Democrats: Pay Attention to the Voters

I’m still trying to wrap my head around election results. Abigail Tracy writes in Vanity Fair,

Around seven weeks before Pennsylvania’s primary elections, Summer Lee commanded a lead of 25 points over rival Steve Irwin in the race for Pennsylvania’s 12th District, a blue stronghold encompassing Pittsburgh and its surrounding suburbs. It appeared that Lee, 34, a Black woman and progressive activist who currently serves as a Pennsylvania state representative, would make history. Then came the outside money. By election day, Democratic groups had dumped more than $2 million into the primary race to defeat Lee—dwarfing the outside money spent attacking Irwin, a mere $2,400. Specifically, the United Democracy Project (UDP)—a political action committee for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—spent $2,025,297 against Lee and $660,317 in support of Irwin, 62, a Pittsburgh lawyer and county Democratic Party organizer. The ads painted Lee as anti-Israel and claimed she was “not a real Democrat,” following a playbook that moderate groups have run against other progressives nationwide, including against Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman.

This race still hasn’t been called as I write this. With 99 percent of the votes counted, Lee is 445 votes ahead (updates here).

Here’s another squeaker. Ryan Grim writes at The Intercept,

A super PAC funded by the pharmaceutical industry blew more than a million dollars in an effort to salvage the career of former Blue Dog Coalition Chair Kurt Schrader, the Oregon Democrat who cast the deciding vote against drug pricing reform in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and organized with Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., to derail President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. His opponent, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, lambasted him repeatedly as the “Joe Manchin of the House.” Because Oregon votes by mail, and some ballots were blurred and unreadable in areas favorable to Schrader, results may not be known until early next week, but despite a funding disparity of some 10 to 1, the incumbent is on the ropes.

This race hasn’t been called, either, as only 53 percent of the votes have been counted. Right now, McLeod-Skinner has 60.5 percent of the vote to Schrader’s 39.5 percent (updates here).

Back to Ryan Grim:

Another super PAC in Oregon, funded by a cryptocurrency fortune and organized around the project of pandemic prevention, Protect Our Future, spent some $10 million to boost Carrick Flynn, while the super PAC linked to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority PAC, also dropped a million dollars into the race. It backfired, and local Democrats as well as national progressives — including the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC and the Working Families Party — rallied behind state Rep. Andrea Salinas, who appears poised for a victory.

This one has been called for Salinas, who is comfortably ahead with 70 percent of the vote counted.

And I’m sure you heard that John Fetterman easily mopped the floor with Conor Lamb, who was endorsed by Joe Manchin. I read that fact was used in anti-Lamb ads. Lamb might as well have been endorsed by Mitch McConnell. Exactly how out of touch are Manchin and Lamb, that either one though Manchin’s endorsement would help Lamb?

(I’ve been reading about Fetterman’s stroke. It really was similar to what I had a few weeks ago, with stoke symptoms brought on by a blood clot in the brain. He’s having a worse time of it, though. In my case the blood clot broke up on its own after about 45 minutes, and after I spent 24 hours in a hospital getting tests they sent me home with a Plavix prescription. In Fetterman’s case the doctors had to break up the clot, which I understand they do with a catheter. And his heart was clunky enough that they installed a pacemaker. But the stroke itself probably won’t slow him down any or leave any lasting effects. If he follows doctor’s orders he should be fine. He may have to cut back on the cheesesteaks and salty pretzels, though.)

Anyway, you know what’s going on. President Biden’s approval ratings have been in  minus territory for a while. The party establishment and big money donors blame the progressive wing for this. For example, here’s a recent article by Ruy Teixeira titled The Bankruptcy of the Democratic Party Left about how it’s the Left’s fault so much of President Biden’s agenda has failed to pass. The name “Joe Manchin” appears nowhere in this article. Enough said.

The problem with the Democrats for many years is that the party has an entrenched and powerful center-right establishment working against a growing faction of progressives who are perpetually marginalized.  But it looks like voters are finally catching on to why the change they want never happens. “Tuesday’s results suggest that Democratic voters — at least those in Pennsylvania and Oregon — would prefer that Democrats do more rather than less, delivering a stinging rebuke to the Kyrsten Sinema-Manchin wing of the party,” Ryan Grim writes.