Saturday, May 21, 2022

Celebrating Tuesday’s Progressive Wins in the Midst of the Ongoing “War for the Future of the Democratic Party”

I was happy to hear that a number of progressive candidates, including Charles Booker (left), won their primary contests this past Tuesday. Ever since the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, I’ve been doing my best to learn about and support progressive “down-ballot” Democratic candidates as opposed to corporate or establishment ones.

Why is this important? Well, author and former progressive presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has been a key proponent for electing progressive candidates. She’s hosted various online down-ballot progressive summits and established a helpful website to help in this regard. Here's what she recently said about the importance of working to get progressive candidates into congress.

As I said, this past Tuesday saw a number of progressive victories in key primary races in the U.S. Following is a compilation of media coverage of these victories and the ongoing “war” between corporatists and progressives for the future of the Democratic party.


Not every left-leaning candidate was victorious in Tuesday’s primary contests, but on the whole, the Democratic Party’s progressive wing had a successful showing despite the best efforts of the party establishment and millions of dollars in right-wing super PAC money.

While progressive candidates came up short in North Carolina, their counterparts in Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Kentucky notched important wins that set them up to take on Republican opponents in the fast-approaching November 8 midterms, with control of Congress on the line.

. . . Despite the setbacks in North Carolina, commentators were quick to note how much better progressives fared on Tuesday compared with corporate Democrats.

The “Manchin wing of the party [is] getting utterly routed tonight,” tweeted journalist Ryan Grim.

Tuesday’s flurry of progressive victories, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told The Intercept, demonstrates “the strength of the growing, organized progressive and [democratic socialist] electoral movement.”

– Kenny Stancil
Excerpted from “Big Wins, Tough Losses
in Key Progressive Primary Fights

Common Dreams
May 18, 2022

The stunning [progressive] wins come as the party debates who is to blame for Biden’s sinking approval rating and increasingly dire forecasts of upcoming midterm losses. Party establishment figures have pointed the finger at the left for making unreasonable demands couched in slogans like “defund the police” that turn off voters. The progressive wing has countered that Biden’s popularity has sunk as centrist Democrats have slowly murdered his agenda, while the left has fought to enact it.

Tuesday’s results suggest that Democratic voters – at least those in Pennsylvania and Oregon – would prefer that Democrats do more rather than less, delivering a stinging rebuke to the Kyrsten Sinema-Joe Manchin wing of the party. Next week, voters in Texas will cast ballots in a number of runoffs that pit progressives against super PAC-backed centrist Democrats.

Big-money groups spent some $15 million in those three House races – two in Oregon and one in Pennsylvania – while outside progressive groups managed just over $2 million yet prevailed in all three. In North Carolina, the super PACs had better luck, spending $7 million against former state Sen. Erica Smith and Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam. The spending came from AIPAC, Democratic Majority for Israel, and Mainstream Democrats, the super PAC organized and funded by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

– Ryan Grim
Excerpted from “Democratic Voters Deliver
Stinging Rebuke to Manchin-Sinema Wing

The Intercept
May 18, 2022

What you’ve seen is a surprising backlash, at the voter level, to all of the money that flooded in [for corporate/establishment Democratic candidates]. And it’s been a pretty good night for progressive candidates, despite all that money. . . . [The] argument [is being made] that Democrats have to win back the working class, and the way to do it is to make more progressive populist arguments.

– David Sirota
Excerpted from “Progressives Win Key Primary Races
Despite Millions Spent to Back Corporate Democrats

Democracy Now!
May 18, 2022

Charles Booker – the progressive former Kentucky state lawmaker with a plan to tackle rampant inequality – cruised to victory in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate Democratic primary, setting up a November contest against two-term Republican incumbent Rand Paul in which the challenger is vowing to “make history.”

“We’re going to beat Rand Paul. And let me be clear with you: We’re going to blow Rand Paul out,” Booker said during an appearance on The Young Turks. “We’re gonna do it by doing two things. One, [by] inspiring a vision that encourages people to believe things can be better.”

Booker touted his Kentucky New Deal, a plan to curb runaway inequality “which is really about us fighting for family, pushing the partisan divides aside, lifting up our common bonds, and really doing issue-based organizing.”

“We’re gonna work our asses off,” the 37-year-old Louisvillian vowed.

“But on the second side of it, we’re gonna beat Rand Paul by naming Rand Paul,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know what he does; he's a crisis actor, he’s a contrarian, he’s a fake libertarian, he stokes conspiracy theories.”

“We’re gonna help people see that he’s blocking disaster relief, that he’s blocking investments in infrastructure, that he’s opposing expanded healthcare – he called it akin to slavery – that he opposed the Civil Rights Act,” Booker continued.

“He doesn’t believe that we should invest in our home or that we should support our allies abroad,” the nominee added. “He’s a joke, and we’re gonna call him out.”

In a separate interview with Lex 18, Booker said he believes his campaign can reach Kentucky voters on both sides of the aisle.

“I’m fighting for issues regardless of party because at the end of the day, putting food on the table, keeping your lights on – doesn’t matter what your party is,” asserted.

If Booker defeats Paul in November, he will be the first Black U.S. senator in Kentucky history. He would also be the first Democrat from the commonwealth to win a U.S. Senate contest in 30 years.

– Brett Wilkins
Excerpted from “Kentucky Progressive Charles Booker
Wins Democratic U.S. Senate Primary

Common Dreams
May 18, 2022

On Tuesday night, Pennsylvania state Rep. Summer Lee [right] declared victory in her hard-fought primary election for the state’s 12th Congressional District. Lee, who had built a comfortable lead early in the race as an outspoken progressive leader with a record of local organizing, saw her frontrunner status evaporate by election day amid an onslaught of deceptive out-of-state attack ads funded by a variety of pro-Israel groups.

If she wins the general election in the deep-blue district, Lee, who In These Times interviewed in 2018 after she won the Democratic nomination for the 34th Pennsylvania state house district, would become the first Black woman and the first democratic socialist to represent Pennsylvania in Congress. She is running on a platform of enacting policies such as Medicare for All, a Green New Deal and carceral reform while calling for ending the filibuster in the Senate, expanding the number of Supreme Court justices and ending cash bail.

“They can’t say Black women can’t win,” Lee said to supporters on Tuesday night. “When we come together, we can’t be stopped.” In a statement released after declaring victory, she said: “We built a movement in Western Pennsylvania that took on corporate power, stood up for working families, and beat back a multimillion-dollar smear campaign. This was never about one candidate – it was about the people of this district who have been left behind by corporations who put their profits over our lives.”

Polling from early April showed Lee with a 25-point lead over the second-place candidate, millionaire Pittsburgh lawyer Steve Irwin. But by the end of the month, according to reporting from Jewish Insider, private polling found that the aggressive negative campaign waged against Lee had been successful – Irwin had erased her lead, leaving the two candidates in a statistical dead heat. As of Wednesday evening, Lee was leading Irwin 41.7 percent to 41.3 percent, with 99 percent of the vote reported.

In total, pro-Israel groups spent at least $2.5 million on the race, almost all of it attacking Lee. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s political wing, the United Democracy Project (UDP), spent more than $2 million running attack ads and a direct mail campaign. Despite being funded by a pro-Israel group, none of the UDP’s ads or mailers mentioned Middle Eastern politics, Israel or Palestine. Instead, the ads questioned Lee’s Democratic Party credentials, highlighted her 2020 criticism of then-candidate Joe Biden, and cast her as a threat to the party.

For her part, Lee has objected to claims that she’s anti-Israel, while also voicing criticism of U.S. politicians who haven’t spoken out against attacks on Palestinians. Lee has said she believes aid to Israel, as well as all American allies, should be conditional on their adherence to human rights.

Sen. Bernie Sanders doubled down on his criticism of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] and its newly created super PAC on Friday, telling The New York Times that the powerful anti-Palestinian rights lobbying group’s foray into Democratic primary politics is threatening the future of the party and of U.S. democracy.

As Common Dreams reported this week, AIPAC’s super PAC, United Democracy Project (UDP), is spending heavily in several Democratic primary races to defeat progressives who support Palestinian rights and are critical of the billions of dollars in U.S. funding that goes to the Israeli military annually.

AIPAC’s spending in key races in North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, and other states is in service of the group’s goal “to create a two-party system, Democrats and Republicans, in which both parties are responsive to the needs of corporate America and the billionaire class,” Sanders told the Times.

“This is a war for the future of the Democratic Party,” the Vermont independent senator added. “They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country.”

UDP has focused much of its spending this primary season on the race between progressive Pennsylvania state Rep. Summer Lee and former Republican attorney Steve Irwin – pouring $2.3 million into ad campaigns including one which accused Lee of being disloyal to the Democratic Party, only to have Lee narrowly defeat her opponent.

That attack ad garnered outrage from progressives including Sanders, who pointed out that the group has also donated to dozens of Republicans who objected to certifying the 2020 presidential election results.

“Why would an organization go around criticizing someone like Summer Lee for not being a strong enough Democrat when they themselves have endorsed extreme right-wing Republicans?" Sanders said to the Times.

. . . [H]istorian Jacob Remes [says] that critics like Sanders, who is Jewish, threaten AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups because they “actually represent the majority of U.S. Jews (especially U.S. Jewish Democrats), so they expose AIPAC as actually representing Republicans and Christian zionists.”

– Julia Conley
Excerpted from “‘This Is a War’ for Democratic Party’s Future,
Says Sanders of AIPAC’s Super PAC

Common Dreams
May 20, 2022

The corporatist wing of the Democratic Party will do anything to try to defeat progressive candidates. We cannot stand for that. We must continue to fight. And we will. . . . The Democratic Party as a whole has to make a decision: Is it the party of the corporatists, or is it the party of the people?

Related Off-site Links:
“She Can Win If We Stand With Her”': Sen. Bernie Sanders to Rally for U.S. House Candidate Jessica Cisneros in Texas – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, May 18, 2022).
Rep. Kurt Schrader, the “Joe Manchin of the House,” Nears Defeat in His Oregon Primary – Austin Ahlman (The Intercept, May 18, 2022).
“We Have to Flip This Seat”: After Senate Primary Win, U.S. Senate Candidate John Fetterman Shifts Focus to Beating GOP – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, May 18, 2022).
They Are Not Even Pretending Anymore: Democratic Leaders Are Joining With Oligarchs to Try to Permanently Destroy the Progressive Movement – David Sirota (The Lever, May 17, 2022).
Democratic Insiders Keep Bashing Progressives, But Progressives Keep Winning Key Elections – John Nicols (The Nation, March 3, 2022).
Bernie Sanders Says Democrats Need “Major Course Correction” to Prevent GOP Takeover – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, January 10, 2022).
To Govern and Win Elections, Democrats Must Defeat Corporate Lobby – Not Surrender to It – Jeffrey D. Sachs (CNN Politics via Common Dreams, November 5, 2021).
Our Government Isn’t Progressive — But America Is – Julie Olicer (Data for Progress, October 22, 2020).
Progressive Policies Are Popular Policies – Robert Weissman (, May 1, 2020).
Majority of Americans Support Progressive Policies – Steve Liesman (CNBC News, March 27, 2019).
The United States Is a Progressive Nation With a Democracy Problem – David M. Perry (The Nation, February 6, 2019).

UPDATES: Progressive Delia Ramirez Defeats Billionaire PAC Money to Win Illinois Primary – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, June 29, 2022).
“We Just Broke a Thick-Ass Glass Ceiling”: Progressive Candidates Rack Up Some Big Wins – Nick Vachon (In These Times, June 30, 2022).
The First Gen Z Candidates Are Running for Congress – and Running Against Compromise – Elena Moore (NPR News, July 6, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Michael Starr Hopkins: Quote of the Day – May 6, 2022
Ricardo Levins Morales on the “Deepest Political Fault Line” Separating Democrats
Maebe A. Girl: A “Decidedly Progressive Candidate” for Congress
Nina Turner: “A Candidate Who Can Make An Enormous Difference”
Progressive Perspectives on Nina Turner’s Election Loss
Will Democrats Never Learn?
Colin Taylor on the “Moral Obscenity” of Obstructionist Democrats Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema
Cornel West on Responding to the “Spiritual Decay That Cuts Across the Board”
Hamilton Nolan: Quote of the Day – August 3, 2021
Norman Solomon: Quote of the Day – July 8, 2021
David Sirota: Quote of the Day – January 26, 2021
Cornel West: Quote of the Day – December 3, 2020
Progressive Perspectives on the 2020 U.S. Election Results
Biden’s Win: “As Much the Sounding of An Alarm As a Time for Self-Congratulations”
We Cannot Allow a Biden Win to Mean a Return to “Brunch Liberalism”
My Summer of Supporting Progressive Down-Ballot Candidates
Marianne Williamson on the Contest Being Played Out by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Quote of the Day – March 10, 2019

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