Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Can Establishment Dems Lose 2 Senate Seats Not Even Republicans Were Hoping For?


Greg Giroux penned an essay for Bloomberg News, All Signs Point to Big Democratic Wins in 2018, which is a hell of a lot more reality-based than the tepid Beltway prognosticators who "think" the Democrats "may" win the 24 seats they need to take over the House again. That was last year's discussion. 12 months on, it's about how many Republicans will be left after the tsunami washes the party away. And is Beto's O'Rourke's second consecutive quarter of outraising Ted Cruz an indication that the Democrats are going to win the Senate as well? "History, demographics and the national mood," wrote Giroux, "are pointing to one conclusion about the 2018 congressional races: Democrats are well-positioned to bring one-party government in Washington under Donald Trump’s presidency to a screeching halt... Even if only one chamber flips to the Democrats, Trump’s ability to impose his agenda would be thwarted, and his administration almost certainly would find itself pinned down by investigations and subpoenas from congressional committees. An analysis by Bloomberg Government of historical data, election maps and public polling points to sweeping Democratic gains in the November election, when all 435 House seats and one-third of the Senate are on the ballot."
Republican pollster Lance Tarrance wrote in a Jan. 5 analysis for Gallup. “Trump’s 20-point approval deficit in recent Gallup polling does not bode well for him, in part because none of the past five presidents saw an increase in their approval rating in the year before their first midterm.”

...The off-year and special elections conducted since Trump took office underscore the Republican challenges.

Democrats won governors’ offices by wide margins in New Jersey and Virginia while also capturing Republican seats in both states’ legislatures, as suburban voters shifted to Democratic candidates. In Alabama, Doug Jones became the first Democrat elected to the Senate from the state in 25 years in a race that featured a scandal-tarred and controversial Republican who divided his own party, even though he had Trump’s endorsement.

“That’s three pretty big canaries in the coal mine that ought to warn you that you’re headed into a turbulent period in the next election,” Cole said.

...Democrats improved their showing in well-educated, historically Republican areas in the 2016 and 2017 elections, so some hard-fought races in the fall will be in the suburbs. Among the House districts that may be in play are those of Representatives Rodney Frelinghuysen and Leonard Lance in New Jersey, John Culberson in the Houston area, Barbara Comstock in the Virginia suburbs near Washington, and Peter Roskam in the Chicago area.
Goal ThermometerFor various reasons-- primarily the GOP-oriented 2018 map-- Giroux is less sanguine about Democratic chances for a Senate takeover. All the Democratic red-state incumbents would have to win and the Democrats would have to pull off wins from two of the worst Senate candidates in recent history-- both handpicked by Chuck Schumer who pretty much always picks losers-- putrid Blue Dog Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and tepid, pointless Nevada nothing-burger Jacky Rosen. Or one of them plus someone the DSCC and the Democratic DC establishment has been ignoring, Beto O'Rourke. You can contribute to Beto's campaign-- and the other Senate candidates endorsed by Blue America-- by tapping on the ActBlue "Senate 2018" thermometer on the right.

But that doesn't include unexpected stumbles from Senate Democrats that could give the Republicans opportunities they shouldn't even have. Here are two: Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Trump won-- barely, and possibly with actual Russian vote tampering in 3 counties, Luzerne, Erie and Northampton-- Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes 2,970,733 to 2,926,441. That's 44,292 votes (0.72%). Casey is anti-Choice. He always votes that way-- as he did yesterday when he supported the Republicans' very extremist and probably unconstitutional 20-week abortion ban. (Also crossing the aisle on that one were Joe Manchin or West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.) How turned off will parts of the Democratic base in Pennsylvania be by Casey's little reminder that he's as anti-Choice as any hateful Republican patriarchal goon who wants to interfere with women's ability to make their own health choices? How can Democrats denounce the GOP for voting that way when Casey and 2 other Democrats also did? Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowsky voted with the Democrats against the bill. Last time Casey faced the voters (2012) he beat Republican Tom Smith 3,021,364 (53.7%) to 2,509,132 (44.6%) and took all 3 counties the Kremlin tampered with for Trump, Erie, Luzerne and Northampton.

If the measure passes and is signed-- Ryan already got it passed by the House-- anyone performing an abortion on a woman who is more than 20 weeks pregnant would face a fine, up to five years’ jail time, or both. According to Planned Parenthood something like 99% of abortions occur before 21 weeks of pregnancy and those later on often involve severe fetal abnormalities or serious health risks to the woman.

New Jersey has a completely different nightmare brewing for the Democrats. It is not a swing state; it's a pretty safely blue state with a PVI of D+7. Hillary beat Trumpanzee there, winning their 16 electoral votes 2,148,278 (55.45%) to 1,601,933 (41.45%). So in 2012 Menendez, always a shady character but before the most recent scandals that rocked the politics of New Jersey, beat Republican Joe Kyrillos 1,987,680 (58.9%) to 1,329,534 (39.4%). Should be a safe seat, right? And it would be-- except for Menendez, who is adamantly refusing to resign.

Newark Star-Ledger columnist Tom Moran asked his readers to "try to envision Sen. Robert Menendez trying to manage his daily calendar when he's juggling his second trial on corruption charges with his campaign for re-election. Will he march in parades? Or will he attend the trial every day to save his neck?" He points out how dangerous-- actually he said "ridiculous"-- it is "in the Trump era, when a single Senate seat can tip the balance of power."
New Jersey voters haven't sent a Republican senator to Washington for half a century, and with Trump soiling the brand so badly, Democrats could win by picking a name out of the phone book.

Their only chance to lose this seat is to do exactly what they are doing-- rallying around Menendez with a unanimity that virtually ensures he will win the primary race on June 5, provided he's not sent to prison first.

Could Menendez win in November if he escapes conviction? Probably. The Cook Political Report rates him as the favorite today, even with the baggage. But that could change.

...Republicans have not chosen a candidate yet, but they are giddy about the prospects of Bob Hugin, a self-made millionaire and former Marine who told county chairmen recently that he would start the bidding by spending $20 million of his own money, and hopes to raise $40 million more, according to reliable sources in the GOP.

Imagine the flood of 30-second TV spots that money will buy. Menendez on a private jet to a luxury resort in the Caribbean, no charge. Menendez at a luxury hotel in Paris with a young woman, also gratis. Menendez hiding these gifts, despite the rules. Menendez doing favors for the man who paid for it all, his best pal, Salomon Melgen, a rich old man with a fondness for stray models, and now a convicted felon.

"Right now, a sitting Senator is vulnerable, and that creates an opportunity for us," says the state GOP chairman, Doug Steinhardt.

Think about the stakes. The repeal of Obamacare failed by one vote in the Senate, and the horrific tax bill passed by just three. Are Democratic leaders really that reckless?

Maybe not. Because there is a Plan B floating out there.

It goes like this: If Menendez is convicted, or so damaged that he's likely to lose, they will replace him, just as they replaced Sen. Bob Torricelli when he was under federal investigation during his 2002 re-election campaign.

Who would replace Menendez? Here's the leading theory among a long list of Democrats I asked over several weeks:

Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1st) would replace Menendez, answering a top priority of his brother George Norcross, who controls the biggest Democratic faction [faction?? The Star-Ledger isn't allowed to say "Machine," let alone "corrupt Machine?"] in the state Legislature.

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) would leave the Statehouse to fill that vacant seat in Congress.

That would open Sweeney's top spot in the state Senate, which would go to someone loyal to Murphy, probably from northern New Jersey, for regional balance.
Can't get any worse? How about this stinky little scenario?
New Jersey politics are a mess. Chris Christie left the governor’s office stinking of corruption. Sen. Bob Menendez will seek re-election in November, less than a year after a hung jury declined to acquit him of bribery charges; a repeat trial is in the offing.

Menendez is among the least popular senators in the country, with an approval rating of 29 percent. He’s likely to be re-elected anyway, because New Jersey’s Republican Party is in shambles. Christie left office as the least popular governor in the country, with an approval rating of 19 percent. He won re-election in 2013 with 60 percent of the vote. His lieutenant governor and two-time running mate, Kim Guadagno, lost her race to replace him with just 42 percent of the vote.

...The Libertarian Party ought to take a stab at Menendez’s seat. And their candidate ought to be Alan Dershowitz... he isn’t a run-of-the-mill Democrat. He’s a member of a rare breed of originalist Democrats who oppose judicial activism and defend the inalienability of even the least trendy constitutional rights. He voted for Hillary Clinton in ’16 and prefers Joe Biden in 2020, but has on several occasions come to Trump’s philosophical aid. He defended the legality of Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director Jim Comey. He defended the legality of Trump’s travel ban. He’s defended Trump’s allegations of bias in the FBI’s Russia investigation, and he’s attacked the left for trying to delegitimize Trump’s presidency through innuendo and tele-psychiatry.

Dershowitz told Politico that he’s lost seven pounds since finding himself forced to defend Trump. He says his liberal friends don’t invite him to dinner anymore. No doubt John Adams had a similar experience when he agreed to defend the British soldiers who killed five Americans at the Boston Massacre. (That sounds hyperbolic-- and it is-- but really, does the half of the country that hates Trump hate him less than Colonial Boston hated those soldiers?)

All that said, the tsunami keeps on building. Another powerful close Ryan ally House Appropriations Committee chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) made it clear yesterday that he's another rat deserting the sinking ship. He's the 9th House committee chairman to be resigning rather than face defeat in November. I've never seen anything like that before. And it's likely Ryan himself will soon announce he wants to spend more time with his own family. The Democratic establishment, by the way, have a conservative piece of crap they're running, someone sure to disappoint the base and lose the seat in the nest midterm, New Dem/EMILY's List garbage candidate Mikie Sherrill, a Wall Street criminal the DCCC is trying to pass off as a great and valiant military heroine. The only nice thing I've ever heard about her from New Jersey activists is that she probably won't turn out as bad as Josh Gottheimer... probably.

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At 5:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 2009 the Ds turned 60 into a minority, by design, with names like Nelson, Bayh, Lieberman, Baucus and, yes, Reid crossing over and/or refusing to consider solutions whenever ignoring a problem was easier.

What we all SHOULD have learned from this is that the PARTY is worthless as a unified force for anything good. Today it's Manchin and several others.

The PARTY, as described, are stacking their caucus with worse than milquetoast. Why you might ask? Simple. Money. Money today and more money tomorrow.

Presuming you can come to terms with these facts, how many Ds in the senate would be required in order to support progressive lege, fix any of the myriad of systemic evils in today's America, regulate capitalism, tax fairly, stop wars, destroy TBTFs and a mile-long list of others?

Given the party's efforts to stack the caucus with republicans, fascists and Nazis... the answer is infinity. The Ds could have all 98 of the non-Is and still never get past cloture on whatever the money doesn't want, presuming that the house might actually propose something progressive every once in a while (Ds there too).

Easy but foolish to forget the lessons from 2009.

It isn't the individuals. It's the party.

At 5:30 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

But will Russian interference actually affect our voting machines, let alone influence the 2018 elections through a full court press on the net? Blue Dog Dems are only part of the problem.

Congress and Trump are doing NOTHING to reinforce fair elections. They are probably hoping for Russian interference, as long as it is in their direction. Even without the Russians, there have been widespread problems and abuses with the machines. Hey - maybe Jared actually has set up a channel to communicate with the Russians thru their embassy to undermine the next election!

This is no way to run a country. The FBI is being decimated. So is the Justice Department. Maybe we won't be a Democratic country any more. It is looking more and more like Trump is "winning" and it is very upsetting and scary.

At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happen to be far more worried about the GOP voter suppression efforts than I am any alleged Russian hacking. The GOP has done far more damage to the American electoral system in any one year than the Russians could do in a decade. Remember when voting machine manufacturers worked hard to ensure GOP victories long before the alleged Russian hacking became a topic? This article from Mother Jones will refresh your memory if you forgot:


At 7:40 AM, Blogger Rhett O Rick said...

The problem with American politics can be summed up with one word and it ain't "plastic" but money. Money will win. The grassroots of both parties are putting up a good fight, but there is no real way to defeat money. Money has to win, they will accept no other outcome. Voter suppression and outright vote count manipulation is easy when you have the money. In my opinion, money will even destroy people's lives or take people's lives if necessary. As far as Russian manipulation, it most likely happened. IMO there are two factions fighting over the corps of the middle class. There is still some wealth on those bones. One faction is aligned with Russia. We are seeing first hand the end-game of capitalism. Ayn Rand is snickering in her grave.

At 9:05 AM, Blogger Ron said...

Democrats are still not giving their base anything to vote for, so I'm not counting on any "wave".

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The natural broader Democratic base, including those who don't consider themselves Democrats, have to win over the party like the ignoramus racist Tea Party took over the Republican Party. I can see no other even quasi-realistic option, given that 3rd parties have imo historically only functioned as well-meaning spoilers; no offense intended.

The Teabaggers finally decimated any lingering decency the Republican Party had left in it, which wasn't much, but it still took a years-long campaign including Koch and other corporate funding to complete the takeover, plus the eager willingness of the dominant news media (corporate-owned of course!!!) to pretend and promote the minor Teabagger phenomenon as some kind of irresistible grassroots wildfire...

...while the more cohesive Occupy movement had been police-harassed, and -attacked and snidely looked down on by countless people who should have been natural allies, including the badly nicknamed 'liberal media').

A more progressive Democratic Party will work relative wonders in this country, as it has in the past. The New Deal, even The Great Society, and yes even the Affordable Care Act made strides into a better world. Sure if Obama had been more adamant and forceful AFA could have been better, and other inroads could have been made as well. Alas, it's even clearer in hindsight. So we need a better party AND better candidates. Let's take over the Dem Party to the extent needed then!

The oligarchic establishment is by far still this country's strongest political influence, and that balance needs to shift only a little bit for the better America to begin to come forth again as it has in seemingly random fits and starts previously.

And I agree that the moderately conservative (at best) Ben Nelsons and Evan Bayhs aren't the best we can do, but you can't wish away the difficulty of electing progressive or even moderately liberal Democrats in many of the states. It takes more than complaining and whining about the bad Democratic Party. It takes activism and fundraising, like the DWT folks have been doing for years.

I've been away from reading DWT for a year or more, but now I'm very gratefully returning because of their dedication, theor political instincts, their insightful and often hilarious writing, and because they have always been where the rest of us on the non-rightwing side of American politics needs to be going forward and ad infinitum.

At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ron, yes indeed the Dem Party needs to give the base something to vote for. I think some things are being done if you look closely - Medicare for All endorsed by Gillibrand, tuition loan forgiveness, and other crucial popular things. BUT people need to know about it starting yesterday! The news media are going to ignore it like they ignored basically ALL of Hillary's progressive issues in favor of Trumpmania. So yes needed are the issues and better candidates (believable candidates!) to promote them and a coordinated national/state-by-state campaign. Bring back the Dean strategy and find someone who knows how to aggressively address voters. It may need to be out of the box in this political climate. Or on the other hand, in this Republican atmosphere of fear, loathing and hatred, a fiercely stoic positive presence who's a good speaker may be what's needed, even if she/he wasn't always as progressive as she/he may actually be now. Or even if he has been all along (Sanders).

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There isn't a single sure thing that the DINO-Whigs can't lose - or won't lose.

At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:34 and 10:42... oh never mind. I said I wouldn't pedantically prove any more how the democraps cannot ever be fixed from within... though Rhett summed it up quite nicely.

It took money only about 18 months to totally corrupt the party of FDR starting in 1980. It's been 38 years since that and lots of grassroot effort and even small donations have been flowing, DWT has been working... and no effect. The money still rules. Should be instructive... if one is open to facts/truth.

I would remind all who think the teabaggers "took over" the Nazi party... all they've done since that "takeover" is serve the wealthy and corporations. Yes, their rhetoric is far more xenophobic and they are much less prone to crossing the aisle, yet that isn't as relevant as you might think. The Ds **ALSO** serve only THEIR billionaires and (all the same) corporations but they still try to fool their rube electorate into thinking that what they're doing is actually good for them (ACA is the perfect example here). The Rs used to bother to try to convince the rubes, but now they have their 33% regardless. And they (and the Ds themselves) have suppressed the left electorate to about the same number. So the Rs don't HAVE to care any more.

It was in 1992 that the democrats had an opportunity to forge a PERMANENT liberal/progressive coalition with Independent voters that the Nazi third could NEVER challenge. And Clinton gave us GLBA, CFMA, NAFTA, WTO, GATT, deregs, working with phil fucking gramm and newt fucking gingrich... and Monica and Jennifer and all the others... smug smarmy predatory fucking pos. Clinton and the Ds cleared the way for dick fucking cheney and torture and war and bigger tax cuts for the wealthy and...

2008 was another gimmee election for the Ds to forge that forever coalition... and we got not. one. fucking. thing. from. obamanation. Pelosi. reid. or anyone else.

So keep up the good work DWT, 10:34 and 10:42. Any day now, things will turn around fer sher!!!!!

At 5:41 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Read this.


At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ap215, that is one powerful and damning article. Everyone who insists on lesser evilism forever needs to read this. The democraps are corrupt to the core and that corruption is self-perpetuating.

"I came to realize that no matter how good my intentions were, getting elected wouldn’t fix that broader problem gnawing away at our democracy."


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