I SAW THE SIEGE: ‘We Were Outnumbered’ On Capitol Hill, Says Congressional Aide

I SAW THE SIEGE: ‘We Were Outnumbered’ On Capitol Hill, Says Congressional Aide

During Black History Month, Zenger News presents “I Saw the Siege,” a series of on-camera interviews with African-American eyewitnesses to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.


“I say a prayer every time I go to work and close that door” following the deadly Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, says a congressional aide who watched it play out in person. Going to work today, he says, is “my own form of PSTD.”

Michael J. McQuerry tells Zenger News that American democracy had a close call when protesters loyal to then-President Donald J. Trump smashed windows, burst through doorways and briefly occupied the nation’s legislative hive.

“I have to make sure we get across what happened, the gravity of it,” he says. “I was there. I saw that. This is serious. We came this close to maybe losing the country. We can’t come that close again.”

COVID-19 pandemic precautions had left the Capitol mostly empty, says McQuerry, putting few people in harm’s way but also leaving most of the building undefended. “You have to realize, on a regular day that complex would have had 10,000 to 15,000 people in it,” he tells Zenger, “but because we were going through the pandemic you might have had 300 to 400 people at that time, who experienced that.”

Michael McQuerry grew up in a tough Detroit neighborhood and saw violence firsthand when he moved to Washington. “After 27 years on Capitol Hill he is considered an elder statesman among his colleagues,” said Andre Johnson.  (Allison Itz/Zenger News)

“If you add that to Capitol police, and the number of people that came in, we were outnumbered,” he says.

McQuerry is a respected staffer currently working for Del. Stacey E. Plaskett (D-V.I.). (plaskett.house.gov)

McQuerry and his boss Del. Stacey E. Plaskett (D-USVI) both planned to be in the House of Representatives chamber for the reading of Electoral College votes, the final step in certifying the election victory of President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Plaskett is a nonvoting delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands but still a House member. McQuerry planned to be in the gallery, social distancing but watching history play out. History had other ideas; he says he feared he would be “squashed.”

Even from the center of the bullseye, McQuerry couldn’t appreciate the urgency of the situation he was in. “I did not go to work that day thinking that an insurrection was going to happen. Who does? So we went to work,” he says.

“And we didn’t really get to see how bad, and how much danger we were facing until two days later, when all the videos came out and you saw people breaking the glass and doing things you could not imagine.”

McQuerry says, “I had never seen violence like that” and the U.S. Capitol attack “was a first for me. Let’s hope I never see it again.”  (Claire Swift/Zenger News)

A Detroit native, McQuerry says he thinks about how easily he could have become a casualty — inside the Capitol, not on the streets where he grew up. “I appreciate being alive,” he says, “because I could have been at the wrong place at the wrong time as easily not be sitting here talking to you.”

McQuerry has worked in Congress for 27 years, and knows every nook and stairwell. He thinks about Eugene Goodman, the U.S. Capitol Police officer who led the mob away from an open Senate chamber door. He took what he called “a symbolic walk” in those hallways before speaking with Zenger News.

From left, Congressional staffer Michael McQuerry,  Andre Johnson of Zenger News and Congressional staffer Jabir McKnight, all members of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, perform the Kappa Diamond salute. The four points of the diamond represent God, family, fraternity and community. Achievement in every field of human endeavor is their motto.  (Allison Itz/Zenger News)

“I took that walk over here from the side of the Senate floor where the police, the Capitol Police Officer, directed them another direction,” he says.

“I took that same walk that he took. And I just wanted to, you know, just to think about what was three weeks prior — the hatred that was in that building, in that dome, in a place that was built by African-American slaves.”

(Edited by David Martosko and Kristen Butler. Visuals Produced by Claire Swift/Jorge Diaz/Allison Itz. Video Editor: Ralph Quattrucci. Director of Photography: Tim Murray.) 

 

Click here to see the complete interview with Mr. McQuerry.



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Leadership Crisis Rocks India’s Main Opposition Party

Leadership Crisis Rocks India’s Main Opposition Party

NEW DELHI—An explosive letter leaked by the Indian Express has set political circles in New Delhi’s power corridors abuzz about the fate of the Indian National Congress—India’s oldest party and the single largest opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As prominent senior leaders call for a complete restructuring of the party, a burgeoning split between older and younger members has been revealed.

The crisis has been brewing for the past five to six years, said Zoya Hasan, professor emerita at the Centre for Political Studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

“It is an unprecedented crisis in Congress’s history,” she said.

The party has been working without a full-time president since Rahul Gandhi resigned in July 2019, after Modi’s was reelected in a landslide for a second consecutive term three months earlier. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul’s mother who was the president of the party from 1998 to 2017, has been serving as interim president.

The party held a seven-hour meeting on Aug. 24 to try and resolve the leadership crisis. However, a day earlier, a letter was made public from 23 senior leaders, including former chief ministers and former cabinet members, to Sonia Gandhi seeking sweeping changes and acknowledging that the youth of the country had backed Modi.

Former Union minister Kapil Sibal and Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, both of whom were reportedly among those who signed the letter, did not respond to questions sent by Zenger News.

 

“If 23 senior leaders send a letter to a party’s president asking for complete restructuring, that itself indicates a serious crisis,” said political scientist Sanjay Kumar, who heads the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, a New Delhi-based research institute.

Kumar said the letter laid bare the divide within the party.

“Younger leaders may still support Rahul Gandhi, some loyalists may also like him,” he said. “But events suggest there is a clear divide between the younger and older generations.”

The history of the party sheds some light on the situation it finds itself in today.

The Congress was founded in 1885 in Bombay (now Mumbai), comprising notable Indians and some Englishmen. Allan Octavian Hume, a retired English civil servant and one of the founding members, described it as a “safety valve” that would inform the colonial administration of the grievances of Indians.

Soon, however, the party became the principal organ of the independence movement and was transformed by Mahatma Gandhi into a formidable political force. After India gained independence from British rule in 1947, the Congress, led by Jawaharlal Nehru, was elected to power and continued to rule without interruption until 1977, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi—Rahul Gandhi’s grandmother—was voted out of office.

She had declared a state of emergency in 1975, allowing her to rule by decree. During the 21-month period, the press was gagged and opposition leaders were jailed.

Indira Gandhi was returned to power in 1980 and served as prime minister until 1984, when she was assassinated by her bodyguards recruited by the Sikh separatist Khalistani movement. Her son (and Rahul Gandhi’s father), Rajiv Gandhi took office after his mother’s death until his assassination in 1991.

During Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure as prime minister, some reforms were initiated in transforming the country from a Soviet-inspired closed economy to a more liberal one, but the complete liberalization agenda was taken up by Rajiv Gandhi’s successor, Congress party member P.V. Narasimha Rao, who served as prime minister from 1991-1996.

Rahul Gandhi, then-Vice President of the Indian National Congress party participates in a “Sadhbhawana Yatra” in Barpeta district, on December 12, 2015. (Courtesy: Biju Boro)

Rajiv’s wife, Sonia Gandhi, was elected president of the party in 1998, leading the party to electoral victory in 2004. The party remained in power, with economist Manmohan Singh as prime minister until  2014, when his tenure ended after a series of corruption scandals and the election of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

Since then, the Congress party has found it difficult to stage a comeback.

“The opposition has been weakened because the Congress is deeply enmeshed in a leadership crisis,” said Hasan, of the Centre for Political Leadership.

Many believe that the Congress is the only party that can challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party’s hegemony at the national level. The party has an absolute majority of 303 among 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament.

“There can be no serious opposition to the BJP without the Congress,” said Hasan. “The regional parties cannot stand up to it.”

“This has long-term impacts on how democracy will function,” said Kumar.

While Rahul Gandhi’s performance as leader in elections has been patchy, many in the party still seem to support him and his family. At the Aug. 24 meeting of the Congress Working Committee, the party’s decision-making organ, it was decided that Sonia Gandhi would continue as interim president. It also authorized her to make organizational changes.

The election of a new party president is scheduled to take place in six months.

Priyanka Gandhi campaigning for Lok Sabha elections in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh on April 9, 2019 (Courtesy: Roshan Abbas Naqvi)

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and other parties have often attacked the Congress for perpetuating family rule.

“The media wants a non-Gandhi (leader for the Congress), the BJP wants a non-Gandhi, but the Congress doesn’t want a non-Gandhi,” said Hasan.

The party may be headed to a split when it elects a new leader.

“Eventually, when the party comes to electing a president formally, I think that is the time when Congress would face a bigger crisis,” said Kumar.  “A split is imminent.”

Some of the parties born out of these splits have become regional behemoths.

“They may not help the party win elections, but the Gandhi surname has kept the flock together,” said Kumar.

In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index released in January, India dropped 10 places, to 51st out of 165 independent states and two territories. The report cited “erosion of civil liberties” in the country as among the main reason for the downturn.

(Edited by Siddharthya Roy and Judy Isacoff.)



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Political Mudslinging in India Following Bollywood Actor’s Mysterious Death

Political Mudslinging in India Following Bollywood Actor’s Mysterious Death

MUMBAI, India—Political and social groups are raising questions about the death of popular Indian actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who was found hanged in his Mumbai apartment on June 14. Speculation about his death, which police reported as accidental, has ranged from alleged suicide to suspected murder.

The Central Bureau of Investigation – the Indian equivalent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation — officially took over the case on Aug. 19 with permission from the Supreme Court of India. A three-member Special Investigative Team was designated to investigate the case.

Rajput, 34, was one of the few actors to successfully transition from Indian television to the Hindi film industry. His last film “Dil Bechara” which was released posthumously on Disney+Hotstar, got 95 million views in 24 hours.

In the immediate aftermath of Rajput’s death, the Mumbai police, who report to the Maharashtra state government, undertook the investigation. However, the case soon turned political when members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the ruling party in charge of India’s central government, accused the police of botching the investigation.

“The inquest was inconclusive and paradoxical with no uniformity of detail,” said Ashish Shelar, a BJP member of the Legislative Assembly from Mumbai. “We do not have a problem with the Mumbai police as an institution, just this investigation.”

 

The Maharashtra government is made up of a coalition between the Shiv Sena, the Indian National Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.

The Shiv Sena, a right-wing nationalist party, used to be an ally of the BJP. But in October 2019, the long-standing collaboration ended after Shiv Sena formed a coalition with BJP’s biggest political opposition — the Congress parties — to form a government in Maharashtra.

“As soon as the accidental death report was filed, 56 people were summoned for questioning,” said Priyanka Chaturvedi, member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House, and deputy leader of Shiv Sena.

“Rajput’s family was summoned for their statement and when his father arrived for the final rites, he suspected nobody and that is what his statement claims,” said Chaturvedi. His sister, Shweta Singh Kirti, did not suspect anyone or any wrongdoing, he said, and Rajput’s brother-in-law, an Indian Police Service officer, “OP Singh was also present when the statement was taken in the presence of the entire family.”

A month after Rajput’s death, a social media campaign—powered by the actor’s fans, family, and some high-ranking Indian politicians—rejected the suicide theory and called for an impartial government agency to investigate his death.

The actor’s family filed a police complaint in the actor’s hometown, Patna, in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, on July 28, asking for a CBI investigation.

A fringe political party, the Shri Rajput Karni Sena, held a candlelight march in New Delhi on Aug. 16, with hundreds of people, demanding a CBI inquiry in the case.

The initial Mumbai police probe focussed on the actor’s mental state. The actor’s therapist Susan Walker Moffat, a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and hypnotherapist who practices in Mumbai, revealed that Rajput was suffering from depression and bipolar disorder.

Some hints about the actor being depressed because he had lost out on key film projects led to a number of people in the film industry being questioned by the Mumbai police.

After Rajput’s family filed a First Information Report, the case took a different turn. That document is typically filed when police receive information about the commission of a cognizable offense.

The report filed by Rajput’s father, KK Singh, alleges that Rajput’s girlfriend, actor Rhea Chakraborty, and her family siphoned at least INR 15 crore ($150 million) from the actor’s bank accounts.

“The family wanted a criminal investigation; instead, they got an inquest and (a focus on) Bollywood,” said Vikas Singh, the lawyer representing the Singh family. “We decided to file the FIR in Patna so we could approach the Central Bureau of Investigation,” he said.

The FIR was eventually filed after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stepped in. The state is currently ruled by a Janta Dal United and BJP coalition. Bihar is slated to have legislative elections in October-November to form a state government.

Singh, however, discredits any political conspiracy theories about BJP using Rajput’s death to disrupt the upcoming assembly elections in Bihar.

“The CBI is examining the case and collecting information,” said Singh.

Chakraborty is being investigated by the Indian Directorate of Enforcement, an independent law enforcement and economic intelligence agency.

Chakraborty has alleged harassment from trolls online. She also filed a plea with the Supreme Court calling for a stop to what she calls an “unfair media trial.”

(Edited by Siddharthya Roy and Judy Isacoff.)



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U.S. House Incumbents Keep Getting Ousted

U.S. House Incumbents Keep Getting Ousted

Incumbents in the House of Representatives used to win their primaries easily.

Not anymore.

This year, challengers have crushed eight incumbents in their own party. That’s the highest number of losses in a non-redistricting year since 1974. Chalk it up to allegations of corruption—but also increased political polarization.

On Tuesday Rep. Ross Spano, a Florida Republican, was the latest to fall. The Justice Department has been investigating Spano over loans he made to his 2018 campaign, according to the House Ethics Committee.

Rep. Eliot Engel’s defeat was the most high-profile crash-and-burn of an incumbent. Jamaal Bowman, a former middle-school principal and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, knocked off Engel, a New York Democrat and 31-year veteran of the House, charging him with being out of touch and too conservative.  Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backed Bowman.

Ocasio-Cortez herself had defeated 20-year incumbent New York Rep. Joseph Crowley in the 2018 Democratic primary, a major upset by the young progressive.

Bowman wasn’t the only progressive to win a striking victory in 2020. Rep. William Clay, a Missouri Democrat and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus watched his career end. Clay has been in the House for 19 years. Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist and first-time candidate, offed him. In Illinois, Daniel Lipinski, a rare Democratic conservative who opposes legal abortion, lost his reelection bid. Marie Newman, a liberal, is the nominee.

A different kind of frustration ended the career of Rep. Steve King, a 17-year Republican from Iowa and a fierce opponent of illegal and current levels of legal immigration. Fellow House Republicans have shunned King over what’ve widely been considered to be racist comments about immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Conservative Randy Feenstra is likely to hold the seat for the GOP. In Virginia, a rural Republican, Rep. Denver Riggleman, paid dearly for presiding over a same-sex wedding and was sent packing after just two terms.

Multiple factors have contributed to this year’s defeats, including unhappiness with Congress, demographic changes, and fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, said Gayle Alberda, a politics professor at Fairfield University.

“So when you’re dissatisfied with what’s going on, you tend to vote for the outsider,” Alberda says.

Voters’ disapproval of how Congress is significantly higher now than it was in 1974, according to Gallup. Seventy-five percent of voters disapproved of the way Congress is handling its job in the most recent Gallup poll, while 34% disapproved in August 1974.

The irony of the election of more ideological figures is that it is likely to lead to more bickering and less compromise—something voters say they hate but keep encouraging.

(Edited by Matthew Cooper and Allison Elyse Gualtieri.)



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As domestic uranium production plummets, conservationists fight mining expansion

As domestic uranium production plummets, conservationists fight mining expansion

Conservationists who want to prevent an expansion of mining near National Parks and Native American lands got a recent boost from a key congressional committee, but they are still facing renewed pressure from a Trump administration seeking to boost its domestic production of a vital element for nuclear fuel.

While a recent report government showed a stark drop in U.S. domestic uranium production, the House of Representatives committee that sets federal spending said it wouldn’t fund an administration program to boost uranium mining. In a July 13 report, the House Appropriations Committee said that it needed more information from the White House before it could set up the $150 million-a-year program for the government to buy uranium from domestic mining operations. 

The congressional action is a boost to conservationists, who saw the program as a bailout to the uranium industry. Meanwhile, in its annual report on domestic uranium production, the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed that total production of uranium concentrate in the U.S. in 2019 was just 0.17 million pounds, an 89 percent decrease from 0.72 million pounds in 2018.

The precipitous drop comes after the Trump administration released a report that focused on proposals to revitalize domestic uranium mining, citing the need for a healthy industry in order to support national defense. However, the proposal has also drawn out opposition from conservationists, who argue that uranium mining not only causes environmental damage, but also encroaches upon National Parks—such as the Grand Canyon—as well as Native American lands.

The primary proposal in the Energy Department’s April report, titled  Restoring America’s Competitive Nuclear Energy Advantage, was to set up a 10-year, $1.5 billion program that would purchase uranium mined domestically, which it argued would provide a steady and lucrative marketplace for domestic producers. 

Uranium is the primary fuel used in nuclear power production, generating electricity through 96 operating reactors throughout the U.S. Uranium can be accessed through open pit mining, but the most common extraction method is called “in situ leaching,” where chemicals are pumped through groundwater to dissolve uranium in porous rocks, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

After the administration released its report encouraging expanded domestic uranium mining, 75 conservationist groups signed onto a letter to congressional leaders opposing the proposed “bailout” for the uranium mining industry.

Organized through the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, the Sierra Club, the Grand Canyon Trust, the Wilderness Society and the League of Conservation Voters were among the groups to join in signing the letter, which was addressed to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, and other congressional leaders.

America Fitzpatrick, a senior representative at The Wilderness Society, argued that industry claims of a uranium shortage were disingenuous. 

“There is a glut of uranium in the global market. The problems in the domestic nuclear uranium industry are largely economical. Prices are too low and it’s not economical to mine,” she said. “It’s dubious to say there is a shortage of uranium and we have to mine at home.”

Many uranium mining operations are located closely to both Native American tribal communities and natural national monuments, including the Grand Canyon in Arizona, as well Big Ears the Grand Staircase in Utah, Fitzpatrick said. 

The Grand Canyon as seen from Arizona. (Clay Banks/Unsplash)

With in-situ leaching, uranium mining can often contaminate water, leading to radiation exposure issues with both miners and people living within the area, she said.

The Wilderness Society would like to see a 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims around the Grand Canyon, enacted in 2012, made permanent. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ban on new mining claims over about 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon in 2018.

In October 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation introduced by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, that would make that uranium mining ban permanent. In December, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, also a Democrat, introduced similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.

The exterior of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. is pictured on January 20, 2020. (Zach D Roberts/Zenger)

The Trump Administration has said the president would veto the bill if passed by Congress, arguing that it would place federal lands “off limits to development and uses that would otherwise be permissible under Federal laws governing public lands, mining, mineral, and geothermal leasing.

“The Administration opposes such a large, permanent withdrawal, which would prohibit environmentally responsible development, as determined through site-specific analysis, of uranium and other mineral resources,” the White House said in a statement shortly after the bill passed the House.

The National Mining Association said it has been “sounding the alarm” on domestic uranium production, arguing that domestic producers are facing unfair underpricing from state-mandated foreign competition that is “thwarting domestic producers’ ability to compete on a level playing field.”

“Domestic uranium production is teetering on the edge of disappearing, with less than five percent of our needs being met domestically. Our mineral import reliance for uranium and other minerals should be alarming to all Americans, especially when the U.S. is home to ample resources, stringent environmental protections, and the most advanced mining technologies and best practices in the world,” said Rich Nolan, president and CEO of the association.

“Uranium is one of the most toxic substances mined, having impacts on the land, and with air and water quality,” Fitzpatrick of The Wilderness Society said, adding that unlike coal, oil and gas mining, hard rock mining operations like uranium mining aren’t required to pay royalties for access to public lands.

As the Energy Information Administration report showed, domestic uranium mining has been in a steep decline during the latter half of the decade. Following a decade peak of 4.9 million pounds of production in 2014, domestic uranium mining decreased each year thereafter, with 2016’s total accounting reaching only 2.5 million pounds, reflecting a 49 percent drop in just two years. Over the following two years, domestic uranium production plunged another 71 percent, to 0.72 million pounds in 2018, before registering another 89 percent decrease to close out the decade.

(Editing by Bryan Wilkes and Allison Elyse Gualtieri.)



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In anti-establishment fervor in both parties, longtime incumbents go down in primaries

In anti-establishment fervor in both parties, longtime incumbents go down in primaries

Liberal challenger Cori Bush defeated Rep. Lacy Clay, a longtime pillar of the Congressional Black Caucus, on Tuesday, underscoring the threat the activist wing of the Democratic Party poses to establishment members.

Clay is one of seven House incumbents who have lost their primaries in the 2020 cycle: four Republicans and three Democrats. It’s the most House incumbent losses since 2012, when 13 lost in primaries. Excluding the 2012 election, the number of incumbent primary losses has ranged from 1 to 8 from 1994 to 2018, according to data compiled by the University of Virginia.

 

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I come from a strong military family. I know the cost of war! Our reps must ensure military action is taken only if necessary. Dems who allow Trump to recklessly gamble w/ security, our troops’ lives, & the fate of innocent civilians abroad—should not be Democrats at all. #Repost @jrynedanielson ・・・ Democratic Congressional candidate Cori Bush speaks at an anti-war protest outside U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay’s St. Louis office Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. Bush, who is challenging Clay for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, criticized her opponent’s vote for President Trump’s $738 billion military budget last year. Part of that budget paid for an airstrike that killed a top Iranian general on Friday, escalating a conflict with that country that was already spiraling out of control. #brandnewcongress #nowarwithiran

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The Missouri Democrat’s primary defeat is a huge win for the left and overturns a Democratic dynasty in the state’s 1st Congressional District. Members of the Clay family have held the seat since 1969. Clay was elected in 2000, replacing his father, former Rep. Bill Clay, who co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus.

“They sort of come out of the civil rights era. They were reflective of the civil rights movement constituency,” said John Mark Hansen, a professor in political science at the University of Chicago. “That’s a long time ago, now. There’s new leadership that’s coming to the fore, just within the African American community. Black Lives Matter, it’s a completely different generation, it’s a completely different approach, I think, than what we were seeing with the traditional civil rights constituency.

“A good way to look at it is, it’s something of a generational shift, a passing of the torch so to speak,” Hansen said.

The Congressional Black Caucus did not respond to a request for comment. 

Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist who led protests in Ferguson, tried to unseat Clay in 2018 but had a boost this year from the national protests over racial inequality. She also had the backing of groups like Justice Democrats, which recruited New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to run in 2018. In that race, Ocasio-Cortez ousted Rep. Joe Crowley, who was seen as a potential successor to Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader of the House.

Both Bush and Ocasio-Cortez were featured in the 2019 Netflix documentary “Knock Down the House,” which followed four female Democrats running against longtime incumbents, though Ocasio-Cortez was the only newcomer to win. Ocasio-Cortez campaigned for Bush two years ago, but did not endorse her this cycle.

Republican Rep. Steve Watkins of Kansas was also ousted Tuesday after he was charged with voting illegally in a 2019 election. Watkins, who has denied any wrongdoing, tried to paint himself as an outsider running against an establishment figure, state Treasurer Jake LaTurner.

Among the other Republican incumbents who failed to win primaries are Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado, who lost to Lauren Boebert, a conservative restaurant owner who has been associated with a far-right conspiracy theory QAnon, and Rep. Denver Riggleman of Virginia, who was defeated by Bob Good, a self-described “biblical conservative,” after party activists expressed outrage over him officiating a same-sex wedding.

Of the three House Democrats who have lost their primaries in the 2020 cycle, all have been defeated by progressive candidates.

“That’s well within the normal range,” Larry Sabato, a political analyst at the University of Virginia, said of the seven losses. “In fact, I would even call it a bit low considering what’s going on. The world is turned upside down between the pandemic and the economy, racial unrest, whether the schools should reopen or not.”

The numbers of incumbents who fail to win primaries tend to increase after redistricting years, he said. States are expected to redistrict following the 2020 Census.

Sabato doesn’t see major differences between the losses of Democratic and Republican incumbents.

“Look at the past decade, starting in 2010 to the present. You look at the incumbents who lost on the Republican side, they tend to have been establishment Republicans. On the Democratic side, you look at the incumbents who have lost and generally it’s more establishment Democrats. There actually is a similarity between the two parties,” he said. “People are suspicious of entrenched power — and I think that’s true on both sides.”

There are also instances of establishment Democrats, some of whom are not currently serving in Congress, fending off progressive opponents this year. In Kentucky, Amy McGrath beat Charles Booker. John Hickenlooper easily defeated Andrew Romanoff in Colorado. Reps. Joyce Beatty of Ohio and Yvette Clarke of New York also pushed back progressive challengers.

Rep. Roger Marshall, a more mainstream Republican, beat Trump ally and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the state’s Republican primary Tuesday for a Senate seat. Marshall’s win gives Republicans more confidence they can hang on to the seat and their Senate majority in November. President Trump did not endorse a candidate in the race.

(Edited by Allison Elyse Gualtieri.)



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