Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 30

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

July 7, 2022

In this issue: Sanders backs Levin over Stevens in MI-11 and a look at endorsements in VT’s U.S. House race

Sanders endorses Levin over Stevens, criticizes PAC spending in Michigan

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Rep. Andy Levin in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, where Levin faces Rep. Haley Stevens in the primary due to redistricting. Sanders said Levin is “the only Democrat in the race who understands that we must be a party of the working class. He’s taking on right wing-funded super PACs[.]”

This is one of four incumbent-vs.-incumbent Democratic primaries this year and the only one Sanders has endorsed in.

The super PAC Sanders referred to is the United Democracy Project, which is affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Sanders said, “these extremists are pouring millions of dollars into a congressional race to try to ensure the Democratic Party advances the agenda of powerful corporations and the billionaire class.” 

We wrote about some of the PAC’s donors last month. The PAC is running an ad supporting Stevens and has spent more than $900,000 in the 11th District.

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s PAC recently endorsed Stevens, along with Rep. Peter Meijer (R) in the 3rd District. The PAC said, “With two qualified candidates and friends of the Chamber in the race for the 11th district, this decision came down to who is more pro-growth and job creation-friendly.” 

EMILY’s List’s super PAC Women Vote! spent more than $800,000 on a TV ad buy in the district supporting Stevens.

Sanders also recently endorsed Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who’s running in the 12th District primary. The super PAC Urban Empowerment Action is spending in that district supporting Janice Winfrey and says its supporters “include a broad coalition of African American business, political and civic leaders, working alongside peers in the Jewish community.” Sanders criticized the PAC’s involvement in the race. See our story from last month for more on this primary.

Michigan’s primaries are on Aug. 2. 

Progressive Change Campaign Committee endorses Balint for U.S. House in Vermont

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee endorsed Becca Balint in Vermont’s U.S. House primary

Balint is state Senate president pro tempore. She faces Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, physician Louis Meyers, and Sianay Chase Clifford, a former staffer for Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). Former candidate and state Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale withdrew in May and endorsed Balint.

VTDigger wrote, “Like Balint and Ram Hinsdale, Gray has signed on to some of the national progressive movement’s signature platforms, including Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. But she is nevertheless increasingly viewed as the establishment pick.” 

WCAX said endorsements will be important as voters seek to distinguish the candidates:

Balint is seen as further left on the scale, earning the seal of approval from congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal and several labor unions.

But she has also won endorsements from more moderate voices, too– Treasurer Beth Pearce, former Democratic Party chair Dotty Deans and the Vermont State Firefighters’ Association.

Typically, party figureheads such as Sen. Patrick Leahy and Congressman Peter Welch stay out of the primaries to not tip the scales. But many of their close political allies have come out in support of Molly Gray, along with former Govs. Howard Dean and Madeleine Kunin. That’s in addition to the Vermont State Employees’ Association, in an effort to cast herself as the more pragmatic pick.

Former congressional staffer Sianay Chase Clifford has been endorsed by Vermont’s Progressive Party.

Balint also sought the Vermont Progressive Party’s endorsement. 

Welch, the current at-large House district representative, is running for U.S. Senate. Leahy is retiring.

The primary is Aug. 9.

Colorado Sun analysis shows most unaffiliated voters participated in GOP primaries while fewest voted in Democratic primaries since 2018

According to The Colorado Sun‘s analysis of preliminary data from the June 28 primaries, 231,000 unaffiliated voters cast ballots in the Republican Party primary, up from 138,000 in 2020 and 105,000 in 2018. The 162,000 unaffiliated voters in the Democratic primaries were the fewest in the past two cycles—there were 383,000 in 2020 and 177,000 in 2018.

Colorado voters approved an initiated state statute in 2016 allowing unaffiliated voters to participate in major party primaries. The law first applied to the 2018 primaries.

As of the morning of July 1, 35% of GOP ballots and 30% of Democratic ballots came from unaffiliated voters. The Colorado Sun provides a table comparing the raw number of primary votes by affiliation since 2018. Here’s a look at what percentage of the total primary vote unaffiliated voters cast in each major party’s primary based on that data:

Republican primary votes

  • 2022: 35% by unaffiliated
  • 2020: 24% by unaffiliated
  • 2018: 20% by unaffiliated

Democratic primary votes

  • 2022: 30% by unaffiliated
  • 2020: 38% by unaffiliated
  • 2018: 27% by unaffiliated

The Sun noted that the four counties with the highest percentage of GOP primary votes from unaffiliated voters, ranging from 59% to 70%, are all in the 3rd Congressional District: San Miguel, Ouray, Pitkin, and Gunnison counties. Incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert defeated Don Coram in the 3rd District primary 66% to 34%. 

None of the Democratic statewide primaries (for U.S. Senate and state executive offices) had more than one candidate this year. The Republican side had several battleground contests, including for governor and Senate.

Ohio Supreme Court allows four legislative candidates to qualify for primary ballot

In a 4-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that two candidates for Ohio House and two candidates for Ohio Senate can appear on the primary ballot. Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) previously ruled that the candidates, who did not meet the initial February filing deadlines for a then-May 3 primary, would be unable to run.

The four candidates are Democrats William DeMora (Senate District 25), Elizabeth Thien (Senate District 25), Leronda Jackson (House District 39), and Anita Somani (House District 11).

The state supreme court consists of four Republican and three Democratic judges. The three Democratic judges and one Republican judge voted to allow the candidates on the ballot.

According to state law, candidates must file 90 days before an election or 72 days before if they’re running as write-ins. Because a federal court ruling moved the state’s primary to Aug. 2, the candidates argued that they qualified by submitting paperwork enough in advance of the August primary date. LaRose previously ruled that any candidates for the Aug. 2 primary still needed to meet the previous February deadline.

Percentage of each congressional caucus not seeking re-election

Fifty-five members of Congress are not running for re-election in 2022, including 32 Democrats and 23 Republicans. For Democrats, this is 11.9% of the party’s House and Senate caucus, up from 3.6% in 2020. For Republicans, this is 8.8% of their caucus, down from 11.5% in 2020.

Competitiveness data: Maryland

Maryland holds primaries on July 19. 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.