By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editor, [email protected]
There has been much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth within the Democratic Party since U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. The imminent departure of Kennedy, the High Court’s swing vote for virtually all of his tenure, which began with his appointment by Ronald Reagan in 1988, hands a second Supreme Court pick to the most willfully ignorant, corrupt man to occupy the White House, perhaps in the history of the U.S. presidency.
But, with his second pick (the first pick of Neil Gorsuch was essentially stolen from President Obama following the death of Antonin Scalia), Trump tapped Brett Kavanaugh, a golden boy jurist of the Republican Conservative movement and a man who would seem somewhat unassailable during the Senate’s confirmation process under normal circumstances. But, of course, nothing in America seems normal these days.
The point is the Democratic Party has once again been backed into a corner by the most incompetent president in history, even as Trump flails via Twitter between the dual dangers of Robert Mueller and Michael Cohen. With the seemingly inevitable ascension of Kavanaugh, the party faces the prospect of a conservative judicial morass for the next 30 or 40 years and as the midterms near, the Democrats have not come forward with any discernible, cogent message beyond being anti-Trump.
The feckless leadership of the Democratic Party, led in the Congress by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA.), disparagingly referred to as “Chuck and Nancy” by Trump, seems to be mirrored in Maryland by Senate President Mike Miller, Speaker of the House Mike Bush and former Gov. Martin O’Malley, the unquestioned leaders of the state’s Democratic machine.
For many, the results of the recent Democratic primary resonate as a unequivocal rebuke of the state’s Democratic establishment. In the last couple of weeks prior to the vote on June 26, O’Malley and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker seemed joined at the hip, as Baker and his entourage traversed the state. In fact, many of the state’s most visible current and former Democratic current office holders seemed to line up behind Baker including, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Atty. Gen. Brian Frosh, former Gov. Parris Glendening, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, among a phalanx of other faithful members of Maryland’s Dem machine.
The result of all that effort is that Baker got pretty much spanked by Ben Jealous, the former president of the NAACP, by 10 points in a field of nine candidates. Jealous, who had never run for political office before, received little support from Maryland’s official Democratic machine but still managed to win handily.
But on June 26 the Democrat machine didn’t just take a loss at the top of the state ticket, many of the primary results seemed to indicate a sweeping rejection of the state’s Democratic Party establishment. In the Senate, two of Mike Miller’s most reliable allies, Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-43), and Sen. Nathaniel McFadden (D-45), were both defeated. McFadden, the Senate President Pro Tem, was easily beaten by first term Del. Cory McCray and Conway, chair of the powerful Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, lost a tough fight to Del. Mary Washington by less than 500 votes. Sen. Barbara Robinson (D-40), another veteran of the state’s Democratic Party, was routed by Del. Antonio Hayes, another first term member of the House.
In the 41st District of Baltimore City the insurgent candidate was defeated, yet it was O’Malley’s perhaps waning political influence showcased in the midst of that loss. Sen. Jill Carter cruised to victory by more than 15 points over former Baltimore City Public School teacher J.D. Merrill, despite O’Malley working vigorously behind the scenes on behalf of Merrill, his son-in-law.
Now that Jealous has emerged as the opponent of Gov. Larry Hogan, Hogan and the Republicans have predictably attempted to paint the former reporter and editor of the Jackson Advocate, a Black-owned newspaper in Jackson, Miss., as a wild-eyed radical.
But, there’s nothing wild-eyed or radical about Jealous. Perhaps, he and many of his supporters simply realize the Democratic political machine from top to bottom may be irreparably broken.
Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore Editor.