State progressives turn to windmills | News, Sports, Jobs
An article I wrote last week about progressive group WV Can’t Wait launching ReplaceJoeManchin.com went viral on social media, and was shared widely, including by national political media.
This article received 39 retweets, 112 quotes from tweets and 260 likes on Twitter, shared by people including Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, NBC News national political reporter Sahil Kapur, Jessica Taylor of the Cook Political Report and writer of the Washington Monthly Bill. Dry.
I have read many retweets and comments. I’m generally reluctant to give too much importance to what people say on Twitter. I put my stock in you, readers of this column and my articles. But according to the Pew Research Center, adult Twitter users are more likely to be registered with the Democratic Party.
With that in mind, the reaction to the group led by community organizer and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stephen Smith creating a fundraising campaign to build a cadre who can either face US Senator Joe Manchin in an election, either replacing him if he retires was encountered overwhelming negativity.
A lobbyist I talk to frequently corrected the title of my story for me, changing it to “The Progressive Group launches a renewed effort to hand the election over to the GOP.”
Speaking with Smith last week, he was certainly pretty serious about the efforts to oust Manchin. They know it could take longer than Manchin’s next election in 2024. Their goal is to bring more candidates affiliated to the WV Can’t Wait platform – the wishlist of progressive public policy solutions. and Democrats – in city, county, state, and federal offices.
Smith is right: it will take more than an electoral cycle to bring about the changes they want to make. It could really take generations given the political makeup of the state.
First of all, how much support does WV Can’t Wait even have with the audience? Not a lot. According to WV Can’t Wait, 101 applicants agreed with its platform and did not accept corporate donations. Between 2020 and 2021, they had 14 of these candidates elected.
Many of these candidates were municipal councilors. Maybe a handful of county commissioners. If you remember, I compiled their numbers for the success – or lack thereof – of WV Can’t Wait – at the congressional and state level.
Of WV Can’t Wait’s 38 candidates for the US Senate, House of Representatives, Public Works Council and Legislative Assembly, 34 candidates lost. They lost outgoing delegates Amanda Estep-Burton, Sammie Brown and Rodney Pyles. Only titular delegates Cody Thompson and Danielle Walker returned for the 2021 legislative session, joined by newcomers Ric Griffith and Jim Barach.
Smith himself lost the Democratic primary for governor to Ben Salango by 39% to 34% – a 5 point margin. This was after he launched his campaign in the fall of 2018, giving him a year and a half to campaign. Obviously, some of that time was blunted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring before primary (which was brought forward a month).
Progressives just didn’t fare well against Republicans in West Virginia in 2020. Paula Jean Swearingen, Democratic challenger to U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, lost 43 points (and Manchin beat Swearingen by 40 points in of the 2018 Democratic primary. She has since left the Democratic Party to create her own movement).
Watching Congress, 1st District Congressman David McKinley beat Democratic challenger Natalie Cline by 37 points, 2nd District Congressman Alex Mooney beat Democratic challenger Cathy Kunkel by 26 points and Congressman 3rd District Carol Miller defeated Democratic challenger Hilary Turner by more than 42 points. Every progressive who has challenged a US senator or congressman in the past 11 years has lost.
Republicans have also held the lead in voter registration since February, and the number of registered Republicans has grown steadily. The skewed totals show that a significant number of registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters also vote Republicans.
One would think, then, that WV Can’t Wait’s smart move would be to have its activists sit on the West Virginia Democratic Executive Committee and 55 County Committees. It would be a surefire way to disrupt the Manchin machine as they claim to want to. Active members of the Democratic Party remain unhappy with President Belinda Biafore’s handling of the State Party’s affirmative action plan.
I asked Smith if WV Can’t Wait should focus on getting elected to the executive committees and changing things from within.
“We are not interested in taking control of the Democratic Party”, Smith said. “We are interested in replacing who rules.”
So what’s the real plan here? Many people I’ve spoken to believe the purpose of the ReplaceJoeManchin.com stunt is to raise money from overseas supporters of progressive causes to fund a campaign for Smith to challenge Manchin in 2024. Smith has raised over $ 975,000 during his run for governor almost entirely from small donations. But many of these fundraising events took place out of state.
Just say the name “Manchin” is sure to kindle a fire in the eyes of progressive national activists and donors. But if they think with their brains rather than their hearts, I wonder how quickly they will open their wallets given the track record of progressive political efforts in the state?
(Adams is the state government reporter for the Ogden newspapers. He can be contacted at [email protected])