Some Questions for the DNC
Every day Trump nominates someone for a Cabinet position who is grossly unprepared for the job or antagonistic to the agency they would lead. He’s also snuck in a few likely acceptable choices for his administration positions from among House representatives and state governors. Every one of those nominees will leave a Republican seat for which there will be a special election or an untested lieutenant who is more vulnerable to challenge than their predecessor. This leaves me with some questions for the Democratic National Committee and the state Democratic party leadership.
1. Have you identified potential Democratic candidates for every Republican House and Senate seat, even those held by popular incumbents?
2. Are those candidates at a place in their personal and professional career to undertake a campaign on short notice?
3. Have those candidates held elected office or a government position before?
4. If not, have they gone through a candidate training program, like Emerge CA or those hosted by Democracy for America?
5. Have you identified a candidate mentor in their state or region?
6. Who are the likely donors for this candidate?
7. What are the local and state issues that will concern their voters, and does the state party have a supportive infrastructure of policy and communication staff that can help the candidate quickly?
You can ask these same questions (and others) for every Republican-held statewide office as well. Then ask them again about all the state legislature offices. Now ask that question about every Democratic House and Senate seat. And so forth. You never know when a seat could open up, and we need viable candidates ready to go. The fact that a large number of incumbent Republican House members run unopposed is unbelievable. Even if Democratic candidates cannot unseat a popular incumbent, they get campaign experience and exposure that is valuable for other local and state campaigns.
I hope that smart people are already thinking about this, but as a very nervous tuned-in Democrat, I feel like it’s just crickets from the national party about the plan. I know it’s up in the air because the Chair has not been selected, but that’s no reason to put off doing the work.
Here are some explanations for why I may not have heard about the Democratic National Party doing this:
1. They aren’t doing it. They are too busy doing “autopsies” of the election, pointing fingers, and self-flagellating.
2. They aren’t doing it because all their time and energy is going into faithless electors, election recounts, a surprise Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Garland Merrick on January 3 and preparing for impeachment hearings on January 23, 2017. (Which I’m okay with, actually.)
3. They aren’t doing it because they cannot do anything until the new Chair is selected and s/he tells them what the new strategy is.
4. They are doing it but they have to keep it a secret to make the new Chair look good and not like the staff are really doing all the work.
5. They are doing it but don’t want the Republicans to know their super-secret takeover plan.
6. They are doing it, it’s not secret, and I just don’t subscribe to the right sources and am not connected to the right people.
Of the 662 positions that require Senate confirmation, Trump has only named 14 nominees. However, they include two governors, a Senator and one House representative, so far. That’s four seats that become more viable. Even if those candidates don’t get confirmed, their Senate hearings will generate lots of juicy stuff to be used against them in their next campaign for office.
Our chance to start chipping away at the Republicans’ dominance of Congress and the statehouses doesn’t start in 2018, it starts now.