Dems in Disarray
June 20, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) are still fighting over remarks Biden made at a fundraiser on Tuesday night and Booker's call for Biden to apologize. Biden had used his working relationship with two hard-line segregationist former Democratic senators, James Eastland and Herman Talmadge, to argue that the Senate used to be more civil and amenable to getting things done with people you disagree with.

On Wednesday evening, Biden told reporters he "could not have disagreed with Jim Eastland more," Eastman "was a segregationist" and "I ran for the United States Senate because I disagreed with the views of the segregationists," and his point had been that "you don't have to agree, you don't have to like the people in terms of their views, but you just simply make the case and you beat them."

When reporters noted that Biden's Democratic rivals were suggesting he had problems talking about race and asked if he would apologize, as Booker requested, Biden responded: "Cory should apologize. He knows better. There's not a racist bone in my body. I've been involved in civil rights my whole career. Period, period, period."

Booker appears to have taken special offense at Biden recalling Tuesday night that Eastland "never called me 'boy,' he always called me 'son.'" He said on CNN Wednesday night that Biden's inability to admit he'd said something wrong and to call for Booker to apologize is "so insulting and so missing the larger point," which is that he needs to be anti-racist, not just not racist.

The first 2020 Democratic presidential debate is June 26, but Booker and Biden are on separate nights. Peter Weber

November 26, 2018

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is expected to easily win Wednesday's contest to become the House Democratic nominee for incoming House speaker, but her campaign to be elected House speaker by the full Congress on Jan. 3 is complicated by two small factions of Democrats. Pelosi is set to meet Tuesday night with one of the groups, nine Democrats in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus who are requesting she support "Break the Gridlock" rules, but the other, larger faction is insisting on new leadership.

This group, led by Reps. Seth Moulton (Mass.) and Tim Ryan (Ohio), doesn't have a rival candidate, especially after potential challenger Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) threw her support behind Pelosi. And they say that isn't a problem. "The whole concept of you can't beat somebody with nobody is a Nancy Pelosi talking point," said Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.). "The first step is showing that she cannot get to 218," she added, "and then I believe the challengers will emerge that can allow new members to say, Okay here's another possibility, now I get it."

That group had 16 signatories to a letter vowing to oppose Pelosi, but one of the signatories, Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), endorsed Pelosi and another, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), said Sunday he would vote for her over any Republican on Jan. 3. Assuming Democrats end up with 234 seats, they will have a 17-seat majority, meaning Pelosi can lose no more than 16 Democrats. In 2016, 63 Democrats voted against Pelosi for House minority leader in caucus, but only four voted against her on the House floor, Politico notes.

Pelosi has the support of many of the party's rising stars, labor unions, advocacy groups, and former President Barack Obama. Most House Democrats don't seem to relish the idea of a divisive floor battle in January. "If the first Democratic value they see is chaos," Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va). tells The Associated Press, "I don't think that's very good." Peter Weber

May 20, 2016

With tensions rising between the Bernie Sanders campaign and the Democratic National Committee, Democratic leaders are nearing agreement on a number of concessions to Sanders at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July. A Sanders aide has said the senator from Vermont either wants to change how the Democrats pick their nominee or get more of his policy ideas into the Democratic Party platform, and the latter option is the opening gambit from the DNC, The Washington Post reports, adding that the DNC and Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns could complete negotiations by the end of the week.

There are three main committees at the convention — platform, rules, and credentials — and the final deal will probably include more Sanders loyalists on each committee than he was first offered, but not the 50-50 split he asked for. The platform changes the Sanders camp will push for include a $15 minimum wage and a more balanced policy on Israel and the Palestinians, The Post reports, citing an unidentified Sanders campaign aide. The Israel shift is probably a nonstarter, but both Sanders and Clinton backers are urging the DNC to meet some of Sanders' requests.

“There are other chairs who probably feel that way, and feel like this is my party and f--k Bernie Sanders,” Ken Marin, the chairman of Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer Labor Party and a Clinton supporter, tells The Washington Post. "I'm not one of those. I feel very passionately that we have to open up that party and make sure that those voices are heard." Peter Weber

May 19, 2016

The melee at the Nevada Democratic convention last weekend wasn't just about the two delegates effectively up for grabs. Tensions have been building between Bernie Sanders, the Democratic National Committee, and Hillary Clinton's campaign, and the fights in Nevada were part of that wider anger. But what actually happened at the convention is a matter of dispute, and PolitiFact decided to take a look. The fact-checking organization found no evidence that Sanders supporters threw chairs, as widely reported, but they also said there's "no clear evidence the state party 'hijacked' the process or ignored 'regular procedure,'" as Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said on CNN.

"There was a horrendous breakdown, where the leadership there in Nevada hijacked the process on the floor, created a tremendous amount of angst among people who were there attending the convention, who were supporters of Sen. Sanders, by ignoring the regular procedure and ramming through what they wanted to do," Weaver said. PolitiFact rated that "False" (though not "Pants on Fire"). The organization goes through each of the allegations, from the unseated 58 Sander delegates ("only eight of the rejected delegates even showed up to the convention, so even if they had been seated it would not have flipped the majority," PolitiFact said) to the lack of rule changes.

The convention was chaotic and the rules confusing, Politifact said, "but the howls of unfairness and corruption by the Sanders campaign during Nevada's state Democratic Convention can't change the simple fact that Clinton's supporters simply turned out in larger numbers and helped her solidify her delegate lead in Nevada." You can read the details at PolitiFact. Peter Weber

November 21, 2014

In The Washington Post's autopsy of what went wrong for Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections, one name popped up over and over again: David Krone, the right-hand man of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Krone basically pinned the entire loss on an inept White House, at one point saying, "I don't think that the political team at the White House truly was up to speed and up to par doing what needed to get done."

The disdain, apparently, is mutual. In a new profile of Krone by Jason Horowitz at The New York Times, we get a colorful glimpse of the acrimonious relationship between Reid's office and the administration, which included a request from Obama himself to exclude Krone from meetings at the White House — a request that Krone overheard as he listened in on Obama's phone call with Reid.

Apparently, Reid could not care less:

One person who did not seem bothered at all was Mr. Reid. Without much conviction, the senator, 74, said he did not ask Mr. Krone to hammer the president for him, but also did not regret him doing so. "He didn't make it up, you know," he said in an interview. Asked if he worried that the escalation had damaged the ability of Senate Democrats to work with the administration, Mr. Reid raised his soft voice. "They should just get over it. I have a good relationship with the president. This is all staff driven. Get a life. Forget about this," he said. [The New York Times]

Republicans don't like Krone, either. Remember that time when Speaker John Boehner told Reid to "f--- himself"? Reid told him to take it up with Krone. Ryu Spaeth

August 7, 2014

John Walsh, the Democratic senator from Montana, dropped out of his Senate race on Thursday. His campaign had been in trouble ever since The New York Times reported in July that Walsh had plagiarized significant portions of a college research paper in 2007.

Democrats will now have to scramble to come up with a candidate to face Republican Rep. Steve Daines in the November election. A libertarian candidate, Roger Roots, is also running.

Walsh was appointed to the Senate in February, replacing Max Baucus, who was named President Obama's ambassador to China in December 2013. Ryu Spaeth

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