So … About that 50-State Strategy

Here again is a handy guide to the 2018 Senate elections.

Please take particular note of the “safe” list. All those Republicans should be challenged, and anyone down-ticket from them should get challenged as well.

Bernie Sanders should be challenged. Nothing against the guy, but he’s not a Democrat, and this effort is about building up Democrats.

Hatch is probably more vulnerable than we think; he’s been there forever. Does anyone know anyone in Utah?

I’ve barely heard of Roger Wicker. Maybe he doesn’t do anything?

The future is now …

Recommended by jconway, terrymcginty.


62 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Comment to add visibility

    Look up please.

    • With due respect.

      You would be better served by trying to keep what you have. Bernie and Angus both caucus with Democrats. And the number of Democrats (24) vs. Republicans (8) is a huge deficit. Many are from states that went for Trump.

      I have actually thought for a while that Trump will get what Obama did not- a full first term with a single party Congress of his own party.

      • Thats been our strategy

        It’s not working.

        • Challenging Bernie?

          That’s the dumbest idea I’ve heard on BMG in a long time. You’d basically ensure the divisions from the primary never heal. For what? He caucuses with the party and ran in the primary as a Democrat. What a colossal waste of time and resources that would be to sow needless divisions.

          • With all due respect

            That is nuts. An incumbent can’t be challenged because it would divide us?

            Overanalysis. The seat is not occupied by a Democrat. We should mount a candidate.

            • You're right

              It’s occupied by a far bolder and visionary progressive than any elected Democrat has the courage to be. This would be a silly symbolic move with suicidal repercussions for the party. I absolutely think no incumbent should go unchallenged, but you are proposing having the party actively recruit and finance a candidate. That’s party suicide not a strategy.

              • Hey listen Mr. UIP

                This thread is about building the DEMOCRATIC PARTY. Are you back now, or what?

                Lincoln Chafee was a progressive Republican. So, arguably, was Arlen Specter. They got challenged.

                • They also caucused with Republicans...

                  …until of course they converted outright.

                  • They are also dead

                    Literally in Arlen’s case and politically in Chaffee. And they weren’t progressive on trade or jobs which nobody here seems to understand is the single issue voters selected Trump expect to be solved. And he just met with half the heads of the trades. We’ve done nothing for unions for fourth years and now they are going to play footsie with the other side.

                • Bernie has done more to revitalize the Democratic Party than any candidate in my lifetime

                  And that includes Dean and Obama. He has brought tens of thousands of new voters into primaries, encouraged hundreds of intrapary primary challengers and endorsed progressive incumbents including Jehlen and Connolly in our own state. He has done far more than Joe Manchin or Heidi Heitkamp, who would’ve bolted at the first job offer from the new administration.

                  He has activated a whole generation of young people like my sister in law, new candidates like two friends of mine who met Connolly on the Bernie campaign and will now run for city office in Cambridge. He has kept people like Nina Turner in the party who will be a dynamic candidate in 2018.

                  Your move would destroy the Democratic Party. What incentive would Bernie or his followers have to work in it? He’s a far “realer” Democrat than any of the clowns on Beacon Hill and most of the people on Capital Hill. Anyway we’re getting worked up over a hypothetical that will never happen. Chuck Schumer has made a lot of dumb decisions, but this isn’t one of them.

                  Get outside your bubble. I’ve met dozens of Trump voters who would’ve voted for Bernie in the general throughout my campaigns. So have Bernie volunteers I’ve talked to across the country. Because his main agenda was jobs, health care and college costs. Which is the only agenda middle class Americans care about and the only agenda that would put us back in power.

                  This would be the dumbest party purge since Stalin killed his generals.

                  • How about toning down the rhetoric a bit?

                    My bubble? Challenging one Senator is “a purge?”

                    By the way, your friends who voted for Trump but said they would have voted for Bernie? I don’t believe them.

                    • That's fine-you don't get it

                      Everyone here didn’t believe he wouldn’t be President either.

                      We are living in a post-partisan post-culture war post-ideological paradigm.

                      And it’s basically a party purge. What else does it accomplish but forcing him to register or punishing him for not doing so? It’s a huge waste of talent, time and resources and you only proposed it to be provocative. It’s not a serious idea.

                      Trumps primary win and election should teach all of us that parties don’t matter anymore. A majority of voters in most states including this one aren’t in them, and the ones that are usually don’t vote in primaries. Ordinary people follow personalities and the issues that matter to them-it’s got nothing to do with party loyalty.

                      Our Republican president has been registered in three parties and no party at different times in his life and only donated to politicians to get projects he wanted. He spent the bulk of his primary campaign violating the Reagan rule attacking long time Republican personalities and principles and he won. He’s like the court jester pulling back the curtain on the absurdity of our political system and we elected him.

                      That Bernie, an outsider who had no ties to the institutional party, nearly toppled a Clinton-a name right up there with Roosevelt and Kennedy synonlis with Democrat. It didn’t matter. The sooner we realize our party has to stand for issues voters actually care about the sooner we win elections again. Bernie’s party registration is not the kind of issue that mobilizes anyone into the Democratic Party but it’s certainly a signal to his followers that they are not welcome at the table.

                    • Yeah

                      I don’t get it.

                      Part of the revitalization effort I’m proposing is to energize the focus on issues.

                    • And what issues is Bernie on the wrong side of?


                    • I'm not sure


      • Don't think those numbers matter much.

        I think people will run from Trump.

      • Why not both?

        Porc is right that, on paper, the Dems will lose Senate seats in 2018. The only question is how many.

        However Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee, and even Texas are areas that could prove fertile, perhaps far moreso than North Dakota, West Virginia, Missouri, or Indiana.

        So, yes porc, the Dems would do well if they can keep what they have now, but better to lose West Virginia and pick up Nevada than lose West Virginia and not pick up Nevada.

        • Nevada is the only pickup there

          Texas is a pipe dream until we actually bother with mobilizing Latinos. That state and Florida are places where the Republicans are actually doing a better job than we are of elevating them to major leadership positions and running them in races. Flake’s biggest problem would be losing to a challenger from the right. Arizona has no bench.

          • Nevada is the easiest pickup

            But go ahead, make the case that we have a better chance at West Virginia (inc) than we do for Tennessee (pickup). Go ahead and make the case that we have a better shot at Indiana (inc) than Arizona (pickup).

            I don’t think you can. My point isn’t that we’re likely to win Texas, just that we’re more likely to win Texas than North Dakota.

            • I'm not making that case

              I am saying that it’s likely we will lose all of those races barring a big enough disaster that leads to a 2006 style wave. But I agree we should have the resources, organization and recruitment to take advantage of those waves. And I agree with JimC we should compete everywhere and with you that we should play offense and not just defense.

  2. Your other idea is good

    I’d add taking back some governorships and state legislatures in those states we lost to trump and shore them up. Actually build outreach in TX, GA, AZ. Copy what Nevada, Virginia and Colorado Democrats did that work. Or how NC elected a Democrat governor. Study from the innovative state parties.

    25 states, half the country, are in full Republican trifectas of control while only 6 are for Democrats. Our six should be laboratories for the kind of progressive legislation that never got through Washington. Tuition free college, public option, immigration reform, carbon taxes and fair wage laws should be implemented. Maybe more radical ideas like single payer (could work in CA and have national ramifications) and basic income. The SC State Chair made this point at one of the forums I saw on CSPAN and it’s a good one

  3. Brilliant idea

    Get rid of Sanders, our country’s most-popular (functional) Democrat, by far.

    Maybe instead, the ClintonDNC should do what Bernie does instead, and become as popular as he is? Perhaps I need some meds, thinking such crazy thoughts and all.

    • The idea

      … is not to challenge for the sake of challenging, or to “get rid of” Bernie.

      The idea is to get the base mobilized. That means no sacred cows. EVERY non-Democratic Senator should be challenged.

      • Maybe Bernie could be persuaded...

        …to accept the Dem nomination the next time around.

        • This gets at my point

          Bernie has it both ways; he gets the benefits of being a Democrat (committee assignments, no challenge from us) without the baggage.

          All fine, up to a point.

      • That challenge would mobilize the base alright

        To withhold donations from the DNC, DSCC, DCCC as John T May already is. Half of them already think the last primary was rigged, the DNC was out to get them and a challenge confirms all their conspiracy theories. It will attract every major activist in the country that we need campaigning in OH, WI and PA to go to VT. Sorry Tammy Baldwin-we gotta save the Bern!

        You have yet to articulate what positive change would result from this challenge, other than bullying Sanders to change his registration. I’ll take a Democrat in all but name over a Democrat in name only any day of the week.

        • You're focusing too much on this challenge

          I said, every non-Democrat in the Senate should be challenged. I don’t know what we’ll get.

          I do know that we weren’t supposed to take the Senate in 2006, but we did, thanks largely to a single word (“Macaca”).

          You’re assuming a Bernie challenge will be a proxy battle. In Vermont! Not likely.

          I think I’ve said more than once, and you’ve agreed with me more than once, that we need to take more chances and broaden the base. Look at Kentucky — Alison Lundergan Grimes lost, but she elevated her profile, and she’s in a good position to make another run. KENTUCKY.

          It also, frankly, feels better to fight. We’ve lost too much of our fight.

          • I agree! So does Bernie and his organization

            I am saying Bernie and his followers are the fighter we want on our side not the one we want to drive into a different camp which is all your proposed challenge would do. But yeah-run Democrats in Idaho. Their stats chair is a young dynamic woman had the second best presentation at the DNC Forum. Peter Buettig in South Bend had the best and he’s the guy that wins Indiana not a retread like Bayh. Nina Turner came to national prominence through BLM and the Sanders campaign and will mobilize far more women, blacks, and white workers than Ted Strickland. She and Tim Ryan should run together.

            And Bernie won a ton of red states! He got wide applause at Liberty University. When we turn down the volume on the culture war and just talk shop about jobs, wages, college debt and people’s health care we get received in homes shut to us.

            I canvassed a mobile home in Michigan City, IN in 2008 that had a truck with “pro life and I vote” , NRA and Marine Corps decals on it. Old school white ethnic Catholic. The kind Hillary wrote of as deplorable. Probably voted for Kennedy and Reagan and doesn’t want to be lectured on how inconsistent that is. Both men made him feel good to be an American. He said “economy’s in the shifter in voting for the n—-r”. Did I lecture him on intersectional feminism, his privilege (in a mobile home?!) or did I say “great! Want this bumper sticker on your truck?” He put it on there.

            I went to college with a coal miners daughter, and she got her dad to vote for Obama in the primary he lost badly to Hillary. And it’s because she told that story Obama told about his grandma crossing the street when she saw black people, and that he understood the reaction.

            Obama would be crucified for that kind of empathy in today’s polarized climate on our own side, but we have to have empathy for everyone we encounter. Van Jones rightly called it a whitelash-but he also said we have to go to those white people and show them why our way is better for them and not just for people of color or women. Jesse Jackson won the votes of farmers that threw stones at him at Selma because he campaigned in farm country about farm issues. Time to meet the voters where they are instead of hoping they come to us.

            • We're sort of in loud agreement here

              You want to do outreach; so do I.

              But I also want to unlock energy in places (like Vermont, like Massachusetts) that the Democratic Party takes for granted.

              When Tip O’Neill’s seat opened up, something like 12 people ran for it. When Ted Kennedy’s seat opened up, there were what, five? Two of who had never run before?

              • VT has a Republican Governor and State Senate

                Plenty of races for Democrats and Vermont Progressives to run for up there. And their arrangement works out pretty well. So does the national parties arrangement with Bernie.

                • Not to belabor this, but

                  An actual Democrat in the seat would be expected to build the bench. Clearly the Vermont bench needs work.

                  • Bernies campaign is building the bench

                    In KY and VT.

                    • Having moved to VT

                      I moved to VT last year and the love for Bernie here is unreal. I’ve never seen anything like it. He got something like 6% of the vote in the general – all write in. He excites people here like no one I’ve ever seen. Running a Democrat challenger would be stupid for the Democratic party for reasons you’ve illustrated, and that person would get destroyed – probably less than 5%. I get JimC’s general point, but it would be a waste in VT. (Also, I for one wouldn’t buy in at all. I don’t care for the Democratic Party. I want progressive people in office who will work with/fight with others to get progressive policies or block conservative policies. I don’t give two licks about what the party name is. That’s also why I think the Democrats should embrace Sanders as much as possible because doing that will more likely lead to that result than trying to fight against progressives who don’t want to have the D next to their name.)

                      And yes, he is building the bench. The new LT Gov. is a long-time Bernie supporter and volunteer and also not really a Democrat (he’s a Progressive Party member). He’s definitely on the short list for when Leahy or Sanders retire.

                      Correction – the VT State Senate is not Republican. It’s 20 Dem, 7 Rep, 3 Prog.

                      The other thing I’ve noticed is that parties play a much smaller role in the state races (except Gov). It’s more about who’s progressive or who’s conservative than who’s a Democrat or who’s Republican.

                    • Maybe start with asking Vermonters and other voters who they want

                      Or Missippians who they want. For your broader strategy to work JimC it has to be bottom up and not too down. And not to belabor the Bernie primary, but the only way you’d get a candidate to run against him is from the top down. Rebuilding state parties in every state would allow those voters in those states to pick their candidate.

                      So if a substantial number of Vermont democrats drafted a challenger to Bernie then I’d take it as a sign he deserves a challenge. Until then, let’s empower our members in red and purple states to select the nominees they want and not the candidates that look good on paper. It’s worth noting that NC almost elected a Democratic senator who was far more left wing than the centrists the national party tried to recruit, and she ended up outperforming their hand picked choice.

          • It would be taken as a proxy battle.

            JConway’s right about this. You’re trying to make it into a mere single instance of a general principle, but however well the theoretical logic works in a vacuum, in the real world a primary challenge to Sanders on the grounds that he’s not a Democrat would be taken almost universally as a declaration of war by the institutional wing of the party against the insurgent left. The Democratic establishment would be asking voters to choose between a sense of affiliation with the party and affiliation with Sanders and what he’s come to stand for, even if that weren’t the intent. And faced with that choice, more people than we can afford to lose would go with Sanders. That wouldn’t have been the case four years ago, but it is now, and it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t be in 2018.

            Vermont is tiny, sure, but Sanders is now a national figure, and his name draws clicks and pageviews. The optics would be awful. Forget how any of us may feel about the guy, primarying him because he’s not a Real Democrat is so self-destructive I can barely believe anyone is even suggesting it.

            • Fine

              But here’s what I think is ultimately more damaging: the notion that a primary challenge is “destructive.”

              That is undemocratic. It lionizes current leadership, who, I remind you, are failing us entirely.

              Sorry but that is hopeless and defeatist. Moreover, it’s not working.

              • You're point doesn't make any sense

                Bernie is not part of the leadership that threw away this election, and he is incredibly popular with both the base of the party and independents. His campaign was so successful precisely since he wasn’t part of that failed leadership.

                But I’m sure if you’ll ask Leland Cheung he’ll move to Vermont for you and run against Bernie from the right as a Democrat, and waste about as much time and money as he did pulling that stunt against Pat Jehlen.

                • "Waste"

                  Primary challenges are a waste.

                  We’re doomed.

                  • Stupid primary challenges against solid progressives ARE a waste

                    Especially when they are plenty of shitty Democrats nationally and locally that I would have no qualms about challenging. Someone as cozy with Wall Street and Likud like Schumer shouldn’t be a Senator from one of our bluest states, let alone, minority leader (a title I don’t ever expect to change while he’s in charge). Booker should keep getting primary challenges for being a corporate stooge-and because people think he has presidential timber. Run races there.

                    Bernie, despite technically being in a different party, has a better rating from every major progressive group than any other registered Democrat in Congress.

                    • OK got it

                      You support primary challenges against people you don’t like, but those against people you support are a waste.

                      Makes sense.

                    • It does make sense

                      If one’s goal is to build a more progressive party, that strategy absolutely makes sense.

                    • So do you

                      We have different definitions of primary challenges. For the Tea Party, the goal was to move the Republican party in their ideological direction and punish the establishment politicians that did not.

                      For me locally, it is moving the Massachusetts Democratic Party away from the stale and tired corruption of Beacon Hill and towards a state that actually enacts all the liberal legislation we want-single payer, free college, etc. There is no better petri dish in the country for our agenda, and Donald Trump can’t stop it.

                      Instead you want to make us weaker by diverting resources to run against one of the few progressives on Beacon Hill and one of the best progressives on Capital Hill. Makes no sense. At least the Tea Party had a long term strategy-you’re just throwing darts against the board arbitrary since you adhered to the higher principle of challenging every incumbent.

                      Well money and time is finite. I would rather we play offense on our ideological opponents rather than our ideological allies. You apparently disagree. You have yet to offer any compelling reason for how such a challenge would strengthen the Democratic party, help the progressive movement, or unify us around beating Donald Trump. Your principle may be a nobler one-but yes it is a waste of time when we have a fascist in the White House and Republicans in both houses. Let alone conservatives in both parties running the show locally.

                    • Please don't misrepresent my postion

                      This couldn’t be more wrong,

                      Instead you want to make us weaker by diverting resources to run against one of the few progressives on Beacon Hill and one of the best progressives on Capital Hill. Makes no sense. At least the Tea Party had a long term strategy-you’re just throwing darts against the board arbitrary since you adhered to the higher principle of challenging every incumbent.

                      You’re being really obtuse. I said nothing like that.,

                      Again, we need more primary challenges. We need more engagement. More challenges will mean more money. Democracy is good.

                    • One concession and one rebuttal

                      I’ll concede for turnout it probably helped Connolly downballot to have Jehlen’s race on the top. I know a lot of engaged teachers in Somerville and Cambridge who voted in their first local primary and voted that exact way. I do think there was a ton of outside money progressive groups spent on that race that could’ve helped Harrington get on tv. Timilty got on TV, and it probably made the difference since the margin was damn close.

                    • And using your logic

                      We should welcome progressive independents running in Democratic primaries since it doesn’t split the progressive vote and attracts outsiders to the party primary process. So Bernie running the way he did was a great thing.

                      A ton of progressive activists who were unenrolled or working on third party politics in MA became Democrats and stayed Democrats because of the Sanders challenge, even if their candidate went back to being an independent. Trust me, I could’ve used their help and enrollment ;)

                    • We have always done so

                      As long as they stay Democrats.

                    • Values matter more than party registration

                      You have yet to prove why his values aren’t Democratic. And it’s his values we need right now to defeat Donald Trump, not Joe Manchin’s who has been a registered Democrat his whole career but votes like a fuckin Republican.

                    • The downrates are really tiresome

                      How should I phrase it? “We welcome people to the party, as long as they stay in the party.” What’s downrate-able about that?

                      I’m not, have never, will never, try to prove Bernie’s values aren’t what you and I are calling small d democratic. But, there’s also a capital d Democratic Party. He aint that. Joe Manchin is — I’m not sure why, but he is. And his party certainly matters.

                      You don’t care about the Democratic Party. I do. The weakened position we’re in matters — a lot.

                    • I care about the party

                      It grows by returning to its roots as a populist workers party embracing its grassroots volunteers instead of out of touch elitist insiders. Sanders campaign did more for that goal than any other campaign in my lifetime. It will launch thousands of other campaigns down the road.

                      Preach to the gentiles and ask them to be saved and baptize those that come forward. Be like Paul, not like James. Your first ask shouldn’t be party membership but your last, trust me. You don’t win over independents by telling them to join a party.

                • And by the way

                  I did not support Cheung’s challenge, but it did serve a purpose. She defeated him so soundly that any other potential challengers will think twice.

                  • Fair, but...

                    Every Democrat who’s run against Bernie throughout his Congressional career got third place. These races have already happened and demonstrate he isn’t going anywhere.

                    And I might add it forced progressives to play defense. Connolly was the only challenger to topple an incumbent in a legislative race from the left. Who knows if Kim Maxwell, Nora Harrington or the other challengers that came real close could be gotten more money and time from the activist community if we didn’t have to needlessly play defense against Jehlen. Not to mention if more of that could’ve helped challengers like Migliore overcome Republicans in the general. DFER won its primary in Lawrence, maybe if Jehlen hadn’t been challenged the MTA could’ve won that race.

              • You're privileging a general concept over specific circumstances.

                In broadly general terms, I agree with you. But I’m not saying that primary challenges are by their nature “destructive.” (Nor could I, because I was all for the Lamont challenge to Holy Joe Lieberman, and I’m still sorry that CT didn’t have a sore-loser law in place.)

                What I am saying is that in this specific instance, where we have an incumbent who’s reliably affiliated with the party (he’s been brought into the leadership as outreach chair, for heaven’s sake), and who has the loyalty of a large and very skittish bloc of left-leaning voters, mounting a primary challenge over something as petty as his lack of formal affiliation with the party is ridiculous. It moves beyond ridiculous to destructive when you remember that there’s already a lot of bad blood between this incumbent’s loyalists nationwide and the institutional old guard. If your challenge succeeded, and it had any taint of backing from the institutional party, what you’d get is a lot of voters, including a high proportion of those inclined to active participation, deciding that the Democratic Party was beyond reform and beyond hope. If your challenge didn’t succeed, you’d have wasted a lot of time and money and gained nothing but the same disaffection and ill will from people who were potentially our voters.

                No one is above a primary challenge by virtue of incumbency alone, but you need to have a good reason to mount one, and you need to take account of specific circumstances. You’re not taking the extremely unusual specific circumstances into account at all here, and I’m afraid I’m not seeing the good reason, either.

  4. Nelson in Fla

    Barack just made it harder in Fla for Bill Nelson when he changed the “wet foot, dry foot” policy. Not sure if you were counting him in the safe Dem category, but he’s not.

    • Yeah the flack from the Cuba change is underreported

      That and the deterioration with Israel (not Obamas fault at all) probably hurt Hillary there more than we know. I’d like to see some data on that.

  5. Let me try to recenter this

    If I had this post to do over again, I would omit the mention of Sanders, because it ended up hijacking the diary. It’s really not about Bernie.

    It’s about expanding the party, and progressive ideas (read: liberal ideas) by extension. We all agree (I think) that the Democratic Party is the most practical vehicle for these ideas.

    Well, the advice that appears throughout the comments, about protecting what we have, is the old way. The old way has to change. I want to redraw the map. We run everywhere. We will fail, a lot, but we will succeed in places we don’t expect to. We have to try.

    • Yes yes and yes!

      It’s about expanding the party, and progressive ideas (read: liberal ideas) by extension

      I’ll phrase it a different way too. It’s a 50 state strategy, but Vermont is #50 on our priority list.

      • Gah...

        It’s about expanding the party, and progressive ideas (read: liberal ideas) by extension

        I’ll phrase it a different way too. It’s a 50 state strategy, but Vermont is #50 on our priority list.

        A 50 state strategy is completely and diametrically opposed to a prioritized ranking whatsoever. A distinct and deliberate unwillingness to prioritize is EXACTLY and PRECISELY the point of a 50 state strategy.

        Why do you insist upon always trying to have it both ways?

        • You absolutely can...

          …both prioritize and make sure nobody is written off completely. JConway is right, though I’m happy for Dems in the case of VT to help defend Sanders rather than go recruiting someone to run officially on the Dem line.

          • Yeah

            All 50 states need attention, but they don’t get the same attention. Some states need to focus on building the bench or bringing in more progressive voices. Other states need more of a focus of flipping red seats (at all levels). The approach in MA and VT is going to be very different than the approach in OK and MS. But all states need attention.

          • No, you can not.

            You absolutely can…(0+ / 1-) View voters

            …both prioritize and make sure nobody is written off completely.

            You wish it so. But it isn’t. A 50 state strategy means all 50 states and it means no priorities.

            You can’t have it both ways. You want to. But you can not. The one way, excludes the other.

            though I’m happy for Dems in the case of VT to help defend Sanders rather than go recruiting someone to run officially on the Dem line.

            This sentence makes no sense.

            • So...

              All 50 states get the same treatment? You realize that makes no sense, right?

              • Don't be obtuse

                You’re smarter than that. “Same treatment” is not equivalent to “no priorities” .

                The statement made was:

                It’s a 50 state strategy, but Vermont is #50 on our priority list.

                That’s not a 50 state strategy. That’s a “other states are more important” strategy and we’ll get to Vermont when we’re done with the others.

                Of course, VT is going to need different resources, both in amounts and in types, from, say, NY. The point of the 50 state strategy is not to prioritize NY over VT but to see that both NY and VT get exactly what they need at exactly the same time. Saying VT has to wait until we’ve dealt with NY is exactly opposed to a 50 state strategy.

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