So far, 5 more or less mainstream Republican senators have announced they're not running for reelection: Rob Portman (OH), Roy Blunt (MO), Richard Burr (NC), Pat Toomey (PA) and Richard Shelby (AL). Still deciding are 3 more relatively mainstream Republicans: John Thune (SD), Chuck Grassley (IA) and Lisa Murkowski (AK). [There is also one fascist extremist who may retire, Ron Johnson (WI).] There is a chance that some combination of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa and Alaska could flip blue. But in his Politico piece this morning, Trump acolytes poised to push out Senate dealmakers, Marc Caputo looked at what would happen if these institutionalists are replaced by fascists and extremists, not just in primaries (likely) but in general elections (less likely). "If Senate Republicans seem conservative now," Caputo teased, "just wait until next year. The 2022 midterms could usher in a wave of full-spectrum MAGA supporters who would turn the GOP conference an even deeper shade of red-- and make the Senate a lot more like the fractious House." If it sounds like he's talking about insurrectionist Mo Brooks, he is-- and then some.
McConnell doesn't want to lose any seats, but losing them to fascists will be nearly as bad for him as losing them to Democrats. The 3 leading Republicans to replace Burr and a Trump-endorsed neo-Nazi, Ted Budd, and two others trying to show they are as extreme-- and as devoted to Trump and Trumpism-- as he is. The 4 top nuts hoping to replace Toomey are all ignoring the general and have implemented strictly primary strategies that will kill them in the general; all are demanding an audit of the Pennsylvania 2020 presidential election, popular among Republicans, hated by normal people. In Ohio, half a dozen Republicans are fighting each other for the title of most extreme. The leading contender in Missouri, disgraced former governor Eric Greitens, is not just a fascist, he's also a sexual predator driven from office 3 years ago in an s&m scandal that no voters in the state have forgotten about.
Most of the leading GOP candidates are not deal-makers or even remotely interested in governance or democracy. They're third-rate ideologues, crooks and seditionists-- not unlike the Hate Talk Radio and Fox News cultivated-and-trained Republican base. Greitens, for example, appears to be running against Blunt! "Unfortunately, Roy Blunt has been out siding with Mitch McConnell. He’s been criticizing the president of the United States over what happened on Jan. 6. He’s been criticizing the president of the United States for not coming to Joe Biden's inauguration, where obviously, everyone in Missouri, saw Roy Blunt there."
“Trump has reshaped the Republican Party. We’re now a blue-collar party. We're an America first party,” said Michael Whatley, the chair of the North Carolina GOP. “It’s a different party than it was when [retiring Missouri Sen.] Roy Blunt and Richard Burr first got elected. And I don't think the party is going back. It’s tough on China, protect the border, fight for the Second Amendment, fight for life. That has been an enormously popular agenda with the base.”
...“All of these [retiring senators] are good communicators, but their style is different. They enjoy moving legislation along behind the scenes. That’s what they’re good at and that’s why they're in the Senate,” said the strategist, who spoke freely on condition of anonymity. “Politics certainly on our side-- and I think across the board-- is becoming more of a very public, very vocal fight over the issues. Sometimes that can lead to results, but it's less about what’s happening behind the scenes and moving the football a yard at a time down the field and it’s more, maybe, of a Hail Mary on every snap.”
Those stylistic distinctions are glaring in Alabama, where Trump has endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks for retiring Sen. Richard Shelby’s seat. Brooks, a House Freedom Caucus member, is best known for speaking at the Jan. 6 rally in Washington that preceded the Capitol riots and urging the crowd to "start taking down names and kicking ass."
Shelby, who’s chaired both the Appropriations and Banking committees, is Alabama’s longest-serving senator. In a sign of his productive relationship with current Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Leahy released a statement upon Shelby’s retirement describing him as “a true statesman, and a man of his word.“
Trump paired his endorsement of Brooks with criticism of McConnell and Shelby, who is backing his former chief of staff, Katie Britt, in the race.
“I see that the RINO Senator from Alabama, close friend of Old Crow Mitch McConnell, Richard Shelby, is pushing hard to have his ‘assistant’ fight the great Mo Brooks for his Senate seat,” Trump said in a recent written statement that used the acronym for a “Republican in name only.”
In almost all of the Senate races this cycle, Democrats have to decide between Republican-lite supporters of the status quo-- like Conor Lamb or Val Arkoosh in Pennsylvania; Tim Ryan in Ohio; Jeff Jackson or Cheri Beasley in North Carolina; Val Demings in Florida; Scott Sifton or Quinton Lucas in Missouri; Sarah Godlewski or Alex Lasry in Wisconsin; Abby Finkenauer in Iowa-- or actual Democrats who support Democratic Party ideals and values... like the men and women you'll find by clicking on the Blue America 2022 Senate thermometer on the left. If you can, please consider contributing to any or all of these candidates... to keep the Senate out iff the hands of fascist Republicans or conservative Democrats-- because as bad as Ted Budd and Eric Greitens are, who needs more Joe Manchins and Kyrsten Sinemas?
When I asked Florida progressive Alan Grayson for his take on this, he pointed me to Gresham's Law. "Gresham’s Law, in monetary policy, says that 'the bad drives out the good.' That happened to the GOP around 60 years ago. Then the GOP went through a period of the worse driving out the bad. Now, it’s the nuts driving out the merely corrupt. Soon, they’ll start wearing three-cornered Tea Party hats, like they did in 2010, but they’ll be made of tin foil."