From Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect <[email protected]>
Subject Kuttner on TAP: Lessons Beyond Long Island
Date February 16, 2024 8:03 PM
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**FEBRUARY 16, 2024**

On the Prospect website

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The Gas Industry Squeeze Play

The Biden administration has paused new permits for natural gas
export terminals. The industry is fighting back by trying to facilitate
gas exports from Mexico. BY DAVID DAYEN

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Why the Kroger-Albertsons Merger Will Harm Labor

The companies' choice of an anti-union third party for its
divestitures reveals why labor needs a seat at the table in merger

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The Stories Corporations Tell

Two new histories of American capitalism reveal how alluring
narratives have nurtured corporate power. BY ADAM M. LOWENSTEIN

Kuttner on TAP








**** Lessons Beyond Long Island

Tom Suozzi's impressive win to take back the House seat formerly held
by George Santos suggests good news for Democrats nationally.

Republicans have been frantically trying to dismiss Democrat Tom
Suozzi's eight-point victory in Tuesday's Long Island special
election as a one-off with no wider significance. According to their
talking points, Suozzi had the advantage of being well known in the
district as a former incumbent; the Santos scandal depressed Republican
turnout; Suozzi abandoned Biden and embraced the Republican position on
immigration; the unknown GOP candidate, Mazi Pilip, equivocated on
whether she supported Trump, also reducing turnout; then there was that
snowstorm, and Democrats had disproportionately voted early.

Suozzi's win "is in no way a bellwether

of what's going to happen this fall," House Speaker Mike Johnson
declared, and "has nothing to do on the efforts going forward."

Dream on.

For starters, both parties have converged on a tougher border policy. Or
at least they did until Trump blew up the carefully negotiated
compromise and forced the Senate to kill its own bill, much of which
reflected Republican demands. That gives Democrats an advantage on the
immigration issue that extends far beyond Long Island. They're serious
about wanting to solve the problem while Republicans play partisan

Second, Trump's loyalty tests for congressional Republican candidates
will divide his party and depress turnout, especially in swing suburban
districts like Long Island's. "This very foolish woman, Mazi Melesa

... didn't endorse me and tried to 'straddle the fence,' when she
would have easily WON," Trump wrote on his social media site.

Trump in turn did not endorse her and then asserted that MAGA supporters
did not turn out. For once, Trump may well be truthful on that point.
Putting his own vanity first, Trump will go on wrecking the chances of
more moderate Republican candidates.

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The Democrats, by contrast, were a model of unity and effective
organizing. While Democrats outspent Republicans on TV advertising, far
more important was the Democrats' formidable ground game, which has
gotten too little attention.

Last fall, progressive Democrats formed a group called Battleground New
expressly to take back Republican-held House seats and defend Democratic
ones. The group's partners include SEIU 1199, the big health care
union; CWA District 1; Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts;
Indivisible; and the Working Families Party. They were launched with
initial funding of $10 million, much of it from donors associated with
the Democracy Alliance.

All of these groups are superb at the ground game of retail politics,
using the full tool kit of texting, phone banks, door-knocking, and
get-out-the-vote help. The Suozzi-Pilip race was the first field test of
their strategy. Two national groups, Grassroots Democrats HQ and Blue
Future, contributed money to finance stipends for 75 youth field
organizers. The field effort and phone-banking were aided by other
national groups such as Activate America and Swing Left, which provide a
model for this brand of retail politics in the rest of the country.

Even more impressive was the degree of party unity, in sharp contrast to
the Republican divisions promoted by Trump. Tom Suozzi is one of the
most centrist Democrats in the House. He is not the sort of Democrat
ordinarily esteemed by the Working Families Party or SEIU 1199. But all
of these groups grasped the stakes in this election and worked their
hearts out to take back a Republican House seat. Primary fights between
progressive Democrats and centrist ones are battles for another day.

The November 2024 election will be decided in large part by turnout.
While pundits have emphasized the supposedly depressed and divided
Democratic base, they have largely missed the Democratic advantage in


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