One line of pushback we’ve heard against the Primary Colors strategy of targeting errant safe-seat Democrats for primaries is that most of the safe Democrats are with us on most things, and it’s not worth spending money that could be spent on beating Republicans on primary challenges to moderately crappy Democrats. We disagree!
Case in point: Terri Sewell in Alabama’s 7th District. The 7th District is 20 points more Democratic than the national median, so there’s definitely no risk of Sewell losing to a Republican.
But here’s what Sewell’s been up to in this extremely safe district:
- She voted for a bank-written bill that would dismantle key derivatives regulations in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law
- She voted for the polluter-written Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act, which would have exempted natural gas fracking from federal regulation
- She voted against blocking the Keystone XL Pipeline
- She broke with Democrats on a key Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell vote
- She voted with House Republican climate change deniers to block a carbon tax or similar pollution pricing policy.
A member of Congress in a D+20 district should have a sterling environmental record that challenges the Democratic caucus from the left. With the difficult geographic politics of environmental issues, we really don’t have a Democratic vote to spare, and members in safe seats are expected to lead, not merely tread water.
Congresswoman Sewell is the type of politician that progressives need to lean on hardest. We think blogs like Think Progress are making a mistake targeting Democrats like Nick Rahall in WV-03 for bad environmental bills. Yes, this bill is putrid. But Rahall represents an R+14 district. If this is what he needs to do to remain viable in coal country – and he probably does need to do this – fine. We still love him, because he’ll vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker, even though he votes against us on everything else, especially the environment. Terri Sewell, however, has no excuse.