Oddly enough, covering good old fashion primary special election results for the U.S. House feels like a palate cleanser today on The BradCast, with all of the other ongoing nightmares around us. Even a scrappy one between Democrats in Ohio. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]
Two vacant U.S. House seats are up for grabs in the Buckeye State. One in a very "red" district (the 15th), vacated by GOP Rep. Steve Stiver for a gig at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. It will almost certainly stay in Republican hands this November. The other, in the very "blue" 11th Congressional District, comprised of Cleveland and Akron, was vacated by Rep. Marcia Fudge, who became Joe Biden's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. That one will almost certainly stay in Democratic control this Fall. So, all the action in both races was to win their respective party's nomination on Tuesday.
In the 15th, the Donald Trump-endorsed coal lobbyist Mike Carey, who vows to vote like Ohio's Rep. Jim Jordan, easily topped an 11-candidate field to keep "draining the swamp" in D.C., by filling it up with Republican lobbyists in elected positions. And in the 11th, Cuyahoga County Council member Shontel Brown appears victorious over former Ohio legislator turned Bernie Sanders' backer Nina Turner, in a race that seemed to be Turner's to lose until things got very ugly in the final weeks.
Brown, the centrist, was supported nationally by Hillary Clinton, SC's kingmaker Rep. James Clyburn, and, in the final weeks, both the Israel lobby and the Congressional Black Caucus, which usually doesn't become involved in primary races, particularly between two African-American candidates. Both groups dumped millions into the race on behalf of Brown in the weeks before Election Day. Turner, for her part, was supported nationally by Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other well-known progressives, including many in the CBC. But, according to Turner in her concession speech Tuesday night, it was "evil money" from outside groups that turned the tide against her. To be fair, Turner's own words and actions were turned against her in TV ads, highlighting some pretty ugly attacks she had made against the Democratic Party and even its standard bearer Joe Biden during the 2020 primaries. Nonetheless, it does appear to have been establishment money that ultimately tipped the scales against Turner.
We're joined today once again by longtime progressive champion and journalist JOHN NICHOLS, Washington Correspondent at The Nation, to break down what the results on Tuesday night mean --- or don't --- for Democrats and the feisty progressive movement hoping to challenge the Party establishment.
Nichols sees the local party machine as having made the ultimate difference for Brown, who chaired the Cuyahoga County Dems. He says the local party has "real strength," adding: "I do think that there was a tremendous amount of pressure brought on that race that focused a lot of attention on things that Nina Turner had said in the past about Joe Biden, about some other Democrats, and she was portrayed as being somebody who wouldn't be loyal enough to the Democratic Party or to Democratic organization."
But "there are always battles for the soul of political parties," he observers. "This goes back 75-80 years, this battle between progressives and centrists, between those who want the party to be transformational, and those who want it to be managerial. Similarly, there have been such battles in the Republican Party over the years, going back definitely to the days of Joe McCarthy, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, a fight between the further right and moderates."
"What I'm telling you is, this is politics," he says.
We also discuss the big money in the 11th District race and the pathetically low voter turnout --- less than 17%, which both media and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections described as "higher than expected"(!) --- as factors in Tuesday's primary and what all of it means, if anything, for the Party moving forward.
Also today, in a second segment with Nichols, we discuss the "Death Cult" that is now the GOP, as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis --- even as his state is https://www.reuters.com/...rnor-2021-08-02/smashing all-time pandemic records for both infections and hospitalizations --- actually issued an Executive Order just last week barring schools from requiring face coverings as the school year begins in a matter of weeks. That, even while GOP denialism and the Delta variant of the coronavirus have helped the Sunshine State to lead the nation right now in per capita COVID infections.
As Nichols reports at The Nation this week, DeSantis is hardly the only one in his party putting constituents at risk with mad, anti-science positioning in hopes of becoming the next Donald Trump, or even his 2024 running-mate. But, Nichols explains, while "DeSantis has fully taken in this authoritarian rightwing approach," there are signs that his "really destructive approach" to governing may be backfiring as he faces re-election in 2022. He cites new statewide polling showing that potential Democratic opponents to the Governor "are suddenly either ahead of him or essentially tied with him." Apparently independent voters in the state aren't all that keen on "death by DeSantis".
We also discuss the potentially "transformational" infrastructure, jobs and health care package that Biden and the Democrats are --- against all odds --- still on track to pass this year via a $1 trillion bipartisan bill and a $3.5 trillion Democratic-only bill paired with it, that both establishment and progressive Dems hope to hammer out and push through with a simple majority vote. Does Nichols believe this remarkable achievement will be possible in the end? Tune in to find out.
Finally, while many elected Republicans are falling over themselves to kill their own constituents as quickly as possible by pushing against mask and vaccine mandates and science itself, one Republican Governor --- who had played along for a while, earlier this year --- now has regrets...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)