Tulsi Gabbard won a lot of supporters on the left for her support of Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential campaign, but now the Hawaii Democrat with a controversial background is earning some pushback from the more left-leaning groups — including the influential Daily Kos website.
Gabbard announced last month that she plans to run for president in 2020, capping off speculation that started even before the 2016 presidential campaign was through. Gabbard saw a quick rise thanks to her backing of Bernie Sanders, but the Hill noted that the Congresswoman has since come under fire for some past stances that are out of line with most progressives.
Gabbard earned bipartisan criticism after meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in 2017, and her past opposition to LGBTQ groups has earned her many critics on the left.
Now, it has also gotten her a primary opponent for the 2020 election, Hawaii State Senator Kai Kehele. Kehele, who served in the Hawaii Air National Guard, announced last weekend that he would oppose Gabbard in a Democratic primary for her seat in Congress.
The primary bid has the backing of the Daily Kos, a progressive website that endorses more liberal candidates.
“Throughout her six years in Congress, Gabbard has repeatedly shown how out-of-step she is with mainstream progressive values, despite the fact that she represents such a deep-blue district,” Daily Kos political director David Nir wrote (via the Hill).
“[Kahele] presents a stark contrast to Gabbard’s problematic history on abortion rights, her support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and her refusal to join her Democratic colleagues in the House in backing progressive priorities like an assault weapons ban.”
Tulsi Gabbard is also expected to face an uphill battle in her bid to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. She is among the least-known of a strong and quickly growing field that includes Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and California Senator Kamala Harris. Gabbard also had to devote much of the early part of her campaign to distance herself from past stances, including issuing a lengthy apology for her past work with an anti-gay group founded by her father.
Tulsi Gabbard has also languished at or near the bottom of 2020 presidential polls that she has been included in, so would likely face some work to get voters to know her better. And it could become even more difficult in the coming days when Bernie Sanders is expected to once again enter the race.