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

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As the first Palestinian-American in Congress and a strong advocate for the human rights of Palestinian people, Tlaib has been a logical target for Gottheimer, who has few equals as an Israel-can-do-no-wronglawmaker. Overall, Grim describes him as a centrist "willing to take the fight directly to the squad of freshmen trying to push the party in a progressive direction."

In 2016, Gottheimer flipped a longtime GOP district in northern New Jersey. Since then -- on a range of issues including the US-backed Saudi war on Yemen and predatory banking practices -- he has maneuvered to undermine efforts by progressive Democrats in the House. A prodigious big-check fundraiser, he entered this year's second quarter with almost $5 million in his campaign coffers.

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JIM HIMES (CT-4)

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"Wall Street's Favorite Democrat." That's how a Bloomberg profile described Jim Himes in 2011, with a subtitle: "Jim Himes works to dial back laws that get in the big banks' way." During his decade in Congress, the Connecticut congressman has done much to win Wall Street's favor.

Himes hails from Goldman Sachs, where he worked in its Latin America division and eventually became a vice president. His ties to finance run deep: in 2008, while the industry pillaged low-income and middle-class homes, bankers made sure to steer funding to their ex-colleague's congressional campaign. That election cycle, Himes raised $500,000 from the finance sector, including $150,000 from his old cohorts at Goldman Sachs.

That's proven to be a sound investment. Upon arriving in Washington in 2009, Himes promptly joined the aggressively pro-business, light-regulation New Democrat Coalition, where he served on its "Financial Services Task Force." Himes remains Chair Emeritus of the NDC.

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During the Obama years, Himes worked to undermine the mild regulations that Democrats implemented in the wake of the financial crisis. In 2013, just three years after Congress managed to pass the Dodd-Frank Act, Himes cosponsored legislation to undercut one of its key elements, a provision separating federal insurance from risky swap trades. The Treasury Department opposed the change pushed by Himes and Republican colleagues. The New York Times exposed that two key paragraphs of the bill were literally written by Citigroup, at a time when Himes -- then the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's finance chair -- received more Citigroup funding than any other member of Congress.

Mercifully, that bill died in the Senate. But Himes had more allies when he took his next big swing at financial regulations in 2018, with Trump in the White House and a Republican-controlled Congress. This time, Himes was one of 33 House Democrats who joined Trump's GOP in loosening a host of regulations that included "reporting requirements used to counter racial discrimination in lending practices."

Connecticut's 4th district -- largely middle class in the southwestern corner of the state -- is strongly Democratic and unfriendly to Trump collaboration. Clinton won the district by 23 points in 2016. A savvy challenger could spotlight Himes' subservience to corporate interests and the 29 percent of the time that he voted in line with Trump's positions in 2017-18.

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STENY HOYER (MD-5)

Consummate power broker Steny Hoyer has long served as the number-two Democrat in the House, often using leverage for policy agendas that are unpopular with the party's base but popular with Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. In late 2002, he was among the minority of House Democrats voting to authorize war on Iraq. In 2008, he angered civil-liberties advocates when he helped draft a "compromise bill" with Republicans that expanded government surveillance power and immunized telecom firms for privacy abuses. (Senator Russ Feingold called it "a capitulation.") In 2012, he urged a "grand bargain " budget deal that would cut entitlement programs.

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Hoyer's prodigious corporate services haven't flagged. These days, he's busy obstructing progressive initiatives from Medicare for All to a Green New Deal. (Only 15 House Democrats have a lower lifetime environmental score from the League of Conservation Voters.)

And Hoyer's heavy hand extends well beyond Capitol Hill. Last year, as heard on secretly recorded audio, he overtly pressured a progressive candidate to bow out of a Denver-area congressional primary in deference to an opponent anointed by party leaders.

At age 80, Hoyer represents a southern Maryland district that is two-fifths people of color. For nearly four decades, he has routinely coasted to re-election while lavishly funded by corporate interests. Next year he'll face at least one primary challenger.

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Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. 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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