Fri, Apr 13, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Liberal ‘warriors’ gather to learn how to win election


The “resistance warriors” are coming.

Hundreds of liberal candidates, most running in state and municipal elections this fall, are streaming into Washington this week as the Democratic Party’s left flank intensifies its push to seize control of Congress, statehouses and local governments across the nation.

They are excited. They are angry. Animated by their opposition to US President Donald Trump, they are ready to fight any calls to moderate their liberal passions.

“We’re at a moment when we need to be unapologetic,” said Greg Edwards, one of a half dozen Democrats running for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 7th district, which is considered a prime pickup opportunity for his party.

An “ardent” supporter of US Senator Bernie Sanders in the last presidential election, Edwards wants a single-payer healthcare system, universal preschool, “debt-free” college and a US$15 per hour minimum wage — and he knocks “centrists” in his own party who may be willing to compromise their liberal values to get elected.

He is not alone.

About 450 like-minded Democrats gathered in Washington yesterday for a four-day conference that offers a new window into intraparty tensions over how to capitalize on the surge in grassroots enthusiasm in the age of Trump.

This collection of energized Democrats, described as “resistance warriors” by organizers, is convinced that their party will lose this fall if it doesn’t embrace a broad slate of uncompromising progressive candidates who deliver “an [US Senator] Elizabeth Warren-style economic populist message,” said Adam Green, cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which coordinated this week’s gathering along with the Sanders-backed Our Revolution.

“Not only can you run on your values and win, but it is necessary to do so in some of these red districts,” Green said.

Liberal icons Sanders and Warren are to headline a program that is designed to give lesser-known Democratic candidates at all levels a crash course on winning in the Trump era.

It is not enough to simply oppose the Republican president, organizers say. Participants will learn how to look good on television, find donors, design Web sites and, perhaps most importantly, develop a message around progressive economic priorities. The progressive movement’s most aggressive allies are expected to be on hand: groups such as Indivisible, Planned Parenthood and the AFL-CIO.

Privately, some Democrats are reluctant to embrace a strategy that appeals mainly to the party’s most liberal voters, particularly when much of the most competitive races this fall will take place in regions Trump won two years ago.

Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist who worked for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, said that tension within the party could be healthy.

“Competitive primaries help organize and help fuel the enthusiasm that’ll help us take control,” he said. “Candidates don’t need to move all to the left or all to the center. They need to come across as running for what they genuinely believe.”

Republicans, meanwhile, are cheering Democratic efforts to move further to the left, certain that candidates who emulate Sanders and Warren will alienate the moderate voters and disaffected Trump supporters who might otherwise back Democrats this fall or sit out the midterm elections altogether.

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