As President Donald Trump continues to confound Americans with his unsteady approach to the Oval Office and his troubling world views, Democrats aren’t taking anything for granted.
They’re already preparing for the all-important 2018 midterm elections they hope will result in winning back the Republican-controlled House.
Texas Rep. Al Green said Americans ultimately have the final say and he look to voters to make the determination of just how critical the election may be.
“If you are concerned about your health care and whether pre-existing conditions will be covered unconditionally, then probably the midterms are important to you,” he said.
“If you are concerned how we fund a tax bill, fund an infrastructure bill, based upon the aid to people who receive Medicaid, meaning cut Medicaid so you can fund a tax plan, to be able to have an infrastructure bill, if those kinds of things concern you, then this election ought to be important to you,” Green said.
The congressman continued:
“If you care about whether or not you’ll be able to apply for a loan and not have the person who originates the loan gets a kickback based on how high they can take your interest rate, then this election is pretty important because they are getting ready to repeal Dodd Frank and Dodd Frank prevented the loan officer from meeting you, receiving your loan information and qualifying you at 5 percent, shake your hand, smile in your face and then say, ‘Great news, you have a 9 percent loan.'”
In 2018, Democrats must retain 25 Senate seats that are up for grabs — 10 in states that Trump carried last year. Reportedly, Democrats will need 24 seats to win the majority in the House.
It’s also important to note that there are key gubernatorial races also on the ballot, including in Florida, a swing state.
Lydia Hudson, the president of the Black Democratic Caucus of Florida, said it’s imperative that voters in the Sunshine State replace Republican Gov. Rick Scott with someone who cares about African Americans and the community.
“We have the governor’s race where the governor is termed out so we have an opportunity to put a Democrat in that position who will represent the community and the values we have as African Americans,” Hudson said.
“In Florida, the living wage is ridiculously low and we have a situation where we have to make sure we put someone in that seat that will take care of the people who need the most help,” she said.
“Obviously, we have to make sure we send enough Democrats to Washington so that we can resist number 45. What the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida has been doing, and we’ve been active for years, is our year-long voter registration and voter education because if you don’t educate a person on why they should vote, then registration does no good,” she said.
Hudson has challenged each of her chapter presidents to do more.
She said if they registered 100 individuals last year, then she’s asked that they register 25 percent more. “If you knocked on 100 doors, let’s increase that by 25 percent,” Hudson said.
“We need to make sure that we deal with people who are being disenfranchised. Right now, we’re canvassing, knocking on doors and we have been able to get people engaged early because we have some seats even here on the state level that we need,” she said.
Also in the south, Buquilla Ervin-Cannon, the president of the South Carolina Chapter of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network — or NAN — has gotten an early start on voter registration drives and on recruiting youth to get out and vote.
She’s also helped to facilitate a smooth trip to the polls for those who will be voting in the midterms.
“We elect officials to serve us and I’m so concerned about the 2018 mid-terms and NAN is concerned about the mid-terms,” Ervin-Cannon said, noting that among the many unanswered questions are why did 93 million registered voters decline to cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election.
“That’s why we are where we are today,” she said, referring to what’s been a chaotic and controversial new administration. “I feel that officials from the local to the federal level should be accountable for the district they serve. They should be accessible to their constituents,” Ervin-Cannon said.
Further, elected officials on all levels should hold meetings in their districts to ascertain the needs of those who live there, she said.
Particularly irksome to Ervin-Cannon is what she says is a country-wide trend where parts of a town comprise of wealthy and well-kept neighborhoods while other parts feature condemned property and ghettos.
D.C. Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton said she’s especially focused on a few states for the midterms.
“I’m, keeping my eyes on the 10 states that Trump won that have Democratic senators up for re-election — Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, North Dakota, Florida, Michigan and Montana. And then, the Midwest states that Clinton barely lost to Trump are particularly important too: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania,” Norton said.
“However, in this region I am most focused on the upcoming 2017 gubernatorial and local elections here in Virginia, which will be a bellwether for the 2018 midterms,” she said.
Congressional Black Caucus members are among those in the safest seats, particularly considering the president’s loss of support among independents and even a sliding reduction of support among Republicans, Norton said.
“Next year’s midterms are very important because Democrats have a chance to take back the House, checked only by massive post-2010 Republican gerrymandering of seats, and the Senate, or at least do so well that both could be within reach in 2020,” she said.
“There’s a disproportionate number of Senate seats up next year — including 23 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with Democrats, compared to only eight Republican incumbents — but Democrats could take back the Senate “if Democratic do not lose any seats in light of how close Democrats are to having the majority now,” Norton said.