Progressives Take a Beating in Primaries on Tuesday

News & Politics

Tuesday’s primaries held little suspense and featured few surprises in Congressional and local races. However, in deep blue Oregon, two House races and a local race for district attorney showed that progressive messaging has its limits.


In the fifth district, establishment Democrats mobilized to block radical Jamie McLeod-Skinner from winning the Democratic primary. McLeod-Skinner unseated incumbent Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader in 2022 and lost narrowly to Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the general election. The district was won by Joe Biden in 2020, so Democrats are hoping that a less radical state Rep. Janelle Bynum might win the seat back. She beat Chavez-DeRemer twice in state senate races, so the Democrats like their chances.

In the open third district, the sister of the chair of the Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, was defeated by the less radical state Rep. Maxine Dexter in the Democratic primary. Susheela Jayapal was clobbered by Dexter despite a laundry list of liberal endorsements, including AOC and Bernie Sanders.

Elsewhere, Donald Trump had a good night as far as endorsements.


Vince Fong, Kevin McCarthy’s handpicked successor, won a special election in California. Brian Jack, a top Trump political hand who helped the former president snag endorsements from members of Congress, finished first in the race for an open House seat in Georgia, though he still faces a runoff next month.

Their performances preserved Trump’s string of successful endorsements in open House seats. His endorsement of Brad Knott in North Carolina’s 13th District convinced Knott’s runoff opponent to drop out after early voting had already begun in last week’s runoff. And Trump earlier this spring elevated political unknowns like Addison McDowell in North Carolina, who was running against a former congressman, and Brandon Gill in Texas, who had to overcome super PACs looking to thwart him.


One race in Georgia of note was the contest for a nonpartisan seat on the Georgia state Supreme Court. The Democrat’s abortion playbook came up empty in the Peach State.

Former Blue Dog Democratic Rep. John Barrow lost his challenge against Justice Andrew Pinson, who was appointed to the court by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022 and was running for a full six-year term. Barrow staked his campaign on a vow to protect abortion rights.

It wasn’t a novel plan: In last spring’s Wisconsin state Supreme Court election, liberal Janet Protasiewicz leaned on such messaging in her campaign for an open seat, flipping ideological control of the court. In Pennsylvania, Democrat Daniel McCaffery emphasized abortion rights in his bid to fill a vacancy. He ultimately won and expanded Democratic control.

Related: Georgia Voters Do the Right Thing in State Supreme Court Election

Finally, in the non-partisan race for Multnomah County District Attorney, incumbent Mike Schmidt is trailing career prosecutor Nathan Vasquez by 12,000 votes, although no one has called the race for Vasquez yet.

Schmidt was supported by George Soros and implemented many of the failed criminal justice “reforms” that have led to a spike in crime in several cities.

Vasquez promised to change course. “I am committed to fulfilling those campaign promises. I’m committed to ending the open-air drug use, to ending the open-air drug dealing that we have suffered from as a community,” he said. “I am committed to working with individuals to connect them to treatment to helping us get to a safer and healthier community. And I am also committed to restoring that idea that it is OK to hold people accountable and doing it in a compassionate manner.”


Oregon has been hit upside the head by reality. How long that lasts remains to be seen.

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