Democrats avert civil war as they eye unity for midterms

first_img Since you’re here… “There may be something much simpler and more powerful than ideology at work here,” David Wasserman, a political analyst at the non-partisan Cook Political Report, wrote recently: “Democratic primary voters’ intense desire to nominate women in 2018.”To be sure, there are certain issues and races that have plunged the party back into the bitterness of 2016 . The DNC’s “unity reform commission”, which was established to heal the divide between supporters of Clinton and Sanders, is still wrangling over the role of superdelegates in the party’s primary system. And in New York, tensions flared when the DNC chair, Tom Perez, intervened in the gubernatorial race to endorse Governor Andrew Cuomo against the insurgent candidate – the actor and progressive favorite Cynthia Nixon. During a live interview with the Washington Post this week, Sanders said Perez’s endorsement of Cuomo was “absolutely” a mistake and “not what the DNC chair should be doing”. US politics Share on Pinterest Share on Messenger Shares202202 @laurenegambino Twitter According to an analysis by Brookings, 42% of non-incumbent Democratic candidates label themselves progressives, compared with just 14% in 2014 and 13% in 2016. Among them is Eastman. She faces an uphill battle to oust the Republican incumbent, Don Bacon, in the conservative-leaning district. “I’m running because I feel a sense of desperation in the country and I think a lot of people feel similarly,” Eastman said. “And,” she added, “we learned from 2016 that people are willing to take a bet on political outsiders.” Pinterest Stacey Abrams won the Democratic primary for governor in Georgia. Photograph: Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters Despite talk of a civil war between the party’s progressive and centrist wings, observers see unity against Donald Trump Kara Eastman, a progressive who campaigned on a “Medicare for all” healthcare system and free college, stunned Washington Democrats last month when she beat Brad Ashford, a moderate former congressman backed by the party, in the primary for a Nebraska House race. Her upset victory was cheered as a resounding win for the activist left – and a repudiation of centrist politics. But Eastman says that’s not how Democrats in Omaha viewed the race.“People were just excited to have someone stand up for their values,” Eastman said. “While those values are tagged as progressive, I think people here see it as common sense.”In the aftermath of the 2016 election, the rivalry between supporters of Hillary Clinton and those of Bernie Sanders consumed the debate over the future of a party still shell-shocked by defeat. The ideological tug-of-war was a defining feature of the contest to lead the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and it animated a number of political races last year.But as the 2018 midterm primaries play out across the country, the “civil war” that once threatened to undermine Democrats’ path to power appears to be little more than a skirmish in the all-consuming battle they are waging against Trump. That fight has produced a historic number of Democratic female candidates and set the stage for what analysts believe could be a “wave” election for the party in November.“Democrats remember how miserable they felt on election night and how they have felt every day since then,” said Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “That feeling – ‘the Trump effect’ – is helping to cap the volcano. Were it not for Trump, however, I think the volcano of Democratic fractiousness would erupt all over the nation.” He added: “I do think Democrats are relearning that old lesson that a bird cannot fly on one wing, and neither can a party.”Primary contests so far this year have produced a string of victories for both wings of the Democratic party. Progressives notched successes in Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Idaho while more establishment-friendly candidates celebrated wins in Illinois, Texas and California.. Yet many races do not fit neatly into the centrist-v-progressive construct. In the Georgia Democratic primary for the governorship, Stacey Abrams, a progressive former state house leader, won the race with support from both Clinton and Sanders. On the same night, Amy McGrath, a former marine fighter pilot and first-time candidate, defeated Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington, who the party had believed would be a stronger candidate in Kentucky. ‘You don’t tell yourself no’: Stacey Abrams’ bid to be America’s first black female governor Facebook Lauren Gambino in Washington Democrats Democrats avert civil war as they eye unity for midterms Share on WhatsApp The progressive Kara Eastman scored an upset victory in Nebraska.Photograph: Nati Harnik/APcenter_img Topics Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Sat 9 Jun 2018 09.55 EDT US Congress Share on LinkedIn First published on Sat 9 Jun 2018 06.00 EDT Democratic party officials have intervened in certain congressional races to help the candidate they believe has the best chance of winning the general election succeed in a crowded primary contest. The strategy, which drew progressive backlash in Texas, paid off this week in California, where a glut of candidates threatened to split the share of Democratic voters and produce all-Republican ballots in November under the state’s “jungle primary” system. In order to win back the House, the Democratic party must be willing to intervene in primary races as it did in California, says Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institutution and member of the DNC.“The path to a Democratic majority does not run through deep blue districts. The path runs through purple and slightly red districts,” Kamarck said, adding: “The irony here is that the party must win in places where the progressive message doesn’t work as well in order to get close to a place where you can have a progressive agenda.”The tug of the party’s progressive wing didn’t begin with Sanders’s entrance into the 2016 presidential race.But Stephanie Taylor, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, credits him with helping to bring the left’s economic populist agenda into the mainstream. Ideas like a European-style healthcare system, once dismissed as magical thinking, now has the support of more than half of House Democratic lawmakers and one-third of the Senate caucus.“That the question around healthcare is no longer ‘Should we fix the Affordable Care Act?’ but ‘What is the best way to get to universal healthcare?’ is a radical departure from where we were,” Taylor said. 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