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Robert Reich: A Special Report On Tuesday’s Primaries – OpEd


Tuesday’s primaries gave us a preview of what to expect for the rest of primary season, with a slew of big wins and some brutal losses.


First, the good:

In Pennsylvania’s 12th district, progressive Summer Lee narrowly overcame millions of outside money to defeat union-busting lawyer Steve Irwin. Her victory is a huge deal given the last minute flood of big money and vicious attack ads she faced. She’s now poised to become Pennsylvania’s first Black congresswoman.

Also in Pennsylvania, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman handily defeated centrist Rep. Conor Lamb. Lamb has frequently gone against the party during his tenure in the House and counts Joe Manchin as a close friend. Fetterman was a key figure in protecting Joe Biden’s victory in the state in 2020, and supports ending the filibuster, codifying Roe v Wade, and raising the minimum wage, among other key progressive policies.

In Oregon’s 5th district, progressive Jamie McLeod-Skinner is handily leading centrist Rep. Kurt Schrader, best known for helping tank an enormously popular drug pricing reform bill and being one of Big Pharma’s favorite lawmakers. McLeod-Skinner overcame over $2 million in outside spending in her surprise win. Schrader also has the privilege of being close friends with Joe Manchin.

And the not-so-good:

In North Carolina’s 4th district, the same outside groups that tried to defeat Summer Lee and Jamie McLeod-Skinner dropped $3.4 million to defeat progressive Nida Allam. Allam would have been the state’s first Muslim congresswoman, and her loss shows that the power of big money hasn’t waned.

In North Carolina’s 1st district, $2.8 million in outside spending helped defeat progressive Erica Scott, boosting anti-abortion Democrat Don Davis to victory. As a state legislator, Davis repeatedly voted with Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood and supported anti-choice measures. He is set to become the House’s most anti-abortion Democrat.


In Pennsylvania’s Republican primary for governor, Big Lie supporter and January 6th insurrection attendee Doug Mastriano emerged victorious. Mastriano was directly involved in a scheme to overturn the 2020 election by sending an alternate slate of pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College. In Pennsylvania, the governor appoints the secretary of state — meaning if Mastriano wins, he will appoint the person responsible for overseeing the 2024 election. He’s one of the most radical Republicans on the ballot this November.

My two main takeaways: Our democracy is still at risk as more Trump Republicans win primaries, and corporate PAC spending shows that corporate interests are determined to crush the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Summer Lee, Nida Allam, and Erica Scott ran in *safe blue seats*, yet outside interests poured millions into the coffers of their centrist opponents to try and defeat them. It’s a disgrace that the Democratic Party is letting its primary process be overtaken by big money like this.

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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