Yesterday’s set of Democratic primaries went extraordinarily well for the Party’s left-wing. Consider:
In Nebraska, a liberal social worker and political neophyte who built her campaign around “Medicare for All” scored a shocking upset in a Democratic primary to take on Rep. Don Bacon (R). Kara Eastman, 45, beat former congressman Brad Ashford, 68, in an Omaha-area district that national Democrats believed they could pick up in November. Eastman advocated for universal background checks to buy guns, raising taxes and decriminalizing marijuana.
Dave Begley, call your office.
Then, there is Pennsylvania:
In Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, where GOP Rep. Charlie Dent’s retirement created a winnable open seat for Democrats, early front-runner John Morganelli — a district attorney who has been locally prominent for decades — lost the primary to attorney Susan Wild, who ran at him from the left. Morganelli, who opposes abortion rights and “sanctuary cities,” was attacked relentlessly on the airwaves for speaking positively about Trump and tweeting that he was open to taking a job in the administration during the transition.
In the Philadelphia suburbs, centrist Rachel Reddick — a 33-year-old Navy veteran endorsed by Emily’s List — lost the Democratic primary to take on Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R) after “proud progressive” Scott Wallace ran ads attacking her for being a registered Republican until 2016.
Scott Wallace is the grandson of Henry Wallace, a tool of the Soviet Union who ran for president as the Progressive Party’s candidate in 1948.
While we’re on the subject of communism:
In the Pittsburgh area, two card-carrying members of the Democratic Socialists of America topped incumbent state representatives in Democratic primaries with 65 percent and 68 percent of the vote, respectively. . . .
“Since it was founded in 1982, the Democratic Socialists of America has played virtually no role the country’s elections,” Clint Hendler writes for Mother Jones. “That’s begun to change, fueled by the organization’s 2016 endorsement of Bernie Sanders and a growth spurt led by the activists and organizers he inspired. In Pittsburgh, the local DSA chapter is 500 members strong and hosts Marxist reading groups, organizes against controversial anti-abortion pregnancy centers, and works to reduce police stops by fixing residents’ brake lights. … Pittsburgh’s DSA group is one of the first chapters in the country to have launched a political action committee …”
And one of the first, though likely not the last, Democrat Socialists of America group to have its candidates succeed in a Democratic primary.
The news from the West was similar:
In Idaho’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, Paulette Jordan defeated business owner and Boise school board member A.J. Balukoff, who had the backing of most of the state’s political establishment. Jordan, who has generated a lot of media coverage because she could become the first Native American governor in the country, built her campaign around protecting more public lands, as well as promising to expand Medicaid, relax marijuana laws, reduce incarceration and limit corporate tax loopholes. She garnered 58 percent of the vote. . . .
In the much bluer state of Oregon, liberals toppled an entrenched Democratic incumbent in the state Senate. Sen. Rod Monroe got crushed 62 percent to 25 percent by civil rights attorney Shemia Fagan. A Somali immigrant who works as a community organizer got another 13 percent of the vote. . . .
In a state House primary, the establishment favorite – a county commissioner who was endorsed by the retiring representative – lost to a child welfare worker after he said the state of Oregon should consider requiring employees to contribute into the public pension fund.
As FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich concludes: “The Democratic Party woke up this morning with a clear signal from Tuesday’s primary elections: The #Resistance means business.”
What does this mean for November? Rakich says Eastman’s victory in Nebraska’s Second District could be bad news for Dems. “Although Eastman could certainly still win in a strong Democratic year, we may also look back on her nomination as Democrats’ first “tea party” moment: a general-election opportunity squandered in the primary (or, at least, made more difficult),” he speculates.
Rakich also suggests that the victories of Wild and Wallace might also hurt Democrats. However, he thinks the Party has more “margin for error” in these two districts than in Nebraska’s Second.
My question is what does the Resistance’s emerging dominance mean long-term. I can envisage far left candidates winning tough races in 2018, assuming the enthusiasm factor makes this a strong year for the Dems. In other years, though, such adventurism might cost the Democrats dearly at the ballot box. Maybe as early as 2020.
There’s also the matter of how a party increasingly dominated by hard leftists will behave. Presumably, it will behave rather radically, likely outpacing the leftward movement of the electorate even assuming that today’s young voters don’t become more moderate as they mature.
Thus, if the Democrats ever replicate the dominance of 2009-10, they will likely show themselves to be even more out-of-touch with ordinary voters, and unfit to govern, than they were in those heady days. This could become the saving grace for a Republican Party facing serious demographic challenges.