- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2022

A wave of retirements by House Democrats in solidly blue districts is paving the way for a vastly larger far-left “Squad” after the November midterm elections, according to liberal groups.

So far, 25 House Democrats have announced that they will not return next year, and 14 of those lawmakers won their seats last cycle by at least a 25-point margin. Democratic candidates in a dozen of those races are backed by liberal or far-left organizations.

“A bunch of retirements in fairly safe Democratic districts represent an additional huge opportunity for progressives to elect more game-changing leaders of the future,” Progressive Change Campaign Committee spokeswoman Caitlin Lang told The Washington Times.

She said the anticipated Republican takeover of the House is an “overvalued stock” and that Democrats can rally their base by passing a popular and liberal agenda.

Still, Democratic incumbents are facing a tough election cycle that historically favors the party not occupying the White House. Republicans need a net pickup of just five House seats to win the majority.

Liberals have been gaining electoral momentum in the House since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York upset longtime Rep. Joe Crowley in the 2018 Democratic primary and, joined by several other far-left freshmen, ushered in the era of the Squad on Capitol Hill.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Chris Taylor noted that the overwhelming majority of seats being vacated are in safe Democratic districts. He said Democrats are in a good position to maintain the House majority regardless of where the party’s candidates fit on the liberal spectrum.

“All cycle, DCCC has hit record-breaking fundraising hauls that will power our work to hold the majority in battleground races across the country. Republicans are headed into a messy primary season where their party leader is endorsing against incumbent members,” Mr. Taylor said.

Underscoring the party’s lurch to the left, the DCCC last year ceased “blacklisting” consultants and firms that backed primary challengers to Democratic incumbents. The blacklisting tended to hamstring liberal candidates.

The party changed its policy months after Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney became chair of the DCCC and after Democrats lost 13 House seats in the 2020 elections.

For November, far-left candidates are poised to step into many of the vacated Democratic seats.

One of those seats is in Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes most of Louisville and its suburbs.

State Rep. Attica Scott, a liberal Black woman, is vying for the seat being vacated by Rep. John A. Yarmouth and has picked up an endorsement from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. She launched her campaign in July before Mr. Yarmouth announced his retirement.

Ms. Scott is known for championing liberal social justice issues, such as ending qualified immunity that shields police from civil lawsuits and abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Justice Democrats, Way to Win and Indivisible are among the liberal or far-left organizations throwing their support behind candidates in primary races.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Justice Democrats are backing state Rep. Summer Lee in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, which includes Pittsburgh and its southern suburbs of mostly Black and working-class voters.

Rep. Michael Doyle, a Democrat, has represented the district for more than a quarter century. He announced in October that he won’t run for reelection.

Ms. Lee hopes to become the first Black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress. She unseated a 20-year incumbent when she first ran for office in 2018.

Former state attorney Aramis Ayala has the support of liberals in Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Rep. Val Demmings, the Democrat who now holds the seat, has announced a run for Senate. Ms. Ayala became known across the state in 2017 when Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, removed her from handling first-degree murder cases because she refused to pursue death penalties.

Other liberals are challenging vulnerable longtime incumbents or running in newly drawn districts that are safe for Democrats.

In Illinois, Justice Democrats endorsed community organizer Kina Collins for the 7th Congressional District around Chicago. Ms. Collins, a gun control activist, is challenging veteran Democratic incumbent Rep. Danny K. Davis.

Longtime Rep. Carolyn Maloney is facing a challenge in her New York City district from Justice Democrats-endorsed Rana Abdelhamid, an activist who founded the Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment to advance immigrant and refugee women and girls.

In 2020, Ms. Maloney eked out a primary win against another liberal challenger.

Not all Democrats think their left flank is poised for a takeover of the caucus. Rep. Daniel Kildee of Michigan, who is at risk of losing his seat to a Republican, said the districts determine who goes to Congress.

“Everyone can weigh in, but we’ve seen cases where we got a vigorous primary, and typically what we find is the people that get elected are a reflection of those districts,” said Mr. Kildee, a chief deputy whip in the House. “I’m actually less concerned about those sort of safe seats as I am the marginal seats, which now includes me.”

House Republicans who expect to take control of the chamber in November say far-left Democrats will extend their time in the majority.

“As Democrats move further to the radical left, they move further away from mainstream Americans. They are destined to be in the deep minority for a long time to come if they take this path. Not my grandpa’s Democrat Party,” said Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the first name of Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Michael Doyle.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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