All of Louisville is still yet to count, and most races in New York are either too soon to call or not worth going into detail yet about margins that are sure to change. But there were four Congressional races that were decided last night and that we’d like to talk about right now.
We knew she was going to win, and AOC’s 72.6% of the vote makes her the second-best-performing Congressional Democrat in any primary in the state. That was with over $2 million spent against her. We’re not going to analyze this like it was ever a real election, but it’s still cool how well she did.
This race went decently, all things considered. Ritchie Torres, one of the more tolerable candidates, won, and Rubén Díaz Sr., the disaster scenario, didn’t come close. Sure, Samelys López, the leftmost candidate, lost, but she was always a longshot. While Torres’s margin is only 30.5% to second-place finisher Michael Blake’s 19.4%, Díaz’s 14.8%, López’s 13.2%, and Ydanis Rodríguez’s 11.4% (with everyone else in single digits), the vote tilts much more in-person in the Bronx, so that margin should be good enough.
These are only some of the politicians who came in as reinforcements once they thought Eliot Engel was in trouble.
Democratic Majority for Israel: $1,549,156.37
Avacy Initiatives, Inc: $296,325.20
Peruse Practical, Inc: $200,000.00
Stand With Us Committee: $141,775.00
Those are only some of the outside organizations that swooped in to drown out Jamaal Bowman so Eliot Engel could win, and the money figures only extend to two days before the election. Even so, it totals $2,187,256.57
That’s an underestimation of much Eliot Engel had raised for this race the weekend before voting ended.
Jamaal Bowman is currently leading Eliot Engel 30,709 votes to 18,012, or 60.7% of the vote to 35.6% of the vote. There are at least 21,000 absentee votes left to count, although more will be received in the coming days. Those absentee votes should be disproportionately Westchester County and older, meaning Bowman’s margin of victory won’t stay quite this high. But it is a margin of victory for Bowman. There aren’t enough votes out to erase his lead, unless Engel wins them by like 50%, which he won’t be doing.
Let’s all take a moment to celebrate this victory. Jamaal Bowman did not “sneak” through, like some will claim Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did (though she did not, either) - he was hit with the full force of the Democratic establishment, as well as over $4 million from Engel’s side. Jamaal Bowman did not win because just his opponent was an outlier in the party, like some will claim Marie Newman did (though she did not, either) - Eliot Engel has mainstream positions on most issues and was so thoroughly part of its establishment that he chaired the House Foriegn Affairs Committee. Jamaal Bowman did not win in some gentrified hipster urban enclave like some will claim about the left in general - he beat Engel in diverse, low-income neighborhoods of the Bronx and Yonkers, as well as wealthier, whiter towns in Westchester.
We finally did it. There were no extenuating circumstances, no punches pulled on the challenger, no advantages at all, except a message that resonated with the people. And we won handily. All the credit in the world goes to Bowman, who was a great candidate and will likely be every bit the force of personality in Congress that Ocasio-Cortez is. And of course his campaign team who ran a smart, tight ship from launch, to expansion, to victory.
Justice Democrats, who recruited Bowman, ran preparation for his launch, promoted his campaign, and then came through with a large financial investment to keep DMFI from dominating airwaves at the end of the race deserve a lot of recognition. While Marie Newman was endorsed by them, she wasn’t a Justice Democrats-recruited candidate and they didn’t have the level of involvement that they did with Bowman. We maintain that Cuellar was in an almost impossibly tough district, and the fact that they and Cisneros were able to come so close was a testament to their capabilities this year, which finally bore fruit.
The Working Families Party, a powerhouse in New York progressive politics, also worked very hard for this race, and put a lot of money into it as well. Make the Road Action, The Jewish Vote, Sunrise, New York Communities for Change, Community Voices Heard, and Citizen Action of New York are some of the many local grassroots community groups that helped win this race, as are national organizations DSA, Sunrise, RootsAction, Progressive Democrats of America, The Colllective PAC, and the PCCC, among others. We should also thank Andom Ghebreghiorgis, who was in the race first before Bowman, for selflessly leaving the race to avoid splitting the anti-Engel vote.
Based on the two polls taken before the end of the race, it looked like Mondaire Jones was on the upswing in this race, but we kept our optimism cautious for this race. Then Mondaire blew the doors off of the election day vote so thoroughly that it got called the night of. We know that there are over 10,000 Democratic absentees already received in Rockland County. As for Westchester County, it’s reasonable to expect, based on what we know about the absentee situation in NY-16, that absentees aren’t going to outnumber election days voters much, if at all. At the high end, about half the votes overall are going to be absentees. So expect Mondaire’s margin to come down some, but he has also clearly won. He currently stands at 44.6% of the vote, to Adam Schleifer at 19.6%, David Carlucci at 11.7%, Evelyn Farkas at 10.2%, David Buchwald at 6.5%, and no one else above 3%.
This is another unambiguous victory for the left, and further proof that progressive ideas fly in the suburbs. In fact, we would argue Mondaire Jones won because he made this an ideological contest. He initially entered the race when Rep. Nita Lowey, the powerful chair of the House Appropriations Committee, was very much running for reelection. He called out “compromise for the sake of compromise” in his introductory video that he released soon after entering the race. When Lowey abruptly announced her retirement in the face of Jones’s challenge, he had to adapt, and did so without conceding one bit on policy. His first ad said that he was “the only Democrat endorsed by leading progressives” as their images flashed on the screen. His ads touted him as the only Democrat to support Medicare for All in the race, and said that he was “the” progressive Democrat. It worked. He entered the race without the name recognition of many of his competitors, and was outraised by both Adam Schleifer and Evelyn Farkas, but making this an ideological contest put him far ahead of them all.
As in NY-16, we should point out that Jones was not unassisted. His progressive message was bolstered by the Congressional Progressive Caucus going all-in for him, as well as the Working Families Party, Indivisible, and New York Communities for Change, among others. While not directly helping Jones, anti-IDC groups such as NO IDC NY and the Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion made the case against Carlucci, who had been leading since day 1, according to internal polls, and was a top contender for the seat.
If Democrats retake the Senate, the filibuster will make that majority worthless except for judicial and administrative appointments. So it’s heartening to see awful Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, the Senate’s number-one filibuster fan and the current occupant of Joe Biden’s old Senate seat, suddenly backpedaling and saying that well, maybe, he might actually support abolishing the filibuster, making it impossible for a Republican minority (in a body that already overrepresents rural, white, Republican states) to stop the democratically elected majority from doing anything. Notably, Coons has a primary challenger, Jess Scarane; he has not had to face a seriously contested primary in deep-blue Delaware since his initial election to the Senate (in which he was more or less a sacrificial lamb expected to lose badly to popular moderate Republican Rep. Mike Castle until Republican primary voters, God bless them, turned around and nominated Christine O’Donnell instead.)
However, he’s not there yet on abolishing the filibuster; he’s just open to it. He may never get there. Scarane, on the other hand, supports ending the filibuster on Day One, because she realizes even the most timid Democratic policies are dead on arrival so long as the filibuster exists. (Scarane, a community leader and democratic socialist, also supports policies other than the timid kind, including Medicare for all, a living wage, and the Green New Deal. Coons does not.)
Arati Kreibich’s campaign has released her pre-primary fundraising numbers ahead of the reporting deadline, and folks, they’re pretty decent. With $192,000 raised, this is her best quarter since entering the race; most notably, over $50,000 of that came in the final three days of the reporting period, which ended July 17, so the impact of Bernie Sanders’s July 15 endorsement of Kreibich may not be fully visible in these numbers. Per their press release, the Kreibich campaign says they also have $145,000 left to spend; they will assuredly be drastically outspent by Gottheimer, who has always been a fearsome fundraiser (perhaps a predictable result of being Wall Street’s closest friend in the Democratic Party.) But Kreibich will have enough to get her message out to a significant number of the district’s voters.
Rep. Derek Kilmer chairs the New Democrat Coalition, a group that isn’t as bad as the Blue Dogs but still believes the fiscal conservatism of the Clinton era was a good thing. So it’s unsurprising, then, that he signed on to a Republican letter calling for Social Security cuts, which makes his cosponsorship of measures to expand Social Security ring hollow.
What is surprising is that he walked it back. When contacted by angry constituents, Kilmer emphasized those expansion measures he cosponsors, and said he does not support any cuts to the program. Perhaps not coincidentally, Kilmer has a serious primary challenge; democratic socialist Rebecca Parson is running a spirited campaign to unseat Kilmer in this district, which spans most of Tacoma as well as Washington’s more rural western coast. Episodes like this are a reminder that primaries often get results long before a single vote is cast.
Los Angeles County District Attorney
In first round of Los Angeles County’s two step election process for municipal offices, where everyone runs on one nonpartisan ballot, District Attorney Jackie Lacey almost won outright, but instead fell to 48.6% of the vote once late ballots were counted, meaning that she’s have to face the second place finisher, outgoing San Francisco DA George Gascón, in November. It was hard to say then whether she was favored to win that match-up. On one hand just a handful more votes would get her to 50%, but one the other, the other candidate in the race, Rachel Rossi, ran on a similar reformist platform to Gascón, though she was running on a message of going even further than Gascon did, so it seems like her voters would have liked him more.
However, that was all before the recent wave of Black Lives Matter protests. Protestors routinely, directly called for her resignation, and some elected officials have taken note. An assemblywoman representing part of the county, Laura Friedman unendorsed Lacey, as did Congressman Adam Schiff. Schiff is a big name, a man who no one should call progressive (he’s even a former Blue Dog), and one who does not rock the boat. His reversal could signal he feels a change in public opinion. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has distanced himself from Lacey, although his name still appears on her endorsement page and he has refused to clarify whether he still supports her. Meanwhile, Gascón has thrown out some pointed attacks at Lacey, calling out her support from and support of LA Police Protective League, which is LA’s largest police union, and which acts exactly like what you would expect the LAPD’s union to act like.