Believing that Donald Trump will just set himself on fire every day between now and the 2020 presidential election, Democrats have begun searching their ranks for anyone who could unseat a sitting president. The problem they have is that there really isn’t anyone with a national profile who they really think could do it.
The problem for Democrats is that they overextended themselves between 2008 and 2016, thinking that they would be permanently entrenched in Washington D.C., and able to run the show under their agenda forever. The backlash to their overconfidence was devastating, and many people understandably blame Barack Obama, who made the Democratic Party go along with bad and unpopular ideas.
Now, while Obama is staying out of the political spotlight for the moment, his team – the advisers and the people who made his political ascendancy what it was – are out their already picking the Democrats’ candidate for 2020.
Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s closest confidantes, and David Simas, the CEO of Obama’s foundation, have sent smoke signals urging former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to enter the race.
Simas, who once served as a top aide to Patrick, is an ardent supporter of the former governor, sources tell The Hill, while Jarrett has privately told friends that she would do what it takes to support him.
And Politico reported last month that Jarrett believes a President Patrick is “what my heart desires.”
There are a couple of problems that Democrats and their strategists are going to have to realize here (and, according to The Hill, some are):
- Going ahead and picking the next candidate before there are primaries hasn’t really been working well for the last few presidential elections.
- Barack Obama is the guy who let his party collapse without lifting a finger. Why would they want him now?
Democratic insiders are expressing worry about some of the talk, and they say it’s much too early to be pushing one particular candidate.
“There is little appetite in the party to settle on a candidate early,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons.
Many Democrats and Republicans believe the 2020 race will be wide open and that a couple dozen Democrats could even run for the party’s presidential nomination.
Frankly, Patrick is way down the list of Democratic favorites. The younger base would love to see Bernie Sanders try again, and Elizabeth Warren has been building a national profile for herself over the last few years. It would not shock me to also find out that Kamala Harris of California is building herself a team and a national profile ahead of a 2020 run.
If the Democrats are shying away from a pre-determined pick, as this piece from The Hill suggests, then that means they maybe sorta learned the lesson taught to them painfully by Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s DNC. That would be less than ideal for Republicans and for Trump, but it’s not as though Sanders, Warren, or Harris are solid choices right now. If those three and Patrick are the brightest stars the Democrats can put forward right now, the Republicans may be pretty lucky.
Keep in mind that Democrats lost a ton of blue collar workers (a voting block they usually hold on to pretty well) because the Democratic Party have voted against them time and again in pushing for environmental regulations that harm their workplace and for sitting on their hands while the economy along the Rust Belt in particular continued to tank.
Republicans should, honestly, follow Trump’s suit and continue to appeal to those workers while also praying that Barack Obama gets directly involved and handpicks a successor like Patrick. That would really do more harm to the Democratic Party than good, and it would make Republicans’ jobs so much easier come 2020.