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Demolishing Claims of 'Waning' Progressive Movement, Bold Left-Wing Candidates Score Big Primary Wins Across Nation

"We're just getting started. We're going to change America for hundreds of years. Thank you to everyone who is forcing change."

Jahana Hayes spoke after winning the Democratic primary for Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District in Waterbury, Conn., on Tuesday. (Photo: John Woike/Hartford Courant via Associated Press)

"Looking forward to all the journalists who wrote last week that the progressive movement was dead correcting their takes tomorrow."

That was how Josh Miller-Lewis—deputy communications director for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—responded to the major wave of progressive primary wins in Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Minnesota on Tuesday night, victories that further demolished recent claims by corporate pundits and self-interested Third Way centrists that the left has "hit a wall" and cannot win consistently nationwide.

Here are just some of the highlights from Tuesday's elections:

  • Jahana Hayes—2016 National Teacher of the Year and strong supporter of Medicare for All—overcame Connecticut's powerful corporate-friendly Democratic establishment to defeat Mary Glassman in the state's fifth congressional district. Glassman was backed by a "bizarre coalition" of forces, including the local chapters of Our Revolution and MoveOn as well as the Chamber of Commerce.
  • Union organizer and ironworker Randy Bryce—aka "The Iron Stache"—handily won the Democratic primary in Wisconsin's first district, where he is vying to replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Bryce has said his progressive, populist campaign "scared" Ryan into retirement.
  • Progressive Christine Hallquist won Vermont's Democratic gubernatorial primary, bringing her one step closer to becoming the nation's first transgender governor.
  • Ilhan Omar, who ran on a platform of Medicare for All and a transformative fossil-fuel free energy agenda, emerged victorious in Minnesota's fifth district, putting her on track to join Michigan democratic socialist Rashida Tlaib as the first Muslim women likely to be elected to Congress.

"We started this campaign to prove people are ready and willing to fight for an America that works for all of us," Omar wrote on Twitter following her victory on Tuesday. "To every staff member, volunteer, donor, and voter, this win is just as much yours as it is mine. Together, we will move our district, state and nation forward."

The progressive advocacy group Justice Democrats—which endorsed Hallquist, Omar, and Bryce—noted in a statement Wednesday morning that each of the candidates "has taken a pledge to fight for expanded and improved Medicare for All, a $15/hour living wage, ending for-profit prison and police institutions, abolishing and defunding ICE, tuition-free college and trade schools, and so much more--all without corporate money."

"We are building power and doing it quickly," the group concluded.

This map put out by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee shows how progressives are winning nationwide, not just in small enclaves:


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While Tuesday night's primary wins were great for progressives who support bold climate policies, justice for immigrants, and economic security for all, it was terrible for the pundits who "reduce the struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party to a weekly scorecard," as The Nation's John Nichols put it.

These "naysayers"—who are so often quick to pronounce the death of the left after a handful of insurgent candidates lose but are totally silent when establishment candidates suffer massive defeats—were forcefully called out on social media on Tuesday night:

"We're just getting started," declared the advocacy group People for Bernie following Tuesday's progressive wins. "We're going to change America for hundreds of years. Thank you to everyone who is forcing change."

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