One of the first opportunities for Republicans to demonstrate that they’re not the “stupid party,” in the words of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, will be the way its leaders handle some sticky Senate primaries already emerging for 2014. In many battleground states, stepping forward are a handful of not-ready-for-prime-time, gaffe-prone candidates who are well-positioned to win primaries but at risk of getting thumped in a general election.
If this sounds like a broken record, it is. Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, and Ken Buck cost the party two Senate seats in 2010. Last year, it was Todd Akin's and Richard Mourdock’s chance to damage the GOP on the national stage. The only difference between this upcoming midterm and the past two elections is that it’s now so painfully obvious what’s transpiring, yet party leaders are still trying to figure out how to prevent a crisis before it’s too late.
Iowa Rep. Steve King, an anti-immigration hard-liner, is already giving serious consideration to the Senate race for the seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin. Joe Miller, who lost in 2010 to a write-in candidate, is reportedly talking to the National Republican Senatorial Committee about a repeat run in Alaska. A Georgia House member who accused President Obama of following the Soviet constitution is probably running to succeed retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, and another who defended Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment is considering a campaign. Meanwhile, Rep. Michele Bachmann is waiting in the wings in Minnesota, as a possible contender against Sen. Al Franken.Reed Galen writes at RealClearPolitics:
Our problem is not how we “frame” our arguments. It’s that our arguments don’t fit the views of the national electorate: A majority of Americans found our solutions uncompelling. All the data mining, social media interaction and television advertising won’t do a bit of good if our messages and messengers aren’t powerful and believable.
If we don’t give voters a proactive, positive and hopeful alternative to the current state of affairs, there’s no reason for them to give us a first look, let alone a second. The way we discuss issues -- from abortion to immigration -- are so negative that women, minorities and younger voters want little, if anything, to do with us.
There is hope, though. Although Mitt Romney lost nearly all of the battleground states last year, the GOP currently holds governorships in 10 of them. Wisconsin’s Scott Walker survived a recall effort led by well-funded labor interests. Susana Martinez in New Mexico and Brian Sandoval in Nevada have shown that a Republican can win in states with large and growing Latino populations.The question is whether gubernatorial elections are fundamentally different from elections to federal office. The issues and expectations at one level do not necessarily carry over to the other. Tommy Thompson (WI) and Linda Lingle (HI) were successful, popular governors of blue states, but the failed in their 2012 Senate bids.