For much of the Democratic presidential primary process, Bernie Sanders focused largely on his own candidacy. The Vermont senator did not, for example, raise money for the national Democratic Party, support any state party, or engage in any party-building efforts. When Rachel asked in March whether he might eventually back any Democratic candidates in any other race, Sanders replied, “We’ll see.”
In April, however, that changed, and Sanders began extending his support to down-ballot Democrats in specific contests. True to form, the senator preferred progressive allies who didn’t necessarily enjoy the party’s backing, but the Vermonter nevertheless endorsed and helped raise money for some other candidates.
How are they doing? It’s been a mixed bag so far. Nevada’s Lucy Flores enjoyed Sanders’ enthusiastic backing, but she lost in a Democratic congressional primary two weeks ago by a wide margin. As the Huffington Post reported, Sanders had better luck in New York yesterday, but only in one of the two races he was involved in.
Zephyr Teachout soundly bested organic farmer Will Yandik in New York’s 19th Congressional District on Tuesday. Although she received a boost from Sanders’ endorsement, Teachout has long been a progressive favorite and was already known statewide after running against incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in the 2014 Democratic primary…. Teachout will face Republican John Faso in November to replace outgoing Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.).Sanders’ candidate didn’t fare as well in New York’s 24th District. There, Eric Kingson lost to Colleen Deacon, who had the backing of the DCCC and both the state’s U.S. senators. Deacon worked for the mayor of Syracuse and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and often stressed her experience as a single mother living on food stamps. She will face incumbent Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) in the fall.
Sanders campaigned for Kingson in the Syracuse-area district last week, but it wasn’t enough to put him over the top. He lost to Deacon by roughly 16 points.
Sanders-backed congressional candidates still have plenty of other chances of success, however. In the state of Washington, Pramila Jayapal’s congressional primary is Aug. 2, and in Florida, Tim Canova’s race against DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is on Aug. 30.
In other news related to the Vermont senator:
* Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and one of Sanders’ most enthusiastic proponents, told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent yesterday that Sanders, for the good of the country, should endorse Hillary Clinton before the Democratic convention. Additional delays, Grijalva added, only make unity more difficult and help Donald Trump.
* Sanders has a new op-ed in the New York Times, arguing that the results of the Brexit vote in the U.K. reinforce his political vision in the U.S.
* The Sanders campaign sent out a new fundraising pitch yesterday, this time asking donors to help finance trips for the senator’s delegates to go to the Democratic convention.