How interested are Democrats in winning?

Not long ago, I would have said they are obsessed with it. That’s the most plausible explanation for nominating Joe Biden to run for president.

But the Dems’ obsession with defeating Donald Trump hasn’t seemed to carry over into 2021-22. The most plausible explanation for some of the positions they are taking — both in Congress and at the White House — is that left-wing ideology comes first and second, with winning next year a distant third.

Further evidence comes from Maryland politics. Both Democrats and Republicans are gerrymandering congressional districts wherever they have the power to do so.

In Maryland, it’s the Dems who have that power. They have used it to try to defeat Andy Harris, a Republican who represents a district in the state’s rural and conservative Eastern Shore, via redistricting. Harris is the only GOP House member from the state.

According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump carried the district by 20 points in 2020. However, Biden would have carried the district as it will exist next year (absent a successful court challenge) by 0.3 points. That’s how radically the district has been redrawn.

However, Harris won his 2020 race by 27 points. He hasn’t won by less than 20 points since 2010.

Thus, even with redistricting, the Democrats face a difficult battle. You might think, then, that they would want to run a candidate with appeal to rural voters.

Instead, the party establishment is backing Heather Mizeur. She’s a lesbian who once represented the socialist enclave of Takoma Park (Montgomery County) in the Maryland General Assembly, and who moved to the Eastern Shore with her wife. In 2014, she was the left-most candidate in the Maryland Democratic gubernatorial primary, quite a distinction.

Has Mizeur moderated her positions since 2014? Not by her account. She says the positions of hers that were considered radical in 2014 are now mainstream.

That’s probably true among Democrats. It’s not true on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

This reality hasn’t stopped the party establishment from strongly backing Mizeur. She is endorsed, for example, by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and by Rep. Jamie Raskin an increasingly influential Maryland Democrat. And she has raised more than $1 million already.

Mizeur has two Democratic opponents. The main one has raised only $200,000.

He says:

This is still a very, very rural district. Democrats lose 90 percent of rural districts. You know why? Because they run people like Heather Mizeur. They don’t know the people and the culture and the issues.

Rep. Harris has some potential political weaknesses. He voted against at least one of the coronavirus relief packages that provided money to many residents of his district. He also objected to certifying the 2020 presidential election (which may or may not be a problem in his newly-drawn district) and opposed awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the police officers who responded to January 6 attack.

But running a far-left candidate against Harris seems like a losing proposition, especially given the headwinds the Dems likely will face next year due to Joe Biden’s low standing. Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report seems to think so. He says:

If [Democrats] nominate Heather Mizeur, then it’d be possible for Republicans to paint her not only as pretty far on the party’s left, but also as a carpetbagger who has no business representing the Eastern Shore. When you put the national environment and that together, I would still consider Harris the favorite heading into 2022.

That the party’s leaders favor Mizeur nonetheless tells me they aren’t all that interested in winning. Not if it means bucking the left.

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