The Democratic party nationally is contending with an empowered left flank pushing against moderates in charge of the White House and Senate. It faces a generational change in leadership. And it needs to grapple with how it allowed the Supreme Court to overturn abortion access and why it is losing Hispanic and Black voters in noticeable amounts.

However, a pair of national rising stars in the party focused Friday on the external challenge posed by the Republicans.

US Representatives Katherine Clark and Ayanna Pressley, both of Massachusetts, participated in a Globe Summit event Friday moderated by the Globe’s Washington bureau chief Liz Goodwin.

Clark, the assistant speaker of the House, and Pressley, a member of the so-called “squad” of progressive women of color, drew a sharp contrast between Democrats and Republicans, and contended that what the Democratic party does next is largely defined by what happens in the midterm elections eight weeks from now.

“People are hungry for a community of coming together and what Republicans are doing are weaponizing issues against each other, forgetting our common goal,” said Clark, particularly in reference to abortion laws.

Pressley added, “We’re focused on changing and saving lives, and they are playing with people’s lives,” a reference to the move by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard this week without any heads-up to local authorities.

If Clark and Pressley are worried about the midterm elections, new poll numbers out Friday morning might make them feel better. A New York Times survey found that Americans now favor a generic Democrat for the US House versus a generic Republican 46 percent to 44 percent, a flip of historical midterm election trends that punish the party controlling the White House.

How those poll numbers translate to individual candidates and heavily gerrymandered congressional districts is a different question. Yet momentum does appear to be on the side of Democrats, buoyed by an energized base since the Dobbs court decision in June, which overturned Roe v. Wade.

Goodwin noted in the virtual event that neither Clark nor Pressley endorsed President Biden in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary because they favored a more progressive candidate. Both lawmakers had praise for Biden these days.

“We certainly have found the administration to be tremendous partners,” said Pressley, who lauded Biden’s decision last month to cancel up to $20,000 of student debt for those who qualify.

“I feel pretty darn great about President Biden - and what he has been able to put on the table and lead us to,” said Clark, who talked up Democratic efforts to improve child care.

Many observers see Clark as a potential leader of House Democrats - either as speaker or minority leader - or at least moving up from her current position as the No. 4-ranking Democrat today. All three above her are in their 80s.

Other than saying she wants to stay a part of leadership, Clark demurred when asked what specific role she would like to play after the midterm election.


Original story HERE.