by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Democratic leaders in the Senate are recalibrating candidate recruitment for 2020, tacitly acknowledging that a strategy of relying heavily on running well-known, establishment figures in competitive contests has delivered unsatisfactory results.
Taking a page from the House Democrats’ 2018 playbook, Senate Democrats are looking for contenders who might have limited name recognition and political experience but who feature impressive resumes and compelling personal stories that appeal to voters suspicious of Washington. In Arizona, Senate Democrats recruited a former astronaut who had never run for office. In Texas, they tapped a female military veteran with just one previous race, for the House, under her belt.
Democrats have yet to field a complete slate of candidates through this fresh approach, raising early questions about their prospects for erasing the Republican Party’s four-seat Senate majority. But party leaders are expressing confidence, arguing that candidate recruitment is on track.
“We still have plenty of time,” said Catherine Cortez Masto, the Nevada senator helming the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “The people that we are talking to in all of these states that are interested in running — they are incredible people, they are well-qualified, they’ve got great backgrounds, and I think they will be formidable candidates if they decide to get into these races.”