In 2008 Hillary ran a “campaign of inevitability” and lost in the primary to an untested junior Senator. With the same sense of preordained certainty already swirling around her 2016 run, some Democrats are beginning to worry that a similar mood that enveloped her failed 2008 run might squash Democrats’ enthusiasm once again.
Politico’s Maggie Haberman reports that while there is clearly a vocal contingent of “Ready for Hillary” Democrats, there is also a recent rise of those who might be described as “Wary for Hillary,” those “anxious about the spectacle of a Clinton juggernaut, after seeing what happened when she ran a campaign of inevitability last time.” One of the problems: the potential dampening of voter enthusiasm, as voiced recently by some prominent figures on the left, including Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick:
Some feel a competitive primary, regardless of the outcome, is good for the party. Others say Clinton, who’s been out of electoral politics for five years, needs to be tested. And some Democrats are merely concerned that the party won’t have an open airing of views on economic policy.
The reservations, expressed mostly in private company, have been given voice in recent days by some of the party’s most prominent governors.
“She is an enormously capable candidate and leader, but I do worry about the inevitability, because I think it’s off-putting to the average voter,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a longtime Obama ally, told CNN earlier this month. “And I think that was an element of her campaign the last time. As an enthusiastic Democrat, I just hope that the people around her pay attention to that this time around.”
The other problem some on left have with an unchallenged Clinton run is what they fear might prove to be a centrist campaign. Haberman argues that this sort of criticism is in part an attempt to “nudge” Clinton further left, leaders like Patrick, California Gov. Jerry Brown, and even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid worrying that Clinton will default toward the center without pressure from more radical elements of the party.
Reid told NBC News’ Chuck Todd recently that while “everyboy knows I love the Clintons,” the brutal primary battle between Clinton and Obama was “an extremely healthy process,” suggesting that he hoped a legitimate contender would arise.
As Haberman reports, those on the left are careful to note that the growing sense of “inevitability” is not of Clinton’s making:
Whatever concerns Patrick and Brown have about Clinton, said former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, they’re not something she is bringing on herself.
“Secretary Clinton’s inevitability, or what appears to be inevitability, is something that is happening [on its own],” Strickland, a Clinton supporter, said in an interview. “So what to do about it? You accept it for what it is — a grass-roots movement.
“I don’t know that there’s a lesson to be learned from what happened several years ago. The circumstances were very different then,” he added.