Last night’s primary results were an absolute disaster for the Democratic establishment, and it’s already having two major effects on the 2018 landscape:
1) Dems are nominating far-left candidates who will be unappealing to general election voters, like we saw with the major upset in Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district:
Crystal Ball House Ratings change: Rep. Don Bacon (R, NE-2) goes from Toss-up to Leans R after Kara Eastman's (D) primary win over former Rep. Brad Ashford. Will have more on this in tomorrow's Crystal Ball, but basically the NRCC got what it wanted and the DCCC didn't— Kyle Kondik (@kkondik) May 16, 2018
University of Virginia’s Center for Politics
..and 2) The upsets are leaving progressives feeling even more emboldened. For example, Bernie Sanders’s super PAC, Our Revolution, is now preparing to back a liberal challenger to the sitting Democratic governor of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo.
The Washington Post’s James Hohmann has an awesome recap of how yesterday was a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Democratic moderates.”
The Daily 202: The far left is winning the Democratic civil war
The Washington Post
May 16, 2018
THE BIG IDEA: Tuesday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Democratic moderates.
The success of very liberal candidates in primaries across four states is causing a new bout of heartburn among party strategists in Washington, who worry about unelectable activists thwarting their drive for the House majority. But it also reflects a broader leftward lurch among Democrats across the country since President Trump took office.
-- In Nebraska, a liberal social worker and political neophyte who built her campaign around “Medicare for All” scored a shocking upset in a Democratic primary to take on Rep. Don Bacon (R). Kara Eastman, 45, beat former congressman Brad Ashford, 68, in an Omaha-area district that national Democrats believed they could pick up in November.
Eastman advocated for universal background checks to buy guns, raising taxes and decriminalizing marijuana. “I’m tired of hearing Democrats don’t have a backbone, that we don’t stand for anything,” she said in a commercial that touted her support for universal health care. “That changes now!”
Ashford had the full-throated support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which must now reevaluate whether to invest in the race.
-- In Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, where GOP Rep. Charlie Dent’s retirement created a winnable open seat for Democrats, early front-runner John Morganelli — a district attorney who has been locally prominent for decades — lost the primary to attorney Susan Wild, who ran at him from the left. Morganelli, who opposes abortion rights and “sanctuary cities,” was attacked relentlessly on the airwaves for speaking positively about Trump and tweeting that he was open to taking a job in the administration during the transition.
-- In the Philadelphia suburbs, centrist Rachel Reddick — a 33-year-old Navy veteran endorsed by Emily’s List — lost the Democratic primary to take on Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R) after “proud progressive” Scott Wallace ran ads attacking her for being a registered Republican until 2016. Wallace, 66, is the grandson of Henry Wallace, who was Franklin Roosevelt’s vice president for a term and then ran against Harry Truman, who FDR dumped him for, from the far left in 1948. In a victory speech to supporters in Bucks County last night, Wallace declared: “Together, we can make America sane again.”
-- Statewide, John Fetterman — a small-town mayor with a bristly beard and tattoos on both of his arms — toppled Pennsylvania’s incumbent lieutenant governor, Mike Stack, thanks in part to the strong endorsement of Bernie Sanders, who stumped across the state for him on Friday and Saturday. Fetterman campaigned on universal health care and legalizing marijuana.
-- In the Pittsburgh area, two card-carrying members of the Democratic Socialists of America topped incumbent state representatives in Democratic primaries with 65 percent and 68 percent of the vote, respectively. (The New Yorker profiled one of the winners, Summer Lee, last week.)
-- In Idaho’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, Paulette Jordan defeated business owner and Boise school board member A.J. Balukoff, who had the backing of most of the state’s political establishment. Jordan, who has generated a lot of media coverage because she could become the first Native American governor in the country, built her campaign around protecting more public lands, as well as promising to expand Medicaid, relax marijuana laws, reduce incarceration and limit corporate tax loopholes. She garnered 58 percent of the vote.
-- In the much bluer state of Oregon, liberals toppled an entrenched Democratic incumbent in the state Senate. Sen. Rod Monroe got crushed 62 percent to 25 percent by civil rights attorney Shemia Fagan. A Somali immigrant who works as a community organizer got another 13 percent of the vote.
-- In a state House primary, the establishment favorite – a county commissioner who was endorsed by the retiring representative – lost to a child welfare worker after he said the state of Oregon should consider requiring employees to contribute into the public pension fund. The stakes are high because Democrats can achieve three-fifths supermajorities with just one additional seat in both the House and the Senate, which would let them raise taxes with no Republican votes.