Democrats target 2018 midterms

Democrats target 2018 midterms
November 23
08:00 2016



Two months before President-elect Donald J. Trump even takes the oath of office, activists and Democrats are already looking past their election 2016 defeats toward the 2018 midterms, hoping that they have learned enough lessons to gain some ground.

But with recent Republican victories in both the state House and Senate, as well as the U.S. Congress, any ground not gained now will be much, much harder to get in two years, thanks to redistricting, even though, theoretically, the party not in power in the White House usually does well during midterms.

In 2018, every state lawmaker and congressperson just elected or re-elected will be up for another two-year term. Depending on how either a Gov. Pat McCrory or Gov. Roy Cooper are doing here, or President Donald Trump is doing in Washington, will determine how successful the 2018 midterms will be.

To Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of the N.C. NAACP, the fight for fair policies must continue seamlessly from this year.

“We have to,” the civil rights leader said during a post-election day telephone conference, noting that there are key battles in Congress activist groups are seeking to win.

“We have to fight for the Voting Rights Act to be restored. We have to remember that in our history, when we first got the VRA, we didn’t have the people elected in Congress with a plan to do it. We created a context where they had to do it, through marching, through civil disobedience and speaking out.”

Barber continued, “ We’re going to continue to organize, to push out. We have seen what 23-24 per-cent of the electorate can do. We’re going to try to get that to 30 percent, plus Latinos.”

Eric Ellison, Forsyth County Democratic Party laments the loss of Hillary Clinton for the White House, and the party’s failure to crack the Republicans’ super majorities in the state House and Senate two weeks ago. But he knows how important the 2018 midterms are, and the 2020 general elections after that, and his people are getting started now.

“There is no time to take a break,” Ellison told The Chronicle.  “Our office has been open since the election, and folks are coming in left and right, calling left and right, sending emails, wanting to get back to work. On Dec. 1st, we’re going to start getting ready for the 2018 midterm elections. And as Democrats learned in 1994, if this president does not produce, and does not come out with the charge of his Republican supporters, people are going to have something to say about it at the polls.”

“In Forsyth County, and I speak for Forsyth County Democrats, we’re going to start a consensus building of our targeted precincts, we want to hear what are their concerns; we’re going to expand our base, and bring in those folks who feel disenfranchised,”  Ellison added.

If there is one goal Democrats have as a top priority, it is to regain majorities in the N.C. and U.S. Houses by 2020, the next presidential year, in order to control redistricting. The party in power at the start of each decade redraws the voting maps in their respective states and congressional districts, thus making it tougher for the opposing party to unseat the majority.

Since Republicans took over the state House in 2010 and redrew North Carolina’s voting districts to essentially protect their legislative majority in 2011, the GOP has been able to confidently push its conservative agenda, reversing, many Democratic critics say, whatever social progress had been made by the Democratic majority in previous years.

Thanks to a successful federal lawsuit against North Carolina’s 2011 redistricting plan alleging racial discrimination, the N.C. General Assembly will be required to redraw its map for the remainder of the decade.

That lends some hope for the 2018 midterms in North Carolina, and Chenita Barber Johnson, a former Forsyth county school board candidate, told The Chronicle that Democrats don’t have time to wait.

“Besides preparing qualified candidates, the Democratic Party must create diversity at the top of the Party nationally, statewide and locally. They must shore up the African American voters, get feet on the street through grassroots efforts and knock on those doors stay relevant and not wait until Fall 2017.”

But it really all boils down to one thing, says Forsyth County Democratic Sen. Paul Lowe, and that’s Democrats making it their business to come out in 2018, and vote.

Unlike presidential elections, African-American and other communities of color don’t traditionally turn out in large numbers for midterm elections, and the challenge is even seen as being greater now.

“Our people have to vote,” Lowe told The Chronicle Monday. “Our people have to turn out and vote during the midterm elections if they want to see things different. There’s no way to get away from that.”

“Poor people, people of color, women have the most to gain if they participate in the process, and the most to lose if they don’t,” Lowe adds. “So we can’t allow midterm elections to get by, and we don’t participate, because we’re voting on those things that will affect us, in most cases.”

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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