In five days, Washington Democrats will select either a conservative incumbent in the 35th District or a more liberal challenger as their candidate for the state senate. If a coalition of liberal PACs can help it, the incumbent, Tim Sheldon, won't be that candidate:
The Progressive Majority, which is backing left-of-center and minority candidates in several state and local races around the country, gave more than half of the $187,323 reported spent so far by three independent political action committees fighting against Sheldon.
The PACs, including Working Families Who Have Had Enough, are part of a labor and environmentalist coalition's effort to promote Democrat Kyle Taylor Lucas and oust Sheldon in the Sept. 19 primary.
Several of the ads single out Sheldon's votes in 2003, accusing him of voting to reduce jobless benefits during the recession, cutting children off state-paid health care programs and opposing increases in the minimum wage. They also link him to President Bush, saying Sheldon led Democrats for Bush in the state in 2004.
So far, Oregon hasn't seen much of this--probably because Oregon Dems are nearly all progressives. It raises a number of interesting questions, however. To what extent is "Lieberman-ing" a candidate healthy for a party? What are the implications of independent out-of-state PACs targeting Oregon incumbents? How might these outside groups affect the homegrown Democratic agenda?