The New York Times points out progressive House candidates are increasingly rattling primary elections around the country, and they promise to grow as a disruptive force in national elections as younger voters reject the traditional boundary lines of Democratic politics. They are flouting the Democratic establishment, demolishing archaic party machinery or pressuring Democrats in moderate areas to tack left.
With about two months left in the national primary season, New Jersey is leading the way with restive progressive candidates.
The NY Times’ national analysis used four individual groups that endorsed liberal House primary candidates. Of the primaries so far the number of endorsed Democratic progressives in New Jersey was exceeded only by those in NY (a much larger state) with NJ having 10 such candidates and NY having 19.
The endorsing groups selected were NJ Working Families Alliance (NJWFA), Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), Our Revolution (OR) and Justice Democrats. Below are the NJ primary candidates they endorsed:
- CD 01 Donald Norcross (NJWFA)
- CD 03 Andy Kim (NJWFA) and (PCCC)
- CD 04 Jim Keady (NJWFA) and (OR)
- CD 06 Frank Pallone (NJWFA)
- CD 07 Peter Jacob (OR)
- CD 08 Albio Sires (NJWFA)
- CD 09 Bill Pascrell (NJWFA)
- CD 10 Donald Payne (NJWFA)
- CD 11 Mikie Sherrill (NJWFA
- CD 12 Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJWFA)
The endorsement season is far from over. Other NJ candidates may enter the above ranks and other groups will release their own endorsements. Nonetheless this is a testament to the powerful movement in our state.
So powerful is this movement that during the primary campaign Democratic progressive candidates competed with each other, but in NJ getting the party line is paramount. Alison Heslin, an “unapologetic progressive,” ran against Mikie Sherrill (CD 11.) Jeff Van Drew (CD 02) (the least progressive of our candidates) defeated Tanzie Youngblood.
Giovanni Sce, a 55-year-old software engineer from Summit, said, “I don’t think that the Democratic Party is doing a good job of reconciling the two souls of the party (Clinton and Sanders)’ at an event in support of progressive Peter Jacob who lost to Tom Malinowski (CD 07). Progressive candidates whose views put them in the Senator Bernie Sanders wing of the party often were shunned by NJ party establishment focused on endorsing candidates officials believed to have broader appeal. Even nationally we see the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program now supporting only Tom Malinowski (CD 07), Jeff Van Drew (CD 02) as well as Mikie Sherrill (CD 11).
We also have two “Josh” candidates who are running in more traditionally Republic Districts who probably would be ill-served positioning themselves as too progressive. In CD 05 incumbent Josh Gottheimer is progressive on social matters, supported by Planned Parenthood and will get strong help from national and local Democratic leadership groups. In CD 04 where Josh Welle defeated Jim Keady in the primary, Welle is challenging incumbent Republican Chris Smith in office since forever. Welle is progressive on almost all issues.
Nonetheless as we now face the November elections, we have learned in the last Presidential election the horrendous consequences of Democrats particularly in the swing electoral states not voting sufficiently for the Democratic candidate. In the current campaign we have the opportunity to take over the House and put a stop to many of President Trump’s worst actions. To not turn out and vote for a NJ Democratic House candidate because he or she seems insufficiently progressive could be disastrous. (The time to fight that battle is during our next primary.) Even the least progressive Democratic candidates in November will generate a more liberal voting record than their Republican counterparts.
We have earned our stripes in leading the progressive revolution. We now have to get our Dems elected.