Back on Tuesday, two Blue Dogs—Rep. Jason Altmire in PA-12 and Rep. Tim Holden in PA-17—were defeated for re-election in Democratic primaries. This may not have made national political news, but rest assured that every single Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives took notice.
When an incumbent loses a primary, it is a big deal to members of Congress. When two lose, it is a very big deal. When two Blue Dogs lose challenges from the left—Holden to progressive challenger Matt Cartwright and Altmire to the labor-supported Rep. Mark Crtiz—it suggests a shift in power.
Blue Dogs became famous by joining with Republicans to water down, or block entirely, Democratic legislative efforts. With Democratic primary voters dumping two of the remaining twenty-five Blue Dogs in one day, than we are nearing a point where the ability of Blue Dogs to thwart the rest of the Democratic Party is coming to an end.
How this works is pretty simple. If Democratic primary voters keep kicking Democrats who frequently side with Republicans and Wall Street out of office, then all Democrats in Congress will be motivated not to side with Republicans and Wall Street. So, if Blue Dogs and other corporate Democrats keep losing Democratic primaries, pretty soon we will have a more effective and progressive Democratic party.
On June 5 in New Mexico, we have a chance to hand the Blue Dogs another loss. In the Democratic primary for NM-01, two of the three major candidates are outspoken progressive Eric Griego and conservative, anti-labor Marty Chavez. Making sure that Griego wins and Chavez loses will keep the anti-Blue Dog momentum going, and be an important step toward building a better Democratic Party.
Griego is in a strong position to win this primary. Because of national grassroots support, he is ahead of Chavez in fundraising. Back in March, Griego won the local Democratic Party’s preprimary nominating convention, leading analysts to start calling him the frontrunner. Griego is running an extremely well-organized voter turnout campaign, and will hit the airwaves with ads this week.
This is a race where a small donation will make a big difference. Not only will it go to a smart campaign that uses money effectively, and not only will it go to a candidate who has been endorsed by both co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but it will play a strategic role in a larger movement that has a real shot to build a better Democratic Party.