Updated: Jan 29
Corrupt conservative Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) sent out a video on Twitter yesterday claiming, Nixon-style, that he's not a crook. Like Nixon, though, he is. He doesn't respond to any of the specifics around the FBI raid on his home and office but insists in the clip he's not going to withdraw from the race and not going to retire from Congress. That is what the DCCC and Pelosi wish he would do now, not because he's a DINO and not because he conspired with GOP front group No Labels to tank Build Back Better, but because they're afraid he could win the primary and then be beaten by a Republican in November.
Progressive groups didn't need to see the FBI raid or the revelations about his oily dealings in Azerbaijan to know what a crook he is. Some folks-- like the editorial board of the San Antonio Express-News, which endorsed him last time but endorsed Jessica Cisneros this week-- may have just figured it out, but organizations like Blue America have been working to defeat him for over a decade. Almost 16 years ago to the day, I wrote that anyone who watched Bush's State of the Union addressed probably noticed that Cuellar was sitting with the Republicans, something bot even Joe Lieberman was doing and that Bush gave him a big smooch. At the time Cuellar was so right wing that even the Blue Dogs rejected him! He's a man who defines himself as pro-gun, pro-"free" trade, anti-Choice and anti-gay marriage. He was widely seen as Bush's mole inside the Democratic caucus.
So yesterday, when The Hill published a cloddy column by Hanna Trudo, Five Democrats the left plans to target, there was one Democrat "the left" does plan to target: Cuellar. Trudo's babbling nonsense begins like this: "Progressives are preparing to try to clear out Democrats they say are hampering their ability to remodel the country while their party still controls Congress." If only! "Remodel the country," of course comes straight from the NRCC comms shop and where would it get more traction than from The Hill?
First of all, the Justice Democrats, a relatively new group, is not "the left." It's one important group among many and, unfortunately, there is no united front the way there once was an actual progressive netroots that was able to take on Schumer's and Emanuel's candidates in primaries and beat them. Justice Dems' Waleed Shaheed told her that "We need strong progressives in Congress to have some sort of counterweight and leverage against the conservative, corporate backed Democrats who are an obstacle to delivering results. These primaries are where those seats come from, where that leverage comes from." True, true. But The Hill's so called "left" isn't united in a way to take down 5 incumbents. Cuellar, yes, but Progressive Caucus member Carolyn Maloney? Give me a break. The Justice Democrat's candidate seems very nice but I wouldn't bet she'll even come in second in a campaign that features two big Wall Street-backed candidates, each with a ton of money.
In Chicago, Justice Dems are backing Kina Collins (pictured on the right), but is "the left" united around her and against Davis? It should be, Ditto in Nashville against Jim Cooper (in whatever kind of unwinnable red district he's going to wind up in after redistricting breaks Nashville up into pieces the way Texas Republicans once did to Austin). And their candidate? Jim Cooper deserves what's coming his way, but I doubt it will be in the primary.
And Trudo mentions Tim Ryan, the middle of the road Ohio careerist running for the open Senate seat. His primary opponent, Morgan Harper, is a priority for Blue America but I don't see any consensus on "the left" to make this a priority race, at least not yet. Harper is a priority for DWT and Ryan would be an awful, worthless senator, but the idea of him being a target of some mythic "left" is in Trudo's head, not, alas, in the real world.
Check out the ActBlue Primary A Blue Dog page. I wish "the left" would get behind all these candidates.
UPDATE: Cooper Announces Retirement
Reactionary Blue Dog Jim Cooper announced he's retiring after looking at the way the Republican legislature gerrymandered Nashville up into parts of 3 red districts, making the Democratic city impossible for a Democrat to win. New York could-- and should-- get even by wiping out 5 Republican districts. Maybe that would teach the Republicans to stop cheating? Nah.