Republicans could blow this Senate seat, again

(DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Released)

The Briefing, Vol. VII, Issue 17

This week:

  • Biden’s target vote
  • Bentley for Senate? Republicans cringe
  • Kansas abortion ruling may prompt backlash

Governor 2019

Kentucky: Yes, it’s his own poll, but the survey showing Attorney General Andy Beshear, D, as the prohibitive frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for governor is probably credible.

Democrats are chomping at the bit to face Gov. Matt Bevin, R, because he is weak. His confrontation with the state’s teachers’ unions has dramatically harmed his re-election chances. Don’t count Bevin out — he was the underdog when he won in 2015 — but count him down.

Governor 2020

West Virginia: Sen. Joe Manchin keeps talking about running for governor, and it’s gotten to the point that he has to be taken seriously. His reasons are not hard to fathom — in Washington, he is caught between his conservative constituents and his party leadership. In West Virginia, he can lead his state party and do as he likes.

Manchin’s seat will likely go Republican whenever it opens up. A Manchin victory for governor could bring that about two years early, so it’s worth keeping in back of one’s mind.

President 2020

Arizona: President Trump’s team recognizes early on that Arizona could potentially be a problem in 2020. It’s a state where Trump underperformed, and where the Republican candidate for Senate lost in 2018. With appointed Sen. Marthy McSally, R, on the ballot again in 2020, and Trump absolutely needing the state’s 11 electoral votes to win, the RNC is pouring resources into the state already, 18 months before the general election.

This is fitting. Arizona, not Texas, has always been the first shoe waiting to drop in the Southwest in terms of turning from Red to Blue — among other things, its Hispanic population is much more Democratic than are Hispanics are in Texas.

In 2016, Republicans believed that Hillary Clinton was on pace to win Arizona right up until James Comey announced that the FBI had reopened its investigation into her email server.

Biden: Former Vice President Joe Biden is in the race, of course. He doesn’t have President Obama’s endorsement, but he has his own dedicated moderate lane in the race.

This might cause you to wonder why he has hired the radical Symone Sanders, a former Bernie Sanders (no relation) press secretary who habitually appears on cable television to blame white people and whiteness for all of the world’s problems.

You may wonder why someone like Biden, whose moderation should be his greatest advantage, would hire someone so filled with cynicism, racial animus and hostility toward even Biden himself. Two issues. First, his problem is that the Left doesn’t want to see him overcome a crowded field. They still want blood for Anita Hill.

Second, Biden’s moderation strategy requires heavy black support. Conservatives may think of blacks as liberal voters, but the fact is they are the moderates tethering the Democratic Party to reality at the moment. The party’s white urban core is pulling it to the left, but its black plurality is requiring a continued focus on economic over social issues and on practical populism over socialism.

Even though he served as President Obama’s vice president, Biden cannot take black support for granted in a race where at least two other credible black candidates are running.

Meanwhile, there’s one other, much smaller faction within the Democratic Party that is rooting for Biden: The moderate members of Congress who were elected in 2018 to Red-leaning seats. For these members, Hotline’s Ally Mutnick noted, Biden is a non-toxic leader at the top of the ticket. In contrast, a Sanders candidacy could create unpredictable and chaotic clashes of messaging that could prove fatal for many Democrats’ chances.

Moulton: Yes, but will Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass, run for president this year? That’s a question that no one has ever asked. The congressman joined the Democrats’ already-crowded field and frankly, we doubt that most people will ever hear about it. Perhaps running for president is just on some people’s bucket list.

Senate 2020

Alabama: Former Gov. Robert Bentley, R, was forced to resign in disgrace two years ago, but that doesn’t mean he’ll rule out running for Senate. This doesn’t mean he’ll actually do it, but Alabama Republicans have to feel a bit queasy about the possibility that the two most unelectable men in their state — he and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore — could conceivably make a runoff for the GOP nomination in a crowded primary based on name recognition.

Kansas: Former Rep. Nancy Boyda, D, is supposed to make a decision about running for Senate within the next two months. She would be among the stronger possible Democratic candidates, but she reportedly recognizes that she would have long odds.

Still, the political dynamic in Kansas may change radically as a result of an event last week. The Kansas Supreme Court’s rather preposterous ruling last week that the state constitution’s guarantee of a right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” requires late-term dismemberment abortions to be legal could create a voter backlash.

Meanwhile, the Trump White House is meeting with some potential Republican candidates to replace the retiring Sen. Pat Roberts, R.