Elections 2020,  National

Progressive ‘Squad’ Secures Primary Victories

After a decisive victory by Ilhan Omar, D-MN, in the Democratic primaries, the group of progressive female house representatives known as “The Squad” have secured victories in their respective districts. Due to all of the Squad’s districts being deeply Democratic, it has been all but officially determined that they have guaranteed another two years in Washington.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, was the first from the Squad to claim victory in the primaries on June 23, securing almost 73% of the vote. Ocasio-Cortez faced off against the Wall Street-backed CNBC correspondent and anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, who was only able to raise $2 million in comparison to Ocasio-Cortez’s $10.5 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.

“When we won in 2018, we were called a fluke by politicians, by the media, by so many people who tend to be part of this powerful establishment,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We’re all here and we are all together as a movement to advance what’s important, and to stand up for the right, even if standing up for the right thing is the hard thing to do.”

On Aug. 4, Rashida Tlaib, D-MI, became the second member of the Squad to beat out her opponent, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones. Jones had once beat Tlaib in 2018 to serve the remainder of former Rep. John Conyer’s term. Tlaib has been an outspoken advocate for the working class in one of the nation’s poorest districts, which helped her secure her victory and widen her margin.

“Voters sent a clear message that they’re done waiting for transformative change, that they want an unapologetic fighter who will take on the status quo and win,” Tlaib stated.

After facing several primary contenders in the Aug. 11 primary, with the most high-profile opponent being Antone Melton-Meaux, Ilhan Omar was able to win her district with 58.2% of the vote. Melton-Meaux was able to raise more than $4.1 million, nearly as much as Omar’s $4.3 million raised. Omar’s 2018 victory has remained historical as she became the first Somali-American and the first of two Muslim women, alongside Tlaib, to be elected to congress.

“Everything in this primary has felt troubling, from the money coming to the overt xenophobic messaging, but this is the Fifth. This is Minneapolis. This is the place not only to make an overt statement about how excited they are to have immigrants in their neighborhood, but they voted one into Congress,” stated Omar.

The last member of the Squad, Ayanna Pressley, D-MA, won her uncontested Democratic primary on Sept. 1 and may not face a Republican in the Nov. 3 general election since none have qualified to have their names on the ballot. In 2018, Pressley won in an upset over former Rep. Michael Capuano, a longtime progressive Democrat.

The responses from Republicans nationwide have varied, with the most notable response from Georgian Republican congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene. After posting an image on social media of Greene posing with an AR-15 rifle next to the faces of members of the Squad, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone announced that the post had been taken down due to violation of community guidelines.

“This is about our future. This is the American dream. You see the Democrats, and they’ve taken a sharp left turn under the influence of the Socialist squad. You look at us and, and this is socialism versus American values and freedom and job creation,” stated South Carolina congressional candidate Nancy Mace.

Prior to the passing of Supreme Court associate justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, members of the Squad looked to motivate both moderate and progressive voters alike as the court is expected to continue making landmark cases on abortion, LGBTQ+ rights and immigration.

Since the death of Ginsburg, members of the Squad like Ocasio-Cortez have continued to push Democrats to turn out to vote in November as a way of ensuring a balanced Supreme Court.

“I think that Democratic voters, right now, it’s less about motivating people around a specific individual to be named to that court,” Ocasio-Cortez stated. “I think we are highly motivated about just making sure that the vacancy is protected and preserved for the next president. I don’t think releasing a list of names really adds to that, and in fact, I think it could risk demoralizing and dividing our party.”

“Right now, the costs outweigh the benefits,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “But as events develop, the calculus could change.”

Florida has seen its own influx of progressive candidates winning in Democratic primaries, most notably the candidate for state attorney in Orange and Osceola County, Monique Worrell. In the wake of the continuing Black Lives Matter movement, Worrell has continued to voice her concerns in the criminal justice system, a pressing concern among the progressive electorate.

“If you want to change the system, you must change the player,” Worrell stated.

Featured image: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at South By Southwest event. Unmodified photo by nrkbeta used under a Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/30w8vbA)

Check out other recent articles from the Florida Political Review here.

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