Liberals Torn Over Backing Red State Democrats

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 03:47 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Liberal-leaning groups are torn over whether they should support red state Democrats who are up for re-election in November after voting against the party on several major issues.

Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas are vulnerable Senate Democrats who have voted with Republicans on issues such as gun control, oil and gas development, climate change, or Social Security, and now some left-leaning groups are hesitant to support them, The Daily Beast is reporting.

"It's definitely something we've grappled with and will continue to grapple with as we work in this cycle," Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, the progressive group started by Howard Dean, told The Daily Beast.

The group has decided not to back Landrieu and Pryor because "they've been too close to Wall Street and too poor on our main issue of income inequality," Chamberlain said.

But Democracy for America is supporting Begich, as well as the South Dakota Democratic candidate for Senate, Rick Weiland.

Begich has won the group's favor because of the bill he authored that would expand Social Security.

"Here's somebody who for us is wrong on gas and oil," Chamberlain said. "He's also wrong on background checks, but at the same time he's also been right on a number of really important income inequality issues."

However, Democracy for America is still on the fence when it comes to Hagan, as well as other senators it is still considering, primarily because of her support for the Keystone XL pipeline, although she has not offered support for budget proposals that could hurt Social Security benefits, like the Louisiana Democrat.

"If the Senate weren't at risk, I don't think we'd be discussing whether or not we'd be helping Kay Hagan . . . but she's on the table for us if that's what we need to do to keep the Senate in Democratic control," Chamberlain said.

The AFL-CIO, however, has one goal no matter how red state Democrats have voted in the past — keeping the Senate in Democratic control.

"Every one of those Senate races has added importance because of the threat of a Republican Senate," Mike Podhorzer, political director of the labor group, told The Daily Beast. "But to be clear, in 2014 we want to make sure not just that the Senate stays out of Republican hands, but to the greatest extent possible the people who are elected are the most pro-worker."

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