By any measure the 2016 elections are extremely important.
The economic recovery—to the extent there is one—is likely to still be balancing on a razor’s edge. The world is in disarray, with Russia pushing its boundaries, Iran becoming a regional power, nations like Iraq and Libya collapsing, Islamic terrorists on the march, and China gathering power. None of those issues will likely be solved in two years and inevitably more problems will arise.
Our long-term budget situation is growing increasingly unsustainable, a situation that will be made worse by the eroding financial positions of Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and Obamacare. Four Supreme Court justices are likely to come open in the very near future. And years of new regulations, executive orders and laws overseen by the Obama Administration will either need to be rolled back or amended.
Any one of those is enough to make or break a legacy, but to have them all coming to a head at one time not only presents a momentous challenge, but a tremendous opportunity. Given the importance of the next election why are Democrats turning to Democrats who have lost before? Karl Rove writes for theWall Street Journal:
The only declared Democrat in Pennsylvania, former congressman Joe Sestak, announced without notifying national Democrats and is viewed skeptically by party leaders. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid tried to clear the field in Ohio by endorsing defeated former Gov. Ted Strickland, age 73, but failed.
The favored prospects in North Carolina and Wisconsin, former Sens. Kay Hagan and Russ Feingold, are spending this year teaching in Massachusetts and California, respectively. New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassanis mum about running for the Senate, but the legislature is shredding her budget and her idea to hire a chief operating officer for the state is being widely ridiculed. Several Democratic congressmen are considering running in Florida and Illinois, raising the likelihood of expensive, debilitating primaries.
For those keeping count at home, Democrats appear ready to nominate six proven losers in places that should have been Democrats best pickup opportunities: Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania (who lost to Pat Toomey five years ago), Ted Strickland in Ohio (who lost to John Kasich five years ago), Russ Feingold in Wisconsin (who lost to Ron Johnson five years ago), Michelle Nunn in Georgia (who lost to David Perdue last year), Kay Hagan in North Carolina (who lost to Thom TIllis last year), and Mark Begich (who lost to Dan Sullivan last year).
“National Democrats are clearly placing a priority on recruiting candidates with strong name ID and established fundraising networks. The problem is they also have long legislative records that voters soundly rejected,” Brian Walsh, a GOP consultant who formerly worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee told the Associated Press. “So it’s going to be difficult for Democrats to make the case that they represent a new path.”
Democrats know that, but they also don’t have many options. Republicans incredible successes at the state and local level in recent election cycles have eroded Democrats’ bench and depleted their opportunities to train and test viable future candidates. As a result there are very few young stars rising through the ranks, forcing the national party to pick from a handful of has-beens.
“We’ve had some challenges so far in recruiting candidates for 2016,” Jim Manley, a political consultant who previously served as an aide to Harry Reid, told the Washington Post. “But after all, it’s always difficult to put up a challenger against an incumbent.”
Democrats’ seeming preference for proven losers isn’t limited to crucial Senate races; indeed, the party is hoping that the strategy will work in the race for the White House, where the clear frontrunner—Hillary Clinton—previously failed to make it through the party’s primary. This year, the field is currently clear of high-profile primary challengers, but Democrats’ are already beginning to fret over their decision to go “all in” on a Clinton presidency. Her scandal plagued past, disdain for transparency, questionable stint as Secretary of State, and troubling dealings with the Clinton Foundation have already wounded her poll numbers.
Clinton’s troubles are unique, but also instructive –losers tend to lose for a reason, and although national Democrats may have forgotten why, voters tend to remember.