On today's BradCast: Even as final results are still being determined from this year's midterms, the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House prepared for its new majority with leadership votes on Wednesday, including on Rep. Nancy Pelosi's bid to retake her previous role as Speaker of the House. Also, three weeks after the November 6th election and Tuesday's runoff for the U.S. Senate in Mississippi, more Houses races are called and one race, believed to have been won by a Republican, offers a new mystery in the state of North Carolina. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
In MS, Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith reportedly won Tuesday's runoff against Democrat Mike Espy, as expected, but by a far narrower margin than previously expected in the deep "red" state, after she made a number of disturbing, racialized comments throughout the campaign. Trump won the state by 18 points in 2016. Hyde-Smith won by eight points. A ten-point shift towards Democrats. Nonetheless, the GOP win in MS results in an overall pickup of 2 seats for Republicans in the U.S. Senate this January.
The U.S. House, however, is a very different story. Today, AP finally called the still-undecided contest in New York's 22nd Congressional District for Democrat Anthony Brindisi over incumbent (and very Trumpy) Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney. The Dem flip comes in another "red" district where Trump had won in 2016 by 16 points. That brings the Democratic Party's pickups to 39 among AP's "called" races, with one more contest leaning Dem in California and another leaning GOP in New York state.
But, in North Carolina, where all 13 U.S. House races were expected to be certified by a routine vote of the State Election Board on Tuesday, a Democratic member refused to do so, citing "unfortunate activities" in one part of the state's 9th Congressional District, where Republican Mark Harris is said to have defeated Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes. After a two-hour session behind closed doors, the Board finally voted unanimously to certify all but the 9th District race for now. We've got a number of details on what may be behind this wildly unusual and still-unfolding mystery, which seems to center on Bladen County, in the eastern part of the district.
"I’m very familiar with the unfortunate activities that have happened in my part of the state," Democratic SBE vice-chair Joshua Malcolm announced during the meeting before the Board went into closed session. "And I am not going to turn a blind eye to what took place to the best of my understanding, which has been ongoing for a number of years, and which has been repeatedly referred to the United States attorney and the district attorneys to clean up. Those things have not taken place."
We'll keep an eye on that one. But, with Democrats now likely to end up with at least a 40 member majority in the U.S. House after having officially won by the overall largest popular vote margin in history for any party, the battle over party leadership and direction played out today with a vote by the Democratic Caucus in favor of Nancy Pelosi to be their nominee for the next U.S. House Speaker. She reportedly received 32 votes against her, however, which would be more than enough to block her return to Speaker when the full House votes in January.
I'm joined today by progressive journalist, author and activist NORMAN SOLOMON of RootsAction.org to discuss the challenge to Pelosi --- largely by less progressive members of her own party --- and how progressives will need to pressure the Democratic Congressional leadership from the bottom up when they take control in January. Solomon, who helped pen both a Democratic "autopsy" after the disastrous 2016 election, and a follow-up to it just before the November midterms, explains today how both newly elected Democrats and the voters who put them there will need to step up over the next two years to support wildly popular progressive reforms on everything from the minimum wage to healthcare and tax policy, if mistakes made by Democrats (with some of the same leadership) in years past is to be avoided.
"It's all about constituent power," says Solomon. "At RootsAction.org we are dedicated to mobilizing to make sure that more and more progressive constituents make their senators and representatives fully aware that they are being watched closely, and there are such things as primary challenges."
He argues that "the party has changed partly" over these past two years, though "not profoundly." Where it has changed, where Dems have rejected unpopular corporatist establishment positions, "its been because of a lot of these on-the-ground progressives".
Still, Solomon warns against complacency. "When they get Democrats in charge, there's more of a tendency among a lot of progressives to think, 'Well, the worst is over. The emergency is gone.' In fact, whether it's climate change, or perpetual war, or the rich continuing to get richer, these problems are festering. Yes, worse under Republicans, but for us to sit back in any way and not continue to organize and pressure is to leave Congress to its natural setting. It's sort of 'The Call of the Corporate Wild' that they're immersed in," he tells me. "The only way to counter that is that we have to mobilize no matter who is in power, to fight back against Wall Street."
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