2020 Democratic primaries to be Beto friendly

Frank CagleFeature, Frank Talk

It’s no secret that the Democratic National Committee had its thumb on the scale to ensure that Hillary Clinton got the party’s nomination in 2016. The Super Delegates froze out Joe Biden and the big donors lined up behind Clinton. It should have been a warning for them when an unknown Vermont socialist named Bernie Sanders almost stole the nomination from her with passionate primary fans. But in 2016 the Democrats were determined to nominate the only well-known Democrat who couldn’t beat Trump.

Rather than retain control and just find a better candidate next time around, the DNC has given up control of the process. The Bernie wave and the Clinton loss has prompted the DNC to remove the thumb and rely on the primaries to determine the nominee in 2020. The Super Delegates of the DNC can no longer tilt the results. It is a safe bet that the energy and the turnout in Democratic primaries will favor candidates well to the left of the mainstream, as “Bernie” demonstrated.

National Democrats and the national media had orgasms about Beto O’Rourke, who almost beat Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate race. He was the star of the mid-terms. He raised millions of dollars from around the country. He is as well-known at this point as just about any other national Democrat. If he runs for president, he is likely to inspire young people and party activists to start a crusade that will make Bernie Sanders look like John the Baptist paving the way for the anointed one. And the political pundit class, who love him, will give him immediate legitimacy.

But while the left coast and the northeast may be ready to elect a hard-left progressive, what about the rest of the country? On the other hand, all the well-known potential Democratic candidates are ancient. Is there one of them younger than 70 years old? Put them on a podium beside Beto, and Beto wins the primaries.

The old DNC might have tried to choose between Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Sanders. But these old tired faces just will not fly with the rank and file Democrats who will decide the primaries. The internal debate among Democrats these days is whether they need to nominate a center-right candidate like Phil Bredesen or do they go with an inspirational progressive like O’Rourke? (Let’s remember that they both lost.)

It has been argued that if O’Rourke had tacked to the center he might have won, but he instead went even further left. Would he moderate his views in a national campaign? If he did would he lose his fanatical base?

Bredesen’s case would seem to argue against nominating “Republican lite.” Bredesen had been a popular governor and his politics were closer to Lamar Alexander and Bill Haslam than to the Democratic platform. It didn’t help him against a Republican conservative in Marsha Blackburn. But the Democrats need to make inroads into red states and can they do that with a leftist agenda?

If enough people are fed up with Trump, 2020 could just be a referendum on keeping him. The question is, will the Democrats figure out a way to lose again?

Bye, Bye: A friend sent me a link to a story about people threatening to leave Tennessee in the wake of Marsha Blackburn’s thrashing of Phil Bredesen. He suggests the response ought to be a quote by coach Paul “Bear” Bryant when he was trying to thin the ranks of the Texas A&M football team with brutal practices at a place called the Junction. Bryant told players there was no reason to sneak out of camp at night but to come and see him instead. “I’ll give you a bus ticket and a peanut butter sandwich.”

Where’s Gruden? We’ve hired Jeremy Pruitt as UT coach and we only have five wins thus far. Just think. What if we had been willing to pay fan fave Jon Gruden $10 million a year for 10 years? That’s what the Oakland Raiders are paying him. If we had him, we too could be … 1 win and 8 losses. Oh. Never mind.

Frank Cagle is a retired newspaperman. You can reach him at efrankcagle@yahoo.com.


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