The Left-Wing Congressional Superstar Who Wasn't

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 27 2012 11:15 AM

The Left-Wing Congressional Superstar Who Wasn't

Greg Mitchell might have been the last national reporter tracking the political fate of Norman Solomon. After three days in the vineyards of left-wing media criticism, Solomon watched a congressional seat open up in his Bay Area backyard. The winner was guaranteed a seat in Congress. So Solomon jumped in, lined up helpful notes from lefty media figures, and teleported into every liberal conference/klatsch it was possible to go to. He raised almost $640,000.

And he lost. Jared Huffman, the assemblyman backed by the DCCC, got the most votes by a mile. Solomon got pipped by Daniel Roberts, the lone Republican in the race. (Sign of how liberal this district is: Roberts didn't mention his party affiliation in ads, and promised to "go after the Wall Street crooks" and "bring our troops home now.") Starting this year, the top two candidates in the race, regardless of party, go to the general election. So Solomon was out.

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Is this our latest, greatest example of how the left doesn't police primaries as smartly as the right does? Solomon had traipsed through lefty donor circles for decades -- could some Super PAC have blitzed in and saved him?

Meh.

"Why WOULD he get netroots support?" said Daily Kos's honco Markos Moulitsas. "It's not as if he was that compelling, and there was no villain in this Indigo Blue district. Jared Huffman will be just fine."

Makes sense to me, but it's still surprising that a gold-plated left-wing resume meant nothing to district Democrats. The beauty part of the Tea Party's ongoing purge is that "establishment" candidates who haven't been particularly liberal are marched right under the tank treads. Nobody's been able to point out the ultra-sellout positions that make Texas Lt. Gov David Dewhurt deserve the name "Dewcrist." But conservatives like Ted Cruz -- younger, Latino, a speechifying pro -- so they pummel Dewhurst and force him into a runoff.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.