Brown’s loss to Nina Turner, the former state senator and close ally of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, is a muscle flex in the Democratic establishment, after South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn and the Congressional Black Caucus stepped in to campaign for Brown.
Turner conceded to Brown on Tuesday night.
“Tonight my friends, we looked across the Promised Land, but for this campaign, tonight, we will not cross the river,” Turner said.
This could be a sign that the progressives’ hopes of ousting other Democratic lawmakers in next year’s primaries will meet strong resistance from the party establishment – backed by the same coalition of pragmatic black voters. and older, moderate white voters who took President Joe Biden to victory in last year’s presidential primary.
Brown will be the big favorite to win the Nov. 2 special election to replace former Rep. Marcia Fudge, who has stepped down to become President Joe Biden’s secretary of housing and urban development in the heavily Democratic district.
Along with Brown and Turner, 11 other Democratic candidates were on the ballot.
The race was a proxy for the broader generational and ideological battles Democrats wage in Washington. He drew Sanders, an independent who caucus with Democrats and other leading progressives in the district to campaign for Turner, while Clyburn, the No.3 House Democrat, and other leading figures aligned with the ‘establishment have come down to Cleveland to support Brown.
Turner entered the race as the best-known candidate thanks to the national profile she developed as Sanders’ ally and television substitute during the Vermont senator’s two presidential campaigns.
She is an ally of “the squad,” a group of progressive Democrats who aim to swell their ranks – and influence the party’s political stance – in the 2022 midterm elections.
“There are a lot of other districts that are a lot more competitive – they don’t have the privilege or the luxury of saying ‘Yes,’ Medicare for all ‘. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said during her campaign with Turner. “There aren’t too many Districts like these that can run the country. And so you all have a responsibility for all of us to help us add one more member to lead this fight.”
“I need Nina,” she said. “Please send me Nina. Please.”
But increasing the power of the party’s left flank could come at the expense of other influential Democratic factions. The Congressional Black Caucus stepped in to support Brown, who aligned himself more closely with President Joe Biden and widely praised his work during his first months in office.
Clyburn – a kingmaker in the 2020 Democratic presidential race, where his endorsement catapulted Biden to a massive victory in the South Carolina primary that saw Biden win the Super Tuesday nomination just three days later – a got dragged into the race after rapper and activist Killer Mike, appearing with Turner, said the congressman was “insanely stupid” for not getting more commitments from Biden before approving him.
The moment underscored the reality that – even as she led a locally targeted campaign – Turner couldn’t escape the still lingering resentments of her previous work as one of the most outspoken left-wing critics of the party establishment.
As Turner campaigned on his calls for Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, Clyburn said he was opposed to “sloganeering” and cited progressive calls to fund the police.
In an interview while campaigning with Brown last weekend, Clyburn said Biden needed as many House allies as he could get.
“I don’t understand why people think the whole agenda has to be yours. This is not how the world works,” Clyburn told CNN. “We have to sit down, find common ground, reconcile the differences and move an agenda forward. That’s what this president does and that’s why he’s been so successful.”
Brown, meanwhile, looked at the image of someone arriving in Washington with connections that could benefit the district.
Although Fudge stayed out of the race, Brown’s campaign ran a TV commercial featuring the next best thing: Fudge’s mom.
In the ad, Fudge’s mother says Brown is her daughter’s protégé. “She shares Marcia’s values and will continue her legacy in Congress,” she said.