How Far Left Will the Democrats Go in November?
There's a runoff election in Texas's 7th Congressional District on Tuesday that may give a strong indication of just how far left Democratic candidates will run in November.
The race pits the national Democrats' favorite attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher against a Bernie Sanders acolyte, activist Laura Moser.
What makes the race interesting is that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) tried to sabotage Moser's candidacy by dumping a thick file of opposition research on the press just prior to the March 6 primary.
The unusual move of the national campaign committee to try and undercut one of their own candidates appeared to backfire. Not only did the move enrage national liberals, but local activists were energized so that Moser was able to finish second and force a runoff with Fletcher.
The differences between the two candidates are more a matter of style than substance. This was made evident during a televised debate where the moderator struggled to define any differences between the two candidates.
A mildly exasperated moderator struggled to glean policy differences from the candidates and wondered why it mattered for him to vote for one woman over the other.
Their answers to his query sum up the current Democratic Party, and to people who can't vote in this race — deeply invested Democratic activists and operatives who live outside of the district — each woman is an avatar for opposing sides of a deeply divided party.
Moser promises to excite the liberal base and bring new voters into the fold. Fletcher aims to appeal to Republicans and moderates who are disgusted with Trump and current GOP leadership.
“I believe that I’m the candidate you should vote for because we cannot run the same types of campaigns and expect different results,” said Moser. "I believe with my history of grassroots activism and involvement and bringing new people into the process."
In interviews, forums and television ads, Fletcher leans on her mostly lifelong residence in Houston.
"I disagree with Laura when she says she is the only candidate who can talk to voters from across our community about issues because that's what I've been doing for nearly all of my life," Fletcher said of her volunteer work with the local Planned Parenthood chapter and other Texas progressive groups.
The comment was a subtle jab at Moser, who spent much of her adult life in Washington and moved back to her childhood stomping grounds last year.
"It’s not veiled. It’s not veiled," Moser said. "Her whole thing is who has lived here the longest, and no one in Houston cares," Moser added, noting the sizable immigrant population in the city and district.
"The kind of 'Gone with the Wind' Tara thing doesn’t feel relevant, but it’s not subtle."