|Update 467 — 2020 Cong. Endorsements:|
Primary Winners in AK, AZ, MN, MO, and OH
The Congressional primary season and the summer, such as they are, are drawing to a close. Today’s installment of our endorsement series — highlighting candidates all but one of whom won their nominations this month — is (next to) last in the series.
We endorsed these candidates with a view to diversity and competitiveness but mostly in the belief that they have the potential to serve as important leaders on economic and political reform issues in the 117th Congress and well beyond.
Mark Kelly – Arizona
- Cook PVI: R+5
- 2020 Dem. Primary: Uncontested
- Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Kelly $46.1M / McSally $30.4M
The 2020 Arizona Senate race is a key target for Democrats seeking to retake the chamber in the 117th Congress. Mark Kelly, a former Navy pilot and astronaut, was thrust into the national spotlight in 2011 when his wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, was nearly killed in an attempted assassination. Since then, Kelly has worked as an activist, co-founding Giffords, an organization dedicated to promoting sensible gun control. Kelly will face incumbent Sen. Martha McSally, who ingratiates herself with Trump Republicans and votes against the Affordable Care Act.
Kelly is an extraordinarily gifted first-time candidate. He stresses his upbringing in a working-class family and public schools. He has a strong independent streak and regularly speaks against the influence of dark money. In the Senate, he will be an advocate for the middle and working classes. Kelly will fight to end tax breaks for the super-wealthy and big corporations, and wants to increase spending on infrastructure and research & development, two major planks of the Biden economic agenda.
Sen. Tina Smith – Minnesota
- Cook PVI: D+1
- 2020 Dem. Primary: Smith 87 / Overby 5
- Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Smith $10.1M / Lewis $2.5M
Senator Tina Smith’s leadership in the Senate reflects a deep commitment to working across party lines to better the lives of Minnesota families and people across the country. She is currently running for re-election after winning a special election in 2018. Smith’s opponent is former one-term Congressman Jason Lewis, a former right-wing radio host whose brief tenure in the House included voting for the Trump tax cuts and repealing the Affordable Care Act. Trump endorsed Lewis in a tweet earlier this month, showing Republicans’ enthusiasm to flip Minnesota red. Holding this seat is critical if Democrats are going to take back the Senate.
As a junior member of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Smith has been a watchdog and champion for progressive issues. She called on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to halt its rollback of payday lending regulations in the middle of a pandemic. Smith was also early to foresee the impending funding issues with the Postal Service. Back in May, Smith called on Senate leadership to include Postal funding in coronavirus relief legislation, noting the Postal Service’s crucial role in processing mail-in ballots. Sen. Smith’s foresight and demonstrated leadership have earned her a full term.
U.S. House of Representatives
Alyse Galvin (AK-AL)
- Cook PVI: R+9
- 2020 Democratic Primary: Galvin 80 / Tugatuk 11 / Hibler 9
- Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Galvin $2.3M / Young $1.4M
Rep. Don Young has been Alaska’s sole Representative since 1973, but Alyse Galvin represents the best chance in decades to unseat the longest-serving House member. Galvin came within seven points of beating Young in 2018 – shaving seventeen points off of his 2016 margin. Reliable polling data for Alaska is notoriously difficult to come by, but President Trump’s approval ratings in the state are sliding. Galvin significantly outraised Young during the second quarter, but the 24-term incumbent has begun tapping his corporate allies for support, leaving this race neck-and-neck.
Galvin is running as an Independent, but won the Democratic primary and will presumably caucus with the Democrats. In addition to expanding healthcare access, Galvin’s platform puts the Alaskan economy front and center. Alaska has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, and her plan to galvanize the state’s economy includes increased investment in vocational and technical education as well as clean energy infrastructure. In light of the Trump Administration’s recent move to get rid of the payroll tax, Galvin voiced her commitment to protecting both Social Security and Medicare.
- Cook PVI: R+9
- 2020 Democratic Primary: Tipirneni 53 / Malik 37 / Rimmer 6 / Gentles 5
- Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Tipirneni $2.5M / Schweikert $1.3M
Dr. Hiral Tipirneni is poised to flip AZ-06 blue for the first time in 25 years. She’s running against Rep. David Schweikert, a Freedom Caucus member, who just last month admitted to 11 House Ethics violations for misuse of campaign funds. The DCCC included Tipirneni in its Red to Blue program seeing this race as a pick-up opportunity in this suburban Phoenix district and an increasingly blue Arizona.
Before politics, Tipirneni was an emergency room physician and cancer research advocate. In addition to running to expand access to healthcare, her economic agenda is aimed at lifting up working families instead of corporations. She’s been a steadfast supporter of the need to protect Social Security and voiced opposition to Trump’s recent executive action that would suspend payroll taxes. One of her key campaign pillars is to get dark money out of politics, earning the endorsement of End Citizens United. Flipping this seat will be key to the House Democrats expanding their majority.
Cori Bush (MO-01)
- Cook PVI: D+29
- 2020 Democratic Primary: Bush 49 / Clay 46
- Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Bush $570K / Rogers N/A
After upsetting 20-year incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay earlier this month, Cori Bush is primed to become another stellar addition to the Progressive Caucus. A lifetime St. Louis resident, Bush began her political career as an activist in the wake of the 2014 Ferguson protests. In 2001, Bush was homeless–living out of a car with her two young children for several months after being evicted from their rental home.
This will be an easy hold for the Democratic Party but a momentous win for the Progressive Caucus. Bush will be one of the most progressive members of Congress. She supports a $15 an hour minimum wage, wants to strengthen union protections, and is an unwavering critic of “right to work” laws. Bush will also fight for Medicare for All, Universal Basic Income, and a Green New Deal. She has also pledged to support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, as well as the public financing of elections.
- Cook PVI: R+4
- 2020 Democratic Primary: Tims 70 / Moyer 30
- Total Amount Raised in 2020 Cycle*: Tims $610K / Turner $1.1M
Desiree Tims is running in her first race to unseat long-time incumbent Rep. Mike Turner and flip her hometown district blue. Inspired by her grandfather, who was forced to leave school at age six to support his family as a sharecropper in the Deep South, Desiree became the first in her family to earn a four-year college degree. While this is her first campaign, Tims is not new to politics. She served in the Obama White House and worked for Senators Sherrod Brown and Kirsten Gillibrand. Tims earned an endorsement from President Obama and secured a spot on the DCCC’s Red to Blue program.
In the Senate, Tims worked on issues such as the minimum wage and affordable child care. Tims’s economic agenda includes bringing jobs and opportunity back to Southwest Ohio. Tims’s deep ties to her community and policy experience will make her a natural leader in the 117th Congress’s freshman class when she’s elected this fall.
- Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07): After only one term in office, Rep. Pramila Jayapal earned her current position as Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. During this pandemic, she’s been a champion in the House for economic relief that matches the severity of the crisis. Her wage replacement legislation, the Paycheck Recovery Act, is one of the best plans for bridging people through this recession by keeping workers on payrolls instead of unemployment benefits. The residents of WA-07, as well as the rest of us, will be well-served with Rep. Jayapal in office for another term.
- Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02): In his tenure as Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Mark Pocan has been a strong advocate for economic policies that benefit workers and small businesses. Pocan is the leading champion in the House for expanding work sharing programs. This summer, he introduced the House version of the Rebuilding Main Street Act, a bill that would expand work share programs and provide grants to hard-hit businesses. Both Joe Biden and the 2020 Democratic Platform embrace the idea of expanded work share to help workers weather the crisis. Pocan’s progressive and pragmatic economic vision will be vital in the 117th Congress as this crisis continues.
*Total campaign receipts according to most recent FEC filings.