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Top-Tier GOP Senate Candidates a Hard Sell for Some Open Seats

Unless some Republican stars get into the race, the GOP is likely to blow another golden opportunity to take control of the Senate.

by
Rick Moran

Bio

April 27, 2013 - 9:09 am

Republican recruiters are finding it slow going in convincing top-tier candidates to run for open Senate seats in some states that the GOP needs to fashion a majority in 2014.

In other states, GOP leadership is having difficulty in heading off expensive primaries for Senate candidates who will probably face well-known, well-financed Democrats. The Democrats have done well so far in identifying and recruiting first-rate candidates with name recognition and fundraising abilities in Iowa, Michigan, and probably Montana, where popular former governor Brian Schweitzer is expected to run for the seat left vacant by retiring Senator Max Baucus.

In Iowa, the national party is in scramble mode, hoping to head off the candidacy of Rep. Steve King, a strong conservative and tea party favorite. King hasn’t declared yet, but that hasn’t stopped the GOP leadership from frantically searching for an alternative:

The party’s top national Senate campaign strategists are so concerned about squandering potential opportunities by failing to persuade popular Republicans to run in critical states that they were in Iowa last week to survey the landscape. The visit came after top Senate prospects U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, a prolific fundraiser, and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, a rising star, decided against running despite aggressive lobbying by the National Republican Senate Committee.

The committee’s senior spokesman, Kevin McLaughlin, and its political director, Ward Baker, met privately Wednesday with state Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and state Sen. Joni Ernst, who have expressed interest.

They invited Mark Jacobs, the former CEO of Reliant Energy, to breakfast Thursday. They also tried again, and in vain, it turns out, to persuade Terry Branstad, Iowa’s longest-serving governor, to run for Senate instead of seeking another term as governor.

Despite all that, the Washington delegation shrugged off the recruitment troubles. “It’s more important to take the time to get it right than it is to rush and get it wrong,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin and others have lamented the national party’s decision not to intervene in the candidate selection last year, when Republicans lost races viewed as winnable in Indiana, Missouri and elsewhere.

The mission in Iowa for 2014 is to beat Democrat Bruce Braley, a four-term congressman trying to succeed retiring six-term Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. Braley is the party’s consensus prospect. He’s won Harkin’s endorsement and already has raised more than $1 million for his campaign.

In Michigan, GOP brass is working hard to draw former FBI agent and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers into the race. Currently, only little-known libertarian Congressman Justin Amash has indicated any interest in running, and he is reportedly being pressured by both Ron Paul and Rand Paul to forgo a shot at the upper chamber in order to remain in the House as the primary libertarian spokesman in the Republican Party. Neither man will be favored against three-term Rep. Gary Peters, who has the strong backing of both the state and national Democratic Party.

Republican chances in both Iowa and Michigan — even with open seats — have always been less than stellar. Both states have have been unfriendly to conservatives in recent elections and President Obama won both states comfortably in 2012.

It’s a different story in Georgia and West Virginia where Republican leaders are actively seeking to discourage candidates they believe can’t win while trying to cajole other candidates into entering the race:

National Republican officials also are working to head off primaries in several states and are taking sides when they can’t. That includes in West Virginia, which Republican president nominee Mitt Romney won in 2012 and where six-term Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller is retiring.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito quickly announced her candidacy and became a favorite of the GOP establishment. Some conservatives complained about her votes for financial industry bailouts, and former state Sen. Patrick McGeehan has announced plans to challenge her.

National Republican Senate Committee officials said they would campaign and run ads against McGeehan if he appeared to be a threat.

In Georgia, several Republican candidates are considering trying to succeed the retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss. But so far, the two who have entered the race are arch conservative House members Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey.

National Republicans are treading carefully to avoid enraging the conservative base in Georgia. But the primary field could eventually include up to a half-dozen people.

Threatening to run ads against a candidate the national party doesn’t like is stupid politics. It only alienates party regulars who see such blundering interference as evidence that the national GOP is out of touch with the people. Broun and Gingrey have little chance at winning the primary given their narrow appeal even to Republicans. Instead of fretting over picking the “right” candidate, the GOP should be positioning itself to support whichever candidate comes out on top. In a state where the GOP nominee is very likely to win regardless of who ends up on the ballot, there are going to be a lot of ambitious people running for the chance. Nothing the national party does can stop that process.

Still, it is worrisome that so many potentially excellent candidates are remaining on the sidelines. After all, this isn’t 2012, when, a year out, there was a distinct possibility that it was going to be a Democratic year. That possibility probably scared off more than a few Republicans. More likely, the reluctance of some potential GOP candidates could be attributed to the early start by Democrats in some states where they seem to have coalesced around a single candidate a lot earlier than usual and aggressively begun to fundraise, putting them far ahead of any potential Republican rival.

With six open seats to defend of the 21 Democratic seats up for grabs in 2014, one would think the Republicans could glean an advantage. But unless some party stars get off the sidelines and into the race, Republicans are likely to blow another golden opportunity to take control of the Senate.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I pretty much ignore both of you fellows. The 'moderate message' is a muddled mess. What you are really saying is that the large majority of the electorate has no real values - you may be right, but it is still true that you stand for something or nothing at all. And Reagan was kinetic evidence that professing belief and optimism based on some real advocacy of morality in politics does work, and proves both of you committed amoralists wrongs.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The GOP establishment is pooping in its pants at the thought of Steve King winning in Iowa. He's not one of them, so they say if he wins the primary they "will be squandering" their chances. The Republican Party deserves our contempt; its primary aim is to keep intact its power-sharing arrangement with the Democrat leftists. The Party could disappear tomorrow and the country would be better for it. This 62-year-old lifelong Republican is finished with them. They stink like rotting fish consumed with maggots.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"In Iowa, the national party is in scramble mode, hoping to head off the candidacy of Rep. Steve King, a strong conservative and tea party favorite. "

Stupid Party only wants stupid establishment candidates.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (28)
All Comments   (28)
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It may be a coincidence, but this over-use of the "report" button seems to have begun at about the same time Zeke 1 started to post here. I know people "report" him all the time because what he says never contributes to the points being made and is sometimes insulting and abusive. I've never personally used that button myself, but I have had the pleasure of reading all the comments curtailed because of all the "reports" of the good posts, presumably perpetrated by this Zeke person. I don't think we need any better example of why we're conservatives and he is not - it's grown-ups vs. the children. Perhaps if people stopped "reporting" him he'd just go away.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
WOW!!!! You make some wild assumptions -- very wrong wild assumptions!

All the report abuse dosen't bother me in the least. I say what I want to say and move on to the next comment. I thinks theres clinical diagnosis for people who think they should be in control of everything and what others think, say and do. If you're the grownup you purport, then you wouldn't be wasting your time posting off topic over silly abuses of some report feature.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Freke1 has a really warped view of reality. Somehow, if rational people suggest that other rational people ignore him/her, he/she interprets that as a violation of his constitutional rights or a desire to control others. He/she suffers from a persecution complex.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Right on brother. For months, I've been saying that people should ignore cancerous tumors like Jim Harrishmuck and Freke1. If people do, then Harrishmuck and Freke1 will wither away like cirrhotic livers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Leave it to Repub leaders to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It looks more and more like Animal Farm with each election cycle...God help us all.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think all this angst and hand-wringing about an election that won't take place for over a year is counterproductive. The Democrats are the ones who decide in DC who is acceptable and the voters fall in line because the only guiding principle in that party is the accumulation of power and everyone knows it. The Republicans are guided by deeply held and widely varied principles and this makes our party's process messier and more emotional. We actually care and think about the beliefs held by our candidates, our candidates are more nuanced and we are more thoughtful in choosing them - though that isn't to say that we haven't made some bad mistakes in the past. The tea party wave produced that awful female candidate in Delaware - Christine something (so embarrassing for us I guess I blocked her last name!) - and it's that sort of misguided enthusiasm we have to beware of this time. But we have the luxury of an opposition that, thanks to the Obama fiasco of an administration, is weaker than it's been in a very long time. Let's just stay cool and collected and make the right choices.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"But we have the luxury of an opposition that, thanks to the Obama fiasco of an administration, is weaker than it's been in a very long time."

2012 proved that this isn't true. They proved that they have and can hold a minimum winning coalition in a National election and can govern without so much as a "by your leave" to the Red States. Any Senate race will be Nationalized and the battlegrounds again will be the Purple States and the suburbanites, especially suburban women, and present or former industrial workers in those states. We couldn't have had a worse standard-bearer than Romney in those states and with those constituencies. The fact that he was Mormon gave the left all sorts of opportunity to conjure up paranoia about religious influences on his policy and they some downticket candidates with IQs less than their hat size just helped the left by bring abortion and birth control to the forefront. A "venture capitalist" conjures up the slick MBAs that showed up at the plant one day, laid off a third of the workforce, milked the company dry while paying themselves handsome bonuses, and then bankrupted it, closed the plant, and sent all the guy scrambling for a job wearing a blue vest. In the Purple States, we simply cannot run strong social conservatives or fiscal conservatives that are strongly anti-organized labor - and NO bankers.

In the Red States we can safely have free-for-alls in the Primaries, at least in those states with closed primaries. There is a lot of mischief to be made by SIVVs and Ronulans in Republican primaries that are open or in states that are heavily NP, see, e.g., Maryland and Nevada in '10 and Alaska in '12. Here in Alaska we should be able to recapture Sen. Stevens' seat from Begich with Lt. Gov. Treadwell. The reason I say should rather than will is that there is always the likelihood of some "true conservative" pitching in and splitting the vote. That's how Begich's mentor, Tony Knowles, got to be a two-term governor. Sarah Palin would much rather see the Democrats hold that seat than see anybody supported by the Alaska Republican Party capture it, so her sock puppet Joe Miller is a threat to either run against Treadwell in the Primary or, more likely, run on either the Constitution Party or Alaska Independence Party ticket in the General, bypassing the Primary altogether. It is this sort of stuff that makes the National party want to intervene. Ousting Begich is almost a sure thing so long as we don't nominate a crazy or have some self-annointed "true conservative" go third party. Mine is not the only state with that problem, we just have one of the more prominent problem causers in Sarah Palin.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"2012 proved this isn't true"

In 2012 the Obama people/media had worked for four years to construct an impenetrable wall around the actualities, missteps and atrocities big and small committed by his administration. Their only focus was getting him re-elected and it worked. Now in the 2nd term Obama Fatigue has already begun to wear away at his image, the lies, cover-ups and blunders are being exposed and the whole party will be affected by it. Like it or not - and I DETEST it - on a presidential level image is really all that matters but in local elections like the mid-terms a party with a stinky fish for a leader is in a whole lot of trouble. Republicans not so much. It's an advantage for us, as well as the fact that the oblivious Obamaphone clingers will probably sit this one out.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"the Republicans are guided by deeply held and widely varied principles...." Yeah right...show me the values Karl Rove and Why do you think they call him Dick Morris hold other than their own personal aggrandizement.
The Republican establishment will manage to control the debate enough to give us some useless candidates in 2014 and another hopeless hack in 2016. The beat will go on and the Dhimmicrats will hold power and continue to grind our faces in the dirt and destroy our power as a nation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The national party should be encouraging strong candidates to run, but not by offering them help before they win the nomination. Each state's voters should determine their own nominee, the national party has no legitimate role until they vote.

A central tenet of Republican philosophy is that Washington should not be empowered to pick winners and losers. Physicians, heal thyselves.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
WOW! Where have you been hiding? AGREE!! No states elections should be nationalized by any National party, external special interest persons or groups and the national media. Such is the pure definition of political corruption and needs to STOP!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To All PJMedia Readers:
Please don’t waste your time and energy on the likes of Zeke1. He/she has a completely twisted, skewed and perverted perception of reality. He/she sees the world reflected in a funhouse mirror, much like his/her idol Jim Harrishmuck.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The fact the Republicans won control of Congress in 1994 by nationalizing the campaign clearly indicates where you stand on things like winning.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Again, that durn constitution get in the way of your radicalized thinking process. Guess we might as well do away with the contsitutional states processes and just have nationalized elections -- right?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The GOP establishment is pooping in its pants at the thought of Steve King winning in Iowa. He's not one of them, so they say if he wins the primary they "will be squandering" their chances. The Republican Party deserves our contempt; its primary aim is to keep intact its power-sharing arrangement with the Democrat leftists. The Party could disappear tomorrow and the country would be better for it. This 62-year-old lifelong Republican is finished with them. They stink like rotting fish consumed with maggots.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Suggestion to the Republicans running for Senate in Mass. special election:

Criticize Eric Holder for giving Miranda reading to Tsaranov before it was legally required to do so, thus denying FBI continuing questioning ability. Then ask Ed Markey if he agrees with what DOJ did.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, they can't do that. To demonstrate a proclivity of common sense and placing the burden of clear failure on the establishment, would indicate Republicans are interested in winning instead of hand wringing and grandstanding in Democrat lite fashion.

However, that is one of the best suggestions I have read.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Romney was crushed despite his perfect Establishment score. If Palin or someone close to her views runs in '16, she will be attacked by all those who insist that McCain and Romney pols have the right stuff. Of course, included will be animosity towards her stardom, sex appeal and more. Republican Party looks doomed, or just a facilitator of NDA (New Demographics America), in which the Democrat wins every time..
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This poll pretty much says it all.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/january_2013/just_8_now_say_they_are_tea_party_members

Had not the origianl tea party been hijacked, they might well be a legitimate high-flying powerhouse today, but......... As a consequence, the GOP will probably suffer 2014 and 2016 depending somewhat, on current events.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Of course, it could be that the possible candidates are waiting, so that they do not have to suffer abuse for as long.

It is simply way too early to be worrying about recruiting candidates. Take a break. Wait until 2014.

Moran, your third-to-last paragraph was spot on. However, my problem is your definition of "Republican stars". Name recognition. Skill at money-raising. Who cares? Romney had those things, and he lost a race he should not have lost. How about we worry about whether the guy is articulate and can inspire people? It starts there.

The Party should be worrying about updating their out-dated tech, marketing, and organizing, but they won't. They are more worried about making sure an establishment Republican gets the nod. Everything is subordinate to that. That goes for you, too, Mr. Moran, with your emphasis on name and money. You are the same kind of dinosaur, headed for extinction.

You disagree? Let me rephrase. Republicans keep losing to a truly pathetic, disgusting, criminal opponent, the Democratic Party. How effed up to you have to be to do that?

The Repubs' approach seems to be, "Vote for us, because while corrupt, too, we are the nicer corrupt guys." Well, if you are going to be corrupt, then you have to be mean, or you lose to the mean guy.

A pox on both their corrupt houses.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Unfortunately, name recognition and fundraising ability give any candidate a leg up. An unknown candidate must spend millions of dollars familiarizing the voter with who he is. That money could easily have been spent by someone already with the name recognition on organization and ads clarifying differences between the candidates.

Some things in politics don't change - no matter how much you wish they would.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Republican "stars"? Oxymoron if there ever was one.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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