It seemed like it would never end but late Tuesday evening the 2022 election finally did with Rev. Dr. Senator Raphael Warnock narrowly defeating a totally unqualified Herschel Walker in a relic of Jim Crow runoff. There are a lot of opinions in that sentence and I stand by every one of them!
Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele – who actually knows how to field winning Republican candidates – put a realistic damper on some of the irrational euphoria of the night. Some were comparing Warnock (who I really like and have great respect for) to Barack Obama and labeling him the “next one”. That simply isn’t what happened or a realistic projection. As much as I agree that Warnock deserved to be returned to the Senate, the reality is that he narrowly beat an extremely flawed candidate. Had the Republicans run a decent, let alone good, candidate they would have won the seat back in November. Georgia may well now be a purple state – and a lot of credit has to be given to the various forces running a good and sustained ground game – but it is far from blue. Based on very preliminary data it appears that Republican turnout was just fine; those Republicans simply weren’t willing to vote for Walker in sufficient numbers.
Warnock is the fifty-first Senate seat for the Democrats and that makes a huge difference. Now the Democrats will truly control each Senate committee. In a 50-50 Senate the committees were chaired by Democrats (by virtue of Vice President Harris being the tie braking vote) but things could still get bottled up at the committee level because membership numbers were even. In a 51-49 Senate the Democrats will have the majority on each committee.
The other thing a clear majority does is it enables Senate investigations into matters the Republicans want to sweep under the rug. I’m not the biggest fan of dueling investigations but it looks like we may be looking at a lot of them in the run-up to the 2024 election. For the most part they will be a waste of taxpayer money but they will help in the war of public opinion.
The margin gives Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer a tiny margin of error. He now can loose one Democratic vote and still pass things that are not subject to filibuster. With that in mind, expect the confirmation of judges, ambassadors and officials to be the major achievements of the next Senate. Joe Manchin will still be off the reservation on multiple occasions. Should the Republicans take the Senate in the 2024 election, (which at this point looks like a real possibility), I expect Manchin, should he be reelected, will jump parties as long as he gets to keep his committee chairmanship. Kyrsten Sinema, dances to her own music but she is a Democrat and will remain one if Arizona returns her to the Senate in 2024.
Dumping Donald Trump would be one of the smartest things the GOP could do. Not only is he a loser, he bullies the party into running more losers. However, the extremely bad candidate thing is something the Republicans were doing before Trump burst on the scene. In addition to Walker, Trump gave us the likes of Blake Masters, Roy Moore and Mehmet Oz among others. Remember the Republicans ran Todd Akin of the sperm selector and Christine “I am not a witch” O’Donnell before Trump further polluted their waters. Do Democrats hope for nutcase opponents and then just pray they can narrowly defeat them in purple or red states? Tuesday night was very good for America and democracy both here and around the world but the struggle is far from over!
There are many states where a Republican who doesn’t have a large, walk-in closet full of skeletons and pretends to be somewhat moderate during their campaign can be easily elected.
Oh, if you hadn’t already realized it the 2024 election campaign began before Tuesday evening. It’s not like you get a break from this stuff.
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Post Posting Postscript (If that is even grammatically acceptable verbiage):
On the morning of December 9th Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema announced she was changing her party registration to independent. This is very much breaking news at this point (Friday morning).
I should have learned my lesson by now that predicting Sinema is a fool’s errand. However it appears she will remain caucusing with the Democrats, ala Angus King and Bernie Sanders, and neither the operations nor balance of power in the Senate will be effected.
If I had to guess the move was a calculation that funding for her 2024 run would be better as an independent than as a Democrat but I’m done predicting Sinema (for this posting anyway).