The Squad just got bigger, as AOC, Ilhan Omar and other progressives win their House races

Whether it’s Biden or Trump, The Squad ‘will hold the next administration accountable to a bold governing agenda,’ director of key progressive group says

Griffin Connolly
Wednesday 04 November 2020 05:13 GMT
2020 election results
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The four freshman Democratic congresswomen of colour known as The Squad have all either won re-election or are expected to do so — and they’ve gained several new progressive allies in Congress.

Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan each were on track for double-digit victories on Tuesday, cementing their place in Washington for at least another two years.

Five other Democratic House candidates endorsed by Justice Democrats, the progressive group that helped sweep The Squad into office in 2018, were on the ballot on Tuesday.

Two — Jamaal Bowman in New York’s 16th congressional district and Cori Bush in Missouri’s 1st congressional district — have already won their races.

A third, Marie Newman in Illinois’ 3rd congressional district, is heavily favoured to win hers.

“The Squad is continuing to grow and it will hold the next administration accountable to a bold governing agenda,” said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats.

That goes for either a Biden administration or a Trump administration.

“The Congress Joe Biden could likely be inheriting is far more progressive than the one Barack Obama inherited in 2009 and can help make the Biden administration the most progressive administration in generations,” Ms Rosas said.

Legislatively speaking, The Squad’s victories in its first two years in Congress have been few.

Congress did not pass a bill to establish a single-payer health care system.

Millions of young Americans have not been liberated from their monthly student loan payments.

Universities are still cashing tuition checks from students and their parents, not the government.

But, as Ms Omar told The Independent earlier this year, “change takes time.”

And for progressives who are seeking to fundamentally transform the Democratic party by pulling it to the left on key issues such as health care and climate change solutions, that means they have to pick off moderate Democratic incumbents through aggressive primary challenges.

That’s exactly what Mr Bowman did in New York in July, knocking off 16-term Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In March, Ms Newman ousted eight-term Illinois Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski, one of the last remaining pro-life Democrats in the chamber who has had a target on his back within his own party for years.

Mr Bowman tweeted on Tuesday that he was “humbled” to be elected to represent the district where he has been a public school administrator for several years.

“I’m ready to get to work to disrupt the status quo and deliver for our families,” Mr Bowman said.

“Hold me accountable. Push me and my colleagues. I’m going to need you in Congress with me. There’s so much work to do.”

In Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district, Kara Eastman, another progressive nominee endorsed by Justice Democrats, was in a battle with GOP Congressman Don Bacon that was too close to call on Tuesday.

Mr Bacon beat Ms Eastman by 2 percentage points in 2018, frustrating Democrats who felt they would have won the district with a more moderate candidate.

In fact, Ms Eastman’s progressive platform is so controversial among some Democrats in the district that the former Democratic congressman who lost the seat to Mr Bacon in 2016, Brad Ashford, has endorsed the Republican incumbent.

Ms Eastman spoiled Mr Ashford’s comeback attempt by vanquishing him for good in the 2018 Democratic primary.

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