After a crushing defeat for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor’s race and a New Jersey gubernatorial election that is far too close for comfort for Democrats, it took only hours for different factions of the party to start hurling blame at one another.
“Hopefully progressives will get the wake-up call,” a moderate Democratic source told Fox News Wednesday morning. As it became clear the Virginia race was closer than anticipated, there was mumbling among moderate Democrats that the left wing of the party may be going too far on issues from massive government spending to wokeism in education and other institutions, driving away suburban voters.
The Virginia victory was so jarring for Democrats because it’s a state that President Biden won by 10 percentage points in 2020 and that they believed shifted to become safely blue with the explosion of the northern Virginia suburbs.
The New Jersey gubernatorial race, where incumbent Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy was winning by under 2,000 votes Wednesday morning, also was a major regression for Democrats. Biden won there by 15 percentage points.
Colin Strother, a Democratic strategist who was a longtime aide for moderate Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, said both progressives and moderates deserve criticism – but it’s the Biden administration that needs to get into gear for Democrats to hold onto their majorities in 2022.
“We need to end the circular firing squad and get to work. Our biggest obstacle to success is members of our own Democratic Party,” Strother told Fox News. “We have one or two senators holding up big ticket items that we need to pass. We have a handful of the far left in the House who have never done anything acting like they dictate the agenda and the timeline for bills passing.”
“Having said that, this all goes back to a lack of effective communication from the White House,” Strother added. “We are not going to win this thing with the president in Delaware, the vice president missing in action, and our secretaries on personal leave… The Biden Administration and all those associated with it need to understand the election is going on right now. Everything they are doing or not doing is impacting our chances in 2022.”
Progressives groups including Justice Democrats, meanwhile, said it’s the establishment that should smell the coffee.
“Terry McAuliffe ran the milquetoast campaign he wanted to run… The DC establishment consolidated support behind their one-time rainmaker and in doing so sidelined two potentially history-making Black women running for the same office,” the group said in a statement. “This should be a wake up call for Democrats: Give people something to vote for or watch yourselves become the very thing they resoundingly vote against.”
Midterm elections in a president’s first term are typically difficult for a party in power. But with Biden’s approval ratings very low for this point in his presidency, and rising inflation coinciding with supply chain issues, a labor shortage and more, there is a chance 2022 could be particularly difficult for Democrats.
Nevertheless, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Wednesday Democrats intend to follow their pre-planned timeline for passing both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and their reconciliation spending bill.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said Wednesday he agrees with Pelosi that Democrats should double down on their progressive agenda, rather than let off the gas.
“Last night’s results show Democrats need to tune out the noise and deliver both bills in the Build Back Better agenda,” he said. “President Biden, Congressional leadership and progressives are doing just that. Let’s get it done.”
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Kelly Phares contributed to this report.