I particularly liked Gail Collins’ piece in yesterday’s New York Times. She injects a bit of humour into an otherwise depressing situation.
Whoops! Behold the Republican Trove of Truly Terrible Candidates.
By Gail Collins
5 October 2022
Down to the finish line, people. Elections just about a month away. A ton of races to keep track of, but if you’re looking for diversion, you’ll find some of the Senate campaigns really … unusual.
In a normal year — OK, let’s just admit there hasn’t been any such thing for ages. But if normal years existed in American politics and this was one of them, we could reasonably assume the Republicans were going to be big winners. You know, two years after one party takes control in Washington, voters have a tendency to rise up in remorse and throw out whoever’s been in.
Except — whoops — the Republicans have assembled a trove of truly terrible candidates. You’d almost think the party honchos met in secret and decided that running the Senate was too much of a pain, and that they needed to gather some nominees who would guarantee they could keep lazing around in the minority.
I know you know that we have to begin this discussion with Herschel Walker.
A few days ago, Georgia looked like a prime possibility for a turnover. It tilts strongly toward the G.O.P., and Walker seemed like your normal Republican candidate by 2022 standards — terrible, yeah, but with some political pluses. His autobiography vividly described a spectacular rise to sports, school and business success after a childhood in which “I was an outcast, a stuttering-stumpy-fat-poor-other-side-of-the-railroad-tracks-living-stupid-country boy.”
On the minus side, Walker was a tad, well, fictional on points ranging from his academic and business achievements to the number of his children.
Walker also has a very angry and social media-skilled son who describes him as a terrible father to four kids by four different women, who “wasn’t in the house raising one of them.”
Plus, Walker seems totally out to lunch when it comes to … issue stuff. He attacked Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act with its emphasis on halting global warming, as did many, many conservatives. But I’m pretty sure Walker was the only one who argued that “we have enough trees.”
So maybe not a perfect pick for a candidate to run against incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock, a longtime public speaker, community activist and pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s old church. But hey, Walker was a really good football player! And a Donald Trump fave!
As the whole world now knows, The Daily Beast reported that one of Walker’s ex-girlfriends says that he’d paid for her to have an abortion, producing the check for $700 along with … a get-well card.
Rather problematic for a candidate who calls for a “no exceptions” abortion ban. Walker denied the whole thing, except the hard-to-ignore check. “I send money to a lot of people,” he told Fox News. As only he can.
Walker isn’t the only awful candidate the Republicans are fielding in critical races. In New Hampshire, a Democratic senator, Maggie Hassan, is running for re-election to a seat she won by only about 1,000 votes last time around.
The Republicans had it made. All the party had to do was avoid nominating somebody off the wall, like Don Bolduc, a retired general who the Republican governor, Chris Sununu, called a “conspiracy-theory extremist.”
Surprise! Bolduc won the primary. And the way he’s handling his victory makes you think he was as shocked as the party leaders. From the beginning of his campaign, he’d told voters that he was positive Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election. In August, he was assuring them, “I’m not switching horses, baby.” Then, after he got the nomination in September, he, um, wavered. (“What I can say is that we have irregularity.”)
This is the same guy who vowed to “always fight” for the life-begins-at-conception principle. But we live now in a political world where Republicans are discovering, to their shock, that people don’t want to be told what to do about their reproduction choices. Bolduc is now rejecting Lindsey Graham’s proposal for a federal ban on abortion after 15 weeks. (“Doesn’t make sense.”)
In the Republican search for terrible candidates for winnable races, we can’t overlook Arizona. It’s a very tough state for Democrats. The incumbent, Mark Kelly, won the seat after John McCain’s death with the power of his story — an astronaut who took his wife’s place as family politician after she was shot in the head while meeting with constituents. Many of his supporters feared he’d be doomed to defeat in a year like 2022.
Enter Blake Masters, the Trump-backed Republican nominee who appeared in one early campaign ad toting a short-barreled rifle that he kinda boasted was designed not for hunting but “to kill people.”
Masters, a venture capitalist, rose into political prominence with the enthusiastic backing of Peter Thiel, billionaire megadonor. You certainly cannot dismiss a candidate with that kind of money, even if he does have a history of blaming gun violence on “Black people, frankly” and making a video while dressed in war paint in which he makes fun of people who worry about “cultural insensitivity.”
Lots to look out for, particularly if you’re not interested in baseball playoffs or another “Halloween” movie in which Jamie Lee Curtis does battle with Michael Myers. Hey, you don’t need to go to a movie theater to be horrified. Just think what the Senate would be like if these guys win.