While Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) appears to be currently safe from a primary challenge from his left, there remains a “real” Democratic divide in the state as liberal groups target the incumbent over upcoming trade deals, according to Roll Call’s Rothenblog.
Liberal groups have been pressuring Wyden — the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade, to oppose President Obama’s call to for “fast-track” authority on trade deals and the Trans Pacific Partnership.
In its report, Rothenblog highlights a February survey commissioned by Democracy for America that found half of Oregon voters would be less likely to vote for Wyden if he supported fast track authority and the TPP — with 63 percent of Oregonians opposing TTP and 73 percent opposing fast track.
Reports indicate that liberal groups have been protesting to pressure Wyden on the trade deals. And, as Rothenblog notes, The Hill recently reported liberal groups are also threatening a primary challenge — notably MoveOn.Org and DFA. The report indicated that DFA is eyeballing Peter DeFazio (D-OR) as a possible primary challenger. DeFazio, according to the Hill, said he is not interested.
Further, as Rothenblog reports, as of now there is not much of a challenge from the left emerging.
“Until there is a credible challenger, any talk about Wyden losing a primary should be dismissed. In its release, DFA boasted 24,892 members in Oregon, but that is likely to be a small fraction of the electorate,” the report reads. “That would have been 4.5 percent of the competitive Democratic Senate primary electorate in 2008, and 1.4 percent of general election voters that same year.”
The report concludes that although a primary challenge to Wyden at this point is unlikely the divide within a Democratic party is becoming more visible and could grow.
For now, the anti-Wyden effort looks like saber-rattling by progressive groups. A week before the Oregon push, MoveOn.org publicized a survey showing that after hearing nearly a dozen nice quotes from and about Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, early primary and caucus goers wanted her to run for president.
While a Warren challenge to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the presidential race isn’t likely at this point, and a primary challenge to Wyden is unlikely to materialize, there actually is stirring of a rift on the Democratic side between the populist wing and a wing that is viewed as too close to Wall Street. Republican primaries receive virtually all of the attention now, but we may not be far from some serious Democratic primaries, particularly if the party loses the White House next year.