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Offbeat Democrats in Rust Belt: Stay Close to Trump, but Not Too Close

02:31  10 may  2018
02:31  10 may  2018 Source:   nytimes.com

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A day after the first major primary contests of 2018, the political armies on the left and the right repositioned themselves for an intense general election across Rust Belt states that President Trump carried two years ago — and where his personality and record will define the battles

Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, won a third term on Election Day in a state that President Trump claimed by eight points in 2016. Democrats in Rust Belt : Stay Close to Trump , but Not Too Close .

a sign on the side of a building: A polling place in Dallas, W.Va., on Tuesday. Primary elections were also held in Ohio and Indiana.© Jeff Swensen/Getty Images A polling place in Dallas, W.Va., on Tuesday. Primary elections were also held in Ohio and Indiana.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A day after the first major primary contests of 2018, the political armies on the left and the right repositioned themselves for an intense general election across Rust Belt states that President Trump carried two years ago — and where his personality and record will define the battles leading to the midterms.

Three states that voted Tuesday — Ohio, West Virginia and Indiana — were the heart of Trump country in 2016, and the president is moving aggressively to hold onto them; he has already intervened in one Senate race and plans to campaign in another one Thursday.

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Democrats in Rust Belt : Stay Close to Trump , but Not Too Close . May 9, 2018. In Ohio Election, Republicans Test a Midterm Rescue Plan: Polarization. SYDNEY: It’s also a test for Democrats to see if they can win back voters who went for Obama and then switched and supported Trump .

Democrats in the area say Mr. Trump is trying to take credit for the past administration’s progress. “The numbers tell a clear story, that Elkhart’s amazing recovery in many was the story of the Obama economy,” said Mayor Pete Democrats in Rust Belt : Stay Close to Trump , but Not Too Close .

But historically this heartland region was in play for both parties, and Democrats hope it will be again, after earlier two-party contests around the country have seen a wave of disaffected voters reject Republican candidates in places as diverse as suburban Pittsburgh and Tidewater Virginia.

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Republican strategy is straightforward: The victors on Tuesday heaped praise on Mr. Trump, inviting him to visit their states to campaign, and tarred opponents as “liberals,” while invoking the name “Chuck Schumer,” the New York senator and Democratic leader, as an epithet to hurl at opponents.

“You’ve been to this state now four times,” Patrick Morrisey, the Republican Senate nominee in West Virginia, said in his acceptance speech, addressing the president. “I’d like you to come back as many times as you can between now and November.”

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8 fucking weeks until I can have the old me back and the old me even gets a new little friend that makes every second of pain and mental instability and waiting for the above things 110% worth it. #give or take #I'm hoping it's closer to six # but not too close #I want him fully cooked.

If the Democratic Party wants to win the Rust Belt , it shouldn't chase after the white working-class Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or Democrats picked up more wealthy voters, too . 4. The real story—the one the pundits missed—is that voters who fled the Democrats in the Rust Belt 5 were twice as likely either to vote for a third party or to stay at home

The pressure on Mr. Morrisey’s opponent, Senator Joe Manchin III, mounted immediately on Wednesday as an outside group allied with Mr. Trump released an ad urging West Virginians to call Mr. Manchin and demand he vote for Gina Haspel, the White House nominee to lead the C.I.A., who is facing tough questions about the agency’s use of torture on suspected terrorists.

Mr. Manchin announced later in the day that he would vote for Ms. Haspel, giving the White House a sheen of bipartisan support. “I’ll always try to work with the president of the United States, because as an American you want the president to succeed and the country to succeed,” Mr. Manchin said through a spokesman.

His stance showed how Democratic incumbents in states Mr. Trump carried must thread a needle — showing voters they respect the president, but distancing themselves from some of his major policies.

In Ohio, once a swing state but increasingly shading red, Democrats believe the key to winning back the governor’s mansion and the Legislature, as well as retaining a United States Senate seat, is to focus on Ohio issues and not get mired in the discord of Washington.

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Democrats easily defended Senate seats in Rust Belt states that flipped to Donald Trump in 2016, but there were warning signs for 2020 as well. That suggests some ancestral Democrats who defected to Trump may not be lost. But these trends didn't translate to gains across the board either

The Rust Belt is a term, sometimes considered pejorative, for an informal region of the United States that experienced industrial decline starting around 1980.

“You don’t win Ohio if you get pulled off message and you’re basically debating Trump or making every election here a referendum,” David Pepper, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said on Tuesday.

But maintaining that posture may prove difficult. Bright and early on Wednesday, Mr. Trump took aim at the Democratic nominee for governor, Richard Cordray, a bête noire of Washington Republicans for his past leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Congratulating Mike DeWine, the Republican nominee who will face Mr. Cordray, the president wrote in a tweet, “His Socialist opponent in November should not do well, a big failure in last job!”

As the races proceed, surrogates for Mr. Cordray like Senator Elizabeth Warren are likely to take hammer and tongs to the president to rally the Democratic base.

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In May, after thousands of Democrats had switched parties to vote for Trump in the primary, Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras circulated a But he understands how Trump ’s talk about immigration appealed to people in the Rust Belt . A few years ago, his union was working on a

In Ohio Democrats face an uphill battle against Trump 's promise to turn back time.

For his part, Mr. Cordray wants to focus on “kitchen-table issues that Ohioans tell us are most on their minds,” he said in an interview at his campaign office, where he lounged in socks but no shoes.

In an interview, Mr. DeWine rebuffed the suggestion of an impending Democratic surge.

“Ohio is always a competitive state, but this idea of this big blue wave that’s rolling through the country certainly missed Ohio last night,” he said, pointing out that more voters turned out for him on Tuesday than for Mr. Cordray. He received roughly 495,000 votes compared with the roughly 423,000 Mr. Cordray received, according to election night figures.

Democratic leaders may not admit to seeking a “referendum” on the president in states where he remains popular. Yet, they know that is precisely what has driven the Democratic base to turn out strongly in earlier contests n the past year in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Arizona, where Democrats made unexpected gains.

The country’s next high-profile special election is in August for an open House seat near Columbus, Ohio. Once a solidly Republican seat in a district Mr. Trump carried easily, the race is now a tossup, according to nonpartisan analysts, thanks to an energized Democratic base. The candidates were finalized on Tuesday: Danny O’Connor, a Democratic official in Franklin County, will oppose Troy Balderson, a Republican state senator.

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in the Rust Belt long before Donald Trump came along, and without any of Trump ’s nativism Is Senator Sherrod Brown the man to win back the Rust Belt for the Democrats in 2020? it’s going to be a very crowded field and I suppose I don’t want to take any bets with too much certainty right now.

Democrats clung to a consolation prize that although they lost almost all the key electoral Talking to reporters on other newspapers was sometimes difficult too , if you wanted to conform to the required “I think a lot of voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously but not literally, so when they hear

In the United States Senate race, Ohio Republicans chose Representative James B. Renacci to try to unseat Senator Sherrod Brown, whose old-school progressivism — opposing trade deals, championing labor — aligns with part of Mr. Trump’s blue-collar appeal.

“My message is consistent and will continue to be — I’m going to fight for the little guy regardless of whether she works in an office or works in a diner,” Mr. Brown said in a telephone interview. He suggested he would not make a point of going after Mr. Trump.

“I will do what I do,” he said. “I don’t have this grand strategy. I think if you do this job the way you should, elections largely take care of themselves.”

In Indiana, Senator Joe Donnelly, one of the most vulnerable Democrats, noted that he had voted with Mr. Trump 62 percent of the time in the Senate and had backed 70 percent of the president’s nominees.

“If President Trump is right on an issue, I will be with him every time,” Mr. Donnelly said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday night. “When he’s not, I will pass. My job is not to be a cheerleader for the president, my job is not to be a cheerleader for a party leader or a party.”

Mr. Donnelly is matched against Mike Braun, a wealthy businessman who ran as a political outsider, and who Republicans believe will serve as validation of Mr. Trump’s policies and anti-Washington appeal.

“This will be the ratification of Donald Trump,” said Robert T. Grand, a lawyer in Indianapolis and one of the state’s most prominent Republicans. “Everybody says Donald Trump is in trouble. This will say maybe not.”

Mr. Manchin, who has long found a way to win in West Virginia by creating a Democratic identity apart from the national party, faces perhaps the toughest race of his life in a state Mr. Trump won by more than 40 percentage points. His opponent, Mr. Morrisey, said on election night, “When President Trump needed Joe Manchin’s help on so many issues, Senator Manchin said, ‘No.’”

He mentioned the Republican tax cuts, repeal of the Affordable Care Act and judicial picks.

Mr. Manchin can be expected to play up his folksy manner — not long ago he publicized a visit to a Washington restaurant serving pepperoni rolls, a West Virginia specialty — and to attack Mr. Morrisey as a transplant from New Jersey who was born in Brooklyn.

Sherry Mollett, 71, from rural Boone County in the southern West Virginia coal country, represents the voters whose support Mr. Manchin needs to lock down. Historically a Democrat, she voted for Mr. Trump two years ago. “I felt in my heart that he might help Boone County bring in jobs and make America great again,” Ms. Mollett said.

On Tuesday she cast an ambivalent vote for Mr. Manchin. “I think he loves West Virginia,” she said. “I don’t think he’s done a whole lot up in Washington. I’m still waiting for more from him. He better get busy or I won’t vote for him the next time he runs.”

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