alderwoman in St. Louis, who was first elected to the 15th Ward in a 2014 special election, impressively doing so as an independent in a race with a Democratic nominee. In 2019 she ran for Board of Alderman President, a city-wide office, and lost a close 3-way contest with 31% to the winner’s 36% and the runner-up’s 32%. She did best in the young and majority-white-but-diverse southeast of the city. 

That election serves as a convenient prelude to this one, which takes place in a district roughly coterminous with the city. This election is also a three-way race (two others will also be on the ballot). Of the three, state Representative and chairman of the House’s Black Caucus Steve Roberts, who has most of the city’s Black establishment behind him, is generally seen as the frontrunner. Former McCaskill staffer Michelle Sherod is raising a lot of money and is a generally moderate option in the race. Also in the race are perennial candidate Bill Haas, and McFarlane Duncan, who ran for state house in 2012 and hasn’t updated his campaign page since January. Green is the only progressive of the bunch, supporting a wide range of positions that you would expect from a Bernie/WFP/DSA endorsed candidate, as well as planks like a Homeless Bill of Rights and the decriminalization of HIV, issues that are often overlooked. 

One hurdle Green faces is that she’s a white candidate running in a majority-Black district. Or, rather, it was when it was drawn. It might have slipped under majority-Black status by voting-age population. Regardless, the primary electorate will likely be majority-Black, though not overwhelmingly so, since the white population in this district is very Democratic. In her 2019 race for Aldermanic President, Green did very poorly in the heavily Black north of the city. Green is the only serious white candidate in the race, but it’ll still be difficult for Green to win unless she’s made serious inroads with Black voters since 2019.

SD-07: Michael Brown vs. Greg Razer

State Rep. Greg Razer, a pretty mainstream Democrat, is by far and away the favorite in this Kansas City district. The Kansas City establishment and labor unions are behind him, and his only competition is former state Rep. Michael Brown, whose plan to extend his political career beyond 2012 term limits hit a wall when he placed 4th in a Kansas City Council primary. His current attempt to revive his career isn’t going anywhere either.

SD-09: Ryan Myers vs. Barbara Anne Washington

State Rep. Barbara Anne Washington is the choice of organized labor and the state Sierra Club, while Raytown Alderman Ryan Myers has little in the way of notable supporters or specific policies. Washington seems like a slight favorite.

SD-13: Alan Green vs. Angela Walton Mosley vs. Tommy Pierson Jr.

This majority-Black district in the north of St. Louis County features three big names: current state reps Alan Green and Tommy Pierson Jr, and Angela Mosley who is the sister of a St. Louis Alderman and is married to a state rep. Al Green is an anti-abortion hardliner who voted for Missouri’s recent unconstitutional ban on all abortion after 8 weeks, as well for as other extreme measures. Walton Mosley seems to be recognized as a legacy case, leaving Pierson almost by default. He’s fine, mostly a party-line vote.

HD-19: Ingrid Burnett (i) vs. Phyllis Hardwick vs. Wick Thomas

This race is mostly notably for Wick Thomas, a “pansexual glam rockstar”. They probably don’t stand much of a chance, even if this majority-minority district is primed for a progressive takeover. 

HD-22: Yolanda Young (i) vs. Bryce Bradford vs. Jeff Francis vs. Sheoni Givens vs. Kevon Graves

Yolanda Young, who won a special election in 2019, is running for a full term. Bryce Bradford, who has a great platform and the socialist media presence of a typical 24 year old lefty poster is the furthest/most reliably left candidate in the race. Additionally, Jeff Francis ran for the special as a Green Party candidate and got a not-terrible 7%. However, the greatest threat to Young probably comes from Sheoni Givens, who runs a homeless shelter.

HD-23: Derron Black vs. Michael Johnson

Derron Black doesn’t seem like a particularly serious candidate, while Michael Johnson is the choice of organized labor and outgoing incumbent Barbara Anne Washington. He should win easily.

HD-24: Sammie Arnold vs. Connor Nowalk vs. Emily Weber

Emily Weber, who got her start volunteering for Sharice Davids just across the state line, is the establishment pick but she supports policies like a $15/hr minimum wage and has the endorsement of Our Revolution, a step up from her less policy-driven opponents.

HD-25: Patty Lewis vs. Drew Rogers

Healthcare technology executive Patty Lewis looks like the favorite here, but has a decent platform and progressive endorsements, while lawyer Drew Rogers has corporate and anti-homeless former Kansas City mayor Sly James supporting him. 

HD-36: Mark Sharp (i) vs. Laura Loyacono

Incumbent Mark Sharp recently came under fire for past homophobic and misogynistic Facebook posts, as well as records unearthed from his time as a Texas public school teacher showing he was reprimanded for showing profanity on social media to his students (as well as for showing a video about police brutality; Sharp is Black, and the district he taught in was mostly white, so that latter reprimand was almost certainly racism rather than a legitimate grievance.) His opponent, Laura Loyacono, is vague on policy, but she’s never called women “pieces of meat,” so she’s an upgrade on the incumbent.

HD-67: Aaron Craig vs. Neil Smith

Neil Smith has more money here, but Aaron Craig has the AFL-CIO endorsement, so let’s hope for him.

HD-68: Jay Mosley (i) vs. Mike Moehlenkamp

Jay Mosley, husband of Angela Walton Mosley from SD-13, above, is probably safe. His moderate, white opponent has some endorsements from the more moderate, white part of the district, but that’s not enough for a victory.

HD-74: Mike Person (i) vs. Gary Johnson (vs. Yolonda Fortson)

Mike Person somehow nearly lost his special election in this heavily Democratic district to a gadfly Libertarian Party candidate in 2019? Sounds fake, but sure. Now he’s being challenged by… Gary Johnson? That coincidence is pretty funny, but the Gary Johnson in this race, who has been included on the various St. Louis County progressive slates, is serious. And would be a serious upgrade from the mediocre incumbent.

HD-75: Alan Gray (i) vs. Teona McGhaw-Boure

Teona McGhaw-Boure, a criminal defense paralegal and the great grandniece of civil rights hero Fannie Lou Hamer, is running as a progressive and on her third round with more moderate establishment politician Alan Gray, who beat her 64-36 in 2016 and 65-35 in 2018.

HD-77: Kimberly-Ann Collins vs. Darryl Gray

Reverend and civil rights activist Darryl Gray is the obvious choice here. His work on reducing police violence, both on the streets and in legislative chambers (he was formerly a state senator) are a rare combination. But then again, Kimberly Ann-Collins, a strong advocate for the unhoused who nearly unseated more moderate rep. Nick Roberts in 2018 also seems like an obvious choice. It’s a rare treat to see a primary between two candidates who clearly deserve to win, and either could.

HD-83: Jo Doll vs. Tyler Merkel

Both Jo Doll and Tyler Merkel strike progressive tones and support important policies like the $15/hr minimum wage and criminal justice reform. Merkel has support from labor unions and progressive groups, however, which means you should probably root for him. 

St. Louis County Executive: Sam Page (i) vs. Mark Mantovani vs. Jake Zimmerman (vs. Jamie Tolliver)

St. Louis County had an executive for a while who everyone knew was crooked, or at least an ethically dubious sleazeball. The feds finally nabbed him in 2018, after which Sam Page was elevated to the position. This special election will be his first time facing voters for this office. Mark Mantovani had nearly primaried that corrupt incumbent out in 2016, and Jake Zimmerman is the County Assessor. The ideological lines in this race are unusually stark for what is often regarded as a local government position. 

Page is a fairly typical Democrat, while Mantovani is the worst kind of moderate. He’s a businessman. He’d like to remind you he’s a businessman. Have you heard that he did business? It’s because he’s a businessman. The two major groups supporting him right now are cops and developers, and there’s a good chance he only got as far as he did last time because people wanted the other guy out. In contrast, Zimmerman is running as a progressive—actually, as the progressive. He’s promised that he’ll be a reformer, sweeping out the old boys club and holding both police and big businesses accountable. Page not as bad as the last guy? Cleaning out the last guy’s mess? Something nondescript like that, and his sort-of incumbency status probably contributes to that muddled message. People seem to like his coronavirus response, though, and that might be enough to save him. All three candidates could win here, though Page is a weak favorite.

Jackson County Sheriff: Darryl Forté (i) vs. Mike Sharp

This race is less about criminal justice reform and more about how former Sheriff Mike Sharp was sleeping with an employee, giving her money and promotions, and covering it up, all while she was suing the county for harassment, all of which he resigned for in 2018. Now he wants his job back. He should not get it back, nor is he likely to.

St. Louis Prosecutor: Kimberly Gardner (i) vs. Mary Pat Carl

Kim Gardner, in 2016, was one of the first of the modern wave of reform prosecutors in America, something the right has never stopped frothing at the mouth over (that, and her being a Black woman). It’s not just the right, however. She’s faced constant roadblocks, pressure, and outright hostility from officials in St. Louis itself who want to prevent a fairer criminal justice system by any means necessary. Now she’s facing a primary challenge from Mary Pat Carl, who she beat 47-24 in 2016. Carl has attacked her for a variety of nebulous things relating to effectiveness or working relationship, but sometimes she will just come out and say that Gardner should be nicer to the cops (who, as a reminder, threatened to remove her from office “by force”). It’s a campaign against both Gardner and the reform movement, and like last time we hope to see Carl lose, and she probably will, especially in the current environment.

St. Louis Sheriff: Vernon Betts (i) vs. Alfred Montgomery

Alfred Montgomery has received less attention from criminal justice organizations than Gardner, perhaps because his most recent job was beat cop, but this quieter race has still has high stakes. Montgomery, who worked under Betts until Mongtomery announced he was running for Betts’s job and Betts fired him, has picked up a lot of support, and from sources beyond the typical activist crowd. In a particularly dramatic caught-on-film moment on the campaign trail, Montgomery stopped by a small Betts campaign gathering, which immediately prompted Betts to threaten to hit him. Montgomery responded by saying “That’s the barriers we’re trying to break, that law enforcement mentality. You’re so upset that you think you can hit, and you can beat on people just because you wear a badge.”

Damn right.

Gardner’s biggest day-to-day roadblock to reform isn’t Missouri Republicans or Donald Trump. It’s the local police. Putting a like-minded sheriff in charge of them could seriously change things.

Washington

Note: Washington uses a legislative district similar to Arizona’s, in that each district elects one senator and two house members. But unlike Arizona, where the two house members are elected on the same ballot, in Washington the state House races are separated into two separate elections happening simultaneously in the same district, named Position 1 and Position 2. So, for instance, SD-69 would the senate race in the 69th district, while HD-69(1) and HD-69(2) would be two different elections for state house, happening in the same district, Position 1, and Position 2. Because that’s not needlessly complicated enough, Washington also uses California’s Top 2 ballot system, where every candidate runs on one primary ballot, and the top 2 vote getters advance to a general election runoff in November.

WA-02: Rick Larsen (i) vs. Jason Call

Rick Larsen ranks somewhere between Derek Kilmer and Adam Smith in terms of irritating Washington New Dems. His challenge comes from Jason Call, an active DSA member and Washington Democratic Central Committee member currently on the outs with the body after some intense arguments with more moderate members. Call put effort into getting the support of some local left groups and convincing a few party organizations to give a dual endorsement, but never raised much money, so he shouldn’t be expected to do well.

WA-06: Derek Kilmer (i) vs. Rebecca Parson

Rebecca Parson’s been running a professional, competent campaign for over a year now, but has, for whatever reason, not received a great deal of national attention. Parson is a Tacoma Area Commission on Disabilities member and tenants rights organizer running on a democratic socialist platform (she is a DSA member and endorsed by DSA national.) It’s a sharp contrast with incumbent Derek Kilmer, one of the House’s most moderate Democrats, who manages to mostly go unnoticed in discussions of bad Democrats. Parson has made much of Kilmer’s lack of support for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, as well as a late campaign focus on his choice in June to sign onto a letter calling for cuts to Social Security.

Parson struggled with fundraising for most of her campaign, but in her most recent fundraising quarter, she raised over $100,000, which isn’t bad for a challenger, but probably isn’t enough to win a primary. Her plan, however, does not involve beating Kilmer in the August primary. Instead, she plans to beat the four Republicans in the race and move on to the top 2 runoff in November. Depending on how much the Republicans consolidate behind one candidate, this could reasonably require 20-35% of the Democratic vote, which isn’t that difficult - most serious Democratic challengers have found their way into that range. But Kilmer, unlike many centrists this cycle, has decided to go hard, early. He put about $600,000 into TV, digital, and mail ads, and accused Parson of, among other things, using “Trump’s strategy”. This is all just to prevent her from making it to November.

WA-10: Beth Doglio vs. Phil Gardner vs. Kristine Reeves vs. Marilyn Strickland vs. Joshua Collins vs. assorted others

After the retirement (and subsequent unretirement, see below) of Rep. Denny Heck, it looked like an incredibly crowded field was possible in a district that covers both Olympia and the Tacoma suburbs, but the field condensed to just five candidates, of whom three seem like plausible winners. State Rep. Beth Doglio of Olympia is running as the progressive candidate, touting her endorsement from Bernie Sanders, as well as a variety of labor and progessive groups. She is also backed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which has been getting aggressive in primaries of late. 

Her two main competitors are state Rep. Kristine Reeves and former Tacoma mayor Marilyn Strickland. Reeves is a moderate who has, like too many in Washington, opposed new taxation. She’s also found herself squeezed ideologically between the progressive Doglio and proud corporate stooge Marilyn Strickland. Strickland is best known for her time as mayor of Tacoma, and while we don’t have praise for her tenure, it’s what she did afterwards that’s most galling. She served as president of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and in that capacity ran Amazon’s vicious anti-left election campaign in 2019 in order to help them defeat a tax measure. Strickland has pulled out the big guns for this run: both living former governors of Washington, Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke. That’s not too surprising in a way - both were known as moderate, and in Locke’s case one who seemed like he was trying to beat up on the “pro-tax” elements of his party more than the GOP was. 

Denny Heck district director Phil Gardner is also running, but simply couldn’t raise money and is now mostly forgotten. And finally there’s Joshua Collins. Collins, a socialist truck driver, was originally challenging Heck in the primary before the latter’s retirement. He was mostly distinguished by his youth (age 26) and his strategy of recruiting donors and volunteers through an aggressive social media presence. For a time, depending on your usage of Twitter, TikTok, and Reddit, he may have been inescapable to you. 

His campaign hit a high point for a few months after Heck dropped out, but after a few months it imploded amidst a flurry of allegations regarding plagiarism, campaign fund misuse, and neglect of the community he’d cultivated. It all culminated with him deactivating his social media for a few days, and returning to say he was leaving the Democratic Party and running under a third party label. Beyond any specific problems, it seems like the campaign is just mismanaged, over their head, and going to wind up as a monument to squandered potential more than anything else.

The wide smattering of Republicans in this race makes it far from clear if one or two Democrats will finish in the top 2.

Lt. Governor: Marko Liias vs. Denny Heck

When Cyrus Habib, a progressive with a unique story and personal charm, was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2016, it seemed obvious that he was going to run for governor when Jay Inslee retired. And then a few months ago Habib announced his intention to retire from politics and join the priesthood. Needless to say, this caught everyone off guard, and did so right before the filing deadline, so the Democratic field speaks to the requirement that anyone who wanted to run had to be able to mount a statewide campaign at a moment’s notice. That’s probably why there are only two of them, and neither is all that fantastic. 

Of the two, Marko Liias is the obvious choice, and is backed by Habib, more progressive labor unions, and Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger. The reason he’s the obvious choice is his opponent, Denny Heck, a centrist Congressman who was going to retire until this seat opened up. Heck has much more establishment support and name recognition, and has probably secured a ticket to November. Liias needs to make second place here and then figure out how to keep Republicans from voting en masse for Heck in November. 

SD-05: Mark Mullet (i) vs. Ingrid Anderson

Sen. Tim Sheldon literally caucuses with the Republicans, so we can’t quite say that Mark Mullet is the most infuriating Democratic senator, but dear god is a negative presence in the body. Mullet is a centrist on just about everything, but nothing tops his furious, relentless opposition to taxes of all kinds and at all levels of government. Given Democrats’ relatively narrow 28-21 majority in the chamber, which relies on one district Trump won by 9% and another he lost by just .01%, the corporations of the state recognize the utility of having an anti-tax warrior in a safely blue district. So do the Republicans, who declined to put up a candidate this year because they knew they needed to prop up Mullet.

The woman who conservative interests in the state are desperate to keep from the Senate is nurse Ingrid Anderson, who has the support of not just progressive groups, but labor and more mainstream Democratic organizations such as NARAL. This is the most expensive race in the state, historically so. PACs on both sides have spent hundreds of thousands so far. Since both candidates are destined for the general election, this election is mostly a trial run to see current support for Mullet and Anderson.

HD-11(1): Zach Hudgins (i) vs. David Hackney

Zach Hudgins is a landlord, and not only a landlord, but a landlord who voted against the tenant’s rights bill that was passed last session. This inspired a challenge from Washington State Human Rights Commissioner David Hackney, who is also emphasizing criminal justice reform. Hackney has been endorsed by not just The Stranger, but the considerably more conservative Seattle Times. This race has striking similarity to Oregon’s SD-24 primary in 2018, when Shemia Fagan ran against an incumbent state senator who was also a landlord that had just voted against tenant protections. She won that race 62-20.

HD-22(2): Jessica Bateman vs. Mary Ellen Biggerstaff vs. Glenda Breiler (vs. Anthony Novack)

Beth Doglio is leaving this Olympia district open to run for Congress. Establishment and labor choice Jessica Bateman is a heavy favorite here, and she seems fine, mostly because the Olympia establishment is actually fairly progressive, but both other Democrats in the primary would be even better. Enrolled member of the Colville Tribes Glenda Breiler has spent her entire career in social work and working with the relationship between Native American tribes and the government, while Mary Ellen Biggerstaff is a leftist running with the DSA’s endorsement who has big plans for single-payer and social housing. Of the two Bateman challengers, Breiler, who has raised nearly as much money as Bateman, seems more likely to beat her. While this is a pretty Democratic district, only one Republican is running, so chances are high this race will decide the next house member.

HD-23(1): Leslie Daugs vs. Tara Simmons (vs. James Beall and Lou Krukar)

Progressive candidate Tara Simmons is a heavy favorite here, and thank god. Her opponent is Leslie Daugs, a Bremerton (pop 42,000) Councilor who’s running to represent “the lost middle.”

HD-29(2): Steve Kirby (i) vs. Sharlett Mena

Former Tacoma City Councilor and 20-year House incumbent Steve Kirby has spent his entire tenure pissing off progressives by voting far too often with Republicans. He was one of the three holdouts on gay marraige in 2012, and has recently been very supportive of payday lenders. After putting up with him for far too long, progressives have a candidate in this race: Sharlett Mena, the daughter of immigrant farm workers who worked on immigrant outreach in the federal government before taking her current role in Washington State Department of Ecology. Mena is backed by Bernie Sanders and Pramila Jayapal, among a slew of other local progressive politicians and organizations. Kirby’s response has gotten ugly, calling her an opportunist and a carpetbagger, a particularly ugly term for a old white guy to use against a Latina child of immigrants considering that it was coined for white southerners to rail against supporters of Reconstruction.

HD-30(1): Cheryl Hurst vs. Jamila Taylor

This open seat is almost certainly going to Jamila Taylor, who has the support of just about any Democrat in the state you can think of. Cheryl Hurst, a centrist local AirBnB host who campaigns by standing on a street corner with her name on a sign, has come off to just about everyone as having a loose connection to reality.

HD-32(1): Cindy Ryu (i) vs. Shirley Sutton (vs. Kevin Smith)

HD-32(2): Lauren Davis (i) vs. Grey Peterson

Cindy Ryu and Lauren Davis, mainstream Democrat, are probably going to win this in a walk, but Shirley Sutton, running on a “no austerity” platform has found some popularity with local Democratic activists, as has Grey Petersen, so maybe it’ll be closer than expected.

HD-36(2): Liz Berry vs. Jerry Cohen vs. Sarah Reyneveld

While attorney Sarah Reyneveld and nonprofit director Liz Berry are both solid candidates with progressive goals, Berry is the better choice here. This is apparent from both Reyneveld’s willingness to cut government jobs to balance the post-COVID budget, and from Berry’s support from the bulk of Seattle’s progressive community. Reyneveld has some liberal groups, as well as some labor support, though hers tends towards the more moderate trades unions. Cohen is some “business-friendly” centrist whose support will probably come from Republican voters, since no one from that party is running. This race has three candidates total running for 2 spots in November, so it’s just a matter of who gets eliminated

HD-37(1): Sharon Tomiko Santos (i) vs. John Stafford vs. William Burroughs (no, not that one)

Santos is a good example of the corporate-friendly, liberal-but-incrementalist Democrats who ran the state a decade or two ago. Indeed, she was one of them. Considering this Seattle district has a lot of left-wing voters in it now (including much of Kshama Sawant’s district), Santos is a good target for a leftist primary challenge. Unfortunately, the main challenge she drew was from John Stafford, who, well…his website contains phrases like “on a means-tested basis” and “it is also important that landlords are treated fairly”. He’d be a lateral move at best. A third candidate, William Burroughs (no, not that one) is probably the most progressive, but also refused to accept money this campaign, so we don’t see him getting far.

HD-37(2): Kirsten Harris-Talley vs. Chukundi Salisbury (vs. Andy Goeres and Robert Redwine)

Kirsten Harris-Talley was appointed to the Seattle City Council for a partial term in 2017-2019, and in that short time she made the incredibly gutsy decision to come out in favor of the head tax, a major leftist priority and controversial proposal to tax large employers in the city (ie, Amazon) per employee to fund housing. It had only recently been voted down 7-2, so she was not jumping on the bandwagon for some uncontroversial policy. Chukundi Salisbury seems fine? There’s not much to say about him, especially compared to Harris-Talley, who looks like a favorite in this race.

HD-43(2): Frank Chopp (i) vs. Jessi Murray vs. Sherae Lascelles

Frank Chopp spent 20 years as Speaker of the House, before stepping down in 2019. He is well known, well connected, flush with cash, and disappointingly moderate for a man who represents the leftiest, Seattle-iest district in the state. He wasn’t corrupt, or outright hostile towards progressives in his role as Speaker, but he did govern with an eye towards the swingy suburban districts many Democrats in the caucus represented (or at least the idea of those districts held by a politician such as him who entered politics during the Republican Revolution). It’s hard not to lay many of Washington’s governing failures such as its regressive tax rates and homelessness at his feet. 

Seattle’s left has had a problem with Chopp for a while. In 2012, an outspoken first-time candidate challenged him under the banner of a little-known minor party, Socialist Alternative, and received an impressive 29.4% of the vote. Her name was Kshama Sawant. Now that Chopp is no longer Speaker and Seattle’s appetite for left-wing politicians is more established, Chopp faces serious opposition once again. He will almost certainly make it to the general election, so this is almost a primary for the right to challenge him. 

Jessi Murray is the more mainstream option. She’s charted out a path which is clearly more progressive than Chopp, raised a decent amount of money, and still found herself in a tough spot. She still stands a good chance of making it to the general election, of course, but faces a fundamental problem where the Seattle left is of the mind that if they’re going to go for it, they may as well go for it. The choice of the left is Sherae Lascelles, who is running, much like Sawant, as a proud socialist under a minor party label, in her case the Seattle People’s Party. Lascelles has endured homelessness and living as a sex worker while Seattle’s police doing all they could to crush sex workers. Lascelles started two nonprofits for sex workers’ rights, one of which was an important part of the push for sex work decriminalization, of which they say did not go nearly far enough. They also want not just new housing, but decommodification of housing. 

Sherae Lascelles is one of the most exciting candidates for state legislature in the country right now, and while they face an uphill battle against Chopp, they have a good chance of making it to that general election. 2017 leftist mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver, current HD-37(2) candidate Kirsten Harris-Talley, and alt-week The Stranger, which as a rule does not endorse fringe candidates, have all endorsed them.

HD-44(2): Anne Anderson vs. April Berg

LD-44, in the northern suburbs of Seattle, voted for Clinton and Obama by double digits, but for whatever reason was somehow held by a Republican until a tough re-election loss in 2018. Hopefully that recent history doesn’t lead Democratic voters to gun shyness in the primary, because otherwise it seems like April Berg--the more progressive candidate, the stronger fundraiser, and the favorite of labor--should be the runaway favorite against her painfully centrist opponent Anne Anderson.

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8/4 Primary Preview Part I

This is another biggie

We were planning on sending this out in one piece, but there are a massive volume of elections happening today, mostly due to Michigan and Missouri, where term limits and a large State House team up to create a wide playing field. Like the New York/Kentucky preview, we didn’t want to send you a novel. This contains Arizona, Kansas, and Michigan. In a few hours we’ll send out Missouri and Washington.

Arizona

Note: Arizona has a legislative district system which is otherwise only used in North and South Dakota. The state has 50 legislative districts. Every two years, each district holds one election for one senator, and one election for two state house representatives. Voters can choose up to two candidates on the state house ballot, and the top two vote-getters win. This is true for the primary and general elections.

AZ-01: Tom O’Halleran (i) vs. Eva Putzova

O’Halleran is a former Republican, former cop, and current member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of the worst and most useless House Democrats. O’Halleran faces a spirited but under-resourced challenge from former Flagstaff city councilor Eva Putzova, who is running a progressive campaign; O’Halleran is heavily favored, but Flagstaff, a college town that is the district’s largest city, could be strong for Putzova. O’Halleran doesn’t appear worried, but he’s hedging his bets enough for a $111,000 cable buy ahead of the primary, which means both that he’s taking Putzova some level of seriously, and that incumbents are getting very worried after Engel.

This district is one where we’d normally hesitate about challenging the incumbent, because Trump and Romney narrowly carried it; however, Republicans aren’t prioritizing the district after several consecutive losses, including in the more Republican years of 2014 and 2016. Additionally, demographic trends have led to a slow erosion in Republican vote share in this sprawling rural district, which includes most of the state’s Native reservations (including the Navajo Nation) as well as rural white communities, some exurbs of Phoenix and Tucson, the college town of Flagstaff, and the liberal resort town of Sedona. We’re not particularly nervous about this seat. 

SD-24: Lela Alston (i) vs Ryan Starzyk

Lela Alston is one of the most senior Democrats in the state Senate, and she’s not great. Her challenge from LGBT activist Ryan Starzyk hasn’t gained much traction, but it’s hard to get a read on this race.

SD-26: Juan Mendez (i) vs. Jana Granillo

Mendez is part of a slate of progressives in this Tempe district; his entire slate is being opposed by heavy spending from business interests, and business support is never a good sign.

HD-02: Daniel Hernandez Jr. (i) vs. Andrea Dalessandro vs. Billy Peard (vs. Luis Parra)

Term-limited state Sen. Andrea Dalessandro is expected to win one of this district’s two state house seats; it’s a contest between moderate incumbent state Rep. Daniel Hernandez Jr. and progressive challenger Billy Peard for the other seat. Peard is an ACLU lawyer backed by Tucson DSA and the local AFL-CIO; Hernandez is backed by utility companies, charter school groups, and a Republican front group called Better Leaders, Better Arizona. Parra is a local veteran and attorney who hasn’t gained traction.

HD-03: Andres Cano (i) and Alma Hernandez (i) vs. Javier Soto

State Rep. Andres Cano is pretty good, and is expected to take one of the district’s two seats; state Rep. Alma Hernandez, brother of Daniel, is fighting with union organizer Javier Soto for the other seat. Root for Soto.

HD-10: Domingo DeGrazia (i) vs. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton vs. Paul Stapleton-Smith 

Incumbent Domingo DeGrazia and candidates Stephanie Stahl Hamilton and Paul Stapleton-Smith all have a fair number of significant endorsements, and eachcandidate’slist of endorsements cuts across the ideological spectrum. We expect DeGrazia to make it to November because he’s an incumbent, but wouldn’t be surprised by either Hamilton or Stapleton-Smith getting the second slot.

HD-19: Diego Espinoza (i) and Lorenzo Sierra (i) vs. Leezah Sun

Local activist Leezah Sun is challenging incumbents Diego Espinoza and Lorenzo Sierra; the ideological battle lines are unclear, but Sun seems to be running to the left.

HD-26: Athena Salman (i) vs. Melody Hernandez vs. Patrick Morales vs. Debbie Nez-Manuel 

Rep. Salman is part of Mendez’s slate, as is paramedic Melody Hernandez. They face indigenous activist Debbie Nez-Manuel and Tempe school board member Patrick Morales, backed by the same business interests opposing Mendez and backing the Hernandez siblings in the 2nd and 3rd legislative district. Nez-Manuel is running a campaign focused on advocating for indigenous Arizonans in the state legislature, rather than on the issues preferred by the business interests backing her; they may just be backing her because she’s not on Mendez’s slate.

HD-27: Reginald Bolding (i) and Diego Rodriguez (i) vs. Catherine H. Miranda 

Catherine Miranda is a conservative Democratic former state representative who endorses Republicans and primaries incumbent Democrats from the right. It would be very bad if she won. She was last seen in 2018 getting demolished by Ruben Gallego in AZ-07, so hopefully Phoenix is done with her.

HD-29: Richard Andrade (i) and Cesar Chavez (i) vs. Teddy Castro

State Rep. Richard Andrade is a solid progressive, and we hope to see him returned to the legislature; fellow incumbent Cesar Chavez is a moderate, but challenger Teddy Castro seems to be supported exclusively by business, so we’re...skeptical, to say the least.

Pima County DA: Laura Conover vs. Mark Thomas Diebolt vs. Jonathan Mosher

Another primary day, another DA primary with major implications for criminal justice reform and mass incarceration. None of the candidates to replace punitive Pima County DA Barbara LaWall are as radical as candidates like San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin or Austin’s all-but-certain new DA José Garza, but Laura Conover, a defense attorney and former public defender, is a clear step above Diebolt and Mosher. Conover promises to shift resources away from prosecuting drug offenses and sex work, and to pursue alternatives to incarceration when her office does prosecute those cases. It’s not the blanket refusal to prosecute entire classes of cases we’ve grown used to seeing from left-wing DA candidates, but it’s good. (However, all three candidates have said they will not prosecute marijuana possession, which is a welcome step.)

No Republican, third-party, or independent candidate has filed to run for DA, so the winner of the primary will be the next DA of Pima County, a county of over a million residents which includes Tucson.

Pima County Recorder: Gabriella Cázares-Kelly vs. Kim Challender

In Arizona, the county recorder administers elections, so these primaries are important for voting rights, as well as serving as a springboard to higher office. Gabriella Cázares-Kelly, a Native American teacher and activist with the backing of Raúl Grijalva, Deb Haaland, Tucson DSA, Sunrise Tucson, local labor unions, and a long list of Arizona’s better Democratic state and local officials, is the kind of person we want to see in office. Kim Challender, whose most notable backers are the local Chamber of Commerce and the outgoing incumbent, is not. Cázares-Kelly also offers specific plans to increase voter turnout, including website improvements, ballot drop boxes, and increased outreach to the Tohono O’odham Nation, a large tribe in the county’s rural west of which Cázares-Kelly is a member. Challender offers little in the way of specifics.

The winner of the primary will be heavily favored over Benny White, who is unopposed for the Republican nomination, in this reliably Democratic county.

Kansas

HD-10: Christina Haswood vs. Brandon Holland vs. A.J. Stevens

This seems like a contest between public health professional Christina Haswood and self-funding former Baldwin City Councilor AJ Stevens, though liquor store manager and former Democratic campaign staffer Brandon Holland seems like a credible candidate as well. Stevens is positioning himself as a progressive, earning the endorsement of Our Revolution and leaning heavily on Sanders-esque rhetoric--but he’s a self-funder (bad) and his campaign manager is a former Buttigieg staffer, a hire a progressive candidate normally would not make. (Mostly because Buttigieg alums generally do not work for progressive candidates.) But Haswood has the backing of everyone from the local Sunrise chapter and organized labor to local Democratic politicians, indicating that the strange self-funder is, in fact, a strange self-funder.

HD-22: Randen Smith vs. Lindsay Vaughn

Local businessman Randen Smith is best known for defying his power company and supplying electricity to a disabled neighbor who the power company had cut off, even lawyering up when the power company told him to stop. It’s a great thing to do, and also something nobody should ever have to do, because it is absolutely inhumane to shut off power because a disabled man on oxygen can’t pay his bills. Smith’s platform is pretty good, too, including single payer (while also supporting the more immediate step of Medicaid expansion, which Kansas can actually do if Democrats and the Kansas GOP’s surprisingly large faction of actual moderates can corral enough votes for it), legal marijuana, and taxing the rich.

The other candidate, nonprofit director Lindsay Vaughn, is supported by a list which includes the local Chamber of Commerce, which is usually a bad sign.

HD-32: Pam Curtis (i) vs. Oscar Irenia

State Rep. Pam Curtis has unified support from organized labor, Kansas Democrats, and business interests, but the reason we’d keep an eye on challenger Oscar Irenia is one of the reasons he says he’s running: he’s Hispanic, like more than 60% of the district’s residents, while Curtis is white. White incumbents facing challengers of color in majority-minority districts are especially prone to losing renomination.

HD-35: Broderick Henderson (i) vs. Nelson Gabriel

In 1987, Nelson Gabriel was elected to the state house. He served two terms representing HD-90, and was among the youngest elected officials in the country. Now, he’s running for office again. One small problem: Gabriel was a state rep in Louisiana, not Kansas. Incumbent Broderick Henderson seems to be sleepwalking through his primary, skipping candidate forums and local news questionnaires. Gabriel, on the other hand, has the support of a number of local pastors, which makes sense: prior to founding the nonprofit he currently runs, he was an AME pastor. The incumbent may be absent, but Gabriel’s not great: his response to a question about police reform was suggesting more police funding to fix the problem.

HD-37: Stan Frownfelter (i) vs. Aaron Coleman

Incumbent Stan Frownfelter is a moderate, but challenger Aaron Coleman is best known for wishing Republican politicians died of COVID, so that’s, um, not great!

Douglas County Prosecutor: Charles Branson (i) vs. Cooper Overstreet vs. Suzanne Valdez

Cooper Overstreet, a local defense attorney, is challenging incumbent Charles Branson for the Democratic nomination, which is tantamount to election in Douglas County, home to the college town of Lawrence. Per the Intercept, incumbent Charles Branson opposes a conviction integrity unit, is skeptical of eliminating cash bail, and is known for botching sexual assault cases; Suzanne Valdez is a former Republican who warns that Overstreet would make Lawrence “complete anarchy,” like “Seattle or Portland.”

Overstreet is modeling his campaign on José Garza and Tiffany Cabán, and promises to seek an end to cash bail, civil asset forfeiture, prosecution for inability to pay fines and fees, limit drug prosecutions, and pursue reduced sentences. Overstreet’s win would mark yet another victory for the movement to oust punitive DAs, and one deep in the so-called heartland at that.

Michigan

MI-12: Debbie Dingell (i) vs. Solomon Rajput

Socialist candidate Solomon Rajput is Very Online, but that’s about it. This district, which includes Dearborn and Ann Arbor, will return Debbie Dingell to office.

MI-13: Rashida Tlaib (i) vs. Brenda Jones

Rashida Tlaib is a fantastic member of Congress; naturally, this has earned her a challenger. Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones won the Democratic nomination for this district in 2018...and simultaneously lost it. How? There were two concurrent primaries: one for a special election to fill the last six weeks of former Rep. John Conyers’s term, and one for the regular two-year term. Jones narrowly won the former and narrowly lost the latter. As a result, she served a few weeks in Congress in late 2018 before returning to her job as president of the Detroit City Council.

She’s back for another go at Tlaib--but this time, Tlaib is a solid favorite. Jones was a weak enough fundraiser the first time, but now Tlaib has the monster fundraising that comes with being a member of the Squad; additionally, Tlaib has the support of organized labor, which backed Jones in 2018. Jones retains the support of the city’s Black political establishment, and she’s been endorsed by her 2018 opponents; however, she’s never been able to respond to polls consistently showing her trailing, nor has she been able to convince wealthy moderate and Republican donors that she has a chance (which even AOC’s joke of a challenger was able to do.)

HD-02: Joseph Tate (i) vs. Taylor Harrell

Nonprofit employee Taylor Harrell, a veteran of several local campaigns, is challenging state Rep. Joe Tate for a district that covers parts of Detroit as well as some of the wealthy communities collectively known as the Grosse Pointes. Tate has the backing of business as well as labor, and Harrell was a Sanders supporter, so she’s to his left. She’s also backed by Southpaw, the PAC formed by 2018 gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed to support progressive candidates.

HD-03: Shri Thanedar vs. John Cromer vs. Donavan McKinney vs. China Cochran vs. Al Williams vs. Steven Lett (vs. Art Tyus and Keith McMurty)

Shri Thanedar is best known for his disastrous 2018 gubernatorial campaign, which was defined by his endless self-funding, shady business background, and total cluelessness. He’s now moved to Detroit and is trying to start smaller. A wide field of candidates aims to stop him, including nonprofit employee China Cochran, union official Donavan McKinney, and Democratic activist Al Williams. All of them would be better than Thanedar, but we worry his extensive self-funding will get him into the state House.

HD-04: Abraham Aiyash vs. a frankly baffling number of candidates for a district this size

Activist and former legislative staffer Abraham Aiyash is a Bernie Sanders-endorsed candidate for this Detroit seat left open by the tragic COVID death of state Rep. Isaac Robinson, and he’s the one to root for. The other major contenders include former legislative staffer Delorean Holmes, housing activist Michele Oberholtzer, attorney Tonya Myers Phillips, legislative staffer Frazier Kimpson, and former Hamtramck city councilor Shahab Ahmed.

HD-05: Cynthia A. Johnson (i) vs. Rita Ross (vs. Jermaine Tobey)

Rita Ross, a local doctor, is best known for who her sister is: Motown legend Diana Ross. She lost the 2018 primary for this seat by 7 votes, and is back for a rematch with winner Cynthia Johnson. The ideological divide is unclear here.

HD-07: Cynthia Thornton vs. Helena Scott vs. Nyia Bentley vs. Anistia Thomas vs. Lee Yancy vs. Elene Robinson (vs. Bernard Thompson)

LGBT activist and UAW union steward Cynthia Thornton is the choice of organized labor, and is the apparent favorite for this open seat. Businesswoman Anistia Thomas, perennial candidate Elene Robinson, paralegal Nyia Bentley, and businessman Lee Yancy round out the field; candidate Bernard Thompson has no online presence, and local media has been unable to contact him during his multiple campaigns.

HD-08: Stephanie Young vs. Reggie “Reg” Davis vs. George Etheridge vs. Anthony Bradford

Former Community Education Commission executive director Stephanie Young is the favorite of most of organized labor, while city planner George Etheridge has a handful of unions and incumbent Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, former Wayne County Commissioner Reg Davis has the local Chamber of Commerce, and city council employee Anthony Bradford seems to have fallen behind.

HD-09: Karen Whitsett (i) vs. Roslyn Ogburn (vs. Marc Cummings vs. Nicole Elcock)

Incumbent Karen Whitsett is best known for promoting hydroxychloroquine, a drug that does not treat COVID-19 (but can kill you.) Roslyn Ogburn is the choice of everyone from Bernie Sanders to the Michigan Democratic establishment, who are rightfully tired of Whitsett’s dangerous antics.

HD-10: Mary Cavanagh vs. Marcus Cummings vs. Kevin Harris vs. Steele P. Hughes vs. Brenda Hill vs. Diajah Ruffin vs. Tyson Kelley vs. Valli Smith

This appears to be a contest between local pastor Kevin Harris, a criminal justice reform advocate who previously served time in prison and is endorsed by most local unions, and Mary Cavanagh, the daughter of former state Rep. Phil Cavanagh and the choice of the local Chamber of Commerce. We don’t like dynasties and we don’t like Chamber of Commerce endorsements.

Also in the race are community organizer Marcus Cummings, workers’ rights activist Brenda Hill, conflict resolution specialist Steele Hughes, 13th Congressional District Democratic Party treasurer Diajah Ruffin, pastor Tyson Kelley, and social worker Valli Smith.

HD-12: Alex Garza (i) vs. Derrick Gyorkos vs. Edward Martell 

Since losing badly in this seat in 2016, Ed Martell has become Romulus school board President, but he hasn’t gained any notable supporters since his 2016 run; incumbent Alex Garza should dispatch him as easily as then-Rep. Erika Geiss did in 2016. Derrick Gyorkos seems to have even less of a chance than Martell. We’re only mentioning him because we want you to see this masterpiece

HD-13: Bill Colovos vs. Timothy Estheimer vs. Tullio Liberati

Southgate city councilman Bill Colovos, Southgate board of education member Timothy Estheimer, and businessman Tullio Liberati are running in a contest that doesn’t have clear ideological contrasts. Liberati, the brother of retiring state Rep. Frank Liberati, may have a name recognition advantage, but his opponents are both elected officials.

HD-21: Ethan Petzold vs. Ranjeev Puri

Obama administration alum Ranjeev Puri is a clear favorite over Democratic activist Ethan Petzold, with groups across the spectrum of the Democratic Party backing him (including progressive groups like Southpaw and Democracy for America.)

HD-22: Michael James Anderson vs. Ryan Nelson vs. Richard Steenland

Roseville City Clerk Richard Steenland is the favorite in this open seat, but Roseville Board of Education member Michael James Anderson has a handful of unions on his side.

HD-27: Crystal Bailey vs. Kevin Kresch vs. Robert Lathrop vs. Matt Stoel vs. Regina Weiss vs. Kelli Williams (vs. Dan Tuck and Martin Tutwiler)

Oak Park City Councilor Regina Weiss, a Detroit public school teacher, seems to lead a crowded field which also includes attorney Kevin Kresch, union official Kelli Williams, and Oak Park School District Trustee Crystal Bailey. Weiss and Kresch have the most endorsements from organized labor, progressive groups, and Michigan Democratic politicians, though Weiss leads Kresch in endorsements.

HD-34: Cynthia Neeley (i) vs. Claudia Perkins-Milton (vs. Deltonya Burns, Diana Phillips, and Arthur Woodson)

State Rep. Cynthia Neeley, the wife of Flint mayor Sheldon Neeley, faces a rematch with Claudia Perkins-Milton, an activist responding to the Flint water crisis; Neeley is running for her first full term, after winning the special election to succeed her husband in the state house upon his resignation to become mayor. Neeley won the Democratic nomination in that special election with less than 30% of the vote, and special election winners are often especially vulnerable in their first regular primary.

HD-35: Kyra Harris Bolden (i) vs. Shadia Martini 

Shadia Martini is best described as a favorite of radical centrist Twitter, and one of her policy priorities is tax cuts to benefit her business as a real estate agent. Please vote for Bolden.

HD-37: Mike Bridges vs. Randy Bruce vs. Samantha Steckloff

Farmington Hills city councilors Michael Bridges and Samantha Steckloff, and their former colleague Randy Bruce, are facing off for the nomination here; all are serious candidates, but Steckloff is a clear favorite with near-unanimous support from local politicians and labor unions, despite Bruce’s significant self-funding.

HD-53: Yousef Rabhi (i) vs. Sam Larson

Normally, we’d be thrilled about a serious primary challenge to a member of Democratic leadership, but Democratic Floor Leader Yousef Rabhi is quite progressive, and challenger Sam Larson talks up bipartisanship in a way that undercuts his otherwise progressive platform.

HD-60: Stephanie Moore vs. Julie Rogers

The primary between Kalamazoo County Commissioners Stephanie Moore and Julie Rogers for this seat left open by incumbent Jon Hoadley’s congressional campaign was upended when Rogers resigned as chair of the commission just a few weeks ago. The day after she did so, her colleagues released a letter saying she was asked to resign because of a pattern of, among other things, staff mistreatment and public intoxication affecting her government duties. Rogers denies everything, but among the signatories of the letter was a commissioner who had endorsed her campaign (and did not withdraw his endorsement.) Both Moore and Rogers have significant support from organized labor and elected officials, but Rogers is, or at least was, the choice of more of them. It remains to be seen what this controversy will do to this primary, but whoever wins it is all but assured a seat in the legislature.

HD-95: Clint Bryant vs. Carly Hammond vs. Amos O’Neal (vs. Brandell Adams and James Graham)

Saginaw County Commissioner Amos O’Neal is a clear favorite for this open seat, with overwhelming support from politicians and labor unions, but Saginaw City Councilor Clint Bryant and activist Carly Hammond are each running spirited campaigns. Of the three, Hammond is clearly the furthest left.

Wayne County Prosecutor: Kym Worthy (i) vs. Victoria Burton-Harris

Another prosecutorial election with major implications for criminal justice reform? Yup! This one’s in Wayne County, which includes all of Detroit and some of its largest suburbs. Victoria Burton-Harris is taking on incumbent Kym Worthy on a platform that includes declining to prosecute drug possession, ending the use of cash bail, no longer sentencing children to life in prison, and seeking the release of some currently incarcerated people. Burton-Harris has the support of Bernie Sanders, singer John Legend, and a number of local politicians; her victory would transform thousands of lives in Wayne County.

Oakland County Executive: Dave Coulter (i) vs. Andy Meisner

Dave Coulter was appointed county executive by the Democratic-controlled county commission when longtime Republican incumbent L. Brooks Patterson died. He quickly decided he quite liked his new job, and jumped into the race for a full term--despite having previously endorsed County Treasurer Andy Meisner. Meisner is to Coulter’s left, though both are establishment politicians, and he is backed by groups such as Southpaw as a result--while Coulter has police unions.

Oakland County Prosecutor: Jessica Cooper (i) vs. Karen McDonald

Jessica Cooper is a fanatically punitive incumbent, so much so that much of the Michigan Democratic establishment has ditched her in favor of Karen McDonald, a reform-minded challenger who wants to end prosecution of marijuana possession and end the use of cash bail. Steve Descano’s victory over longtime prosecutor Ray Morrogh in suburban northern Virginia’s Fairfax County proved that criminal justice reform can win in affluent suburbs such as the ones that make up most of Oakland County; this is another chance to bring criminal justice reform to the suburbs.

Washtenaw County Prosecutor: Arianne Slay vs. Eli Savit vs. Hugo Mack

Eli Savit is in line with many successful reform-oriented DA candidates, promising to end the use of cash bail, expand the use of restorative justice, seek alternatives to incarceration, and reverse wrongful convictions and unjust sentences. His platform also promises to prosecute polluters--which is good--and corporations which exploit workers, specifically naming wage theft as an offense he would prosecute, to which we say: hell yes. Washtenaw County, which includes Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, could lead the way in ending the golden age of white-collar crime.

Savit has a good chance of winning, too: with widespread support from Democratic politicians, labor unions, and progressive organizations, he has plenty of ways to persuade voters he’s a good choice.

His opponent, Arianne Slay, is clearly a status quo candidate; among her endorsers are Kym Worthy and the incumbent county sheriff, along with a long list of local politicians and a handful of unions. We don’t know what to expect here; either candidate could win.

Genesee County Prosecutor: David Leyton (i) vs. Trachelle Young

Trachelle Young, a former prosecutor, is challenging incumbent David Leyton on a vaguely reform-oriented platform; her past as a prosecutor calls her commitments into question somewhat, but Leyton is even less committed to reform, and every time a DA loses for being too punitive, it sends a message to other DAs that the tough-on-crime era has fallen out of favor with the public. (If they won’t end mass incarceration for moral reasons, the least we can do is give them a reason to do it for self-preservation.) Young additionally may benefit from having been a part of lawsuits related to the Flint water crisis, which has been a defining feature of life in Flint since 2014. (Also, Rick Snyder and his entire administration should not know a moment’s peace for as long as they walk the earth.)

No Republican is on the ballot in November, so whoever wins the Democratic nomination will take office next year in this county, home to Flint and its suburbs.

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Issue #75

Entering the final stages

On Tuesday, primaries will be held in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. We’re hoping to have a primary preview out before Tuesday morning, but no promises.

Incumbent Challenges

MI-13 and MN-05

Rashida Tlaib, who represents MI-13, and Ilhan Omar, who represents MN-05, are famously two members of the squad and arguably the two most left-wing members of the House of Representatives. Their paths to Congress also have a lot in common: both come from activist backgrounds in small, tight-knit communities; both were elected first to the state house before being elected to Congress in 2018. They’re also both facing primary challengers from their right this year, and we’ve had fun arguing amongst ourselves about which challenge is more serious. Let’s lay out the case for both:

MI-13: Tlaib’s win was no fluke, but it did require a lot of things to go right. Most of all, it required the right mix of competitors. Thanks to the timing of John Conyers’s retirement, there was a special election scheduled on top of the regular election. Because the regular election was for an actual term in Congress and the special was only for a few months, a couple candidates didn’t bother filing for the special. That’s how Rashida Tlaib won the 6 candidate regular primary 31-30 over Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, but lost the 4 candidate special primary to her 38-36. On paper, a head to head matchup between the two is going to be difficult for Tlaib, especially considering that Tlaib is one of only two representatives of majority-Black Congressional districts who are not themselves Black (the other being Steve Cohen of TN-09), and the issue of race has consistently been a part of the election, whether in the background or foreground.

On the other hand, Brenda Jones is a tremendously weak fundraiser. She was also a weak fundraiser in 2018, when she spent $151K during her campaign instead of the $148K we’ve seen this time around, but she was bolstered by the Detroit establishment and some labor unions. This time around she’s lost the labor unions, and while the members of the Detroit establishment who have weighed in are more unified behind her (including all of the 2018 primary losers) some big names have simply sat it out. And while Rashida Tlaib was a good fundraiser in her 2018 race, her campaign has put about triple that into this race. Jones has gotten some outside help from a shady Super PAC sending out anti-Tlaib attack mailers, but this week the Working Families Party began a $100,000 multi-platform ad campaign in support of Tlaib. This week, Detroit Free Press, by far the largest newspaper in Detroit, renewed its 2018 endorsement of Tlaib this week, while the Michigan Chronicle, the largest Black newspaper in the state, renewed its 2018 endorsement of Jones.

MN-05: While Rashida Tlaib was an outsider to the Detroit establishment when she ran for Congress in 2018, and has been repeatedly accused of sticking out from the city’s politicians in terms of demeanor (for the record: we agree, and that’s a good thing), Ilhan Omar is a kind of politician that fits right in to Minneapolis’s political culture. Omar may appear to some on the national stage like a strident lefty idealist, but compared to a city council that’s dipping its toes in police abolition (likely in name only, but still quite a change from what most other city councils are doing), Omar isn’t such an outlier. Minneapolis’s 5th district was the only one in the state to vote for Bernie in 2020, and Bernie and Warren combined to 61% of the vote, compared to 45% statewide (and less nationally on Super Tuesday). The district also voted for progressive Erin Murphy in the 2018 governor primary. Omar also has the party endorsement in her race. She is not an anti-establishment politician at home.

The danger she faces is the inverse of Tlaib’s: her opponent, Antone Melton-Meaux, is raising and spending absolutely bonkers amounts of money. He was at $3.6 million a month ago, and hitting $4 million is nearly a forgone conclusion. Yesterday, a filing revealed that Colorado Governor Jared Polis is one of those donors. Another donor is Cheryl Greene, wife of MN-02 representative Angie Craig. Craig hasn’t endorsed in this race, and obviously she and Greene are separate people even if they’re married. The possibility that Greene donated without regard to Craig's stance on the race would be easier to accept if she hadn’t donated exactly $199, the largest dollar amount you donate before it shows up on FEC filings. She knew what she was doing. The reason we know she donated at all is because ActBlue, which is technically a PAC, has to enumerate all of its donations in a separate filing. Another nearly $1.5 million has been spent from a mostly GOP-funded super PAC to attack Omar.

So whose challenger is going to do better? Take a guess, and you’ll find out in a couple weeks.

DE-Sen

Delaware Senate candidate Jess Scarane tried a fundraising tactic we haven’t seen before: a 24-hour marathon Twitch livestream. The best part? It apparently worked. The campaign says it raised over $10,000 during the 24-hour period, a very impressive 24-hour sum for a campaign in a small state like Delaware.

MA-Sen

So this item is mostly going to be us laughing at Joe Kennedy. (Which we already do all the time, it’s just not news, usually, so we leave it out of the newsletter.)

On Sunday night, Joe Kennedy attacked Ed Markey for not paying attention to the state—a tried and tested attack against incumbents, and part of Kennedy’s preferred narrative that he’ll show up when Markey won’t. In trying to rebut Markey’s online Markey Map tool (which shows what federal aid Markey has secured for each town and city in Massachusetts), Kennedy listed towns in Massachusetts that Markey’s map omitted. Among them were the towns of Dana, Enfield, and Prescott, three towns in rural western Massachusetts—three former towns. All three have been underwater since 1938, when they were evacuated, disincorporated, and submerged to form the Quabbin Reservoir, which has provided much of the state’s water supply ever since. We look forward to Joe Kennedy’s campaign-branded scuba gear and lake-bottom town hall tour. 

At a recent debate, Kennedy dusted off the “mean tweets” attack, which you may remember from the presidential primary, when moderators couldn’t stop asking Bernie Sanders why he was personally tweeting death threats to every single Biden supporter (or at least that was the tone, anyway). Kennedy recently announced he was going to have a fundraiser hosted by a bunch of Broadway actors. After online backlash from a bunch of theater geeks asking why their favorite actors were fundraising for a candidate who sucks shit, the fundraiser was canceled, presumably because the actors finally got around to hearing about who they were raising money for. Not a single actor was angry about the situation. The only one who was was Kennedy, who launched into a tirade about the situation at a recent debate, including dredging up a tweet from a 300 follower account who joked simply “bullying works”. Keep asking to speak to the manager of Twitter, Joe, it’s working out great so far.

This week wasn’t just bad news for Kennedy; it was also good news for Markey. The incumbent senator received two powerful endorsements: on Sunday, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, one of the state’s two major teachers’ unions (the other, the American Federation of Teachers’s Massachusetts affiliate, backed Markey in June); on Tuesday, the Boston Globe. According to MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki, this is the first time the Globe has ever endorsed against a Kennedy. Kennedy, for his part, is taking it gracefully, thanking the Globe for their careful deliberation—wait, no, his campaign is extremely mad about it and it’s very fun to watch. Per a campaign email flagged by Politico’s Stephanie Murray, while admitting they worked hard for the endorsement, Kennedy’s campaign insisted they expected to lose the endorsement anyway. But it gets better: Kennedy’s campaign manager blasted the Globe for backing the establishment status quo and for being attuned only to the needs of rich white people, because nothing says anti-establishment, working-class, and non-white like United States Representative Joe Kennedy the fucking Third, son of a congressman, grandson of a US Senator, and grand-nephew of the thirty-fifth President of the United States.

Come on, man. All that family money—and fossil fuel money—and the Kennedy campaign can’t buy a single fucking ounce of self-awareness.

MA-08

Challenger Robbie Goldstein received the endorsement of the Bay State Stonewall Democrats, a major LGBT Democratic group in Massachusetts. This isn’t too odd, as incumbent Stephen Lynch has a long record of opposition to LGBT rights and Goldstein is gay, but it’s noteworthy for a fairly mainstream Democratic organization to break with an incumbent.

MO-01

Lacy Clay’s rematch with progressive challenger Cori Bush is looking more and more competitive as the August 4 primary approaches. Justice Democrats have made a $50,000 ad buy in support of Bush, their first independent expenditure in the race; Justice Democrats have made independent expenditures for just one other endorsed candidate, Jamaal Bowman, so far this cycle. Bowman endorsed Bush this week. Even Marie Newman, who unseated Dan Lipinski in Illinois, and Jessica Cisneros, a Justice Democrats-recruited candidate who almost did the same to Henry Cuellar in Texas, received no IE help from Justice Democrats.

Clay, for his part, is going negative. In a new ad airing on St. Louis TV, Clay attacks Bush for paying herself a wage from campaign funds—which is entirely legal, and is essential to enable working-class candidates to mount serious, full-time congressional campaigns. It’s a bullshit attack which relies on voters not having enough context to know Clay is attacking Bush for not being rich enough to go months without pay.

We wish the bullshit stopped there, but Daily Kos Elections noticed something even worse: Clay also cites an ultimately unsourced claim from deranged far-right website KeyWiki, attacking Bush, a pastor, for allegedly practicing at a nonexistent church. KeyWiki obsessively tracks thousands of liberal, progressive, leftist, and socialist activists and public figures, producing biographies of dubious, often unsourced, veracity and malicious intent for the online far-right to use as guides for harassing and threatening the left. They are fucking insane.

Open Seats

CA-53

America’s renters are about to go off a cliff. We adopted a national eviction moratorium for the summer, but that’s set to expire on Saturday, and across the country, evictions for renters who spent time unemployed (and very likely screwed over by insufficient state unemployment systems) are going to begin in earnest. Even for those who did receive the $600 benefit face decent odds that that doesn’t or barely covers their rent, let alone anything else. Some estimates warn that in some states the majority of renters are at risk for eviction. Republicans in Congress don’t want to do anything about this, and Democratic proposals are insufficient at best. 

For San Diegans, this makes their city’s eviction moratorium extremely important. It’s scheduled to last longer than the federal moratorium, but only until the end of September. Georgette Gómez, San Diego City Council President and the progressive candidate in CA-53, has a suggestion: extend the rent payment deadline another 6 months. Landlords are going to absolutely hate that, but fuck ‘em. The idea to make San Diego’s deadline the latest in the country (that we could find) made news for its boldness, but unfortunately it failed in a 6-3 vote and was negotiated into a December 31 deadline, which passed 5-4. A majority of San Diegans rent, and this is exactly the fight Gómez needs to be picking right now, in terms of both actually helping people and winning her election.

Meanwhile, Sara Jacobs was endorsed by the local Chamber of Commerce, a lonely Democrat on a list of mostly Republican endorsements which included Darrell Issa. (Unfortunately, that guy is back.)

MA-04

Brookline councilor Jesse Mermell was endorsed by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, a union representing thousands of nurses across the state. She was also endorsed by several United Auto Workers affiliates. Newton councilor Jake Auchincloss, meanwhile, appears to have a super PAC funded by his parents backing him, which would probably be illegal if the FEC even pretended to care about the prohibition on coordination between candidates and super PACs. (He’s spending plenty of his own campaign’s money on TV ads, so we’re afraid the $40,000 donation from his parents to the super PAC in question is just the beginning--why donate such a comparatively small amount to a super PAC unless you’re planning to donate much, much more in the next FEC filing period, when your donations won’t become public knowledge until after the September 1st primary?) And democratic socialist Ihssane Leckey has the endorsement of Indiana Rep. André Carson; Leckey would be just the fourth currently-serving Muslim member of Congress if she won, and Carson is the most senior Muslim member of Congress.

EMILY’s List has started running digital ads as part of a larger campaign against Jake Auchincloss and Alan Khazei. The Auchincloss attack ad points out that he was a Republican campaign operative recently, which is hopefully the kind of attack that will sink him, like state Sen. and unsuccessful NY-17 candidate David Carlucci was sunk by his Republican affiliations. Auchincloss, however, has over a million of dollars to defend himself with. The Khazei attack is a bit less direct, saying that he supported letting Republicans use women’s healthcare as a “bargaining chip”. What this is referring to is the position he took during his 2009 Senate run, which is that he would support a version of the ACA containing the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which would basically prohibit health insurers from covering abortion entirely; this position set him apart from two of his major opponents, Mike Capuano and Martha Coakley, who both rightly said the inclusion of Stupak-Pitts in the final version of the ACA would be a dealbreaker.

WA-10

The Congressional Progressive Caucus is launching a $140,000 ad buy behind to boost state rep. Beth Doglio in this primary. The ad they’re running focuses first on how she’s the only Democrat in the race supporting of Medicare for All, which they tie in with the coronavirus pandemic, then on her support from progressive groups. This message is similar to the ads she’s running, that talk about her progressive support, including from Bernie Sanders. This whole approach feels a lot like what Mondaire Jones did, defining himself in a crowded field as the only progressive running. It worked well for Mondaire Jones, obviously, so hopefully Doglio finds similar success.

Results

NY-12: After over a month of uncertainty, we finally know that Carolyn Maloney has won reelection thanks to absentee ballots in Manhattan. No matter the exact margin, she will finish with a weak plurality, barely ahead of challenger Suraj Patel; without the presence of leftist challengers Lauren Ashcraft and Pete Harrison in the race, Maloney would have lost, possibly by a sizable margin. Maloney may have also lost even with Ashcraft and Harrison in the race if her main challenger had been someone the left could trust; instead, it was Patel, the rich Indiana hotelier who invented Tinder-banking and employed future Buttigieg campaign mastermind and IDC spokesperson Lis Smith in his unsuccessful 2018 campaign. We get why New York’s vibrant left, which is at its strongest in the entire city in the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods included in this district, was...wary, to say the least.

On the bright side, should this district remain intact after the 2022 redistricting, there will be no shortage of strong candidates to take on Maloney (or run for the open seat if she retires.) Among the left-wing politicians who call this part of New York City home are 2018 gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and soon-to-be-Assemblymembers Zohran Mamdani and Emily Gallagher.

AD-79: Chantel Jackson won this district, in yet another body blow to the New York machines. Specifically, the Bronx machine, which backed a competitor. It’s not exactly correct to call Jackson an anti-establishment candidate, since she was backed by outgoing Assemblyman and not-technically-doing-any-illegal-corruption regular Michael Blake. Jackson was also not backed by any progressive group besides Citizen Action - most outside groups helping her were labor. This is probably due to her anti-vaccine statements, which she has stood by. She’s sort of similar to Tom Abinanti in the sense that we can celebrate the machine’s loss and her bolstering of the left’s push for progressive changes to the state’s budget without being exactly happy an anti-vaxxer-adjacent politician won.

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Issue #74

We finally have New York results

Results

Tomorrow marks a month since the election, and New York City results remain officially not yet released because the Board of Elections in NYC is, to put it lightly, fucking broken. But, most ballots have been counted, and while a few races remain uncalled (NY-12, AD-79, a few others), most of them are finished counting, and have been unofficially announced by the candidates. We’re going to hold off on a few more races, because we want to talk about the margins, which haven’t been released yet.

In short: the establishment got destroyed, losing every one of the highest-profile races and having uncomfortably close wins against unheralded challengers. NYC DSA, the Working Families Party, Make the Road Action, NY Communities for Change, and countless more organizations, activists, and volunteers--along with many great candidates--reshaped New York politics in the June 23 primary, and the magnitude of the victory is finally becoming clear.

NY-25: First-term incumbent Joe Morelle beat Brighton Town Councilor Robin Wilt 68% to 32%. That’s not close, but it’s honestly not strong for Morelle either. Wilt announced late, raised very little money and received almost no outside support. She represents only a small fraction of the district as well. It’s not hard to wonder if that extra 18% was soft enough support to poach if she’d had more resources at her disposal

SD-12/SD-18: the pathetic attempts to primary Michael Gianaris and Julia Salazar from the right ended in magnificent failure. Both incumbents, who are some of New York’s best state legislators, cleared 70%.

SD-25: Not too long ago, Jabari Brisport ran on the Green Party line for City Council. Now he’s going to be a state senator after he scared an incumbent into retirement and ran with backing from Brooklyn progressives to not just defeat the incumbent’s (and machine’s) hand-picked successor, but do so by a wide 55 - 37 margin

SD-38: Despite finishing behind by over 10% on election night, Elijah Reichlin-Melnick won, and if the information from the county websites is fully final, it was by a wider 45% - 36% margin. While Sweet did a lot of things right, it’s likely the gun control attacks he faced were enough to sink him in this suburban district.

AD-24: David Weprin, a white guy machine incumbent in an increasingly diverse (mostly Asian) district, got only 48% of the vote against two totally unheralded challengers. Weprin is planning on a(nother) City Comptroller run in 2021; based on this result, it shouldn’t go better than his last one, where he came in 4th out of 4, with 10.7% of the vote.

AD-31: Khaleel Anderson won, which is kind of crazy. Anderson may or may not be a DSA member (those lists are not public), but he and the DSA candidates get along quite well. He was backed by the Working Families Party, Citizen Action, and a variety of progressive groups while not just running against the Queens machine candidate, but doing so in the heart of Queens machine territory. This is Gregory Meeks’s old Assembly district, and the Queens machine he runs couldn’t deliver a win there. The old order in Queens is in trouble, and 2021 and 2022 are going to be big years for the left in that borough.

AD-34: Jessica González-Rojas has won. We don’t know the margin, but incumbent Michael DenDekker has conceded. DenDekker is a white machine incumbent; González-Rojas is a Latina activist and DSA member (though not a DSA endorsee) with the backing of the Working Families Party.

AD-36: Zohran Mamdani declared victory a few hours ago, saying he’s up by “over 300 votes”. Based on the ballot return and rejection numbers that Queens published, percentage-wise that means we’re probably looking at a victory of about 2%. That’s the closest margin of any race that’s been called, but incumbent Aravella Simotas has conceded, a win’s a win, and Zohran’s going to be an Assemblyman. 

AD-37: We all knew Catherine Nolan lucked out by facing two under-funded challengers to her left, but it’s only now obvious just how much she lucked out. We’ll get the final margins later, but she only barely earned a majority of the election day vote, and is actually losing the absentee votes to Mary Jobaida. Nolan is at 48% of the vote and sinking, but she won’t sink far enough to lose. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind that, as you read these results, many incumbents held on only because progressive groups and donors didn’t go for it.

AD-38: This one was probably callable on election night, but Jenifer Rajkumar has won. Rajkumar is an improvement on Miller, but only because that’s such a low bar. 

AD-40: Ron Kim turned back his ex-cop challenger by 30% or so.

AD-43: ex-IDC state senator Jesse Hamilton’s comeback attempt was a miserable failure. He didn’t even get 30% of the vote.

AD-50: Last year, Emily Gallagher, a tenants’ rights organizer in Brooklyn, decided to challenge her incumbent Assemblymember Joe Lentol, who had been in office since 1973. The DSA strongly considered endorsing her, but ultimately opted against it amidst concerns over campaigning capacity and ideological standards (though there was no bad blood between them). The Working Families Party endorsed Lentol for...whatever reason, which we called a mistake at the time. Gallagher received no endorsements from elected officials, and faced over $500,000 in spending from Lentol. She lost the in-person vote by 15%. But she won the absentees so convincingly that she’s going to be Assemblywoman Gallagher in a few months. Based on the preliminary results, there is a good chance Bernie Sanders won this district outright. This district was primed to move left, and organizations trying to stand in the way of that were just trying to delay the inevitable.

AD-51: You’d be forgiven for thinking that Marcela Mitaynes looked like a goner when election night results came in. But after absentees were counted and we all found out that incumbent Félix Ortiz had done horribly in them, Mitaynes prevailed by 226 votes, in another victory for tenants, as well as just about every progressive group in Brooklyn. The departure of Ortiz, who as assistant speaker of the Assembly is one of Speaker Carl Heastie’s top lieutenants, will have major consequences for New York state government.

AD-56: Pastor Stefani Zinerman, the more moderate of the two candidates in this race, has won.

AD-57: This race broke out like no other. On Mosley’s side was the local establishment: he was Hakeem Jeffries’s pick in 2012 to succeed him in the Assembly. On Souffrant-Forest’s side was DSA, AOC, and other left-wing groups. But unlike AD-51, where the Working Families Party backed the challenger, and AD-36, where they stayed out entirely, they backed Mosley here. Souffrant-Forest and the newer institutional left went up against basically everyone else, and won. Souffrant-Forest wound up winning by over 2,500 votes, which should be good enough for a double-digit margin of victory. Souffrant-Forest’s victory makes a clean sweep for the DSA’s legislative slate. (Also worth noting is that this is Hakeem Jeffries’s old Assembly district.)

AD-65/AD-73: Yuh-Line Niou and Dan Quart, two of the best Manhattan politicians, who were both being challenged by walking, talking piles of real estate money, both won by about 30%.

AD-91: Steven Otis fended off a challenge from Rye Democratic Committee chair Meg Cameron; Otis is thoroughly establishment, but Cameron was running to his right, if anything. However, this primary seemed personal rather than ideological. With just an 83 vote difference, this is likely to be the closest race in the state. Mark Otis down on the growing list of vulnerable incumbents for next cycle.

AD-92: Thomas Abinanti appears to have narrowly survived a challenge by Jennifer Williams that leaned heavily on Abinanti’s opposition to vaccine requirements.

AD-93: Chris Burdick won with 34% of the vote to Kristen Browde’s 31%. Browde would have been the state’s first trans legislator and took a more progressive tone in the campaign, but Burdick is no moderate.

AD-108: Moderate incumbent John MacDonald III survived his challenge from WFP-backed Albany County Legislator Sam Fein 57% to 42%.

AD-125: Anna Kelles, the choice of Cynthia Nixon, Zephyr Teachout, and the WFP, won with 39% of the vote.

AD-136: Sarah Clark, who had the support of the WFP but also Hillary Clinton, demolished local establishment favorite Justin Wilcox, a Monroe County Legislator with the backing of the Monroe County Democratic Committee, 63% to 28%.

AD-137: Union organizer Demond Meeks, the most progressive candidate in the race, won with 44% of the vote, defeating MCDC-backed Monroe County Legislator Ernest Flagler.

AD-138: Fairly good Assemblyman Harry Bronson survived the Monroe County establishment’s attempt to oust him, winning 57% to 43%.

Westchester County DA: This was one of the most brutal incumbent defeats we’ve seen, on par with the Hamilton County, OH Sheriff’s race. We of course wish there’d been a more left candidate than Mimi Rocah to defeat Anthony Scarpino, but his stunning 72% to 28% loss is still very satisfying.

Albany County DA / Tompkins County DA: This was a tough pair of narrow losses for reformers. District Attorneys David Soares and Matt Van Houten pulled out narrow wins, allowing them to continue their punitive policies against the citizens of their counties.

  • DSA for the Many wins: 5/5

  • Incumbent losses: 7

Elections

CA-12

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was not going to lose to democratic socialist challenger Shahid Buttar, but the campaign did seem like a nice way to register disapproval of the timidity in dealing with the Republican Party and open disdain for the left that have defined Pelosi’s second speakership. However, it’s now clear that Buttar isn’t deserving of anyone’s support.

Left-wing activist Elizabeth Croydon recently accused Buttar of repeated sexual harassment in a period of time spanning more than a decade. Numerous former staffers came forward to say that Buttar ran a demeaning and constantly misogynistic workplace. DSA-endorsed state Senate candidate Jackie Fielder denounced his campaign. San Francisco DSA began the process of rescinding their endorsement of Buttar’s campaign. Buttar’s response was to take to Twitter to dismiss all of these people as liars. Gross.

MA-04

A handful of endorsements came into the race this week. Becky Grossman was endorsed by three members of the Democratic Party State Committee. The Committee has over 400 members and is fairly anonymous. Grossman now has 10 endorsees from this group, which has to rank high in terms of endorsements which have little to no impact on actual voters, but still take effort to get. Ihssane Leckey has been endorsed by the Boston DSA. As the only member (as far as we know) in the race, she was probably the only one eligible, but being eligible and actually getting the endorsement are obviously different things. Jesse Mermell has received the backing of the National Women’s Political Caucus, a group that recruits and helps women candidates, and which Mermell was Executive Director of from 2004-2008.

MN-05

Ilhan Omar had a good week, getting the endorsements of the Sunrise Movement and Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith. Her main challenger, Antone Melton-Meaux...didn’t. Melton-Meaux, who has the support of many conservative pro-Israel donors unhappy with Omar’s support of Palestine, apparently felt the need to assure everyone that he is not influenced by “money [he’s] received from the Jewish community,” and in doing so also implied that the only issue Jewish people care about is Israel. Statements about the influence of Jewish money are a common anti-Semitic trope (one Omar herself got in trouble for invoking in 2019); so is conflating the Jewish community with Israel.

A new Super PAC, American’s for Tomorrow's future, which has raised over a $1 million from a handful of Republican and centrist donors, and was a source of funding for the efforts by DMFI to save Eliot Engel, has launched a new ad campaign targeting Omar for corruption. It’s pretty thin. Most of it centers around a trips to political events she billed to her Minnesota state house campaign that the state later determined did not meet the threshold of helping her “performance of the duties of the office held”. It was something she should have been more careful about, but it’s hardly damning stuff.

Melton-Meaux also attempted to respond to Ilhan Omar’s release of an internal poll last week showing her up 66% to 29%. Daily Kos Elections, an election blog which also has a newsletter, though theirs is more general-election focused, has had a concept for a while they’ve termed loserspeak, general phrases and tropes candidates employ when they’re trying to explain away signs they’re losing, probably the most famous being “the only poll that matters is election day”. Melton-Meaux’s response was prime loserspeak. He brought up that Change Research only has a C- rating from 538, attacked the poll for being “online-only”, and whined that it was ten whole days old.

The way you respond to your opponent releasing a bad internal poll for you is you don’t respond. If you really need to counter their narrative, you release one of your own showing something different. Melton-Meaux has raised millions of dollars, and from his last FEC filing we know that he’s spent $35,000 on polling in June alone. He’s also talked about his internal polls showing him “on the right track”. We certainly didn’t take that Change poll as gospel, but we’d take Melton-Meaux’s complaints about it more seriously if he’d demonstrate what his obviously much more accurate poll showed.

MO-01

This race is heating up with just weeks to go. Cori Bush, who lost to Rep. Lacy Clay Jr. in 2018, is getting more attention and national support in her rematch; this past week, she was endorsed by the Sunrise Movement, and an outside group affiliated with Bernie Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir and former OH-03 candidate Morgan Harper dropped six figures on TV ads attacking Clay for his opposition to some of the Obama administration’s Wall Street regulations.

The regulation in question, known as the fiduciary rule, would have required financial advisers to keep their clients’ best interests in mind; in essence, it would have prohibited financial advisers from pursuing profit at the expense of their clients’ retirement savings. (It was--and, partly thanks to Clay, still is--somehow legal for financial advisers to run away with clients’ retirement savings.) Bush herself also went up on TV this week, with a biographical spot briefly mentioning her background as a nurse and referencing the Black Lives Matter movement; Bush has been active in the movement in St. Louis for years. The campaign has reserved $50,000 worth of TV time to air the ad, not an insubstantial sum.

Los Angeles County District Attorney

The LA Times has analyzed the March primary and found roughly what you’d expect - that Jackie Lacey did best in wealthier, whiter, more suburban parts of the county, or that in other words she likely did very well with Republicans. Meanwhile, George Gascón and Rachel Rossi, who was eliminated, performed well in similar areas. Combined, they won the more urban, Hispanic, and lower income neighborhoods. Black precincts are split. This underlines the major problem Gascón faces, that despite it being a race between two Democrats, the entire electorate will be voting, so he needs more than just a majority with Democrats. The Times also mentioned that Rossi had been discussing the possibility of endorsing Gascón in the runoff.

Gascón ran into a rough news patch today, as San Francisco’s Board of Commissioners voted to pay out a $400,000 settlement to an ex-Gascón employee who alleged whistleblower retaliation for reporting Gascón to the TSA after the employee came to the conclusion that Gascón was no longer an active police officer but was still using that status to carry a firearm on planes. The settlement was against Gascón’s wishes, as he wanted it to go to jury trial, and he’s said that the city only settled because it was cheaper than court costs, but that’s the kind of thing that will definitely make it into attack ads.

WA-LD-22-2/WI-SD-26

The national arm of the Democratic Socialists of America endorsed two state legislative candidates in open, safely Democratic legislative districts this week: Mary Ellen Biggerstaff in Washington’s 22nd legislative district, position 2, and Nada Elmikashfi in Wisconsin’s 26th senate district. Biggerstaff is running to replace state Rep. Beth Doglio, who is running for WA-10 as the only progressive (and appears to be a tentative frontrunner); Elmikashfi, who also recently got an endorsement from Wisconsin Planned Parenthood’s political arm, is running to succeed retiring state Sen. Fred Risser, America’s longest-serving state legislator.

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