‘These numbers should sound the alarm for Bill Nelson’

Florida Gov. Rick Scott holds a double-digit lead over Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson among Hispanic voters 50 and older in a new Florida poll, the latest sign that Nelson is struggling to rally Hispanic voters behind his reelection bid.

Scott’s support is buoyed by strong Cuban-American backing and decent favorability ratings from Puerto Rican voters, who tend to support Democrats. Without a greater foothold among Hispanic voters, Nelson is at risk in a Senate race that is essential to Democratic hopes of winning a Senate majority this fall.

The Republican governor’s 14-percentage-point advantage in the Senate race stands in stark contrast to the essentially tied gubernatorial contest in which Republican Ron DeSantis has a slim lead of 2 points over Democrat Andrew Gillum, according to the AARP/Bendixen & Amandi International survey.

The disparity in results between the two statewide races reinforces what Democratic activists have been fretting about for months: Nelson is getting outflanked by Scott with Latino voters.

“Scott is outworking Nelson in Latino communities across Florida,” said Fernand Amandi, pollster for Bendixen & Amandi, echoing numerous Democrats, activists and insiders. “These numbers should sound the alarm for Bill Nelson if he hopes to win reelection against an opponent like Scott, who’s spending more time doing paid media in Latino communities.

“Rick Scott has gone to Puerto Rico eight times and he’s done something on the order of 25 events with Colombians, Cubans, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and Puerto Ricans. He’s leaving no Hispanic vote un-mined,” Amandi said.

Put it all together, and Scott is ahead of Nelson 52 to 38 percent in the poll of 500 Latino Florida voters who are 50 or older. The error margin is 4.4 percentage points. The most recent general election poll of all Florida voters showed Gillum marginally ahead of DeSantis, while Scott and Nelson are tied.

Overall, other polls of the general Hispanic Florida electorate — not just those 50 and older — show Nelson is winning Florida Hispanics. But not by enough, Amandi says, to hold together the winning coalition stitched together by the last top-of-the-ticket Democrat who won Florida: President Obama.

Obama had massive support from Latinos and, especially, African-Americans to cover for the loss of white votes in 2012. Nelson was on the ticket at the time and rode Obama’s coattails while facing a historically weak opponent.

The 50 and over demographic among Hispanics — just as it is among Florida voters at large — is key because they tend to vote far in bigger proportions than those who are younger. In 2014, the last Florida midterm election, Hispanics 50 and older accounted for 58 percent of the Latino vote. About 16 percent of Florida’s 13 million voters are registered as Hispanics.

The Amandi poll also has surprising results for those unfamiliar with the peculiarities of Florida’s Hispanic vote, which is largely divided between Republican-leaning Cuban-Americans who are clustered in the Miami area and Democratic-leaning Puerto Ricans, who primarily live in the Orlando area. Other non-Cuban Hispanics also tend to vote Democratic in Florida.

Owing to the strong support of Cuban-Americans, President Trump is far more popular overall with Florida Hispanics than in other Amandi polls conducted for AARP in California and Arizona.

In the Florida poll, 47 percent approve of Trump and 50 percent disapprove, a net favorability rating of -3. Among Cuban-Americans, Trump’s net favorability is +35 but is at -40 among Puerto Ricans, who are outraged by his administration’s lackluster response to Hurricane Maria and his disputing of the island’s now-official death toll of 3,000. Trump’s decision to say Monday that he’s an “absolute no” on Puerto Rican statehood is also expected to drive his numbers even farther down and could further hurt Scott and Nelson, Republicans worry.

Nelson’s campaign has begun running a Spanish-language ad showing how close Trump is to Scott, who chaired a super PAC for the president and was encouraged to run for Senate by Trump.

Scott began making serious inroads into the Boricua community for welcoming Hurricane Maria evacuees after the storm devastated the island. Democrats point out that Scott essentially took credit for passing out federal funds and that the GOP-led legislature did relatively little to open the state‘s pocket book to help evacuees while also raiding an affordable housing trust fund that would have helped many find shelter.

Still, the Scott playbook has paid dividends and he leads Nelson 47-42 percent among older Puerto Rican voters in Florida, though the small sample size for this demographic is small.

Gillum, however, is ahead 58-33 percent among Puerto Rican voters in his matchup against DeSantis, Amandi said.

Both DeSantis and Scott roll up their biggest margins over their Democratic rivals with Cuban-Americans. They back Scott 67-23 percent — a 44-point margin — and support DeSantis over Gillum by 62-23 percent in the poll. Hispanics whose heritage is from Mexico and South and Central America both support Nelson and Gillum by wide margins.

When it comes to net favorability ratings, Scott’s is 70 percentage points among Cuban-Americans, compared to -9 for Nelson; it’s 19 points among Puerto Ricans, compared to 27 for Nelson; and 18 points among other Latinos compared to 38 for Nelson.

In the governor’s race, DeSantis’ net favorability rating among Cuban-Americans is 34 percentage points, compared to -15 for Gillum; DeSantis is at -9 points among Puerto Ricans, compared to 27 for Gillum, and -4 points among other Latinos compared to 25 for Gillum.

So why is Gillum doing so much better in his matchup against DeSantis compared to how Nelson fares against Scott?

“The variable is Scott’s more effective campaign,” Amandi said. “These numbers are a testament to the work Scott is doing, spending the time, effort and resources to cultivate Hispanic voters in Florida. It shows.”

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/25/scott-leads-nelson-florida-838621

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Cramer questions whether Kavanaugh assault allegation is disqualifying — even if true

Rep. Kevin Cramer, the Republican nominee for Senate in North Dakota, questioned whether the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh would be disqualifying for his Supreme Court nomination even if it were true.

In an interview with a local TV station, Cramer said if Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her three decades ago were true, it would be "unfortunate" and "terrible," but should be weighed against his life and judicial record since that time.

"Even if it’s all true, does it disqualify him? It certainly means that he did something really bad 36 years ago, but does it disqualify him from the Supreme Court?" Cramer asked.

Kavanaugh has firmly denied the allegation, and he and Ford are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Cramer, meanwhile, is a key player in Republicans’ drive to maintain their Senate majority this fall. He is running against Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) in one of the GOP’s top opportunities to flip a state in the general election. President Donald Trump won North Dakota by 36 points in 2016.

The local TV host, Chris Berg, asked Cramer whether it would be disqualifying if Kavanaugh was found to have lied about the incident.

"I think that disqualifies him," Cramer said. "If it’s found that he knew, that he recalls it, he knew it happened and lies about it, then I think that would disqualify him. Because that’s something that he’s doing today, not 36 years ago."

Cramer’s comments were first reported by The Washington Post. In the TV interview, Cramer also cast doubt on the account of Deborah Ramirez, who told the New Yorker Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while in college. Cramer dismissed that second allegation as "far more suspicious than the first one."

"The timing of all of it raises suspicion about the validation of any of it," he said.

It’s the second time in recent days Cramer made headlines for his comments about the allegations against Kavanaugh. In a radio interview last week, he called Ford’s allegation "even more absurd" than Anita Hill’s allegations against Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991 because they were "teenagers when this supposed, alleged incident took place."

"These are teenagers who evidently were drunk, according to her own statement. They were drunk. Nothing evidently happened in it all, even by her own accusation," Cramer said in the radio interview. "Again it was supposedly an attempt or something that never went anywhere."

Cramer defended those comments in the TV interview.

"My point was there was no type of intercourse or anything like that. That was my point that nothing happened in terms of a sexual event, beyond, obviously, the attack," he said. Cramer added: "We don’t know that even what she described happened."

A spokeswoman for Heitkamp condemned the new comments.

"Once again, Congressman Cramer displays a stunning lack of empathy for victims and the trauma they experience,” said Julia Krieger, Heitkamp’s spokeswoman. “While Heidi is committed to listening to the testimony of both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, Congressman Cramer has already prejudged."

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/25/cramer-questions-kavanaugh-assault-allegation-839970

Why Canada’s leaders should wait out Trump’s NAFTA deal

This week, Canada’s leaders have a big choice to make: whether to go along with the new North American Free Trade Agreement negotiated between the Trump administration and Mexico. President Donald Trump is demanding that Canada accept new rules on everything from cross-border investment to dairy to autos. In anticipation, the Canadian and U.S. business communities are waiting on tenterhooks. Will Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blink and give in to Trump? Should he?

We have a bold suggestion: Do nothing.

Despite all the theater and brinkmanship, nothing really happens on September 30. NAFTA doesn’t expire, and Trump doesn’t have the authority to rescind it unilaterally. It’s true that presidents can withdraw the United States from treaties as a matter of international law (the Roosevelt administration did so several times), but NAFTA is equally a creature of domestic law, and Congress isn’t likely to pull the plug overnight. Trump’s withdrawal would do nothing to change the NAFTA Implementation Act, which was passed in 1993 and would stay in effect. The most Trump can do without congressional action would be to produce a kind of strange status quo—what you might call a “Zombie NAFTA,” in which the U.S. formally abandons its participation in the pact while U.S. tariff laws remain in place, continuing to provide the original NAFTA trade benefits to Canada and Mexico.

So which is better for Canada–a zombie NAFTA 1.0, or Trump’s take-it-or-leave-it NAFTA 2.0? And which is better for America?

While we don’t yet have a finalized text, the available briefing materials and news reports indicate that Trump’s “NAFTA 2.0” includes substantial changes that address long-standing criticisms of NAFTA 1.0. For some, those improvements may seem reason enough to go along with Trump. For businesses that say NAFTA ignores more contemporary issues like digital trade, biologic drugs and satellite signal theft, there are new rules in each of these areas. For workers worried about offshoring of jobs, there are proposals to require more auto parts to be produced regionally by higher paid workers in order to gain duty-free benefits. And for public interest advocates, the new agreement would curtail the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, limiting the ability of companies to launch chilling lawsuits against government regulations.

But we believe these benefits are modest at best, and not worth the downsides to both Canadians and Americans if Canada gives in and joins NAFTA 2.0.

First, the changes could actually restrict consumers’ access to affordable new-generation medicines like biologics. Second, the auto changes are unlikely to lead to many new jobs. Under current rules, companies can opt out of NAFTA benefits, buy more auto parts from China, and instead pay the low duties they enjoy under the World Trade Organization, which all three North American countries are part of. This could lead to job losses rather than gains. Finally, the rights of companies to sue governments under the investor-state dispute settlement provision will be preserved for two key sectors–energy and telecoms. This partial rollback pales in comparison to the level of ambition of reforms proposed by the European Union, which would create a standing global investment court. Trump’s approach is a missed opportunity for North America to create a totally new model that better balances the needs of both business and regulators. Moreover, while we can expect Trump to trumpet NAFTA 2.0 as some major break from the past, Mexico and Canada had already agreed to some of the new rules in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which Trump pulled out of).
While Trudeau may feel that Trump is giving him an offer he can’t refuse (in the Vito Corleone sense), the truth is, the Canadians are in a very strong position to ignore it. Any new deal will have to be voted on by a new Congress next year. With every new White House scandal, it looks increasingly likely the Democrats will win control of the House of Representatives on November 6. It is safe to say that a Democratic house, bolstered by new “blue wave” lawmakers who campaigned on a promise to block Trump, isn’t going to be keen to provide the president a win on his signature issue, especially when NAFTA 2.0 would continue many old NAFTA rules most Democrats oppose.

IN ADDITION TO the policy and political rationale for “just saying no,” there’s also a legal one. Trump has threatened to nix the original NAFTA as a way of jamming lawmakers on both sides of the border into accepting his reboot. But a close look at U.S. trade laws and courts’ rulings on the balance of power between the government’s branches suggest this gambit will fail.

It’s true, there are ambiguities in the NAFTA Implementation Act and the Trade Act of 1974 that some observers have interpreted as allowing for a sunset of duty-free treatment for Canada if the United States withdraws from NAFTA. But these claims are dubious. If Trump made an audacious move like that, he’d be sued immediately by hordes of angry importers. And they would probably win.
Read in context, the NAFTA Implementation Act’s sunset provisions apply only to a withdrawal by Canada or Mexico, not by the U.S. NAFTA’s rules don’t allow a country to be kicked out of the agreement, only to voluntarily withdraw. So the act makes sure that if, say, Canada withdrew, the U.S. wouldn’t have to let it free-ride on the benefits or be forced to raise tariffs on Mexico. But the same doesn’t apply to the U.S. president. If legislators intended to allow the president broad sunset powers for crises of his own making, they would have included language specifically saying so. Such language is missing here—an omission to which courts would give weight.

But the legal rationale for waiting out Trump goes even deeper. Even if courts disregarded that context, they’d almost surely have to rule the president’s proclamation unconstitutional. Under Clinton v. New York (known as the Line Item Veto case), the Supreme Court ruled that Congress may not delegate to the president the authority to repeal a statute by executive action. Conditioning the sunset of a statute on an executive action like treaty withdrawal would run afoul of this rule. An earlier legal provision in the Trade Act of 1974, allowing the president to terminate any tariff proclamations made under U.S. trade agreements for any reason or no reason, would run into a similar problem under the so-called nondelegation doctrine, a rule limiting how much power Congress can give the president. Moreover, we’ve looked at the congressional debates and court cases of presidential tariff proclamation powers going back to the Roosevelt administration, and we don’t see any support there for the notion that this type of unilateralism was intended by policymakers then or now.

In short, Canada can wait out Trump on this one with relatively little risk. While some business leaders will push for concessions out of fear of the unknown, Trudeau shouldn’t be intimidated. It’s better for Canada to spend a couple of years putting up with a zombie NAFTA 1.0 than to be locked into a suboptimal NAFTA 2.0 for far longer—potentially for many years after Trump is gone.
Trump’s zero-sum thinking and his extortionate approach to dealmaking have no place in the U.S. constitutional system, nor in international trade diplomacy. It will hurt him with Canada, just as it has with the United Kingdom post-Brexit. Instead of engaging with Trump, the Trudeau government should dedicate its time to reforming the World Trade Organization–much-needed efforts that will have a bigger impact on the future of global trade than any North America-alone plan could ever have. Canada is likely to find more capable partners in the next U.S. administration. Though not always the case in politics, for Canada right now, patience is a virtue.

Todd N. Tucker is a political scientist and fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. Timothy Meyer is FedEx Research Professor at Vanderbilt Law School and represents plaintiffs suing the Trump administration over steel tariffs.

Source: https://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2018/09/25/canada-trump-nafta-deal-000706

Trump bragged about his presidency and world leaders laughed

World leaders laughed Tuesday after President Donald Trump said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly that his administration had accomplished more than any other in American history.

"In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country," Trump said near the start of a speech before the assembled world leaders, prompting audible laughter.

"It’s so true," Trump continued, before acknowledging the laughter.

"I didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s okay," he said, smirking and raising his eyebrows.

It’s unusual for a U.S. president to draw unintentional laughs at a gathering of world leaders, and Trump has long complained that foreign governments are laughing at the U.S. for what he views as weak policies on trade and other issues.

"They laugh at us. Behind our backs, they laugh at us because of our own stupidity," he said in an appearance on "Larry King Live" three decades ago, according to NPR.

"We need a President who isn’t a laughing stock to the entire World," he tweeted in 2014, well before he launched his presidential campaign.

After the brief interruption, Trump continued with his speech, in which he touted the country’s economic growth and rising stock market as evidence for his administration’s success, arguing that he made the country "much stronger and richer than it was when I took office less than two years ago."

Trump addressed the General Assembly after a news-filled day at the United Nations, where he vowed to continue sanctions against Iran to take down its nuclear program and signed a revised trade deal with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/25/trump-united-nations-brag-839820

After protesters find Cruz at D.C. restaurant, O’Rourke calls it ‘not right’

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) defended the right of Sen. Ted Cruz, his opponent in the upcoming Senate race, to eat in peace after protesters bragged about chasing the Republican out of a Washington restaurant Monday night.

"Not right that Senator Cruz and his wife Heidi were surrounded and forced to leave a restaurant last night because of protesters. The Cruz family should be treated with respect," O’Rourke tweeted Tuesday morning.

According to video posted online, protesters targeted Cruz and his wife for complaints about the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault in high school and college. Protesters chanted "We believe survivors!" and one called out, "Beto is way hotter than you, dude." Cruz left the restaurant, muttering "God bless you" to the protesters.

Cruz has called the allegations against Kavanaugh "serious" and called for a hearing for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who said Kavanaugh groped her when they were in high school. Cruz expressed his support for Kavanaugh earlier this summer, and the protesters on Monday demanded he explain his current position on the nominee. Cruz does not appear to have commented publicly on the incident.

Cruz isn’t the first prominent Republican to be expelled from a restaurant by protesters. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant this summer, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen was cornered and heckled at a Mexican restaurant in June for her role executing President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/25/beto-orourke-defends-ted-cruz-839102

White House lashes out at Feinstein as Kavanaugh hearing draws near

With details still being hammered out for Thursday’s hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee over sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the White House launched a blistering attack on Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the panel.

Senate Republicans have lambasted Feinstein repeatedly for not coming forward sooner with the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford against Kavanaugh. Feinstein knew of Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in July, yet Republicans claim they were not told of the accusation until it was reported in the press two months later.

Now, with Ford set to appear before the Judiciary Committee this week, the White House is lashing out at Feinstein for her handling of the matter. The P.R. offensive is designed to shift the blame for the Kavanaugh debacle onto Democrats while trying to shore up GOP support. Yet right now, Kavanaugh doesn’t have the votes to be confirmed, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the White House know full well.

“Both families have been drug through the mud when they didn’t have to be because Dianne Feinstein could have done this in a much structured process and instead waited until the 11th hour and is playing political games with people lives,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a Tuesday appearance on “Good Morning America.”

“I find that to be disgraceful and disgusting, and she certainly needs to shoulder a lot of the blame for what’s going on right now," she said.

Sanders comments followed a tweet by President Donald Trump on Monday night rejecting claims of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh brought by Ford and a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed himself while at Yale University.

“The Democrats are working hard to destroy a wonderful man, and a man who has the potential to be one of our greatest Supreme Court Justices ever, with an array of False Accusations the likes of which have never been seen before!” Trump wrote.

Sanders, however, said the White House is open to Ramirez testifying.

Senate Republicans have said they will determine the witnesses and said repeatedly they would limit it to Ford and Kavanaugh.

And Kavanaugh himself gave an extraordinary interview to Fox News on Monday night, an unprecedented move for a nominee still under consideration by the Senate.

Yet with his selection for the nation’s highest court in serious trouble, the White House banked that Kavanaugh’s appearance could help rally conservatives to his cause.

Feinstein, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats have countered the GOP push on Kavanaugh by demanding the White House should allow the FBI to investigate Ford’s allegations, which the Trump administration has refused to agree to. The FBI has also said it has completed its background investigation of Kavanaugh and has no further role in this nomination fight.

“There is one simple way to get to the bottom of this, without the he-said, she-said, without the finger-pointing and name-calling: a quiet, serious, thorough background check by the FBI. That’s the logical way to go,” Schumer said on Monday. “The FBI is not biased. The FBI is professional. It’s a crime to lie to them so people have a large incentive to tell the truth.”

With the partisan attacks from party leaders continuing — and likely to get even more pointed as Thursday’s hearing gets closer — key questions about Ford’s appearance still remain. Chief among them is who will conduct the questioning of Ford for Republicans.

Senate Republicans are planning to use an outside counsel or staffer to ask questions of Ford and Kavanaugh, but that doesn’t preclude GOP lawmakers from also asking questions.

On Tuesday morning, Democrats said they hoped to find out what the rules of the hearing on Thursday will be, including how long they would be allowed to question Ford and Kavanaugh and which independent counsels would be doing the questioning. They said they were unsure whether they would have as few as five minutes to ask questions or as many as 20.

And some are still running down new leads about Kavanaugh as they prepare for the landmark hearing.

“We got a phone call yesterday morning, ‘there’s another hot tip’. We’re trying to be careful. So you basically say: We need more before we consider it credible,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who serves on the Judiciary Committee.

Ford attorney Michael Bromwich complained in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that GOP aides have said they might bring in an “experienced sex crimes prosecutor” to handle the questioning.

“This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate,” Bromwich said in a Monday night letter. “Neither Dr. Blasey Ford nor Judge Kavanaugh is on trial. The goal should be to develop the relevant facts, not try a case.”

Bromwich demanded an opportunity for Ford’s legal team to meet with this person on Tuesday.

With all that jockeying going on around Thursday’s hearing, Senate Republicans have quietly begun to game out how soon there could be a floor vote on Kavanaugh — if it actually happens.

The earliest that confirmation vote on Kavanaugh could take place would be Tuesday of next week, according to GOP lawmakers and aides. That would require the Senate to stay in session over the weekend. Otherwise, the vote would slip to later in the week.

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/25/white-house-lashes-out-feinstein-838942

Centrist Democrat Aguilar jumps into leadership race

Rep. Pete Aguilar is launching a bid for House Democrats’ No. 5 leadership position, triggering a race that pits the moderate-minded Californian against a progressive East Coast colleague, Rep. Katherine Clark.

The 39-year-old New Democrat will pitch members on a more inclusive leadership table, promising that as House Democratic Caucus vice chairman, he’d solicit early and frequent feedback from all the different caucuses. With a likely influx of both more progressive freshman as well as new members from purple or even red districts, Aguilar says its “essential” that the different factions work together to “have an effective caucus.”

“It’s going to be more important than ever that we have a caucus that works for everyone, and I think making sure that that inclusiveness is a primary piece of this vice chair position… to make sure we are all working together,” Aguilar said in an interview.

The race perfectly highlights the debate raging inside the Democrats Party about which direction to tack as 2020 approaches: Clark, who declared her candidacy for the post in late July, is a member of the Progressive Caucus and could see a boon from an energized and emboldened left-wing of the caucus.

But since many of the incoming Democratic freshmen will hail from swing districts, having a pragmatist in leadership could also be appealing.

“If we’re going to get to a majority, there are quite a few purple and red districts in which members might be Blue Dogs and New Democrats,” Aguilar said. “So I think bringing these groups together to make sure they’re having conversations along the way so no one is surprised, is going to be essential.”

Indeed, Aguilar has won kudos from colleagues for his work with different groups across the spectrum — even Republicans. He and Texas Republican Will Hurd, for example, crafted a bipartisan immigration bill protecting Dreamers from deportation and modestly bolstering border security.

Aguilar was also a central player in moderate Republicans’ effort to try to overthrow Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership team to force a vote protect Dreamers. The effort, backed by every Democratic in the House and just under two-dozen Republican, ultimately failed by only two GOP signatures.

“I learned with the [immigration] discussions that we had, that I feel I can play a role in bringing people together, and that’s what I would plan to do here,” Aguilar said.

As vice chair, Aguilar would want to give the different caucuses — from the Congressional Black Caucus to the Hispanic Caucus — more input. He said “there currently is not an opportunity for the member caucuses to interact directly with leadership.” He wants to create a more “formal structure” for all the different groups to bring ideas forward in the early states of policy-making.

“I think being proactive, sharing what our members expect out of policy and what we can do to advance these shared goals is something that can be done more on the front end,” he said.

Aguilar also wants to expand member services to help the anticipated influx of Democratic freshman set up their offices, learn the ropes and hear about best practices and advice. He’d also encourage more diversity on staff, he said.

“We’re a big tent, and making sure that from our interns to our senior staff, that we have a staff that looks like the communities in which we serve,” is critical, he said.

Demographics and geography could work for or against Aguilar, depending on the results of more senior leadership elections. Like Aguilar, Current House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Linda Sánchez hails from the Golden State and is part of the Hispanic Caucus. Should she win her bid for a promotion, and secure the fuller Caucus chair position, Democrats may decide they want someone from a different state and perspective.

Should Sánchez lose to Congressional Black Caucus member Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who is also running for the No. 4 position, Aguilar could pitch himself the Hispanic voice in leadership — a critical perspective because of the immigration policy-dominated political cycle.

As Hispanic Caucus whip, Aguilar would likely be able to rely on the group to help him. Clark, on the other hand, has the benefit of having relationships with the incoming freshman class, serving as vice-chair of recruitment for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

The two may not be the only candidates running for the post, however. Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) are also said to be looking at the No. 5 job. Some expect Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) to also make a play.

The job, after all, is seen as a launch pad for leadership. Current Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) held the position before advancing to the full chairmanship post — then was seen as potential speaker in-the-making before he suddenly lost his seat to progressive challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/25/aguilar-clark-congress-democrats-838586