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BAD BLUES: Some of the House Democrats Who Deserve to Be 'Primaried'

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Cooper is in no way stingy when it comes to limitless war spending; last year, he supported Trump's record-breaking $717 billion Pentagon budget. Nor is Cooper a cost-cutter when it comes to federal surveillance; in 2013, he was one of three dozen Democrats on The Atlantic's list of "Exactly Who to Blame in Congress for Authorizing Government Spying."

As far back as the early 1990s, during an earlier 12-year stint in Congress representing a rural district that did not include Nashville, Cooper fought healthcare reform that might impinge on insurance company profits. In turn, the industry heavily backed his failed US Senate bid in 1994; Cooper tried to make light of his donors: "I thought about only accepting money from Mother Teresa -- but then she's in the healthcare business."

A primary challenger would have little trouble explaining to voters why Cooper should be retired after 30 years in Congress.



In 2018, Data for Progress found that 64 percent of Democrats support a Green New Deal, reflecting the view that a massive government commitment to fighting climate change is the only way to save the planet -- while providing jobs and economic justice. A Hart research poll pegged support at 83 percent among likely Democratic primary voters. Given these numbers, how can a congressmember in a Democratic district stay in office when plainly doing the bidding of our nation's largest polluters?

Eight-term Congressman Jim Costa is a fossil from another era. Representing a Latino-majority district in California's central San Joaquin Valley, Costa has extracted a political career from the pockets of big oil and big agriculture. In 2015, he was one of 28 House Democrats to vote with the GOP to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline . In 2011, he was one of only 19 House Democrats who voted to prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions . He has a lifetime score of just 49 percent from the League of Conservation Voters -- the third lowest among all Democrats in the House.

Costa's decision to side with big business over planetary health makes sense when you glance at his campaign coffers. Last election cycle, agribusiness donated $492,047 to Costa and the energy sector chipped in another $174,055. Together, that represents 36 percent of his contributions. He is a member of both corporate-allied Democratic caucuses in Congress -- the New Democrat Coalition and the Blue Dog Coalition. The right-wing Koch Industries PAC made him one of only four Democrats in Congress to receive its funding in the 2018 cycle.

Costa has also been allied with Saudi Arabia in its horrific war in Yemen. Last year, he was one of just five House Democrats to join with Republicans to pass a farm bill that included a provision preventing Congress from blocking Saudi military assistance. "Jim Costa's Unconscionable Yemen Votes" was the headline of a Sacramento Bee editorial .



Henry Cuellar is in his fifteenth year of representing a south Texas district that's now two-thirds Hispanic. Yet, mis-representing this thoroughly Democratic district (which went for Clinton over Trump by a margin of 20 percent ), Cuellar voted with Trump 68.8 percent of the time in 2017-18 as calculated by FiveThirtyEight -- including on bills weakening the Dodd-Frank Act, privatizing veterans' healthcare and opposing a carbon tax. No Democrat in Congress had a higher vote-with-Trump score than Cuellar; none had a higher ranking in 2018 from the US Chamber of Commerce.

Although nominally a Democrat, he is close to Texas Republicans like former Governor Rick Perry, now Trump's Secretary of Energy. Cuellar crossed party lines to endorse George W. Bush for president in 2000. He's one of the rare Democrats to receive Koch Industries PAC funding, including a donation in 2019.

Roughly 25 percent of Cuellar's constituents live below the poverty line , and Cuellar often votes to make their lives more difficult. In 2015, for example, he was one of only a dozen Democrats who voted with Republicans to eliminate Obamacare coverage for employees who work 30 to 39 hours a week. Last year, he supported a bill that would result in a $3 wage cut for agricultural guest workers, to $8.34 an hour.

On immigration, Cuellar is also out of touch with a district in which 22 percent of residents are foreign-born (almost all from Latin America). In 2014, Cuellar joined Texas GOP Senator John Cornyn in launching a bill to speed up deportation of unaccompanied minors from Central America, allowing border patrol agents to turn away vulnerable children at the border. (Fox News hailed Cuellar for his "hardline talk" and for being "One of Obama's Biggest Critics on Border Crisis.") In 2017, he was one of 11 House Democrats who voted with Republicans to allow the government to deport or detain immigrants "suspected" of gang membership, even if never arrested for any crime.

Cuellar has regularly voted to restrict abortion rights. Both NARAL and Planned Parenthood Action Fund rank him among the worst Democrats on women's reproductive health.

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Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched Bernie Delegates Network. Solomon (more...)
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