Instead of a shape-shifting Democratic Party and a shape-shifting Republican Party, wouldn't it be clearer to just have a progressive party and a conservative party? In its relentless quest for a "Big Tent," the Democratic Party has destroyed a once-stellar brand to make room for political garbage like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate and House members like Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ), Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-Azerbaijan), Scott Peters (New Dem-CA), Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA), Rick Larsen (New Dem-WA), Ed Case (Blue Dog-HI), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR), Jared Golden (Blue Dog-ME), Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN), Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)...
Even the head of the DCCC, Sean Patrick Maloney, fits snuggly into the conservative camp, except for his status as an openly gay man, the same way Kyrsten Sinema never stops babbling about being bisexual, which pretty much makes it tough to be an open Republican. For years before Maloney was elected DCCC head, the committee has been eagerly recruiting and financing conservatives for Congress, some of whom-- the most recent being Jefferson Van Drew-- get elected and then flip to the GOP. This shouldn't have surprised anyone, except maybe the imbeciles at the DCCC, because when the DCCC recruited him, Van Drew was the worst-- most Republican-oriented-- Democrat in the New Jersey state Senate and a poster child for the NRA. He was the worst and that's why they wanted him... and then he joined the gateway to the GOP-- the Blue Dogs. Now he's a full-fledged Republican.
A sure way to get DCCC (and DSCC) support is to be a Republican and, for whatever reason, decide you are suddenly a Democrat, even if you keep your conservative worldview. Tom O'Halleran (AZ) is a good example. And this morning Ally Mutnick and Sarah Ferris reported about a new one, Michael Taylor-- a lifelong Republican the DCCC is recruiting for a congressional seat in Michigan. Taylor, mayor of Sterling Heights, is a conservative anti-Trumper... perfect for Sean Patrick Maloney. "But," they wrote, "the effort to woo the newly anti-Trump mayor has caused consternation among some Michigan Democrats, particularly labor groups, who are furious their party would consider someone who not only backed Trump in 2016 but endorsed likely GOP candidate John James in James' 2018 bid to oust Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow."
MI-10 has no incumbent, but it does have an R+6 lean, which might be do-able in a good year for Democrats, but probably not this cycle. Among the Republicans talking about running are former Congressman Mike Bishop, frequent self-funding candidate Lena Epstein and former Senate candidate John James. The only Democrat who has already declared is Huwaida Araf, a pro-Palestinian activist, although others in the mix include former state Sen. Steve Bieda, Macomb County judge Carl Marlinga, and Warren Council Member Angela Rogensues.
[S]everal members of Michigan’s delegation described a brewing backlash on the left as their own party pursues a candidate who publicly declared as recently as 2013 that he opposed abortion rights and Obamacare and supported right-to-work laws reviled by unions. Labor groups are particularly incensed that Democrats would back such a candidate in a district that includes the heart of the auto industry, according to multiple people familiar with the private discussions.
A Facebook post from 2013, outlining all those positions, made the rounds in the Detroit-area Democratic circles shortly after Taylor emerged as a potential candidate.
“A baseline for Democrats is, ‘Do you support workers rights? Are you against right to work?’” said Chris Harthen, a former organizer at the UFCW Local 876. “When you have a politician who not only is against those things, but has supported somebody like Donald Trump in the past-- I mean that's just a bridge too far.”
“Somebody [Sean Patrick Maloney] in some fancy office in D.C. gets to tell what is a predominantly working- and middle-class district who their candidate is going to be?,” Harthen added. “Not the least of which, a guy who was just a minute ago Republican.”
Taylor’s views on those issues have since evolved, according to a Democratic operative familiar with his thinking. He now supports abortion rights, would not repeal Obamacare but believes it can be improved and does not support right to work laws after interacting frequently with unions as mayor.
The recruitment efforts raises a larger questions about how closely House Democrats want to tie themselves to the shrinking anti-Trump faction of the GOP. While they are eager to tout defectors like Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) on their support for the Jan. 6, 2021 riot investigation, those GOP lawmakers still vote with their party the vast majority of the time-- including blocking Democratic policy priorities.
Some Democrats say the limits of their so-called “big-tent” party could soon be tested with a candidate like Taylor, who has not publicly made clear if his stance on social issues has shifted, even as his allegiance to Trump did.
“This guy Taylor, I mean I don’t know him, but he’s a Republican,” said David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan, the teachers union. “It wouldn't be our choice at all. The problem is, ‘Who?’”
“This shows the disconnect between the Washington Democratic Party elite and the activists at the grassroots level,” added Sterling Heights City Council Member Henry Yanez.
Others [generally, people who think their careers are more important than Democratic values and the country itself], though, insist that the goal should be simply winning the newly drawn 10th District. The seat, which includes the blue collar stronghold of Macomb County, has been tilting redder for decades, and some Democrats privately said the party should be willing to embrace Taylor as a Democrat-- albeit a conservative one-- if it means beating James.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), who has a keen interest in Macomb County, which he carried during his reelection bid against James in 2020, has also made a personal pitch to Taylor, according to multiple sources. (Taylor also endorsed Peters in that statewide race.) Andy Levin and Rep. Haley Stevens (New Dem-MI) have spoken to Taylor about a potential run as well, according to a source familiar with those conversations.
Peters’ campaign team noted that he has been talking to multiple “stakeholders and officials” in the district, part of an effort to make sure Democrats have the best possible candidate. “Sen. Peters will be supporting whomever the Democratic nominee is,” a spokesperson said.
Republicans have been desperately recruiting James, who twice lost statewide bids for Senate but is viewed as a star recruit of the midterms. Luring James into Congress has been a top priority of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and the party's top super PAC commissioned polling showing him with a commanding lead in the district.
Taylor shot onto the national stage shortly before the 2020 election, when the former Trump voter revealed that he picked Biden this time instead. In local interviews since then, Taylor has said he has no party affiliation, and his mayoral races have been nonpartisan.
But he has made clear that he supported Trump in 2016, and some Democrats worry that alone would make him toxic to primary voters.
“He voted for Trump after the Access Hollywood tape came out? How do you think that’s going to play in a Democratic primary? Because he didn’t renounce Trump until 2020, he owns everything that Trump did until that point,” said one Democratic consultant involved in Michigan races.
Some Michigan lawmakers also privately vented they weren’t consulted in the extraordinary step to seek a newly converted Democrat. Many Democrats on the local level, too, said they never heard from the national party about the effort.
“No one at the national level has reached out to me about it,” said Ed Bruley, chair of the Macomb County Democratic Party, though he added he doesn’t have a position on Taylor. Bruley said he “would welcome” anyone who can win the seat for Democrats.