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Top Incumbent Crowley Upset By Leftist Ocasio-Cortez In NY Primary

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

In perhaps the most dramatic example this cycle of the force of progressive politics, high-ranking Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) lost his primary race Tuesday night to the upstart Democratic Socialist candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez had been recognized as a strong candidate, but the conventional wisdom still favored Crowley, a longtime Queens lawmaker and the county’s part chair.

“This is shocking,” said New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman. Referring to the upcoming New York governor’s race, she said the upset “will leave Cuomo, who was already sweating Nixon, rattled.”

“It’s clearly a signal that people want to get rid of the old and put in the new,” a Democratic lawmaker told Manu Raju.

Given Crowley’s place in the Democratic leadership, many compared the defeat to former GOP Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, who lost his seat as House Majority Whip in 2014 to a primary opponent.

“The Cantor comparison is obvious, but this is actually a much bigger deal than that…” said Vox reporter Matt Yglesias. “Ideology-driven defeats of Democratic incumbents are *incredibly* rare in a way that wasn’t true for Republicans when Cantor went down.”

Ocasio-Cortez’ positions were significantly to the left of her opponent. She endorsed a swath of progressive ambitions, including Medicare-for-All, establishing housing as a human right, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), restoring the Glass-Steagall Act, and overhauling campaign finance laws.

IMAGE: Primary challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the moment of victory as she defeated incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), a top House Democratic leader, on June 26.


Latest California Polls Show Democrats Well Positioned To Win State Regardless Of Candidate

The latest polls out of California are showing the same trends that have defined the Democratic primary campaign thus far, with younger voters overwhelmingly supporting Bernie Sanders and older voters backing Hillary Clinton. The determining factor in the upcoming Tuesday primary will be voter turnout.

The good news, for the Democratic Party, is that regardless of who wins the party’s nomination, California voters who feel Sanders is too liberal or that Clinton is too tied to the establishment won’t flee into the arms of Donald Trump, contrary to doomsday predictions made by the racist billionaire and the punditocracy.

Clinton started off the Democratic nomination race with a huge lead nationally and in the Golden State. In February 2015, she commanded 73 percent of the likely vote, according to the California-based Field Research Corporation. Her lead has since evaporated, with 47 percent of likely California voters supporting her and 45 percent support her rival, putting Sanders within the margin of error.

A deeper dive into the numbers reveals that the levels of support the two candidates command effectively cancel each other out. Among male voters, Sanders leads Clinton 48 to 39 percent. Among female voters, she led 49 to 40 percent. Nevertheless, Sanders continued to receive the overwhelming support of young voters, with more than two-thirds of voters under the age of 40 supporting him.

Among likely Democratic voters, 88 percent would support Sanders should he win the nomination and run against Trump. Only six percent of Democrats would defect and vote for Trump. In a Clinton-Trump matchup, 83 percent would support her in the all but likely chance that she runs against Trump, while only eight percent would vote for the orange-colored man.

A poll by PPIC shows a similar level of voter retention regardless of the Democratic nominee. Eighty-five percent of Democratic voters said they would support Clinton or Sanders if the election were held today. Among independents, Sanders polled at 61 percent, keeping with his strong support from political independents, while Clinton polled at 51 percent.

Another unknown is the voting preferences of 2 million first-time voters that have registered in the state in the past 6 months, part of a push by governor Jerry Brown, who recently endorsed Clinton, to get more Californians involved in the election. Among first time voters, Sanders receives 60 percent support, according to the Field Research Corporation poll. A large numbers of California’s newly registered voters are also Hispanic, a crucial demographic in the general election and one which Sanders and Clinton currently split in California.

Clinton is favored to win the primary. But polling predictions have often failed to pan out on primary day, especially in this election cycle. While polling site Real Clear Politics shows that she has averaged a 6 point lead over Sanders, the latest polls show him within the margin of error. The Clinton campaign desperately wants to avoid a repeat of the Indiana primary, which she was all but guaranteed to win, but which come primary day went to Sanders in a historic upset.

But, according to FiveThirtyEight, Clinton is still practically unbeatable, with a 94 percent chance of winning the primary. In addition to maintaining a marginal lead over Sanders, and picking up the endorsement of California’s well-liked governor, Clinton also counts the support of 36 of California’s 53 congressional representatives and both of the state’s senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

At stake are the 475 delegates the state carries, which could effectively seal the nomination should Clinton perform well. She is just 73 delegates shy of winning the nomination, including super delegates who have pledged to support her. Of course: regardless of the outcome Tuesday, Bernie Sanders continues to state that he will stay in the race until the Democratic National Convention, where he says he will make an electability argument to superdelegates.

Photo: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Sanders And Clinton Battle For Kentucky

As the Democratic nomination continues to drag on, Bernie Sanders is looking to extend his winning streak in today’s primaries in Kentucky and Oregon, following victories in West Virginia and Indiana. The continued strength of the Sanders campaign has made it increasingly difficult for Hillary Clinton to look towards the general election while her party’s nomination continues to elude her.

Kentucky has been the focus of concerted campaigning efforts by both candidates. For Sanders, it would prove that despite his delegate deficit, his policies have found a wide audience across the country. For Clinton, it would help put down the ongoing insurrection taking place inside the party and allow her to focus on taking on Donald Trump in the general election.

During a campaign stop in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Sanders kept his message focused on socioeconomic justice and called out the state’s governor, Matt Bevin, over his plans to cut $41 million from the state’s education budget. “Now, I do not quite understand how in the year 2016, when we are living in a competitive global economy and when we need the best educated workforce in the world, I don’t know why anyone is talking about education,” he said to thunderous applause from the crowd.

“I want to help bring back the kind of economy that worked for everybody in the 1990s,” said Clinton during a rally in Louisville, alluding to the substantially better job market that existed under Bill Clinton. “Let’s put America to work. These are jobs you cannot export. They have got to be done right here in Kentucky.”

According to a survey of voters by Public Policy Polling, Clinton will come out ahead in Kentucky, where she leads Sanders by five points, although nearly 1-in-4 voters said they are unsure of who they will vote for.

In the last Democratic primaries in 2008, Clinton defeated Barack Obama by a large margin in the state, taking 65 percent of the vote in nearly every county. Obama won only in Jefferson and Fayette counties, home to the state’s two biggest cities, Louisville and Lexington. This time around, Clinton has found herself fighting the opposite battle, trying to win votes outside of the urban and more racially diverse parts of the state that Obama won eight years earlier. Sanders commands more support in rural Kentucky.

Nevertheless, Clinton has spent plenty of time in the state rallying Democrat voters to go out and vote on primary day. She has made 11 campaign stops over three different trips during the past two weeks, sent out campaign surrogates, and spent money on radio and TV ads in the state. The state’s closed primary works to her advantage, given she has performed better in states in which only Democrats can vote, whereas Sanders has performed better in open primaries, where he often takes the majority of independent votes.

But it will still be an uphill battle for Clinton in eastern Kentucky, whose voters, predominantly working class whites, match those who have overwhelmingly supported Sanders during the primaries. While being one of the most outspoken critics of the effect of fossil fuel use on climate change, Sanders has avoided the hostility of coal miners that Clinton has had to grapple with since campaigning in West Virginia. Part of that good will could be attributed to his push for increased education and social programming meant to decrease what has become an increasingly urban-rural divide throughout the country, but especially in Appalachia.

Eastern Kentucky, in particular, is host to some of the worst socioeconomic indicators in the country. The New York Times devoted some coverage to the dire conditions facing the region’s inhabitants back in 2014:

Clay County, in dead last, might as well be in a different country. The median household income there is barely above the poverty line, at $22,296, and is just over half the nationwide median. Only 7.4 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher. The unemployment rate is 12.7 percent. The disability rate is nearly as high, at 11.7 percent. (Nationwide, that figure is 1.3 percent.) Life expectancy is six years shorter than average. Perhaps related, nearly half of Clay County is obese.

It’s coal country, but perhaps in name only. In the first quarter of this year, just 54 people were employed in coal mining in Clay County, a precipitous drop from its coal-production peak in 1980. That year, about 2.5 million tons of coal were taken out of the ground in Clay; this year, the county has produced a fraction of that — just over 38,000 tons. Former mines have been reclaimed, and that land has been repurposed in scattershot ways: a golf course, shopping centers, a medium-security federal prison. But nothing has truly come to replace the industry on which Clay County once depended.

One expert cited by the piece, speaking a year before Sanders began running on a platform of increasing social spending, said education initiatives would be the best use of any future funding coming to poverty stricken communities like the former coal mining towns of eastern Kentucky.

That part of the state is in desperate need of state and federal funds. The decline of coal mining has shrunk the state’s tax base from $298 million in 2011-2012 to $180 million in 2014. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, former mining communities suffer from “a host of social issues spanning generations,” as well as poverty and a prescription drug epidemic that makes Kentucky home to the second highest number of drug fatalities in the country.

Tonight, Kentucky voters will make the choice between Sanders or Clinton, but given the myriad problems facing the state, neither path guarantees an easy return to prosperity.