Updated: May 2
Only two super-progressives, Marie Newman (D-IL) and Andy Levin (D-MI), have more progressive voting records than Ritchie Torres (D-NY). He's tied with Mondaire Jones (D-NY) and Nikema Williams (D-GA) for Progressive Punch's 3rd place among congressional progressive voting records. Blue America has endorsed Newman, Levin, Jones and Williams. But not Torres, not even close. You might wonder why. That he was campaigning in Cleveland over the weekend with corporate hack Shontel Brown is not the reason; it's a symptom though.
The 34 year old Afro-Latino Torres is smart, handsome and talented enough to tell anyone exactly what they want to hear; he's a consummate Democratic careerist pol. A total corporate guy, in 2016 he got himself elected to be a Bernie delegate. Like another freshman, Madison Cawthorn, Torres sees himself a future president and every step he takes is geared towards that goal-- including his total subservience to AIPAC and his attempt to put distance between himself and the BDS-supporting Squad.
A Wall Street whore, he wormed his way onto the House Financial Services Committee after winning a 5-way open seat primary with 29.4% of the vote. Let me come back to Torres in a moment and shift over to Punchbowl's report on how the Cleveland congressional race is roiling the Progressive Caucus, whose PAC shamefully endorsed Brown over Turner. The April endorsement, manipulated by Mark Pocan, "triggered an immediate uproar from progressive groups and left-leaning media outlets, several of whom accused Jayapal of doing it to further her own leadership ambitions. In an interview, Jayapal defended the Brown endorsement, describing her as a progressive member 'in good standing for four months' who met all the qualifications laid out by the CPC. Jayapal also noted that even with the endorsement, the CPC’s campaign arm hasn’t put any money into the race."
Sounds apologetic and defensive. Unmentioned is that although Brown joined the New Dems as soon as she got to Congress, but she didn't buy a Pocan-insurance policy (joining the Progressive Caucus) until Nina Turner decided to primary her. Pramila, reported the Punchbowl crew, confirmed "discussions within the CPC-- particularly at a members-only executive board meeting last week-- about changing its endorsement rules going forward... The CPC has nearly 100 members, making it one of the largest caucuses in the House. But there have long been questions about whether the group is cohesive enough to wield power like some of the other caucuses in the House."
“I understand the frustration. And we’re looking to see if we need to do anything to change the way we look at these things now. …
“We don’t want people to sign up for the CPC like right before an election. …So we’re definitely looking at that. Should we have a certain period of time, whether it’s six months or a year or something, that you have to be a member of the CPC and good standing? …
“The other thing we’re really looking at is do we need to have some kind of a change in endorsement based on whether somebody accepts this kind of giant PAC money, whether it’s from the crypto billionaires or whether it’s from DMFI [Democratic Majority for Israel].”
They also reported that members of the Squad are "upset about the CPC’s decision to wade into this race." As far as I know, none have endorsed Nina though. Bernie did though. When contacted by Punchbowl about the CPC endorsement, he said "Nina is one of the leading progressives n this country. We need her in the Congress to stand up for working people. And I hope very much she gets elected. They have their rules and that’s what they do. But there’s no doubt I’m strongly supporting Nina."
No one in the media talks about the Pocan-insurance policy, but Punchbowl did mention that "This move had progressives questioning whether Brown was committed to their policy goals or seeking an association with the group simply to ward off progressive challengers, including Turner... But the Brown-Turner rematch isn’t the only race where this could be an issue. Some liberal lawmakers privately said they’re worried this scenario is playing out in Illinois, where incumbent Rep. Danny Davis is seeking to re-join the CPC as he tries to head off a far-left challenger this summer." They're talking about Kina Collins.
I promised to get back to Torres. I took a look at who finances someone who is running for reelection in the bluest district in America and who has no primary opponent and no general election opponent. As of March 31, he had raised over $3 million, much of it from the banksters his committee is supposed to help regulate. Does this smell like a progressive? Big donors include TD Bank PAC, PNC Financial Services, Zurich Holdings PAC, Voya Financial Inc PAC, Santander Holdings PAC, Rock holdings PAC, Pfizer PAC, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance PAC, liberty Mutual Insurance company PAC, Home Depot PAC, Discover Financial Services pac, Comcast PAC, H&R Block PAC, Citizens Financial Group PAC, CitiGroup PAC, Centene Corporation PAC, Capital One PAC, BMO Financial Corp PAC, Anthem PAC, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors PAC, Ally Financial PAC, Charter Schools Action PAC, National Association of Health Underwriters PAC, Structured Financial Coalition PAC, Equifax PAC, Pro-Israel America PAC, National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts PAC, Commercial Real Estate Finance Council PAC, Nixon Peabody LLC PAC, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies PAC, Depository Crist and Clearing Corp PAC, American Council of Life Insurers PAC, John Hancock Life Insurance PAC...
Yeah, so of course Torres was in Cleveland campaigning against Nina Turner. This just happened this afternoon: