While Democrats across the nation are declaring both victory and a potential turning tide after this week’s off-year election, Republicans might want to turn to their old playbook to prove the Democrats wrong.
But it won’t be easy.
For Democrats, still smarting after last year’s loss by Hillary Clinton and this week’s release of Donna Brazile’s book “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House,” just about anything would look like a victory.
They have themselves to blame for their current predicament. Trump won in no small part because Clinton was a terrible candidate.
At the least, focusing on the wins of the gubernatorial races in Virginia (where Democrat Ralph Northam beat well-known Republican Ed Gillespie), and New Jersey (where Democrat Phil Murphy won as anticipated), takes the focus off of the chaos inside the Democratic National Committee that Brazile exposed.
This is very good for Democrats. But it also might lull them into thinking that there is no need to overhaul their approach.
As a result of this week’s election, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., began reaching out to potential candidates to encourage them to run in 2018. He should; it’s his job.
Upsets occurred at the state level as well. Democrats won two state Senate seats in northeast Georgia and an open state Senate seat in the normally conservative northwest metro Atlanta district, where there will be a run-off between two Democrats (the field included five Republicans and three Democrats, and reported 18 percent turnout).
In Virginia, Danica Roem, a Democrat and transgender woman, defeated anti-LGBTQ Republican candidate Bob Marshall to take his seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Roem focused on offering solutions to local problems and accused Marshall of focusing on conservative causes rather than working to solve local issues.
In less than a year, the midterm elections for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate Seats will be held. Republicans control both legislative bodies, but have been unable to deliver on key promises made by Trump during his campaign (repealing and replacing Obamacare, and tax reform, to name two). They risk losing their control if they continue to perform next year as they have performed in 2017.
In the House, Democrats can take control if they win 24 seats. In the Senate, the Republicans hold a 2-vote majority. The current Real Clear Politics generic congressional vote average for 2018 is 46 percent for Democrats and 37 percent for Republicans. Obviously, Republicans have work to do if they want to maintain control of the legislative bodies.
That work should focus on three things:
—Deliver on the tax reform promised, and articulate clearly why the reform is good for our country.
—Focus on solving problems rather than focusing on about ideology.
—While supporting the president’s push to “drain the swamp,” focus on reaching out to all voters.
Without tax reform, Republicans will have little legislative accomplishment to point to and the stock market and the economy could pay a heavy price, ensuring the Democrats emerge victorious in the midterms.
The need for laser focus on tax reform between now and the end of the year was echoed by Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,'” he said, according to a tweet from The Hill’s Cristina Marcos
It was not all bad news for Republicans. John Curtis, the Republican mayor of Provo, Utah, handily won the 3rd congressional seat. While opponents attempted to tie him to Trump, Curtis managed to embrace the president’s agenda without embracing the president himself. On Election Night, Curtis said that “we need bridge builders, not bomb throwers,” working in government. Curtis also reached out to all constituents, saying, “If you’re not white, Mormon or male, I am still here for you. Those who know me best know that it doesn’t matter if you’re 9 or 90, rich or poor, gay or straight, Mormon or atheist, Navajo or Caucasian.”
It’s time for action from now until January, when the focus should be on reaching out to all voters about the solutions to their problems and assuring them that Republicans represent them in Washington.
To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.