Gil Duran, Sacramento Bee, November 20, 2019
At the start of this year, Kamala Harris’ supporters believed they would be popping champagne in 2020. Now the only question facing Harris is when to put a cork in her campaign.
At 55, she’s young. She can run again, but humiliating wipeouts in primary states will damage her permanently. They’ll mark her as a loser in the minds of voters and donors.
If she stays in the race, her failure becomes a liability. If she gets out, her endorsement becomes an asset. She has a careful calculation to make – and she should make it before the panicky behavior of her campaign staff renders it all moot.
There’s always a blame game when a campaign fails. Advisors point fingers and leak nastiness to the press. In Harris’ case, some pin the blame on her campaign manager while others point to her sister/campaign chair, Maya Harris, as the problem.
Reality check: When a campaign fails, the responsibility lies with the candidate. The candidate has all of the power and makes all of the decisions.
To her credit, Harris apparently disagrees with the “blame staff” strategy.
Unfortunately, Harris appears to be testing out a different excuse for her failure.
She calls it “the donkey in the room.” It’s the metaphorical suggestion that her campaign failed due to the racism and sexism of American voters.
“Are they ready for a woman of color to be president?” Harris recently “wondered aloud” in Iowa, according to Politico’s Cadelago.
Racism and misogyny are serious problems, and they do explain some voters’ preferences. They don’t, however, explain Harris’ collapse in California.
Over 60 percent of California voters supported Harris’ U.S. Senate bid in 2016. They also twice elected her state attorney general. In the 2010 AG race, she triumphed over a white male from Los Angeles.
Now she’s running a distant fourth place in the Golden State – barely ahead of the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Did California voters suddenly lurch toward racism and misogyny? Nah. We voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.