The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is trying to discredit progressive candidates during this primary season, framing establishment candidates as moderates and progressives as “far left,” with the media’s cooperation, says Howie Klein of DownWithTyrannyblogspot.com
SHARMINI PERIES: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.
Primary elections took place for both Democrats and for the Republicans in Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Idaho, and Oregon on Tuesday. The big question for both parties was whether insurgents or more established candidates managed to get the upper hand in preparation for the November 2018 midterm vote for Congress, for governors, and for state legislatures. Joining me from Los Angeles to take a closer look at Tuesday’s primaries is Howie Klein. Howie is a political blogger at DownWithTyrrany.blogspot.com. Howie, good to have you with us.
HOWIE KLEIN: Thank you. Nice to be with you.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Howie, now, for the four states that held primaries, the most interesting I found was Pennsylvania. So let’s start there. What happened in the Democratic Party, and what lessons do you draw from those races?
HOWIE KLEIN: Well, you know, there’s no one thing that you can draw from them. Each one was different. But what’s being drawn from them, rather than what you should draw from them, are pretty clear. So I read a lot of stuff today from people saying it was a great day for progressives over moderates. I should just mention that when people, especially inside the Beltway, use the word moderates, what they really mean is, is conservatives, or reactionaries. So in other words, one of the people who who lost his race to a progressive woman in Pennsylvania, it keeps on being referred to as a moderate. So this moderate, his name is John Morganelli. So he is a someone who is anti-choice, for example, and is a Democrat who writes good things about Donald Trump. So I want to ask you, do you think that someone who is anti-choice in the Democratic Party, and who writes nice things about Donald Trump should be referred to as a moderate?
SHARMINI PERIES: No, absolutely not.
HOWIE KLEIN: Right. But, but the word ‘moderate’ itself has been polled over the years, again and again and again, as being the most beloved term, political term, of the American population. So when the establishment claims that word for themselves, and their pet journalists use that word to describe conservatives, they know what they’re doing. They are telling people who get it banged into their heads that their candidates are moderates.
So you know, they say Hillary Clinton is a moderate. What does that make Bernie Sanders? What does that make people who believe in really progressive and liberal ideas? It makes them what, radical? I mean, to me, when you, when you look at the things that Bernie Sanders and people who agree with him, when you look at their issues, these are the most popular issues in the country, and they are trying to turn these into, I don’t know, radical or far left. Jonathan Chait today did a story in the New Yorker about using the word far left candidates. Far left. I don’t know who’s far left. I don’t think we have that in the United States. I mean, there may be some people running around who are far left, but there are, there’s not one person in Congress who’s far left.
I know every one of them. I know everything about every member of Congress. No one is far left. Anyway.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right. What about, what about on the Republican side? Now, I know Donald Trump was off to start this morning congratulating people from Pennsylvania that won on the Republican side. Tell us what happened there.
HOWIE KLEIN: Well, he was particularly interested in one person who’s going to be running for Senate. Fortunately this guy doesn’t have any chance to win. And this guy was the mayor of a relatively small town in Pennsylvania. A guy named Barletta. So he was, he was the mayor of a small town, and he got elected to Congress. The reason that he got famous is for one thing, and one thing only. He is a proud racist. So years and years before, Trump got into elected office, many years before that. This guy Barletta was campaigning on, you know, rounding up immigrants, or illegal immigrants, and sending them back to wherever they came from. So this is, you know, I don’t know, 15 years ago.
So his whole career has been about, about racism. And he had a primary, but it wasn’t much of a primary. He was, he was probably going to win. Trump endorsed him. There was, there was never any chance that anyone thought he would win the primary there. And now there’s almost no chance that he has to win the general election. It would have to be some kind of major, major upset, like they’d have to literally count, the incumbent Democrat, they’d have to find him in bed with a, what do they say? A dead girl or a live boy, or whatever, whatever they say.
So this guy is just, their idea of fun. So when I, when I was saying that there are no far-left candidates in the Democratic Party, there are far-right candidates in the Republican Party, and this guy but is one of them.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right. Now let’s turn to Idaho. There’s so much more to talk about Pennsylvania, including how the women did. But we have limited-.
HOWIE KLEIN: Women did well. But generally speaking, the women who did well were the better candidates. So there were lots of women who lost, also. But the ones who lost were were not good candidates. So in other words, Sue Wilder beat another right-wing Democrat I was talking about, the one who’s anti-choice. That Morganelli. But she was, so yes, she’s a woman. Absolutely. But she was a better candidate. In another race a man won and a woman lost, but he was a better candidate.
Now, the reason that that’s such a big, a big deal right now is because Pennsylvania doesn’t have one single woman in, in Congress, in the house. They don’t have a woman in the Senate, and they don’t have a woman anywhere in any statewide office. Now again, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. There have been times when Pennsylvania has had that. But this isn’t one of those times. So there are no women in federal office or in statewide office in the whole state of Pennsylvania. And now there will be. Now enough women won in automatic Democratic districts so that we will have, at the absolute minimum we will have three women from Pennsylvania in 2019. So that’s a good thing.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, let’s turn to Idaho. And speaking of women, we had a very successful governor’s race where Democrats chose Paulette Jordan, a Native American, as their candidate for governor. Tell us more about her, and what that victory means.
HOWIE KLEIN: Yeah. Well, I mean, the bad news is it doesn’t mean much. Because we are talking about Idaho, which is an all-Republican state. They don’t elect Democrats. Now, she, she’s a really interesting candidate, and she’s a really good candidate. She’s running against the current lieutenant governor of Idaho, who’s a Republican. And he, he just defeated a pretty right-wing member of Congress named Raul Labrador in their Republican primary. And now she won the Democratic primary. She’s very, very, very well regarded, very, very respected. The fact that she, if she were to win she would be the first governor anywhere who is a Native American. Although I suspect lots of people have some Native American heritage, including Elizabeth Warren.
But in any case, she’s running as a Native American. She’s very much connected to that heritage in herself. And if she were to win that would be a really big deal. The unfortunate part about this is it’s almost inconceivable that any Democrat would win, including her. Is there a chance? Sure. In a wave election, if the wave is that big, as it may be, it could happen. But it’s not really likely.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right. Let’s go to Nebraska. And Nebraska had an interesting race, where Kara Eastman, a progressive, won in the state’s second House district against Brad Ashford, a Democratic Party establishment candidate. Tell us what happened there.
HOWIE KLEIN: Yeah, that, so that, I’m standing right now looking at a couch where Kara was sitting not that long ago and telling me about herself. Now, one of the things that people don’t speak much about is that Kara used to be in a punk rock band. Her husband still is. She’s a real, she’s in her 40s now, so she’s not in, she doesn’t do that anymore. She’s a, she does, she runs a non-profit organization. It started out helping, helping people whose children were eating lead, or, lead paint. But it’s grown tremendously since those days.
And Brad Ashford has been in Congress. Now, he’s, he’s much worse than just an establishment candidate. He’s blue dog. So basically, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. So he’s been endorsed by the blue dogs, by the New Dems, and by the DCCC. They were certain he was going to win, he had lots and lots of money, over $100000 into this race. More than Kara did. And all the endorsements that they could get for him. And they were certain he would win. And they were pushing and pushing and pushing, but maybe they pushed a little too much, because people were angry about it. And that’s happening in races around the country now, where the DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, pushes too hard. It angers local people, and they, they wind up not voting for them.
Kara is a very, very attractive candidate on any level, and Ashford was not. He was in Congress before, he had a terrible voting record in 2016. He was defeated. And why was he defeated? Because people then already knew what a bad voting record he had. He voted with the Republicans as much as he voted with the Democrats. He in fact used to be a Republican. He was in the state legislature. And he was a Republican then, and then he decided to become a Democrat. But he was never a real Democrat. He was always someone who was sort of 50/50. And the Democrats in 2016 just didn’t vote for him. You know, they didn’t vote for the Republican, they just didn’t vote for him. So he lost his seat.
So why all of a sudden does the DCCC think he’s going to get his seat back? You know, it doesn’t make any sense. But yet they, he’s their kind of candidate. They look at him and it’s like looking in the mirror. Ashford is just terrible. One of their worst candidates. And what do they do when Kara wins? They take him off their physical [red blue] page, and they also take the district off. So instead of endorsing her, they’re just writing that district off. That’s one of the most winnable districts for 2018, and the DCCC sends a message, hey, the hell with you. If you don’t give us the candidate we want, we’re not going to play, play in your, in your district anymore.
By the way, that district, you know, it’s not some, you know, bunch of cornfields. We’re talking about the city of Omaha and Douglas County, which is a suburban county, basically. And it’s, it’s a district that the Democrats can and sometimes do win. I mean, Obama won that district in 2008. So that’s a good place for the Democrats to look to pick up a seat. And Nancy Pelosi and the DCCC decided they didn’t get the candidate they wanted, so they’re going to just ignore the district.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Howie. So much more to talk about, but we’re running out of time. So in your concluding thoughts, take us down the path a bit to the upcoming races that we should be watching out for.
HOWIE KLEIN: Well, so Texas just had a primary. And across Texas, they do it differently than they do in most states. They have, they have a primary runoff. So May 22 there will be primary runoffs in any district that had, that had two candidates where nobody got to 50 percent. So you have to get to 50 percent, and then you’re the nominee. But if no one gets to 50 percent you have to be in this runoff. So again, the DCCC interfered in those primaries, and many of their candidates lost. And now there are some really, really good candidates that are running that are not involved with the DCCC.
So you know, people like Nick, Rick Trevino in the southern part of Texas, goes from San Antonio all along the Mexican border to El Paso. So this is a district that’s so big that it’s bigger than the entire state of New York, that’s how physically large it is. And Nick spent about $20000. The DCCC candidate spent almost $600000. I mean, think of the difference between $20000 and $600000. And yet Nick, I’m sorry, Rick is in the runoff, and the DCCC candidate Jay Hulings, he came in fourth. So he’s not in the runoff. So again, the DCCC interfering in primaries that they shouldn’t be interfering in. I mean, they’re supposed to fight Republicans, not fight progressive Democrats. But that’s what they want to do. They want to fight progressive Democrats, because they hate progressive Democrats.
SHARMINI PERIES: Howie, you’ve been listening to Howie Klein. Howie’s a political blogger at DownWithTyrrany.blogspot.com. Howie, thank you so much for joining us today, and looking forward to hearing more from you in the upcoming primaries.
HOWIE KLEIN: Thanks, Sharmini. I’ll talk to you soon.
SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on the Real News Network.