Tag Archives: Justice Democrats

Ohio Specials Today

Ohio’s Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 3, 2021 — Though the two Ohio special congressional elections won’t officially be decided until the Nov. 2 general election, today’s nomination contest in both the vacant 11th and 15th congressional districts will unofficially choose the succeeding representatives in the respective Democratic and Republican primary elections.

District 11, the vacated Cleveland-Akron seat because former Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) resigned to accept her appointment as Housing & Urban Development Secretary, is a solidly Democratic seat (Biden ’20: 80-19 percent; Clinton ’16: 80-17 percent). Though yielding a Democratic primary of 13 candidates, the race is boiling down to a two-way contest between former state senator and 2020 Bernie Sanders for president national co-chair Nina Turner and Cuyahoga County councilwoman and local Democratic Party chair Shontel Brown.

The 15th District lies in southern Ohio and contains some of the south Columbus suburbs of Franklin County along with 11 largely rural counties southwest, south, and southeast of the state’s capital city. The former incumbent here, Steve Stivers (R-Columbus), resigned his office in May to accept a position as president/CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. This, after testing the waters for a US Senate run. OH-15 is a reliable Republican district (Trump ’20: 56-42 percent; Trump ’16: 55-40 percent) that has grown more conservative over time.

Originally, it appeared that former Sen. Turner was a lock in the 11th District. She had big leads in polling and fundraising, but in the past six weeks, Brown has made major strides. While the latest polling still projects her trailing just outside the polling margin of error, the prevailing political trend is definitively moving in the local official’s direction.

This race is also shaping up as a battle between the two major factions within today’s Democratic Party: the Democratic socialists, led by Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and the political action committee known as the Justice Democrats, opposite the national party establishment featuring such individuals as House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the Congressional Black Caucus leadership, and Hillary Clinton.

While keeping her ads positive, some of Brown’s outside supporters, namely the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC, have highlighted public comments Turner previously made about President Biden, Vice President Harris, all before they were elected to their present positions, and the Democratic Party in general. Conversely, Brown’s campaign ads highlight her strong support for President Biden and his stated policy agenda.

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LA-2 – Troy Carter Wins Special

By Jim Ellis

Louisiana state Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans), the establishment candidate, defeated state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) who the Justice Democrats supported, in the LA-2 special election Saturday. (Photo: Troy Carter Campaign)

April 27, 2021 — In a race pitting the Louisiana Democratic establishment opposite the national progressive left Justice Democrats’ movement, state Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans), the establishment candidate, defeated state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) who the Justice Democrats supported, to win the 2nd Congressional District special election on Saturday night.

The district, open because former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) resigned from Congress to accept a position in the Biden White House, featured a double-Democratic runoff, meaning the party was guaranteed to hold the seat, but which faction ultimately would end up with the win was open to question.

In the end, the competitive and at times nasty campaign between the two state legislators culminated in a 55-45 percent win for Sen. Carter, a margin of 9,216 votes. The unofficial final turnout figure was 87,806, a little less than 6,800 voters under the original March 20th primary participation factor of 94,567. The figures translated into a vote drop-off percentage rate of 7.2.

Sen. Carter captured six of the 10 parishes that comprise the 2nd District. He recorded a big win in Jefferson Parish (67-33 percent), the district’s second-largest local entity. The now representative-elect performed better only in St. Charles Parish (70-30 percent). As was the case in the primary election, Sen. Peterson’s greater strength came in the Baton Rouge area, and the pattern repeated itself on Saturday.

The district’s largest locality, Orleans Parish, which encompasses the city of New Orleans, produced a little more than half of Saturday’s turnout. The parish yielded a close vote with Sen. Carter prevailing there with only 53 percent in the area where both candidates call home.

Each contender spent upward of $1 million for their campaigns, with outside organizations also weighing in with equivalent expenditures.

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LA-2’s Saturday Special Election

(LA-2 Candidate Troy Carter’s Closing Ad)

By Jim Ellis

April 26, 2021 — The special election to fill the vacant Louisiana congressional district from which former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) resigned when he accepted a Biden White House appointment was decided Saturday, with the contest having evolved into a more significant race than originally anticipated.

The one thing we knew coming into the special election was that a Democratic New Orleans state senator would win the race, but the question around which of the two would prevail was one of longer-term national importance. We saw in this race not just a runoff between two Democratic contenders for a Democratic congressional seat, but rather an intensifying battle between the more traditional party base and the hard left movement that has had success in other places.

A victory for the Justice Democrats in the person of state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) will increase the movement’s strength and likely lead to stronger primary challenges against more traditional Democratic incumbents come 2022.

Remember, state Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) placed first in the March 20 jungle primary with 34 percent of the vote. Sen. Peterson edged Baton Rouge community activist Gary Chambers, Jr. by 22.9 – 21.3 percent, a margin of 1,510 votes of 94,567 votes cast and spread among 15 candidates.

In the LA-2 special election on Saturday, Carter won by a 10-point spread over Peterson, 55-45%.

Peterson ironically qualified for the runoff with a better-than-expected performance in the Baton Rouge section of the district and fell below expectations in her home city of New Orleans. Conversely, Chambers proved weaker in his home of Baton Rouge but stronger in New Orleans.

Chambers’ endorsement of Sen. Peterson marked the beginning of the support we saw moving toward the second-place finisher, but the lack of available polling data – the last poll we’d seen for this race came from Edgewater Research over the March 1-2 period, which gave Sen. Carter a 35-24 percent lead – allowed us to surmise that Saturday’s end result was likely to be close and could have trended in either direction.

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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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