The group’s previous record in the 2020 primaries is mixed. A candidate advocated by Sunrise defeated a Democratic House incumbent last week, but Sander’s candidacy has stalled in recent weeks as most Democratic voters have gathered around Joe Biden to face President Donald Trump in the fall.
“It is an interesting moment for our movement,” said Evan Weber, the group’s political director, and acknowledged some of the recent losses by the left. “It is clear that we have to build a deeper bank, and these two races are part of this long-term strategy. We simply firmly believe that they would represent their districts better than their current representatives and also that they would represent America better. “
The polls in both races were sparse, but both incumbents are known and collect more money than their challengers.
Sunrise said his support would go hand in hand with “deploying tens of thousands of volunteers across the country for phone banks, knocking on the door, election promises, and climate education.” The group did not say whether money or advertising would come with the endorsements, but said its volunteers made over 100,000 calls prior to the March 3 and 17 primaries.
While former advertising specialist Marie Newman toppled incumbent Dan Lipinski in Illinois last week after Sunrise’s approval, the group was unable to crowd out moderate Democratic MP Henry Cuellar in Texas earlier this month and longtime Democratic MP Bobby Rush in Illinois. Sunrise advocated two other key Democratic candidates for GOP-held Texas headquarters: one qualified for primary runoff while the other was defeated.
The endorsements are some of the group’s most aggressive moves after Sanders’ candidacy faded last month. Sunrise and many of its left allies have managed to reshape the climate and other issues, but have been less successful in winning elections.
Alongside Sanders, Jessica Cisneros was the group’s best-known candidate who narrowly lost to Cuellar. A win in either of these races – New York will hold its primary in June, while Massachusetts won’t take place until September – would be a much-needed wind in their sails.
Weber, Sunrise’s political director, believes that Sanders still has a chance to recover, but conceded that “it is clear that an apparently very strong position for progressives has been eroded and that much needs to be considered” .