WASHINGTON – Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016 as probably the candidate who staged himself the furthest from the center of his party in decades. He candidly admitted he disagreed with the GOP establishment in Washington and openly took positions in opposition.
Then just last month, a candidate certainly blasted by his opponents as “fringe,” former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, cleaned the clock of a hand-picked Washington establishment candidate, Luther Strange, to be the GOP nominee in the race to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
So now an analysis concludes that Democrats are in 2018 going to try to exploit those candidates who are outside the mainstream of Washington to reverse the electoral shellacking they took last year.
The Democratic National Committee’s hopes for a comeback are premised around campaigning vigorously in GOP states and propagandizing anti-establishment candidates as alt-right, “unelectable,” “fringe” radicals, according to Politico.
“Now, Democrats involved in the Senate campaigns are searching for ways to nudge their opponents into a race to the right during their primaries that could make the eventual GOP nominee toxic to independent voters.”
“Possibilities abound to revive the strategy next year, Democrats say. They’re exploring states, including Arizona, where Kelli Ward, a challenger to Sen. Jeff Flake, said Sen. John McCain should vacate his seat ‘as quickly as possible’ after his brain cancer diagnosis,” Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti claims. “They’re looking at Nevada, where frequent candidate Danny Tarkanian – who once mused about ‘pretend[ing] we’re black,’ referring to his African-American opponent – is running against Sen. Dean Heller.”
Their goal, Debenedetti asserts, is to wreak havoc in GOP primaries by “[elevating] the GOP’s most extreme option in each race,” employing a strategy that won Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, re-election in 2012.
McCaskill defeated former Republican congressman Todd Akin.
Akin, who represented Missouri’s 2nd congressional district from 2001 to 2013, won the Republican primary in a crowded field and was projected to defeat McCaskill in pre-election polls.
Then he said that women who are victims of what he called “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant.
He eventually apologized for the remark but rebuffed calls to withdraw from the election.
His political career ended when he lost his bid to unseat McCaskill.
At its most aggressive, the 2018 tactic could be a sequel to McCaskill’s attacks. She actively intervened in the Republican primary with ads designed to boost the conservative Akin to the front of the pack, Debenedetti explained.
“Once he became the nominee, a series of gaffes – led by his ‘legitimate rape’ comment – and hard-line positions unraveled his campaign.”
Coming targets, the report said, could be in Ohio, where Josh Mandel, the state treasurer and two-time challenger to Sen. Sherrod Brown, has called the Anti-Defamation League “a partisan witch-hunt group,” and others.
Will it work? The next test could be in Alabama, where Moore will oppose Democrat Doug Jones for the Senate seat in December. The heavily GOP state is expected to go Republican, and, in fact, Moore, with all of his conservative aura, handily defeated the Washington insider, Strange.
Former Trump strategist and Breitbart executive Steve Bannon worked in support of Moore, and already has suggested that the success of the conservative candidate there will prompt more conservatives inside the party to challenge the more liberal candidates seeking re-election.
In Alabama, pollsters wonder about Moore’s assets and liabilities, and Stan Greenberg said the situation is Akin’s case on steroids.
“What happened [with Akin] has been multiplied [in Alabama], by both the character of this candidate and the positions he’s taken, but also by the fractures in the Republican Party – which are being fought much more publicly – and the extraordinary unpopularity of Mitch McConnell,” Greenberg told Politico.
Talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh predicted Democrat candidates still will fight, and fail.
“I can’t see the people who voted for Donald Trump ever voting for the Democrat no matter how angry they are at Republicans,” Limbaugh asserted. “Many people, I think, are making a mistake in the Trump era by continuing to look at things in the traditional Republican-versus-Democrat way.”
He said voters are drawn to candidates who are anti-establishment.
“The primary motivating factors in Trump voters is anti-Democrat Party sentiment and anti-leftist sentiment,” he said. “A lot of the people that voted for Trump voted for Trump because they sensed in him the only guy in the Republican primary who would actually do battle with the left. I think they despise liberalism. I think they hate the left. I think they’re scared of it. I think they’re angry with it. I think they believe that liberalism is destroying the fabric and the culture in this country and that that’s why they voted for Trump. Not because Trump was gonna close the borders.”