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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“House progressives are set to introduce a revised single-payer “Medicare-for-all” bill during the last week of this month, as Republicans sharpen their criticism of the policy and Democratic presidential hopefuls face questions about whether they support it, writes Mary Ellen McIntire at Roll Call. “The House bill from Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., will have at least 100 initial co-sponsors. It comes as Democrats are offering a range of bills to expand health insurance coverage, such as a proposal to allow adults between 50 and 64 to buy into Medicare that was unveiled Wednesday, and presidential candidates refine their positions on what “Medicare-for-all” should mean and the role private insurers would play…The intra-party divisions could complicate Democrats’ hope of keeping health care as a unifying issue and a central theme in the 2020 campaign, building on their capture of the House in 2018 by focusing on protections for pre-existing conditions and defending former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement…“The most important thing for Democrats to do is outline a couple of core principles that they are for and what they mean by ‘Medicare-for-all,’” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, adding that candidates should focus on broad topics like covering all Americans, lowering costs and the ability to choose their own doctors. “It’s very, very important that we get some of those components and core values out.”…“At the end of the day, what people want is access to affordable health care for everyone,” said Mark Mellman, a Democratic strategist and president of the Mellman Group. “People are less concerned about the mechanism through which that’s provided and more concerned about the ultimate objective….Polling shows that most people support expanding coverage through Medicare, but support for “Medicare-for-all” fell when people heard it could cause them to lose their insurance. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released last month found that support for a national health plan fell from 56 percent to 37 percent when people were told it would eliminate private insurance.”

Li Zhou and Emily Stewart consider “5 ways Trump’s national emergency declaration could be stopped” at vox.com, including: 1) A joint resolution of termination contesting the status of the emergency; 2) Congressional Democrats sue the White House; 3) Landowners sue the White House; 4) Liberal activist groups sue the White House; and 5) California and other states sue. There is a good chance that all of these challenges will soon be launched. As Zhou and Stewart explain “Trump is issuing the declaration under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which lets presidents issue an emergency declaration but under certain constraints — namely, Trump can only use specific powers Congress has already codified by law, and he has to say which powers he’s using. The act doesn’t define what counts as an emergency…House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday that they were prepared to take multiple routes to try to block Trump’s efforts. “The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available,” they said in a statement.”

At CNN Politics, Priscilla Alvarez explores the question, “Will the Supreme Court stop Trump’s national emergency?” Alvarez notes, “How and where these legal challenges proceed is unclear, but it’s likely they’ll bubble up to the Supreme Court — potentially testing for the first time the 1976 law that formalized the structure by which a president can declare a national emergency…There’s been virtually no litigation in the 43-history of the National Emergencies Act about that statute,” said Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law. “To a large degree, what is about to happen is not precedented,” he added.”…the administration could face legal challenges on what statutes he relies on to merit pulling from funds that haven’t been appropriated for his wall. Trump invoked Section 2808 of Title 10 of the US Code, which allows him to dip into a stash of Pentagon funds that are earmarked but have no signed contracts for spending that money. Section 2808, specifically, requires the use of the armed forces.”

“By validating the Republican efforts to portray Democrats as outside the mainstream,” writes Ronald Brownstein in “Howard Schultz Is Already Helping President Trump: The former CEO has staked out a platform few Republican-leaning voters would endorse” at The Atlantic, “Schultz is helping Trump already. He would help him even more if he runs as an independent behind a platform that aligns much more closely with the views of Democratic voters than with those of Republican voters. An independent candidacy that splinters the vote would reduce the share of the vote required to win, inexorably benefiting a president who has never sustained support from more than about 45 percent of the public. Unlike Clinton, who sought to remake the Democratic Party from within, Schultz could debilitate Democrats…With minorities and Millennials replacing working-class whites in the Democratic coalition, the party is more liberal than during Clinton’s era. But enough voters inside the coalition still share the views Schultz has expressed for him to exert influence within the party if he chooses to. Instead, he’s pursuing a course that may only help Republicans.

In his article, “One blue wave was not enough: Democrats need another in 2020: Beating Donald Trump might not be Democrats’ biggest task in 2020: A second blue wave could reshape history.” Paul Rosenberg writes: “Altogether, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is initially targeting 33 GOP-held seats, for 2020. Chairwoman Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., has declared that “2018 was just the tip of the iceberg for Democrats,” adding, “We have a clear path to expanding our Democratic majority, and by putting our plans in motion earlier in the cycle than ever before, we are demonstrating to Democrats across the country that the political arm of House Democrats is operating in high gear from the start.”…What’s more, the DCCC pointed out, 20 of the 33 seats it’s targeting “are held by an incumbent Republican who has never served in the minority before,” making them especially likely to retire and create a more winnable open-seat race…Pundits have largely tuned out on the House amid the early furor of the impending presidential campaign. That’s a mistake. Just as 2018 was all about the House, 2020 is expected to be all about the White House — with a secondary nod to the Senate. But a second wave election in the House could be crucial for longer-term Democratic success. And making further gains in state legislative races will be crucial to the redistricting process after the 2020 census is complete.”…“In 2020 we can defeat Trump and set up decades of progressive victories,” a Swing Left spokesperson told Salon. “That requires winning the White House, the Senate, key state races that will determine redistricting, and protecting our majority in the House. Put simply, the blue wave can’t be a temporary movement, and it can’t be confined to the House. We need to build a comprehensive and sustained approach to activating grassroots energy to win elections up and down the ballot.”

Rosenberg continues, quoting Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska and chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party: “There’s no question that Democrats need rural voters in order to win back the White House, as well as to win statewide races like U.S. Senate,” she said. “Unfortunately, Democrats have lost an entire generation of rural voters because there’s been this cycle of mutual neglect. Democrats don’t invest in the state parties, and then they don’t have the money to talk to rural voters. We don’t talk to rural voters, so they don’t vote for Democrats.”…One old-timer put it bluntly to her husband at a town hall, Kleeb recalled: “Let’s just be honest, if there’s only one church in your community, guess what religion you become.” Kleeb added that Democrats “have to start including the solutions that rural people are already putting on the table to the big issues facing our country and our party.”…“Real investments have to be made in red and rural states if we’re going to win the White House and critical statewide elections,” Kleeb said. “Specific examples are investing in state parties who know their communities best; opening up our primaries to independents, since we need their votes to win elections; and talking about issues that matter to rural people, like ending eminent domain for private gain, providing broadband access and ensuring competitive markets for family farmers and ranchers.”

At The San Antonio Express-News, Kevin Diaz reports that Dems see a “Texas ‘focal point’ of Democratic congressional strategy in 2020.” Diaz explains, “Smelling blood after picking up two Texas congressional seats in November – along with Beto O’Rourke’s narrow loss in the U.S. Senate race – House Democrats on Monday announced six new 2020 targets in the Lone Star State.” Diaz notes that Democratic strategists see 33 pick up opportunities for House of Reps seats in 2020, and 6 of them arte in Texas. “The targeted Texas lawmakers include Houston-area Republicans Michael McCaul and Pete Olson. Around San Antonio, the Democrats are putting two other Republicans in their sights: Freshman Chip Roy, a conservative stalwart who worked for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, and moderate Will Hurd, who represents a heavily Latino border district. Rounding out the list are Republicans John Carter of Round Rock and Kenny Marchant of Coppell…”All six have suburban areas experiencing population booms and an increasingly diverse electorate. These factors gave Republicans a taste of what is headed their way.” said DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos, an Illinois Democrat, in a memo released Monday…Republicans still represent 23 of the state’s 36 congressional districts. Flipping six seats would give Democrats a 19-17 majority in Texas.”

“While Northam is looking to atone for his actions, black organizers and activists say that he has a lot to do before he can be forgiven…Northam declared last week that he will stay in office, promising to help Virginia “heal” and use the blackface scandal as an opportunity to be more active in addressing racial inequality. That hasn’t stopped protests, though, or ended calls for his immediate resignation…Strong turnout among black Virginians, coupled with the fact that 87 percent of black voters in Virginia backed the Democrat, pushed Northam to a decisive victory over Republican Ed Gillespie…With Northam staying in office in hopes of riding out the scandal, the focus now shifts to how he will address the issue moving forward. On Tuesday, the governor’s office released a statement touting Northam’s record on restoring civil rights to people with felony convictions, a group that is disproportionately black. The Washington Post reported last week that the governor’s office is planning a statewide “reconciliation tour”, and Northam will attend a February 21 discussion on race at the historically black Virginia Union University. — From P. R. Lockhart’s “Ralph Northam wants forgiveness. Virginia’s black activists want him to work for it: The embattled governor’s fight for redemption is just beginning” at vox.com.

Lockhart reports that some groups, including the national and Virginia NAACP and county branches of the organization are still calling for Northam to resign. Other groups have have seized on the Northam meltdown to convert the controversy into an opportunity to advance a stronger civil rights agenda. The ACLU has called on him to support a constitutional amendment to protect the right to vote for those who have been convicted of felonies. Also, “In a letter sent to Northam this week, an activist group called the Virginia Black Politicos outlined their own set of policy proposals, including the removal of Confederate monuments, the creation of funds supporting black entrepreneurship and Virginia’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and a new office focused on issues affecting people of color.” Virginia’s legislative Black Caucus, which earlier called for his resignation, may be the most influential organization in shaping the outcome. Much depends on whether they will see a way for Northam to continue in office, in light of his record of support for civil rights reforms and the outright hostility to civil rights by Virginia’s Republican leaders.

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