But most of the people in the crowd wanted to be heard, loud and clear, on a litany of issues. One woman said she could not understand how Mr. Ross could oppose the presence of undocumented immigrants, given that the district was dependent on agriculture. “It’s so detrimental to our identity as a state and to the economy,” she said before disappearing into the crowd.
Back in Tennessee, a number of those facing [Marsha] Blackburn were rallied by the local branch of Indivisible, a national movement started by Democratic activists. The group had held two meetings to discuss which issues to raise.
One of the organizers, Elizabeth TeSelle, a university administrator, disavowed the Tea Party comparison. She said Indivisible supporters were not seeking to push moderate Democrats further to the left, or to oust them by running more extreme candidates against them in primaries. “My concern is what the Tea Party ended up spawning was Trump,” Ms. TeSelle said.
Ms. Blackburn, one of Mr. Trump’s high-profile supporters in the House of Representatives during last year’s campaign, defended him on nearly every issue raised by critics.
One man called Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, “a notorious white nationalist.” Ms. Blackburn replied, “My interactions with him have all been fine.”
A high school senior, Taylor Ayres, asked how she could support Ms. DeVos, “someone who doesn’t have real knowledge in the education field.” Ms. Blackburn said coolly, “She is going to do a fine job.”
Chuck Grassley of Iowa got an earful too:
“I’m on Obamacare. If it wasn’t for Obamacare, we wouldn’t be able to afford insurance,” said Chris Peterson, a farmer from Grassley’s state. “With all due respect, sir, you’re the man that talked about the death panel. We’re going to create one big death panel in this country if people can’t afford insurance.”
The remark was a reference to Grassley’s claim when the law passed that a provision of the law that analyzed the economic benefit of drugs for Medicare was akin to a “death panel,” a claim that was widely debunked.
“Don’t repeal Obamacare — improve it,” the constituent added.
Meanwhile Republicans in at risk districts seek smaller, less, uh, in person venues, like my congressman Carlos Curbelo:
In an email Tuesday, Curbelo said he’s held plenty of public events during his past two years in Congress; he just thinks the hundreds of protesters turning up at congressional events in recent weeks are only interested in causing trouble.
“I’m holding tele-town hall meetings that maximize constituent participation by providing greater access. I’m also constantly meeting with constituent groups throughout the district and will continue doing so,” the Miami Republican told The Hill.
What these events portend is unclear. I tend to think Donald Trump’s popularity with his voters is unshaken; he’s done what he set out to do, according to them. It’s possible these voters may throw out their Republican congressman but still support Trump. But Democrats gotta start somewhere.