New York and Utah voters went to the polls on Tuesday’s primary and cased their ballots for some of the most contentious Democratic congressional seats in the county. Two Bernie Sanders-inspired progressive candidates will be advancing to face their Republican rivals in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
Zephyr Teachout, law professor and political activist, handily defeated her opponents in New York’s 19th congressional district, and now she’s pitted against Republican former state assemblyman John Faso. Dubbed the “anti-corruption crusader,” Teachout sailed through a 74-26 victory by advocating breaking up the too-big-to-fail banks and removing “big money out of politics.”
“I am running for Congress to break down those doors in Washington, D.C. The doors that are keeping the people of America — the real people, the citizens of America — locked out,” Teachout said in an email to supporters after the win had been announced. “I’ve been fighting well-paid lobbyists on behalf of working families my entire life. I will fight until we win — for the people of NY 19. For the American people.”
With little name recognition and scant funds, Teachout made a name for herself two years ago when she attempted to dethrone New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014. She received nearly a third of the votes, which strongly suggests the people’s dissatisfaction with the party. Following her loss, Teachout quickly turned her attention toward taking back the 19th congressional district for the Democrats.
“Together we’re going to take back our democracy from the powerful interests and lobbyists who want to keep us out,” Teachout declared in a statement soon after the vote was called. According to the Huffington Post, Bernie Sanders only raised money and support for a handful of congressional candidates seeking office this year and Teachout was one of them.
— The People’s Summit (@pplsummit) June 29, 2016
Another self-styled “Berniecrat,” 30-year-old Misty Snow made history Tuesday when she and another nominee became the first transgender candidate to win their respected primaries. Snow is now slated to face incumbent Republican Mike Lee for his Senate seat in Utah, which is one of the reddest states in the county.
“This shows LGBT people that being LGBT is not a barrier to running for political office,” she said. “You can be you, and people will respect you for that.”
Snow is a Salt Lake City resident who also retained limited attention, despite her historic status. She beat out 35-year-old marriage therapist and member of the Mormon religion Jonathan Swinton, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Snow is not favored to win against her GOP rival, who ran unopposed in the GOP primary. According to the Washington Times, a Democrat has not won a U.S. Senate seat in Utah during Snow’s lifetime, and yet she has high hopes for success and a belief that her progressive platform will resonate with her constituents.
“Utah just has this really kind of nice culture,” Snow said. “There’s this kind of libertarian kind of mindset. They don’t really care too much about those types of things. They just really care about where you stand on issues or whether or not you’re a good person.”
Both candidates offer bold progressive plans and have committed themselves to the Bernie Sanders movement. Unfortunately for Snow, the odds are severally stacked against her. Not only is Utah a very conservative state, but also an extremely religious one whose social evolution is not as far along as other states and likely not ready for a transgender legislator. Teachout, on the other hand, is riding a progressive wave in New York that could easily carry her right into the House of Representatives.
The Nation reports that Teachout’s district drew a substantially higher turnout for the Democratic primary than the Republican’s. However, Teachout may not have it so easy in November. Faso currently is backed by powerful special interest groups whose sole purpose is keeping people like Teachout out of Congress.
The Bernie Sanders movement is also trickling progressive candidates into state legislators and challenging incumbent establishment Democrats throughout the nation. On Wednesday, WPRI Eyewitness News said Rhode Island Progressive Democrats of America endorsed 18 people that are seeking legislative seats held by fellow Democrats.
“The Democrats in Rhode Island, the ones in leadership, are extremely conservative,” said David Norton, an internet marketing consultant running to unseat first-term Democratic Rep. David Coughlin. “The only thing they have that’s in sync or aligned with the national Democratic Party is support for unions and collective bargaining.”
While the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign is currently on hold, waiting for the results following the FBI’s criminal investigation on Hillary Clinton’s emails, his supporters have taken the torch and is continuing his “political revolution” without him, if need be.
[Photo by Mike Groll/AP Images]