According to the Atlantic's Russell Berman, there is increasing nervousness among the Republican Party's Senate leadership that a good shot at reclaiming the chamber may elude them due to an increasing slate of controversial candidates who voters will find unappealing.
Case in point, Berman wrote, is how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's recently answered his own question. "How could you screw this up?” McConnel asked, before stating, “It’s actually possible. And we’ve had some experience with that in the past.”
As Berman, notes, McConnell is all too aware of GOP Senate candidates including Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Sharron Angle, and Christine O’Donnell, who crashed and burned when running for winnable seats.
While taking control of the House looks to be a slamdunk for the GOP, the Senate -- with its 50-50 partisan split with two independents voting with the Democrats -- shouldn't be out of reach for Republicans, but there are more than a few candidates who could be this year's Akin or O'Donnell.
For that, the Republicans can thank Donald Trump and his meddling as he tries to load up the party with sycophants.
According to the Atlantic report, "Now McConnell is trying to regain that powerful perch, and a slate of similarly problematic contenders in key states may be all that stands in his way," before adding, "They need to pick up just a single seat to break the current 50–50 tie, and the political environment is tilting heavily in their favor. President Joe Biden’s approval rating is mired in the low 40s, inflation is rampant, and the Democratic majority rests on a trio of vulnerable incumbents in states—Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada—that the president carried by fewer than 60,000 votes combined in 2020."
But, as Berman wrote, "the GOP may be stuck with candidates whose pockmarked, and in a few cases, scandal-filled, résumés could render them unelectable."
Among the problematic possibilities is the scandal-plagued Eric Greitens of Missouri who is facing new allegations of domestic violence -- with photographic evidence -- by his former wife, Herschel Walker of Georgia who has a documented history of threatening his former wife, J.D. Vance who is facing fierce resistance from Republicans in Ohio and controversial TV Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania.
With the exception of Walker, the other three possible candidates are trying to hold onto a seat occupied by a Republican.
"In previous years, Democrats might have rejoiced at the prospect of facing Republicans such as Greitens, Walker, Vance, and Oz. But in the Trump era, no one knows where, or whether, voters will draw a line on candidates who might have been unacceptable in the past," Berman wrote. before explaining, "McConnell had tried to recruit more experienced, more establishment Republican governors for the marquee Senate races, but partly because of Trump’s continuing influence within the party, several of them passed."
The report adds, "The GOP’s recruitment struggle has made the race for Senate control far more of a wild card than the nationwide campaign for the House majority, where the biggest question according to most political observers is not whether Republicans will win," with Berman suggesting, "Democrats could expand their Senate advantage even while losing the House—a reversal of the 2018 midterms, when they recaptured the lower chamber even as Republicans gained Senate seats."
According to GOP strategist Doug Heye, "McConnell is right to be worried.”
“We’ve seen that the political laws of gravity don’t exist the way that they typically have. But there’s also the reality that Donald Trump was able to do things that no one else had been able to do," he warned.
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