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Can Democrats Solve Their Dilemma?

Don Rose 27 June 2017 No Comment

Who should be the “face” of the Democratic party for the upcoming mid-term elections?  And what should its message be?

Those questions bubbled up like lava following Jon Ossoff’s loss in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District runoff, despite spending millions with the hopes of all brands of Democrats riding on him.

ddilmma

In fact those hopes were excessive based on his showing of 48 percent in the nonpartisan “jungle” primary. Wonderful to think about but essentially beyond reach, especially since he had no message and didn’t even live in the district. But he did well, cutting the previous incumbent’s margin of victory by about 20 points.

Republicans and instant experts all piled up on the Dems, pointing out they lost four for four in special congressional elections this year, dampening hopes of taking over the House in 2018.

The first name in the blame-game was House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who has been a useful target for the GOP for several years now. There are legitimate grounds for discussion of her as an issue, but first I want to point out that despite losing four-for-four, taking over the House remains a serious possibility, provided “the Resistance” does not lose heart and drive before November 2018.

Look at it this way: the four previous incumbents, now all in the Trump Administration–if you can call that garbled mess an “administration”–previously won their seats with an average of 62 percent. The four losing Democrats this year cut that down to an average of 52.5 percent–nearly 10 points.

Independent analysts suggest that if the Democrats can reduce the GOP’s average  margin of victory by 8 points, the House can flip. In that light, there is hope considering what they did this year, even in losing. It won’t be easy, but not a pipe-dream.

Remember, there are 23 districts around the country, where Hillary Clinton won but Republicans won the congressional seats. None of those were among the four losses this year and thereby remain highly vulnerable, especially after whatever health-care bill emerges–or fails to emerge–from Congress. Another half dozen vulnerable districts were carried by Trump, but by small margins, like Georgia’s 6th.

Now the hard part. Should Pelosi be replaced? Clearly she is deeply hated by conservatives and may have cost several House seats. Misogyny aside, she represents the old order, as does Senate leader Chuck Schumer. On the other hand, she is a brilliant strategist, tactician and highly effective legislative organizer, both as Speaker of the House as well as minority leader. She remains one of the most valuable players in politics today.

I could only support replacing her if there were a new face for the party–someone in the image of a younger Joe Biden with a powerful economic message based on jobs and justice–someone like Senator Sherrod Brown, a progressive who keeps getting elected in the valuable swing state of Ohio. (He’s up for re-election in2018).

But there also must be some way of retaining Pelosi’s indispensible talents.

There’s new leadership in the Democratic National Committee. It’s time they produce.

**
Don Rose is regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer
image Between Scylla and Charybdis

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