Democrats seek new claim on working class in Senate battles: The Note

Amid a populist showdown in Ohio, the Democrat will not surrender these votes.

May 5, 2022, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Shortly after securing his party's nomination late Tuesday, one candidate for Senate released a video accusing his rival of liking San Francisco more than Ohio, favoring "globalization and free trade" and reveling in appearances on CNN and at "Washington cocktail parties."

His party affiliation might surprise a few folks. Those were the words of Democratic nominee Tim Ryan, squaring up against Trump-backed Republican J.D. Vance in what figures to be a populist showdown in Ohio where the Democrat will not surrender working-class votes.

It's emerging as a trend in key Senate races -- in part because of the types of candidates the GOP, under the influence of former President Donald Trump, is putting forward. Vance rose to prominence on the "Hillbilly Elegy" tale of him leaving rural Ohio for Yale Law School and working for Peter Theil's venture capital firm.

In Pennsylvania, Trump's choice is Dr. Mehmet Oz, a celebrity doctor and longtime resident of New Jersey who -- as ABC News reported Wednesday -- voted in the Turkish presidential election as recently as 2018.

Another frontrunner is David McCormick, a former consultant and hedge-fund manager who worked in the Bush administration and whose wife worked for Trump. The leading Democrat in the primary later this month is Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a 6-foot-nine-inch heavily tattooed former small-town mayor.

PHOTO: Mehmet Oz takes part in a forum for Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania in Camp Hill, Pa., April 2, 2022.
Mehmet Oz takes part in a forum for Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania in Camp Hill, Pa., April 2, 2022.
Matt Rourke/AP. FILE

In Georgia, the odds-on favorite for the Republican Senate nomination is Herschel Walker, a football legend who played for the University of Georgia but who lived outside Dallas, Texas, for much of the last decade. Walker is seeking to run against Sen. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church -- the storied spiritual home of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- since 2005.

The Democrats emerging this primary season will find themselves drafting behind some of the messaging of President Joe Biden, whose working-class roots have long been vital to his political identity.

On Wednesday, as the dust settled from voting in Ohio and Indiana, Biden railed against what he called an "ultra-MAGA agenda" that he said would raise taxes on "working families" and "working-class folks." It was some of the sharpest political rhetoric the president has used to engage with his predecessor and the party Trump continues to dominate.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

As news of the leaked SCOTUS draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade continues to send shockwaves across the country, fears of other legal implications are growing.

Opponents of the draft decision say overturning Roe could jeopardize other court decisions related to privacy rights.

"This will be the roadmap for the erosion of LGBTQ rights, same-sex marriage, contraception and, by the way, voting rights, human rights and civil rights," CK Hoffler, a trial attorney and former president of the National Bar Association, said in an interview with ABC News Live.

President Biden also sounded the alarm Wednesday.

PHOTO: Pro-choice and anti-abortion demonstrators gather outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, May 4, 2022.
Pro-choice and anti-abortion demonstrators gather outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, May 4, 2022.
Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

He wondered aloud whether "children who are LGBTQ" won't be allowed "in classrooms with other children."

"Is that legit under the way the decision is written?" he asked. "What are the next things that are going to be attacked?”

He placed the blame on the movement borne out of former President Trump’s 2016 campaign, saying "this MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that’s existed in American history -- in recent American history.”

Some Democrats believe that the impending Supreme Court decision will serve as a wake-up call, creating the motivation they need to get voters to the polls to back candidates who support the right to an abortion, but there's no guarantee.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

The runoff primary election in Texas' 28th Congressional District could be one of the first significant tests of political fallout among Democrats related to the draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

Progressive Jessica Cisneros' second campaign challenging incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar had long centered on characterizing Cuellar's moderate policy positions as detrimental to the Democratic agenda. If you ask Cisneros, Cuellar's anti-abortion policy stance is the latest example of that claim.

"As the Supreme Court prepares to overturn Roe v. Wade, I am calling on Democratic Party leadership to withdraw their support of Henry Cuellar who is the last anti-choice Democrat in the House," Cisneros said in a statement, adding that "with the House majority on the line, he could very much be the deciding vote on the future of our reproductive rights and we cannot afford to take that risk."

PHOTO: Democratic Congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros speaks to the media before a rally in San Antonio, Texas, Feb. 12, 2022.
Democratic Congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros speaks to the media before a rally in San Antonio, Texas, Feb. 12, 2022.
Eric Gay/AP. FILE

But the call for action against Cuellar did not appear to resonate. Just hours after Cisneros released that statement, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn rallied with the incumbent congressman at a get out the vote event in San Antonio. As reported by the Texas Tribune, Clyburn acknowledged that he does not agree with Cuellar on every issue, but the congressman is still someone with whom Clyburn finds "more agreement than disagreement."

In the meantime, the stakes of the May 24 contest are also likely to sharpen the focus on Texas' broader midterm political landscape given that the state has some of the strictest and most controversial limits on abortion access in the country.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

10. That's the number of competitive governors' races FiveThirtyEight's Geoffrey Skelley has identified based on early race ratings data from Inside Elections, Sabato's Crystal Ball and The Cook Political Report. And at this point, Republicans look to be playing on friendlier turf than Democrats. Seven of the 10 races have a partisan lean that favors Republicans, although Democrats currently control five of those seven seats. But as Geoffrey writes, it's not a given that Republicans will make sizable gains this year.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Thursday morning with analysis on the future of the "pro-choice" movement from Kathryn Kolbert, who argued Planned Parenthood v. Casey in front of the Supreme Court. Then, ABC's Rick Klein talks about the results of Ohio's primary races this week and former President Trump's hold on the Republican Party. And, Vice's Anya Zoledziowski reports on Amber Heard's testimony in the Johnny Depp defamation trial.


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