Paul Hackett Out of Ohio Senate Race: Implications for Dem Insurgents


Paul Hackett had a Howard Dean-like organically grown following out there that saw his type of candidacy as the sort that would transform the sclerotic Democratic Party into something more real and relevant to progressives.
Unfortunately, he’s announced that he’s out of the race.
This is the sort of time when angry supporters tend to call for the scalps of those responsible.
Markos at DailyKos has a quite informed, balanced take on the Hackett – Sherrod Brown – Rahm Emanuel — Mike DeWine mess.
I’m not going to wade far into this story. But I do want to share a few thoughts with the progressive blogging/activist community.
There aren’t many silver bullet solutions to America’s political problems broadly or to the problems in either the Democratic or Republican parties. Hackett’s war service profile, near win in the last election, and general attitude about policy and politics was refreshing to a progressive grassroots constituency that wants to change the course of the Democratic Party.
Let’s presume for a moment that I endorse that impulse.
To accomplish what is essentially a hijacking of the party — or at least to wrestle away the helm of party control — the insurgents who were behind Hackett need to have weight in a good 25-30% of other key races that Democrats are wresling with (if not more). The 25-30% is enough inside the party to play a controlling or significant co-stakeholder role in party decision-making.
Furthermore, to win this battle for control — some candidates, like Hackett, will have to vigorously run until the end, even if their candidacy looks doomed, or cash-strapped. It is certainly true that a slug-fest between Sherrod Brown and Paul Hackett may have harmed the Democratic Party — and may even help Mike DeWine — but to win a seat at the table and to chair the meeting when decisions are being made, the insurgent Dems will have to line up behind a number of candidates willing to go all the way.
One can’t change the Democratic Party establishment if one remains dependent on that party’s good graces and preferences. In this case, Rahm Emanuel and Co. began to choke Hackett because he wasn’t playing ball the way that Rahm wanted or needed him to.
A successful insurgency won’t care what Emanuel does. The insurgents will see victory behind both short-term defeats and short-term wins. Hackett needed to go all of the way — win or lose — to give the insurgents validation and strength in the Democratic Party.
Dem insurgents also over-invested in Hackett without lining up the rest of the insurgent candidacies. There are some out there, of course, but not enough. Hackett became the face of their overall campaign which I believe was a mistake.
I’m not endorsing this strategy of insurgency — but I think that the characteristics of a successful attack on the Democratic Party establishment need to be articulated. I do think that the Democratic Party needs to have a few civil wars over policy and strategy.
Dem insurgents are vital if the Democratic Party is going to get itself out of a rut of political irrelevance and incompetence.
Hackett dropping out may help Dems win a Senate seat in Ohio; I’m not sure. I think that there are a number of problems with Sherrod Brown.
But in the long run, Hackett’s departure has undermined some of the clout of the Dem insurgent movement.
And that’s not a good thing.
— Steve Clemons