The Democratic Party is often described as a big tent that welcomes its diverse constituencies, but history has shown the big tent can quickly turn into a circular firing squad when interests collide. In recent weeks, analysts have begun speculating whether that’s happening as the campaign swings into summer.
This month saw three prominent Democrats from West Virginia, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Sen. Joe Manchin and Rep. Nick Rahal, announce they will not be attending the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Their opting out is not all that surprising, given that an imprisoned felon garnered almost 40 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary against President Obama in coal-rich West Virginia — a state hit especially hard by what many believe to be the Obama administration’s anti-coal agenda.
But three other members of Congress have also distanced themselves from the convention — and by extension the president — by announcing their intention not to attend. They include Pennsylvania Rep. Mark Critz and New York Reps. Bill Owens and Kathy Hochul, both of whom won special elections in recent years.
“I guarantee that my time will be better spent meeting the farmers, small business owners and other people who put me here,” Hochul said in a recent interview with The Daily.
If their decision to stay home is a slight to the Obama campaign, so is the advice given by Bloomberg Washington Editor, Al Hunt, who recently penned a column in which half a dozen prominent Democratic political thinkers, each with plenty of experience in national races, confided to him they had not been consulted by the Obama campaign.
Political analyst Michael Barone says this fraying is nothing new for the Democratic Party.
“One of the problems for a Democratic president or any Democratic candidate is that sometimes pleasing one of your core groups can displease another,” he said. As an example, Barone points to the intra-party fight over gay marriage. “Young voters are heavily in favor of it. Black voters have tended to be heavily against it.”
These internal divisions have also plagued the Republican Party, as social and evangelical conservatives frequently skirmish with the libertarian
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