Vulnerable Dems Shunning Progressive Policies to Survive Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H. (AP)
By Eric Mack | Monday, 05 September 2022 01:24 PM EDT
Vulnerable House Democrats are striking conservative notes and trying to distance themselves from the far left of their national party positions in order to appeal to moderates in battleground districts.
The issues they are most turning conservative on are law and order and capitalism, rejecting the anti-police narratives and push toward tax-and-spend policies that appear too socialist for mainstream Americans in their districts.
"By and large, we are the ones who are closest to our districts," Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., told The Washington Times. "It's really important for our leadership to heed the calls of swing district members that are here each and every day."
The party controlling the White House tends to struggle in midterm elections. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is targeting 70 Democrat incumbents as the path to flipping the control of the House.
"We have to ask ourselves about some of the policies that the national party is pursuing," Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, told Politico. "Sometimes, I don't agree with my party's characterization of what are the most pressing needs at the moment."
Among the issues Golden has turned more toward conservatives are gun control and expansion of entitlement programs – key issues for rural voters in the historically blue northeastern states.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., is even accusing her Republican opponent Yesli Vega of not being tough on law and order, campaigning on policy that has been a hallmark of former President Donald Trump's campaigns.
"She voted against our police and sheriffs," one of Spanberger's campaign ads claims. "Yesli Vega won't keep us safe."
Ultimately, it is not a shift in policy as much as appealing to politics of the district.
"My guess is Biden is not particularly popular in Golden or Spanberger's district, so it's smart," Democrat strategist Brad Bannon told the Times.
"But, while positioning yourself as a maverick Democrat in districts like those is a good strategy, you've still got your Republican opponents probably tagging you for being a Biden supporter, anyway, so you have to strike a delicate balance."
Using convenient talking points in campaigns is merely "lying to voters," according to NRCC spokesman Mike Berg.
"These Democrats all vote with Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time," Berg told the Times. "They think their only chance at reelection is lying to voters, but voters are smart and see through stunts like this."
Republicans need to gain just five seats to flip the majority in their favor this November.
One of those vulnerable seats is Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who has been primaried hard in his own party by the likes of progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who he says promotes "failed ideas."
"The voters will decide this election, not far-left celebrities who stand for defunding the police, open borders, eliminating oil and gas jobs, and raising taxes on hard-working Texans," Cuellar told the Times.