The 5 races that will decide the Senate

Some races featuring some of the most unconventional candidates in recent memory will determine control of the Senate in four weeks, when voters hit the polls in the November 8 midterm elections.

Few are certain during the election, fighting in the shadow of the possible Donald Trump is back and a landmark Supreme Court decision ending the federal abortion rights. Analysts believe the Senate, which Democrats hold a majority through 2021, could go either way.

For Republicans to regain control of the chamber, they must overcome structural challenges — there are many seats to defend this year — and self-imposed ones. Some of the GOP candidates have shown notable weaknesses.

There’s Mehmet Oz, the Pennsylvania nominee and one-time TV doctor accused of leading experiments that killed hundreds of dogs. There is Sen. Ron Johnson, the race-baiting Wisconsin incumbent whose deep unfavorability ratings have long left him as a kind of marked man, is apparently vulnerable to a decent Democratic campaign.

And above all, there’s Herschel Walker, the eccentric Georgia nominee whose sensational college football career elevated him to godlike status in his state but whose troubled personal life created scandal after scandal.

However, Democrats have their own problems. The party that controls the White House often loses ground in the midterms, and Democratic candidates have their own weaknesses.

In Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman — 6-foot-8-inches and goatee, with a penchant for wearing sweatpants and shorts — is recovering from a stroke and dreads debating Oz. In Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan is fresh off an embarrassing campaign finance news report, albeit one that hit a solid campaign. And in Wisconsin, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes appears to have been sent off course by a wave of GOP spending.

“The Senate is probably close to a coin flip,” said Jacob Rubashkin, an analyst at the nonpartisan newsletter Inside Elections. “Republicans have made life more difficult for themselves with the candidates they have chosen for almost every competitive Senate race on the map.”

“It hits the level of candidate-specific issues that plague some of these races,” Rubashkin added.

No Senate campaign has gotten more attention than the one in Georgia, where Walker is working to unseat Sen. Raphael Warnock, the Atlanta pastor who is running for office in a special election in 2021.

Opinion polls show Warnock ahead of Walker. The former football star who won the Heisman Trophy in 1982 faced a bombshell in a revelation Monday when The Daily Beast reported that the once vocal anti-abortion politician paid for a girlfriend’s abortion. The outlet reported on Wednesday that the woman is the mother of one of his children.

Walker strongly disputed the reports, citing an unidentified woman, and threatened to sue the Daily Beast. But his son Christian Walker responded to the report by trashing the campaign.

Herschel Walker faced a bombshell in a revelation on Monday when The Daily Beast reported that the vocal anti-abortion politician once paid for his girlfriend's abortion.

“I know my mom and I would really appreciate it if my dad Herschel Walker would stop lying and making fun of us,” Christian Walker, 23, wrote on Twitter. “You weren’t a ‘family man’ when you left us to fight a bunch of girls, threatened to kill us, and moved us 6 times in 6 months from your violence.”

Walker, also accused of putting a gun to the head of his ex-wife, Cindy Grossman – Christian’s mother – and of hiding the hidden children from the public, said he suffered from mental illness and even played used to be Russian roulette.

Republicans have responded to the extraordinary scandals surrounding Walker by closing ranks. Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, took to Fox News to describe Walker as “the most important Senate candidate in the country.”

“He had a long hard time. He’s had a lot of concussions from football,” Gingrich said. “He’s on the mend. He’s committed. He’s a decent guy.”

The race could go to a runoff: Georgia candidates must get 50% of the vote to win a Senate seat.

Pennsylvania sounds like a bellwether. If Fetterman, who has been leading narrowly but steadily in the polls, struggles on Election Day, Republicans could take control of the Senate.

Oz was seen as aloof at times during the campaign and was widely mocked for a video he shared in which he taken dearly items for a “crudité” at a grocery store, mispronouncing the name of the store on the street.

Lt.  Gov.  John Fetterman speaks at a labor rally, Thursday, Oct.  6, 2022 in Monaca, Pa.

And Oz’s campaign was rocked Monday by a scandal, dubbed “puppygate,” that stemmed from a report by Jezebel. stating that his research led to the deaths of over 300 dogs. Oz’s campaign disputed the report.

Fetterman, whose everyman appeal fueled his campaign, drew scrutiny for only agreeing to participate in a debate after suffering a stroke in May. Oz asked for five and the release of Fetterman’s medical records.

In fund-raising, Ryan dominated his Republican opponent, JD Vance, the left-Trumper turned mega-Trumper who wrote “Hillbilly Elegy.” (“JD is kissing my ass, he wants my support so bad,” Trump recently said at a rally.)

But even though he ran what was considered a strong campaign, Ryan is far from a clear front-runner in a state that Trump carried by eight percentage points in the 2020 election. presidency.

On Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that Ryan had received campaign donations from drug companies accused of playing roles in the opioid crisis.

Johnson is a bogeyman for Democrats, known for spreading misinformation about COVID and election integrity, and for downplaying the January 6 attack on the Capitol. (He said the attack would have worried him more if the rioters were representing Black Lives Matter.)

And Democrats have long seen an opening to send the Republican senator after two terms in the state won by Biden in 2020. Johnson’s favorable rating in state polls is below 40%, ACCORDING in Marquette Law School surveys.

But Republicans may have had some success tying Barnes, a progressive Black former community organizer, to the defunding police movement. He said he does not support the defunding of the police.

Wisconsin Lt.  Gov.  Mandela Barnes

The polls signaled a photo finish ahead in Nevada, where Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is fighting Adam Laxalt, the former state’s attorney. Laxalt, who has been endorsed by Trump, is looking to tap a bloc of swing Latino voters to knock the incumbent out of the race.

Laxalt struggles to keep up with Cortez Masto in the fundraising battle. But Laxalt still leads the one-term senator in several recent polls, and a COVID-era cocktail of rising rents and extreme gas prices in the state could play to his advantage.

CNN reported Thursday’s poll put Biden’s approval rating in Nevada at 39%.

Rubashkin, the Inside Elections analyst, also said that Nevada might be “the most favorable opportunity for the Republican Party” because Laxalt has previous experience running statewide.

“Compared to the other candidates that the Republicans are running in these highly competitive races, he has shown himself to be unable to do it his own way,” said Rubashkin.

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