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Women, progressive Democrats score wave of primary wins. What will that mean for midterms?

Tuesday's primaries spanned the country and the political spectrum, from more liberal Oregon, to conservative Idaho and Nebraska, to swing-state Pennsylvania, where wins by women were particularly notable. Lisa Desjardins learns more from Dave Davies of WHYY in Philadelphia.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Voters in four states went to the polls yesterday to pick Republican and Democratic nominees ahead of November's midterm election.

    Lisa Desjardins reports.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Last night's primaries spanned the country and the political spectrum, from more liberal Oregon, to conservative Idaho and Nebraska, to swing state Pennsylvania.

    And a clear theme: wins by women in competitive congressional races, from environmental planner Jaime McLeod-Skinner in Oregon, to Nebraska and nonprofit executive Kara Eastman, who pulled off an upset over a more moderate Democrat.

    Nowhere felt the so-called pink wave more than Pennsylvania, which currently has no women in Congress. That will change next year. Last night, one Republican and seven Democratic women won their primaries there, setting up one race where both candidates are women.

    Among the Pennsylvania winners, Democrat Susan Wild, the progressive solicitor of Allentown.

  • Susan Wild:

    This isn't just for me. This isn't just for the next generation. This is for women who have been waiting a long time to have an equal voice in our government. And I want to be part of the group that does that.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    To take a closer look at the results, I'm joined by Dave Davies. He's a senior reporter at PBS station WHYY in Philadelphia.

    Dave, let me ask you.

    You have been covering politics for 30 years. What did primary voters tell us last night?

  • Dave Davies:

    Well, I think, in Pennsylvania, they told us that they're ready for a change.

    But the biggest changes, really, Lisa, are the changes in the playing field in Pennsylvania. If you look at the Philly area, three things happened. One, there is a surge of activity among progressive Democrats, a lot of them women, who ran for office and contributed to candidates.

    Second, this is a seismic shift. The state Supreme Court redrew all of the congressional boundaries, regarded them as gerrymandered in favor of Republicans. And the new boundaries drawn by a court of justices largely elected as Democrats in partisan races created districts more favorable to Democrats.

    Third thing, three Republicans representatives decided not to run again. So you had more Democrat-friendly districts and no Republican incumbents. That was attractive to a lot of Democratic women in particular, and they got in and really performed yesterday.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Trying to get to a national summary here, Democrats are hoping that those open seats in Pennsylvania are one of the ways they're going to take over the House.

    But yet if more progressive candidates, as we saw last night, are winning, what is your take? Are those progressive candidates more or less likely to help Democrats in the fall?

  • Dave Davies:

    Well, I think because the seats have been rearranged, I think at least three of the progressive Democrats who won yesterday are very likely to win their elections in the fall.

    And that would result in a net gain of two seats for the Pennsylvania delegation for the Democrats. I think they have a very real shot at three more, and that could mean that Pennsylvania could contribute five seats to a pretty good head-start for the Democrats to try and retake the House.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    As we saw some progressive Democrats win last night, also a conservative Republican, Lou Barletta, in the Senate race won that Republican primary. What do you make of the dynamics there? How much is President Trump going to be a factor in the Pennsylvania's Senate race?

  • Dave Davies:

    He is going to be a factor.

    Lou Barletta, who is a congressman from Eastern Pennsylvania, he championed cracking down on immigrants when he was the mayor of a town called Hazleton. That's how he became well-known.

    In Congress, he was among the earlier and most vocal supporters of President Trump. So President Trump is going to be a big factor in that race, no matter what happens. Barletta is going to be taking on a two-term incumbent, Bob Casey, a Democrat, who is not exactly Mr. Excitement, but he comes from a well-known family name.

    So I think Trump's going to be a big issue in that race in the fall.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Six months to go. You have a very interesting state. We have an interesting midterm election nationally. We will keep checking back with you.

    Dave Davies of WHYY, thank you.

  • Dave Davies:

    Good to be with you.

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