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Trahan Faces Key Vote

November 12, 2018

How successful will U.S. Rep.-elect Lori Trahan be in Congress when she takes over for Niki Tsongas in January?

Trahan has the potential to be a very good leader and a strong voice for the 3rd Congressional District and the state of Massachusetts.

But how she balances her allegiance to the Democrat Party and that of the people living in the district’s 37 cities and towns will determine whether Trahan builds the public confidence and trust to succeed.

Two years go by awfully fast in politics. Trahan will face many challenges from within her own party that might conflict with her campaign pledges to work in a bipartisan fashion to get things done.

Soon Democrats will vote to elect a new speaker of the House of Representatives. Trahan will likely face internal pressure to 1.) support the status quo and Nancy Pelosi’s return to power or 2.) line up with progressive challenger, like U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton of Salem, and push for younger leadership.

Pelosi, who enjoyed strong ties with Tsongas, campaigned for Trahan. Trahan, when asked, never publicly committed to backing Pelosi in a House leadership fight, noting that she’d cross that bridge if and when Democrats regained the House. Well, that time has come.

What will a vote for Pelosi mean? That’s hard to say right now. Pelosi’s been a vocal critic of Republican President Donald Trump, his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, and his immigration policies. She’s offered no real solutions for compromise. Still, she’s a sharp politician. She knows if Democrats come out of he box demanding the president’s impeachment, it could backfire.

The public wants bipartisan progress on a host of legislative issues. House Democrats will be required to find common ground with the GOP-controlled Senate to get anything approved. Pelosi’s party needs a substantive legislative win or two leading into the 2020 presidential election if Democrats hold any chance of regaining the White House.

On the other hand, what if a majority of Democrats feel Pelosi’s leadership won’t be enough to win over the country’s heartland voters in 2020? The Democrat platform, as constructed, has come under constant criticism from its younger party members who seek bolder ideas and action, including Trump’s impeachment.

Trahan shouldn’t side with any faction that wants to impeach Trump. It will bog her down with party zealots.

During the campaign, Trahan largely avoided Trump-bashing although she criticized the president’s policies and decisions when she found them unacceptable. It served her well in winning a tight primary and a landslide general election victory. She often said if Americans want to end the gridlock in Washington, they should elect more women to Congress. She got her wish.

Trahan is one of more than 100 women elected to the 435-member House -- a new record. Equally important is that she is one of 36 women elected from occupations outside of politics. Like so many others in this group, Trahan’s victory came in her first run for public office. Hopefully, these women will lend a fresh perspective to deliberations.

We’re counting on Lori Trahan to be an independent thinker and a collaborative force for positive change.

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