On today's BradCast: It was a wild ride on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, particularly in California, as eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) all held their held their mid-term primary elections, along with another special election for MO's state legislature.
Most eyes were on the Golden State Tuesday, as Democrats see as many as seven U.S. House seats currently held by Republicans that they may be able to flip this November. But, thanks to California's "Top Two" or "Jungle Primary" system, where all candidates, from all parties, run in the same primary --- with the top two vote-getters going on to compete in November --- there was a very real chance that Dems could have been shut out of some of those flippable races altogether, due to the sheer number of Democrats on yesterday's ballot. That bullet appears to have been dodged, so far. As of Wednesday afternoon, it appears that Dems will place in the two top in each of those races, though votes are still being tallied across the state, and a number of Election Day concerns have muddied some of the water.
One such concern is the more than 118,000 voters whose names were left off of the printed voter rosters at the polls in Los Angeles County, due to a "printing error". Though voters were all supposed to have been given provisional ballots if their names did not appear, the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which leads the national Election Protection coalition, reported in a statement last night that "many were not".
Meanwhile, in the northern part of the state, it was a failure of electronic pollbooks in CA's San Mateo County that forced some voters to cast hand-marked paper provisional ballots (arguably better than the county's 100% unverifiable electronic voting system, however!) And a similar failure of computerized e-pollbooks from a private vendor in eight different South Dakota counties also jeopardized that state's election on Tuesday.
We're joined today by JIM DEAN, longtime chair of Democracy for America (DFA), which has has been fighting to build a broad, progressive grassroots coalition since Dean's brother Howard famously ran for the Democratic Presidential nomination back in 2004. Dean, whose DFA-endorsed candidates won some and lost some on Tuesday, excoriates the national, "institutional" Democratic Party for meddling in state primaries, including in CA, where, he argues, voters, not the party, should be allowed to decide who will run in November.
"If we aren't good enough to expand the electorate in these districts, to have enough support so that one of the Democratic candidates is going to survive this top two 'jungle primary' system --- if we're not good enough to do that, then it doesn't matter whether they engineer a Democratic second place finisher or not," he contends.
He also suggests that this week's primaries in CA, may signal that it's time to end the state's "experiment" with the Top Two system, while otherwise observing that Tuesday, overall, was a very good day for Democrats and progressives alike. Dean tells me he is "celebrating" the "plethora of candidates that are out there running and putting themselves out" in response to the nation's "little Fort Sumter moment in 2016."
We also discuss what effect the 2nd place finish by Republican businessman John Cox to take on Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in the Gubernatorial race this November in CA is likely to have on Dems chances of flipping several House seats from "red" to "blue" and how the U.S. Senate contest between two Democrats, Sen. Diane Feinstein and the more progressive (DFA-endorsed) second-place finisher, state Senate President Kevin de León, might effect voter turnout across the state as well.
As to the party's national message, such that there is one to date, Dean believes the candidates who are running this year will force the party in the right direction. "Last year, canvassers were being told not to talk to voters about immigration and gun control," he says. "It's time for us to start standing up. The thing that is so great about these candidates, they're pushing this out. You may not agree with their positions, but they are pushing this stuff out. We are having a lot of progressive positions that do have traction. $15 an hour is another one. Medicare For All. A lot of things are going to come out in the primary process, and we just have to make sure the leadership doesn't buckle that down" as they have in years past.
"I think the candidates are going to change that. I'm confident their aggressive style is going to force the leadership to actually say what they're for, and not say 'you gotta vote for us because the other guy's really bad', which is not a winning message."
There was more good news elsewhere for Democrats and progressives on Tuesday, including in New Mexico where Debra Haaland now appears poised to become the first Native American woman ever in the U.S. House after winning her primary. And progressive grassroots upstart Susan Herrera unseated a long-serving, rightwing corporatist Democrat in the state's House of Representatives, making reform in NM for things like automatic voter registration and gun safety legislation now much more likely. There is no Republican running against her for the seat this fall.
Finally, in Missouri, Democrat Lauren Arthur won a special election for the state Senate, in a district that has been held by Republicans for more than a decade. Her whopping 19-point victory (a nearly 25-point swing since Trump won the district by 5 points in 2016), appears to be freaking out many Republicans in MO and elsewhere, who worry about the potential "blue wave" that Dems hope to see crashing ashore this November...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)