Progressives are targeting the Democratic establishment in ‘deep blue House districts’: report
Although the Democratic Party still has plenty of centrists — from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia to President Joe Biden — and hasn't moved "far left" as Fox News pundits claim, at least liberals and progressives are getting a larger seat at the table than they did during the 1990s and 2000s. And some progressive Democrats, Philadelphia-based journalist Holly Otterbein reports in an article published by Politico this week, have a plan for advancing their agenda: making sure deep blue districts in the U.S. House of Representatives are decidedly progressive.
"Washington hasn't paid much attention to the handful of upcoming special elections in deep-blue House districts," Otterbein reports. "There's little reason to: it's a near-certainty that the seats will elect Democrats. But progressives are keeping close tabs. And they are aggressively contesting the races in an effort to stop establishment-oriented Democrats from claiming the offices."
Running as a staunch progressive is much easier in some House districts than it is in others. Threatening a centrist Democrat with a left-wing primary challenge in House swing districts that can easily go Republican is quite risky — and a good way to lose in a general election. But in House districts that are safely Democratic, pushing a strong progressive agenda makes perfect sense. All four members of The Squad — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — were reelected in 2020. And progressive Rep. Cori Bush was elected via her district in Missouri.
One of the organizations that has been pushing to increase the presence of strong progressives in House districts is Justice Democrats. Waleed Shahid, communications director for the Justice Democrats, told Politico, "The progressive movement is largely judged by the number of seats it holds in Congress. So, whenever you can add more seats, that gives you more power. Since the election of the Squad, we've seen a more aggressive and assertive bloc of Congress form."
One of the progressive candidates discussed in Otterbein's article is Nina Turner, former co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign. In Ohio, Otterbein notes, Turner is competing with Ohio Cuyahoga County Democratic Party leader Shontel Brown for the nomination in a special election.
Turner told Politico, "It will be a huge test of the strength of the progressive movement. (The pandemic) makes it very clear that we have to do better and that when we have the power to do better — and I mean we the Democrats. We should not hesitate to be bold and visionary. It is very clear that we need health care as a human right in this country. We can't capitulate."