Can liberals win competitive Senate elections? Barnes and Fetterman intend to demonstrate it.

In Washington Not simply the balance of power between the parties, but also inside them, is on the line in this year’s crucial Senate battles. That requires the Democratic Party’s left-flank to demonstrate its ability to triumph in crucial situations.

The dispute between the liberal and moderate wings of the party has raged for years over whether candidates should adopt progressive positions and programs to energize the base or strike a middle ground to win over swing votes. The moderates have long had the upper hand and have seen their political ideology implemented.

Liberals are ecstatic about the prospect of proving the skeptics in their own party wrong with progressive candidates Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin and John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, and they are already fearing what they would say if their candidates lose.

Max Berger, a progressive strategist and former assistant to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign, stated, “Progressives do need to demonstrate that we can win ‘battleground’ statewide elections and that our candidates can represent the party successfully. “Until we’ve demonstrated that we can do it, the question will always remain.”

Liberals see opportunity and risk as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania may very well decide who controls the Senate.

The co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said, “Those are two key races for us, and we’ve got to do everything we can to win.”

And they are already resignedly anticipating the friendly fire they expect to encounter if their candidates fail.

Randy Bryce, a union leader from Wisconsin and former congressional candidate, remarked that whenever a progressive loses, they “always wielded a sledgehammer on all of us.”

Some progressive House candidates recently suffered high-profile defeats, which moderates see as proof that they are unable to win swing districts. Republicans also succeeded in bringing down the whole Democratic congressional slate in 2020 by using the slogan “defund the police,” which was supported by only a few left-leaning candidates.

Currently, the Senate races this year constitute one of the most difficult electoral obstacles for the contemporary progressive movement.

While left-wing insurgent groups like Justice Democrats frequently challenge the “Democratic establishment” in House and other down-ballot primaries, they have yet to engage in conflict and prevail in a top-tier Senate race, which is subject to far more scrutiny and money than even a high-profile House race.

These organizations will support progressive candidates in open Senate elections, but they haven’t yet found a candidate to challenge a Democrat in office.

It’s more difficult to move directly from A or AA to the majors, and we’re still developing the farm team,’ Berger said. The best-in-class Justice Democrats haven’t put up a candidate for the Senate because they’re tactically cautious and, I guess, don’t believe they can win.

In the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary of 2016, Fetterman ran against Katie McGinty, who was the front-runner for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Many on the left complained that Fetterman would have triumphed if only given the chance after McGinty went on to lose the general election to Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. He now has the opportunity. (Toomey won’t be seeking reelection.)

Barnes also first gained notoriety in 2016 when she challenged a moderate Democratic incumbent for the Wisconsin state Senate but lost in the primary.
But after winning statewide elections for lieutenant governor, both Fetterman and Barnes persuaded party officials that they could win U.S. Senate contests.

Both candidates faced stiff opposition from more moderate opponents in their primaries, but Barnes ultimately defeated every opponent before a single ballot was cast, while Fetterman easily defeated Rep. Conor Lamb in his May primary.

However, both have discovered the advantages of repositioning themselves in the general election to make moderate Democrats, independents, and even some disaffected Republicans feel comfortable voting for them. Fetterman is touting his law-and-order credentials, and Barnes is running for office alongside moderates like Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

He’s not running as progressive as he did in the past, according to his entire campaign. But Barnes is unquestionably one of us,” Bryce added.

Barnes and Fetterman are particularly strong candidates, according to Nayyera Haq, a host for the Sirius XM Progressive channel and a former employee of the Obama White House, because they come across as genuine and unthreatening to voters who might not share the most progressive views on race and gender.

Since they don’t fit the stereotype of the progressive boogeyman, she continued, “swing voters are often able to focus on the policies the candidates are promoting.” “Legalizing marijuana is very well-liked. Gun control is also. A public health insurance option is equivalent. The issue with basing political messaging out of Washington is that what the majority of Americans support is somehow classified as progressive.

Regardless of ideology, voters will ultimately support a candidate who will stay true to their Wisconsin roots, according to Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler.

“In states like Wisconsin, the issue is frequently less one of the left against right spectrum and more one of who the populace believes to be on their side. This is how a state elects candidates like Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson, according to Wikler. People that connect on a level of ‘This person gets me and is going to fight for me’ are the common denominator. That’s where Mandela’s abilities really stand out.

In order to win in swing states, progressives need to highlight their pro-labor, pro-worker, and populist credentials — and avoid being labeled as a “pronoun progressive,” who are seen as being more concerned with waging the culture war than raising wages, according to Irene Lin, who oversaw communications for Democratic Senate primary candidate Tom Nelson, who withdrew to endorse Barnes.

Lin asserted that if individuals find themselves on the losing side of cultural conflicts, that is when they lose. Be against pronoun progressivism.

The rejection of one liberal candidate is seen as a rejection of all progressive candidates, according to many on the left, who believe their side is held to a standard that does not apply to moderates.

They contend that if Mandela and Barnes lose, it won’t be due to their political ideologies but rather the fact that Democrats are facing too many electoral obstacles this year and that Republican super PACs are too well-funded, and that many moderate Democrats will likely fall along with them.

They are going through what Democrats in close elections go through from all sides of the coalition. There is nothing special or distinctive about this. According to radical Working Families Party national director Maurice Mitchell, every one of these races will be competitive. “The water we’re all swimming in is the problem,”

However, when leveling typical charges of extremism against Fetterman and especially Barnes, Republicans have discovered more justification than they might have against another Democrat.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, Barnes’ opponent, recently used Barnes’ appearances on Russian-funded TV in 2015 and 2016—during which he criticized American police—to portray Barnes as an extreme figure.

Furthermore, Mehmet Oz, a well-known TV doctor, and his supporters, who are Republicans, have extensively utilized Fetterman’s open support for criminal justice reform and his work on the state parole board in their attack advertisements.

“On the surface, Republicans are employing the same strategy in every race: trying to paint Democrats as extreme socialists on the far left. This is absurd, but it has some power, said Matt Bennett, executive vice president of Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank that has frequently fought the left in House primary contests. Democrats need to persuade voters that they are the true center of their communities and that Republicans are the extremes.