As special election season has begun, spectators from both political parties have taken notice, especially in blue-leaning districts across the country.
It is not a matter of which party will win, but who from the incumbent’s party will- a progressive or a moderate? As members have been appointed to cabinet positions and other roles in President Joe Biden’s White House, a scramble has begun behind the scenes to see who will be their successor. Former Congresswoman and now Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge (D-OH) provides viewers with a great case example. Her seat is one of the bluest in the country, going D+60 in the 2020 election. It is safe to say no Republican is going to be a challenge in this predominantly urban district that encompasses Cleveland and Akron.
This situation is not uncommon in the United States, particularly at the beginning of a new presidential administration when many elected officials are asked to join the executive branch. Cedric Richmond from Louisiana’s 2nd district who also joined Team Biden as a special advisor is leaving behind a D+48 district back home. These circumstances allow for basically a one-party election to determine who will fulfill the vacancy. As of late, with polarization at an all time high, it’s been progressive Democrats pinned against more moderate candidates, while in heavily red districts its moderate Republicans versus Trump-like opponents. With a Democratic White House, however, there have been more vacancies on the left side of the aisle than the right.
Enter Bernie Sanders campaign chairwoman Nina Turner. A lifelong progressive from Ohio’s 11th district, Turner has been able to promote her prior experience as a state legislator and credibility as a pro-union and pro-Medicare For Alladvocate on the national scene to gain traction in her home district. She has also been able to get endorsements from local leaders such as Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson and Ohio Senate Democratic Whip Sandra Williams. On the flip side of the coin is moderate Shontel Brown, who has the highly sought-after endorsement of the United Auto Workers Union, something many candidates look to receive when trying to sway working class voters. She also has the endorsements of Pro-Israel America and Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), a Super PAC that has spent vast sums of money on moderate Democratic candidates in the past. Many view this as a proxy battle between progressives and moderates, and with a few months to go before the primary election, expect this race to heat up.
A fall point for Progressives however can be seen in the race to fill Cedric Richmond’s seat in LA-2. Over this past week Troy Carter, a moderate state senator with experience working across the aisle over fellow state senator Karen Carter Peterson, a staunch progressive who ran on a Green New Deal and had the endorsement of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14). Although this endorsement made waves on blue-check Twitter, it was not enough to propel the state senator over her fellow candidates, especially after local teacher unions endorsed Mr. Carter.