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Liberals split on how to handle red state Dems

Liberals split on how to handle red state Dems

With control of the Senate at stake, progressive interest groups are struggling with how to handle a quartet of Red State Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014.

Sens. Mark Begich (AK), Mary Landrieu (LA), Kay Hagan (NC), and Mark Pryor (AR) are considered to be among the most vulnerable lawmakers in the country as incumbent Democrats running in states that voted against President Obama in 2012. But those same senators have also strayed from the party’s progressive base on at least one key issue—gun control, oil and gas development, climate change, or Social Security.

The dichotomy is putting left-leaning interest groups in a bind—do they forgive and forget the moderate senators’ offending votes in a broader effort to keep the Senate in Democratic hands, or do they hold back their support and risk a Republican-controlled Senate that would make their future agendas DOA?

“It’s definitely something we’ve grappled with and will continue to grapple with as we work in this cycle,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, the progressive grassroots organization founded by Howard Dean in 2004.

At least two moderate Democrats won’t get DFA’s support this year—Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Mark Pryor in Arkansas.

“DFA is not going to be working for them or trying to save them in their races,” Chamberlain said. “I’m confident there will be a certain amount of our membership that will support them directly, but overall as an organization, we find that they’ve been too close to Wall Street and too poor on our main issue of income inequality.”

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