According to the National Journal, Democrats have been struggling to recruit candidates for the U.S. Senate in red states: "Senate Democrats began the 2014 election cycle facing a challenging political landscape, without many promising opportunities to take back Republican seats." Worse yet, Democrats running of their own volition (not being coerced to run by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) are ruining the DSCC's plans. Unfortunately for the DSCC, that is just the beginning of their snowballing troubles. It seems as though every day prominent DSCC darlings are turning down the opportunity to run for Senate.
Here are four states where the Democrats are in serious trouble:
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is still waiting for his 2014 challenger. The opportunity was turned down by actress Ashley Judd, who bizarrely seemed to be Democrats' first pick. However, when Judd declined, "all eyes turned to [Secretary of State Alison] Grimes," in what one might argue was a shift of desperation to the next best choice. There is no indication that Democrats are nearing convincing Grimes to run. She has spoken with President Clinton about potentially running, but she seems unswayed, recently saying she "won't be bullied into any decision."
On Tuesday, Democrats' first choice in Georgia, Rep. John Barrow, stated he will not run for Senate in 2014 to fill the seat that will be left vacant due to Senator Saxby Chambliss's retirement.
According to National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman, Brad Dayspring, "Barrow's decision is the biggest recruiting failure of the 2014 cycle and ensures that Republicans are on offense across the map in 2014." Dayspring went on to say that Democrats did everything possible to convince Barrow to run, but Barrow knows the seat is not winnable. The Hill agrees, stating this was "a major blow to Democrats' hopes of picking up the seat."
DSCC spokesman Matt Canter stated "We are confident we will have a strong candidate that will excite Democrats and provide independents and moderate Republicans with a strong, reasonable alternative to the extremism from Republicans." However, one cannot begin to assume who that miracle candidate could be, as the "strongest" of Georgia Democratic candidates may not be such a strong contender, and knows better than to run.
Some have suggested Barrow remaining as a congressman somehow helps DSCC, for if he were to run for Senate, his House seat would have been an "all-but-assured pickup for the GOP." The idea contradicts itself. If Barrow is so safe and strong in his House seat, then if he lost the U.S. Senate election, he could just remain Congressman, right? However, the idea that Barrow could not win re-election in his safe House seat if he lost the Senate election inherently means Barrow is not so secure in his seat.
Another potential candidate, and the Democrats' next choice for the seat, is Michelle Nunn, who has never before run for office. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Democrats are now trying to spin [Michelle] Nunn as the superior candidate who can better turn out the base." "One Democratic strategist working with her campaign said party leaders are still finding out where she stands on key issues." Furthermore, she "isn't as far along in her exploration of the race." Nunn also wrote an article in the Washington Post praising the very far-left Occupy Wall Street movement, of which many Georgia Democrats were not too fond.
In other words, Nunn is a risky pick, but it seems as though she is the next best hope for Democrats. Democrats are still vetting her and scrambling to see if there are any other viable options. They better hurry up! 2014 is approaching rapidly.
The lack of willing Democratic candidates isn't just an issue for Democrats in red states. Democrats have yet to address challenging Maine Senator Susan Collins. The Democratic Party's choice not to publicly target Maine is intentional. Collins is well-liked and is the ideal moderate Republican to sit comfortably in a blue state Senate seat. Furthermore, Democrats are well aware of the challenge she poses. "Democratic strategists in the state admit that their party would face a formidable challenge, for a number of reasons."
4. South Dakota:
Unfortunately for the Democratic establishment, the bad news keeps coming. Recently, Rick Weiland announced his bid for an open South Dakota Senate seat. This comes as a huge blow to Democrats who have been one hair short of getting down on one knee to beg Former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin to run because she polls well. However, Herseth doesn't adhere to the ideals of the left, and she lost re-election as an incumbent several years ago. If Herseth does run, this will make for a bloody primary.
The DSCC's actions have helped to forge new divides on the left. In a progressive's article in the Daily Kos, entitled "Out of Alignment: An Open Letter to the DSCC," she berates the DSCC. She asserts that "the DSCC is choosing the wrong points." "It's not like I needed Ellis' article to make me wonder … which points DC insiders are using to try to align South Dakota Democrats." "Needless to say, references in Ellis' article to DSCC arm-twisting, threats, horse heads, and goons rang familiar but not hollow. We South Dakota Progressives have come to know that you," referring to the DSCC, "are not aligned with us, nor with core Democratic values." She tore the DSCC to shreds, rebuking the DSCC for trying to force Heresith to run: "And your efforts are pointless: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin lost badly to Kristi Noem."
The DSCC should try a less coercive approach and take citizens on their own side seriously. Their tactic of attempting to fool progressives into voting for candidates who fundamentally disagree with their views may not be the smartest approach. However, this is coming from the same DSCC who chose Ed Markey as the nominee in Massachusetts, where he is proving himself an incredibly weak candidate. Regardless, 2014 is going to be a long and disappointing uphill battle for the DSCC.