Reading the writing on the wall, Democrats realize their prospects for surviving the upcoming midterm elections are rather bleak. However, it might be a mistake to assume they are throwing in the proverbial towel. Indeed, the party has another trick up its sleeve, and it just might work. Instead of concentrating its efforts solely on congressional races, it is reportedly looking to shore up control over governors’ mansions across the country.
“Ahead of the midterm elections, Democrats are expanding their scope far beyond congressional contests and on to governor races in battleground states, seeing them as existential for the party’s presidential prospects, if not democratic governance itself.
“Party leaders, deep-pocketed donors and leading super PACS were already planning to prioritize November’s gubernatorial contests, which have long been an afterthought on national election maps. But their focus has intensified this past year after Republicans attempted to undermine and overturn the last election and Democratic-led federal voting rights legislation went up in smoke.”
Cooper Teboe, a donor adviser, told the news outlet he has “seen a real shift” among Democratic donors when it comes to state-level races. “Of the pool of major donors — of big, institutional donors behind the DNC and the DCCC — I’d say 50 to 60 percent of them are now putting that same effort into governors, and I expect that group of donors to only grow,” he said.
Democrats seem to realize that having more governors in office could make it easier to push the White House agenda. “Republicans figured out that if you can rule locally, you can control a lot of the process federally, and we’re finally, finally, seeing national Democrats come around to realizing that, too,” said Morgan Jackson, an adviser to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, chair of the Democratic Governors Association.
While Democratic leadership insists it can focus on governor’s races while still putting forth a viable push for federal elections, at least some within their ranks aren’t buying it. “But quietly, some in the party view the increased focus on governor contests as at least a tacit acknowledgement that they’re unlikely to keep control of the House in 2023,” according to Politico.
The report indicates donors are not so optimistic about “the federal outlook in 2022.” A Washington, DC-based operative contended that the “’save the House’ messaging is not working on high-level donors because no one believes it.”
Interestingly enough, Democrats seem to believe securing governorships could be an alternative means to protecting “voting rights” since their federal legislative proposals related to elections crashed and burned earlier this year. Their line of thinking is that Democratic governors can stop Republican-led efforts in state legislatures to regulate voting.
Democrats also are looking for candidates for 2024’s presidential election and governors will likely fill space on the bench of possible contenders. Yes, President Joe Biden indicated he would seek a second term, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that he’s about as likely to run again as Andrew Cuomo is to toss his hat in the ring for New York governor. Given that Vice President Kamala Harris has all the charisma of a paper bag full of rocks, it makes sense that Democrats would be concerned about finding a viable nominee to put up against a Republican challenger.
Lastly, having more Democratic governors in office would make for states that might be more amenable to helping Biden and his potential successor enact their agenda. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it was these governors who made it easier for the president to push vaccine and mask mandates and other draconian restrictions.
“There is no doubt that we are in a very different terrain when it comes to voting rights in these states and in a number of these states where Democratic governors are critical,” a Biden adviser explained. “But it’s also a factor that we want more democratic governors, and that governors are the ones who are executing on programs.”
Given the harsh reality that Republicans are probably going to take Democrats to the woodshed in November, this seems to be an apt strategy. Holding on to – and even winning more – governor’s races might allow the left to maintain at least a semblance of power. While these officials would not dictate federal policy, they would still have a level of influence over how such policy is employed. It will most likely be the best the Democrats can hope for at the moment.
~ Read more from Jeff Charles.
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