Tag Archives: Justice Democrats

Community Activist Odessa Kelly Gets Backing From Justice Democrats to Challenge Tennessee Rep. Cooper

By Jim Ellis

Community activist Odessa Kelly (Photo: Odessa Kelly campaign)

April 7, 2021 — In what could be the beginning of a national trend developing against perceived moderate Democratic incumbents, community activist Odessa Kelly on Monday announced a party primary challenge against veteran Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville).

What makes this candidacy potentially more serious is her backing from the Justice Democrats national political action committee that posted a successful 2020 election cycle. The group is most closely associated with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) and the other members of “the Squad” — Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

The Justice Democrats successfully backed Jamaal Bowman’s successful Democratic primary challenge of 16-term New York Rep. Eliot Engel, and they won another New York primary election with attorney Mondaire Jones in an open race to succeed retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D).

They also supported two other individuals who upset Democratic incumbents, Illinois challenger Marie Newman, opposite then-Rep. Dan Lipinski, and Cori Bush in St. Louis who defeated 20-year congressional incumbent Lacy Clay (D-MO). Overall, they endorsed nine non-incumbent Democratic challengers in primaries and were successful in five races.

Their two biggest losses came in Massachusetts and Texas. The failed to dislodge House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and veteran Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), though both campaigns were highly competitive.

Combined, the nine non-incumbents who the Justice Democrats supported spent an average of $2.25 million, meaning that a potential Odessa Kelly candidacy in Tennessee against Rep. Cooper could well become serious, at least in terms of available resources.

Tennessee’s 5th District contains the capital city of Nashville and all of Davidson County. The CD also includes to the west the neighboring county of Dickson and three-quarters of Cheatham. Demographically, the seat is 60.4 percent non-Hispanic white, 25.0 percent black, and 9.2 percent Hispanic. The gender division breaks 51.7 percent female. A total of 12.3 percent of the population is foreign born, which is a high number when compared to other districts around the country.

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House Primary Challenges

By Jim Ellis

The Justice Democrats’ logo (click on image to go to their website)

July 16, 2019 — Controversy has been arising lately from the Congressional Black Caucus as the organization leaders are charging that the left faction Justice Democrats are isolating their members for primary challenges. But the number of Democratic incumbents having to defend themselves from potentially serious nomination opponents reaches well beyond the CBC.

In fact, currently 24 Democratic House members have what appear to be credible primary opponents and at least five more could soon be in a nomination race.

What makes these challenges potentially different and is clearly one reason more ideological candidates are coming forward in what used to be no-win campaigns, is the amount of money being raised online for such contenders.

For example, though his 2016 challenge of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) went down to a landslide 57-43 percent defeat, South Florida law professor Tim Canova raised just under $4 million for his campaign. Almost all of the fundraising came in online donations after presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed his candidacy. Therefore, it is possible that several of the challengers listed below could also begin to attract national electronic donations under the right circumstances.

The Justice Democrats scored heavily in 2018 when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset then-Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley did likewise to veteran Massachusetts Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Somerville). The credibility gained in those races make their support of 2020 Democratic challengers more noteworthy.

In addition to the incumbents listed below, other members, including Democratic Conference chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), are also on the Justice target list. Democratic National Committee member and former congressional nominee Rob Zimmerman confirms he is considering launching a challenge against Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove/Huntington). Observers also report that 2018 candidate Adem Bunkeddeko, who held Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) to a 53-47 percent primary win, may make another run.

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New York, 2020: A Political Hotbed?

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-Bronx) upset in the 14th District Democratic primary during the last cycle has awakened the New York left.

Feb. 20, 2019 — The state of New York, which generally features mostly non-competitive congressional campaigns in its 27 districts may see a very different 2020. Already, individuals are making preliminary political moves in at least 18 of the 27 CDs, including many budding primary challenges.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-Bronx) upset of then-Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) in the 14th District Democratic primary during the last cycle has awakened the New York left. Now, it appears several other New York City veteran Democrats could face their own 2020 primary challenge.

Even Ocasio-Cortez, who has angered many establishment Democrats with some of her actions and comments, could also see primary competition as rumors of a return match for Crowley, who remains as the Queens Borough Democratic Party chairman, begin to swirl.

In terms of potential Democratic primary challenges, individuals are coming forward to at least begin talking about developing a potential campaign. Those targeted include Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn), Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), Carolyn Maloney (D-New York City), Jose Serrano (D-Bronx), and Eliot Engel (D-Bronx). And, Ocasio-Cortez even listed new House Democratic Conference chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) as an incumbent for the Justice Democrats organization, apparently much to the chagrin of the rest of the NY Democratic delegation.

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The Justice Democrats

By Jim Ellis

The Justice Democrats logo (click on image to go to their website)

Jan. 18, 2019 — Similar to the time when the Republicans controlled the House, it appears the most ideologically committed faction of the Democratic Party is already beginning to target the more centrist majority members for primary defeat.

The Justice Democrats organization spokespeople reiterated yesterday that they will be opposing certain incumbents in Democratic primaries beginning with Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo).

The group boasts of having newly-elected Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) as members after the pair defeated Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) and Mike Capuano (D-Somerville) in their respective 2018 primaries. The Justice Democrats also list veteran Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) as members along with newly elected freshmen Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

The Justice Democrats have a published issue agenda that includes “Medicare for All”, guaranteed living wages, federal guaranteed jobs, taxpayer financed higher education for anyone who wants to attend a university or college, their “Green New Deal” pertaining to environmental policy, and law enforcement reform, among other issues.

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