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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Chait: ‘Conor Lamb Strategy’ Can Work Again

In his New York Magazine post, “Democrats Can Run the Conor Lamb Strategy Over and Over,” Jonathan Chait makes a case that Democrats can replicate the ‘Conor Lamb strategy’ to good efect in the 2018 midterm elections:

…There are a lot of Conor Lambs out there. Very early in the election cycle, Democrats recruited candidates with nontraditional backgrounds, especially in the military, who would appeal to voters in red districts. “A rough profile of [Democrats’] ideal candidate has started to emerge: veterans, preferably with small business experience too,” reported Politico last April. “They’d like as many of them to be women or people who’ve never run for office before — and having young children helps.” The next month, Axios reported that Republicans were already worried about “Democrats recruiting unusually high-quality House candidates for the 2018 midterms.” It listed several:

— Jason Crow to challenge GOP Rep. Mike Coffman for Colorado’s 6th District. Crow’s bio: “[Led] a platoon of paratroopers during the invasion of Iraq and earned the Bronze Star for his combat actions during the invasion …”

— Chrissy Houlahan to challenge GOP Rep. Ryan Costello for Pennsylvania’s 6th District. Houlahan’s bio: Engineering degree from Stanford, Captain in the Air Force Reserve, chief operating office of an apparel company and of nonprofits.

— Josh Butner to challenge GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter for California’s 50th District. Butner’s bio: Navy SEAL, serves as trustee on a school board, and currently works for the dive equipment company, Aqua Lung.

“The unusual success Lamb showed in running a competitive race in Trump country,” concludes Chait, “is not a total fluke, but rather proof of concept for a strategy that could replicate itself across the country.”

In replicating the ‘Conor Lamb strategy,’ Democratic candidates should also emulate Lamb’s ability to avoid gaffes and blunders, his calibrated messaging strategy and, where possible, his outreach to labor unions, which can provide needed manpower for a winning ground game. Lamb was an excellent  candidate, in terms of both background and exceptionally-good judgement. As Chait points out, Dems have much to gain by studying his example.

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