- Jaipal was elected president of the Congress Progressive Caucus in 2020.
- The support of five House candidates marked Jayapal’s first personal debut in the mid-term.
- If Democrats lose the House in November, Jayapal would not be surprised if progressives were to blame.
It has been a challenging year for progressives in Congress. After helping to elect Joe Biden president and blue the Senate in 2020, he had hoped for dramatic policy gains in the environment, health care and social justice.
Instead, he looked to key priorities – from voting rights to Biden’s social spending plan – in a Congress that Democrats control by a very narrow margin. Moderate Senators Joe Manchin, DWV, and Kristen Cinemas, D-Ariz., seem to have more influence than the much larger – and growing – liberal wing.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who chairs the Congress Progressive Caucus, is keen to amplify the influence of progressives in November.
Jaipal released its first slate of mid-term ads on Friday. The five she’s recommending for election this year – first shared with USA TODAY – mark Jayapal’s first personal debut in the 2022 election and provide insight into her outlook on the types of candidates she’s looking for. that could help the Progressives win in November.
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The candidates are Nida Allam in North Carolina’s 4th congressional district, Donna Edwards in Maryland’s 4th congressional district, California’s 42nd congressional district, Robert Garcia, Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district, Summer Lee, and Illinois 3rd congressional district Delia Ramirez.
Jayapal told USA Today, “These are the people who understand how to build a collective power, and are really involved in the CPC’s ongoing efforts to leverage our power and strengthen the entire Democratic caucus. will be helpful.”
“We need young people, progressive people, people of color across the country to earn their trust with the Democrats and earn their vote,” he said.
Jayapal acknowledged areas where progress has been slow, but touted the gains he had made with Biden to help struggling families with the global pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout.
“Even though we haven’t got everything we’ve pushed for, the reality is that the organized force of progressives in the House has been the key to our successes, from the American rescue plan to making sure we got the money. People’s pockets, child tax credit, the work we did, the Senate blocked it.”
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“I know how depressing it is, and how many families are still in difficulty,” she said. “But we went from crisis to hardship, and we made incredibly great gains that were blocked by Republicans and some conservative Democrats in the Senate.”
Jayapal spoke to USA Today on the same day as Biden scored his most important victory for progressives: Senate confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the first black woman on the US Supreme Court.
Given historical trends, Biden’s low approval numbers and voters’ concerns about rising inflation, high gas prices and other pocketbook issues, Democrats’ chances of retaining the House are considered slim.
Jaipal, first elected to Congress in 2016, will contribute $5,000 to each campaign before the primaries. She represents Washington’s 7th Congressional District, centered around the Seattle area, and made history as the first South Asian American woman elected to the House.
Jayapal, 56, was elected president of the Congress Progressive Caucus in 2020 after a career as an advocate on immigration and global health issues. Several progressive priorities have been blocked in the interim, including voting rights legislation, police reform and the comprehensive Build Back Better Bill.
“If we can maintain our majority but hopefully increase our majority in the House but also in the Senate, then we have a real shot at getting more things in line,” she said.
Jayapal did not rule out supporting the Senate race. She later mentioned that in the past she has backed against those in power, and did not rule out doing so again in this cycle.
As Democrats value the midterm message, Jayapal said, “I think you have to admit that there are a lot of people who are still struggling. I don’t think we can make it seem like everything.” Great, but it’s kind of a message for a better day.”
If Democrats lose the House in November, Jayapal would not be surprised if progressives were to blame.
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“Progressive people are to blame for everything. It doesn’t matter what we do,” she laughed. “But I think people blame progressives because they don’t like that they see that we have growing power in this country, that the country is with us, Republican, Democratic and independent districts have a lot of these ideas. Something is there.”
Allam, the first Muslim woman to serve in public office in North Carolina, serves on the Durham County Board of Commissioners and was previously a political director for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in 2016. Allam cited the 2015 Chapel Hill murders of three Muslim students – his friends – as influencing his interest in politics. He is endorsed by Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan are the only two Muslim women in Congress. Allum Retired Representative David Price, D.C. is racing to change, and faces several primary challenges.
Edwards previously served in the House from 2008 to 2017. Prior to this, he co-founded the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Edwards is running to replace retired Democratic Representative Anthony Browne, who announced he is running for Maryland attorney general.
Garcia, the former mayor of Long Beach, is running in a newly drawn seat and has received support from several incumbent members of Congress, including California Democratic Senator Alex Padilla. If elected, he would be the first LGBTQ immigrant in Congress.
Lee, a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, is currently running for the seat held by retired GOP Representative Fred Keller. If elected, she would be the first black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress.
Ramirez is a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, and says she is running to be the first Latina congresswoman from the Midwest. She is running for the newly created seat.