Blue America has a fundraising page for veterans— progressive veterans. The emphasis is on progressives, who served in the military. In 2018 and 2020, the DCCC had a scammy little shtik they tried out-- pushing military veterans as candidates and painting them as valiant heroes... such as Conor Lamb, an ex-Marine with no combat experience, as well as a political coward who either is, or just pretends to be, a conservative. He won a special House election and the DCCC went hog-wild on their new formula. Unfortunately, all the veterans the DCCC elected turned out to be among the worst Democrats in Congress. (Lamb was handily defeated by John Fetterman when he ran for the Pennsylvania Senate nomination this year.)
All of the others that were elected in the 2018 and 2020 cycles have "F" scores. Worst of the lot is former Marine Jared Golden (ME), who ran as a progressive and then, having fooled everyone (including us), joined the Blue Dogs and ran up the third worst voting record of any Democrat in the House. He is widely considered to be one of the Democrats most likely to eventually flip to the GOP. The other very conservative vets are-- from bad to worst-- Jason Crow (New Dem-CO), Chrissy Houlahan (New Dem-PA), Mikie Sherrill (Blue Dog-NJ), Elaine Luria (New Dem-VA), Elissa Slotkin (New Dem-MI) and Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA).
In the 2018 cycle, the DCCC pushed this shtik heavily. Most of the 30 dreadful candidates they ran lost in either primaries or the general election-- like these crappy candidates Fox reported on when then Caucus Leader (soon to be vanquished himself by AOC) Joe Crowley announced his bullshit "Reinvesting in Our Heroes Task Force." Among the candidates who lost-- mostly in primaries-- were Gina Ortiz Jones (TX), Pat Ryan (NY), Josh Butner (CA), Andrew Grant (CA), Amy McGrath (KY), Brendan Kelly (IL), Eddie Edwards (NH), Dan DeBono (NY), Steve Ferrara (AZ)... Seth Moulton (New Dem-MA), a corrupt conservative veteran himself who admits he used Rahm Emanuel as a role model, did much of the recruiting, which helps explain why the vast majority of the recruits failed.
Many people consider Cheri Bustos the worst DCCC chair in anyone's living memory. After failing miserably as chair, she left the DCCC and soon after announced she wouldn't run for Congress again. But before it all fell apart-- in May of 2019-- she announced that "Our veterans embody the very best of what it means to be an American and they are a critically important part of our Democratic Party. Advocating for their needs, recognizing their service to America and working to elect the next generation of veterans to join our Democratic Caucus is essential to our success." Almost every one of her candidates lost, including Gina Ortiz Jones again and Long Island Blue Dog Jackie Gordon (who will be defeated by Long Island voters again this year, this time by Republican Andrew Garbarino.)
Two who were elected in 2018 and defeated in 2020-- both among the worst of the worst: Max Rose (Blue Dog-NY) and Gil Cisneros (New Dem-CA). Rose is on the ballot again Tuesday, trying to beat progressive vet Brittany Ramos DeBarros for the Democratic nomination in NY-11.
"Veterans are often treated like monoliths by politicians," said the one of the Blue America progressive veteran endorsees, former Army captain Brittany Ramos DeBarros, "but we’re diverse in every way, including politically. Still, when we run for office, even as Democrats, we’re expected to play a kind of token role that glosses over the real problems and truths that need to be addressed. I hope my example breaks the mold and shows we can run, own our experience as veterans, and tell the truth about U.S. militarism."
Tuesday, DeBarros and another progressive veteran, Steven Holden, are on the ballot in New York. But the veteran that the corrupted conservative DCCC is backing in a previous loser, worthless conservative Pat Ryan who will be on the ballot twice, once in the 19th district special election to replace garden variety Democrat Antonio Delgado (now the state’s appointed lieutenant governor) and once in the newly redrawn 18th district primary.
Ally Mutnick and Sarah Ferris tried explaining the convoluted mess early this morning, asserting that the conservative (D) v conservative (R) special election for a 4 month stint in Congress “could offer Democrats a preview of the pain coming their way in November. Or it could provide powerful evidence that a Republican wave election is not in the offing… [T]he messaging, turnout and margin of the contest will offer tea leaves into what lies ahead this fall in the battle for control of the House. For Democrats, a win would offer proof that the party can translate their recent legislative victories and voter anger over the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling into tangible gains. After non-stop attention on their stalled policy agenda, internecine bickering and dire polling, Democrats are desperate to tell a different story.”
Ryan, the Ulster County Executive, told them that “A win here would validate that the ground is shifting. Democrats are really good at being hard on ourselves and we’ve been doing an awful lot of that. And sometimes you need to zoom out. It will, maybe not reset, but I think certainly fundamentally reshape the trajectory.”
Republicans have just as much riding on the outcome. Flipping the district would calm fears that the party peaked three months too early. Despite some evidence of an awakened Democratic base, operatives remain convinced that few down-ballot candidates can outrun President Joe Biden’s unpopularity, especially in this sprawling district, which unites the liberal towns north of New York City with struggling farm communities a hundred miles away.
The matchup in the 19th district, which Biden carried by less than 2 points in 2020, is between Ryan, an Army veteran and Ulster County executive who has campaigned aggressively on abortion rights, and Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive who has framed his bid as a referendum on the Biden administration’s economic failures. He has rejected any attempt by Democrats to redirect the conversation.
…The election Tuesday is a true toss up, according to operatives in both parties. Public polling has been scarce and private party surveys have varied widely because special-election turnout is so difficult to predict. The race will coincide with some of the state’s primaries but independents— who will determine many close races this fall— cannot vote in nominating contests.
Republicans have outspent Ryan and his allies by nearly $1 million on TV, according to the media tracking firm AdImpact. But Ryan has received a late boost from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and VoteVets, both of which are running ads focused on abortion rights.
In many ways, Ryan is piloting an early test whether or not access to abortion can sway competitive congressional races. When the Dobbs ruling was issued, he quickly used his paid advertising on TV and in the mail to stress his commitment to abortion access. It wasn’t even a discussion whether to do so, Ryan said in an interview.
He said Democratic base and independent voters he encounters on the campaign trail are responding to the issue.
But Molinaro, who was once the youngest mayor in America, has pointedly tried to keep the conversation away from abortion, running a playbook used by several other GOP candidates running in purple districts.
It’s possible both Ryan and Molinaro end up in Congress by 2023 because of a quirk in redistricting. Under the new map set to take effect in January, the two candidates are running for a full term in separate adjoining districts.
Where Delgado won the 19th, the partisan lean was R+4. The new district is R+1. The 18th district, currently held by Wall Street Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney (who is abandoning it for a bluer seat) has an even partisan lean but has now shifted to a D+3 lean, which explains why Ryan is running there rather than in the 19th. My guess is that the voters in the 19th have noticed that as well, and are going to give. Collective middle finger Ryan on Tuesday. Josh Riley is. Relatively good candidate running in the 19th— albeit not in the special. His primary fight on Tuesday pits him against a garden variety EMILY’s List candidate, Jamie Cheney. The winner will face Molinaro, who is now Dutchess County Executive and is well-known because he ran against Cuomo for governor.
Back to Ryan for a moment. The first time I recall hearing about him was in 2018 when Jeff Bezos made a $10 million contribution to the With Honor Fund, a super PAC aiming to elect military veterans to Congress. Founder Rye Barcott claimed they weren’t screening "for ideology" but were looking for a "common bond of service and commitment to the country." They don't back all veterans, though, and most of the candidates they back are conservatives. Of the 7 progressive veterans that cycle that Blue America had endorsed-- Doug Applegate, DuWayne Gregory, James Thompson, Jared Golden, Randy “Iron Stache” Bryce, Tom Wakely and Tom Prigg— the only one the With Honor Fund backed was Jared Golden (who they spent $622,586 on) and they knew something we didn’t— that Golden was only a make-believe progressive and would turn into a raging right-wing Democrat as soon as he was elected. The PAC’s other IEs were for very right-wing Republicans and conservative-leaning Democrats from the Republican-wing of the Democratic Party. Example: they spent $603,940 on Damon Martinez in Albuquerque, who was beaten by in the primary by Deb Haaland, a progressive. Same in NY-19, where they spent $238,687 on Pat Ryan-- and significant money against his opponents, one of whom, Anthony Delgado, won). They were flat out lying when they claimed to not be screening for ideology. By the way, another New York politicians described Ryan to me today as “a Max Rose doppelgänger… if you like Rose, you’ll like Ryan... He is better than Molinaro though.”
As of the August 3rd FEC reporting deadline, Molinaro had raised $1,593,762 (for both the special and the primary) compared to Ryan’s $1,582,369. Josh Riley has raised $1,389,387 for the primary and the EMILY’s List candidate has raised $630,154. This week Ryan has announced he has raised over $2 million. The NRCC has spent around $1.2 million against Ryan and VoteVets have spent just over half a million to try bolstering him.
Polling shows a tight race but with with Molinaro slightly ahead. Even the DCCC poll above shows Molinaro leading albeit narrowly. City&State New York reported yesterday that “After focusing his first television ad on his pro-choice position on abortion, Ryan has consistently campaigned in the Hudson Valley district on the importance of electing Democrats to Congress to codify abortion rights as well as pass gun control legislation. ‘We must rally what is the widely popularly held view by Americans, that the government should not have a say in individual health care decisions,’ Ryan told City & State last month. ‘I am confident that if we really fight that way, we can codify Roe and the principles of Roe, we can put in place things like an assault weapons ban.’ Asked whether he would support expanding the U.S. Supreme Court— a measure some Democrats have proposed to counterbalance the court’s current conservative majority— Ryan did not give a straight answer but said that ‘every option’ should be on the table. Polling after the Roe v. Wade decision showed that the majority of Americans think that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. But Molinaro, who has said he is personally pro-life and agrees with the decision putting abortion rights in state governments’ hands, told City & State last month that voters in the 19th Congressional District will go to the polls with their minds on economic and public safety issues.”