Rahm Emanuel: 2018 Dem Takeover ‘Ain’t Gonna Happen’

Chicago mayor dampens Democrats' midterm-election enthusiasm, insists party has significant ground to reclaim locally first

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 28 May 2017 at 7:18 PM

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on CNN on Sunday that Democrats who believe their party will retake both the House and the Senate in the 2018 midterm elections are “not having the right perspective.”

“State of the Union” anchor Dana Bash pointed to comments Emanuel recently made during an appearance at Stanford University. There, he addressed Democrats’ frenzied hopes of winning back control of Congress in the wake of President Donald Trump’s Election Day victory. Emanuel, who helped lead a Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006, told those at Stanford that “it took us a long time to get this low. It ain’t gonna happen in 2018. Take a chill pill, man. This is — you’ve got to be in this for the long haul.”

“We’re down over the last eight years about 1,100 Democrats. You’re not gonna solve it in 2018.”

When Bash asked Emanuel about his gloomy 2018 prediction, Emanuel stood by what he’d said.

“What I disagree with is an approach that assumes it’s only about one election,” Emanuel said, noting that many Democrats are focused entirely on national races.

“We’re down over the last eight years about 1,100 Democrats. You’re not gonna solve it in 2018,” Emanuel said. “The Republicans didn’t do what they did with just a ‘one election’ cycle mindset. You have to have a long horizon, obviously, and work toward electing people at the local level, state houses, into Congress.”

The Chicago mayor noted that Bash asked her question because CNN is a national media outlet that prioritizes national elections.

"Now your question's only because you're into nationally — is about Congress. But the question is, what are we doing about state houses? What are we doing to recruit candidates to run for other types of offices at the local level?" Emanuel said.

It's not enough for Democrats to gloat over Trump's low approval ratings in the 40s and take comfort in "the resistance" that has risen up to defy Trump and the Republicans' national agenda, Emanuel insisted.

"And my point was — and I stand by it — is if you think this is going to happen entirely in just one cycle, you're going to turn around years of eroding Democratic support at the local level, you're not having the right perspective," Emanuel continued. "Do I think we're going to have a good year in 2018? Yes. Do I think everything's going to be solved in a single cycle? That's not how we got here, and it's not going to be how we get out."

Democrats controlled the House of Representatives for 40 years, from 1955 until 1995, following the Republican Revolution, which elected many new Republicans, especially from Southern states that had been Democrat since the Civil War.

The Democrats retook the House after the 2006 election, but lost it again four years later, after the 2010 election. Republicans now have a 45-seat majority.

The Senate has been in Republican hands since the 2014 midterm election, but with only a 2-seat majority.

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