Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Political Notebook – Departures and arrivals

Yesterday the number of Democratic Candidates for US President dropped by one, only to go in the wrong direction today, going back up by one. On the other hand, today we also saw an interesting Democratic candidate enter a US Senate race. There will be more of these sorts of stories in the weeks and months ahead.

Yesterday, US Representative Eric Swalwell of California dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, three months after entering it. It had become clear his campaign wasn’t catching on, despite a strong performance on the second day of the first Democratic Debate. [See also: “Why Eric Swalwell’s Campaign Failed” from FiveThirtyEight].

Today, Tom Steyer, a billionaire who is best known for funding a campaign to impeach the current president, joined the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Earlier this year he said he wouldn’t do that. I’ll be honest: When I saw that he was running, the first thought that popped into muy head wasn’t charitable. “Oh great,” I thought to myself, “Just what we need: Another white male billionaire who’s sure he has all the answers for us.” Having said that, his ideas are definitely a lot more sensible than a certain other white male billionaire could ever achieve, but we have two dozen Democratic candidates! We should be winnowing down the field, not adding to it. [See also: “Impeachment and environmental activist Tom Steyer announces presidential bid” from Politico and "Why We’re Not Treating Tom Steyer As A ‘Major’ Candidate (Yet)" from FiveThirtyEight].

One of the reasons Swalwell dropped out of the race is that, struggling to poll above 1%, it was improbable that he’d make the next Democratic Debate. Steyer acknowledges it’s similarly improbable that he’ll make the next debate, and they say they’re aiming to make later debates. Maybe he will, but is that really what we need?

Defeating the current occupant of the White House is the most important job for the 2020 elections, but it’s hardly the only one. There are plenty of state legislative races and Congressional races that might be swung if they got cash infusions, and, in my opinion, that would be a far better use of Steyer’s money than mounting what could well prove to be a quixotic campaign. Still, maybe he’d prove me wrong. It’s happened in the past.

Meanwhile, Amy McGrath, as described by the Associated Press, “a Marine combat aviator who narrowly lost a House race to an incumbent Republican in Kentucky, has set her sights on an even more formidable target: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell”. If she succeeds, it would be a HUGE national service to the entire United States.

Naysayers (Republicans, that is…) point out she lost her race in a Blue Wave election, which is cute, but irrelevant. Kentucky is a deep Red state, and ending up only three points behind the incumbent Republican is remarkable. Can she pull off a big upset victory? Maybe. She should have plenty of cash at her disposal, but given how hard Mitch and his party will fight, and how low they’ll be prepared to go, she will have to be awesome. [See also: “Former fighter pilot launches Senate challenge against McConnell” from Politico, and “The Democrats Have A Candidate In Kentucky. But Can She Beat Mitch McConnell? FiveThirtyEight].

There will be more Democratic candidates dropping out, including some who may be persuaded to run for the US Senate instead in order to improve Democrats’ chances of taking control of that chamber. However, one person who won’t be among them is Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. She told Politico that she will not be running for open the US Senate seat from Kansas currently held by Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, who is retiring. After stepping down as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama Administration, she said there was “not a chance” she’d run for office again in Kansas, which means her announcement is no surprise.

Meanwhile, Politico has also reported that “'Members are looking over their shoulders': Democrats spooked by new primary threats”. That could mean a lot of turmoil in Democratic primaries—or not. Very often such candidacies turn out to be all talk, however, the talk alone can weaken an incumbent Democrat, especially if it convinces Leftist voters to not vote for them, and that creates an opening for Republican challengers.

Speaking of departures and arrivals, the Associated Press tells us “Who’s in, who’s out: Meet the Dems running for president”, a list that will be changing a lot over the next few weeks and months. Related to that, Politico tells us “Who’s in and who's out of the next Dem debates?”. That list will change, too—in fact, since it was published before the comings and goings among Democratic candidates this week, it’s already getting out of date, though it’s basic information is still correct.

And that’s it for this edition of the Notebook.


Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yep. The only ones I know are the most famous and those who have been commenters on the news. Most of the others I wouldn't recognise if I tripped over them.

When I watched the debates, there were several times I thought how I wished they'd put the names of the person onscreen every time they spoke so I could remember who they were—and in the second debate in particular, I got some of the minor candidates mixed up several times.

rogerogreen said...

Seriously, how many of the 24 can you name without looking? Last I checked, I got to 17. I will admit that it's the white, straight, male candidates that have become a blur. I know all the women, both the black candidates, all the gay candidate, so that's seven...