2020 Cong. Endorsements; March-May Primary Winners

Update 441– 2020 Cong. Endorsements:
March-May Nominees in CA, IL, NC, OH, TX

This is the first of regular updates covering our endorsements for the coming congressional elections. We begin with congressional candidates in states that held their primaries in March, April, and May. Most of our candidates are in margin-of-error-tight races and face incumbent Republicans. We have chosen candidates not only with a view to viability but because we believe they have the potential to serve as important leaders on national economic and political reform issues before Congress.

Today’s candidates have all won nominations to serve in the 117th Congress in CA, IL, NC, OH, and TX. In the coming months, we will cover candidates in the remaining states as their primaries occur.

Good holiday weekends to all,

Dana

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U.S. Senate

Cal Cunningham – North Carolina

  • 2020 Democratic Primary: Cunningham 57 / Smith 35
  • Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Cunningham $7.7M / Tillis $11.7M

After a comfortable win in March’s primary, Cal Cunningham takes on incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis in a competitive Senate race. A lifelong North Carolinian with a strong track record of public service, Cunningham began his career as state senator, where he was a leading advocate for public education, environmental protection, and campaign finance reform.

Following his tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, NC Gov. Roy Cooper selected Cunningham to serve as Vice Chair of Cooper’s Crime Commission. In this role, Cunningham had led efforts to cut gun violence in schools, curb the opioid addiction crisis, and boost services for women and families afflicted by domestic violence and sexual assault.

Cunningham seeks to strengthen the ACA and to expand Medicaid. He also supports raising the minimum wage, expanding both the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, and increasing infrastructure spending. If Democrats hope to take back the Senate this fall, this seat is a must-win and eminently winnable seat. 

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U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Sean Casten (IL-06)

  • Cook PVI: R+2
  • 2020 Democratic Primary: Uncontested
  • Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Casten $3.2M / Ives $1.1M

After flipping this seat held by Republicans since 1972, freshman Rep. Sean Casten is running against the state Rep. Jeanne Ives in a race that will indicate whether or not Democrats can hold onto their 2018 gains. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, Casten has been a cogent advocate for practical, progressive policy solutions for middle and low-income Americans.

His background makes Casten a natural leader in pursuing progressive policy, not only on climate change, but also on financial systemic risk. Casten is a noted advocate for campaign finance and democracy reform, who helped lead on H.R. 1 in 2019.

Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (IL-13)

  • Cook PVI: R+3
  • 2020 Democratic Primary: Londrigan 76 / Smith 24
  • Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Londrigan $2.1M / Davis $2.5M

In 2018, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan was less than one point away from unseating Rep. Rodney Davis in IL-13. This year, Londrigan is poised to win the Central Illinois District as the Cook Political Report has Davis listed as the most vulnerable House Republican in Illinois. Davis is a rank-and-file Republican, consistently voting for harmful economic policies such as the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 and repeatedly voting to repeal the ACA.

Londrigan is a Springfield native, where she serves as a non-profit leader raising funds for children’s hospitals and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. She is running a campaign based on middle-class issues such as protecting Social Security and pushing to strengthen the ACA, as well as including a public option. Her stances of opposing tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy stand in stark contrast to her particularly vulnerable opponent.

Kate Schroder (OH-01)

  • Cook PVI: R+5
  • 2020 Democratic Primary: Schroder 68 / Foster 32
  • Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Schroder $822K / Chabot $1.7M

Fifth-generation Cincinnatian and first-time candidate, Kate Schroder is running to represent her hometown in Ohio’s First District. Schroder hopes to unseat Rep. Steve Chabot who’s seeking his 13th term and is Ohio’s most vulnerable House Republican. She would be the first woman to represent the district. 

This is her first time running for office, but Schroder worked for former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh before earning her MBA from the Wharton School. Schroder brings experience in public health, including, 12 years at the Clinton Health Access Initiative where she launched global health programs. She now serves on the Cincinnati Board of Health. Schroder has made access to healthcare a centerpiece of her campaign. Her opponent has voted to repeal the ACA early and often. 

Deborah Ross (NC-02)

  • Cook PVI: R+7 (prior to 2019 redrawing)
  • 2020 Democratic Primary: Ross 70 / Johnson-Hostler 22
  • Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Ross $886K / Swain $27K

An attorney, civil rights advocate, and former member of the North Carolina General Assembly, Deborah Ross is running against Alan Swain in North Carolina’s newly-drawn 2nd district. Before her election to North Carolina’s General Assembly in 2002, Ross, as Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, partnered with then-state Sen. Roy Cooper to overhaul the state’s juvenile justice system. While in the General Assembly, Ross was an advocate for many issues that progressive leaders run on today: protecting voting rights, increasing access to affordable housing, raising the minimum wage for state employees, and funding infrastructure. 

Ross’ candidacy is a real opportunity for Democrats to pick up a newly-drawn seat in an increasingly purple state. Her commonsense, working-family oriented platform, combined with her decades of experience in both litigation and legislation, make her one of the most qualified candidates for Congress in the country 

Wendy Davis (TX-21)

  • Cook PVI: R+10
  • 2020 Democratic Primary: Davis 86 / Leeder 14
  • Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Davis $3.0M / Roy $2.1M

A former Fort Worth City Councilwoman and member of the Texas Senate, Wendy Davis is running against freshman Freedom Caucus-er Rep. Chip Roy in TX-21, one of the DCCC’s Red-to-Blue targets this November. Although historically Republican, TX-21 is the most rapidly growing congressional district in Texas — and Roy barely beat out his Democratic opponent in 2018. Since assuming office, Roy is an anti-ACA deficit hawk, going so far as to single-handedly block the release of more than $4 billion dollars in emergency aid to parts of Texas ravaged by Hurricane Harvey.

Davis has a strong record of public service. In the state Senate, she fought for public education, consumer-oriented reforms in the insurance and financial lending industries. She famously led a 13-hour filibuster on the floor of the state Senate to oppose GOP efforts to strip Texas women’s health care access. On the campaign trail, Davis continues to advocate for progressive economic policies. She supports raising the minimum wage to $15 and strengthening paid family and medical requirements. David also prioritizes increasing vital infrastructure spending.

Sri Preston Kulkarni (TX-22)

  • Cook PVI: R+10
  • 2020 Democratic Primary: Kulkarni 53 / Reed 25
  • Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Kulkarni $1.6M / RUNOFF

When former diplomat Sri Preston Kulkarni ran for TX-22 in 2018, he performed better than any Democrat since Rep. Pete Olson took office. With Olson retiring at the end of this term, the Cook Political Report considers the race a “toss up,” and it has shot up to “the top of Democrats’ takeover targets.” Kulkarni’s campaign in the Houston suburbs was added to the DCCC’s Red-to-Blue program as the sole addition outside of the DCCC’s original dozen targeted races.

Kulkarni has deep roots in Texas and graduated from UT-Austin before he began his career as a U.S. Foreign Service Office. He served for 14 years in the foreign service, which included a fellowship advising Sen. Gillibrand on foreign policy and defense issues. He has an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. His campaign refuses to accept corporate PAC money, earning an endorsement from End Citizens United. During this pandemic, he has focused on his district, helping small businesses understand PPP loans and advocating for vote by mail.

Gina Ortiz Jones (TX-23)

  • Cook PVI: R+1
  • 2020 Democratic Primary: Jones 67 / Valdez 11
  • Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Jones $3.3M / RUNOFF

An Air Force and Iraq War veteran, Gina Ortiz Jones is running for Congress in TX-23, one of the districts that is most likely to flip from red to blue in 2020. When she first ran in 2018, she came within 926 votes of defeating Rep. Will Hurd, despite being massively outspent. Since her last run, Hurd announced his retirement, leaving this an open seat in a Clinton-won district. Jones won her primary handily in March and awaits a run-off in July to decide her Republican opponent.

Jones has stood out as a leader in her district during the coronavirus pandemic. She has prioritized connecting Texans to the information they need and is hosting weekly virtual town halls on topics such as public health and how small businesses can navigate the PPP. Jones has seen existing disparities exacerbated by COVID-19 and has advocated for more state and local aid, bolstering SNAP benefits, relief for rural hospitals, and more. She has been a consistent leader on the issues that matter to working families, and Texans in the 23rd and Americans everywhere would be well-served with Jones’ voice in Congress. 

Leadership Honorees

Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43) as House Financial Services Committee Chair has long fought for progressive priorities, held financial institutions accountable, and more recently conducted critical oversight over the Trump Administration, particularly over the United States Treasury Department.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-17) has a remarkable record of expanding her margin of victory in a district that might otherwise go Republican. In 2018, she trounced her opponent by 24 points. The fact that she expands her margin each time means that the DCCC has the right person serving as Chair.

*Total campaign receipts according to most recent FEC filings.

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