Thursday, February 13, 2020


By Dominique Paul Noth

In Maine, Sara Gideon is fortunate.  Every time GOP Sen.  Susan Collins
opens her mouth about how she expects Trump to behave, and he
 doesn't, that raises campaign money for Gideon against her.
The American public and the cable news stations are totally misguided on where they are putting their focus.

Dogfights and who’s up and who’s down may seem important for ratings but they are nonsense so early in the primary game against Donald Trump.  In a few weeks we may not be talking about Klobuchar, Mayor Pete and Elizabeth Warren or maybe we will. Or we may be marveling anew at how Joe Biden survives or how Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg are on a collision course of the “wealth is horrible” vs. “wealth is essential” debate – if Bloomberg can survive the audiotape from 2015 when he says “the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them.”

Time will tell but real politics suggest we should now be focusing on the most vital election games in our national town and how the communication in these days of the Internet makes us all players in the essential contests in every state that will shape the future without Donald Trump, since the polls also indicate that any number of Democrats can beat him.  

What kind of Republic will we then inherit to get things done? If anyone thinks Trump’s destruction of our institutions is the only way they can be destroyed – given the behavior of some people in the institutions themselves – they are not paying attention.

We are only stuck with Trump because of the fear and venality of the Republicans in the Senate during the impeachment trial and now beyond, when they knew what he did was wrong and decided the country could survive another 11 months with him. “What could he do with us all watching?”  they seemed to say. Turns out plenty and he is now trying to shred the remaining fabric of criminal justice and they won’t stop him. They are helping him do it.

I was beaten up by some as too negative for a column Jan. 27 when I predicted the Republicans in the upcoming impeachment trial would not allow a single witness though they knew he was guilty, but that is exactly what occurred.

They have already demonstrated they cannot look facts in the face, that they are weaklings in a crisis, that their own lack of values for even the institution they occupy are the biggest internal threat to our democracy. While the voters are consumed with destroying Trump they are neglecting the sycophants who will readily creep to another.

So the electorate’s path is clear.  Sure we can beat Trump, but we have to get this GOP out of control of the Senate while keeping Democratic control of the House.  Everyone thinks getting rid of Trump will cure things, but that’s nonsense. Going to the polls beats him in November and I don’t see a single opponent I wouldn’t vote for to do it. I trust the majority of the voters feel the same. But I can never trust Republican control of the Senate again, not this Republican Party.

This means there are 10 Republican incumbents we can throw out in 2020  and three Democrats who need some special help to save them – and if we fail to do that, we will wonder why getting rid of Trump alone didn’t solve things.  Sure these Democrats won’t by themselves bring everything any of the presidential candidates want – they vary from moderate to progressive -- but they will be moving the country in a better direction that the current Senate has stymied. 

So this is where the public’s money must focus, and my personal preference is not through groups like the DNC but individual gifts to candidates I support even ahead of clarity about who they may face. Internet and emails make that easy to do – a dollar here, a dollar there.

Some states seem difficult because a number of Democrats have announced in certain Senate primaries and I have my own feelings about that as every observer will, but each state’s voters get to decide -- all we can do from outside is send money and support. The national public nevertheless has to do some work on its own – and this is the election where none can be sheep.  This is when democracy is hard work.

In several contests, the final candidates have not emerged. In fact, one element of Trump’s control over these senators is that through May at least there are primaries in which he could field his own choices unless they behave (hint hint).  The Democrats in some states are similarly waiting. 

Mark Kelly has to seek money outside Arizona to assure
flipping a GOP senate seat.
In some states the Republicans may strike you as too entrenched to be beaten, but don’t be so sure. The obvious GOP senators in trouble are Cory Gardner of Colorado,   Susan Collins of Maine, facing a strong opponent in Sara Gideon, and Martha McSally in Arizona, already polling behind former astronaut Mark Kelly (who is the spouse of Gabby Giffords and a co-leader in the campaign for better gun regulation).  But she is getting money from Trump while his coffers are badly stretched already.

But if I were Thom Tillis in North Carolina or John Cornyn in Texas (even having escaped Beto O’Rourke as opponent) I wouldn’t be too comfortable. And I sure would be uncomfortable if I were Joni Ernst in Iowa, given the robust threats from a number of Democrats contending for  the June 2 primary.   This is shaping up as a year of change – and the behavior of these Republicans already warrants throwing them out.  Three or four losses in GOP numbers looks doable.

Two more fascinating races are surprisingly on the bubble.  One is the senate majority leader himself, Mitch McConnell heavily underwater in Kentucky polls. But never count out someone who finagles so much financial largesse for rural communities in his state.  Everyone is watching to see what tricks he will pull against popular political newcomer, Amy McGrath, a former Marine pilot with a Kentucky sensible platform who survived some missteps in her launch to lead the charge against him. 

Jaime Harrison is neck and neck on flipping a
South Carolina Senate seat.
And over in South Carolina, the former head of the state Democratic Party, popular and eloquent Jaime Harrison, is making a strong fight against another familiar senatorial name, Lindsay Graham, whose mental fitness has been flailing in the wind as he defends Trump on every front, even contradicting stances he once took.

I once said that any remnants of Graham’s soul apparently died when John McCain did, and it is an observation that has grown in truth. The head of the senate judiciary committee has even said he won’t investigate the AG’s meddling in the Roger Stone case, which delays until the end of March any congressional inquiry into what Faustian pact with Trump Bill Barr has made.

And Georgia is much on Democrats’ minds, since circumstances bring both of its Republican senate seats up for election in 2020 in the state where Stacy Abrams, who declined to run, is leading a national “fair election” campaign. Many feel she was robbed of the governorship in 2018 but her statewide appeal and apparatus can now apply to two senate races, both against well-heeled avid Trumpers – one-time corporate raider David Perdue (bearing a familiar last  name in Georgia politics) and newly appointed GOP moneybags Kelly Loeffler, who has already started sneering at Democratic bills. 

An interesting field of opponents is emerging against them in Georgia, including popular pastor Raphael Warnock, leader of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church where the Rev. Martin Luther King preached. Explaining his decision to run for the Senate, Warnock said, "I've always thought that my impact doesn't stop at the church door. That's actually where it starts."

Democratic Sen. Doug Jones will need a lot of
outside money to survive in Alabama.
Unquestionably, the Democrat who needs the most help and the most long-distance fund-raising is Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, praised for his fearlessness in voting for impeachment but distinguished as a moderate Democrat who has stood up at key moments representing a state that has been notoriously right-wing in the past.

It is still unclear if he is going to face the same deviant and former state justice he did last time, Roy Moore, or the wimpy Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions who wants the Senate seat he regards as his own back.  But whomever he faces will have tons of money and conviction that this is Trump country even if Trump is soundly beaten.

Another Democrat who could face big money is Michigan’s Gary Peters, little known, a moderate who has tried to work across the aisles and made some steps I question. But overall he has proven a keeper for the Democrats and he will be extremely targeted. So  will Tina Smith in Minnesota, appointed to fill out Al Franken’s term.  Her main problem is she is little known and has been caught up in a year when it is difficult for any new senator to make a mark.

It’s usually not a winning strategy for a writer to ask readers to take out their notebooks and checkbooks -- and start prowling the state contests for senate on their own.  But if you want your vote against Trump to truly survive Trump, get busy. There are only eight months left.

About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his DomsDomain dual culture and politics outlets.  A member of the American Theatre Critics Association at its inception, he also reviews theater for Urban Milwaukee.

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