Jon Tester’s ludicrously early endorsement of Patrick Murphy for Senate is an Uncanny Valley moment for him. As head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, his announcement was an obvious “doncha even think about it” gesture to Alan Grayson who is famously “thinking about it.” If it were anyone but Tester it wouldn’t be so uncanny.
In 2006 Jon Tester wanted to run for a Senate seat in Montana, but the party had their chosen conservative corporate candidate and they wanted badly to keep the progressive Tester out of the race. Chuck Schumer, as head of the DSCC at the time, played the heavy, making sure the Wall Street donors’ candidate had a “clear path.”
Fortunately for Tester, the party’s favorite son turned out to be cheating on his wife and had “conflicts of interest” that tanked his bid. Jon Tester became a Senator from Montana (turned out being progressive wasn’t that big of a problem after all), and now it’s his job to muscle progressives out of competing for strategic Senate seats (because, you know, being progressive is a big hurdle).
Who stole Jon Tester’s soul? And more to the point, why does the party seem to prefer Democrats who lose? Isn’t the point to keep as many seats as possible? Wouldn’t the best way to do that be to vet candidates in a primary and send a tried and true candidate to the general?
It makes no sense, but the party only wants a specific kind of Democrat: a Patrick Murphy, Charlie Crist, or Alex Sink. Ambiguously Republican Democrats. Vaguely Demopublican Republicrats. Losers, all.
Every time the party came out of a whooping of one of these sorry candidates it says, “Aw shucks, we shoulda been more effective in our messaging.” At some point you have to admit it’s not the messaging. I’m starting to wonder if we’re really even trying to win at all, or if the point is simply to keep progressives from taking higher seats of power.
Take the Florida governor’s race. The party put up a corporate Democrat in Alex Sink who ran a “I’m not as bad as him” campaign against Rick Scott, and lost. Then the party put up lifelong Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist in an “I’m a nicer guy” campaign, and lost. Both candidates lost because you can’t mobilize voters based on “Eh, at least I’m not a Republican.”
This was not a failure of messaging. This was a failure of choosing a candidates who could win. The party chose conservatives that corporate funders approved of instead of Democrats who champion our values.
Patrick Murphy’s bizarre early coronation as our only choice for Marco Rubio’s Senate seat stands out as a prime example of this pattern. As a lifelong Republican with no name recognition, one of the most conservative records in Congress, who has had to recently back track on Social Security and the full support of the party, we’re treading depressingly familiar ground.
Why is the party so terrified of Alan Grayson? He’s a lifelong Democrat and national progressive leader with a trusted brand, an enormously effective fundraising apparatus, and a known, muscular volunteer base. In other words, a candidate who can unite the voters as a champion of our values, and win. Are they simply resisting the idea of Grayson advancing to the Senate?
I’ve heard many speculate that those stories that you saw last week about Alan Grayson were a shot across the bow indicating that if he got into the race, his own party would become his prime adversary. They may have a point. The POLITICO story cited an email provided to them from a “democratic-leaning organization” and a “Democratic source with knowledge of the situation.” This is Dem on Dem aggression.
Who was this democratic-leaning organization that shared the email with the intent to malign Grayson? Who is the “Democratic source” with knowledge of the situation? Would these not be players within the party who have a personal stake the outcome? One thing is for sure, they aren’t bystanders. By the acts they took, they are active brokers sending the message that they intend to get nasty.
It’s fine if there’s people within the party structure prefer candidates for the 1% and seek to get them elected. We have a right to know that’s happening and discuss it. We need to be more honest about the fact that we’re not playing on a left vs right spectrum. It’s far more accurate to say we have a 1% vs 99% spectrum. Conservadems will vote with us on weed and LGBT issues, but they’ll give away the store in the form of tax havens to corporations, defense spending and executive powers — what brought us the Great Recession and the Iraq War.
So, looking at the bright side, maybe it’s a good thing we’re so dreadful at getting these guys elected.