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Washington Post writer: Democrats would be ‘foolish’ to use California recall strategy in battlegrounds

Media top headlines September 16

In media news today, Jon Stewart says he was ‘surprised’ at the meltdown over his belief in coronavirus lab-leak theory, ‘The View’ co-hosts clash over whether or not General Milley’s calls to China were ‘treason,’ and liberals turn on CNN’s Kasie Hunt after new hire criticized Democrats

The Washington Post’s James Hohmann argued Democrats would be “foolish” to read too much into California’s recall election which retained Gov. Gavin Newsom because the race exposed the party’s weaknesses.

Newsom, who scored a decisive victory Tuesday, made the race in part a referendum on former President Donald Trump, as his leading GOP challenger was Trump backer Larry Elder. Trump lost heavily blue California in a landslide in 2020.

But Democrats would be making a “grave mistake” if they use that tactic in battleground states across the country, Hohmann wrote, as Newsom uniquely benefitted from Californians’ distaste for Trump. While hitting Elder as a clone of Trump may have been a “blindingly obvious” strategy in California, it was unlikely to be as successful in 2021 battleground states, he said.

“Running against every Republican as a Trump in sheep’s clothing will eventually make Democrats look like the candidates who cried wolf,” Hohmann wrote.

LARRY ELDER, GOP CANDIDATE FOR CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR, CONSTANTLY VILIFIED BY THE PRESS AHEAD OF RECALL ELECTION

The incumbent also enjoyed “built-in advantages” like the ability to accept unlimited donations, Hohmann noted. He also pointed out what he saw as problem areas for the Democratic Party.

“If anything, the returns point to continuing challenges for national Democrats that were also evident in the 2020 election, including soft support among Latinos and weakness with voters most concerned about the economy,” Hohmann said. “Newsom struggled to galvanize a diaspora that has delivered decisively for his party in the recent past: While 1 in 4 voters identified as Latino, according to the exits, 40 percent of them voted to recall Newsom. This is part of the explanation: Among the 1 in 5 voters who said the economy was their top concern, 65 percent backed the recall.”

Some Latino voters said the shuttering of businesses during the coronavirus pandemic was a factor in their vote.

“He talks about how he loves the Latino community, wants to help the Latino community but I didn’t see Governor Newsom down here last year when Latino businesses were hurt badly,” Samantha Sobarzo told Fox News. “They make it seem like the only issue we care about is immigration when that is completely false. We care about putting food on the table, having jobs, being able to provide for our families, being able to go to a church that’s open and not shut down.”

Democrats’ struggle with Latino voters has become a national concern for the party as well. 

Despite President Joe Biden’s win last November, Latino groups said Democrats’ slipping Latino support was evident in the 2020 presidential election. Trump won 38 percent of Hispanic voters, a 10-point bump from 2016, according to analysis from the Pew Research Center. Liberal pundits were well aware that they were at times failing to make inroads with the demographic. MSNBC’s Paolo Ramos even referred to it as a “crisis.”

“What we’re seeing right now is a cultural identity crisis that we are undergoing as a community that is completely splitting and dividing Latinos,” Ramos said.

“In this crisis, you have on the one hand, Latinos that believe in order to achieve the American Dream, you have to get as close as possible to whiteness, and that is something that Trump gave them permission to do,” she added. “On the other hand, you have Latinos that believe that in order to achieve the American Dream, you have to get as far as possible from whiteness. And that is a dilemma I don’t think we’ve seen clearly.”

TRUMP’S SUPPORT FROM BLACK, HISPANIC VOTERS GROWS FROM 2016

Maria Salinas Miller and Bianca Gracia of Latinos for America First refuted Ramos.

“Yes, it’s a crisis for the Democrats,” Miller told Fox News in July, turning around Ramos’ argument. “Because we’re coming for those votes.” 

“There’s the misconception or the myth that just because we’re minorities that we’re supposed to vote Democrat, and we’re trying to tell them that’s not what we align ourselves with … We base our vote based off of our value system,” she continued. “Those tend to be most aligned with Republican candidates.”

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Had the California recall been simply a “referendum” on Newsom, Hohmann suggested it would have been a different outcome. In addition to broader criticism of his coronavirus policies, he weathered several controversies over the last year, most notably his maskless dinner at the French Laundry restaurant that flouted his own restrictions.

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