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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Florida’s Democratic nominee for Governor Andrew Gillum responded to the race-baiting “monkey this up” comment by his opponent, Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, with the kind of high-road dignity that the GOP has lost. As Dartunorro Clark and Ali Vitali of nbcnews.com quote Gillum: “We’re better than this in Florida. I believe the congressman can be better than this. I regret that his mentor in politics is Donald Trump, but I do believe that voters of the state of Florida are going to reject the politics of division…In the handbook of Donald Trump, they no longer do whistle calls — they’re now using full bullhorns,” Gillum said. “I’m not going to get down in the gutter with DeSantis and Trump, there’s enough of that going on, I’m going to try to stay high.”…He added, “It’s very clear that Mr. DeSantis is taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump, but I think he’s got another thing coming to him if he thinks that in today’s day and age Florida voters are going to respond to that level of derision and division.”

Is Being Authentic, Progressive, and Inclusive a Winning Strategy for Democrats?,” asks Nancy LeTourneau at The Washington Monthly. Commenting on the Democratic gubernatorial primary victories of Stacy Abrams, David Garcia and Andrew Gillum in Georgia, Arizona and Florida, LeTourneau writes, “Both Gillum and Garcia are running unapologetically progressive campaigns. And just like Stacey Abrams, they are being bold in embracing their heritage. As an example, Gillum has a long history of fighting against the gun lobby in a state that has been mobilized on the issue ever since the Parkland shooting. He’s also running on a strong platform of criminal justice reform, which is a priority for African American voters. Meanwhile, Garcia is focusing on public education.” LeTourneau notes that “Democrats came closer to winning in Florida, Georgia, and Arizona than in Ohio. They are closer to winning in Texas than in Iowa…It’s not about insurgents vs establishment or mobilization vs persuasion. It’s also not about furthering the racial divide or the one between Democrats and Republicans. It is about whether being authentic, progressive, and inclusive is a winning strategy for Democrats.”

At The Nation, Andrea Cristina Mercado, Director of the New Florida Vision PAC, explains why “Andrew Gillum’s Upset Reveals a Winning New Progressive Strategy: The results of Florida’s gubernatorial primary should serve as a lesson for the Democratic establishment,” and observes “Gillum’s primary night victory has upended the world of Florida politics for its symbolism, its political platform, and the highest voter turnout in the past 10 years that came with it…He ran on an unapologetically progressive platform, and focused on “anyone who’s ever been told they don’t belong.” He spoke to voters whom his party ignored, and aimed to expand the electorate instead of exclusively trying to sway returning or longtime voters…He offered policies to expand access to health care for all, invest in public education, make sure workers live with dignity, and protect families from “stand your ground,” gun violence, discriminatory policing, or rogue deportation agents.

Mercado adds that “Black voters in Florida and beyond have stood behind Democratic victories in every race. They’re increasingly joined by Latinos, who have inverted their party affiliation in Florida from 37 percent Republican, 33 percent Democrat, and 28 percent independent in 2006 to 37 percent Democrat, 35 percent independent, and only 26 percent identifying as Republican in 2016…We cannot underestimate what will be done to suppress and disenfranchise black voters and intimidate immigrants to protect the Republican hold on the state. To win in November will take more vigilance and deeper commitments than what got us through the primaries.”

“It’s a repeat of a choice Democratic primary electorates have also made in Georgia, where they picked state Rep. Stacey Abrams, who has built a career out of registering new voters; in Maryland, where Ben Jealous is banking on a blue wave; and in Arizona, where David Garcia ― another primary winner on Tuesday ― is counting on the excitement of the possibility of the first Latino governor in 40 years to fire up Latino voters…All four candidates ― Gillum, Jealous and Abrams are black, and Garcia is Latino ― are counting on a coalition of minority voters and white liberals as their path to victory, with a dash of help from suburban moderates turned off by Trump. Their nominations represent a tactical sea change for the party compared with four years ago, when centrists were nominated in all four states. And they give progressives their best chances in years to prove that their theory of how to win the midterms is the right one.” From “Progressives Will Lead Democrats In Some Of 2018’s Biggest Contests: With Andrew Gillum’s primary victory in Florida’s gubernatorial race, progressives have a chance to prove they know how to win in the midterms” by HuffPo’s Senior Political Reporter, Kevin Robillard.

“Democratic strategist Estuardo Rodriguez said more state politicians like California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) need to propose more health-care alternatives because the national system does not fully work in the U.S.,” reports Julia Manchester at The Hill.  “You’ve got to have people like Gavin Newson pushing something like this because the national system that was supposed to work didn’t, and Republicans came in and undercut it,” Rodriguez, a Raben Group strategist, told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on “Rising.”…”It’s not going to work immediately after it passes. It’s going to need ongoing fixing just like Social Security did way back when it was first introduced. You have to constantly improve it,” he said…Newsom, who is running for governor, has thrown his support behind Senate Bill 562, also known as the “Healthy California Act,” which would provide health-care for all people living in the state.”

Regarding Democratic prospects in Oklahoma, FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rackich writes, “Republicans picked businessman Kevin Stitt as their nominee for Oklahoma governor over former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, 55 percent to 45 percent. That qualified as good news for Democrats, since early polls showed their nominee, Drew Edmondson, narrowly leading Stitt but tied at best with Cornett. Outgoing Gov. Mary Fallin is terribly unpopular, which has given Democrats a real shot in this otherwise very red state.”

“The House generic ballot shows a Democratic lead of sufficient size to allow for a House takeover. None of Democrats’ red state Senate incumbents appear to be certain or near-certain losers, although several are endangered,” note Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley in their “A Labor Day Status Report” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball.  “They have a huge number of credible candidates running credible campaigns across the House landscape. Polling generally shows that Democrats are more excited about the election than Republicans, a statistic that is backed up by the bulk of elections conducted since the 2016 election, where Democrats have often run ahead of what one might expect based on recent performance. Republicans are defending far more open House seats than Democrats (42 GOP seats will not have an incumbent on the ballot this fall, compared to just 22 for Democrats). These seats are generally easier to flip. The gubernatorial map favors Democrats, as they are defending only nine of the 36 seats in play, and many of their best targets are open seats.” Skelley and Kondik also rate the Florida governorship and U.S. Sneate races as in the “toss-up category.”

In his NYT column “Another Strong Night for Democrats,” David Leonhardt writes, “With yesterday’s voting in Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma, the 2018 primary season is almost over. Only five states — all in the Northeast, including Massachusetts and New York — have yet to vote, and each will do so over the next couple of weeks…All told, the primary season has been quite good for Democrats. They have largely avoided nominating weak candidates in winnable districts. They have kept their focus on economic issues, where the public tends to support Democratic positions (as opposed to social issues or impeachment, on which voters are more evenly split). Meanwhile, President Trump continued acting in ways that have kept his approval ratings in the low 40s…Last night’s results continued the trend. Combined, Arizona and Florida have nine House districts that Democrats have a legitimate chance to flip, according to the Cook Political Report. Solid Democratic candidates won the primaries in all nine.”

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