Check out this video endorsement - Jamie Eldridge has a whole wall of them. That's what primaries bring us, this kind of political innovation.
Ok, so we all know that one place where liberals can have a big impact on our party is in primary contests. Obviously, as backer of Donna Edwards, OL knows that taking on an incumbent is one model for this kind of work. Last cycle, it wasn't just Edwards, but Lamont who illustrated the strengths and weaknesses of such an approach. But another approach that is perhaps less clear cut in terms of heroes and villains is in open seats. Massachusetts 5th is one such case, where Democrat Niki Tsongas is running against liberal Jamie Eldridge to replace Marty Meehan. It's a fairly strong district for Democrats.
This is an interesting matchup, with both candidates embracing a grassroots style of campaigning. Tsongas has a bunch of fundraisers on Actblue, and so does Eldridge. Tsongas's base is establishment types like Barney Frank and EMILY's List, whereas Eldridge has more of an activist and union base, as you can tell from his endorsement page where I ran into those awesome video endorsements. I've spoken with Eldridge, and he's a really liberal guy in his instincts. When I asked him about immigration, he brought up poverty in Mexico, explicitly linking the economics. Politicians rarely do that, even though it is the only way for progressives to talk about immigration and win. Tsongas is an Emily's List candidate, fairly moderate, and very aggressive in working to communicate with the grassroots. Both candidates in the race (there are five, but these are the top two) are using Bluemassgroup to communicate with bloggers.
Now, I sort of think of Tsongas as a centrist, both because I've watched the debates online for the district and because she was a Vice Chair of the Concord Coalition, which focuses on deficits. The board includes Southern Democrats like Chuck Robb, Sam Nunn and Charles W. Stenholm, as well as financier-types like Robert Rubin, Steven Rattner, and Paul Volcker. What's interesting is that she's no longer listed on the web page, though she was listed as late as May 18th. I have a call in to the campaign to find out what happened. [update: I talked to the press person for Tsongas, and she told me that the Concord Coalition asked her to resign so they could keep from having a political candidate on the board). Anyway, it's important to understand that there are organizing strategies for centrists, the clearest one being gender and identity based models (such as Hillary Clinton's). These are strong, and they are clearly beginning to adapt to the internet and use platforms like Actblue. Anyway, this is a place where there is leverage for progressives, so I'm watching it. We'll see whether activists/unions can go up against Emily's List, and how well we do. This isn't necessarily clear-cut.
Now, another primary is extremely clear-cut, and this one is in WA-08. Darcy Burner, after a spectacular fundraising quarter of $200k, may face a primary challenge from Rodney Tom, a former Republican. Here's Tom's reason for running.
"I have a high regard for Darcy," he said. "Again, I keep coming back to, who can best win the 8th? The 8th is a moderate district, and if there's a strong moderate out there, it's me. I think I share their values and I think I fit this district really well."
Tom just became a Democrat last year, and he's a state Senator who has four years to go in his term. This is a no-lose proposition for him, so he doesn't necessarily care that much if he has a good shot at taking the primary.
Arguments about what kind of party this is going to be are happening all around us, as many of us know. As Republican moderates are being destroyed, and their squishiness revealed, Concord Coalition-style Democrats and former Republicans are seeing a space to move in, space that could be occupied by good progressives.
That's where a lot of our energy ought to be dedicated. I'm wondering, do you know of any other races where this dynamic is playing out?