On Wednesday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC announced its slate of endorsements for the 2022 midterms. Among them was Shontel Brown, the newly elected incumbent from Ohio’s 11th district, who defeated Bernie Sanders ally Nina Turner in a primary for 2021’s special election to fill the seat.
Turner is running again, forcing a rematch between herself and Brown. Despite being the obvious choice for anyone with any “progressive” bona fides, the CPC threw its support behind Brown, who won her 2021 primary with the help of corporate PAC money, the Israel lobby, and Republican donors.
This is the latest in a series of embarrassing decisions by the CPC under the leadership of Pramila Jayapal. First, they let Nancy Pelosi skate to another term as Speaker in the beginning of the current Congressional term. Then they allowed Senate Democrats to kill Bernie’s minimum wage amendment to the American Rescue Plan without threatening to hold up the bill until it was approved. Then, they famously broke their promise to block passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill without assurances that Build Back Better would pass alongside it.
And now they’re endorsing Shontel Brown over Nina Turner. The caucus is explaining their decision as “pro forma,” meaning that it’s a simple formality for the caucus to endorse their own incumbent members. But this defense rings hollow when you consider that Shontel Brown seemingly joined the CPC for the sole purpose of fending off Turner’s challenge.
Brown joined the progressive caucus in January, just a day before Nina Turner announced her candidacy. Brown also caucuses with the New Democrats, a Third Way centrist block which prides itself on being “pro-economic growth” and “fiscally responsible.” Their raison d’etre is to be the ideological counterweight to the progressive caucus.
That Shontel Brown joined both is a testament to each of their meaninglessness. It also demonstrates that the CPC’s endorsement is apparently for sale to whoever ponies up the dues necessary to join.
David Sirota, political reporter and senior adviser to Bernie’s 2020 campaign, tweeted the following in response to the news:
Sirota is far too smart and precise with his words to use a phrase like “selling out” accidentally. In fact, he’s always been careful to stop short of leveling such accusations against House progressives, even when he’s disagreed with them. If his analysis is correct, and that this endorsement can be read as Jayapal jockeying for position inside a party that’s certain to endure a crushing defeat this November, then the decision to endorse Brown is as idiotic as it is infuriating.
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Photos: Gage Skidmore, Elvert Barnes