Jayapal Endorses Opponent Of Fellow Justice Democrat In Washington 9th
Featured Image: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA – 7) [Left] and Congressman Adam Smith (WA – 9) [Right] via house.gov
Washington’s 9th District
United States Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal extended her endorsement to Democratic incumbent Adam Smith, who was first elected as the congressional representative of Washington’s 9th district in 1997. Congressman Smith endorsed Jayapal in her 2016 run for the House, “Rarely do we have the opportunity to elect someone to the House who brings this level of vision, experience, leadership, and relationships to the table,” he stated in August of that year while referring to Jayapal.
Jayapal would win her race to become the House representative for Washington’s 7th district in the United States Congress. Her endorsement for Congressman Smith would not raise eyebrows if not for his top challenger, Sarah Smith. Washington state has a unique ‘top-two’ primary where the top two vote earners; regardless of party, move on to the November general election.
Sarah Smith has run a grassroots campaign which has led to her receiving endorsements from numerous progressive organizations including 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. Sarah is expected to advance to the general election along with Rep. Smith after the August 7th primary.
Rep. Jayapal is also endorsed by Justice Democrats, which recently gained national headlines after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated long-time incumbent Joe Crowley. The organization has an extremely progressive platform; requiring those receiving their endorsement to refrain from taking money from corporate Super Political Action Committees (Super PACs). Rep. Smith receives over 70 percent of his campaign contributions from PACs, including approximately $130,500 from various Defense Industry groups from 2017 until the present date. Controversial aerospace and defense contractor Northrop Grumman has given the congressman $19,000 during the same time period. By comparison, Open Secrets reports nearly 79% of Sarah Smith’s donations are from ‘Small Individual Contributions (<$200).’
“I think it’s a mistake to look at this and say we have to get rid of ICE,” Congressman Smith told the Seattle Patch in late June. Rep. Smith was one of two House Democrats from Washington to vote for the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which set the framework for the creation of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “Given ICE’s reputation, I think I’d like to see that particular agency go away,” he told Komo News approximately two weeks later when speaking about the ‘abolish ICE’ bill he is working on with Rep. Jayapal, completing an unexplained flop on the issue.
Why Is Jayapal Silent Regarding Endorsement
Despite finding no public reference of Rep. Jayapal’s endorsement for Congressman Smith by the Jayapal campaign outside her website, Seattle Weekly referenced her endorsement in a feature article on the WA – 9th campaign:
…The District’s incumbent, Rep. Adam Smith, is a formidable opponent. First elected in 1997, Rep. Smith has won his recent re-election campaigns by massive margins. He has the endorsements of most local Democratic organizations, several labor unions, and Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, as well as Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Rep. Smith also boasts a massive campaign war chest of more than $420,000, which dwarfs Sarah’s $36,000.
Jayapal and her staff are likely aware of the wave of critique Justice Democrat Ro Khanna (CA – 17th) 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.
Progressive Punch is a website which measures how progressive members of Congress are by weighing their votes throughout their time in office, during the past year, how they vote on crucial issues, and how well they match the ideological tilt of their district.
According to the Progressive Punch methodology, Adam Smith ranks as the 142nd most progressive member of the House of Representatives when sorted by crucial progressive votes throughout his time in office, while Rep. Jayapal ranks 9th. He ranks as the 146th worst when comparing his ‘Progressive Score vs. State Tilt” which is explained as:
The “%” and “Rating” columns underneath the “Progressive Score vs. State Tilt” are two different ways of measuring the same thing. They both measure how naughty or nice a member of Congress’ voting record has been relative to how hospitable his/her state is to a moderate to liberal Democrat. We’re grading on a curve. An A in the “Rating” column indicates members of Congress who are doing the best in terms of voting MORE progressively than could necessarily be expected given their states. Those with an F rating are performing the worst in relation to their states.
King County is the home of Seattle, the hub of the district Congresswoman Jayapal represents. While Sarah Smith has not been publicly endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I – VT), her platform is nearly identical to his. Sanders defeated Secretary Hillary Clinton 67.3-32.6 in the 2016 Washington state primary within King County, meaning an open embrace of Rep. Smith could lead to backlash from her constituents. Sanders won every congressional district in the state and a sweeping 72.7-27.1 final tally over Secretary Clinton, underlying the progressive tone of Washington voters.
While Jayapal gave her endorsement to Lisa Brown who is running in the 5th district in Washington, she did not extend one to another Washington Justice Democrat Dorothy Gasque who is running for House in the 3rd district. The only Justice Democrat to receive an endorsement from the incumbent is Rashida Tlaib who is running in Michigan’s 13th district.
Neither Pramila Jayapal nor her campaign responded to a request for comment.