Watching different state Republican Senate primaries shape up in advance of the voting is a bit like being in attendance at a Little League game when it’s hard not to cheer for both young teams.
Some of the newer GOP candidates are cutting their teeth in the arena of national politics during this campaign, learning what works and what does not, a variation of the old standard of “Will it play in Peoria?”
Eyes on the Goal?
In other cases, it seems to be a matter of the early opposition concluding early on that any Republican is better than no Republican, and simply backing away to allow the best-funded campaigns to gather the most eggs and proceed to election day.
Almost everyone in the Grand Old Party agrees that the goal is to capture seats and fill them with Senators clothed in red. The prevailing opinion may be that intra-party wrinkles can be ironed out later, in preparation for the “big league” event in November.
Also, in a sense, Sarah Palin seems to be reprising her role as cheerleader.
Keeping It Congenial
Nowhere does that seem more apparent than in Nebraska where the 4-way race is still restrained and relatively amicable. It may stay that way in this “nice-guy” state even though the race does seem to be warming up between favorites Shane Osborn and Ben Sasse. The recent Sasse endorsement by Sarah Palin may prompt a sharper response by Osborn and the others. It’s one to watch.
Matt Bevin of Kentucky, who is fond of talking about conservative Kentucky values, raised a few eyebrows and caused his party some concern when he appeared recently at a pro-cockfighting gathering to say a few words before hastily leaving the controversial gathering.
His reasoning was that to be able to reach a few hundred voters, no matter what their views on other subjects, was worth his time and his voice. Any candidate with enough nerve to take on incumbent Mitch McConnell deserves close attention, in our opinion.
Palin Speaks Out – Again
Two races worth watching in the coming weeks, even though the leaders today seem pretty solid, are Georgia and Oklahoma. Sarah Palin’s decision to throw her support to the underdogs in these two may have an effect manifesting in interesting ways, or not.
Palin’s endorsement of Karen Handel against David Perdue in Georgia, even though not surprising, came on the heels of Perdue’s perceived slip into elitism when he referenced Handel’s high school diploma, and the fact that only one of his opponents has lived outside the U.S. Of course, the real test in Georgia comes in November because current polls show a statistically insignificant difference between Democrat Michelle Nunn and any one of the Republican challengers.
This state may emerge as the national “nail-biter” in the race for Senate dominance.
In the U.S. state of Oklahoma, even though the primary won’t be held until the end of June, Palin recently threw support to former State House Speaker T.W. Shannon against U.S. Rep. James Lankford, the generally-acknowledged leader in the race to fill retiring Senator Tom Coburn’s shoes.
Watch the Incumbents
In the eight states where Republican incumbents were facing primary challenges at the beginning of the year, there is only one today that seems to have enough fuel to keep going until primary voting: Mississippi. Again, Palin has backed the challenger, State Senator Chris McDaniel against six-term incumbent Thad Cochran for the U.S. Senate seat. And, analysts see that race shaping up as a hot one, with enough funding to keep the fires going.
As for South Carolina, even though Lindsay Graham could potentially have to defend his seat in a runoff, that may be a blessing for a candidate whose future seemed to be in real trouble from the TEA Party. Indeed, these are interesting times!