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Yesterday, The Hill published an article called “Five Democrats the left plans to target” about progressives who are trying to unseat moderate Congressional incumbents. Though not inaccurate, the piece fails to mention how important race is in all this. The first quote in the article comes from South Asian Waleed Shahid, who worked for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, both of whom unseated white Democrat incumbents. Mr. Shahid said, “We need strong progressives in Congress to have some sort of counterweight and leverage against the conservative, corporate backed Democrats who are an obstacle to delivering results.” Like the article, Mr. Shahid says nothing about race.
The first target on the list is Henry Cuellar, of Texas’ 28th congressional district, a light-skinned Hispanic who clearly believes in assimilation. His name is “Enrique,” but he chooses to go by the anglicized version, and his website is in English only.
His challenger, Jessica Cisneros, is darker and more Amerindian:
Jessica Cisneros (Credit Image: Twitter)
Her website is bilingual:
Next target is Carolyn Maloney, a 75-year-old white woman who represents New York’s 12th congressional district.
Her challenger is Rana Abdelhamid, an Egyptian Muslim who used to teach “self-defense workshops for Muslim women.”
Rana Abdelhamid speaks on the steps of San Francisco City Hall for a “Families Belong Together” rally. (Credit Image: Pax Ahimsa Gethen via Wikimedia)
The third is Danny Davis of Illinois’ 7th congressional district. This is a contest between two blacks and is least likely to result in an upset. Challenger Kina Collins tried to unseat Mr. Davis last election and lost by 46 points.
January 19, 2019 – Chicago, IL – Kina Collins, a board member of the Illinois chapter of the Women’s March, speaks as protestors gather in Federal Plaza for the Third Annual Women’s March. (Credit Image: © Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune / TNS via ZUMA Wire)
Fourth is an Ohio Senate seat, held by Republican Rob Portman, who isn’t seeking reelection. The favorite is a 10-term congressman Tim Ryan from Ohio’s 13th congressional district, who once confessed, “Anytime you’re a white guy [which he always is] in America you’re always learning and trying to better understand what people of color are going through and I don’t know if that journey ever ends.” He may be in for an education; his most serious challenger is Morgan Harper, a black woman. Her campaign add includes a call for blacks to vote as one.
Tim Ryan campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Ohio in 2016. Donald Trump won the state by eight points, despite it having voted Democrat in 2012 and in 2008. (Credit Image: Tim Evanson via Wikimedia)
Congressman Ryan will probably win, but it’s significant that he’s being challenged at all. A generation ago, he would have been a star of the Democrat Party: a well-spoken moderate populist who stands up for the middle class. But today, his party is controlled by costal elites and revanchist non-whites. As such, Mr. Ryan can’t catch a break. His presidential run in 2020 went nowhere, and before that, his attempt to unseat Nancy Pelosi for the House Minority Leader position was defeated by 134 votes to 63. Now he must defend his left flank in a state that is increasingly Republican because white guys like him are ditching the Democrats.
Finally, there’s Jim Cooper from Tennessee’s 5th congressional district, a white man and member of the conservative Democrat “Blue Dog Coalition.” He’s held the seat since 2003. [Update: Congressman Cooper has announced he will not seek reelection.] His challenger is Odessa Kelly:
The article ends with two “honorable mentions:” Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Both have been enfant terribles of the Democrats, unwilling to support a number of leftist proposals, such as President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, changing the filibuster, and expanding so-called “voting rights.”
January 17, 2022, Washington, DC, United States: A protester calls on Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to support voting rights during the DC Peace Walk. (Credit Image: © Allison Bailey / NurPhoto via ZUMA Press)
Here, too, race is important. The article notes that there’s no obvious challenger to Sen. Manchin. As The Hill notes, “Former President Trump swept the state easily in both elections, and Manchin is still deeply popular with his constituents, despite the overall mood among Democrats in Washington souring on him.” That is because West Virginia is over 90 percent white and extremely conservative. Its three congressmen are all Republicans and the districts they represent are all so red that they’re considered un-swingable. Where would a progressive challenger come from?
The Hill points out that Sen. Sinema, faces serious threats:
- “What started as a nascent ‘primary Sinema’ movement among some rogue activists has gained steam in recent weeks.”
- “Members of the Arizona Democratic Party recently voted to censure their own senator.”
- “Activists say they expect a Sinema challenger to emerge ahead of 2024, with some anticipating that Rep. Ruben Gallego could mount an intraparty fight.”
The Democrat Party is strong in Arizona, in part thanks to its 30 percent Hispanic population. More than half of its congressmen are Democrats, and Rep. Gallego (whose lineage is Colombian and Mexican) is far from the only possible Hispanic challenger. Raúl Grijalva, a Chicano identitarian who urged Hispanics to support Bernie Sanders, could lead the charge.
Apr 2, 2006; Tucson, AZ; Arizona congressmen Raúl Grijalva (far left) leads the pack of walkers down 44th Street at the beginning of the Cesar Chavez march. (Credit Image: © Jeff Stanton / ZUMAPRESS.com)
Race remains the most salient factor in American politics, and white Democrats should think twice about their own policies that are pushing them out.