Friday, May 13, 2022

Wherein I Avert My Gaze From NC and Look North To PA

Caution may be the wrong message for the Democratic base today.

Looking at you, Cheri Beasley. You're the presumptive Democratic nominee to run for the US Senate this year. Probably against gun dealer Ted Budd. We'll know for sure next Tuesday night about both.

But is Cheri Beasley a fighter? (Because Ted Budd most assuredly will roll in the mud.) I ask for a friend, who's alarmed at the whole Trump ethos that thinks it's necessary to bully -- especially the most vulnerable -- gay and transgender, Black ballot access (and barriers for 20-somethings), and now women's basic equality under the law. Those people are also clearly willing to "just find more votes" when it's necessary to hold power (and wait 'til election authorities in various states are Trump operatives). 

Cheri Beasley's public messaging suggests more a walking-on-eggs tentativeness than a willingness to take that on. I worry.


Conor Lamb

Compare what's about to happen in the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania, which will also be next Tuesday. I'm forced to know about it because I've been on candidate John Fetterman's email list for months. (Every vaguely progressive candidate in the universe gets my email address from Central Fingering.) The Pa. Senate primary is primarily between Fetterman, the sitting lieutenant governor, and Congressman Conor Lamb, who won his House seat in a special replacement election in a Republican-leaning district early in 2018 (first ripple of the blue wave) and won reelection in 2020. I was enthusiastic about him on this blog even though I knew he was not a progressive (cautious to a fault, prosecutor-cautious). But having him in Congress would be on the whole better than not having him.

Plus Conor Lamb had the looks. Because I'm a shallow person, why wouldn't I be drawn to the photogenic, since all politics are theater? Conor Lamb looks the part, and he's not afraid to call himself a Democrat. And an ex-Marine.

Quite the contrast is Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who looks like a lumberjack auditioning for the lead in a stage production of Shrek. Unconventional, working-class to the bone, with populist instincts, pugilistic, and rough as a cob. The last numbers I saw, Fetterman was leading Lamb in the primary by 30 points (with candidate Malcolm Kenyatta projected as a distant third).

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman

Bald head, goatee, prominent tattoos, often dressed in hoodie and shorts, like he's going to the Saturday morning farmer's market instead of like a supplicant for public approval or like an already prominent member of the elected class. He's a Bernie Sanders economic thinker, totally pragmatic about who and what the enemy is for the laboring class. There's a lot being written about him right now. I found this particularly thorough.

The central dilemma in voting for Fetterman -- and he's predicted to win the primary easily -- is the same question about Cheri Beasley. Can he/she win in November? In Beasley's case, will Ted Budd and the Trumpists roll right over her? In Fetterman's case, is he too out there to get the independents?

Who will Fetterman face in November? Possibly not the Trump-endorsed Mehmet Oz but rather a Black woman, Kathy Barnette, who's coming from nowhere to run dead-even with Oz -- enough so that Trump himself issued a statement denouncing her and reiterating his support for Oz. Trump hilariously said, “She has many things in her past which have not been properly explained or vetted." (These Trumpists are always so comically un-selfaware!) Barnette -- a failed congressional candidate in 2020 and a personality who appears to make her living saying things in public, and who's really every bit as MAGA as Oz or anyone else -- certainly has the looks.

Kathy Barnett


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