Monday, November 29, 2021

Local Democrats warn party: rising tide of Republicans is real

NEW HOPE, PA. Bucks County, Pennsylvania’s Democrats felt a mounting red tide in the summer when frustrated parents flooded school board meetings to complain about disguise demands and an academic theory of systemic racism not even taught in local schools. …

They realized the tide was growing when such fears, fueled by misleading reports in the conservative media, began to surface in the unrelated elections of judges, sheriffs, and even county registrars. And so they weren’t surprised – but devastated anyway – when Democrats across this key county northeast of Philadelphia were wiped out in Tuesday’s municipal elections.

“This is a bell that needs attention. This is something going on all over the country, ”said attorney Patrice Tisdale, a Democrat who lost her bid for a circuit magistrate against a Republican nominee with no formal legal training. “Democrats cannot continue to pursue politics as usual.”

She is one of the Democrats who passed the preliminary vote and is sending an urgent message to the National Party: This is worse than you think.

This suburban region northeast of Philadelphia is a critical political battleground in one of the nation’s major wavering states. It’s the type of place where college-educated moderate voters, pushed away by former President Donald Trump’s divisive behavior, helped Democrats regain control of Congress in 2018 and reclaim the White House in 2020. This is why failures here are so troubling for many Democrats. …

Some in the party privately suspected they were in trouble in the Virginia high-profile governor’s race, which they ultimately lost. But Democrats have also suffered bad results in Democratic-leaning suburbs of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where they nearly lost the governor’s office and the state Senate president was ousted by a furniture company truck driver who spent $ 2,300 on his entire campaign.

The focus is now shifting to an even more significant midterm season next year, when it will be decided to take control of Congress and dozens of other governors. Already, high-profile Senate races are taking shape in states such as Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina and here in Pennsylvania, where there is reason to believe that political dynamics could change in November 2022.

Namely, Trump, whom Republicans deliberately avoided in this week’s election, will almost certainly be much more visible next year. An early slate of Republican candidates in Pennsylvania and elsewhere has endorsed Trump, his tone and his incitement policies far greater than the Republicans on this week’s ballot papers. At the same time, Democratic strategists believe their party on Capitol Hill will eventually hand over popular infrastructure and health services that voters will appreciate.

“There is simply no correlation in what problems are going to arise a year from now, and what personalities and what candidates are running here in Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, the leading Democratic candidate in the high-profile state election who will replace the senator. -Republican Pat Toomey, whose retirement gives Democrats one of the best opportunities for recovery in the country.

The head of the Senate Democratic division, Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, predicted that the party will do well in voter sales next year when the pandemic ends and the economy recovers.

“This will be a big contrast to Republicans, who are focused on fighting each other in disgusting primaries, winning support for Donald Trump and pushing the super-rich agenda,” Peters said.

Indeed, while Glenn Yangkin, Glenn Yangkin’s elected Republican governor, has successfully avoided Trump throughout the race, the former president has already backed Pennsylvania Republican Senate nominee Sean Parnell, who is in the midst of a messy public divorce involving allegations of domestic violence. Parnell, a former Army Ranger and Fox News regular, is due to testify next week in divorce court.

Trump is also taking an active interest in Georgia, where his approved Senate nominee, former NFL star Herschel Walker, has faced accusations of his own domestic violence. And in Arizona, candidates are embracing his electoral fraud conspiracy theories. One of the leading Republican candidates, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, recently succumbed to Trump pressure to announce a new investigation into the 2020 elections.

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Still, historic hurdles against the party occupying the White House, bolstered by renewed Republican attention to education that seemed to consolidate the base of Trump and anti-Trump Republicans this week, could make the 2022 midterm election the worst election for Democrats since 2010. … , they lost 63 seats in the House of Representatives and six more in the Senate.

Bucks County offers a sobering story for Democrats around the world.

Just last fall, President Joe Biden won this predominantly white county of nearly 630,000 northeast Philadelphia by more than 4 points, a significant jump from Hillary Clinton’s less than 1% win four years earlier. The county serves as a microcosm of Pennsylvania and possibly a country, with a mixture of working-class neighborhoods, rural areas, and wealthy suburbs.

Trump’s name was largely absent from this week’s municipal elections, but the new Republican emphasis on education has helped unify the Republican electorate that has been widely split during Trump’s presidency.

“For us it was really last summer when it all became a hit,” said Liz Sheehan, New Hope-Solebury student council president for Democrats.

At local school board meetings, people began to express concern about the alleged sexual abuse of a student in northern Virginia. Others have seized on controversial books and critical racial theory, an academic framework that focuses on the idea that racism is systemic in national institutions and that they function to support white dominance. This approach is not taught in public schools, but in recent months it has become a universal political buzzword for any teaching about race and American history.

While alleged sexual assault and debates over critical theory of race were hot topics in the national conservative media, they had little to do with Bucks County.

“We kind of naively thought, ‘Okay, I think we’re a little more rational in our area.’ And all of a sudden we had meetings where people showed up wearing Trump hats, ”Sheehan said.

“There is a lot of talk about this notion of parental control in public schools right now, and it’s a mask debate and a critical debate on race theory under one heading,” continued the student council president. “And this, I think, is what really motivated people at the local level, and why we saw a lot of school board members lose their seats and a lot of the far right got seats.”

Sheehan won her race, but many other Democrats were less fortunate.

Robin Robinson, the Bucks County clerk, says she received more votes on her second term bid than any other Democratic nominee in history. She lost anyway.

She fears what this means for the mid-term results of 2022.

“I was the largest Democrat voter recipient in the history of this county, and I couldn’t win over a little crumbling business reporter?” – said Robinson. “The problem is bigger than Bucks County.”

Several Democratic Senate candidates were active in Bucks County in the days and weeks leading up to the election, trying to draw voters’ attention to their lesser-known candidates. The overall turnout eventually surpassed 40% of registered voters in the district, a staggering figure for an out-of-year election.

Bucks County GOP Chairman Pat Poprick is optimistic about the future of his party, especially after watching a surge of new volunteers in recent months. The GOP’s success had nothing to do with Trump, she said.

“Some people listen to him, of course, but it is constantly decreasing,” Poprik said. “If he comes back in 2024, we’ll see, I don’t know, some people say he will come back, some people say not. I must say it was the last thing I thought about. “

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