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Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, a Democratic candidate for North Carolina's 4th Congressional District, stands with campaign volunteers on February 25, 2022.

Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, a Democratic candidate for North Carolina's 4th Congressional District, stands with campaign volunteers on February 25, 2022. (Photo: Nida Allam/Facebook)

With 5 States Holding Primaries Today, Here's a Rundown of Progressives on the Ballot

Several races feature left-leaning candidates who could help shift the balance of power in the House and Senate.

Kenny Stancil

The ideological direction of the Democratic Party is on the ballot in Tuesday's primary contests as voters in Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania have a chance to elect progressive candidates to challenge Republicans in the pivotal November midterms.

Voters in Idaho also head to the polls on Tuesday, but progressives are not expected to fare well in the GOP-dominated state. Below are key races featuring left-leaning candidates who could help shift the balance of power in the House and Senate.

Pennsylvania

Races to watch: U.S. Senate, 12th U.S. House district
Polls close: 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Despite his recent stroke, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who has raised $16 million through an army of small-dollar donors, is the clear front-runner. According to the latest available polling, the progressive Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate holds a 31-point lead over his closest party opponent, neoliberal U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb.
  • State Rep. Summer Lee has received coveted endorsements from progressive stalwarts including U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and polling conducted in late March gave her a 25-point lead in the race to represent the Pittsburgh area. However, thanks to a recent influx of right-wing cash from a super PAC founded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), attorney Steve Irwin now holds a slight advantage over Lee, according to a survey conducted at the end of April.

Oregon

Races to watch: 5th and 6th U.S. House districts
Polls close: 11:00 p.m. ET
  • In Oregon's 5th Congressional District, attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner is looking to unseat U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, a right-wing Democrat who voted against the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and played a key role in sinking the Build Back Better reconciliation bill. Even though Schrader helped kill his economic agenda, President Joe Biden has backed the incumbent. McLeod-Skinner, meanwhile, has the support of progressives such as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Our Revolution. Private polling gives McLeod-Skinner a slight lead, but she still must overcome Schrader's fundraising advantage and $800,000 worth of attack ads funded by Mainstream Democrats, a super PAC funded by billionaire LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.
  • In Oregon's tightly contested 6th Congressional District, state Rep. Andrea Salinas—backed by Warren, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and $1.5 million in cash from the campaign arm of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus—is looking to maintain her edge over lawyer Carrick Flynn, a cryptocurrency magnate who gained ground after Protect Our Future, a PAC largely funded by 30-year-old cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, poured a whopping $11.3 million into his campaign. Flynn also has the backing of the party establishment. House Majority PAC, which is aligned with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), had never taken sides in a Democratic primary until it dumped nearly $1 million into Flynn's coffers.

North Carolina

Races to watch: 1st and 4th U.S. House districts
Polls close: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • In North Carolina's 1st Congressional District, former state Sen. Erica Smith, endorsed by Warren and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), is taking on state Sen. Don Davis, who has raked in more than $2.3 million from the United Democracy Project, AIPAC's new pro-Israel super PAC.
  • Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam has won the backing of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, but to win North Carolina's 4th Congressional District, she must defeat state Sen. Valerie Foushee, the recipient of more than $2.1 million from the United Democracy Project and more than $1 million from Protect Our Future. According to the latest available polling, Foushee leads Allam 35% to 16% among likely voters, while former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is supported by 10% of voters and 30% remain undecided.

Kentucky

Races to watch: 3rd U.S. House district, U.S. Senate
Polls close: 6:00 p.m. ET
  • Two left-leaning candidates are vying to replace retiring U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth in Kentucky's 3rd Congressional District, a solidly Democratic jurisdiction that includes Louisville. State Rep. Attica Scott, the more progressive of the two candidates, has been endorsed by the PCCC and Our Revolution, but she has raised far less money than liberal state Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, who also benefited from nearly $1 million in outside spending by Protect Our Future. While McGarvey diverges from Scott by opposing the full cancellation of student debt and the reallocation of money from policing to social welfare, he does support Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
  • Former state Rep. Charles Booker, now a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate advocating for a Kentucky New Deal, is heavily favored to win Tuesday's primary contest, which would allow him to take on Republican incumbent Sen. Rand Paul this fall.

Earlier on Tuesday, as Common Dreams reported, Sanders urged the Democratic National Committee to ban super PAC money from the party's primary process.

Correction: The Mainstream Democrats super PAC was organized by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, not AIPAC.


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