Saturday, March 11, 2017


According to Politico's Gabriel Debenedetti, Democrats have a shot at some victories in 2018 -- unless they squander the opportunity because they're fighting with one another:
With 27 GOP-controlled governorships up for election in 2018, national Democrats envision the midterm elections as a chance to rebalance the scales at the state level, where there are currently twice as many Republican governors than Democrats.

But already, party leaders are running into a complication — unresolved issues left over from the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders presidential primary. Far from defeated, Sanders-aligned progressives are nationalizing their fight, showing less patience than ever for Democrats who don’t agree with them. And that’s generating fear and nervousness in the South — in places like Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee — where some promising Democratic candidates who are looking at running statewide in 2018 could face resistance from the left.
There's just one problem with Debenedetti's story: He offers no proof that this sort of Democratic infighting is actually taking place, or about to take place:
No Sanders-wing candidates have declared their candidacies yet in these Southern races.

People close to Sanders’ political arm insist there’s no evidence that the group or its affiliates will try to mount candidate challenges or ideology tests — especially not in the Southern states where the senator was squashed by huge margins in the 2016 Democratic primaries, and where his relationship with local leaders has been strained.
And also:
In several states, establishment efforts to work with Sanders backers are picking up. Georgia Democratic Party chair DuBose Porter noted his vice chair for recruitment was a Sanders supporter. And candidates such as Florida’s Andrew Gillum are openly courting the Sanders wing — the Tallahassee mayor is speaking to his state’s Democratic Progressive Caucus later this month.

“No one should be afraid of folks with differing views or differing stances on policy. We’re all in the same party,” said Tennessee Democratic Party chair Mary Mancini.
So there's evidence of some cooperation between the two wings. And there really isn't evidence that purity tests are on the verge of being imposed. So why is this a story?

Yes, Debenedetti finds people who think there might be conflict -- Jim Hodges, for instance:
“Here’s the challenge in many Southern states now: You have a more liberal primary base, because the more moderate voters are less likely to participate in Southern primaries, so it makes it more dicey. That certainly presents an opportunity for candidates who want to make a point rather than win an election — those candidates are less likely to be successful in a general election,” said South Carolina’s last Democratic governor, Jim Hodges. “In Southern states you’re going to need candidates who have more moderate stances to be successful."
Hodges last won an election in 1998. Why is he even being asked about how to win an election twenty years later?

Okay, Stacey Abrams is also quoted. She's a rising star who will probably run for governor in 2018:
“It is critical to recognize that there is a different set of policy issues in the Deep South that are not in play in the coastal areas or the West,” said Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a likely 2018 gubernatorial candidate, pointing to organized labor’s historic economic centrality in parts of the Midwest, and its relative absence in the South, as an example.

“My hope is that Our Revolution — or anyone else — will understand that purity to a progressive ideal does not [necessarily] mean purity in service of the community,” she added.
But no other current officeholder or strategist expresses concern about this. (And Abrams has been criticized for being too conciliatory toward Republicans.)

Is this really going to be a problem? I don't know. It might be. But Debenedetti's half-cooked story ran even with very little evidence to support his thesis. I guess there's always a hunger for reports that say Democrats are in disarray.

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