Big Democratic Donors Swinging LEFT. GOP in Tatters in California and New Mexico

Big bucks Democratic donors are turning their backs on centrist policies and candidates and in California and New Mexico, Democrats are dominating. How do we take advantage and solidify gains and build in other states? Plus an update on the Roundhouse Team’s upcoming meeting and training..

Today we draw from two sources, a NY Times article on how major Democratic donors are moving left and how this could impact 2020, plus an article from Politico on how the Democratic Party in California has decimated the GOP. The post also weighs in on how these trends impact us in NM.

If Big Donors Lead the Way Left, While Pelosi, Schumer and the DCCC Follow?

The NY Times article focused on interviews with big donors to the Democratic Party and how they were placing their bets on more progressive, inspiring candidates and on street-level grassroots community organizing in communities of color and in outreach to young voters, populations who simply don’t vote in high numbers. Perhaps these big donors are realizing that these populations don’t vote because Democratic Party messaging, policy and candidates simply do not inspire them to vote. Now if only we could bulk up and press the leadership of the Party to recognize the wisdom of campaign priorities and strategies that emphasize mobilization of low-income communities, not with ads, but with door-to-door conversations, instead of using timid media messaging that may play well with suburban voters who can swing from GOP to Dems and back again but will neve inspire voters skeptical of the political process.

In reference to organizing in low-income communities, the Times quotes the President Way to Win: 

 “Once we expand the electorate in these places, there will be no turning back,” said Tory Gavito, the president and co-founder of a new coalition of mostly female donors called Way to Win. Steve Phillips from Democracy Alliance  “ ‘The data bears out that there is in fact a new American majority of people of color and progressive white voters,’ said Steve Phillips, a Democracy Alliance donor who participated in a Thursday panel about winning elections in the age of Trump. Mr. Phillips, who was solicited afterward by a succession of activists seeking support for groups targeting minority voters, said in an interview that “a lot of the donors are stepping up” to support such groups.  Mr. Phillips has long called for Democrats to forsake centrist appeals and candidates, including in the 2020 presidential primary, and he suggested that other donors would be wise to do the same. ‘We should certainly reduce the amount of resources we put in that direction if we want to win,’ he said.


The Times also interviewed Leah Hunt-Hendrix, granddaughter of H.L. Hunt. “The goal is ‘to shift the way political giving happens’ away from advertising and other outreach done by national groups, and toward ground organizing controlled by local groups, according to one of the group’s founders, Leah Hunt-Hendrix.  Ms. Hunt-Hendrix, who is also a Democracy Alliance member, is among the most influential young donors on the left.  One of the problems with political giving on the right and the left is when it’s used to move a donor’s agenda, whether it’s Wall Street, tech or oil,’ Ms. Hunt-Hendrix said in an interview. Way to Win was created to counter factions of the Democratic donor class that she said were ‘socially liberal but unwilling to challenge corporate power and the accumulation and concentration of wealth.’ In an op-ed article last year, she suggested that donors boycott nonprofit groups aligned with the Democratic establishment, such as the centrist think tank Third Way and the nonprofits spearheaded by the conservative-turned-liberal operative David Brock. She deemed those groups part of the ‘neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party,’ which she blamed for thwarting progressive movements.”

Retake commented throughout the 2018 primaries and mid-terms that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee systematically demonstrated bias toward more moderate Democratic candidates in hopes of luring back voters lost to Trump in 2016, rather than seeking more progressive candidates who might inspire the non-voting youth and communities of color that could and should be the base of the Democratic Party.  It would seem if a significant segment of DP major donors favor a shift left and prefer on the ground strategies that engage these communities, Party leadership may have to listen or risk an even greater rift in the Party than experienced in 2016. While I can see the wisdom of advancing more conservative candidates in some circumstances, the near miss campaigns of O’Ruorke, Gillum, and Abrams in deep Red states and despite heavy voter suppression campaigns to deter their voter base may force Democratic Party leadership to look more toward younger candidates, often from communities of color who advance a more uncompromising progressive agenda. For a local example of how the right inspiring candidate running on a reasonably progressive platform can win in a traditionally deep red district, you need look no further than New Mexico’s 2nd District, where Xochitl Torres Small ran on women’s right to choose, background checks and Medicare for All in a historically deep Red district that in 2016 the GOP won by over 20%. To read the full NY Times article, Democratic leadership would be wise to adhere to the thinking of its progressive major donors and build a solid grassroots base that will stick with the party as long as it delivers legislation that meets their needs. To read the full NY Times report, click here.

RIP GOP in NM and California: An Opportunity to Advance Progressive Agendas?

As much as we like to bask in the glow of a blue tsunami here in NM, likely because of the sheer size of the state, California’s election results are turning far more heads. Democrats have even taken every on of the US House seats in historically deep, deep red Orange County causing GOP leadership to realize that they may never be able to restore the vitality of the GOP in California.  Three quotes from a Politico report capture the depth of the GOP’s demise in California.

” ‘The California Republican Party isn’t salvageable at this time. The Grand Old Party is dead,’ wrote former state GOP Assembly leader Kristin Olsen, who startled fellow Republicans with a brutally frank op-ed this week saying Republicans must acknowledge their ‘serious problem’ in California, particularly the effects of toxicity of President Trump.


” ‘I believe that the party has to die before it can be rebuilt. And by die — I mean, completely decimated. And I think Tuesday night was a big step,’ says veteran California GOP political consultant Mike Madrid. ‘There is no message. There is no messenger. There is no money. And there is no infrastructure.'”

And finally, a quote that could provide Democrats a suggested direction to future campaigns:

“GOP strategist John Weaver, who consulted with the more moderate Kasich campaign noted that ‘in one fell swoop Trump & Republicans who willingly handcuffed themselves to him have turned Orange County into a GOP wasteland,’ he tweeted this week. ‘You want to see the future? Look no further than the demographic death spiral in the place once considered a cornerstone of the party.’ ”


In these comments lie clues as to the future direction the Democratic Party must traverse if it wants to build upon its gain and maximize its return on the unmistakable demographic trends in the US.  GOP operatives realize what Democratic Party leadership must also recognize. The demographic future of this country is far more diverse and also younger. These populations respond to progressive messages and apparently large Democratic Party donors are reading these tea leaves and placing their bets on a bolder, more progressive message.

There will be Democrats who will urge caution in future campaigns and in legislative initiatives, fearful that a too progressive agenda will ultimately anger more moderate voters. This kind of caution could well play out in the NM legislative session in 2019, as I wrote in two previous blogs focusing on the dangers of bipartisanship. It will be the responsibility of the same grassroots power base that canvassed and called for inspiring NM Democratic candidates in the PRC race, the Land Commissioner, in US District 2 and in almost a dozen NM House races to remain vigilant at the 2019 Roundhouse session. We have an opportunity of a lifetime to advance truly inspiring legislation: curbing fracking and gas/oil exploration, investing in renewables, expanding funding for K-12 and early childhood and passing the Health Security Act.

If we are successful in standing up to powerful, well financed lobbyists and to press Democratic leadership to be less timid, we can demonstrate to New Mexicans that its government can work for it, can deliver on its promises, and is worthy of sustained election support. Click here to find out what Retake Our Democracy is going to prepare for the Legislative Session and find out how you can be part of that work. 

 In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne










Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics, Local-State Government & Legislation

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