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The Progressive Update (7/28/2020): New Jersey & Texas Recap, August 4th & 6th Primaries

After a break from my the usual schedule, I have come to the conclusion that I’m going to change the name of this series to something that more accurately sums up what it was supposed to do. Not to mention that “The Weekly Bern” makes it sound like it’s directly associated with Bernie himself, which this series is not. It is going to use the same font though, in honor of everything he’s done for us. Because let’s be honest, he’s going to be WAY too old to run again in 2024, so his chances of being President again are practically non-existent, and he will need to pass the torch to another candidate that hopefully is able to primary Joe Biden.

But that’s not for another four years. Instead, we need to focus on winning as many down ballot races as possible, and we have a whole bunch of primaries coming up next month. But let’s start by recapping the last few primaries that I missed on my break.

New Jersey was… not different from Kentucky or Colorado. Hell it was an even worse defeat. Senate challenger Lawrence Hamm only managed 10% of the vote against Cory Booker. I kinda saw this one coming given that Hamm got nowhere near as much press or name recognition as Charles Booker or Andrew Romanoff, and has opponent was even more well known than Amy McGrath or John Hickenlooper.

None of the House challengers fared that much better. The best performance that a progressive managed was Arati kreibich’s challenge to incumbent Democrat Josh Gottheimer, and she only managed 29.1% of the vote. Granted I don’t know if all the absentee ballots are counted, but the point is that she didn’t win. She did a pretty damn good job though considering that Gottheimer has over Eight million dollars on hand, which is more than some incumbent Senators have for fucks sake. Kreibich also didn’t have the backing of Justice Democrats either, and a lot of voters didn’t even know anything about her. At the very least, this puts her in a strong position for a potential rematch in 2022.

Things went much better in Texas of all states, with a slew of progressive victories in runoff elections. The only progressive congressional challenger in a runoff election that lost was Greg Sagan, and he stopped campaigning months ago. Now we have candidates like Mike Siegel, Candace Valenzuela, and Donna Imam who are set to face off against Republican opponents, in addition to candidates like Julie Oliver, Adrienne Bell, and Sri Preston Kulkarni who won their primaries back in March. On top of those, two Texas State Reps. one district attorney, and one county attorney have been unseated by progressive challengers as well.

The next primary will occur on August 4th, and they will occur in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. After that, Tennessee will have primaries on August 6th, Hawaii will have primaries on August 8th, Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin will have their primaries and Georgia will have its primary runoffs on August 11th, and THEN Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming will have their primaries on August 18th. See why I wanted to take a break yet?

Right now, I plan to cover the the ones taking place up to August 6th because I there’s no way in hell I can cover these all at once, especially when it’s going to be difficult to even cover all six of these states in a timely manner. Anyway, I’m going to write about these states in order of significance to the progressive movement, starting with Washington.

Washington has its Gubernatorial election this year, and Washington primaries are done California style. This means that, hypothetically, all the progressive voters could vote for Green Party candidate Liz Hallock, and she could advance to the general election against incumbent Jay Inslee. Granted it’s probably going to not happen because blind partisanship, but just letting you all know that you should probably do that.

The real main event for progressives is the Lieutenant Gubernatorial race, and the candidate of choice for this rate is State Senator Marko Liias, who is running in support of Single payer health insurance, demilitarizing the police, and Tuition Free College. Unfortunately, he is running against a more well known neoliberal incumbent who is looking to win the nomination via name recognition alone.

Marko’s opponent is incumbent congressman Denny Heck, a member of the Neoliberal New Democratic Coalition who has never even co-sponsored Medicare for All and who is mostly funded by big energy and corporations. While this does give Denny Heck an unfortunate advantage in name recognition, there is hope in the fact that Marko Liias has been endorsed by the incumbent Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib, and by Washington State Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, which means that this could be a close race at the very least.

On top of these races, there are congressional elections, where three of the ten congressional district have progressive challengers (technically four if you count Chris Armitage who has withdrawn for the race, but will remain on the ballot in Washington’s 5th district). The most noteworthy of these is in Washington’s 10th congressional district, the district of the aforementioned Denny Heck.

This race actually has two candidates of note for progressives. The first of these is 26 year old truck driver and Rose Caucus co-founder Joshua Collins. Joshua Collins has run an unconventional and also strong campaign up to this point, that has relied on Internet meme culture (particularly Tiktok) and has taken a less formal route with his campaign, while still giving strict focus to the issues that matter. He is easily the best candidate in this particular race, and electing him would be an enormous blow to establishment Democrats, precisely because he is the type that would refuse to play by their rules.

The other “progressive” in this race is Beth Doglio, although there is a strong case to be made that this term doesn’t apply to her… a case that Joshua Collins has made in fact. While Beth Doglio does support policies like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, but she also has taken money from Kaiser and was found to be in violation of campaign ethics laws. And she takes money from fracking companies, and obstructed progressive campaigns while spreading lies and smears to prevent them from winning. So yeah, vote for Joshua Collins, but I guess vote for Doglio if she makes it to the general because she’s still be an improvement, although that speaks more so about how corrupt our current establishment is rather than anything in her favor.

The other two progressive challengers are Rebecca Parson and Jason Call, both running against incumbent corporate Democrats in Washington’s 6th and 2nd Congressional districts respectively. Rebecca Parson is challenging Derek Kilmer, who is perhaps one of the worst House Democrats currently serving. Once again, I’m going to quote Common Dreams since they said it better than I could, and also because I want to get this done in a timely manner.

“Kilmer’s rise in power is appreciated by the US Chamber of Commerce. The anti-union, anti-environment group honored him in April with its annual “Spirit of Enterprise Award,” praising his “pro-growth” policies. The Chamber’s assessment of 2018 voting records ranked only a dozen House Democrats higher. Impressing corporate interests is not new for Kilmer; when in the Washington state senate, he was one of only three Democrats opposing labor on a key bill affecting unions’ ability to support political campaigns.

Kilmer’s increased clout on Capitol Hill means that he has more leverage against the interests of many constituents in a district where the median household income is scarcely $63,000. Meanwhile, the congressman gets plenty of corporate money. During the last term, Kilmer—who sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee—received nearly a quarter of a million dollars combined from the casinos/gambling and securities/investment industries. The military and tech sectors also contributed; Northrop Grumman and Microsoft each chipped in more than $30,000. His campaign and PAC ended last year with more than $3 million cash on hand.”

While it, at first, looks like this is going to be another instance where a corrupt corporate Democrat with a lot of money drowns his primary opponent in money, but keep in mind that Washington state has Jungle primaries, and the only other candidate in this race is Republican Elizabeth Kreiselmaier, who Parson has out raised three to one. This means that Parson could very well advance to the general election against Kilmer, and have an additional three months to raise the funds to compete with him.

Pretty much the same situation is occurring in Jason Call’s race against corporate Democrat Rick Larson, except on a smaller scale. Larson has less money than Kilmer, Call has less money than Parson, but he’s still outfunding the sole Republican candidate three to one. Rick Larsen is pretty much your typical corporate Democrat, 70% of his funds come from corporate PACs, most of which are from fossil fuel companieshe recently voted against cutting the Pentagon budget by 10% in the middle of a pandemic where those funds could have been re-directed to actually save lives instead of end them, etc. There’s probably a fuckton more that he’s done, but I want to get this piece done in a remotely timely manner. I still have five more states to cover for fucks sake!

Marko Liias – Donation Link
Joshua Collins – Donation Link
Rebecca Parson – Donation Link
Jason Call – Donation Link

Also of noteworthy significance are the Missouri primaries, with two races that have a progressive candidate with a strong campaign. Starting with the one you have most likely heard of, we have Justice Democrat Cori Bush, who is mounting a primary challenge to Missouri Congressional District 1 incumbent Lacy Clay. While some of you may have first known of Cori Bush through the Netflix documentary Knock Down the House, which featured her 2018 campaign, in addition to those of Amy Vilela, Paula Jean Swearengin, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but many forget that she also lead the Ferguson protests in 2014 that occurred after the pigs lynched Michael Brown and the cop who killed him was acquitted.

Cori Bush attempted a campaign for Senate in 2016, and mounted a primary campaign against the aforementioned Lacy Clay in 2018, both of which failed. Things will likely go differently this time though, given that not only does Cori have a massive increase in name recognition due to the aforementioned documentary, in addition to a slew of endorsements from Bernie Sanders, Nina Turner, Jamaal Bowman, Justice Democrats, Our Revolution, Brand New Congress, Matriarch, and the Sunrise Movement, but the political advocacy group Fight Corporate Monopolies has launched a six figure ad buy against Clay as well!

For those who live in Missouri’s 5th congressional district, I would advise you to give Maite Salazar your vote in their primary against incumbent Democrat Emanuel Cleaver, but there’s unfortunately no way they will win at this time. Thankfully, Progressive candidate Elad Gross has a pretty decent chance at winning the Democratic nomination for Missouri Attorney General. Elad is running on campaign promises to prosecute Dark Money groups, create Missouri’s first Civil rights division, end debtors prisons, and more. Considering the massive amount of endorsements Elad has received, in addition to the fact that he simply puts much more effort into his plans than his primary opponent, Elad could very well win this.

Elad Gross – Donation Link
Cori Bush – Donation Link
Maite Salazar – Donation Link

Up next is Michigan, which has a few noteworthy races for progressives. The most obvious is that Rashida Tlaib is being primaried by the corporate Democrat who proceeded her, and was a member of congress for a whole eight minutes until she left to make room for the actual Rep. I can tell you straight up that Brenda Jones is going to lose in a landslide just like AOC’s primary challenger did, and like what will inevitably happen to Ilhan Omar’s. But it is worth reminding you all so you don’t forget to vote to keep Rashida Tlaib in office.

We also have a noteworthy development in that the nominee to take on Michigan’s 6th congressional District incumbent Fred Upton will be state representative Jon Hoadley, who has a large variety of endorsements from both progressive sources such as Brand New Congress, and a bunch of mainstream groups such as End Citizens United and the Human Rights Campaign. He’s not only set to win the nomination, but he’s already out polling Upton as well.

We have a few more progressives running in Michigan who are in the “will likely be drowned out by corporate money) category who are nonetheless worth mentioning because they deserve every vote they can get and can potentially run again some time. These candidates include Solomon Rajput, who is mounting a primary campaign against neoliberal district 12 incumbent Debbie Dingell, Dana Ferguson, who is running for the nomination to take on district 1 incumbent Jack Bergman, and Kelly Noland, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Michigan’s 10th Congressional district.

Rashida Tlaib – Donation Link
Jon Hoadley – Donation Link
Solomon Rajput – Donation Link
Dana Ferguson – Donation Link
Kelly Noland – Donation Link

Next in line is Arizona, a state with two races where progressives will at least put up a fight for the nomination in their respective congressional districts, but where their opponents sadly have the upper hand.  The first of these candidates is Anita Malik, who actually won the nomination for this district in 2018 and had the strongest performance against incumbent David Schweikert since 2012. Unfortunately, Malik has to win a primary against Hiral Tipirneni, who won the Democratic nomination in a different district in 2018, and has carpetbagged her way over to this district where she has the support of the Democratic establishment and is outfunding Malik ten to one.

The other candidate of note is Eva Putzova, a former Flagstaff city councilwoman who is attempting to mount a primary to conservative Blue Dog Tom O’Halleran. Putzova has put together a strong campaign that will likely at least create a dent in O’Halleran’s support base, but chances of winning on her first attempt are steep given O’Halleran’s millions and the fact that Putzova doesn’t have any game changing endorsements. Of course, I’d still strongly encourage you all to support Putzova and Malik as best as you can and give them your votes.

I’d also give Stu Starky and Jon Ireland your votes if you live in Arizona’s 4th and 5th congressional districts respectively, but they are pretty much dead in the water campaign wise.

Eva Putzova – Donation Link
Anita Malik – Donation Link
Stu Starky – Donation Link
Jon Ireland – Donation Link

Next we have Tennessee, which I should remind everyone is on August 6th instead of August 4th. Tennessee has a lot of progressives on the ballot, but most of them have no prayer of winning. In the Senate primary, the Democratic establishment has already decided that James Mackler will be the nominee, and no one else has anywhere close to the amount of money needed to compete with him. On top of this, the progressive vote would likely be split between Marquita Bradshaw and Robin Kimbrough Hayes. I have no idea which one has a better shot at winning or which one has the better policies.

In regards to congressional seats, we have a bunch of candidates who are in very tough situations, some of which in better situations than other, but nonetheless things will be very difficult for them. We have Blair Walsingham, who looks set to win the nomination for Tennessee’s 1st district, but is running against an opponent with over a million dollars in an R+28 district. Tennessee’s 2nd district has Chance Brown, who has raised a mere $137 and needs to win a primary against someone with half a million dollars, then a general election against someone with 800K. Tennessee’s 3rd district has Meg Gorman, who is running unoppossed for the nomination, but needs beat an incumbent with over One million dollars on hand when she hasn’t even broken into six figures yet.

Tennessee’s 4th district has Noelle Bivens, who is running in an R+20 district. Tennessee’s 5th district has the most likely shot at a progressive victory with Keeda Haynes, who is attempting to primary incumbent Blue Dog Jim Cooper, and has actually been running a very strong campaign against him. She has been raising a large amount of money at a fast rate, and could potentially beat Cooper if she keeps this up, but given that she didn’t enter the race until a few months ago, it would be quite difficult. Lastly, there is Tennessee’s 9th district, where the Brand New Congress endorsed Corey Strong is attempting to primary incumbent Democrat Steve Cohen. Given that I can’t find much information on Strong’s campaign, he seems unlikely to win.

Marquita Bradshaw – Donation Link
Robin Kimbrough Hayes – Donation Link
Keeda Haynes – Donation Link
Meg Gorman – Donation Link
Corey Strong – Donation Link
Noelle Bivens – Donation Link
Blair Walsingham – Donation Link
Chance Brown – Donation Link

Last and most certainly least, we have Kansas. There are two progressive candidates running for Senate, neither of which have any hope of winning. Robert Tillman has raised a mere $100 and would need to somehow beat an opponent with over $4,000,000 on hand, so he’s pretty much screwed. The other candidate, Brian Matlock has at least run a decent campaign and would have a modicum of a chance if it weren’t for the fact that he’s running as a Republican, and you need to be registered as one to vote for him. James Windholz is also running for the nomination for Kansas’s 2nd congressional district, but he has no shot either.

Robert Tillman – Donation Link
Brian Matlock – Donation Link
James Windholz – Donation Link

And holy shit, I’m exhausted after writing most of this in two days. At the very least, we seem to have some new progressive victories to look to. And I did not even take state legislature or local elections into account. We just so happen to see progressives gaining serious ground while the Republican Party is also collapsing. While it is regretful that Bernie Sanders was screwed out of the presidency again, this could also be setting the stage for the Neoliberal branch of the Democratic party to become the new Republicans, and the progressive branch to become the “New New Democratic Coalition.”And if we need the rotting corpse of the Trump administration to serve as the foundation, then so be it.

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