These Senate Contests Are Crucial, Too
November 2, 2012 by Chip Wood
With all of the focus on the race for the White House, let’s not forget about some other crucial elections on Tuesday. It looks like the Republicans are a lock to retain control of the House. That’s encouraging, since the Constitution requires that all spending bills originate there. If the House won’t approve it, the President can’t spend it (not that this has had much impact on the big spenders in Washington in the past).
One of the blessings we got after the midterm elections in 2010 was that Nancy Pelosi was no longer the Speaker of the House of Representatives. One of the biggest disappointments was that Harry Reid retained his incredibly powerful post as Majority Leader of the Senate. He has used that position to keep every piece of reform legislation approved in the House from coming to a vote.
All of that could change on Tuesday — assuming the Republicans can win four more seats in the Senate than they hold now. Remember, unless there is a conservative majority in the Senate, there is not a chance that Obamacare will be repealed, that the bailouts will end, that any entitlements will be reformed, that the budget will be balanced or that the deficit will be reduced — even if Mitt Romney occupies the White House.
As Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) pointed out in an advertisement, “A president can campaign on good policies, but he doesn’t write the bills. As long as liberals are in charge of writing legislation, it will be difficult for a Republican president to sign the right bills into law.”
If Romney does enjoy the landslide victory that my colleague Wayne Allen Root has been predicting for months, the tide should be strong enough to carry a bunch of Republican Senatorial candidates to victory. That is far from a sure thing, however, so I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.
I did uncross them long enough to send some support to several candidates I thought deserved it and a couple of organizations that have been doing good work in some key elections. Two of my favorites in this category are Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund.
Here’s a look at some of the most important Senate races I’ll be watching the closest next week:
One victory we’re sure to be celebrating is Ted Cruz as the new junior Senator from Texas. The polls there are predicting that the Tea Party favorite will defeat his liberal opponent, Paul Sadler, by a huge margin. Texas has become one of the reddest of the red States in recent years — something that must have Lyndon B. Johnson spinning in his grave. The key to victory for Cruz was winning the Republican primary, where he enjoyed a come-from-behind victory over an establishment Republican.
Nebraska is another State that’s looking pretty good for conservatives. This where a political upstart, Deb Fischer, shot to the front of the pack in the Republican primary after she received a powerful endorsement from Sarah Palin. So much for all of the mudslinging that the 2008 Vice Presidential nominee and former Alaskan Governor doesn’t have any influence anymore in the Lower 48. Fischer’s opponent is Bob Kerry, a former Senator who moved to New York City after losing his seat in 2001. Kerry has a well-financed campaign and is running some nasty attack ads against Fisher. But so far, the polls say she has a comfortable lead over the liberal carpetbagger.
Things also look good in Arizona, where the latest Rasmussen poll says conservative Congressman Jeff Flake enjoys a six-point lead over his liberal opponent, Richard Carmona. The Democratic Senatorial Committee and Majority PAC, a political action committee linked to Reid, are pouring millions of dollars into this race and are running some incredibly dishonest ads. One doozy shows Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl appearing to endorse Carmona — without mentioning that the comments are from when he was up for appointment as surgeon general. Both men have endorsed Flake in the current election and have complained loudly about the misuse of their remarks. Here’s hoping that the deceitful strategy fails as badly as the Barack Obama campaign’s efforts to demonize Romney and Paul Ryan.
Things are neck and neck in Indiana between the Republican nominee, Richard Mourdock, and his Democratic opponent, Joe Donnelly. Mourdock is the guy who knocked off a RINO icon, Dick Lugar, in the primary there. Hopefully, Romney will win the State’s 11 electoral votes by a wide margin and his success will help carry Mourdock to victory.
A lot of political prognosticators say that Ohio is the most important battleground State of all. “Whoever wins Ohio wins the Presidency” is the popular sentiment. I disagree. With enough Republican victories in other States, it’s mathematically possible for Romney to lose the popular vote and still win the White House. Still, a Republican victory in the Buckeye State will make things much, much easier. And it would also help conservative challenger Josh Mandel defeat the liberal incumbent, Sherrod Brown, in the Senate race there. If the Republicans are going to gain a majority in the Senate, it’s crucial to win this one.
Virginia is another key battleground State, both for the Presidency and for the Senate. As I write this, the Rasmussen poll indicates conservative challenger George Allen is trailing his liberal opponent, Tim Kaine, by just one point. That’s well within the margin of error and makes the State too close to call, the pollsters say. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Romney and Allen will both emerge as winners here.
A few months ago, I would not have included Pennsylvania in a “conservatives can win this” column. But even the Democrats acknowledge that there has been a huge surge for Romney in recent weeks. The rising Republican tide has also lifted the prospects of conservative challenger Tom Smith, who is running against liberal incumbent Bob Casey for the Senate seat there. Both sides and the super PACS are spending a fortune in the State. A Republican victory is pretty important, if not crucial, to win the White House and gain a majority in the Senate.
So there are seven Senate races I’ll be watching very closely next week. Conservatives have a very good chance to chalk up victories in all of them. If they do, I will be proud to have played some small part in making it happen.
I’m not nearly as optimistic about the outcome in Florida, where I currently live, or in Massachusetts, where I lived many years ago. It will be a cinch for Obama to carry the Bay State by a wide margin. And the Democratic victory there will probably be enough to enable that faux Indian, Elizabeth Warren, to take the Senate seat away from Scott Brown. Ah well, it was nice to see Ted Kennedy’s seat in Republican hands for a while.
I’m pretty sure the Romney/Ryan ticket will carry the day in Florida. There won’t even be enough hanging chads to fight over. But that doesn’t mean that Connie Mack will be able to move up from the House to the Senate. Right now, it appears that Bill Nelson, the Democrat incumbent, will win re-election by a narrow margin.
When all the results are known, I suspect we will be celebrating a wonderful early Christmas present when it’s confirmed that Reid will no longer be the Majority Leader of the Senate. That means he will no longer be able to prevent votes being taken on all of the good legislation (and even some of the not-so-good stuff) I expect to see passed in the House of Representatives.
That’s my take on some of the other crucial elections coming up Tuesday. If I’ve missed one that you think is important, please take a moment to click on the “comment” key below and tell us about it.
Next week, we’ll talk about what happened on Tuesday and what it means for our country. Until then, keep your hopes up — and some powder dry.