In Tuesday night’s primary for a seat in Omaha, Nebraska, Medicare for All won the day in the primary between former Rep. Brad Ashford and nonprofit executive Kara Eastman.
Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District seat is currently held by Rep. Don Bacon (R), who defeated Ashford in the 2016 general election. According to CNN, the district is relatively purple, going for Donald Trump by just a two-point margin in 2016 despite Trump winning Nebraska by a 25-point margin. In 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney won the district by seven points.
“Kara Eastman taught the Democratic establishment a lesson: The way to inspire voters in 2018 is to campaign on a bold progressive agenda of Medicare for All, higher wages for workers, and other economic populist ideas that help working families and challenge corporate power,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “This is how Democrats can win in red, purple, and blue districts and maximize a wave in 2018.”
Medicare for All, which Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has called for on the campaign trail, would essentially serve as a public health insurance option, with Americans being able to opt into the Medicare program by paying a premium, similar to a private health insurance plan. Sen. Sanders introduced the bill last September, which has since been cosponsored by 16 other Senate Democrats.
The idea of the federal government taking responsibility to make sure all citizens have healthcare coverage is popular with a majority of Americans, according to a 2017 Pew Research study. 60 percent of Americans are in favor of the proposal, including 85 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, and 31 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters.
Eastman’s primary opponent, Brad Ashford, was a conservative Democrat endorsed by the Blue Dog Coalition — a group of right-leaning Democrats opposed to the idea of single-payer healthcare who have received at least $35,000 from the healthcare industry in the current election cycle. Over the course of his career, Ashford himself has received more than $263,000 from both health professionals and the insurance industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
While Eastman’s primary victory has moved the 2nd Congressional District race from “toss-up” to “lean Republican,” history shows that the opposition party typically makes large gains in midterm elections.
Logan Espinoza is a freelance contributor specializing in economic issues. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and daughter. Contact him at logan DOT espinoza AT yahoo DOT com.