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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

 

Another Democratic pickup

by Tom Sullivan

If only Democrats could pack all their big-idea eggs into one super-attractive basket, then, oh boy, they'd really have themselves a 2020 presidential candidate, Dana Milbank snarks in the Washington Post. Milbank covered the Center for American Progress's Ideas Conference in Washington, D.C. yesterday while voters in four states across three time zones selected candidates for races more immediate and more local.

While the national press is already spending its presidential-year ad revenue, Pennsylvanians picked up Democrats' 41st state legislative seat since the election of Donald Trump. Helen Tai defeated Republican Republican Wendi Thomas for the Pennsylvania House District 178 seat in Bucks County.

Daily Beast reports:

In a sign of the growing importance of these local races to national Democrats, former vice president Joe Biden weighed in with his endorsement for Tai this month. Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, whose PAC Win Back Your State is focusing on these down-ballot races, also endorsed Tai and he recently made an in-person appearance at her campaign office.
Carolyn Fiddler adds at Daily Kos:
HD-178 is exactly the sort of seat Republicans are most worried about, and with good reason. While this suburban Philadelphia district voted 56-43 for Mitt Romney, it gave Donald Trump only a narrow 50-47 win. This trend toward Democrats continued tonight with Tai’s victory, which represents a four-point swing from the 2016 presidential results, in a district where the Republican ran unopposed in two of his past three elections.
Another signal that times, they are a-changin' (at least for the Democratic establishment) came last night in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District primary. Kara Eastman, pro-choice president of a local nonprofit, upset former Rep. Brad Ashford in the Democratic primary. Ashford was backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the campaign arm of House Democrats and reflecting its preference for safe, moderate candidates. Eastman drew the endorsement of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Working Families Party, and Blue America (of which Hullabaloo is a partner blog).

Eastman lagged behind Ashford through most of the ballot count. As the last few precincts reported, Eastman pulled ahead 51.4% to Ashford's 48.6%.

Ashford is a former Republican who had supported abortion restrictions, yet major pro-choice advocacy groups UltraViolet Action, EMILY’s List, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund stayed out of the race. Eastman told Newsweek:
"If we had the support of the DCCC, those groups would probably be more likely to support my campaign; I think that's a shame," Eastman told Newsweek in March. "I think there are people who are disappointed and tired of this establishment that seems to be supporting certain candidates over others. The district is craving someone who is a lifelong Democrat—someone who's running on a platform like I am."

[...]

"This is a huge win for progressives, and I think it signals that the base doesn't want milquetoast centrist candidates," Sean McElwee, a researcher and co-founder at Data for Progress, a progressive polling and analysis firm, told Newsweek Tuesday night. "They want real progressives."
In Idaho, state Rep. Paulette Jordan, 38 and a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, won the Democratic nomination for governor over A.J. Balukoff, a better-known businessman backed by the party establishment. If she were to pull off the upset in November, Jordan would the first Native American governor in U.S. history. Vox observes that Jordan's win sends a signal that even in Idaho, party progressives are flexing muscles:
Idaho is unquestionably conservative, so much so that it is often considered to be a one-party state — Republican. That said, Jordan, at 38 years old, represents a young, fresh face for the Democratic Party in Idaho, compared to Balukoff, the 72-year-old former school board member.

Jordan’s progressive platform has gained a lot of national attention in recent weeks. She has won the endorsements of progressive national groups like Planned Parenthood, People for the American Way, Democracy for America, Indivisible, and People for Bernie Sanders. She’s even won Cher’s endorsement. But state lawmakers and local Democrats are jumping on the Balukoff’s older, familiar name. (He was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014.)

To be sure, Jordan’s chances of actually winning the governorship are slim. The state is dominated by the conservative rural and suburban districts. Meanwhile, she’s championing raising the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana, expanding health care, and fighting climate change.
It was a good night for women running under the Democrat brand. Three in Pennsylvania are favored to win U.S. House seats in November, diversifying "the nation’s largest all-male congressional delegation," reports the Wall Street Journal.

Even in Idaho where Democrats struggle to find a foothold, a younger, progressive base is poised to make its presence felt.

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For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.