Now that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has signed on to former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, leaving many of his supporters without a leader and his operation struggling to figure out what’s next, progressives are “in despair” and in political trouble, per a Politico report Monday.
Sanders promised that the Democratic “Establishment” would not stand in the way of a progressive — even socialist — agenda, but “not only did the ‘establishment’ stop Sanders,” Politico says, “it stamped out the candidacies of a string of left-wing insurgents, leaving the progressive movement reeling and in a state of despair.”
“Three highly-touted liberal House candidates — Jessica Cisneros in Texas, Robert Emmons in Illinois, and Morgan Harper in Ohio — lost their primary races against more moderate members of Congress,” the outlet continues. “The movement has also had limited influence on the proposals House Democrats have put forward to address the coronavirus, with leadership rejecting its most ambitious ideas.”
The most visible progressive leigislators — the “squad” — are notably vulnerable. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is facing a primary challenge from a more “moderate” Democrat with ties to her constituents in the Bronx, who are notoriously concerned that Ocasio-Cortez has spent the last two years raising her national profile rather than addressing local concerns. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is under heavy scrutiny for a series of potential campaign finance and personnel issues.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) is facing a primary challenge from Detroit City Council president Brenda Jones, who narrowly lost to Tlaib in 2018. Jones was appointed to represent Michigan’s 13th district after former Rep. John Conyers resigned in 2017, but faced questions of whether she could serve in Congress and lead Detroit at the same time, making her run for the seat in 2018 controversial. She faced a 6-way primary that included Tlaib, and lost the seat to Tlaib by fewer than 1,000 votes.
Jones declared her intent to run against Tlaib back in late April, triggering progressive panic.
Elsewhere, progressive Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) is likely to lose to Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), the more “moderate” option, and the one “progressive” win — Marie Newman, who defeated Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois — is being credited to mainstream Democrat groups, not Democratic socialists.
Worse still is Sanders’ former operation, according to a different report from Politico. Sanders staffers are now in separate camps, operating a handful of different PACs, and rarely communicating or sharing information. Organizing networks are “on the verge of falling apart.” Sanders’ PAC from 2016, “Our Revolution,” has been all but winless.
There are “no networks” or master lists of progressive volunteers or donors to help upstart campaigns; the Senator’s lists have all been migrated over to the Biden campaign, leaving progressives empty handed.
Sanders has been quiet since endorsing Biden several weeks ago, though some of his supporters, including Ocasio-Cortez are now on Biden policy teams. Sanders, instead, has been laying low. Over the weekend, he told media that his supporters will back Biden but that he intends to do legwork on the issue — and there seems to be plenty to do.
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