The Other Bernie

Tuesday night American political nerds had one eye on Ohio and the other on everything else. With the Buckeye State’s polls closing early they didn’t have to do it far into the evening. Trump endorsed Bernie Moreno won the Republican senate primary. The story far from ends there.

Based on 95% returns, Moreno appears to have won with just over 50% of the vote. In a three-way race that is certainly a good showing. However, that means that almost half of the Republicans primary voters – and primary voters are reliable base voters for either party -didn’t support him and chose to defy Donald Trump’s wishes. Now to say that all those Republicans won’t show up for Trump and/or Moreno in November is folly but it does portend some weakness especially when you consider that the second place finisher was much more of a traditional Republican, anti-Trumper.

Historically Trump’s endorsement in a GOP primary is gold but closer to the kiss of death in the general election. Although some have come close to winning – in my mind, terrifyingly close – they ended up losers just like Trump. (Remember Trump has never come even close to winning the popular vote. Americans, by and large, refuse to vote for him.) In 2022 a group of obviously flawed (another day of kindly choice of verbiage) Trump endorsed GOP candidates lost very winnable races.

Thus far in the 2024 cycle the GOP is selecting Trump endorsed extremists (another kind verbiage selection on my part). To make matters worse for them, thus far they are in two battleground states North Carolina and (to a lesser extent) Ohio. Trump cannot afford to lose either in 2024 if he plans on winning the Electoral College by other than nefarious means, (that “qualifier” scares me but I won’t expand on it today). Looking ahead to Arizona’s July 30th primary I would bet that Trump endorsed Kari Lake will win the GOP Senate nod. Arizona is very much a battleground state and one that Trump has to be targeting for a flip. Lake on the ticket won’t help him win swing voters.

Forces aligned with Ohio’s Democratic incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown spent significant money in the GOP race trying to influence voters to cast their ballot for Moreno because they considered him to be the most vulnerable opponent in the fall. This is a dangerous game we have seen played in recent cycles. I understand wanting the weakest opponent but the risk is that a real nutcase ends up in office if the Democrat loses in the general election.

The good news is that Moreno is both out of touch with most Buckeye State voters and appears beatable. The bad news is that he now has about a fifty-fifty chance of being elected to the Senate.

For my money I hope Moreno returns to selling automobiles while the other Bernie (independent Senator Sanders of Vermont) keeps his seat. The only thing American voters need from Moreno are seatbelts because the ride will be a wild one filled with perils.

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