Progressive Site Names Dems Who Deserve a Primary
Since the election of President Obama in 2008, the Tea Party has sought to move the Republican Party to the right. They’ve targeted moderate members with primary challenges and used vote scorecards to criticize so-called RINOs (Republicans in Name Only).
Up until now, progressive attempts to create similar pressure within the Democratic Party have largely failed. A new tool called “Primary Colors” is seeking to emulate the success of its conservative counterparts.
“Want to trade in your conservative Democrat for a better one, but nervous that your liberal hero will lose to a Republican?” the website states in its description. “We’ll clear up this process for progressives with a new scoring system that prioritizes targeting Democrats too conservative for their district with primary challenges. And we’ll give you some powerful new tools to deliver a more progressive Washington D.C.”
Primary Colors is so new, in fact, that their website is still in start-up form. But they do have a full list of the 58 congressional Democrats they are targeting, including two from Pennsylvania: Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Allegheny) and Chaka Fattah (D-Phila).
Two Pa. natives are behind the new site: Jon Geeting, who runs the website Keystone Politics, and Obama campaign alum Ryan O’Donnell. The two are personally funding the site, meant to be a tool to help activists identify conservative Democrats as well as candidates to challenge them
While Many of the site’s conservative counterparts compare members of Congress against a standard of 100% purity, Primary Colors scores members of Congress by comparing their voting records to the ideological makeup of their districts. Thus, a Democrat from a conservative, rural district would get more leeway to vote against the party line. A Democrat from a progressive, urban district would be held to a more liberal standard.
The group grades congressmen on a 1-10 scale. The 58 members are divided into four groups: must be primaried (a score of 9 or 10), should be primaried (score of 6-8), could be primaried (3-5), and should be more progressive (1-2).
Doyle and Fattah each scored a two. That means, the site says, “They’re some of the lowest on the priority list for a primary, because they can still easily turn things around and better represent their constituents by voting more progressive.”
Rep. Fattah represents PA-2, a district containing parts of West Philadelphia and southern Montgomery County. According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, it has a rating of D+39, making it the most Democratic district outside New York City.
Rep. Doyle district’s, PA-14, consists of Pittsburgh and some of its surrounding suburbs. It has a Cook rating of D+16. Both men have been in Congress since 1995.
Given the start-up nature of the group, the limited success progressives have had in ousting moderate Democrats in the past, and the low priority status given to the duo, it’s unlikely either will face a legitimate, ideological challenge.
Reps. Bob Brady (D-Phila) and Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna) each avoided the list. So did Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Montgomery) is not seeking re-election in 2014 as she pursues a bid for Governor. Cartwright ousted former Rep. Tim Holden in 2012 by running to his left in the Democratic primary.