Joe Biden’s leadership of Democrats faces test in next primaries
President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to O'Connor Farms

Biden Pennsylvania
The President faces a test on his own grip on primary politics.

In his telling, President Joe Biden’s political philosophy is rooted in Pennsylvania, where the son of Scranton grew up watching families struggle to make ends meet.

But as Democrats in the President’s home state choose a nominee on Tuesday for a critical U.S. Senate seat, the moderate candidate long viewed as an heir to the Biden wing of the party is at risk of being trounced by a progressive once backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

On the opposite coast, U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, the first candidate Biden endorsed this year, faces a spirited challenger from the left. And across the U.S., Democrats are grappling with questions about the party’s leadership, messaging and identity.

While much of the attention during the opening phase of the 2022 primary season has focused on former President Donald Trump’s grip on the Republican Party, the contests also serve as a referendum on Biden’s leadership of the Democratic Party. Few Democrats are openly criticizing the President and most are aggressively pledging support of his agenda. But there’s clear unease with the party’s direction.

In Oregon’s largely rural 5th Congressional District, Jamie McLeod-Skinner said she would “work my heart out” to support Biden’s agenda if she defeated his preferred candidate on Tuesday.

“We respect President Biden, but he simply got it wrong in this case,” she said in an interview, offering warm words for the President’s policies even as she was less complimentary of the party.

“Democrats have been very weak on our messaging and establishing a sense of focus,” McLeod-Skinner said. “This is one of the things I’m hoping to help out with.”

The White House is downplaying concerns about Biden’s leadership and intra-party divisions.

The President’s advisers note that Democrats have largely avoided the nasty and expensive personal attacks that have defined Republican primary elections across the country in recent weeks. And they point to Biden’s successful endorsement of congressional candidate Shontel Brown, who defeated a vocal Biden critic in Cleveland this month.

The stakes of this year’s primaries, meanwhile, are different for each party. While Democrats are debating their ideological and policy future, Republicans are considering some candidates with a history of racist and anti-democratic behavior. In Pennsylvania alone, the Trump-backed candidate for governor worked to overturn the results of the 2020 election. A GOP candidate gaining ground in the Senate primary once linked Islam to pedophilia.

Still, Biden will be tested this week in primary elections across five states: Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, a Biden loyalist and establishment favorite, Rep. Conor Lamb, has struggled to find his footing in a crowded Senate primary that will determine what kind of Democrat will represent the party this fall in one of its best Senate pickup opportunities.

Lamb, a fresh-faced former Marine prosecutor, became a political celebrity in 2018 by winning a special election in a working-class western Pennsylvania district long held by Republicans. Celebrated as the kind of Democrat who can appeal to voters in the middle, he enters primary day looking up in the polls toward Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a tell-it-like-it-is progressive.

In one closing campaign ad, Fetterman casts himself as, “a different kind of Democrat, candidate, campaign taking on every politician.” The 52-year-old suffered a stroke just days ahead of the primary, though his campaign said he was on his way to a “full recovery.”

Still, in style — and substance, in some cases — Fetterman is Biden’s opposite.

The 6-foot-8 former mayor has tattoos down his arms, a clean-shaven head and a goatee. He curses on social media and wears shorts practically everywhere, even in the winter.

On the campaign trail, Fetterman is more likely to criticize Democratic moderates like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia than Biden. But in January, Fetterman initially declined an invitation to appear with the President in his Pittsburgh hometown. And he’s consistently called on Senate Democrats to to abolish the filibuster to adopt Democratic priorities on gun violence, abortion and voting rights, which is something Biden’s White House has largely resisted.

Despite bold campaign-trail promises and a Democratic-controlled Congress, the vast majority of Biden’s domestic agenda is stalled.

Fetterman’s supporters see his aggressive style and progressive politics as more likely to help Democrats break through the gridlock.

“He’s so refreshing because he is so candid,” Barbara Orr, 63, said of Fetterman ahead of a recent campaign stop. “If you saw him on TV, he’s just bold-faced saying, without couching or mincing his words, what he stands for.”

Biden’s approval ratings have hovered in the mid-40s for much of the year. Those numbers are in line with, or slightly better than, Trump’s for much of his presidency. But in contrast with Trump, Biden is showing some weakness among his party’s base.

Public polling suggests that nearly all Democrats approved of Biden when he first took office. For much of this year, however, his approval ratings among Democrats have dipped closer to 80%. While a 20-percentage-point drop doesn’t mean his party has abandoned him, Biden’s allies concede that core groups in his political coalition — including young people, voters of color and independents — are frustrated.

“You have Democrats out there telling other Democrats that Biden hasn’t done anything. And they believe it,” said veteran Democratic strategist James Carville. “We need to be more consistent and more united.”

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said that Democrats would be in a better position heading into the fall if there was clearer leadership from Washington Democrats, who have struggled to coalesce behind an agenda or a message in the weeks since Biden’s domestic agenda stalled.

“It hasn’t been crystal clear up to now, but I think they’re starting to understand,” Rendell said. “I actually don’t think it’s quite as bad as everyone says it is. He’s been coming back slowly in the polls. But obviously it’d be easier if the president was popular.”

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Republicans have been too focused on their own divisive Senate primary to pay much attention to Democrats so far. But Trump-backed GOP Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz said he’s “giddy” about the prospect of a potential head-to-head matchup against Fetterman in the November general election.

“He’s basically a tall Bernie Sanders,” Oz told The Associated Press. “Everyone understands there’s a clear contrast between what a far-left liberal leader would look like and what a conservative leader who’s ‘America First’ will be able to offer.”


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Impeach Biden

    May 16, 2022 at 7:31 am

    Joe Biden and the Dems should receive a nice butt kicking in November. Truly a incompetent administration. No Democrat running for office or re-election is going to want him anywhere near him / her. People vote with their checkbooks and the Joe Biden economic plan has been a complete disaster.

    • Nancy

      May 16, 2022 at 8:33 pm

      $16,000 or even more is very simple and easy to earns while staying and working online. start receiving paychecks every month simply by doing work online.lil i recently received $17493 in my bank of my last month’s working. i just gave this job 2 hours maximum from my day. simple and easy home based job.

      Go here for info………… 𝐁𝐮𝐳𝐳𝐉𝐨𝐢𝐧.𝐜𝐨𝐦

  • Just a comment

    May 16, 2022 at 7:56 am

    America’s philosophy is put all that dirt on people in America on the air true or false for the world to see and your destruction

  • Tom

    May 16, 2022 at 8:15 am

    Biden and leadership, what a canard, fabrication. Watch him pee on self this week.
    He’s a joke. His lack of leadership is 39% now nationally. In Florida he’s at 36%.
    Just atrocious.
    DeSantis is leadership!
    America’s Gov. the new generation.

    • Impeach Biden

      May 16, 2022 at 9:21 am

      I say again, what were the people of Delaware thinking by voting this incompetent fool six times as a US Senator for a total of thirty six years?

      • Itold Usoh

        May 16, 2022 at 12:05 pm

        It is a small state, so not a big political talent pool. And he got lavish funding from the credit card industry which has major operations there.

  • Itold Usoh

    May 16, 2022 at 12:03 pm

    Democrats need to get over their pathological, Panglossian denial. Here’s a reality check form them:

    –Inflation is bad and is eroding living standards. We’ve just had an 8.5% inflation tax imposed on our financial assets and income streams.
    –The economy as a whole is a mess. I mean baby formula shortages? That’s third world stuff.
    –Crime is out of control. People do not feel safe.
    –The Southern Border is more or less open, and will get worse this summer.
    –We have a leader who may well have cognitive issues, and certainly does not project strength. He comes across as peevish and often angry. His #2 is utterly incompetent and can barely string together a coherent sentence.

  • Tom

    May 16, 2022 at 1:44 pm

    Glad you have joined the light side, I told u so.
    Welcome. He’s aT 34% approval in Florida. Toast, as are his Dem candidates.

  • ScienceBLVR

    May 16, 2022 at 2:00 pm

    And when Trump was thrown out of office after losing bigly… his approval rating was 34% nationally. hmmmmmm. Here’s hoping folks find out what a self serving conman DeSantis is before it’s too late.

    • Impeach Biden

      May 16, 2022 at 4:22 pm

      Don’t recall him losing bigly, thank goodness for the active ballot harvesting otherwise the man hiding in the basement the entire campaign season would have lost.

    • Tom

      May 16, 2022 at 4:30 pm

      Science day dream disbeliever and no homecoming queen. U don’t deserve my Attn bit your ignorance is appalling. That’s 34% approval in Florida.
      He’s done here, as are the Dums.
      1000 PD albatross weight on neck.
      Chameleon crisp, n fraud, no chance.
      DeSantis and Marco wins bigly.
      America’s Gov, rising tide for all,

  • Just a comment

    May 17, 2022 at 12:40 am

    Already know it is like Jesus died so I can have your money’s
    Housing is overpriced to get your money (frauds) human condition of the organized crime social pathways

Comments are closed.


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