Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

U.S. Senate candidates Andrew Romanoff of Colorado and Charles Booker of Kentucky were defeated in Democratic primary races in June.

U.S. Senate candidates Andrew Romanoff (L) of Colorado and Charles Booker (R) of Kentucky were defeated in Democratic primary races in June. (Photos: Andrew Romanoff/Facebook; Charles Booker/Facebook)

Sunrise Movement Says Wins by Corporate Democrats Like McGrath and Hickenlooper Must Be 'Moment of Reckoning' for Progressives

"These were not races that progressives could afford to sit out, but too many organizations did."

Jessica Corbett

After a pair of U.S. Senate candidates backed by the Sunrise Movement was defeated by more corporate-friendly centrists in recent Democratic primary races, the youth-led climate group's political director expressed hope Wednesday that the losses would serve as "a moment of reckoning for the progressive movement, and that all of us reflect on what we can do to build power and take advantage of these races going forward."

"These were winnable races if more organizations decided to prioritize them."
—Evan Weber, Sunrise Movement

"I'm not going to say these races are important moral victories that mean we need to work harder next time; the truth is, these races were ours for the taking and progressives blew it," the movement's Evan Weber said in a statement. "These were not races that progressives could afford to sit out, but too many organizations did."

Sunrise had endorsed former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who was beat Tuesday by former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. They were competing to challenge Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in November.

The movement had also supported Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker. After all the votes of last week's election were tallied, he was defeated by Amy McGrath, who will face off against GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"The final results show we could have won," Weber said Wednesday. "Despite being outspent by almost $20 million in Kentucky, and 7-to-1 in Colorado, we fell only just short. These were winnable races if more organizations decided to prioritize them."

He further warned of the potential electoral and political consequences of these two losses, explaining:

Voters are tired of cookie cutter Democrats who pretend they're Republicans and who listen to consultants and donors, instead of working people. When voters learn they have a choice and hear about our candidates, they want to vote for people like Charles and Andrew. These candidates need us to have their backs and help them get the resources they need to spread their message.

That didn't happen in time for Charles and Andrew, and because of that, Democrats' chances of flipping the Senate seats in Colorado and Kentucky just went way down. That makes everything else we're fighting for a lot harder, from a Green New Deal to Medicare for All.

Weber urged U.S. progressives to get "serious" about matching the party establishment's discipline while also acknowledging that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which works to elect party members to the upper chamber, "is not an easy beast to take on."

When Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) "decides to anoint somebody, he pulls out all the stops, and puts so much money in their bank account that they don't even know what to do with it," Weber said, referencing the DSCC's support for the victors in Colorado and Kentucky.

"We've proven in these races that we don't need to match their spending dollar for dollar if we run candidates who better speak to the electorate," Weber added, "but we will keep losing these races if we don't come in early enough to make a difference, if we refuse to support movement candidates together when they make the brave, difficult choice to step up and run for office without bank accounts full of cash."

Despite the recent defeats, Sunrise celebrated victories in New York last week when first-term Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the lead House sponsor of the Green New Deal, swept her primary race in the 14th Congressional District and former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman won his race in the 17th District.

Sunrise has endorsed Dr. Arati Kreibich—a city council member and neuroscientist who is facing off against right-wing Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey's 5th District on July 7—as well as Mike Siegel, a civil rights attorney and former public school teacher who will take on Pritesh Gandhi in Texas' 10th District on July 14.

The movement is also supporting other progressives in upcoming Democratic primaries, including Alex Morse's challenge to Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) on September 1 as well as Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich), whose election is on August 4, and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the lead sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution in the upper chamber, whose primary fight against Rep. Joe Kennedy III is on September 1.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Brazil Votes Live: Lula Wins the First Round Over Far-Right Bolsonaro; Run-Off Oct. 30

Lula took the lead as more rural votes counted but failed to reach 50%

Common Dreams staff ·


'Enough is Enough': Hundreds of Thousands March Across the UK

'As wages fall while profits soar, our message is clear... We are here to win.'

Common Dreams staff ·


California Gov. Newsom Proposes Windfall Profits Tax on Big Oil

Calls for windfall profits taxes have increased globally in recent weeks

Common Dreams staff ·


'Incredible': Omar and Khanna Staffers Join Levin's Office in Unionizing

"It is long past time the United States Congress became a unionized workplace, and that includes my own staff," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "I am proud of all the people on my team who have played a leading role in the staff unionization effort. Solidarity forever."

Jessica Corbett ·


Destructive Hurricanes Fuel Calls for Biden to Declare Climate Emergency

"Mother Nature is not waiting for the president or Congress to declare a climate emergency. She's showing us in real-time here in the United States—with wildfires, floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, and drought."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo