16 May 2018

There Were Primaries Last Night

I'm going to lead with irony.

For your consideration, West Virginia Republican State Senator Robert Karnes, an implacable foe of unions, who said that the teachers' strike in his state, "I can’t say that it will have zero effect, but I don’t think it’ll have any significant effect because, more often than not, they probably weren’t voting on the Republican side of the aisle anyways."

He was turfed out yesterday:
Labor activists, it turns out, know how to get involved on the Republican side of the aisle, too. Karnes was facing a primary challenge from fellow Republican Delegate Bill Hamilton, who beat him, with all the votes counted, 5,787 to 3,749. It was a blowout.
Oh Snap.

It was generally not a good night for former Republicans running as Democrats, anti-abortion politicians:

Tuesday’s primaries featured the crucial state of Pennsylvania plus a smattering of contests in the not-so-crucial states of Nebraska, Idaho, and Oregon.


But it’s clear the party is moving in a leftward direction, with even the most mainstream new Democratic candidates on the scene embracing views that would have been extremely daring five or 10 years ago. They are also simply riding positive momentum from the national political environment and — in the specific state of Pennsylvania, though not nationally — from some newly favorable district boundaries.


A real sign of the shifting winds of American politics came from the victory of a pair of first-time candidates backed by the Democratic Socialists of America who knocked off two incumbent state legislators from a well-established Pittsburgh political family.
Both Dom and Paul Costa, the incumbent losers, were on the conservative side of modern Democratic Party politics but also seemingly well-entrenched.
Instead, they lost — to Sara Innamorato, a 32-year-old nonprofit manager and former Apple retail store worker, and Summer Lee, a 2015 graduate of the Howard University School of Law. Their wins are ideological victories for the left but also reflect basic demographic dynamics. Women, and especially younger women and women with college degrees, are the core of the anti-Trump political mobilization, and candidates who can mirror and channel that specific demographic are well-positioned to win Democratic primaries this cycle.


By contrast to the Innamorato and Lee wins, Bernie Sanders endorsed Rich Lazer in the PA-5 primary, and Sanders and his Our Revolution organization invested heavily in Gregory Edwards’s campaign in PA-7.

Edwards ended up losing to a former Allentown solicitor named Susan Wild who ran with the support of Emily’s List, which works to get pro–abortion rights Democratic women elected to office. (The third candidate, longtime Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli — an anti-abortion, anti-immigrant Trump supporter — would have been a very awkward fit for the House Democratic caucus.) And Lazer came up short against Mary Gay Scanlon.


It’s rare to see an incumbent lieutenant governor attract vigorous primary challenges, but Mike Stack managed to land himself in an unusual sweet spot. Scandals related to his spending and treatment of state employees weren’t bad enough to drive him from office in disgrace but did cost him the confidence of the state party (Gov. Wolf hasn’t endorsed him for reelection) and drew a number of challengers into the race.

The winner is John Fetterman, the heavily tattooed mayor of the small town of Braddock outside Pittsburgh. He was also challenged by Nina Ahmad, a physician and former deputy mayor of Philadelphia. The two challengers were both avatars of competing visions of the future of the Democratic Party, with Fetterman emblematic of a back-to-the-future drive to connect with the white working class and Ahmad representing a vision of a diverse party firmly grounded in the classes of professionals and social service providers.

Fetterman ran for Senate in 2016 as a kind of Berniecrat (though without really garnering support from Sanders himself) and surprised observers by pulling 20 percent of the vote against two much better-known opponents. This won himself a reputation as a charismatic figure and potential rising star.


The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee does not endorse primary candidates, per se, but it does maintain a roster of Red to Blue program members who are considered the party’s best prospects for flipping seats. It sometimes adds people to Red to Blue before nominations have been settled.


But Brad Ashford, who served one term in the US House of Representatives from the Omaha-based second district, has not had it so lucky. Ashford, a moderate who used to be a Republican state legislator and who ran for Omaha mayor as a nonpartisan independent, fits the DCCC recruiting model perfectly.

Local progressives rallied instead behind Kara Eastman, a more conventional liberal who runs a nonprofit called the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance. In national politics, she secured support from Justice Democrats and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Despite running a platform of single-payer health care and a $15-per-hour minimum wage, Eastman didn’t snag an Our Revolution endorsement (likely because she backed Clinton in 2016) but also didn’t secure support from Emily’s List or NARAL. They overlooked Ashford’s past as an anti-abortion state legislator in favor of his solidly pro-abortion rights record during his two years in the House.

The race was incredibly close (and hadn’t yet been called at press time [It's been called, Eastman won by about 1%]), a fact that doesn’t bode well for the DCCC’s top choices.
I've heard reports that the so-called professionals at the DNC and te DCCC are concerned.

F%$# them.

Also, for those candidates who won despite meddling:  I suggest that they take this personally when the Beltway incompetents come around looking for support in a few months or a few years.


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