Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 19 (April 21, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

April 21, 2022

In this issue: The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC backs Brown over Turner in OH-11 and a look at the first U.S. House debate in Vermont

Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC backs Brown over Turner this year

The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC endorsed incumbent Rep. Shontel Brown in a rematch against Nina Turner in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. This is a change for the PAC, which endorsed Turner in the 2021 special primary election. Brown defeated Turner 50% to 45% last August. Brown was sworn into office in November and has since become a member of the Progressive Caucus.

PAC co-chairs Mark Pocan (Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), and Jamie Raskin (Md.) said in a statement announcing Brown’s endorsement as part of a slate, “Each and every one of [the endorsees] is working every day to take on corporate special interests, fight for economic and social justice, universal health care, climate action, and bold solutions to the urgent crises facing our country.” 

Cleveland.com’s editorial board and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recently endorsed Turner, as they did in 2021. Turner co-chaired Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. 

The PAC Protect Our Future has spent more than $1 million supporting Brown. Last week, we wrote about that group’s spending in Oregon’s 6th Congressional District primary. 

Last year’s special election was held after former incumbent Marcia Fudge (D) became secretary of Housing and Urban Development in President Joe Biden’s administration. Brown served on the Cuyahoga County Council from 2015 until she joined the House in November. Turner was a state senator from 2008 to 2015. 

The primary is scheduled for May 3.

Rep. Chuy Garcia endorses Jonathan Jackson in IL-01

Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.) endorsed Jonathan Jackson, son of Jesse Jackson Sr., in Illinois’ 1st Congressional District Democratic primary. Jonathan Jackson is the national spokesman for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which says it is “a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international membership organization fighting for social change.” Jesse Jackson Sr. formed the group in 1996.

Twenty candidates are running for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent Rep. Bobby Rush (D) is retiring and endorsed Karen Norington-Reaves, former CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, in the primary. 

Campaign finance filings current through March 31 show Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell and Jonathan Swain led with $382,000 and $376,000, respectively. Norington-Reaves raised the third-highest amount with $291,000, and Jackson was next with $145,000.

Politico‘s Shia Kapos wrote, “Rush’s seat holds historical significance for many Chicagoans. The nation’s first Black congressman elected in the 20th century, Oscar De Priest, held Illinois’ 1st Congressional District for three terms, previewing the political shifts wrought by the Great Migration. Black men have held the seat ever since.”

Kapos wrote, “While it remains predominantly African American, the [1st District’s] new boundaries extend farther into suburban, whiter, Republican neighborhoods to the southwest. … For the Democratic primary, … 75 percent of the votes will come from Chicago and 85 percent from the broader Cook County, [redistricting consultant Frank Calabrese] said.” 

The primary is set for June 28.

Vermont’s U.S. House candidates meet for first debate

Four Democratic candidates for Vermont’s sole U.S. House seat met for a debate sponsored by VTDigger on April 14. Incumbent Rep. Peter Welch (D) is running for U.S. Senate, leaving the district open for the first time since 2006.

Candidates Becca Balint, Sianay Chase Clifford, Molly Gray, and Kesha Ram Hinsdale discussed the invasion of Ukraine, what they would do differently than Welch, and drug legalization, among other topics.

Balint, who currently serves as state Senate president pro tempore, said she might support a U.S. military intervention in Ukraine if Russia uses chemical weapons. Balint also said she supports strengthening sanctions against Russia and sanctioning Belarus.

Chase Clifford, who was a staffer for U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), opposes sending the U.S. military to Ukraine and supports targeting sanctions to reduce their impact on vulnerable communities.

Gray, the current lieutenant governor, opposes a no-fly zone over Ukraine and said she would not support U.S. military intervention unless allied organizations like the United Nations decided on it. 

Ram Hinsdale, a state senator, supports the president’s response and said the role of fossil fuels in global crises should be discussed.

The four were also asked about votes Welch made that they disagreed with.

Balint said she opposed Welch’s vote for additional funding for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in 2007. 

Chase Clifford said she was concerned that Welch may have used his position to make advantageous stock trades. 

Gray criticized Welch for not doing more to pass paid family and medical leave. 

Ram Hinsdale said that “for a long time [Welch] was accepting corporate PAC dollars” and that she was glad Welch was not accepting those donations in his run for U.S. Senate.

Balint and Ram Hinsdale said they support the federal legalization of marijuana and other controlled substances. Chase Clifford said she supports marijuana legalization and decriminalizing other substances. Gray said she supports decriminalizing marijuana and not other substances. 

The Democratic primary is set for Aug. 9. Three election forecasters rate the general election Solid Democratic.

Update: Finkenauer back on Iowa’s U.S. Senate ballot

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that Abby Finkenauer can appear on the Senate Democratic primary ballot after a lower court ruled she could not. The state supreme court said the state legislature “did not include missing or incorrect dates as one of the grounds for sustaining an objection to a petition.” As we wrote last week, a lower court said Finkenauer didn’t meet the state’s ballot access requirements.  

N.C. Democratic Party Progressive Caucus rescinds endorsement in 4th Congressional District

On April 17, the North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus rescinded its endorsement of state Sen. Valerie Foushee over contributions Foushee received from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Foushee is running in the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary.

In a press release, the Progressive Caucus said, “No American candidate should be accepting funds from an organization that provides financial support for those seeking to destroy our democracy,” referring to AIPAC’s endorsement of 37 Republicans who voted against confirming the results of the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6, 2021, while Congress counted the electoral votes.

Foushee’s campaign said, “Her 25 years of elected service to her community speaks to her deep commitment to progressive values,” and, “Senator Foushee is going to Washington to unify, not divide, as she has always done.

Foushee is a state senator, former Orange County commissioner, and former member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education. Foushee is running against seven other candidates in the Democratic primary, including former American Idol contestant and National Inclusion Project co-founder Clay Aiken and Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, the first Muslim woman elected to public office in North Carolina.

Both Foushee and Allam have received noteworthy endorsements in this primary. State Attorney General Josh Stein (D), EMILY’s List, and the state AFL-CIO endorsed Foushee. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Our Revolution endorsed Allam.

Incumbent Rep. David Price (D) is not seeking re-election, leaving the solidly Democratic district open for the first time since 1972. The 4th District is located outside of Raleigh, including portions of the state’s Research Triangle. The district has the largest percentage of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 (27%) and the largest percentage with a bachelor’s degree (52%) in North Carolina.

Pelosi endorses Crist in Florida governor primary

On April 18, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) endorsed Charlie Crist in Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Crist represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District in the House. 

Pelosi said, “From his tireless work in Congress to his commitment to Floridians across the state, Charlie Crist has an impenetrable record of fighting for the people of the Sunshine State and delivering results that matter. … Charlie can and will defeat the current Governor and hit the ground running on Day 1 in Tallahassee.”  

Crist said Pelosi’s “leadership uplifts the voices of all Floridians that are ready to put divisive, inflammatory rhetoric behind us and truly get to work for the people.”

Crist was Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011. He was elected as a Republican and switched his affiliation to Independent in 2010, then to Democratic in 2012. 

Five other candidates are running, including state Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried. 

Fried called herself a true Democrat and said, “Look, every single issue that we as Floridians are fighting for today — whether that is access to affordable health care, whether that’s affordable housing, our environment, to criminal justice reform, to medical marijuana and legalization, to civil rights, to criminal justice reform, you name the issue — unfortunately, Charlie was on the other side of it.”

The Democratic primary is scheduled for Aug. 23.

Competitiveness data: Arkansas and California  

Akransas’ filing deadline for congressional and state candidates was March 1, and California’s was March 14. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.