Democrat Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are being targeted in 2024 for primary challenges through a PAC set up by former AOC staffers. Saikat Chakrabarti and Corbin Trent run the No-Excuses PAC. Both were involved in the founding of Brand New Congress and the Justice Democrats, which seek to recruit and elect progressive radicals to Congress. Their poster child, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, is their model Congress member, and both men served on her staff in Washington, D.C.
In the 2018 cycle, these two organizations teamed up to primary sitting Congress members with more progressive candidates. They also picked up a few existing members who had been elected previously. They were successful in surprising incumbents in deep blue districts who did not take them seriously. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted at the time, in the districts where these candidates ran, a glass of water with a “D” on it could win. They are not the candidates who earned Democrats the House majority. In fact, credit is given to their radical rhetoric for Democrat losses in the House in the 2020 cycle.
In 2020, two candidates, Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Marie Newman (D-Ill.), achieved the same Democrat-for-Democrat exchange in deep blue districts during the 2018 cycle. There were no net gains for the party, and outside of these areas, both their primary and general election candidates were defeated. Some were shellacked. Neither group has ever placed a senator nor won an election against a Republican in a red or purple district.
Recently, Sinema and Manchin have acted as a bulwark against eliminating the filibuster. Manchin has also opposed the $1.9 trillion spending package that includes a $15 minimum wage and $350 billion in local aid. The former impedes ramming a radical progressive agenda through the Senate with a simple majority vote. The latter is holding up President Biden’s campaign promise of stimulus payments and bailouts for Democrat strongholds.
The progressive wing finds these positions inexcusable. The quote from Trent explaining why is hysterical:
In an emailed statement to Newsweek on Tuesday, Corbin Trent, the president of the PAC said, “We’d been running ads to pressure them to do the right thing.”
“Manchin moved a little. But we don’t have time to screw around,” Trent continued. “Democrats have a couple years, max, to improve the lives of the American people. If they blow it, Republicans take back over, and then we’ll get another Trumper back in the White House—maybe Trump himself.”
“Senators like Sinema and Manchin seem to think we need more talk and less action in the Senate. If they are dictating the agenda it’ll be hard to hold on to the majority,” the PAC president concluded.
First, it is a sketchy bet to think there will be a full Democrat trifecta at the federal level after 2022. President Biden’s early radical executive orders are not popular, and he has spent his first two weeks underwater in a daily tracking poll. Unions that endorsed him have condemned his actions on climate change and even tribal nations are up in arms. Americans also like a divided government. As we saw under Obama and Trump, wild swings in policy nearly guarantee a correction in the next cycle. The electorate expects compromise, and the progressive agenda is not ascendant.
The two moderate Democrat senators appear to be voting with their constituents’ concerns in mind rather than pure partisan considerations. Both represent states with a Republican trifecta at the state level. Manchin has the additional burden of being a Democrat representing a state that has been going increasingly red, with President Trump earning nearly 70% of the vote in the 2020 election.
There is simply no way Manchin’s voters in West Virginia will tolerate him clearing the way for ramming through an unbridled progressive agenda with a simple majority. He easily defeated a progressive challenger in 2018 and had a much closer race with his Republican challenger in the general election. Manchin is at far greater risk of being beaten by a Republican in 2024 than a progressive challenger.
Likewise, while Arizona went for Biden this cycle by 0.3%, the state has been reliably Republican at all levels for years. While Democrat Mark Kelly defeated Republican Martha McSally this cycle, most observers believe this had more to do with the Trump effect and long-standing enmity with the McCain family. Cindy McCain publicly endorsed Joe Biden, and many believe that had coattails. Like Manchin, Sinema is much more likely to be defeated by a Republican than a progressive challenger in a state with many conservative Democrats.
This PAC appears to be throwing good money after bad in attempting to win statewide elections in states they don’t understand. And Trent is 100% wrong. Allowing Sinema and Manchin to vote in accordance with their political realities at home means Democrats are much more likely to keep those seats in 2024. Just like if the Squad members he helped elect had not been screaming about defunding police departments and supporting riots and looting in public, Democrats might not have lost so many seats in the House.
But this move certainly proves one thing. There is no compromising with the radical left.