Big splash for Rep. Clarke Tucker in the New York Times, which gives a kind of Cliff’s Notes version of Lindsey Millar’s big cover story this week on the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District.

Quite a lead for Tucker: “To many Democratic leaders, the path to power in Washington looks like Clarke Tucker.”

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The Times then jumps into the moderates v. upstarts narrative that is a tempting bow to tie on this race:

He supports the Affordable Care Act, but not a single-payer system. He signals misgivings about Nancy Pelosi as the next House speaker. And even when addressing an audience of Democratic Party regulars, he does not attack President Trump by name.

In short, he comes across as a moderate — and exactly the kind of candidate who leading Democrats believe the party should field in Republican-leaning districts to bolster the majority they hope to win in the House in November.

But that strategy frustrates the party’s liberal supporters, who feel the wind at the Democrats’ back and worry about using it to crowd their House caucus with members who may feel inclined to buck the party leadership and stray from its policy agenda.

Paul Spencer makes an appearance:

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“Is it really worth the win to keep pushing back against the people you’re supposed to be serving?” said Paul Spencer, one of Mr. Tucker’s primary opponents. “The party used to stand for something. At some point, you’ve got to stand up, and you’ve got to move the party in the right direction.”

I’ll just say that I’m not entirely convinced that this race actually fits this narrative. Tucker is slick, he’s an establishment favorite, and he is backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Okay. But he’s well to the left of someone like Mike Ross, and there isn’t that much daylight on substantive policy between Tucker and the opponents running to his left. Single payer is the big one but Tucker’s support for expanding coverage via a Medicare buy-in isn’t some blue-dog dodge, it’s a progressive policy that would be a heavy lift in its own right — and a step closer to single payer, not further away. It seems like Tucker is probably going to win the primary handily, and it is awfully hard for me to imagine him becoming a villain figure for base voters in the Second in the way that Hillary Clinton became for certain subsets of the activist left. 

U.S. Rep. French Hill, a banker who evokes no one so much as the guy from the Monopoly logo, has a way of focusing the mind. 

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