Sunday, November 13, 2022

Celebrity Republicans clearly didn’t convince voters of their competence!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

     Last Tuesday’s elections didn’t turn out like most political pundits/sages expected.  Instead of a red wave, it was more like a calm pink tide.  Republicans appear to have gained enough seats to take over the U.S. House, but the U.S. Senate will remain under Democrat control.  It appears the Democrat has won in the Arizona governor’s race, so all in all it wasn’t a strong night for Republicans.  Three observations:

     First, Parties don’t win or lose elections, candidates do.  Republican elected officials and so-called political experts recruited, equipped and funded bad candidates.  The Senate GOP candidate in Pennsylvania was Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Turkish Muslim, who lives in New Jersey.  A regular on Oprah Winfrey’s show, Oz was recruited because he had name recognition and Republicans thought Oz would appeal to ‘swing’ voters.  His opponent was the sitting Lt. Governor in Pennsylvania who had a stroke and struggled through a debate.  They were running to replace Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican. Oz had little appeal to Pennamites in the larger metropolitan areas and Democrats picked up the seat.  Oz may know medicine and television, but in politics, he was a political novice.   

     Republicans ran Kari Lake for governor in Arizona.  Lake was a Phoenix TV news anchor who had high name recognition.  Her Democrat opponent was Katie Hobbs, the sitting Secretary of State in Arizona. It appears Lake lost in a very close race.  In Georgia, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate was Herschel Walker, who was a Heisman Trophy winner while at the University of Georgia and a well-known professional athletic.  Walker was recruited because everybody in Georgia knows who he is.  Walker hasn’t lost yet, but he trails his Democratic opponent as they move to a December 6th runoff.     

     None of the three GOP candidates mentioned have held elective office before.  All three were unconventional, out of the ordinary, outsider candidates.  The three were aggrandized as being conservative outsiders in the mold of former President Donald Trump. Yet voters didn’t seem to care about their notoriety or celebrity status.  They chose the more conventional candidates.  Perhaps the days of PT Barnum ‘now in the center ring’ politics has run its course.

     Second, the grand old Party missed a great old probability.  Inflation is at a 40 year high.  The economy is in the tank. Exit polling showed the economy/inflation was the number one issue with over 50% of voters.   Odds were in Republican’s favor.  Democrat’s failed economy policy is hurting the average family.  Even Democrat pollsters projected the GOP would win big on Tuesday, yet Republicans failed to capitalize on the number one issue.  They instead ran candidates based on personality and not policy. 

     Third, Oklahoma and Florida were the two bright red spots.  Oklahoma voters cast their ballots overwhelmingly for Republicans, which is not surprising.  Republicans easily won their races in the Sooner state, in spite of the fact millions were spent in dark money ads attacking Governor Stitt and Ryan Walters. 

     Florida is another story. The sunshine state reelected Governor Ron DeSantis to a second term 60% to 40%.  DeSantis won Miami Dade county, a traditionally Democrat county, by 10 points- the first time a Republican has won it in over twenty years.    Republicans in Florida won all statewide races and now have super majorities in both the state House and Senate (Oklahoma did it in 2014).  That gives DeSantis a launching pad for a 2024 presidential run.  Florida is a key swing state. 

     The lesson from Tuesday is candidates win or lose elections- not Parties.  Ill prepared, amateur, greenhorn candidates have little appeal to the knowledgeable voter- and they rarely fool the uniformed one.  Running a candidate with little substance so an extra chair is needed at the caucus meeting is a foolhardy strategy.  A notable luminary on the ballot is no different than the unknown career politician.  Both must convince the voter they are competent to do the job.  Celebrity Republicans clearly didn’t do that on Tuesday.


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