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Liberal group ups the pressure on candidates to back single-payer

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, joined by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., center left, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., center right, and supporters, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, joined by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., center left, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., center right, and supporters, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP

Liberals last week rallied behind new single-payer health-care legislation on Capitol Hill. Now, they’re turning their attention to candidates in next year’s midterm elections.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee on Thursday endorsed Democratic Iowa gubernatorial candidate Cathy Glasson, singling out the labor leader for her full-throated support for a “Medicare for all” program favored by many progressive advocates.

Glasson, who declared her candidacy in Iowa on Tuesday, is one of a handful of candidates seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination there. But liberal strategists hope that the PCCC’s endorsement will send a signal to Democratic candidates across the country that supporting a single-payer health-care overhaul is key to earning the backing of the party’s progressive base.

“As one of the first gubernatorial candidates to campaign on Medicare for All, Cathy is the model for all 2018 candidates,” said Stephanie Taylor, PCCC’s co-founder. “By showing Democrats how popular Medicare for all is in Iowa, Cathy is helping make the issue the consensus position for the party in 2018 and 2020.”

Glasson is a nurse and head of a local SEIU union in the state.

Single-payer health care has become a heated internal debate within the Democratic Party this year, with pols like Sen. Bernie Sanders pushing the issue to the forefront after years of it being considered a fringe subject. Polls show that support among voters for the measure has surged, and many of the party’s potential 2020 contenders, like Sen. Kamala Harris of California, have offered support for it.

Moderate Democrats worry that proposing to overhaul the nation’s health care — in a single-payer system, the government would largely replace insurance companies in paying for health care costs — is politically perilous.

Alex Roarty: 202-383-6173, @Alex_Roarty

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