Thursday, August 6, 2020


An article chock full of helpful links

By Dominique Paul Noth

Easily overlooked in flipping the senate is the strong
North Carolina campaign of Cal Cunningham.
The cry has gone up throughout the land:  Who needs my money to win the election in November?

That fever is mounting. It’s clogging email and snail mail boxes, infecting cable TV and social media.  Every time the common man turns around, it seems that money is the decider, but partly because – however inept and corruptible the GOP is at the top – the party seems to be swimming in money as well as gerrymandering advantages. The Democrats may have better grassroots funding in many state races but sound desperate even when the polls put them ahead. 

Such is the fear that Trump will manipulate another win by attacking the mail service, by deepening his pandemic “it is what it is” disinterest or by plowing through the protesters on the public streets. It’s not a logical fear, but nothing about Trump is logical.

Yet another signal has gone out across the land – this one among the GOP in desperation to keep control of the Senate: If you need to separate yourself from Trump, they tell their own candidates, so be it. And some cautiously are, running on quite different issues in a tacit admission that they can’t openly criticize their beloved leader but can walk away from some of his outrages.

They will do anything to prevent the flood that the polls say is heading their way, while Democrats know they not only have to elect Biden but flip the Senate and keep the House.  That has made potential donors in every state a target for Senate and House candidates in every other state – a flood of Internet requests that leave the physically  distant recipients sometimes mystified about where to put their money.  The dilemma is producing articles like this one.

Sara Gideon leading in Maine
The field of Democratic opportunity has expanded in both the House and now the Senate  beyond the three or four flips most talked about by TV’s talking heads on cable news.

These likely Senate flips start with Sara Gideon leading Susan Collins in Maine.  Collins has tried to slide along the road of tsk-tsking Donald while voting with him, which has angered much of her state as well as equal rights groups that once were duped into regarding her as slightly independent – this is Maine, after all.  But when it comes to put up, she shuts up.

 Meanwhile Gideon – well known as speaker of the state house – has put together a platform that speaks to rural voters as well as progressive values, and she’s leading or tied in polls.

Mark Kelly on campaign trail
In Arizona, a former astronaut known as the devoted husband of Gabby Giffords and a TV commentator on space issues as well as gun safety, is leading in what once was thought a red state.  Mark Kelly is ahead in the polls versus the governor-appointed senator, Martha McSally, who has clung to Trump and attacked every convincing social argument from Kelly. 

McSally’s stubbornness in clinging to Trump (after being beaten in 2018  by a quixotic Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema) is one of  her many missteps in this campaign. She didn’t get the GOP message or know how to safely disassociate herself from Trump.

When Colorado governor, John Hickenlooper couldn't
wait to drink a beer with Obama.
In Colorado, the Republican senator, Cory Gardner, stays in Trump’s shadow while ignoring Trump’s main issues on the campaign trail, mainly selling his own outdoor recreation credentials, always popular in that state. His even more popular opponent, the conservative Democrat who ran for president, has a  “drink a beer with me” personality: John Hickenlooper.  Despite some fits and starts in his campaign switch to run for the senate, his brand of fiscal conservatism incorporating Democratic principles made him successful for eight years as governor.  He remains ahead in the polls.

So is, though less noticed, the popular progressive Cal Cunningham, who is better than neck and neck with  a largely unknown North Carolina GOP senator -- Toady Thom Tillis.  Cunningham’s image as a “get things done” leader is clearly key to his attraction

Theresa Greenfield
Among the surprise new prospects as the Democratic map expands is Theresa Greenfield, running hard against Republican Joni Ernst in Iowa. Partly because Iowa was early in presidential primary importance, it’s become a politically tuned state and Ernst looks more and more like a feeble  Trump echo in a region eager to move with the times, which Greenfield has come to represent. Local papers flirted with sexism describing this as no race for sissies.

It is no small issue in many such states that if Biden takes over the White House, they want a senator on the Democratic side.

That is one of the spurs underlying Steve Bullock’s campaign in less populated and usually red  Montana.  A former Democratic presidential candidate and a popular governor,  Bullock is neck and neck in the polls against Steve Daines, the former Procter and Gamble exec who enjoyed one term already in the US Senate and is wrapping himself in Trump anti-gay anti-protest and anti-Obama flag-waving. 

Steve Bullock
How will that fly in Montana?  What does fly is Bullock’s  ability to speak intelligently  on issues, which impressed many when he ran for president.

Another surprise is there are now two Senate seats available for Democratic takeover in the red clay of Georgia.  In a campaign strongly supported by the late John Lewis, youthful Jon Ossoff (he’s 33) has inched ahead in respected polls against former Dollar General exec and wealth accumulator David Perdue, who is becoming known for political gaffes

Jon Ossoff
Perdue and the other GOP senator for the state, Kelly Loeffler, are best known for their GOP funding chops (she was appointed by the governor to an unfinished term; he has a chicken friendly last name) and both are under investigation of insider trading charges linked to their  public hearings.  One of these  senate seats is technically a special election runoff Nov. 3, with  Loeffler hoping to edge another rabid Trump backer, Rep. Doug  Collins, and praying the Democrat doesn’t get 50% of the vote.  The top two finishers face off in January 2021.

But either will be facing a strong Georgia name unknown when they entered. Their  opponent is backed by Stacey Abrams (often touted in the early speculation to run with Joe Biden and believed by many to have been cheated out of winning the 2018 governor’s race)  and many in  the nation know this candidate well though have not yet linked his oratorical prominence to his candidacy.

The Reverend Raphael Warnock

He’s the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who presided over the eulogies for Lewis at the Atlanta Ebenezer Baptist Church most associated with the late Martin Luther King Jr.  But senior pastor Warnock is  also  notable for his social justice stances – which puts him in stark contrast to either of his GOP opponents. Republicans are furious because the three-way Nov. 3 special comes at the same time as turnout for Biden and Ossoff.

Defeating Mitch McConnell in Kentucky is the secret wish of every Democrat (more on that contest later) but  it’s not the biggest event on the red state map or the place where a Democratic candidate needs the most outside bolstering.  That was clarified in the August 4 primary in Kansas, where the popularity of the Democratic candidate seems tied to the extremeness of her opponent. She didn't get the most extreme but she wound up with an important contrast.

Barbara Bollier has strongly emerged to face the well-heeled but lesser known GOP candidate Roger Marshall, also a retired doctor but the one who wants to kill Obamacare while she works to expand it.

Barbara Bollier
Bollier, a state senator who switched to the Democratic Party to be part of a coalition that put Kansas on a better economic footing, has led a quiet campaign of basic service that contrasts with the image of the current GOP. 

It was Republicans  who worked hard Aug. 4 with big money to defeat their biggest hard-core conservative nightmare, Kris Kobach, who tried to become Trump’s border czar.

They succeeded, hoping that Marshall isn’t as harsh a name since he has shown some moderate malleability to help him against Bollier.  His slight money advantage and the long GOP history of Kansas are the background noise in this contest, but Bollier seems the ideal mix of pandemic and political common sense.

Jaime Harrison
Let’s not forget that the most politically troublesome Carolina is the state below North.  But the Democrat there, Jaime Harrison, has strong support among South Carolina’s  22% black Americans – in fact he is leading the state in some polls and nipping at Lindsey Graham in others.  

That, plus embarrassing ads put together by the GOP Lincoln Project showing how violently Graham contradicted himself on both Trump and Biden,  have become a big part of what makes Graham a genuinely threatened Republican senator.  I have long joked  that when John McCain died he seemed to have taken Graham’s soul with him.

Harrison, former leader of the state Democratic Party, is both politically savvy and a believable common man orator with deep roots in the Carolina soil. He’s given a genuine chance at drawing national support for what could be a major upset despite Graham’s years in the spotlight.  Were Lindsey not feared for his $15 million war chest and his history of pulling surprises out of a worn hat, he would be considered a fading if not totally gone goose given how much ground he’s lost  three months before the finale. But this is South Carolina where all sorts of strange things happen.

Intensely disliked in his state’s polls is Kentuckian Mitch McConnell, the turtle avatar constantly onscreen in TV news as the senate majority leader who has blocked some 400 bills from the Democratic House.  He  has spent 30 years getting re-elected in Kentucky – at times in spite of a  lack of personal popularity.  The rumor is he has dropped so many federal dollars in key voting corners over time and even has a wife, the secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao, making sweetheart deals for the state that he will be hard to dislodge in a state so wildly red.

Amy McGrath
His opponent lacks political experience in handling an old shrewdie like McConnell – but if  Kentucky longs for a breath of fresh non-D.C. air and more clout once Biden takes over,  Amy McGrath could run away with the race. 

A moderate Democrat, she also brings a  remarkable military record (the Marine’s first female combat fighter who retired with the rank of  lieutenant colonel), plus a social media campaign that has given her the money to nearly match Mitch.  Her views on the economy and health care seem to fit  the emerging nuanced political profile of what has long been a red state. The key may come down to whether Kentucky voters, who have seen McConnell join the Trump mishandling of a pandemic and of health care, will grasp for change or merely suffer the status quo.

Urged by a supporter at a campaign event, MJ Hegar 
displays her military tattoo.
Over in Texas, long thought GOP property, another inspirational retired female fighter pilot, MJ Hegar, is struggling for name recognition and funding as Texas trends more progressive.  She is eight points behind John Cronyn, seeking his fourth term, but despite his years in office his popularity rating is 35%, suggesting she has room to maneuver.  Especially during a pandemic hitting Texas hard while Cronyn is on record last March blaming China for even the 2009 swine flu.  This is a contest to decide how out of touch Texas wants to be in the 21st century.

Don’t forget Mississippi, always considered safe GOP country – but maybe not anymore.   The Democrat, Mike Espy, was the Clinton agriculture secretary and the first African American from the Deep South given that job. Now he has soared back into attention to oppose the governor appointed senator,  Cindy Hyde-Smith, who has earned the title of  most racist senator.  But Ole Miss is changing under her feet. 

It has abandoned putting the Confederate flag in its state flag and even its most famous university has abandoned many of their Civil War trappings while Hyde-Smith tries to live down posing with Confederate artifacts.  Moreover, Mississippi has been spiking in the covid numbers, for a while topping 20% in positive tests and belatedly imposing a mask mandate while Republican leaders try to fudge on Trump’s K-12 order to automatically reopen brick and mortar  schools.

Mike Espy
Let’s not pretend Espy isn’t  a long shot but Hyde-Smith has lost more than half of  the 17% lead Trump gave her in 2016.   GOP PACs are pumping money into states they once thought shoo-ins, and this seems one of many, including Texas, Kansas and Georgia.

So while Kelly in Arizona, Gideon in Maine, Greenfield in Iowa, Hickenlooper in Colorado and Cunningham in North Carolina are the best shots to see your donations succeed, I have not in my giving overlooked Bollier in Kansas, Ossoff and Warnock in Georgia, Harrison against Graham in South Carolina, McGrath against McConnell, Hegar in Texas and – following my heart the strongest – Espy in Mississippi.  

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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