Democrat Party Sweeps Aside Progressive Grassroots

Hillary wins Pennsylvania Robyn Beck AFP Getty
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

Hillary Clinton moved closer to finally dispatching her rival, Vermont socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, in the Northeastern primaries on Tuesday. She swept four contests, losing only the smallest state, Rhode Island, to Sanders.

It is perhaps fitting that even though Clinton lost Rhode Island, she netted seven more delegates from the Ocean State than her rival. There is perhaps no better example for how the Democrat establishment completely routed progressive activists on Tuesday.

The five states voting on Tuesday — Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island — form part of the foundation of the Democrat Presidential coalition. Rhode Island hasn’t voted for a Republican for President in 32 years. The others last voted for the GOP 28 years ago.

Four of the states have only one Republican member in Congress. While Pennsylvania is a Democrat bastion for President, it is still a highly competitive state for most other offices.

In the wake of his loss on Tuesday, Sanders vowed to continue his primary campaign, but as a means of influencing the Democrat party platform, rather than winning the nomination.

“The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be,” Sanders said in a statement. “That’s why we are in this race until the last vote is cast.”

From the first days of the campaign, Clinton has assured her supporters that she had a firewall to fend off Sanders. As the socialist Senator kept notching wins, Clinton’s “wall” moved further back in the primary calendar.

With Clinton’s win on Tuesday, coupled with her landslide victory in New York last week, the Democrat frontrunner finally found her wall against Sanders and his progressive grassroots movement.

Unsurprisingly, Clinton’s strongest line of defense against Sanders turned out to be the Northeastern “Acela coridor.” It is the intellectual, financial, and political center of the Democrat establishment.

Clinton’s win was the only sign of the party flexing its institutional muscle, though. In Maryland, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the party establishment’s choice to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Mikuliski, fended off a spirited challenge from progressive hero Rep. Donna Edwards.

In Pennsylvania, virtually every national Democrat, including President Obama, worked aggressively to pull Kathleen McGinty across the line in her primary battle against former Rep. and retired Admiral Joe Sestak. McGinty was the Democrat party’s choice to take on GOP Sen. Pat Toomey in November.

Sestak was the Democrat nominee in 2010, losing to Toomey in the GOP wave election. He has been a hero of progressive activists nationwide for his forceful opposition to the Iraq War.

His insurgent campaign was on the cusp of winning Tuesday’s primary until last week, when the Democrat party establishment pulled every lever it had to help McGinty.

Also in Pennsylvania, Democrat party leaders successfully defeated 11-term Rep. Chaka Fattah in a crowded primary. Fattah is facing federal corruption charges. The Democrat mayor of Philadelphia and PA Governor Tom Wolf all campaigned against Fattah, who had considerable local grassroots support. Fattah was defeated by a 36-year veteran of the Pennsylvania legislature.

In Baltimore City, Maryland state Senator Cathrine Pugh defeated former Mayor Shelia Dixon in a very competitive primary for Mayor. Pugh racked up endorsements from most of the city’s Democrat establishment against Dixon, who still has signficant support among the city’s progressive activists.

Beginning with Hillary Clinton, the Democrat party establishment asserted itself up and down the ballot in the five states voting on Tuesday. The Sanders phenomenon, fueled by enormous energy from progressive activists, ran up against the Democrat party establishment firewall. Insurgent candidates down ballot were collateral damage.

The Clinton Empire struck back.