Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks as Attorney General William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller Report. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Newell: It's sexist and racist to assume voters will support candidates solely based on gender and race

Kamala Harris' failure to attract Black and female voters indicative of larger trend in 2020 Democratic primary

Newell Normand
December 04, 2019 - 5:05 pm
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With her polling numbers dipping and fundraising drying up, California Senator Kamala Harris called it quits and dropped out of the 2020 race this week, saying “I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. But I will keep fighting every day for what this campaign has been about - justice for the people - all the people.” Newell invited Political Analyst and “Lunchtime Politics” publisher Ron Faucheax onto the program Wednesday morning to discuss.

“Last time we discussed this, you and I were kind of sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see who else would be dropping out of this race,” Newell began. “You predicted that several more would be gone before Christmas and it looks like that’s exactly what’s happened.”

“At a certain point, if you don’t have the money to keep going and you have a major government position like US Senator, you have to start thinking about protecting that position, and also start thinking about your supporters. As long as Harris or any other candidate who probably can’t win stays in the race, it keeps their supporters from getting on another candidates’ train who can win. All those things are factors,” Faucheax answered. “You’ll start to see more candidates getting out, like Michael Bennett, whose support never materialized, Steve Bullock, the Governor of Montana, got out of the race, Joe Sestak from Pennsylvania got out… we’re going to continue to see this until the field gets down to 7 or 8 candidates.”

“Something interesting in the Los Angeles Times here titled ‘Democrats Value Diversity, but the Presidential Field is Increasingly White.’ They make the observation that with Kamala Harris out, not a single person of color is qualified to be onstage when the Democrats meet to debate in LA later this month. What do you make of that?”

“That’s probably true,” Ron said, “And the reason is that African-American Democrats are polling for Joe Biden and not for the African-American candidates. Biden is getting close to half the Black vote in about every state in the country right now, and Kamala Harris was a weak second, sometimes third or fourth, with both Warren and Sanders ahead of her. Same thing for Booker. The thing about this race, having heard so much about identity politics, is that the female candidates are not winning the female vote, the Black candidates are not winning the Black vote, and the lone Hispanic candidate is not winning the Hispanic vote… most of those voters have sided with Sanders or Biden. Voters are not voting in terms of identity politics even though the media is not covering it like that.”

“Look at how some Democratic activists are looking at this,” Newell said. “Leah Greenberg, a co-founder of Indivisible, in this same article, says “No matter your candidate, you have to recognize that going from the most diverse field ever in January to a potentially all-white debate stage in December is catastrophic… the implicit racism and sexism of ‘electability’ is deeply damaging to democracy.’ Isn’t that kind of a short-sided point of view? When we point out that members of their own race are not supporting them - are they racist and sexist?”

“Of course not,” Ron confirmed. “Just look at the last three Presidential elections, where the popular vote was won by an African-American or a woman. Every candidate has to overcome a whole variety of factors in a race. Michael Bloomberg has to overcome the fact he’s switched parties, Joe Biden has to overcome his age, Sanders has to overcome the fact that he’s a Socialist… Democrats make a mistake if they don’t look at the quality of the candidates and their strengths when coming up with their conclusions.”

“Forget about the fact that you ran a crappy campaign that was in complete and total disarray,” Newell concluded. “I think if you’re going with the wind on the issues like Harris did, people aren’t stupid and they’ll recognize that. Her national campaign chair was her sister. It’s kinda like - okay! Hire the experts that actually know what they’re doing! I think it’s sexist and racist to view the world from the perspective that assumes these candidates are going to attract support simply because of their gender and their race.”

Hear the entire interview in the audio player below.

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