Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) met with President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence today, making her one of the first Democrats to do so, amid the flurry of meetings they are holding with potential cabinet and White House appointees.
Gabbard was a Bernie Sanders supporter in the Democratic primary, and is also a vocal opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an issue Trump ran against during the campaign. McClatchy notes that, “Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, reportedly likes Gabbard because of her stance on guns, refugees and Islamic extremism along with her ability to invoke strong anti-establishment populist sentiment on the left.”
What – if anything – this means as far as a possible Gabbard role in the Trump administration is not known at the present time.
From CNN’s Sara Murray:
From NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald, here is Gabbard’s statement on the meeting:
Many volunteers and staffers from Barack Obama’s two presidential campaigns and his administration have already left government for other personal or professional ventures, but according to Politico, many of them are now tapping into the Obama political network to discuss options for what they can do to oppose the incoming Trump administration after January 20. Many of them had assumed that their former boss’s legacy would be in the hands of his party’s chosen successor Hillary Clinton, a plan which went out the window after the November 8 elections. After taking a few days to process the outcome, many of them are regrouping and planning their next political and/or career moves.
President Obama himself will be involved, according to comments he made during a recent conference call, but not until after he leaves office. One of his post-presidential political plans is already known: the National Democratic Redistricting Committee – a 527 led by former attorney general Eric Holder that will focus on redistricting reform leading up to the 2020 presidential election and census. Part of this will involve getting Democrats elected to state legislatures so that, in states Democrats have majority control, they can design more favorable congressional districts for the following decade. Assume that Obama campaign and White House alumni will run for office in the not-too-distant future.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) released a list of 35 endorsements for his DNC chairmanship candidacy from elected officials and organizations on Friday. Among those who signed on: Senator-elect Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), United Steelworkers, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. This follows early endorsements from outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Ellison is clearly trying to build on his early momentum in an effort to lock down early front runner status. It is unclear as of right now which of the many potential candidates will emerge as his chief challenger(s).
Update: Ellison’s opponents (including former DNC chairman Howard Dean and South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison) and other Democrats are pushing back on his candidacy, arguing that his responsibilities as a member of Congress (votes, oversight, and constituents) would undercut his ability to do the DNC chairman job effectively. Their argument is that being the DNC chairman is a full-time job, especially now when the party is rebuilding. They point out Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was a member of the House of Representatives in addition to being the DNC chair during most of Obama’s presidency, who wound up having to resign from the job in the aftermath of a WikiLeaks email dump last summer.
According to the most recent figures from the North Carolina State Board of Elections, Democratic attorney general Roy Cooper’s lead in the North Carolina gubernatorial race over incumbent Republican Pat McCrory has grown to 6,600 votes, with a slight lead of 0.14 percent.
These are the senators up for re-election in 2018 – in the case of many Democrats, they are the ones who got elected by riding Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election coattails.
- Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
- John Barrasso (R-WY)
- Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
- Ben Cardin (D-MD)
- Tom Carper (D-DE)
- Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
- Bob Casey (D-PA)
- Bob Corker (R-TN)
- Ted Cruz (R-TX)
- Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
- Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
- Deb Fischer (R-NE)
- Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
- Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY)
- Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
- Dean Heller (R-NV)
- Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
- Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
- Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
- Tim Kaine (D-VA)
- Angus King (I-ME)
- Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
- Joe Manchin (D-WV)
- Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
- Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
- Chris Murphy (D-CT)
- Bill Nelson (D-FL)
- Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
- Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
- Jon Tester (D-MT)
- Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
- Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
- Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Most of these seats are generally safe for the incumbent or the incumbent party. The problem for Democrats is they will be defending more seats this cycle (23, and two independents in Maine and Vermont) than the Republicans (8). Republicans will likely have a 52-48 majority in the Senate for the next two years (pending on the outcome of the Louisiana Senate runoff election scheduled for December). If Democrats are to retake the Senate, they need a net gain of 3 seats. This is going to be very difficult because many of them represent states won by Donald Trump (red is solid Republican, purple is swing state, blue is solid Democrat):
Heitkamp, Manchin, McCaskill and Tester are particularly vulnerable because of the states they represent, so out of self-preservation they may vote for Trump nominees and legislation to save face back home. The other states are traditionally Democratic, but given that Trump won them in 2016 and that Democrats tend to have less reliable turnout for midterm elections, they can’t take anything for granted.
On the other hand, the Democrats’ best opportunities for a pickup are in purple or purple-leaning states:
Arizona has historically been a safely Republican state, but Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton here 49-45, probably a closer margin than state Republicans would like. Nevada Democrats – led by the Harry Reid political machine – ran the table and won every race in the state. If Democrats recruit a solid candidate and the Reid machine can put together another performance like they did in 2016, Heller could be their biggest chance for a pickup opportunity.
A lot can happen in two years. The political dynamics, such as the state of the economy, will determine which party benefits. Historically, the party in the White House tends to lose congressional seats during the midterm elections. But right now, two years out, it’s looking difficult for Senate Democrats.
Senator Tim Kaine told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he would not run for president or vice-president again, and will focus on reelection to the Senate in 2018. He cites John Warner, the long-serving Republican senator of his home state of Virginia, as the model he hopes to emulate.
This means that the Democratic field for 2020 will be truly open – think the Republicans in 2008 or 2012 with no presidential or vice presidential nominee running for the spot.