(Providence, Rhode Island) – The day of reckoning is near. Tuesday is Election Day, and the midterm election could offer some big changes and big surprises. Let’s brunch on that this week.
“Senate Control” – Republicans need a net gain of 6 seats to take control, and they may get there, but in a roundabout way. Right now, I predict Republicans will take five seats currently held by Democrats in Colorado, Iowa, Alaska, Louisiana and Arkansas, which will put them right at 50. The key state is Kansas, where Republican Pat Roberts is in the fight of his life. There is no Democrat in the race, only independent Greg Orman (photo above). In his lifetime, Orman has been both a registered Democrat and Republican. If he gets to Washington, with which party will he caucus? Whatever party he chooses will control the Senate. This guy is a spoiler and a kingmaker at the same time. He can ask for every pork barrel project on the planet to be moved to Kansas. Wow!
“House GOP Gains” – The Republicans will hold the House of Representatives and, I believe, will gain seven more seats. Why? Just a hunch, and because historically the party in the White House loses seats in the midterms.
“Of ISIS and Ebola” – Three months ago, I would have argued that the economy would have been the main issue in the national election. Not any more. Fears of ISIS terrorism and the threat of Ebola coming to the U.S. have the public worried. At the same time, President Obama’s approval rating now stands at a low of 41 percent. People know any President does not control the economy, but people do feel any President has far more control over national defense. Oddly, the economy has gotten markedly better, but President Obama gets no bounce from that. People want to feel safe, and many don’t. While the President is not on the ballot, many of his fellow Democrats may pay the price, especially in the Senate.
“Kansas is King!” – As mentioned, the Senate race to watch is now Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) versus Independent Greg Orman. Kansas is home to such Republican legends as President Dwight Eisenhower, Senator Bob Dole, Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum, and her dad, Governor Alf Landon. It is among the “reddest” of red states, and Roberts should be a shoo-in. What happened? Well, he’s been in Congress since 1981; and, like many colleagues, he has made the nation’s capital his home. In fact, some of Roberts' political contributors actually live in his Kansas home. Many feel he’s lost touch with his constituents, unlike Bob Dole, who went home all the time. Roberts may blow a safe seat.
“It Cuts Both Ways” – If a famous name such as Pat Roberts loses in Kansas for the Republicans, well he’s got good company on the Democratic side of the aisle. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), the sister and daughter of two popular New Orleans mayors, is likely to lose in Louisiana; Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), son of a former senator and governor, is likely to lose his seat in Arkansas; and Senator Mark Begich (D-AK), son of a former Congressman, is likely to lose his seat in Alaska. Plus, Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA), looks as if her upset bid for one of Georgia's Senate seats is fading. Has the public grown tired of legacy candidates?
“The One to Watch – Chapter One” – A couple of politicians who fell from grace and went to prison are on the comeback trail. At the age of 87, former Governor Edwin Edwards (D-LA) is running for a Congressional seat from Louisiana. The flamboyant Governor once famously said the only way to get him out of office was to “find him in bed with a live boy, or a dead woman.” Well, a bribery scandal sent him to prison instead, and my readers on the West Coast will remember that it was that same “business-political” deal that also ended Eddie DeBartolo, Jr.'s ownership of the San Francisco 49ers.
“The One to Watch – Chapter Two” – Right here in Rhode Island, former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci will try to win the Mayor’s office for a third time. He served six terms before being sent to prison in a corruption scandal, too! It is the most-watched race for Mayor in the nation this year, and he has a real shot at winning. Stay tuned!
“Here Comes the Gov!” – Right now, Republicans have 29 Governorships to 21 for Democrats. My prediction is a net gain of one seat for the Republicans. Democrats had a strong shot in Massachusetts, Texas, Georgia and Wisconsin; but the GOP may win all four. Rhode Island (currently with a Democratic governor) and Florida (presently with a Republican governor) are both toss-ups.
“Whoops!” – It’s bizarre to see candidates blow their races at the last minute, but they do. In Texas, Democrat Wendy Davis showed a wheelchair in an ad, criticizing her Republican opponent, who actually uses a wheelchair. Lesson: Don’t pick on the handicapped! In Massachusetts, Republican Charlie Baker has been building his lead on Democrat Martha Coakley; but one week before the vote, Baker tells the tearful tale of a fisherman in New Bedford and his two high-school-athlete sons who had to pass on college to work on the fishing docks. Problem is that no one can find said family. Did Baker make it up? Sometimes politicians are their own worst enemies!
“Why All This Matters!” – Will President Obama become a lame-duck President, or will he become Compromiser-in-Chief and help pass an immigration reform bill and other bipartisan legislation before he retires? Just remember: President Bill Clinton got more done when Republicans, instead of Democrats, held both houses of Congress.
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