MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin thinks yesterday's blowout hurts Democrats for the future, by depriving the party of potential stars:
... the Republican victories exacerbated a problem for Democrats that began in the 2010 midterms: The GOP is growing a deep bench of intriguing and diverse young politicians that Democrats have yet to counter with a star lineup of their own.Go back to the list in the first paragraph. Note that Mia Love is on there as a Republican rising star even though she lost her first House race two years ago. When that happened, Republicans didn't drum her out of their star-making system -- they just bided their time. Scott Brown lost an election two years ago -- if he'd beaten Jeanne Shaheen last night, don't you think the GOP would be touting the pretty boy as a star again? The GOP doesn't give up on its own that way.
Consider what Republicans got in this year's top tier candidates. In Iowa, they elected 44-year old Joni Ernst, a candidate whose oft-extreme rhetoric may not play well nationally, but whose charisma, military background, and groundbreaking role as the first female member of Congress from her state offer a new look for the GOP. In Colorado, 39-year old Cory Gardner gives Republicans a swing-state politician who combines staunch conservative policy with a moderate tone and appealing personality. In Arkansas, they added another relatively young war veteran in Tom Cotton, 37. On the House side, 38-year old Mia Love in Utah became the first African-American Republican woman in Congress after coming up short in 2012. Sen. Tim Scott, an underrated and unique conservative voice, became the first African-American to win a Senate election in the south since Reconstruction.
Then consider what the Democrats didn't get. Two promising Democratic women in red states, Michelle Nunn and Alison Lundergan Grimes, fell short in their respective Senate races. Anthony Brown, a Harvard-education African American Iraq veteran raised in an immigrant family, lost in an upset in Maryland's governor's race to Republican Larry Hogan. That race had the double effect of taking outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley, perhaps the most credible Hillary Clinton alternative in 2016, down a peg as well. Pro-choice hero Wendy Davis was a long shot in Texas from the minute she announced her candidacy, but her crushing defeat to Republican Greg Abbott -- yet another Republican rising star -- knocked out one of the few recent Democrats to generate a national following. In Nevada, 34-year old Lucy Flores, whose inspiring rise from gang member to state legislator put her on the national radar, lost her lieutenant governor's race amid a Republican blowout statewide....
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party doesn't even try to make household names of its winners. How hard has the party tried to make a star of Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq veteran who lost two legs in combat before becoming a congresswoman from Illinois? After she was elected in the Democrats' 2006 wave election, how hard did the party try to promote Gabby Giffords? Before she was shot, had you ever heard of her? She wasn't promoted as a star even though she was married to an astronaut. What's wrong with the Democrats?
How many people nationwide have heard of Sherrod Brown? Amy Klobuchar? Kamala Harris? Maybe Kirsten Gillibrand gets a bit of national attention, and self-promoters like Cory Booker, Wendy Davis, and Elizabeth Warren get more. But the party doesn't have anything like the GOP hype machine. If you don't work the system yourself, a la Barack Obama, you're nobody.
The existence of Fox News and the talk radio circuit helps Republicans immensely in this; Democrats have nothing of the sort except a few hours of MSNBC prime time. But Democrats don't even seem to think this is an effort worth making. And that's why Republicans have so many A-list presidential candidates for 2016 and Democrats, with Warren taking a pass, have precisely one. And things wouldn't be much better if Democrats had been winning wave elections. Remember all the superstars made by the 2006 takeover of Congress? Me either. That's how Democrats operate.