Progressives and Centrists Spar In Major NY Democratic Primary | Crooked Media
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June 24, 2024
What A Day
Progressives and Centrists Spar In Major NY Democratic Primary

In This Episode

  • In today’s New York primary elections, voters in the state’s 16th Congressional District will decide what’s become the most expensive House primary race in American history. It pits incumbent Rep. Jamaal Bowman against Westchester County Executive George Latimer, and it epitomizes the divisions within the Democratic Party between the progressive left and the centrist mainstream. Politico’s chief Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza breaks down that race and others worth keeping an eye on tonight.
  • And in headlines: A top official with the World Health Organization says the U.S.-built pier off the coast of Gaza is not bringing in enough aid for Palestinians, the Supreme Court announced that it will weigh in on whether states can ban gender-affirming care for trans youth, and federal prosecutors have told the Justice Department that Boeing should face criminal charges over safety issues surrounding its 737 Max airplanes.


Show Notes:



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Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, June 25th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What a Day, the show where we are congratulating CNN anchor Kasie Hunt for shutting down an interview with Trump spokesperson Caroline Leavitt. When it became clear she really came on to attack the network’s moderators ahead of Thursday’s presidential debate. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It may have taken eight years, but CNN has finally figured out how to deal with the Trump campaign. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, I love that for them and for us, okay? [music break] On today’s show, the World Health Organization says not enough aid is being delivered to Palestinians amid the war in Gaza. Plus, federal prosecutors are recommending criminal charges for airline manufacturer Boeing for its safety failures. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But first, today is yet another primary day in New York, Colorado, and Utah, where there are a couple of very high profile races to keep an eye on. The main one is in New York’s 16th district, where incumbent Jamaal Bowman, a member of House progressives known as the squad, faces centrist George Latimer. And that race is officially the most expensive in the history of House primaries. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Big money, no whammies. Okay, tell us why there is so much attention on this race? 


Josie Duffy Rice: A big part of the reason is because of the war in Gaza. Bowman has been an outspoken opponent of the war in Gaza and has been very critical of Israel. He has called Israel an apartheid state and spoke publicly about Israeli quote propaganda, saying that there is quote, “still no evidence of beheaded babies or raped women.” He has said he regrets those statements, but still, a superPAC affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the main pro-Israel PAC, has put nearly $15 million into this race alone. Bowman is one of a few squad members which include Cori Bush, Summer Lee, and others who have faced major opposition in their reelection race from pro-Israel groups. But that’s not the only race happening. In Colorado, MAGA Republican Representative Lauren Boebert is running for office in a different district and is facing a relatively tough battle. And in Utah, where Mitt Romney is stepping down from the Senate. We’ll find out which two candidates will compete for his seat in November. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I hear there’s another election to watch in my home state as well, right? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Today is also runoff election day for the South Carolina primaries with 13 races to be determined. There’s a lot happening, as you can tell. So I chatted about all of this with POLITICO’s chief Washington correspondent, Ryan Lizza. I started by asking him to talk a little bit more about Jamaal Bowman’s fight to keep his seat. 


Ryan Lizza: This has turned into a classic progressive versus moderate race. But then overlaid on top of that, the big issue showing the deepest divides in the Democratic Party right now, and that is Israel’s war in Gaza. So you had AIPAC spend millions of dollars to support Latimer, and the two wings of the party have been divided on their endorsements. So, you know, prominent Democrats like Hillary Clinton have endorsed George Latimer. Whereas a lot of top progressives, including Bowman’s fellow squad members, have endorsed him. So this is a big one. And, you know, whoever wins, there’s going to be real bragging rights among that faction of the party and a lot of complaints if Latimer wins from progressives who are not happy with AIPAC dumping all this money in the race. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. I mean, to your point about AIPAC, they have poured almost $15 million into this campaign. So how much is this tension fueling the fight? Like, do you think this would be as big of a race or even a race at all, if it weren’t for the current kind of controversy with Bowman, as far as the war in Gaza goes. 


Ryan Lizza: There were a list of targets drawn up at the beginning of primary season by folks on the AIPAC side of this debate. They’re being pretty pragmatic about it. If they could find a squad member whose position they did not like on the Middle East, um who is vulnerable. But they weren’t, you know, they weren’t going to go in races where they didn’t think they had a chance. It’s not a a pure lefty district where Bowman just has a clear shot. They found some vulnerabilities and, you know, went in for the kill here. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s look at Colorado. So what races are standing out to you there. 


Ryan Lizza: All right. Colorado’s got one fun thing in it and that is that Lauren Boebert has fled Colorado three. She is running instead in Colorado four, which is basically the plains portion of Colorado. She seems on track to win the primary because she’s got a big divided field running against her. In Colorado three, you have this guy, Adam Frisch from Aspen, who almost beat her last time. He’s the presumptive Democratic nominee. He’s got a lot of money, a lot of national money. Democrats have re-upped this strategy. You’ll remember from 2022, where they look at a big field of Republican candidates in the primary, where Republican voters are having a tough time figuring out who to support, and they dump a ton of money on the most unelectable candidates by running ads describing that person as usually the language is too conservative for Colorado. It’s sort of a dog whistle to Republicans saying, wait a second. If Democrats think this guy’s too conservative for Colorado, he’s my choice in the primary. Their pick there is this guy, Ron Hanks, who was actually at the Capitol on January 6th and just Google him, has a long history of controversies. It’s not clear it’s going to work. But that’s the thing to watch today, to see if Ron Hanks makes it through the primary. Speaker Mike Johnson, and the local GOP establishment, they’ve got their money on this sort of business friendly attorney named Jeffrey Hurd. The backstory is that the Colorado Republican Party was basically taken over by some very hard right folks. And any of the districts that are competitive that Republicans want to win, they need to navigate that. And that brings us to Colorado five, which is a sort of GOP establishment versus MAGA fight. And Donald Trump has endorsed in that race, he endorsed a guy named Dave Williams, who is the chair of the party out there, enormously controversial. And he’s facing someone named Jeff Crank. So the question there in Colorado five in the primary at least, it’s a safe Republican seat, but in the primary is whether this guy, Dave Williams, who is quite out there and is endorsed by Trump, is whether he’ll win when the party establishment wants this other guy Jeff Crank. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm. Okay. So and we also have Utah, which is where someone will replace retiring Senator Mitt Romney. This could theoretically be a big deal for Democrats. They haven’t won a Senate seat there since 1970. So do they have a real chance? What is this looking like? How will it go? 


Ryan Lizza: That fact that they haven’t won anything since 1970 has a lot of observers saying that the Republican primary is the only game in town here, and that whoever wins that primary is likely to replace Mitt Romney in the Senate. You know, if voters want someone like Romney, the choice seems to be this guy, Representative John Curtis. He was actually a Democrat for a number of years, believe it or not, from like 2000 to 2006. He is now a Republican again, [laugh] and he’s an environmentalist. He leads, like the conservative caucus in the House that cares about climate change. He’s not an election denier, and he hasn’t formally endorsed Trump. So, you know, you get Romney vibes with this guy, his opponent is a local mayor named Trent Staggs. And Mike Lee, the other senator from Utah who is a close Trump ally, is backing Staggs. And Trump endorsed uh Staggs in April. So this will be another test of whether Trump’s endorsement matters in a race. And then finally in Utah two, there’s a interesting race. The incumbent Republican is Celeste Maloy. She’s facing a challenge from a right winger that’s been endorsed by people like Mike Lee and Vivek Ramaswamy, Rand Paul, Tommy Tuberville. And interestingly, on this one, Mike Johnson and Trump are on the electability establishment side of the contest and are sticking with Celeste Maloy. So that one’s pretty interesting. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Right. Runoff election is happening in South Carolina today. In their primary a few weeks ago, none of the candidates achieved more than 50% of the vote, which you have to do in the primary election. And turnout is a big factor here because in the state primary, just a couple weeks ago, June 11th, only 13% of voters showed up. So what is the takeaway from that and what are we going to be watching for? 


Ryan Lizza: I mean, the truth is primaries are really low turnout affairs. I wouldn’t put too much into the turnout numbers in any of these races in terms of what it will tell you about the general election. I think the primaries are good for helping understand within the party where the energy is and where the issues are, but they don’t tell you too much about the strength in the party going into the general election. There are plenty of primaries that were low turnout affairs where people said, oh, the Democrats only got 10% turnout and the Republicans had 15%. And that’s meaningful for the general election. And then that’s just a whole different race with a different electorate. And there’s not much of a correlation. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That was my conversation with Ryan Lizza, chief Washington correspondent at Politico. You can find more of his work in Politico playbook. 


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s the latest for now. We’ll get to some headlines in a moment. But if you like our show, make sure to subscribe and share it with your friends. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]


Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Josie Duffy Rice: A top official with the World Health Organization says the U.S. built pier off the coast of Gaza is not bringing in enough aid for Palestinians. Doctor Hanan Balkhy, the head of the WHO’s eastern Mediterranean region, told The Associated Press on Monday that, quote, “the pier has supported a little bit, but it’s not to the scale that is needed by any stretch of the imagination.” She emphasized the need for more aid to come through land routes, something U.S. officials have also said. The US pier has been hamstrung by problems since it first became operational last month. The Guardian reports it’s been usable for just 12 days. Meanwhile, the WHO says the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza has been cut by more than half since Israel launched its ground operation in Rafah in early May. In a TV interview on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again said he would not accept a cease fire deal to fully end the war in Gaza. He did say that the, quote, “intensive phase of Israel’s war with Hamas will end soon,” and that the Israeli military will turn more of its focus to the country’s northern border with Lebanon, fueling international fears of a broader conflict with the Iranian backed militia Hezbollah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will weigh in on whether states can ban gender affirming care for trans youth. The case centers around Tennessee’s ban on hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and transition related surgeries for minors. The law went into effect last summer, but the families of three trans kids sued the state in federal court, arguing that the ban is unconstitutional. The Justice Department joined the case last summer, and now the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority is set to weigh in. The High Court has largely stayed out of the debate over trans rights until now, and however the justices rule will have huge implications for trans youth nationwide. Tennessee is just one of the 25 states that have passed restrictions on gender affirming care. That’s half the country in case y’all didn’t take civic’s class. The case will be argued during the Supreme Court’s next term, which starts in October. 


Josie Duffy Rice: The ACLU, along with other civil liberties groups, sued Louisiana officials on Monday over the state’s new law requiring that the Ten Commandments be posted in all public school classrooms. Louisiana became the first state to pass such a provision last week. Other GOP led states have tried to pass similar rules with no success. The plaintiffs in the case argue that the new law violates the First Amendment, aka freedom of religion, and the lawsuit seeks to ban the Ten Commandments from being posted in classrooms. We told you last week that Louisiana’s Republican governor, Jeff Landry, said he quote, “couldn’t wait to be sued,” after he signed the law. On Monday, he said, quote, “most of our laws in this country are founded on the Ten Commandments. What’s the big problem?” First of all, that’s not true. There are so many laws [laughter] like that’s just not true. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Huh yi yi yi yi. These are our elected officials. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I know. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Federal prosecutors have told the Justice Department that Boeing should face criminal charges over safety issues surrounding its 737 Max airplanes. The recommendation comes a month after the Justice Department said Boeing had violated the terms of a 2021 settlement that was reached after two crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed more than 300 people. That settlement protected the airplane maker from criminal prosecution related to those crashes in exchange for making certain improvements. But earlier this year, a door panel blew off an Alaska Airlines flight just after takeoff, prompting another federal investigation. Neither Boeing nor the Justice Department have publicly commented on the possible criminal charges. Multiple news outlets report that the Justice Department has not decided whether it will ultimately bring any charges. It has other options, like reaching a new settlement or imposing fines. The Justice Department has until July 7th to decide. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And those are the headlines. 




Josie Duffy Rice: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Say a prayer for the Supreme Court decisions coming our way, and tell your friends to listen. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading and not just reports of the ACLU suing GOP lawmakers in Louisiana like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


[spoken together] And let me covet my neighbor’s wife Louisiana. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Like, what is the problem? I thought this was a free country. I’ll have whatever idols I want. Thank you very much. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I love that for you, Josie. [music break] What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters, and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Erica Morrison, and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.