Republicans’ chances of beating Democratic Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona are dwindling, a sign of the party’s recent broader struggle as it struggles to regain a majority in the Senate, according to one of the leading political candidates.
On Thursday, Cook’s political report with Amy Walter moved Arizona’s state race from the “slander” category to the “Democratic Democrat” category, suggesting Kelly now has an advantage over Republican candidate Blake Masters.
In explaining the changing ratings, editor of the Senate’s Cook Political Report Jessica Taylor He notes that Kelly has crushed the Masters in fundraising – and that has translated into a huge advantage in terms of spending on TV ads. “The Democratic and Kelly groups spent or kept approximately $65 million during the general election period, compared to about $16.2 million for the Republican and Masters groups,” she wrote. (Taylor adds that the Masters campaign runs no ads at all this week.)
Previous Masters’ controversial statements – he did it Praised Unabomberpointed out that the January 6 attack was a bogus operation, in theory that the United States should not get involved in World War I or II, etc. – it also appears to have caused real harm to voters.
“In conversations with many state Republicans or on the battlefield in the Senate, Arizona has moved down the list of volatile states, with many even seeing Pennsylvania — a classification we changed last month but as Democrat John Fetterman faced an onslaught of advertisements for crime and questions Continuing about his health – he’s more likely to stay in the GOP column now than win in Arizona,” Taylor concludes.
Arizona’s new ranking is notable because at the start of the 2022 election cycle, many considered the race, along with Georgia, the most likely pickup opportunity for Republicans. The state has long been a Republican stronghold, although Democrats have made gains recently with Joe Biden holding it in 2020 and Democratic Senator Kirsten Senema in 2018.
But the problems that Masters have experienced — and the Arizona Republican Party in general — are indicative of how Donald Trump (and Trumpism) has affected the party and made it more vulnerable in the general election.
The Masters program came out of a crowded primaries in August, thanks in large part to Trump’s endorsement. Announcing his selection, Trump said, “Blake knows that the ‘crime of the century’ has occurred, and he will expose it and also never let it happen again.” Masters responded by calling Trump “a great man and a visionary.”
Once Masters won the nomination, he immediately began trying to clean up some of his previous positions—literally. His website is no longer the previous language regarding abortion restrictions. As with his views on election denial. By way of clarification, the Masters campaign said the candidate himself is updating the policy section of his website and considers it a “living document” rather than a fixed set of beliefs.
Masters is not alone who is struggling to adapt to the various challenges of general elections. In Pennsylvania, Republican Mehmet Oz trailed Fetterman in the state race for the Senate’s open seats. And in Ohio, Republican J.D. Vance finds himself in surprisingly close competition with Democrat Tim Ryan in the race to replace retiring Republican Senator Rob Portman.
The three Republicans find themselves stuck in the horns of the dilemma currently facing the Republican Party. To win their primaries, they needed to embrace Trump and the often extreme positions of the Republican base. (All three won the endorsement of the former president.) But now, as their party’s candidates, these same policies are detrimental to their chances of winning the general election.
This awkward dance jeopardizes Republicans’ chances of what once seemed almost certain: winning a Senate majority this fall.
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