Printable Page Headline News   Return to Menu - Page 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 13
Southern Dems Urge Return to Basics    11/28 06:28

   ATLANTA (AP) -- Southern Democrats are joining others in the party who say 
that a return to advocating to lift people out of economic hardship and 
emphasizing spending on education and public works will re-energize black 
voters and attract whites as well.

   "It's time to draw a line in the sand and not surrender our brand," Rickey 
Cole, the party chairman in Mississippi, said. He believes candidates have 
distanced themselves from the past half-century of Democratic principles.

   "We don't need a New Coke formula," Cole said. "The problem is we've been 
out there trying to peddle Tab and RC Cola."

   Cole and other Southern Democrats acknowledge divisions with prominent 
populists such as Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is expected to run for president 
in 2016, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Yet they see merit in pushing 
stronger voting rights laws, tighter bank regulation, labor-friendly policies 
such as a higher minimum wage and other familiar party themes.

   Democratic politics have become a tough sell in the conservative South. A 
major challenge in the region is finding candidates who can win high-profile 
races now that Republicans, who scored well in midterm elections earlier this 
month, dominate the leadership in state legislatures and across statewide 

   Georgia Democrats thought legacy candidates were the answer. But Senate 
hopeful Michelle Nunn, former Sen. Sam Nunn's daughter, and gubernatorial 
challenger Jason Carter, former President Jimmy Carter's grandson, each fell 
short by about 8 percentage points despite well-funded campaigns and ambitious 
voter-registration drives.

   Arkansas Democrats lost an open governor's seat and two-term Sen. Mark 
Pryor. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu led an eight-candidate primary but faces 
steep odds in a Dec. 6 runoff. Democrats' closest statewide loss in the South 
was North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan's 1.7 percentage point margin of defeat.

   Exit polling suggests Democrats did not get the black turnout they needed 
and lost badly among whites. Nunn and Carter got fewer than 1 in 4 white votes, 
while Pryor took 31 percent and Landrieu 18 percent.

   Should Landrieu lose, Democrats will be left without a single governor, U.S. 
senator or legislative chamber under their control from the Carolinas westward 
to Texas.

   J.P. Morrell, a state senator from New Orleans, faulted a muddled message 
that began with candidates avoiding President Barack Obama. "You have to 
articulate why the economic policies we advocate as Democrats actually benefit 
people on the ground," Morrell said.

   In Georgia, Nunn supported a minimum-wage increase and gender-pay equity, 
but her television ads focused on ending partisan rancor. Carter mostly accused 
Republican Gov. Nathan Deal of shortchanging public education. Nunn and Carter 
supported Medicaid expansion under Obama's health overhaul, but neither 
emphasized that argument in television advertising.

   "No real economic message got through," said Vincent Fort, a state senator 
from Atlanta.

   Georgia's Democratic chairman, DuBose Porter, defended Carter and Nunn as 
"world-class candidates" who can run again. He said Democrats "proved Georgia 
can be competitive in 2016," but he cautioned against looking for a nominee 
other than Clinton. "She puts us in play," he said.

   In an interview, Carter focused more on tactics than on broad messaging, 
saying the party must register minority voters and continue outreach to whites. 
"If 120,000 people change their mind in this election, it comes out 
differently," he said. "But it takes a lot of time to build those 
relationships. ... You can't expect it to happen in one year."

   Gary Pearce, a Democratic strategist and commentator in North Carolina, said 
Hagan's margin in a GOP wave offers hope for 2016, when statewide executive 
offices will be on the ballot. Fresh arguments, he said, "will have to come 
from younger Democrats in the cities." He pointed to several young Democratic 
candidates who won county commission seats in Wake County, home to Raleigh.


Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN