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Progressives who support defunding the police are poised to make up a greater share of congressional Democrats after this year’s midterm elections.
House Democrats are projected to see their numbers shrink in the midterms, but their most far-left members – like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – aren’t in any danger of losing their seats, due to the deep blue nature of their districts.
That fact alone means progressives will likely constitute a larger proportion of the caucus than they do now. But AOC and her allies are also poised to add to their numbers. In several safe blue districts, far-left Democrats have either won their primary or have a good chance of doing so.
Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez listen during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 15, 2019. (Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
Self-described democratic socialist Democrat Greg Casar won his primary for Texas’ 35th Congressional District, where longtime Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, is not running in favor of a newly-drawn congressional district.
Casar is a former Austin city council member who led the 2020 charge to slash the Austin Police Department’s budget by $100 million. A year later, in 2021, Austin saw a new city-wide murder record with 89 murders and only 51 arrests by December of last year.
Greg Casar speaks during a “Get Out the Vote” rally on Feb. 12, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Additionally, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, is headed to a runoff against progressive candidate Jessica Cisneros in Texas’ 28th Congressional District. While Cisneros hasn’t personally endorsed defunding the police, she has campaigned with Democrats, like Ocasio-Cortez, who have backed the “defund” movement.
The Prairie State is seeing progressive challenger Kina Collins take on longtime Democratic Rep. Danny Davis in a primary challenge for his seat in Illinois’ 7th Congressional District.
Kina Collins, a board member of the Illinois chapter of the Women’s March, is seeking to primary Democratic. Rep. Danny Davis. (Getty Images)
Collins, who is supported by the Ocasio-Cortez-backed Justice Democrats, made headlines last year when it was revealed that she participated in a “Defund the Police” rally.
In fact, Collins was front and center filming a Facebook Live video of a “Defund the Police” rally in July 2020 and marched with protesters chanting to “defund the police” in a separate Facebook Live video the same day.
Collins – a gun violence prevention activist – has also called for the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), claiming in multiple Facebook posts that “immigrant families are constantly living in a state of fear, and the physical and mental trauma is destroying the fabric of our society.”
Rep. Danny Davis said R. Kelly “can be redeemed.” (Getty Images)
The Justice Democrats’ endorsement will likely be a major boon to Collins as she takes on Davis in a rematch after trailing behind him in the 2020 primary.
The reach of Justice Democrats – as well as the group’s overall electoral gusto – is also hitting home in Ocasio-Cortez’s native New York.
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit gala Sept. 13, 2021, in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision)
Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney is facing an AOC-backed progressive challenger in New York’s 12th Congressional District.
Activist Rana Abdelhamid was supported by the Ocasio-Cortez-backed political action committee in her current bid to unseat the congresswoman, who has served since 1993.
Similar to the “Squad” members she hopes to join in Congress, Abdelhamid has called for the defunding of police and directed followers to donate to a Minnesota fund that posted bail for alleged rioters and violent criminals.
She also called defunding law enforcement a feminist “priority” on Instagram in a series of self-made graphics.
Maloney has called for police reforms but hasn’t gotten on board with defunding law enforcement.