washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

From “GOP’s Senate outlook grows dimmer amid ‘candidate quality’ concerns” by Mychael Schnell at The Hill: “On Thursday, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report changed its rating for the Pennsylvania Senate race from “toss up” to “lean Democrat,” signaling headwinds for Republican Mehmet Oz in his race against Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D)….The shift came amid the crudité controversy in the Keystone State. Oz came under fire after Fetterman’s campaign recirculated a video the TV doctor posted in April showcasing him grocery shopping for crudité in an effort to show the effects of inflation….The Democratic campaign seized on the video, with the candidate writing on Twitter “In PA we call this a… veggie tray,” the most recent move in his attempt to paint Oz as a carpetbagger from New Jersey….Fetterman’s team said it raised more than $500,000 in the 24 hours after the video went viral. The lieutenant governor remains comfortably ahead of Oz in FiveThirtyEight’s average average, 49.1 percent to 37.7 percent.” Actually, the ‘crudite’ dust-up is more about the Republican candidate’s elitist language, in stark contrast to Fetterman’s authentic working-class appeal. Fetterman’s campaign was smart to capitalize on Oz’s blunder, and it wouldn’t hurt to make some humorous ads portraying Oz as poster boy for the crudite crowd.

In his op-ed, “The barely hidden fascism of Ron DeSantis makes a Pa. pit stop on a race to ’24,” Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch explains why Americans should be very concerned about a potential presidential candidacy of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis: “The time for mincing words is over. This is the latest and most alarming manifestation of a now barely hidden fascism by the head of America’s third-largest state, and one of the handful of serious contenders for the White House. DeSantis’ push for voter suppression and the increasingly paramilitaristic vibe of his public appearances prove the Floridian is the one we’ve been warning about: A post-Trump Republican taking a war on democracy to an even more dangerous place, minus the buffoonish narcissism of the 45th president….DeSantis has embraced a politics that has absolutely nothing to do with traditional conservative blather about freedom and everything to do with raw power. This 43-year-old rising force has already surpassed the dark promise of Trump by going after corporations who’ve dared to criticize him, seeking to chill classroom discussions about race or gender, and even overriding the resultsof a democratic election for a large-county prosecutor whose offense was having a differing opinion….In this context, DeSantis’ national campaign swing — which came to Pennsylvania this weekend with his controversial embrace of our extremist and Christian nationalist GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano — marks a major turning point as America looks warily toward a 2024 election that already has a kind of 1860 feel to it. Right now, DeSantis — the only serious Republican rival to Trump, according to the polls — is demolishing the myth that The Former Guy would be challenged by a moderate. Instead, DeSantis is taking the loose ideology of Trumpism to new extremes of demonizing The Other and positioning the GOP as an anti-democracy movement….Just the fact that DeSantis, the head of a state with a large Jewish population, thought it important to endorse Mastriano — despite the shocking revelationsabout the Pennsylvanian’s ties to the website Gab, a cesspool of anti-Semitism that inspired the 2018 mass murderer of 11 Jewish people at a synagogue just a few miles from where he spoke — was a powerful illustration of a political party’s downward spiral into madness….the two true leaders of today’s GOP are tripping over each other to embrace a homophobicanti-Semite bidding to run the state where the American Experiment began.”

WaPo columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. turns the spotlight on Senator Maggie Hassan’s re-election campaign, and writes, “The New Hampshire Democrat, who got elected six years ago by a margin of just 1,017 votes, uses an unmistakably New England locution to describe her state’s voters: “Wicked independent.” So it’s not surprising that one of her very favorite words is “bipartisan.”….Hassan adds a thought far more likely to be embroidered on a sampler than shouted out on Twitter: “You can’t care more about winning the argument than about solving the problem.”….The proudly purple reelection campaign Hassan is waging is a reminder that to win a majority in a U.S. Senate that structurally tilts toward conservatives — Wyoming and South Dakota have the same number of senators as California and New York — Democrats need to prevail in states that are by no means reliably progressive….This makes bipartisanship a good calling card for potentially vulnerable Senate incumbents, and it’s valuable in swing House districts, too. Hassan’s two Democratic House colleagues here, Reps. Chris Pappas and Ann Kuster, are also stressing the bipartisan victories in Congress….In this very swingy state, no one in this trio pretends that 2022 will be easy for any of them. But they all sense a mood swing in the Democrats’ favor…for Hassan, the fact that congressional Republicans unanimously opposed the [Inflation Reduction Act] bill — and that her leading GOP opponents vying in a Sept. 13 primary have criticized the bill — allows her to give her moderation a populist tilt. She assails “extreme” Republicans who are “regurgitating Big Pharma’s talking points and Big Oil’s talking points.” Count on “Big Pharma” and “Big Oil” to play starring bad-guy roles in Democratic campaigns all over the country….And if there is any state where the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade is likely to change the political winds, this is it. A poll this month by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center found that 71 percent of New Hampshire voters identified themselves as “pro-choice” while just 25 percent picked “pro-life.” Only 38 percent said they supported the Supreme Court’s ruling….The Democrats’ hope that abortion will be a wedge issue among libertarian-leaning conservatives — they loom large here — was underscored by the evocative tag line of a Hassan television ad against the court decision. “Protecting our personal freedoms isn’t just what’s right for New Hampshire,” she says. “It’s what makes us New Hampshire.”….Demonizing Hassan as an ideologue will be hard, not only because voters here know her well from her four years as a moderate governor, but also because she tried to immunize herself on prices by criticizing Biden for not doing more about inflation and by calling for a gas tax holiday. Dionne closes with a quote from rep. Kuster: ““For the first time, I’m running on freedom and safety, which used to be bedrock Republican issues,” she said. “The Republicans are running on chaos.” Wicked independents aren’t big on chaos.”

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight is bearish on Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan’s chances of winning his race for the U.S. Senate, but The New Republic’s Timothy Noah is more optimistic. As Noah writes, “Trump won the working class (defined conventionally as voters who lack a college degree) by 3 percentage points in 2016 and 4 in 2020. Granted, he won it partly through appeals to white bigotry. But Trump also increased Republicans’ share of working-class voters of color (mostly Hispanic) from 16 percent in the 2012 presidential race to 18 percent in 2016 to an alarming 25 percent in 2020. This is a serious problem. As the sociologist Ruy Teixeira, a leading scholar of working-class voters, puts it: “They just don’t feel Democrats give a shit about them.”….One Democrat who’s trying to reverse this tide is Ohio Senate candidate Tim Ryan, a 10-term congressman whose district includes Youngstown, the former steelmaking hub…..This year, Ryan is running to replace retiring Republican Senator Rob Portman. The move requires him to give up his safe House seat and is therefore a significant risk, given the Republicans’ tightening grip on the state. But Ryan has a record of risk-taking; he tried unsuccessfully to unseat Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader in 2016, and made a brief, quixotic bid for the 2020 presidential nomination, dropping out three months before the Iowa Caucus. When I asked Ryan what he considered his most important legislative accomplishment, he cited an obscure but important measure, included in last year’s Covid relief bill, that shored up Rust Belt multiemployer pension funds at serious risk of defaulting and bankrupting their insufficiently funded federal insurer, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The beneficiaries, he told me, included “about 100,000 people” in Ohio….Ryan parts company with Trump Republicans most obviously in his vigorous support for labor. The AFL-CIO gives him a lifetime score of 98 percent, the same as Representative Bobby Scott, the Democratic chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. The very first entry on the “issues” page of his campaign website is titled “Cutting Workers in on the Deal,” and in the first paragraph he voices support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would eliminate many significant legal barriers to unionization, and for a $15 minimum wage. Unions build communities, Ryan told me….To win back the working class, Democrats need to lead with their economic pitch: stronger unions, higher minimum wage, higher taxes on the rich. Ryan is doing all that….the Democrats have grown sufficiently weak in Ohio that even an inauthentic Vance will be hard to beat. If Ryan succeeds, it will be his job, alongside senior Senator Sherrod Brown, to persuade Ohioans that the Democrats really are the party of the working class. If they can do that, then maybe the Democratic standard-bearer in 2024 (I don’t assume it will be Biden) can shore up the party’s working-class support and make the Buckeye State competitive again by November 2024. If they fail, don’t rule out four more years of Trump.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.