Lamb, Fetterman, And Kenyatta Walk Into A Bar. It Is Full Of Commenters Bitching About 2016.
Holly Otterbein at Politico has already written an elegy for Rep. Conor Lamb, who’s remarkably lively for an apparent political corpse.
Conor Lamb is the kind of swing-state Senate candidate who used to make Democratic power-brokers swoon.
A former Marine and prosecutor, Lamb catapulted onto the national scene in 2018 when he flipped a House seat that former President Donald Trump carried by nearly 20 points. President Joe Biden said the young, centrist lawmaker reminds him of his late son, Beau.
Despite Lamb’s obvious eHarmony appeal, Pennsylvania Democrats aren’t swooning at the polls. Maybe the power brokers are out of touch? (No, it’s the voters who are wrong!) Lamb is trailing Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in both fundraising and the polls.Fetterman rose to wider prominence in 2020 when he defended the state against Donald Trump’s Big Lies about election fraud. In addition to his numerous TV appearances, there were Twitter exchanges like this one:
Hey, Governor Patrick- it\u2019s your counterpart in Pennsylvania. \n\nI\u2019d like to collect your handsome reward for reporting voter fraud. \n\nI got a dude in Forty Fort, PA who tried to have his dead mom vote for Trump.\n\nI\u2019d like mine in Sheetz gift cards pls.\n\nps. The Cowboys blow.https://twitter.com/chucklindell/status/1326257033587400704\u00a0\u2026— John Fetterman (@John Fetterman) 1605052207
Lamb supporters have argued that the 2013 incident when Fetterrman pulled a shotgun on a Black guy could make it hard to rally Black voters to the polls in November. However, most active Black Pennsylvania voters are already participating in the Democratic primary, which Fetterman is leading. Also, Christopher Miyares, the guy on the other end of Fetterman’s shotgun, claims Fetterman “lied about everything” but still hopes he “gets to be senator.” He’s welcome to that opinion. I’ve yet to endorse anyone who’s pulled a gun on me.
Otterbein frames this as yet another battle between the “Left” and the Democratic establishment. As New York congressional candidate Maya Contreras observed on a recent Wonkette live chat: Any politician who holds political office is a member of the “establishment.” This is a somewhat meaningless distinction.
Yes, it’s certainly helpful when a candidate has the support of Democratic leadership and their own colleagues. However, Nina Turner wasn't without establishment support (and a significant amount of money) when Shontel Brown defeated her in the Ohio 11 congressional race. Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed and campaigned for Turner. He’s the current chair of the powerful Senate Budget Committee, so he’s no less a part of the establishment than House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.
The mighty Democratic establishment is apparently so spooked by progressives that Pennsylvania Democrats have declined to endorse anyone, a perceived blow to Lamb, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is also taking the bold position of “our name’s Paul, and this is between y’all."
Lamb has argued that he’s the "most electable candidate,” but Democratic voters have reason to worry about electing any more self-obsessed glory hounds like Kyrsten Sinema. A big Democratic pitch for 2022 is not just keeping the Senate majority but electing at least two more reliable Democrats. Lamb has twice voted against Nancy Pelosi for House speaker, but he’s at least come out in favor of nuking the filibuster. That already makes him better than Sinema and Joe Manchin.
Yesterday made things really clear. \n\n\u2028\u2028I believe the filibuster has to go. Short thread explaining why:— Conor Lamb (@Conor Lamb) 1622316867
Meanwhile, Fetterman's direct quote — "PUT ME IN COACH!" — promised a Biden vote for every pot.
Put me in, coach. I promise to be that 51st vote. Every time.— John Fetterman (@John Fetterman) 1626478889
And yet we still, a century later, go back to Hillary vs. Bernie, as Fetterman was a Sanders supporter (he wasn't rude about it), and some people will go to their graves being tiresome about it. (And yes, you know who you are.)
Pennsylvania Democrats don’t have a binary choice between what Politico describes as the “progressive” Fetterman and the “centrist” Lamb. Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta is also running. Journalist Victoria A. Brownworth reports that Kenyatta boasts "a massive number of pivotal endorsements among progressive groups and labor unions” and would "make history as the first openly gay man and first LGBTQ person of color elected to the US Senate. He would also be the youngest member of the Senate.” (Sorry, Jon Ossoff.)
On Twitter, Brownworth called the Politico article an “incredibly disappointing piece that reduces Malcolm Kenyatta's run to a paragraph and mentions Black voters — still the Democratic base and the majority of Philly voters — twice.”
Kenyatta has more endorsements than any of the top three candidates and ranks side by side with Fetterman in polling. Dismissing the actual left candidate — Kenyatta — or Fetterman while ignoring Fetterman's and Lamb's problems with Black voters is lax at best.
Kenyatta has accused Fetterman of avoiding the Black vote after the lieutenant governor skipped an event with 25 Black clergy members (he was presiding over the opening of the Senate session). Kenyatta and Lamb both participated.
For now, Lamb is downplaying current polls and looking forward, even though some of his Democratic backers represent the distant past. Democratic strategist James Carville’s super PAC is helping Lamb, who was eight years old when Carville’s big hit, “It’s The Economy Stupid,” topped the charts. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is also in Lamb’s corner, which usually means you should change corners.
I end this post with the obligatory comment that all three candidates are superior to whomever Republicans end up nominating, and the obligatory reminder to STOP FIGHTING IN THE COMMENTS, JEEZ YOU GUYS.
No really, we mean it.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."