Progressives Had a Great Night on Tuesday

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Tuesday night saw primaries in four states: Pennsylvania, Oregon, Nebraska, and Idaho. The most consequential events happened in Pennsylvania, where the embattled lieutenant governor was beaten in the Democratic primary by a left wing small town mayor, and where at least three women endorsed by local chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America—including two who walloped incumbent Democrats—won races that virtually assure them seats in the state House of Representatives next year.

John Fetterman, the tattooed, progressive mayor of Braddock, PA, who previously ran for Senate in 2016, won a crowded primary for lieutenant governor on the back of overwhelming support in the western half of the state; he won his home county, Allegheny, with over 75 percent of the vote.


Fetterman’s win and margin was all the more shocking considering that the race included incumbent lieutenant governor Mike Stack, who fell out of favor with incumbent governor Tom Wolf, also a Democrat. But Stack actually finished fourth in the primary, behind Fetterman, Nina Ahmad (a former aide to Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney), and Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone.

Fetterman will run on a ticket with Wolf against Scott Wagner and Jeff Bartos, who won the Republican primaries for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively.


The left’s good fortune didn’t stop with Fetterman. Four women candidates for the state House who received endorsements from the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America won primaries for the Pennsylvania legislature. In Allegheny County, Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato unseated longtime Democratic incumbents (and cousins) Dom and Paul Costa in overwhelmingly Democratic districts with no Republican challenger. Philadelphia DSA-backed candidate and former reporter Elizabeth Fiedler won the primary for state representative in a South Philly district that also doesn’t have a Republican challenger. (Fiedler was endorsed by the local DSA, but said she doesn’t “apply the label of socialist to herself. However, there’s a large level of alignment with my values and the values of self-ascribed socialists.”)

A fourth candidate who was endorsed by the Philly DSA, Kristin Seale, won her primary in suburban Delaware County as well. Seale, who describes herself as a “proud social democrat,” will face an incumbent Republican who won by double digits in 2016.

If the left is ever going to gain a foothold in American electoral politics, this is how it most likely begins: by running left wing candidates in comfortably blue seats where people aren’t terrified of the word “socialism.” Pennsylvania showed a path forward last night; we’ll see if leftists in other states can continue to build on that in the coming months.

Here’s some results from other key races around the country on Tuesday night:

  • In the Democratic primary for Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, former Congressman Brad Ashford, a moderate backed by the DCCC who lost his seat in 2016, lost a close primary to challenger Kara Eastman, a progressive who supports Medicare for All, raising taxes on the rich, criminal justice reform, and the decriminalization of marijuana. She’ll face one-term Republican incumbent Don Bacon in the general election, in a district that Donald Trump carried by just two points.
  • In the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s Seventh Congressional District, liberal Allentown city solicitor Susan Wild defeated Northampton County district attorney John Morganelli, a right wing Democrat who opposes abortion and said in a questionnaire that his job responsibilities as district attorney include “enforcing the law and [working] with ICE to keep our community safe.” Wild was one of seven Democratic women to win Congressional primaries in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night; currently, the state has an all-male delegation, but the New York Times reports that three of the women who won on Tuesday are favored to carry their districts in the fall.
  • Remember Rick Saccone, the Republican state representative who lost a layup of a race to Conor Lamb just two months ago? He lost again. Maybe sit the next one out, Rick.
  • Congressman Lou Barletta, who was handpicked by Donald Trump to run for Senate, easily won his Pennsylvania primary and will face Democratic incumbent Bob Casey in the general election. A poll from last month showed Casey with a 16 point lead over Barletta in a potential matchup.
  • In Idaho, Democrat Paulette Jordan, a former state representative, soundly defeated establishment candidate AJ Balukoff to win the party’s nomination for governor. If she wins, she’ll be the first Native American governor in the history of the country, but she’ll have her work cut out for her, as Idaho is one of the reddest states in the nation. In the Republican primary, lieutenant governor Brad Little fended off a challenge from House Freedom Caucus cofounder Raúl Labrador, and will face Jordan in the general election.
  • In Oregon, Democratic governor Kate Brown will face Republican nominee Knute Buehler, a state representative with a fake-ass sounding name who handily won a crowded primary.