By Sam Rosenthal & Ryan Black, Progressive Hub

It was a night of contrasts. While in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, Nina Turner was conceding to Shontel Brown — whose campaign was propped up by millions of dollars from Republican donors and pro-Israel PACs, first term representative Cori Bush succeeded in saving millions of families from being thrown out onto the streets.

On August 3rd, the Centers for Disease Control announced an extension to the eviction moratorium that had protected vulnerable families from homelessness since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This marked an about face for the Biden administration, which has previously insisted that it did not have constitutional authority to intervene in the sunsetting eviction moratorium. The change in course was almost certainly spurred by progressive activists and electeds, led by Rep. Cori Bush (MO-01), who spent five days sleeping on the steps of the Capitol. Rep. Bush, who had herself experienced homelessness earlier in life, brought attention not just to the impending eviction crisis, but also to the administration and moderate Congressional Democrats’ disinclination to take action.

For now, her plan has worked: the Biden administration bowed to progressive pressure (and probably fear of further embarrassment at the hands of their own party members), and millions of families have been saved from eviction. For a night, at least, it seemed progressive politics had worked; and that they had won.

But the feeling of victory was short-lived.

On the same night, in northeast Ohio’s 11th District, corporate-backed Democrats won their war against Nina Turner. Turner, who, like Cori Bush, would have become another militant progressive voice in Congress, saw a 35 point lead evaporate over the last two months of the campaign, finishing six points behind Brown. Millions of dollars poured into the district in the final two months, much of it from the Democratic Majority for Israel, a pro-Israel PAC that had previously spent huge sums to tarnish the candidacies of Bernie Sanders and Jamaal Bowman. The PAC and its allies unleashed a vicious ad campaign against Turner, spreading lies about her, and framing her as an enemy of the Democratic Party.

The overlapping events neatly framed an uncomfortable dynamic that has taken hold in the Democratic Party in the wake of progressive insurgencies since 2016. While Democratic donors and their allies spent millions of dollars to defeat a people-powered progressive, just 400 miles away, another icon of the progressive movement nearly single handedly saved millions of families from eviction. The dissonance in approaches highlights a Democratic Party leadership that, while it may pay lip service, often isn’t serious about doing work for working people.

The behavior of the Democratic establishment shows that even though Nina Turner’s progressive politics are effective and can succeed in bringing material benefits to working people across the country, Democratic Party leaders are not on board. More accurately, their goals aren’t aligned. The Democratic establishment, funded by corporate and militarist lobbies, will continue to aggressively fight off progressive momentum wherever it takes root.

But there’s reason to be hopeful. Like Nina Turner, Cori Bush lost her first run for Congress in 2018 — and by a whole lot more than Turner. In 2018, when Bush first took on Lacy Clay, the scion of a well-connected political family, she was trounced by nearly 20 points. The race seemed unwinnable even with two more years of campaigning. And yet, in 2020, she unseated Clay. And, fewer than two years after winning, she led the efforts that saved millions of people from homelessness.

Like with Cori Bush in 2018, I think it’s safe to say that we haven’t seen the last of Nina Turner.

It’s way too early to know if Nina Turner will take the route that Cori Bush took and face up against Brown again in 2022. What is already clear, however, is that the progressive surge in the US is here to stay — and it has learned resilience. Since 2016, every postmortem declaring the end of progressive momentum has been proven wrong; another movement has blossomed or another candidacy has been declared nearly as soon as the words have left the establishment’s lips. Whatever the next electoral cycle brings, corporate Democrats everywhere can be sure to find themselves fighting for their political lives.

Read more coverage of Nina Turner’s run for Congress here.