A host of top ranking Democrats have said no to running for winnable senate seats and yes to long-shot White House bids. John Hickenlooper is one of the most obvious, but newly announced Governor Steve Bullock was a highly recruited Montana senate candidate. In Texas, both Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro were considered top recruits against Senator John Cornyn in a state that Democrats covet for a presidential transition.
Why are top candidates balking on senate races, preferring to join two dozen Democrats in a scrum of hard to distinguish presidential candidates? Seth McLaughlin of the Washington Times runs the list.
My view is that the Senate “has lost stature.”
“The Senate has lost — particularly for Democrats — some of its attraction,” said Floyd Ciruli, a veteran Colorado-based pollster. “There was a time when you were a senator, there was a sort of the majesty of the Senate. It had its rules, it had its prestige, you had recognition and authority even in the minority, but it has a lot less stature now.”
· In alignment with a diminished Senate, Hickenlooper and others argue that they are executive personalities who want to get things done and not be locked into the slow pace of the Senate and a second-class minority position.
· Enhancing the attraction of a presidential run is its heightened status in the Trump authoritarian era. Neither opinion leaders nor the public look to Congress, especially the Senate, to solve critical problems. From health care, to immigration, to infrastructure, Congress seems irrelevant at the least and a barrier at worst.
The bottom line result is that Democrats’ chance to take back the Senate declines with each decision.