As Democratic House members began planning their exits last year ahead of an expected midterms backlash, progressive outsiders were organizing, targeting soon-to-be open seats in traditionally blue districts.
The goal, as leading progressives have articulated over the last year or so, is to shift the center of gravity in the House Democratic caucus toward the left. Even if the party loses its majority in November, they reason, progressives would be well-positioned – with stronger negotiating hands – when the pendulum swings back in the coming years.
But as the primary season shifts into high gear, that project has been walloped by a late blitz of spending from outside organizations in support of its moderate, establishment-friendly opponents. Those interventions may prove consequential in close races in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon and, a week from Tuesday, a key runoff in Texas.
The outside groups are following a blueprint – called “The Ohio Model” by the progressive American Prospect – primed during the 2021 Ohio special election that helped Shontel Brown, now the representative from the state’s 11th Congressional District, overtake progressive Nina Turner, a former Bernie Sanders presidential campaign co-chair and vocal critic of the Democratic establishment. Earlier this month, Brown, again with significant outside support, won renomination over Turner by an even greater margin.