Frustrated Democrats are venting to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over the party’s failure to retake the majority in the November elections.
Schumer (D-NY) was on the receiving end of an extended gripe-fest in two conference calls over the disappointing results in which the Democrats picked up only one seat when Joe Biden won the presidency and many in the party were bullish on reclaiming control of the chamber, The Hill newspaper reported.
Republicans now narrowly control the chamber 50-48, with two run-off races taking place in Georgia on Jan. 5.
Schumer presided over two calls in which his fellow Democratic senators wondered why their candidates didn’t win races in Iowa, Maine, Montana and North Carolina — where they thought their candidates could oust GOP incumbents, according to The Hill.
So many irked Dems asked to speak that Schumer, the senior senator from New York, scheduled a rare Sunday conference call to give them a second chance to express their displeasure, the report said.
Part of the discussion centered on Democrats getting more competitive in GOP-leaning rural states.
Some Democrats questioned lackluster strategy and messaging.
“We just got to do a better job of reaching out, we’re just not doing an adequate job,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
“It’s going to be fixed, it’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to happen overnight,” he told The Hill.
Democratic former Gov. John Hickenlooper defeated Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado and former astronaut Mark Kelly ousted GOP Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona.
But Democratic Sen. Doug Jones lost his re-election bid in Alabama.
The Democrats picked up just one seat.
Tester and other Democrats said they expect Schumer will seek more input from members of the Democratic caucus on how to be more effective in 2022, and no one has challenged him for the leadership post.
“We’re no way to a point where we’re going to be telling Chuck what to do, but I think Chuck is going to be asking us for recommendations on what’s the best way to do that,” Tester told the outlet.
Another Democratic senator who requested anonymity told The Hill there was “huge amounts” of frustration over the results.
“We shouldn’t have lost this election. You can explain it away, but the reality is Republicans have been beating the hell out of government since the Reagan years and saying [Democrats] are the defenders of bad government and that’s what the American people believe,” said the senator.
“We can’t get an invitation to the dance unless we overcome that and the way we overcome that is having some things that are wins” for regular Americans, the lawmaker added.
Moderate Democrats complained their candidates were on defense as Republicans unloaded attacks linking them to socialism and defunding the police — policies advanced by the party’s left wing, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. They said the party had to do a better job of countering such accusations.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), for one, has slammed left-wing talk of “crazy stuff” such as socialism and slashing police funding, as well as being tied to “Medicare for All” and the Green New Deal policies. His criticism drew a glaring response from “Democratic socialist” AOC.
“The two most common knocks on our candidates were socialism and defund the police,” one lawmaker said.
Known for speaking his mind, Schumer instead quietly listened to the unvarnished criticism and advice, senators told The Hill.
Democrats also questioned whether their leadership should be taking sides in Democratic primaries. Schumer often recruits candidates.
Schumer said he welcomed the input.
“We’ve had great feedback. Look, we did job No. 1 — no Donald Trump as president and Joe Biden as the next president, and we’re all very happy with that,” Schumer told The Hill.
A source close to Schumer said the party still has a shot at capturing the two Georgia seats, which could make the Senate 50-50. A tie-breaking vote by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would break the deadlock.
But defeating both GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler is unlikely, analysts say.
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