A progressive House candidate is tying himself as closely to Bernie Sanders as possible in the hopes that it will help him pull off a major upset against a comparatively conservative Democratic incumbent in Oregon next Tuesday, portending a style in which the independent Vermont senator’s political revolution may continue after the presidential primary has concluded.
Dave McTeague served as a nation representative in Oregon’s legislature before working as the executive director of the state’s chiropractic examiners committee. He’s challenging Rep. Kurt Schrader, who is serving his fourth word as the representative for Oregon’s 5th district. Schrader is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition for conservative Democrats and has one of the most conservative voting records for a Democrat in the House. As a superdelegate, Schrader is backing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at the party’s convention this summer.
McTeague has said he entered the race for Schrader’s seat because he was inspired by Sanders, who has engaged millions of supporters across the country. Schrader voted last summertime to give President Barack Obama Trade Promotion Authority, otherwise known as fast-track acceptance, to negotiate international trade deals, and it’s one the main issues McTeague is now operating on. Schrader called AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka a “bully” because of the labor organization’s threat that it would withhold campaign donations to Democrats over the fast-track legislation.
“These days a lot of voters, Democratic voters too, don’t feeling represented by the Washington Establishment and want real change, ” McTeague told in a statement announcing his candidacy. “This is evident in the success of Sen. Sander’s insurgent presidential campaign, which I strongly support … I don’t have any illusions about this effort. Running against an entrenched incumbent is like taking on the Death Star in Star Wars especially one with access to a million or more dollars of PAC money.”
McTeague has some well-organized assistance behind him. The Working Families Party( WFP ), a political group that campaigns for progressive nominees and policies, has sent two different Sanders-themed mailers to approximately 20,000 households in the district in support of McTeague.( The WFP, which has chapters in a dozen states, endorsed Sanders in December, which was its first national endorsement .)
“Progressive voters in Oregon are luck to have a option on the ballot who will bring the fight for Bernie’s political revolution to Congress, ” told Dan Cantor, the WFP’s national director. “It takes courage to stand up against a well-funded and powerful incumbent, and Dave McTeague is someone who has always shown that kind of gallantry. From his time as a nation legislator standing up to insurance companies and polluters to his opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership to his bold endorsement of Bernie Sanders, McTeague has distinguished himself as a true champion for our values.”
The WFP has also put up digital ads aimed at Sanders advocates and is hosting phone banks for presidential candidates.
While McTeague may have only the slightest chance of defeating Schrader — he got into the race merely a week before the filing deadline and has raised only a fraction of what Schrader has raised — the competition between the two Democrats is an illustration of the sorts of races that may happen more frequently. Statute professor Tim Canova’s race is another example; he has has garnered media attention in his bid to unseat Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida.
The Florida race has drawn attention in part because Wasserman Schultz is of the country’s highest-profile Democrats. But Sanders’ record-breaking fundraising and strong challenge to Clinton may embolden more progressives to run against incumbents in future election cycles, with the recognition that progressive Democrats need to focus more on down-ballot races. Unlike Republicans, Democrats rarely challenge sitting Democrat. A congressional primary candidate hasn’t defeated an incumbent in Oregon in 36 years.
The WFP said that he hoped Sanders’ likely primary win in Oregon against Clinton on May 17 will boost McTeague. But even if he loses, the group wants Democratic incumbents like Schrader to think twice about be voting in favour of bills like fast-track, which progressive groups and labor unions abhor.
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