House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will square off against a candidate on her left on Election Day, representing her first real intraparty challenger in years.
Democratic socialist Shahid Buttar launched a longshot bid to replace the longtime Democratic Party leader, describing her as insufficiently progressive and representative of the establishment status quo.
Buttar, who favors social programs including free college and universal healthcare, received 12% of the vote in the California primary race.
“An immigrant with no property”
According to state rules, the two candidates with the most votes run against each other in the general election regardless of political party.
At an event organized by the Northwestern University Democrats, he acknowledged that the odds are stacked against him, but he stressed the importance of seeing progressives in the party distinguish themselves from “bipartisan” members who are largely indistinguishable from Republicans in the way they govern.
“I am David confronting Goliath,” Buttar added. “I am an immigrant with no property. My family is in the United States because we fled religious persecution and the international impacts of our military-industrial complex, and I am a canary in our constitutional coal mine.”
The community organizer went on to group Pelosi and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in with President Donald Trump to describe the group of establishment leaders he hopes to upset.
“Fighting them from the left”
Complaining about their collective “corporate” power, Buttar said that regardless of which candidate ends up in the White House next year, he will be “fighting them from the left.”
In a Hill.TV interview last month, Buttar laid out his case against a congressional coronavirus-relief plan he believed was too moderate.
“At the same time that the coronavirus stimulus package allowed a $1200, one-time stimulus payment for some Americans, 40,000 millionaires got tax breaks of over a million dollars,” he said.
Pelosi, who has held on to her seat without interruption since she was first elected in 1987, has generally been successful in unifying her party’s caucus in the House.
It remains to be seen if the presence of a challenger representing the party’s far-left wing will be enough to disrupt that largely unchallenged streak of victories.