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Again: Primary Campaigns Against No Votes On Health Care Won’t Happen

This is getting comical. The Democratic National Committee and the White House have clearly put the hammer down, announcing that no primaries will come from the health care vote, despite plenty of hints to the contrary in the days and weeks leading up to it. Therefore, pretty much no accountability will result from the most important, consequential vote to the party in decades.

In Pennsylvania, labor and Democratic allies stupidly didn’t plan for a primary challenge to people like Jason Altmire before the filing deadline expired. Labor leader Jack Shea considered running against Altmire, but he would have had to either try a write-in campaign or run as an independent. He chose neither.

Labor leader Jack Shea, who had been mulling a run against Altmire, told Thursday that he decided against it. Shea had considered both a write-in campaign during the primary or a third-party challenge in November, either of which would have been daunting. Shea, the president of the Allegheny County Labor Council, said his campaign against Altmire ended before it even began.

“I’ve tried to be a little bit loose on this race to see what developed, but I am not planning to make a serious push,” Shea said. “In order for me to run in November I’d have to change parties or put together a write-in campaign. I’m not going to do either.”

There’s an example of the power of thinking ahead.

Massachusetts has a later deadline, and labor claimed to be furious with Stephen Lynch for his vote on health care. Harmony Wu, a local activists, mulled a run. But, well, she’s not going for it, either.

A top primary challenger to the South Boston Democrat, who was planning to run against Lynch from the left, has opted out of the race.

Harmony Wu, a Needham resident, was heavily critical of Lynch’s vote against the health care plan pushed by President Obama and was considering challenging the South Boston Democrat in the primary on that very issue […]

“The ability to maintain my family life during the campaign and as a member of Congress has always been an important factor for me, as it has been for so many women seeking and serving in office,” Wu said in a statement this afternoon. “In my case, it prevents me from launching what would be a vigorous campaign and if elected, committing to a life that would require far too much time away from family at this moment in our lives.”

The threats of primary challenges were never credible. Basically, incumbents protect their own. And all of the really good primary challenges around the nation are coming from existing grassroots campaigns that have little to do with health care. Labor can join them, or admit that they were caught flat-footed in providing accountability.

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David Dayen

David Dayen