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Est. April 5, 2002
May 13, 2021 - Issue 865
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The longstanding maxim, “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line” is operating at peak efficiency. Democrats of color fell hard for the Obama-Biden ticket in 2008 and 2012 and for the Biden-Harris ticket in 2020, propelling them to victory. Then, after their historic achievement in 2008, they did not turn out for the 2010 midterm election, where the Republicans wiped out Democrats in the House and gained seven Senate seats. There appeared to be little White House effort to galvanize down-ballot Democratic races.

The Democratic voting base failed to take back the House in 2014 and also lost the Senate to Republicans, who continued to stay in line. As a result, the Obama-Biden administration was in lame-duck status during the last six years of its two terms, enabling the Republicans to deny Obama the ability to fill an open seat on the Supreme Court in 2016.

That same Democratic approach appears to be taking hold as the Biden-Harris administration positions itself for the 2022 midterms, hoping to maintain its House and Senate majorities. In addition, progressive Democrats do not seem to understand that the instability of their borderline majorities in both chambers do not provide them the latitude to push a far-left agenda and that they need to rein in some of their leftist political impulses to hold their members together.

African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and Latinx voters—the New American Majority of the Democratic voting base--provided the decisive margins for Democratic victories in Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada in the 2020 U.S. Senate and presidential elections. The 2022 midterm elections will require that Democrats scale up quickly in their outreach and resource allocations to these ethnic minority constituencies.

Currently, only Georgia has such a political organization in place. And Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), who stands for reelection in 2022, took part in the Georgia organizing effort long before he became a Senate candidate. The White males who spearhead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) are both ill-equipped to lead these efforts successfully in the battleground states on the midterm ballots.

To address this problem, three Democratic Senators, Cory Booker (NJ and Black), Mazie Hirono (HI and AAPI), and Alex Padilla (CA and Latinx) will co-chair the Majority Rising Leadership Council at the DSCC to ensure that Democratic “… campaigns have the expertise and resources they need to engage the communities that power our victories.” This group may be too late to have a major electoral impact.

As structured, this diversity initiative does not have control over candidate selection and the distribution of financial resources to minority consultants and local get-out-the-vote (GOTV) field operators in the battleground states. Booker, Hirono, and Padilla are at risk of being used as minority fronts for a White-controlled political apparatus.

This is further highlighted in the examination of crucial races which may determine whether the Democrats keep their majority.

The open U.S. Senate seats in North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania (all held by Republicans) provide opportunities for Democratic pickups to sustain and/or expand their political advantage.

Two African American females are running for the North Carolina U.S Senate seat: former State Senator Erica Smith, who was blown out in a 2020 Democratic primary run by a White former State Senator, Cal Cunningham, and former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice, Cheri Beasley, who narrowly lost a 2020 reelection bid (by 401 votes) against Associate Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby, a right-wing Republican who ran a campaign with direct appeals to racism. White state Sen. Jeff Jackson, who has already raised more than $1.3 million, is considered the frontrunner, joined by other lesser candidates.

Neither Smith nor Berry can win the Democratic primary if both remain in the race! There are simply not enough votes to give either of them a political triumph. Even if they cut a deal, it will still be a tough race. No Black candidate has ever prevailed in a statewide primary when running against a fellow African American in a field with Whites.

Naively, both females have reached out to the 2020 Democratic Senate candidate, state Sen. Cal Cunningham, who led the incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis in the polls throughout the race until his involvement in an ongoing extra-marital affair came to light during the final months of the race causing his defeat in a Bible belt state.

Beasley has a shot at the nomination because the state and National Democratic leaders recognize that she could energize turn out of North Carolina’s growing New American Majority of Democratic voters who could impact Democratic pickups in the state legislature and the Congressional delegation.

The concern is whether Beasley is tough enough to overcome the racist onslaught sure to come from either of the Trump-aligned candidates she will face. She was a deer in the political headlights in the last weeks of her 2020 race and failed to rally her base to get her across the finish line. Have her political instincts improved since that time?

In Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH 13th District), after having performed poorly as a 2020 candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is vying for the open Ohio Senate seat in 2022. Presently, he has little chance of winning as he has not formed the coalitions needed to help him succeed in a Republican-controlled state.

Finally, the Democratic Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, John Fetterman, who ran for the Pennsylvania Senate seat in 2016, has dwarfed his competition’s fundraising, mostly from small donors, and is leading the field so far. However, Republicans are running scorched earth ads against him.

Arizona's Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly and Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto are running for reelection and are prime Republican targets. But both should cruise to victory if the new voter suppression laws do not waylay New American Majority voters in their respective states who elected them the last time they ran.

The House races are more problematic as the Republican-controlled state legislatures have begun processes to redraw district lines to disadvantage Democrats. Now is the time for Democratic leaders and voters to fall in line as their Republican opponents have done all along.

Nonetheless, a political lottery ticket that could boost Democrats is the implosion of the Republican alliance in the aftermath of the purge of Rep. Elizabeth Cheney from her leadership post. Enough women and Independents could defect to Democrats to push them over the top in Congressional contests as they did in 2020. In the meantime, Democrats need to press the political pedal to the metal via an aggressive focus on their diverse voter base. Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell and BC.

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Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
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