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Candidate Quality, 2022

So who are these low quality Senate candidates that McConnell is already blaming for a likely GOP bust in November? David Drucker, writing for billionaire Philip Anschutz’s right-wing website, the Washington Examiner, went through the list one by one. In way of introduction, he wrote that “Fresh doubts about the Republican Party’s chances of winning Senate control in midterm elections are being fueled by a slate of first-time candidates struggling to find their footing against seasoned Democratic competition. Initial projections suggested a red tidal wave might sweep Republicans to power in November, ousting Democrats from Georgia to Washington state and New Hampshire to Arizona. With Labor Day and the homestretch of the fall campaign approaching, the GOP is suddenly fighting to defend seats in red states like Ohio and swing states like Pennsylvania. The culprit? Candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump who were ill-prepared for the general election… Republican Senate contenders propelled to the nomination by Trump— and in certain cases, the support of a single wealthy donor— have labored to adapt to a general election in which they are required to shoulder more of the campaign load than in the primary, and against strong Democratic candidates.”

He started with the rumored ex-lover of billionaire no-Nazi Peter Thiel, Blake Masters in Arizona, who had just scrubbed his website of the extremist positions that helped him win the Republican primary. Drucker described him as “a 36-year-old first-time candidate running as a Trump acolyte in a swing state,” while noting that “Masters has a history of making controversial statements, the sort that aren’t necessarily controversial except in the context of a political campaign. He lacks message discipline, sounding off on various topics beyond skyrocketing inflation and other issues voters are most concerned about. And Masters is not surrounded by the most experienced of advisers, useful for candidates like him who have never run for office. Masters’s opposition to abortion rights, which he is trying to recast as support for commonsense restrictions, is causing problems with women. ‘His biggest problem is his reluctance to listen,’ a Republican operative in Arizona said. ‘He is the smartest guy in the room and surrounds himself with people who are yes-men.’ Despite there being 10-plus weeks to go before Election Day, some Republicans have concluded Masters is a lost cause. On Friday, Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), canceled $8 million in television advertising previously allocated to the state.”

He then moved on to Georgia where, he wrote, former football player Herschel Walker’s “acute unfamiliarity with the issues and seeming lack of preparation have been striking. Voters are often receptive to fresh ideas and plainspokenness; they can prefer it, in fact, to overly polished presentations and positions that lean toward doing things the way they are always done (see: Trump). But Walker appears to have neither— ideas, fresh or otherwise, nor plainspokenness, versus simply appearing confused about the issues. To wit, this was Walker on Sunday, ostensibly criticizing Democratic climate policy. ‘They continue to try to fool you that they are helping you out. But they’re not,’ he said. ‘Because a lot of money, it’s going to trees. Don’t we have enough trees around here?’”

The Trump/Theil candidate in Ohio isn’t a dummy like Walker but the extremist positions he was forced into to win Trump’s backing and the primary have turned him into a far less attractive candidate than anyone would’ve guessed. “Republicans in Ohio and Washington have complained all summer that Vance’s campaign operation was slow to ramp up to general election speed, and there is extreme dissatisfaction with his fundraising. Indeed, there was so much angst about Vance’s ability to accumulate enough resources that McConnell’s super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, announced plans to spend $28 million in Ohio as an Election Day insurance policy. Some Republicans are sniping that if Vance were taking care of business, that money could have been spent on GOP candidates in reach states, such as Colorado and Washington.”

Mehmet Oz is probably the biggest loser of the Trump Senate candidates “Some Republicans say it’s subpar campaign messaging. Some say he is mishandling Fetterman’s illness, allowing the lieutenant governor to avoid political blowback. Some are griping that he is not raising enough money— especially for a celebrity candidate running in a top race in a targeted swing state. And, there are still some Republicans who carp that Oz is not believable as a conservative, Trump’s endorsement notwithstanding. But ultimately, Oz’s many possible problems boil down to one obvious big problem: He’s from New Jersey. Indeed, being such a recent transplant, and having transplanted simply to use Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat to launch a new career, Oz might as well still live in New Jersey as far as many voters are concerned. ‘The carpetbagger thing has hurt him because it hasn’t allowed him to get on track with the issues that really matter,’ a Republican insider in Pennsylvania said. ‘They defined him early as a carpetbagger, and he has to parry against that with everything he does.’”

Even the weakest Democratic candidates, Cheri Beasley (NC) and Val Demings (FL) suddenly have some wind at their backs. Neither is likely to win, but both are no longer looking like corpses. In North Carolina, the Supreme Court anti-abortion ruling “might be the catalyst their party needed to reinvigorate its political prospects in what was shaping up to be a losing year… Now less than 100 days out from the election, the question for North Carolina Democrats is whether outrage over diminishing abortion access in one of the South’s few remaining safe havens can generate enough political momentum for the party to hold its ground.”

About 30,000 North Carolina residents have registered to vote since the Supreme Court abortion ruling, with women slightly outnumbering men, according to state Board of Elections data. Democratic strategists expect suburban, college educated women will be a key demographic in deciding the makeup of North Carolina’s legislature in November and that abortion will be an important issue for them.
…Abortion access is also expected to play a key role in the state’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, who is backed by former President Donald Trump. North Carolina is one of the few states where Democrats have a strong shot at flipping a seat in the 50-50 chamber, making Beasley’s campaign a vital component of the party’s plan to codify abortion rights into federal law.

The sad thing about the Republican Party candidate quality is that it is a painfully accurate reflection of the party's base voter quality. There's no way around that. It was bad enough in 2016 when 62,984,828 (46.1%) of them voted for Trump. But it's really inexcusable that after 4 years of seeing him in action, 74,216,154 (46.9%) of our countrymen voted for him. And millions of them would love to vote for him again, not despite this kind of nonsense but because of it:

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