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Jayapal’s Endorsement Against Sarah Smith Raises Questions In Progressive Community

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA – 7th) via house.gov

Posted: July 19, 2018 at 11:57 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Sarah Smith is running as a Democrat in Washington’s 9th United States Congressional district against twenty-plus year incumbent Adam Smith, who is also a Democrat. Washington state has a unique ‘top-two’ primary, meaning the top two vote earners on the August 7th primary move on to the November general election.

Cook Partisan Voter Index ranks the district as D +21 meaning Sarah Smith is expected to advance to the general along with the incumbent Congressman. Sarah is a progressive with endorsements from Brand New Congress, Our Revolution Washington Berniecrats Coalition (WABC), Progressive Party of Washington, Our Revolution King County (Jayapal represents King County), The Progressive Ballot, Demand Universal Healthcare (DUH), and Justice Democrats.

Rep. Jayapal (WA – 7th) is also endorsed by the upstart Justice Democrats and represents the progressive city of Seattle in King County, Washington. Adam Smith, unlike Justice Democrats, accepts corporate PAC money and openly accepts money from the military-industrial complex. From Seattle Weekly:

Rep. Smith accepts sizeable financial donations from corporations, as well as some of his past foreign policy and defense-related votes, such as his vote for the invasion of Iraq and his more recent vote against an amendment to a 2017 defense spending bill that would have banned the United States from selling cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia over the nation’s air war in Yemen. The congressman has also accepted roughly $130,000 in contributions from the defense industry—companies like Northrop Grumman—for his 2018 re-election bid. His website boasts that he’s secured millions in defense contracts in his district, which, according to Sarah’s supporters, is more evidence of his cozinesses with the defense industry.

Rep. Smith claims that his Iraq vote was a mistake, yet his continued donations from defense contractors are likely to sway him in supporting unnecessary war efforts when he isn’t facing a progressive challenger like Sarah. Despite Rep. Jayapal being a fellow Justice Democrat and Congressman Smith’s classical liberal platform with neoliberal economic views, she quietly endorsed him in late June, an endorsement uncovered by Citizen’s Truth.

While Rep. Smith openly shows Jayapal’s endorsement on his website, neither Rep. Jayapal nor her campaign has publicly addressed the endorsement outside the initial news post; which is now buried on her website. From Citizen’s Truth:

Jayapal and her staff are likely aware of the wave of critique Justice Democrat Ro Khanna (CA – 17) received after his initial endorsement of incumbent Joe Crowley, despite his opponent being Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is also a Justice Democrat. The criticism led Rep. Khanna to awkwardly endorse both Crowley and Ocasio-Cortez. Rep. Jayapal’s endorsement of Adam Smith mirrors the initial decision of Ro Khanna to buck the Justice Democrats platform and endorse a far more conservative Democratic incumbent over a rising progressive star.

“The fact that it’s become a quite solidly blue and progressive district doesn’t mean that it’s a bastion of anti-establishment Berniecrats,” stated local political consultant Ben Anderstone to Seattle Weekly, comments which are in contrast to the 2016 Democratic Primary where Senator Bernie Sanders (I – VT) won approximately 67 and 73 percent of the vote in King and Pierce counties which make up the 9th district, explaining why Jayapal has remained silent concerning her endorsement of Congressman Smith.

In the buried release on her website, Rep. Jayapal announced the following other endorsements for the United States House:

Hiral Tiperneni (AZ – 08)
Katie Hill (CA – 25)
Katie Porter (CA – 45)
Liz Watson  (IN – 09)
Aruna Miller (MD – 06)
Ilhan Omar (MN – 05)
Rashida Tlaib (MI – 13)
Deb Haaland (NM – 01)
Xochitl Torres Small (NM – 02)
Aftab Pureval (OH – 01)
Gina Ortiz Jones (TX – 23)
Lisa Brown (WA – 5)

The only Justice Democrat she endorsed was Rashida Tlaib. Interestingly, she gave an endorsement to Lisa Brown in Washington, yet did not do the same for Dorothy Gasque (WA – 3), who is also a Justice Democrat. Also of note, while endorsing candidates in California and Texas, she did not endorse the following list of Justice Democrats in those states who are also running for House seats:

Audrey Denney (CA – 1)
Ammar Campa-Najjar (CA – 50)
Lorie Burch (TX – 03)
Vanessa Adia (TX – 12)
Adrienne Bell (TX – 14)
Linsey Fagan (TX – 26)

Rep. Jayapal’s endorsement allows Congressman Smith to claim progressive clout, despite his voting record, which has become increasingly more progressive since Sarah Smith has begun gaining traction.

Rep. Jayapal has not responded to a request for comment.

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