Former attorney general Eric Holder said that he anticipates a blue wave in 2018, but that it may not have the political impact Democrats want because of Republican gerrymandering — the effects of which he is trying to reverse.
Holder took part in the New Hampshire Institute of Politics' Politics & Eggs breakfast series Friday morning to talk about the efforts of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, the organization led by Holder that is trying to undo what it calls unfairly drawn Congressional and legislative districts.
Holder has been eager to talk about his group’s efforts, which follow a series of elections in the 2010s when Democrats fared poorly in gubernatorial and state house elections, and when Republicans redrew federal maps. Holder’s spoken to civil rights groups, podcasts, and, now, interestingly, to a set of influential political types in New Hampshire. “I was just so starstruck when I saw him, and I didn’t anticipate that,” a staffer of the host institute told BuzzFeed News. In the process, he's become a central figure of the 2018 midterm elections, taking advantage of the spotlight afforded by the possibility of his own run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Holder danced around the question of his possible run for the presidency in 2020 at the Politics & Eggs event, which is sometimes seen as an early presidential proving ground and informal vetting ritual. He reiterated that he’s considering a run, and said he’ll make a decision near the end of the year.
On taking on President Trump, Holder said, “Two guys from Queens — that would be interesting. New Yorkers know how to talk to other New Yorkers."
Mixed in with the 2020 stuff, Holder had a lot to say about redestricting and the legal challenges the NDRC has undertaken so far, in addition to electoral wins it's eying or has already seen. (Of Judge Rebecca Dallet, who was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and was backed by the group, Holder said she’d be an “independent voice for fairness and common sense.”)
Democrats, he said Friday, can't assume the blue wave is going to be strong enough without a significant amount of work.
“I think it’s going to be a blue wave, but I think the Democrats should understand that that blue wave is going to be running headlong into this gerrymandered system, and the question is whether or not that wave will actually reach the shore,” said Holder, who said he wants to focus on increasing Democratic margins.
If he really does want to run for president, though, New Hampshire is as important a state as any to be on the airwaves. In a closing exchange, the moderator was about to ask the crowd to show its appreciation for Holder, but he opted to make a closing statement that felt like a message. As a young man, he said, he saw the American people “stop the war that had gone on too long,” and saw the Civil Rights movement pressure the United States on equality "that had long been sought but not attained.”
Holder said he believed that each era is defined by whether or not this country of ours is successful at addressing its problems. He even quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “It’s not about making this country great again — this country is great. But it can be better,” said Holder. “I think it’s time now for a new American engagement.”
Whether he decides to run or not may come down to three words he left reporters with: "I like challenges."
"I’ve been a public servant for most of my professional life. You know, I’m a person who I think is known as a guy who speaks his mind; I wonder how that would resonate. I’m not a career politician, never run for elected office, although I have held high positions. So these are all things that I have to take into account.
“But the idea of a challenge? Yeah, that appeals to me.”