Friday, September 11, 2015

Senate Candidates Who Can Save The Democratic Party From Schumerization


As "journalists" go, Josh Kraushaar is certainly well-known as a major Beltway asshole, but his headline writer at National Journal did a piss-poor job on a relatively (for him) decent article, despite a few ridiculous assertions on his part that his readers have come to expect. The head is Democrats' Identity Crisis." The subhead is better, though: "In a normal year, Democrats would clear the field for their favored candidates. But this year, some unconventional candidates are taking on their party establishment."

When Schumer isn't trying to recruit a state legislator in New York to run against Jerry Nadler-- retribution for Nadler's principled and eloquent support for the Iran deal-- he's working his ass off to make sure the Wall Street-friendly conservaDems he backs get the party nomination in the races that Kraushaar, a Ron Fournier disciple, discussess in his poorly headlined article. The authoritarian Schumer bears a particular animus toward independent thinkers like Alan Grayson in Florida, whom the boorish Kraushaar smugly dubs "boorish," and Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania.

The Senate races are almost identical to the primary races Blue America is involved with: progressive Alan Grayson vs. "ex"-Republican Wall Street shill Patrick Murphy in Florida, progressive Donna Edwards vs. establishment hack Chris Van Hollen in Maryland, and progressive P.G. Sittenfeld against wishy-washy noncourageous Ted Strickland in Ohio. "If Hollywood," Kraushaar begins, with a paragraph that makes up for the terrible headline crafting,
wanted to pro­duce a su­per­hero movie about an ec­lect­ic bunch of Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate un­der­dogs look­ing to take on their party’s es­tab­lish­ment, they wouldn’t be able to script a more un­usu­al cast of char­ac­ters than the ones ac­tu­ally run­ning: There’s a three-star ad­mir­al who has no in­terest in tak­ing or­ders from party lead­ers. There’s the wealthy left-wing mil­lion­aire whose main cam­paign “tal­ent” is to pul­ver­ize his op­pos­i­tion, at least rhet­or­ic­ally. There’s a boy­ish 30-year-old Cin­cin­nati city coun­cil­man who’s look­ing to play Dav­id to a former Ohio gov­ernor’s Go­liath. And there are two highly ac­com­plished Afric­an-Amer­ic­an wo­men vy­ing to make his­tory in the Sen­ate-- but both try­ing to do it against can­did­ates who en­joy the back­ing of the Demo­crat­ic es­tab­lish­ment.
Kraushaar claim that "none of these can­did­ates are fa­vor­ites to win their party’s primar­ies," which is patently false, even absurd, since the only polls from Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania show Grayson, Edwards and  Sestak beating their conservative, Schumer-backed opponents. He also claims that the conservative candidates are "run­ning against bet­ter-fun­ded, bet­ter-or­gan­ized" campaigns, also demonstrably false in several cases. "But," he acknowledges,
the mere fact that they’re not be­ing cowed by party lead­ers to step aside for the great­er good is a re­flec­tion of the rising tide of pro­gress­ive, anti­es­tab­lish­ment angst tak­ing place with­in the Demo­crat­ic Party. Just as the once-seem­ingly un­beat­able Hil­lary Clin­ton is look­ing more vul­ner­able than ever in the pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, some of the party’s brand-name Sen­ate front-run­ners can’t de­pend on big-name en­dorse­ments trans­lat­ing in­to pub­lic sup­port.
At least he got that right.
The most in­ter­est­ing test will be in Pennsylvania, a race crit­ic­al to Demo­crat­ic hopes of re­tak­ing the Sen­ate. Party lead­ers got so tired of the un­pre­dict­ab­il­ity [in Kraushaar's Beltway universe, "independence" and "unpredictability" are the same, and both equally negative] of former Rep. Joe Ses­tak, the highest-ranked mil­it­ary of­ficer to ever serve in Con­gress, that they re­cruited Katie Mc­Ginty, the fourth-place fin­ish­er in last year’s gubernat­ori­al primary. On pa­per, Ses­tak is an ac­com­plished can­did­ate as a dec­or­ated mil­it­ary vet­er­an, former Phil­adelphia-area con­gress­man, and someone who nearly bucked the 2010 Re­pub­lic­an wave in the Key­stone State. He fits the polit­ic­al mo­ment as a polit­ic­al out­sider will­ing to buck the party es­tab­lish­ment-- so much so that he wouldn’t even tell the Demo­crat­ic Sen­at­ori­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee about his cam­paign launch.

But wary of his un­con­ven­tion­al cam­paign ap­proach, party lead­ers felt it was worth the risk to re­cruit Mc­Ginty, a more con­ven­tion­al politi­cian (most re­cently, she served as Gov. Tom Wolf’s chief of staff) even though it’s spark­ing a heated Demo­crat­ic primary. One seni­or Demo­crat­ic of­fi­cial wor­ried about Ses­tak’s elect­ab­il­ity still ac­know­ledged that he holds even odds to win the nom­in­a­tion. And giv­en the pub­lic’s grow­ing dis­taste of es­tab­lish­ment politi­cians, his out­sider per­sona would cer­tainly match the cur­rent polit­ic­al mo­ment.

If Pennsylvania’s Sen­ate primary of­fers a con­trast in can­did­ates’ back­grounds, the Flor­ida race between two wildly dif­fer­ing con­gress­men-- DSCC-backed Patrick Murphy and pro­gress­ive pu­gil­ist Alan Grayson-- will be a jar­ring con­trast in ideo­logy. Murphy is one of the most cent­rist [English: conservative and corrupt] Demo­crat­ic of­fice­hold­ers in Con­gress, win­ning past sup­port from the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce. Be­cause of that, party lead­ers [other corrupt conservatives] view him as the most elect­able can­did­ate to pick up a seat in a cru­cial battle­ground state. But Grayson, who has built a na­tion­al pro­file thanks to his scath­ing, over-the-top at­tacks against Re­pub­lic­ans, is bet­ting that, like Trump, he’s the can­did­ate that best ap­peals to the party’s base.

By the tra­di­tion­al met­rics of fun­drais­ing and en­dorse­ments, the Sen­ate primary in Mary­land shouldn’t even be com­pet­it­ive. Rep. Chris Van Hol­len raised nearly three times as much as Rep. Donna Ed­wards in the last fun­drais­ing quarter, and has been win­ning over the ma­jor­ity of Demo­crat­ic elec­ted of­fi­cials in the state, in­clud­ing in her home county. For Van Hol­len, be­ing one of the House’s most in­flu­en­tial Demo­crats as a past DCCC chair­man and cur­rent rank­ing mem­ber on the Budget Com­mit­tee usu­ally con­fers polit­ic­al be­ne­fits. But Ed­wards is bet­ting that her iden­tity is a more power­ful polit­ic­al as­set than his in­flu­ence.  In a state where a near-ma­jor­ity of Demo­crat­ic voters are Afric­an-Amer­ic­an, run­ning to be the only black wo­man in the Sen­ate car­ries clear ap­peal.  There are signs that her as­sump­tion is ac­cur­ate: Her cam­paign re­leased polling in Au­gust show­ing her lead­ing Van Hol­len by 5 points.

The oth­er two not­able Demo­crat­ic primar­ies-- in Ohio and Illinois-- wouldn’t even be tak­ing place if party lead­ers had more sway over their can­did­ates. Demo­crat­ic of­fi­cials as­sumed that 30-year-old Cin­cin­nati city coun­cil­man P.G. Sit­ten­feld, who entered Ohio’s Sen­ate race in Janu­ary, would step aside if former Gov. Ted Strick­land de­cided to run (which he did). In­stead, Sit­ten­feld stuck to his plan and has been a per­sist­ent nuis­ance to Strick­land, at­tack­ing the former gov­ernor over his ad­vanced age and his flip-flop­ping on is­sues. He’s very un­likely to win, but the primary is worth keep­ing an eye on giv­en the clear gen­er­a­tion­al con­trast. If the party’s voters want fresh­er faces, Strick­land could have a tough­er chal­lenge than he an­ti­cip­ated.

In Illinois, Sen­ate Minor­ity Whip Dick Durbin worked to clear the primary field for Rep. Tammy Duck­worth, an Ir­aq War vet­er­an who looked like the strongest can­did­ate to chal­lenge Sen. Mark Kirk.  But former Chica­go Urb­an League pres­id­ent An­drea Zo­pp didn’t get the mes­sage, and is hop­ing to rally Afric­an-Amer­ic­an voters to her side in the primary. With the DSCC fully be­hind Duck­worth, she’s a long shot, but her re­cord as a busi­ness lead­er and at­tor­ney should give her enough cre­den­tials to get at­ten­tion.
With the exception of sold-out pseudo-journalists like Kraushaar, no one-- least of all actual voters-- could care who the DSCC backs. In fact, in the current political climate, at least outside the Beltway, being backed by corrupt establishment operations like the DSCC and DCCC probably isn't worth the baggage and probably loses a candidate as many votes as it brings in, which isn't many to begin with.

Not a single Senate Democrat has the guts or will or inclination to stand up to Schumer in his Wall Street-backed power grab to control the party's Senate caucus. It's very disappointing. But it's something worth working on-- and here's a good place to begin.

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At 5:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These great Democratic Senatorial candidates might not only save the Party from "Schumerization," but perhaps constitute an important part of a new Democratic majority in the Senate and save everyone from Schumer, one of the most professionally obnxious, Likud-centric politicians in American politics.

At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never trust a person who is looking over his glasses and down his nose at you.


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