What is going to be the fate of the Democratic Party going forward? It depends on who you ask. There are those who say that watching Conor Lamb take down Republican Rick Saccone in the recent special election in Pennsylvania points to the strategy of running more centrist or conservative Democrats makes sense. Progressives in the Party say that this is complete nonsense.
Conor Lamb is a thirty-three year old Marine who is straight out of Central Casting for the run in the district that he just proved victorious in. He opposes abortion personally though says that he backs a woman’s right to choose as a matter of law. He also says that he believes that a fifteen dollar per hour minimum wage is too high says Politico. In other words, he is not exactly a Bernie Sanders style Democrat. Despite all of this, he won in Pennsylvania in a district that was won by Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by about twenty points. As such, the conservative Democrats have a strong argument in this particular race that running candidates that are more like them makes a lot of sense.
Liberals in the Party are applauding the win by Lamb in his special election. At the same time, they are far from suggesting that this is the strategy that ought to be used by all Democrats throughout the country. In fact, they are horrified by the idea that other Democrats in certain districts might consider doing this at all. They believe that it was a winning formula for that particularly conservative district in Pennsylvania, but that liberal areas would balk at having these choices put before them.
This special election is another flash point between the conservative and liberal elements of the Democratic Party. The two sides have been battling with one another over control of the Party since the 2016 election ended. Liberals point to the fact that Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump as proof that more ideologically pure candidates such as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren are the type of people who ought to be the frontrunners of the Party going forward.
Conservative Democrats are not prepared to give up their argument either. They think that the “big tent” approach that a Lamb candidacy embraces is exactly what will help the Party garner enough support to take over majorities in Congress and perhaps even take back the White House in 2020.