Bernie Sanders is asking his committed donor base—which has propelled him to fundraising records month after month—to also support three progressive U.S. House candidates in the 2016 election.
The news comes, Politico notes, "just weeks after he faced friendly fire for not committing to fundraise for down-ballot Democrats."
The candidates Sanders is backing are New York's Zephyr Teachout, Nevada's Lucy Flores, and Washington state's Pramila Jayapal, all of whom are competing in primaries against more establishment Democrats. All three have endorsed the senator from Vermont in his presidential run, and all three embrace key planks of Sanders' populist platform.
As Sanders puts it: "Throughout this campaign, I've told you that no candidate for president—not Bernie Sanders, not the greatest president you could possibly imagine—can take on the billionaire class alone."
Of Teachout, Sanders wrote in a fundraising appeal: "Zephyr literally wrote the book on political corruption. She understands better than anybody how special interests try to buy off politicians, and she’s dedicated her life to fixing our broken political system."
The Fordham University professor, who lost her bid for the Democratic Party nomination for governor of New York to Andrew Cuomo, is the author of 2014's Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United.
Jayapal, a state senator and nationally renowned immigration lawyer, "helped lead the fight for paid sick leave and a $15 minimum wage in Seattle," Sanders noted. "She's fought for immigrant rights, opposed the war in Iraq, and worked to protect Social Security."
And Flores, he wrote, is "one of the most courageous people I've met during this campaign."
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Named one of nine politicians to watch in 2016 by CNN in December, Flores "was the first Latina assemblywoman in Nevada and made national news when she became one of the first elected officials to testify about an abortion she had at the age of 16," Sanders said.
The email about Flores, titled "This will probably make you angry," continues:
During her 2014 campaign one D.C. pro-choice group, EMILY's List, endorsed her and added that she was an "inspiring community leader." They even kicked off a program to elect more Latinas to Congress in 2016.
But then Lucy Flores endorsed our political revolution before the Nevada caucus, and everything changed. EMILY's List decided to endorse a different person in Lucy’s House race this time around. So I want to support Lucy like she's supported us, because we stand together.
While Teachout reportedly raised an impressive $530,000 in the first quarter of the year, mostly relying on small donations, "Flores and Jayapal's contests haven’t attracted anywhere near the same amount of attention yet," Jeff Singer wrote Wednesday at Daily Kos.
"If Sanders can help generate a fundraising bonanza anything like what Teachout [has] seen, it will be a huge help for them," Singer said. "Flores struggled to raise money in 2015 (her first quarter report is not available yet), and she’ll need plenty of resources if she wants to win the June primary. Flores is facing state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, who has the support of labor and powerful Sen. Harry Reid, and non-profit president Susie Lee, who is well-funded."
The Hill reports that "Democrats face tough odds to gain a majority in the House—they will need to net 30 seats this cycle. But some see an opening for House Democrats to take back more seats than expected, due to a potential down-ballot effect from a or GOP presidential nomination."