It's Mitch McConnell's fault 'bumbling extremists' are hurting the GOP: report
Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

GOP Senate candidates are underperforming in multiple states, as the homestretch of the midterms approaches.

On Thursday, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seemed to admit that the Grand Old Party doesn't have the highest quality roster of candidates.

"I think there's probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate," McConnell said. "Senate races are just different, they're statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome."

Writing in Vanity Fair, Eric Lutz reported, "He didn’t mention any of those candidates directly, but he almost certainly could have been talking about any of Donald Trump’s handpicked contenders, who earned the former president’s support seemingly for one of two reasons: He knows them from television, or they’re loyalists who have organized their campaigns almost entirely around his 2020 election lies. There’s a lot of crossover there, obviously, but the first camp includes Mehmet Oz, a former TV doctor who apparently believes raw asparagus belongs in a crudité, and Herschel Walker, the former football great whose own campaign staff reportedly regards him as a 'pathological liar.'”

Also on Friday, Trump announced a Sept. 3 rally near Scranton to help Oz's struggling campaign.

"Then there’s the second camp of MAGA candidates, which includes the likes of Blake Masters, the Peter Thiel protégé who literally has the backing of some of the Internet's most well-known white nationalists. (Masters has attempted to distance himself from this community.) One of several extremists on the ballot in Arizona, where election deniers Kari Lake and Mark Finchem are respectively running for governor and secretary of state, Masters is trailing Democrat Mark Kelly by eight points, according to a Fox News poll released this week," Lutz reported. "None of this to say to say that these bumbling extremists can’t win; if a country is capable of electing Trump president, Georgia is certainly capable of electing a guy like Walker. But McConnell’s apparent sense that this batch of bozos might dash GOP dreams of a Senate majority may be well-founded, even if midterms tend to favor the party that doesn’t control the White House."

Lutz thought McConnell only has himself to blame.

"Establishment types in the GOP like McConnell have long had obvious contempt for the Trumpier figures in their party — not just because of their hard-right politics, which McConnell has spent his career championing, but because of their unrefined and personality-driven approach," Lutz wrote. 'In reality, the Senate minority leader only has himself to blame for the rise of these dangerous weirdos. If they truly have distaste for this slate of candidates, they could take a stand. But they probably won’t, even if they have to cut some of their losses — including with what one GOP strategist described to Politico as “unreal” spending slashes in key races."

Jonathan Chait was thinking along the same lines in New York magazine.

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"The party Establishment decided to treat Trump’s coup as a minor detail they could put to the side. Confronting the insurrection would open a damaging schism within the party," Chait wrote. "Yet the party Establishment has persisted in believing Trump’s influence is the result of choices other than their own refusal to confront him."

Chait explained why failing to win back the Senate may be required for the GOP to move on from Trump.

"In a just world, the Republican Establishment would pay a dear price for its cowardice. In reality, the price is likely to be bearable," Chait wrote. "The Establishment is not worried about kooks being elected. It is worried about the kooks losing to Democrats. But the price, while too small, is nonetheless real. It may well make the difference between Republicans gaining and losing the Senate. And given that power is the only language Republicans seem to understand, the best hope defenders of democracy have is that the Republicans underperform in the midterm elections, and the party Establishment comes to regret its appeasement of Trump."

On MSNBC's Morning Joe, former GOP Rep. Joe Scarborough noted Trump was the first president since Herbert Hoover to lose the White House and both houses of Congress in four years may be on course to lose again.

Former RNC Chair Michael Steele expected the trend to continue.

"There is not one among them, who wear pants, who will stand up to him," Steele said.

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