Finley: Back to your day jobs, underdogs

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News
Democratic candidates (from left) Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Vice President Joe Biden, California Sen. Kamala Harris, businessman Andrew Yang, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stand on stage before the start of the Democratic presidential debate at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

To those candidates who are on the public payroll while indulging longshot presidential fantasies, it's time to go back to your day jobs.

Taxpayers aren't paying you to hang around fairs in Iowa and New Hampshire eating roastin' ears and yukking up senior citizens.

Of the 20 Democratic candidates who appeared on the debate stages in Detroit last week, 13 hold elected positions they are neglecting while chasing their dreams of the White House.

Only a few have a snowball's chance of realizing them.

Seven U.S. senators and two representatives are spending more time in early primary states than they are the U.S. Capitol.

Of the senators, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey remain in the top tier of contenders and can justify hanging around the race. 

But the other three — Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Michael Bennet of Colorado — have had their moments. Not one is drawing more than a half-percent support in the polls. To get on the debate stage in Houston in September, they have to reach 2% in at least four polls by Aug. 28, and none got the needed surge in Detroit. 

Likewise Reps. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who have had some inspired turns in the first two debates yet don't show up in the polling. Their voices have been useful, but not so much to justify neglecting their duties in Washington.

The poorest case for continuing is for the two western governors on the ballot — Washington's Jay Inslee and Montana's Steve Bullock.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock speaks during the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates Tuesday in Detroit.

It's too bad Bullock can't gain steam. His performance as a moderate in Tuesday's clash of the progressives offered a pragmatic alternative to the wildly reckless visions of Sanders and Warren. But governor is an executive role; it's not a job done well remotely. If Bullock is sticking around in hopes of being named vice-president or to a cabinet post, the eventual nominee or president can easily find him in Helena.

As for Inslee, his one-note rants on global warming have become fanatical. The rest of the Democratic field is making climate change a priority. His Henny Penny act adds little to the conversation.

Two mayors round out the pack of elected officials — Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and Bill de Blasio of New York City.

Buttigieg remains among those who will be on stage in Houston, and is a leading fundraiser. And though his city is going through turmoil while he's stumping the nation, he's earned the right to stay on the trail for awhile.

De Blasio, who thinks he already is president, should get back to New York, if the city will have him, and that's questionable. Rarely has such an unlikable personality pursued the presidency.

Taxpayers have a right to expect their politicians to show up every day for the jobs they hired them to do. None of these Democratic officeholders asked their taxpayer employers for permission to disappear while they chase a better position.

Try that on your job and see what happens. 

Catch “The Nolan Finley Show” weekdays 7-9 a.m. on 910 AM Superstation.