Despite one high-profile defeat in Florida, the progressive revolution galvanized by Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign scored three state-level victories on Tuesday, in keeping with its stated goals to transform the nation one down-ballot race at a time.
After carrying their state senate districts in Democratic primaries, Dwight Bullard in Florida and Martín Quezada and Juan Mendez in Arizona now join Zephyr Teachout, Pramila Jayapal, and others as successful Our Revolution candidates, bolstered by the backing of Sanders' vast network of supporters.
In southern Florida, Bullard easily defeated his Democratic opponents, receiving nearly half of the vote in Senate District 40. The high school history teacher, an incumbent, won endorsements from several unions as he fought to keep his seat.
The Miami Herald said the contest was "perhaps the ugliest legislative race in Miami-Dade." As CBS Miami reported, opponent Andrew Korge "and supporters had tried focusing on a trip Bullard took to the Middle East with members of the Dream Defenders, a group affiliated with the Black Lives Matter organization."
Bullard will now face Republican State Rep. Frank Artiles in November.
In Arizona, incumbents Quezada and Mendez also fended off challenges and came away with big wins.
In Quezada's west Phoenix district, he and opponent Lydia Hernandez "waged a bitter battle that included allegations of stalking, tire slashing and intimidation," according to AZ Central.
The paper reported:
The race in Legislative District 29 revolved less around policy issues than on loyalties: Quezada reminded voters that Hernandez endorsed Republicans Doug Ducey and Michele Reagan in the 2014 elections, suggesting she would be willing to sell out her party. Hernandez attacked Quezada for worrying more about his re-election than the concerns of the heavily Latino district.
Meanwhile, in District 26, which covers Tempe and parts of West Mesa, former state representative Mendez—who was part of a so-called "Clean Team" of candidates running on a clean elections platform—made Sanders-esque rejection of big money a cornerstone of his campaign.
"Representative Mendez has served our district for four years and continues to turn down big donors and lobbyist money," Tempe councilmember Lauren Kuby said when endorsing him. "His commitment to voters to run clean is a value that our community shares, understands, and appreciates."
Mendez, who won 75 percent of the vote on Tuesday, "is virtually assured of being District 25's next state senator since no Republican is running," according to the local East Valley Tribune.
So, even though Our Revolution candidate Tim Canova failed to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, there were bright spots in local races on Tuesday.
As Our Revolution president Jeff Weaver said in a fundraising email on Wednesday, "As we move forward into the next chapter of our political revolution, we are going to win some elections, and we are going to lose some elections. But through it all, as Bernie said, our job is to transform the Democratic Party and this country."
"Our involvement in all of the races we endorsed last night made us a better, stronger, and more progressive Democratic Party," he said, "and showed the continued power of our movement."