Sep 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 03 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Republican voters are down on the sluggish GOP officials they elected, and the officeholders whine about the unreasonable people who voted for them. Republican backbenchers complain about their lame leaders, and GOP leaders grumble about their unruly followers. Right-wing pundits despair of unimaginative Republican pols, and the hard-headed pols are impatient with impractical commentators. Conservative activists loathe the GOP establishment, and the establishment is terrified and contemptuous of the base.
And there’s more . . . Republican donors, memories fresh in their minds of 2012—when they were assured by GOP bigwigs that the public polls were wrong and that their hopes of ambassadorial appointments in a Romney administration would not be dashed—now disbelieve the same public polls that were right in 2012 and that in fact, contrary to media spin, suggest a good and perhaps very good result for the GOP in 2014. So the donors hesitate to reach for their wallets, lest they be disappointed again. The consultants complain about the donors. And the donors (not unreasonably) distrust the consultants.
It’s just one big happy Republican family, moaning and groaning, sniping and whining, mumbling and grumbling.
November 4 is likely to lead to a GOP takeover of the Senate after eight long years of Democratic control, and to perhaps the largest GOP majority in the House in modern times. It’s an election that could—that should—set the stage for victory in 2016, as the Democrats’ triumph in 2006 set the stage for victory in 2008. So even though it’s contrary to interest for an opinion magazine to suggest a time out from groaning and sniping and grumbling—and even though we reserve the right to groan and snipe and grumble at our discretion—maybe it’s a good moment for everyone out there who thinks the country is endangered by Barack Obama, that it is being damaged by Harry Reid, and that it would be ruined by another Democratic presidential victory in 2016 to take a deep breath, let bygones be bygones, leave future concerns to the future, and work to win in November.
Fear of the Democrats should be a sufficient motive. But is there anything else to be said to inspire voters to vote, donors to donate, and activists to activate?
Yes. The Republican class of 2014 candidates are very impressive. A glance at their biographies would show an unusual number of high-quality men and women, many of whom have real achievements outside politics, few of whom are career politicians or children of politicians. From Tom Cotton in Arkansas to Joni Ernst in Iowa; from Ben Sasse in Nebraska to Dan Sullivan in Alaska; from Elise Stefanik in upstate New York to Lee Zeldin on Long Island; from Marilinda Garcia in western New Hampshire to Martha McSally in southeastern Arizona—a new generation of Republicans has stepped forward worthy of support.
And a glance at their birth dates would show that the Grand Old Party is this year the party of youth. For example: There are seven marquee Senate races in which the Republican candidate has a good chance to take a Democratic seat (on top of virtually certain pickups in West Virginia, Montana, and South Dakota). It is on these races that control of the Senate will hinge. In all of these contests—Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, and New Hampshire—the Republican challenger is younger than his or her Democratic opponent.
Looking at the GOP field in 2014, it’s perhaps an exaggeration to invoke John F. Kennedy’s words: “The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans . . . tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”
But looking at these candidates, Republicans would be justified in thinking—as Democrats thought in 1958, two years before Kennedy’s inauguration—that theirs is the party of youth and energy, of new ideas and bold imagination. In the 1958 off-year elections, Democrats increased their majority in the House by 48 and won 13 Republican Senate seats, defeating 10 Republican incumbents. The GOP won’t achieve a victory of that magnitude in 2014. But they can aspire to big gains, especially when polls show disapproval of Obama high, Republicans leading in the generic congressional ballot, and a slew of Democratic incumbents below 50 percent.
3:41 PM, Sep 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Congressman Tom Cotton, the Republican running for Senate in Arkansas, blasts his Democratic opponent, Mark Pryor, for refusing to debate foreign policy issue.
The fall of the Arkansas Democrats.Sep 22, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 02 • By FRED BARNES
In 1949, Harvard political scientist V. O. Key Jr. declared in his book Southern Politics in State and Nation that in Arkansas “we have the one-party system in its most undefiled and undiluted form.” Other Southern states, nearly as Democratic in those days as Arkansas, gradually became Republican. Arkansas didn’t. One-party Democratic rule in the state lasted another 60 years.
12:52 PM, Sep 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas's largest newspaper, has an editorial criticizing Democratic senator Mark Pryor and praising his Republican challenger, congressman Tom Cotton. Here's an excerpt:
Going all-negative, all the time against Tom Cotton. Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By FRED BARNES
"Tom Cotton voted against preparing America for pandemics like Ebola,” a TV ad in Arkansas declared last week. The ad came from Democrat Mark Pryor, who is running for reelection to the Senate. Cotton, a House member, is his Republican opponent in the November 4 election. The ad failed to mention that after voting against an early version of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act, Cotton voted for the bill once a provision he objected to was removed.
2:14 PM, Aug 26, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The latest attack ad from the Mark Pryor campaign is, well, absurd. Here's Politico's description of the 30-second spot: "Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is citing the recent scare over the Ebola virus in a new attack ad against his GOP opponent, the first mention of America’s preparedness for a possible pandemic in a 2014 political advertisement."
Pryor: "We have a much more secure border today than we did ten years ago."1:56 PM, Aug 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
For the most part, Republican candidates for Congress have been quiet about the immigration crisis on the border, with a few exceptions. But Rep. Tom Cotton, the GOP Senate candidate in Arkansas, has put his Democratic opponent's support for amnesty for illegal immigrants at the center of his new TV ad.
7:48 AM, Jun 24, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Conservative super PAC American Crossroads has a new ad running in Arkansas calling Democratic senator Mark Pryor a "rubber stamp" for Barack Obama.
"Mark Pryor has voted with Barack Obama at least 90 percent of the time," says the voiceover in the 30-second spot. "For the failed stimulus, for higher taxes, more spending, trillions more in debt, and more job-killing regulations. And Pryor cast the deciding vote for Obamacare."
Watch the full ad below:
7:11 AM, Jun 19, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Tom Cotton, speaking yesterday on the Bowe Bergdahl-Taliban swap:
"Five years ago today, I was a captain in the United States Army in Laghman Province, so I think I will take the prerogative to speak on behalf of the soldiers who served in Afghanistan," said Cotton.
12:00 AM, Jun 19, 2014 • By JAY COST
Earlier this year, Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton—now locked in a toss-up Senate race with Democrat Mark Pryor—voted against the farm bill. According to politicos and pundits in Washington, D.C., this is a politically dangerous vote to have cast.
5:46 PM, Jun 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Congressman Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and U.S. Senate candidate, told Neil Cavuto of Fox News Wednesday afternoon that the decision to exchange five Taliban operatives from Guantanamo Bay for the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has put the remaining American troops in Afghanistan in "greater danger."
4:03 PM, Jun 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Senator Mark Pryor is making entitlements an issue in the Arkansas Senate race. Both Pryor and his Democratic allies are hitting Republican nominee and House member Tom Cotton over his support for a budget proposal that would have, starting in 2022, gradually raised the retirement age for receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits.
1:46 PM, May 23, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Mark Pryor, the Democratic senator from Arkansas facing reelection this year, hasn't answered questions about whether he thinks Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki should resign amid stories of malfeasance at VA hospitals.
5:01 PM, May 13, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican Senate candidate Tom Cotton holds a small lead over Democratic senator Mark Pryor in an internal poll released today by the Cotton campaign. The poll of 600 likely voters in Arkansas found 42 percent support Cotton and 40 percent support Pryor. See the full release here.