Well, it’s a waiting game in Pennsylvania as the votes continue to be slowly tallied in the GOP Senate race between Dr. Oz and David McCormick. Though, not surprisingly, that hasn’t stopped the Orange Menace from declaring victory for his TV doctor. That’s where we begin before some tidbits.
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MURPHY: Well, for all the Republican madness in PA, I’ll say one thing, the Repubs are in better shape than people thought they were a week ago. Here is what we know now. Trump endorsed TV talk show doctor Mehmet Oz holds a narrow lead (about 1100) votes over top Bush WH aide turned MAGA quick change artist David McCormick with about all the votes in sans a few late mail in ballots. (Oh the irony…). Team McCormick thinks they may scrape to a tiny lead based on those votes, but my guess – as it has been since about ½ the results were in on Tuesday night – remains that Oz will have a tiny lead in the end, close enough to trigger Pennsylvania’s automatic recount law. So, more to come. Final results around June 9th.
A few thoughts about the situation:
2.) In this Punish the President political environment, either Oz or McCormick have a good change of winning the seat.
3.) Mitch & Co are pulling for McCormick to squeak it out in the recount because he is likely to be the stronger general election candidate. I agree; he can probably wiggle at least one arm and half of his head out of the ill-fitting MAGA Chewbacca suit he squeezed into for the primary, though maybe the Hedge Fund Man Turned Rubber Man will be just too much for him to escape in the end.
4.) The Great Mastriano remains a problem for the Senate nominee, since he’ll be busy making crazy news every day and that’s a tough dynamic for the Senate nominee if they want to avoid being sucked down into the secret trap-door that Mastriano’s chances of victory will disappear into.
Finally, 5.) It’s too early to know how Fetterman will play in a general election. The bull case is his ‘Uncola” style and off the charts blue collar vibe will be a big hit in this anti-politics, wrong track year. The bear case is he’s a Bernie liberal who is not particularly good on his feet (Fetterman’s performance in the Democratic primary debate was not good) and the good Lt Gov is essentially a one trick optical pony. Plus, it’s gonna be a tough year for Democrats, let alone oddball liberal ones. That will probably be the biggest single factor in the race, so put me down for a small growl, I’m leaning toward team Bear, but not sure yet. Need to see some campaign.
Bottom line: the GOP can still win the PA Senate seat (even with Doc Oz) and well might, but it’s a lot trickier than it could have been.
GIBBS: I’m not so sure how much McCormick or Oz will resonate in the general election but, at least you guys didn’t get the January 6th attendee as your nominee! So, I agree that given the sheer panic the GOP establishment was in just one week ago, things look quite a bit better. Undoubtedly, the political environment favors a GOPer and if there is a red wave in November, some candidates that normally wouldn’t win will be swept into office anyway. The Governor’s race will also provide an interesting dynamic, too. If Dems are going to navigate a tricky political environment, they’ll need some ticket splitters and that could start right at the top of the ballot.
That brings us to Fetterman. I think he might be the most intriguing Senate nominee in America because, well, he doesn’t give the appearance of someone from central casting. Frankly, in a year like this, that might be the best possible thing that could happen. I do think he's got a chance to appeal to voters who haven’t participated before or who are lower propensity voters in midterm elections, which is exactly who Dems need to come out in November. I also think he’s got a chance to compete in areas and with voters that Trump did well with, which again could be hugely important in a race that many believe will be extremely close and potentially decide control of the Senate. Is an unorthodox candidate also a risk? Sure, it is, but to win in 2022 Democrats are going to need to take some risks. One unknown at the moment is his health. He will have to make sure voters think he’s physically up to the job, too. A lot of eyes will be glued to this race over the next several months and for good reason. And, Murphy, don’t even get me started on the irony of this being decided on the GOP side with mail in ballots!
MURPHY: Oh the irony! The other two close to know primary race in Pennsylvania is a dead heat in the 12th Congressional District Democratic primary between – wait for it – a strong progressive and a more moderate Dem. Lots of outside money in that one, it was sort of a national proxy war like the Shontel Brown race in Ohio earlier this year. Many eyes are watching. Wait a minute! As I type this my Hacks on Tap bat phone is buzzing…
GIBBS: Looks like the Cook Report’s Dave Wasserman has decided he’s seen enough to declare Summer Lee, the strong progressive, the winner. A big win for the Left.
GIBBS: One race where they almost definitely won’t need a recount (but we’ll see if Trump declares victory anyway) is in Georgia where the latest Fox News poll has incumbent Governor and Trump election menace Brian Kemp up 60 to 28 against the Trump endorsed 2020 election denier David Perdue. We’ll have our full take on that next week! This race seems so gone for David Perdue that his biggest backer, one Donald Trump, has already washed his hands of him. Loyalty first!
MURPHY: Georgia, as predicted here early and often, is gonna be a stomping party on Trump’s number one candidate. The problem for we Never Trumpers is the polls have been so bad for so long on this that Trump’s unstoppable Kingmaker image may escape the beating it deserves in the media. This race is becoming a Dog Bites Cat story, which is unfortunate. There maybe be some interesting results down ballot as well.
In Texas, scandal plagued Attorney General “Shady Ken” Paxton faces a runoff with Land Commissioner George P. Bush, a rising star who struggled through some Trump gymnastics of his own. Paxton is in the lead, but Bush has a shot to upset the incumbent here. In the 28th Congressional district, long time moderate Dem incumbent Henry Cuellar is in the fight of his life against lefty challenger Jessica Cisneros. Cuellar, who is a rare pro-life Democratic Member is also facing a potential FBI investigation, so this might be the year the Progs finally clip the wily Texan. Bernie is heading to the district to stump for Cisneros in yet another marquee left versus center Democratic primary battle.
GIBBS: The Cuellar-Cisneros race will be another big battle and the outcome closely watched, particularly since this District will be hotly contested come November. I’m also watching my home state of Alabama to see who the GOP nominates to replace outgoing Sen. Richard Shelby. And, don’t forget, there are a lot of races below Governor in Georgia where Trump has tried to play and something we’ll be watching closely!
GIBBS: Following up on my tidbit out of New York from earlier this week. A few weeks ago, I had written that I thought congressional redistricting was going to be a wash this year. Well, thanks to the fumble in New York and some challenging news in places like Kansas, Maryland, Florida, I think it is going to end up being slightly favorable by a couple seats to Republicans. It’s still not as high as I think some people thought it might have been at the beginning of the whole thing, but still favoring the GOP in a year where they’re already favored to take control of the House.
MURPHY: The cherished Hacks on Tap YOU IDIOT! award goes to New York’s Democratic leadership who thought they could get away with their hopelessly greedy proposed redistricting map. Instead, it's now boom time for New York political consultants as a bunch of longtime safe Members turn their stilettos on each other. The ghost of California’s fabled Waxman Berman machine – that used to draw districts in California that were only contiguous at low tide – must be laughing. Such a nuclear donnybrook inside New York’s large and powerful Democratic Congressional delegation will send a wave of paralysis and rage – shattering long alliances and friendships – through the entire Democratic Congressional apparatus. Nothing creates bitter, often generational feuds within a political party than a whole bunch of nasty Member v Member primaries. What a mess for the D’s.
GIBBS: Yeah, it’s a mess. You’ve got the DCCC chair Sean Patrick Mahoney now running against Progressive rising star Mondaire Jones. Then you’ve two New York powerhouses and longtime House Members Jerry Nadler running against Carolyn Maloney. You do wonder at some point whether cooler heads might prevail, and you might have this group sit down and quietly work together to find a better solution for how this moves forward. The deadline for the NY map is supposed to be today though legal action could keep this up in the air (and in the news) for a bit.
MURPHY: Yeah and it’s not only in New York. The Supreme Court in Kansas upheld a pretty dodgy Republican map, which is more good news for the GOP.
See you next week for more on all the big races! Have a great weekend!
Murphy and Gibbs