Moderate Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, who lost his primary to a far-left challenger, told a Washington Post columnist that Democrats were "leaving the center wide open for Republicans" and criticized his party's shift toward "socialist-type" candidates.
"We’re leaving the center wide open for Republicans," Schrader, who lost his primary to Jamie McLeod-Skinner, told Post columnist James Hohmann. "We’ve got to be a bigger-tent party," the congressman added.
Hohmann argued in a piece published Wednesday that Democrats have their own "candidate quality" problem and it was an "unspoken internal challenge" for the party.
He argued that Schrader would have defeated Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the general election for Oregon's 5th District. McLeod-Skinner lost to Chavez-DeRemer by more than 8,500 votes.
"Elsewhere in the midterms, moderation proved a virtue and extremism a vice. Voters preferred civility to conspiracy, decency to divisiveness, reason to resentment, sanity to screaming. Tinfoil hats in both parties failed to win purple places; the sensible middle prevailed," Hohmann wrote.
Third Way co-founder Matt Bennet told Hohmann that mainstream candidates won in almost every race.
"The far-left has flipped a grand total of zero seats," he said.
Schrader also told Hohmann that Democrats won't be able to enact legislation in Congress because of the left's push. Hohmann said Schrader mourned moderate Reps. Ron Kind, Stephanie Murphy and Kathleen Rice, who decided to retire this year.
Hohmann said progressives blame McLeod-Skinner's loss on establishment Democrats for not throwing more funding in her race.
Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that candidate quality matters and that the midterms were a rejection of "extremism."
"I think we've been talking a lot about it this week. Candidate quality matters," he said. "You know, there's a chance of extremism that I think a lot of Republicans were painted with, rightfully or not. You know, when you have a product, you can't let the other side define you, right? And that's what — what campaigns are."
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., complained about candidate quality in Republican midterm races in August.
"I think there's probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate," he said. "Senate races are just different, they're statewide. Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome."