Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 25 (June 2, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

June 2, 2022

In this issue: A new PAC plans to spend for a challenger to Rep. Tlaib and the first polls in NY’s new House districts

New PAC will spend $1 million supporting Tlaib challenger

The recently formed Urban Empowerment Action PAC plans to spend more than $1 million on ads supporting Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey in Michigan’s 12th Congressional District Democratic primary. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D), who currently represents the 13th District, is seeking re-election in the 12th. Tlaib represents 61% of the new 12th’s population. 

The PAC says its supporters “include a broad coalition of African American business, political and civic leaders, working alongside peers in the Jewish community” and that it is “dedicated to empowering urban communities to narrow the wealth gap between Black and white Americans.”

Former South Carolina state Rep. Bakari Sellers, who has raised money for the PAC, told Politico, “Congresswoman Tlaib voted against the infrastructure bill. Coming from South Carolina, I can tell you that I understand in our communities, that the return on that investment is so high. And we want someone, particularly in these Black communities, that does not get distracted by shiny things or media opportunities, but is focused on the uplift of our communities and does right by them.”

Tlaib was one of six House Democrats to vote against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Tlaib said she did so because the House voted on it before the Build Back Better Act: “It was a promise that was made to move both bills together, because much of some of the poison pills in the infrastructure bill that increased dirty air issues around climate and some of the other privatization and fossil fuel language was combatted in Build Back Better.” Tlaib also said the infrastructure bill was Democrats’ leverage for passing Build Back Better.

Sellers also said Tlaib’s comments on Israel are “high up on the list” of reasons the PAC is supporting Winfrey. As we wrote in January, Tlaib voted against funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system in September 2021, saying, “I will not support an effort to enable and support war crimes, human rights abuses and violence. The Israeli government is an apartheid regime.” 

We discussed primary challenger and state Rep. Shanelle Jackson’s criticisms of Tlaib’s stance on Israel in that issue.

Tlaib spokesperson Denzel McCampbell said of the PAC’s support for Winfrey, “If our opponent truly does care about our democracy, I hope that she will immediately disavow and condemn this type of Big Money attack on our democracy that only seeks to mislead voters and distort reality.”

Retweeting a story about the PAC’s involvement in the primary, Winfrey wrote, “I’m so grateful and excited to serve the ENTIRE 12th District.”

The primary is on Aug. 2.

Updates on OR-05, TX-28, TX-15 House races

Some updates on where previously uncalled marquee primaries stand:

In Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, Jamie McLeod-Skinner defeated incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader 57%-43%. The primary was May 17, and we called the race Tuesday.

Schrader joins three other representatives who’ve sought re-election and lost in primaries this year, including one other Democrat. In Georgia’s 7th District primary, Rep. Lucy McBath defeated fellow incumbent Carolyn Bourdeaux 63%-31%.

In Texas’ 28th District, incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar led Jessica Cisneros by 175 votes as of Wednesday afternoon. Texas’ 15th District primary also remains uncalled. Michelle Vallejo led Ruben Ramirez by 20 votes.

In Texas, a candidate may request a recount if the margin of victory is within 10% of the winning candidate’s vote total. The local canvass in Texas is today, meaning vote counting will be complete. 

First polls released in NY U.S. House primaries

Last week, Emerson College released polls for New York’s 10th and 12th congressional districts. As we wrote last week, a special master redrew the state’s congressional districts, and a state court approved the new map on May 20. 

In the 10th District, the poll found 77% of respondents undecided. U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones (currently of the 17th District) received 7% support, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had 6%, state Asm. Yuh-Line Niou had 5%, and New York City Councilmember Carlina Rivera had 3%. 

Former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, who served from 1973 to 1981, has also announced a bid for the 10th.

In the 12th District, U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler are running against each other. Maloney led Nadler 31% to 21% in the poll, with 36% of respondents undecided. Both representatives were first elected in 1992. Maloney chairs the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Nadler chairs the Judiciary Committee.

Both polls had a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points. 

To see the state’s new congressional district map, click here.

Ocasio-Cortez endorses slate of Democratic Socialist state legislative candidates

On May 26, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed all 13 state legislative candidates that the New York City Democratic Socialists of America (NYC-DSA) endorsed. This is the largest slate of candidates the NYC-DSA has ever endorsed. 

Jacobin’s Liza Featherstone wrote that the NYC-DSA’s “thirteen-person slate is ambitious; some have argued that the group may be biting off more than it can chew in terms of street-level organization. But AOC’s endorsement is likely to bring significant resources to the campaigns, including grassroots dollars, volunteers, and media attention.”

The 13 endorsed candidates are listed below.


  • Phara Souffrant Forrest (incumbent)
  • Emily Gallagher (incumbent)
  • Zohran Kwame Mamdani (incumbent)
  • Marcela Mitaynes (incumbent)
  • Illapa Sairitupac (challenger, GOP incumbent)
  • Keron Alleyne (challenger, Democratic incumbent)
  • Samy Nemir Olivares (challenger, Democratic incumbent)
  • Vanessa Agudelo (open district)
  • Sarahana Shrestha (challenger, Democratic incumbent)

Senate (due to recently approved district maps, the filing deadline for these races is June 10)

  • Jabari Brisport (incumbent)
  • Julia Salazar (incumbent)
  • Kristen Gonzalez (SD-59)
  • David Alexis (SD-21)

In the 2018 primary elections, both candidates the NYC-DSA endorsed won their elections, including Ocasio-Cortez. In 2020, the organization endorsed four candidates: Brisport, Forrest, Mamdani, and Mitaynes. All four candidates won.

New York State Assembly primaries are on June 28. Primaries for state Senate are on Aug. 23. All 63 state Senate seats and all 150 Assembly districts are up for election. Democrats hold majorities in both chambers.

The Democratic Socialists of America says it is “the largest socialist organization in the United States, with over 92,000 members and chapters in all 50 states” and believes that “working people should run both the economy and society democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few.”

Associated Press analysis: High number of 2020 Democratic primary voters participated in 2022 GOP primaries

An Associated Press analysis of early voting data published Tuesday showed that 37,144 people who voted in Georgia’s May 24 Republican primaries voted in Democratic primaries in 2020. AP called this “an unusually high number of so-called crossover voters.”

Georgia holds open primaries, meaning voters may vote in whichever primary they choose, regardless of their registration (voters may only participate in one party’s primary in each election year).

The analysis said these voters supported incumbents Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), both of whom won primaries over challengers former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed. Kemp received 74% of the vote, avoiding a runoff by more than 280,000 votes. Raffensperger avoided a runoff by around 27,000 votes.

The Associated Press wrote that Country First, a political action committee that Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) created, conducted a mailer and text campaign encouraging Georgia Democrats to support Raffensperger. 

Kinzinger, who is not seeking re-election this year, was one of 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump’s 2021 impeachment. The Republican National Committee censured Kinzinger in February for his participation in the House select committee investigating the U.S. Capitol breach.

Raffensperger’s campaign said that “there are people who stopped voting in Republican primaries after 2016 who are now reengaged.” 

AP said that “at least a portion of Georgia’s 37,000 party switchers in 2022 had been in the Republican camp before Trump took office. Roughly between 9,000 to 13,000 voted Republican in the 2010, 2012 and 2014 primaries, according to the L2 data.”

Country First also weighed in on North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District primary, where Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R) lost re-nomination by fewer than 1,500 votes. AP wrote that of the 38,000 early and absentee votes in that primary, more than 14% (5,400) were from voters who had participated in the 2020 Democratic primary.

AP found that fewer 2020 Democratic voters participated in the GOP primary in Pennsylvania this year, attributing the gap to the competitive Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and to the state’s closed primary system. 

Primary rules vary by state and, in some cases, by political party. Twenty-one states have open primaries

Another 15 states have at least one political party that runs semi-closed primaries, meaning that members of that party and registered voters who are not members of any party may participate. In 11 states (including Pennsylvania) and the District of Columbia, parties run closed primaries, meaning only registered party members may participate.

Competitiveness data: New Mexico and South Carolina

New Mexico holds primaries on June 7, and South Carolina holds primaries on Jun 14. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

New Mexico

South Carolina

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.