As party leaders grow older, progressive black democrats act

As party leaders grow older, progressive black democrats act

WASHINGTON (AP) – Longing for change, a group of progressive black democratic congress hopes rush to the national stage, sparking enthusiasm in a party dominated by dominant white leaders.

Charles Booker, 35, a first-term Kentucky state legislator who grew up poor, is fighting for a Senate nomination against a rival who has outraged him 40-1 and is supported by national democratic leaders. Jamaal Bowman, 44, an educator and political neophyte, is looking for a conference seat in New York from the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, backed by Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

She and others ran on Tuesday in the Democratic primaries in New York, Kentucky and Virginia, and it remains unclear how many of them will win. But the message of the day was clear: a new set of candidates of color wants to send the Democrats to the left, even as presumed presidential candidate Joe Biden takes a more centrist course to lure moderate voters in November.

“The leadership of the party should catch up with public opinion, which is largely progressive,” Mondaire Jones, who is fighting for a vacant seat from a tony district in the northern suburbs of New York City, said in an interview.

Jones said he enthusiastically supports Biden, but the former vice president must “develop a vision of America more progressive than what he has outlined” if he is to encourage liberal voters.

“The world has changed,” Bowman said in a statement. “Congress must also change.”

Since election officials count boatloads of mail-in ballots caused by the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press has not announced winners in many primaries. But one victor was Cameron Webb, a black physician and lawyer who defeated three white rivals in a GOP-owned Democrats in Virginia who are hoping to be captured in November.

Tuesday’s primaries took place in a Democratic Party led by Biden, 77, Pelosi, 80, and minority leader Senate Chuck Schumer, who is 69. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic, socialist and progressive leader who lost his bid for the presidential candidate this year is 78.

But another hero from the left, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., is only 30. And in an indication of the party’s sensitivities, Biden has already said that he will choose a woman as his vice-presidential running mate and is under pressure to see a person choose color.

Booker, Bowman and Jones have been spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement and the nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis last month. Their strong displays have highlighted that candidates who can take advantage of that energy can get significant votes from African Americans and white progressives.

Each of them has emphasized social justice, but she and others say their appeal goes beyond racial issues. For example, all have supported the Green New Deal and “Medicare for All” proposals that are dear to many liberal voters.

Sean McElwee, a political analyst for forward-thinking candidates, says liberal millennials are entering the era of people voting more often. That is delivering increasingly successful progressive candidates, especially people of color who can appeal to liberal and minority voters, he said.

“We’re a little over” white male progressive candidates, McElwee said.

Sochie Nnaemeka, state director of the progressive Working Families Party in New York, said candidates of color are also becoming more attractive because of their authenticity.

“They have had experiences,” said Nnaemeka. “No translation is needed for Jamaal Bowman to talk about the crisis of police brutality.” Bowman, who is 16-year-old veteran Rep. Eliot challenges Engel in a district that covers parts of the Bronx and Westchester County grew up in public housing in New York.

Despite Tuesday’s races, Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., One of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, the only Democratic incumbent to lose this year. And moderates dispute that Democrats are controlled by progressives and that black voters inevitably turn left.

They note that moderate Biden resolutely endorsed the presidential nomination over Sanders with lopsided support from African-American voters. They say the dozens of Democratic freshmen were elected in 2018, putting them in control of the home, including centrist lawmakers of color such as representatives Colin Allred, D-Texas, and Xochitl Torres Small, DN.M.

“A new generation is coming that is very diverse,” said Jim Kessler, an executive vice president of the centrist Democratic group Third Way. “But it would be a mistake to say that the next generation only represents the far left of the party.”

According to AP VoteCast, a poll of voters, about 2 in 10 people who voted for democratic candidates in 2018 were black and about 1 in 10 were Spanish. About half identified as liberal, including 2 in 10 who said they were very liberal, while most others were moderate.

Booker is seeking the Democratic Senate nomination in Kentucky against former naval combat pilot Amy McGrath. Schumer has backed the centrist as his party’s best chance to defeat Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., In the GOP-heavy state.

Other candidates for color-seeking Democratic congressional nominations included Ritchie Torres, a New York City councilor running for a seat in a diverse Bronx neighborhood. Suraj Patel is a businessman who is the 14-year-old Rep. Carolyn Maloney in New York City tries to drive out.

Former Representative Steven Israel, DN.Y., who led the House Democrats campaign committee, largely attributed the energy of the progressives to the party’s antipathy to President Donald Trump.

“Trump has unleashed tremendous intensity and energy among activists, and they have no patience to wait their turn” to run for higher office, Israel said.


Associated Press writers Alan Suderman in Richmond, Va., Karen Matthews in New York and Emily Swanson and Stephen Ohlemacher in Washington contributed to this report.

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