The Republican Wing Of The Democratic Party Rides Again
How do you know which congressional candidates-- often without records, or without easily accessible records-- you should vote for? Many people just base it on party ID. People who identify with the Democratic Party, for whatever reason, vote for Democratic candidates and people who identify with the Republican Party, vote for Republican candidates. I bet that accounts for upwards of 70% of the electorate. But on both sides of the political divide, there has been a realization dawning that not all Democrats (and, to a lesser extent, not all Republicans) are the same.
There's this thing-- the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, primarily conservatives grouped as New Dems and Blue Dogs-- that actual Democrats ought to not ever vote for. We write about this pretty frequently and I'm bringing it up again today because the New Dems just released their final list of 2016 endorsements-- two dozen of the worst Democrats (to use the term loosely)-- running for the House. Candidates have to submit applications proving that they are bona fide conservatives in order to get endorsed. Sure, some are worse than others, but if you're a Democrat who care about Democratic Party ideals, values and principles, and about getting progressive legislation passed, these are not candidates for you. The worst ones-- with records of how bad they are-- include Lou Correa (CA), Joe Garcia (FL), Pete Gallego (TX), Randy Perkins (FL), Colleen Hanabusa (HI), Brad Schneider (IL), Isadore Hall (CA), Monica Vernon (IA), Darren Soto (FL), Josh Gottheimer (NJ)... and from I know of them Matt Heinz (AZ) and Angie Craig (MN) don't seem as terrible as the rest.
|The only reason to vote for Isadore Hall would be because you feel there aren't enough corrupt snazzy dressers in Congress|
But a New Dem is a New Dem... It doesn't mean they're worse than a Republican, but it does mean they'll be dragging the Democratic Party further and further right and further and further into the corrupt clutches of Wall Street, something no Republican, no matter how bad, can do. (Also worth noting: two of the worst of the New Dems, Lou Correa and Isadore Hall, aren't running against Republicans Nov. 8, but against progressive Democrats, respectively Bao Nguyen and Nanette Barragan.)
On Tuesday Laura Reston dealt with the Senate version of the problem for the New Republic, asserting, correctly, that if Schumer's handpicked, Wall Street-friendly candidates blow this chance to take back the Senate, Democrats should stone Schumer rather than elect him Leader (except she put it more diplomatically in Will Mushy Moderates Cost the Democrats a Senate Majority?
Reston doesn't think much of former fracking lobbyist Katie McGinty, the 5th or 6th recruit Schumer finally managed to land as the not-Sestak candidate in Pennsylvania. She begins by quoting other journalists to puke on his Convention speech.
Delivered in a stilted, singsongy voice, McGinty’s string of platitudes earned a smattering of tepid applause from the crowd and a series of blistering reviews online. “McGinty sounds like she’s speaking to a kindergarten class, not a convention hall,” tweeted the National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar. Minutes later, the Guardian’s Dan Roberts added: “Katie McGinty, running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, just gave the Saturday Night Live spoof version of a plastic political stump speech.”Confirming what I've long thought-- namely that McGinty has nothing to offer-- Reston asserts the only qualities she has-- the ones that lured Schumer and Tester into backing her-- other than qualities authoritarian Democrats like Schumer "value in their recruits: thoroughly inoffensive centrist politics, fundraising prowess, endorsements from Washington insiders, and a willingness to stick to Democratic talking points. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and EMILY’s List wooed her into the race. And when her defeat looked likely, the DSCC officially endorsed her in March-- and then made sure that she won the nomination. In early April, the DSCC began pouring money into McGinty’s primary, expanding its initial investment well beyond the $1.1 million cash infusion they had originally allocated to shore up her campaign. The whopping $4 million spent by the party, EMILY’s List, and labor unions was enough to put McGinty over the top." And now they're stuck with a loser who might lose to Toomey, who-- as I expect to show in a poll next week-- would have been abandoned by the NRSC by now, the way they've abandoned Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, where Schumer was unable to insert right-wing New Dem Ron Kind instead of Feingold.
That’s pretty much been the story of McGinty’s campaign--one that’s borne great resemblance to the equally lackluster efforts by the party’s chosen candidates in Florida (Rep. Patrick Murphy) and Nevada (former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto). The Democrats are close to blowing the best chance they may have in years to take back the Senate: Control of the chamber has boiled down to six races where the Democratic nominees are all virtually deadlocked with their opponents. (McGinty, down by 2 percent to Toomey, according to Real Clear Politics, is lagging about five points behind Hillary Clinton in the Pennsylvania polls.) If they fall short, it will be because the party went out of its way to recruit and push loyal foot soldiers like McGinty, a career bureaucrat who, despite having a compelling personal narrative, has shown very little spark on the campaign trail-- and offered only one consistent message: Isn’t Donald Trump awful?
The party also recruited Cortez Masto to defend Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada, and Murphy to challenge Marco Rubio in Florida. The Democrats would have had another flavorless centrist challenging Republican Richard Burr in North Carolina, too, if they hadn’t been turned down by a string of them. The DSCC sat down with former Senator Kay Hagan in early 2015, just months after her bitter loss in 2014, to gauge her interest in running again. Only after she and several other establishment options refused did Democrats settle on an unconventional choice-- liberal former state ACLU chief named Deborah Ross. Ross was considered a sure loss, but she’s running close to Burr with one of the most pleasantly surprising campaigns of the cycle-- offering a vision as fresh as the party’s chosen candidates’ are stale.What Reston doesn't know is that Brad Miller, an independent-minded progressive was high on the list of every progressive group looking for an opponent to Burr and, knowing that crooked conservative Wall Street shills like Schumer and his hand-puppet Tester would never back him, demurred.
The central distinction McGinty has drawn between herself and her opponent is simple: He belongs to the same party as Donald Trump. “Donald Trump and Pat Toomey have plenty in common,” the narrator in a recent ad from the McGinty campaign says. “Even after Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women, Toomey stood by him.” Her allies have done the same. The Senate Leadership PAC recently released an ad that begins: “TOOMEY & TRUMP. Wrong for the women of Pennsylvania.”If you want to see progressives win seats in Congress, not shills from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, this thermometer leads to a page that includes both House and Senate candidates, all vetted progressives-- no New Dems, no Blue Dogs, no Schumerites.
It’s her one issue, really—and Toomey, the only senator running for reelection who hasn’t committed to supporting Trump, has made it devilishly hard for the attacks to stick. Pressed again in Monday night’s debate, he dodged again: “I don’t think my constituents care that much how one person is going to vote.” Toomey’s tactic has worked: Even as the Trump campaign was engulfed by sleaze in the weeks after his 2005 Access Hollywood tape surfaced, Toomey rose slightly in some polls, edging marginally ahead of McGinty.
Cortez Masto and Murphy have used the same playbook, repeatedly attempting to bludgeon their opponents with Trump. In an October 14 debate against Representative Joe Heck, Cortez Masto said, “When Donald Trump was making fun of the disabled, attacking Mexicans, calling them rapists and criminals, and calling women names and denigrating women-- which we know why he was, because he thinks he can sexually assault women-- Congressman Heck had high hopes Donald Trump would be president.” It didn’t quite work: In the days before that debate, Heck had disavowed the nominee altogether, helping to neutralize Cortez Masto’s prepared zingers. She had little other material to work with.
In an October 17 debate against Marco Rubio, Murphy experienced the same problem, almost comically. When Rubio attacked him for “inappropriate behavior” captured in an old photo that appears to show him groping a woman, Murphy sheepishly tried to pivot: “Let’s just talk about Donald Trump again.” It looked defensive, and furthermore, it’s hard to convince voters that a senator who famously feuded with Donald Trump in the Republican primary-- saying “Donald is not going to make America great, he’s going to make America orange”-- really stands with the Republican nominee.
After watching the recent Senate debates, Slate’s Jim Newell nailed the problem, writing that Democrats are “trapped in these races,” “adhering to the same, safe strategy of saying Trump’s name a million times, which keeps them close to their rivals but suffocates the strategies elsewhere that might reveal them as inspiring candidates in their own right, running their own races.”
Imagine, for a moment, that these candidates do pull out victories on November 8. What happens six years from now? In recent midterm elections, moderate Democrats have struggled to hang onto their seats; it’s the reason the Blue Dog caucus in Congress is down to 14 members. Kay Hagan, for example, ran a cookie-cutter Democratic campaign to take her Senate seat in 2008, hewing to the middle and touting her credentials as a corporate lawyer and bank vice president. Six years later, in a midterm election, she was defeated by almost 50,000 votes despite running what Democrats considered a “perfect”-- that is, cautious and unimaginative-- campaign. With no distinct political personality to attract North Carolinians to her, Hagen was easily cast by Republicans as an Obama puppet. And her centrist appeal was not enough to generate the kind of enthusiasm required to turn voters out in a midterm election year. As one Democratic strategist said at the time, “I don’t think a field operation can create enthusiasm.”
Even if Senator Katie McGinty has the best field operation in the country six years from now, she will need something more than pat Democratic talking points to turn out the vote. And if the Democrats keep handpicking candidates who have to rely on a rogue Republican presidential contender to manufacture enthusiasm, they will almost surely forfeit any chance at holding on to the Senate over the long haul.