A number of self-funded Republicans embroiled in bitter primary fights for Senate nominations are getting traction. These include Wil Cardon in Arizona (running against Represenatative Jeff Flake), Eric Hovde in Wisconsin (running against former governor Tommy Thompson and Representative Mark Neumann), John Brunner in Missouri (running against former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and Representative Todd Akin), and Linda McMahon in Connecticut (running against former representative Chris Shays). None of them have held elective office before, which means they have no record for opposition researchers to pick apart. On the other hand, all of them are Tea Party favorites, and recent history shows that when a Tea Party candidate defeats the establishment favorite in the primary, the Democrats are often able to hang onto a seat they would otherwise have lost (think: Delaware, Colorado, and Nevada in 2010). In all four of the above cases, the late date of the primary makes the problem even greater since there is less time for intra-party wounds to heal. If the establishment candidate must weather attacks through August, the winner can't expect the loser and his supporters to instantly forget everything on Sept. 1 and enthusiastically support the person who had attacked them so bitterly only weeks ago.
These aren't the only tight races, of course. Massachusetts, Montana, North Dakota, Virginia, Indiana, and Florida are all expected to be close. Strategists for both parties are busy looking at all scenarios, but nobody really knows what is going to happen. There are too many unknowns at this point.
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