Underdog Dems Look for Primary Traction in Gun Control

Progressive Democratic groups view Lipinski’s fate in IL-03 as a test for future primaries.

Drew Gerber
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Drew Gerber
March 1, 2018, 10:43 a.m.

“With gun rights groups mostly tied to the Republican Party these days, some underdog Democrats have turned to the gun issue to try to gain traction in primaries.” Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown (D) is running to unseat Rep. Al Lawson (D) in FL-05, and “has since blasted him for being ‘at the center of the National Rifle Association’s grip.’” In the Colorado 6th, where former Army Ranger Jason Crow (D) is challenging Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Crow “said in a Facebook ad that inaction on gun violence is ‘another perfect example of Mike Coffman and his failed leadership.’ Meanwhile, some Republicans,” like Florida Rep. Brian Mast (R-18) “have come out in support of banning assault-style weapons.

“In New Jersey, Democrats are banking on” state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D) “flipping the open 2nd District seat. … Van Drew’s not a typical Democratic standard bearer. He has a 100 percent rating from the NRA and as a state legislator, he has supported loosening some gun control measures. … Other Democrats vying for the nomination, though, are more perturbed.” Teacher Sean Thom (D) and retired teacher Tanzie Youngblood (D) “have called attention to Van Drew’s favorable rating from the NRA in their social media posts.

“In Arizona’s 2nd District,” former Rep. Ann Kirpatrick (D) “is considered a top candidate.” But 2016 nominee Matt Heinz (D) “has been sharply criticizing Kirkpatrick’s previous positions on gun control following the Florida shooting. … Kirkpatrick openly shifted her stance on gun control after” the shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D). (Roll Call)

IL-03: If Rep. Dan Lipinski (D) “is beaten by his progressive opponent in next month’s primary, liberals are hoping it sends a signal to other potential candidates that they can take on an incumbent from the left and win. … The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has held back on endorsing him despite promises, reported by Politico, that it would do so. Members of the Blue Dog Coalition, which Lipinski co-chairs, have bristled at the snub by DCCC and are stunned by their Democratic colleagues fundraising for his opponent. Progressives see Newman’s bid as a test.”

Waleed Shahid, spokesman for Justice Democrats, a progressive PAC: “It’s not just Dan Lipinski, but there are Democrats in blue districts across the country that do not represent the policies of voters in those district, whether it’s about holding Wall Street accountable or whether it’s about Medicare for all. This is really going to send a message to those Democrats that they should be held accountable and watch their back.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-09), “a member of DCCC leadership, said she never would have endorsed” marketing consultant Marie Newman (D) “if it threatened Democrats’ hold on the district.” (Washington Examiner)

MD-06: State Sen. Roger Manno (D) “won the endorsement Thursday of Maryland Working Families … the latest indication he is locking down progressive support in the closely watched federal race.

“It’s not clear that” Maryland Working Families or left-leaning Progressive Maryland, which has also endorsed Manno, “will have a major influence on the election. The Working Families super PAC spent just under $400,000 on federal candidates nationwide in the 2016 election. But it is an indication of progressive support at a time when the party has drifted left.” (Baltimore Sun)

ND-AL: In a new poll from Gravis Marketing (Feb. 21-24), state Sen. Tom Campbell (R) “came out as the leader both overall and, more importantly considering this is a competition for the NDGOP’s endorsement, among Republicans. Campbell was chosen by 24.4 percent of Republicans.” State Sen. Kelly Armstrong (R) “came in second at 13.3 percent,” and Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak (R) — who hasn’t officially announced her bid — at 6.3 percent. 2012 write-in House candidate DuWayne Hendrickson (R) polled at 0.6 percent. Iraq war vet Tiffany Abentroth (R) “didn’t register any support from Republican respondents,” and former teacher Paul Schaffner (R), who announced his bid last month, wasn’t polled.

Rob Port, editor of Say Anything Blog: “I’ll admit to never having heard of this firm before. For what it’s worth they have a B- grade from the polling watchdogs at FiveThirtyEight along with a 79 percent accuracy rating. … There are large numbers of undecideds … where you wouldn’t expect such a large number. I’m also not sure the poll weighted partisan affiliations correctly.” (Say Anything Blog)

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