Froma Harrop: Democrats we might not mind losing
It is hard to count all the politically dumb positions Minnesota's Keith Ellison has held.
Hopes are high that Democrats will keep the House after the midterms. And if we could know in advance that the Democratic Party would retain a decisive majority, the prospect of losing certain members would not break many hearts.
It is hard to count all the politically dumb positions Keith Ellison has held. And that's why Ellison, now running for reelection as Minnesota attorney general, is the "most vulnerable progressive" in his liberal state, according to Politico. In 2018, for example, Ellison walked around in an "I don't believe in borders" T-shirt. He later backed an unbelievably foolish plan to replace the Minneapolis police department with a "Department of Public Safety" and do away with minimum staffing requirements. The voters soundly rejected the idea.
Polls now show Ellison in a statistical tie with Republican Jim Schultz, this in liberal Minnesota. Further working against Ellison is the reality that the race is for state office, so moderate voters need not to worry that replacing him would change the balance in Washington.
In other the Minneapolis area developments, obnoxious "squad" member Rep. Ilhan Omar almost lost her primary election to a more moderate Democrat. And hers is a hyper liberal district.
It's too bad that Democratic primary voters didn't replace New York's political Kardashian, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Consumed with drawing attention to herself under the "socialist" fashion label, Ocasio-Cortez bears much blame for the Democrats' 2020 losses in swing districts. Guess "defund the police" didn't go over big, especially during a crime wave. More recently, she enraged many Democrats for voting against President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill. Not radical enough, apparently.
In practice, Ocasio-Cortez is more valuable to the Fox News programmers than to the candidates she endorses. She demanded that Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney resign the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. His "crime"? Running against her pick for a redrawn New York district. Maloney didn't resign, and calling himself a "practical mainstream guy," he beat State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in the primary.
Much of the press swallows whole the left's tweets about its awesome power. A year before the New York mayoral primary, The New York Times wrote that Ocasio-Cortez's "blessing would almost certainly have outsize impact on the muddled field."
As it happened, Ocasio-Cortez's candidate came in third. The ultimate winner was Eric Adams, an African American former police chief and former Republican. Adams has been backing candidates in state legislative primaries in a quest to defeat the left-wingers opposing his tough-on-crime agenda.
The fringe also keeps telling stories to itself about its massive support among the poor and people of color. As it happened, Adams was elected thanks to overwhelming support by working class Blacks and Latinos highly worried about crime. It needs noting that Ocasio-Cortez's most reliable votes come from the largely white, college-educated constituents escaping high Manhattan rents. That's how she won the upset against 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley in 2018. Crowley did far better than she among working-class African Americans. He even beat Ocasio-Cortez in her own Bronx neighborhood of Parkchester by more than 25 points.
In Massachusetts, "squad" member Ayanna Pressley, an African American, ousted a long-serving liberal, Mike Capuano, by scooping up votes in rich and mostly white Cambridge. Capuano, by contrast, did very well in the working-class cities of Chelsea and Everett.
Even in its best days, the far left never held more than a handful of seats in Congress. Its main political influence has been the ability to freak out moderate voters and thus drain support for Democrats. The best outcome in November would be for Democrats to lose a few radicals but not enough races to threaten their majority in Congress. Tall order, but one can dream.
Froma Harrop is a nationally syndicated columnist whose work regularly appears in the Grand Forks Herald.