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March 24, 2022

Senate 2022: Winners Wanted

In an all-too-promising election year, the last thing Republicans need are bad candidates.

Barring some extraordinary circumstance, leftist Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, will be confirmed by the Senate for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. That’s what we get with a 50-50 Senate that includes a handful of RINOs who’d rather be liked by Democrats than respected by constitutional conservatives.

And that’s why, on November 8, the GOP needs to take control not only of the House and its legislative and investigative power but also of the Senate and its judicial-approving power. Given the current political environment, anything short of this should be considered a miserable failure.

In a normal year, the GOP’s chances of retaking the Senate wouldn’t seem particularly good, given that the Republicans must defend 21 seats to the Democrats’ 14. But this isn’t a normal year — far from it. The Democrats are being dragged down by their awful associations and their even-awfuller policies, and by a stunningly incompetent Biden-Harris administration whose unpopularity seems to keep plumbing new depths.

In a recent poll of the generic ballot question (If the election were held today, would you vote for the Republican or the Democrat?) — a question in which Democrats normally outperform Republicans — the GOP enjoys a four-point advantage in crucial swing districts. Last week, a poll from Rasmussen Reports sampled the entire electorate with this same question and found Republicans with a whopping 11-point advantage. Regardless, though, the message is clear: The Democrats are in big trouble, and the GOP must take full advantage of it. And that means winning every seat that’s winnable.

One such winnable seat is the one being defended in solidly red Missouri (Trump +15), where Senator Roy Blunt is retiring. Highly qualified Republican candidates are tripping over themselves to succeed Blunt, but one of them, disgraced former Governor Eric Greitens, risks making a mess of things.

Greitens was at one time The Can’t-Miss Kid. Born in St. Louis, Greitens grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, a Navy SEAL, a humanitarian, and a bestselling author. But a series of self-inflicted wounds and an odd decision to again seek public office now threaten to make a solid Senate seat significantly less so. As the Wall Street Journal editorial board writes:

In 2018 [Greitens] resigned as Governor amid allegations he’d sexually coerced a hairdresser and photographed her bound and nude as blackmail if she divulged the affair. Mr. Greitens’s ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, has alleged in court documents that Mr. Greitens physically abused her and their sons, in addition to isolating them in a lake house, and repeatedly threatening suicide to force Ms. Greitens to publicly support him.

Greitens denies the allegations. And let’s stipulate that divorce proceedings and child custody fights can be among the ugliest of human events, and that this wouldn’t be the first time they’ve been used to destroy a politician. Here we’re reminded of the conveniently unsealed divorce records of Barack Obama’s two principal opponents during his 2004 Senate run, one in the Democrat primary and the other in the general. Were it not for some timely Chicago-style sleaziness, he might never have become president.

And yet, as the Journal’s editors continue: “Greitens created the circumstances of this mess. In January 2018 he admitted the affair with the hairdresser, even as he rejected her blackmail claims. In her court filing, Ms. Greitens says Mr. Greitens told her that he’d taken the photo. This backs up the hairdresser’s claim that was made under oath.”

Greitens currently leads the Republican field, but any number of candidates could win this Senate seat. Not surprisingly, his opponents are calling for him to get out of the race.

“Well, I have one thing that I want to say,” said one of those candidates, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler. “Real men never abuse women and children. Period. End of story.” Said another, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt: “The behavior described in this affidavit is cause for Eric Greitens to be in prison, not on the ballot for U.S. Senate. He should end his campaign immediately.”

There are at least nine competitive Senate seats up in November. Democrats are defending in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire, while Republicans are defending in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The last thing the GOP needs now are bad candidates — candidates who’ll hurt the brand, depress the turnout, and energize the opposition. Republicans don’t need another Todd Akin, or Roy Moore, or Christine O'Donnell. We need winners. The stakes are too high for anything less.

As former Oakland Raiders GM Al Davis used to say, “Just win, baby.”

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