Non-Establishment Candidates Show They Can Achieve Victories For Democrats

Yesterday was a good day for Democrats, including many progressives. Democrats desperately needed this win and should be happy about the anti-Trump backlash in yesterday’s elections, but also should realize that it would have been an anti-Democratic backlash instead if Clinton was in the White House. Having Donald Trump in the White House, and not having Hillary Clinton on the ballot, made a huge difference for Democrats compared to a year ago. Hopefully Democrats won’t take yesterday’s results to mean more than it really does and ignore how unpopular the party actually is, only polling slightly better than the Republicans.

The lesson which the Democratic establishment should learn is that many candidates who they would consider unelectable won, while an establishment candidate like Hillary Clinton couldn’t even beat Donald Trump a year ago. Notable wins include Danica Roem winning in Viriginia, an openly transgender candidate beating a socially conservative incumbent, and Jenny Durkan becoming the first openly lesbian mayor, and its first woman mayor since the 1920. (The only other openly lesbian mayor of a major city is Jackie Biskupski in Salt Lake City.)

The Intercept also noted that, A Year After Trump, Democrats, Socialists, And Populists Sweep Elections, pointing out these victories (as well as some losses in the full article):

A CIVIL RIGHTS attorney who delights in suing the police is the new district attorney in Philadelphia. A democratic socialist shocked an incumbent Republican in Virginia. A black woman who prosecuted a white cop for shooting a black teenager was re-elected as prosecutor. Three months after Charlottesville, a black lieutenant governor was elected in Virginia. A transgender woman who focused on traffic problems knocked out a longtime culture warrior who focused on bathrooms. A criminal justice reformer flipped the Washington stateSenate to Democrats. A wet bag of mulch beat a race-baiting lobbyist in Virginia by a stunning nine points. Maine voters expanded Medicaid. Long-held Republican seats in Georgia flipped in a special election. New Jersey, finished with Gov. Chris Christie, elected a Democrat in a landslide…

A year ago, Bernie Sanders ran an insurgent campaign that helped popularize democratic socialism and resurgent populism among American progressives. On Tuesday, populist candidates won in places you may not expect — from Manassas, Virginia to Knoxville, Tennessee.

In Virginia, Democratic Socialists of America-backed Lee Carter defeated the GOP whip Jackson Miller in the House of Delegates. Richmond-Times Dispatch reporter Patrick Wilson noted that the state Democratic Party offered little support to Carter. He won anyway. Numerous wings of the broader party united behind Carter, including factions, such as Planned Parenthood, who had backed Hillary Clinton last year.

Across the country, DSA candidates took offices, winning both as Democrats and independents. Socialist Seema Singh Perez won a seat on the Knoxville City Council. In Pittsburgh, a pair of DSA-backed candidates won, including Mik Pappas, an independent candidate who defeated a 24-year incumbent Democrat to become the 31st Magisterial District judge. Pappas ran strong on criminal justice reform, focusing on restorative justice rather than punitive measures.

In Somerville, Massachusetts, DSA members JT Scott and Ben Ewen-Campen unseated long-time incumbents to join the Board of Aldermen. DSA member Charles Decker will represent Ward 9 in New Haven, Connecticut.

And in Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner — also backed by DSA — will soon take office promising to radically overhaul the city’s criminal justice system.

Huffington Post has more information on some of the winners.

The Democrats have a narrow path to retaking the House next year. A backlash towards Trump can only go so far, and the Democrats’ lead in the generic polls hardly guarantees victory. In order to achieve more than a dead cat bounce the Democrats will need to do more than be the lesser evil party. They will have to give voters a reason to support them beyond opposing Republicans. Hopefully they will learn from last night’s results that running Republican-lite candidates such as in 2010, 2014, and 2016 was not a good strategy.

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