Politics

‘Weak’ Candidates Threaten GOP’s Hopes To Retake Senate

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  • An expert argues that the GOP has chosen “weak” candidates for their Senate races, and are now seeing the repercussions of their actions. 
  • Pennsylvania and Georgia are two races that may have “weak” candidates running. 
  • “Dr. Oz is a very weak candidate, and he is not going to get any help from the gubernatorial candidate [Doug Mastriano],” Michael McKenna, a strategist and former Trump administration official, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The immediate question in Pennsylvania is how bad off physically is Mr. Fetterman.”

Republicans seem poised to take back the House this November, but the Senate is a different story with “weak” candidates possibly jeopardizing the party’s chances, according to an expert.

In Pennsylvania, GOP candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz is trailing his progressive opponent Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in almost every poll conducted, and his poor performance has many Keystone State Republicans concerned, according to Politico. Oz has also been out-fundraised by Fetterman by over $6 million, according to Federal Election Committee (FEC) filings.

“Dr. Oz is a very weak candidate, and he is not going to get any help from the gubernatorial candidate [Republican Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano],” Michael McKenna, a strategist and former Trump administration official, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The immediate question in Pennsylvania is how bad off physically is Mr. Fetterman.”

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman campaigns for U.S. Senate at a meet and greet at Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport on May 10, 2022 in Lemont Furnace, Pennsylvania. Fetterman is the Democratic primary front runner in a field that includes U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and state Sen. Malcolm Kenyatta in the May 17 primary vying to replace Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman campaigns for U.S. Senate at a meet and greet at Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport on May 10, 2022 in Lemont Furnace, Pennsylvania. Fetterman is the Democratic primary front runner in a field that includes U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and state Sen. Malcolm Kenyatta in the May 17 primary vying to replace Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Fetterman suffered a stroke in May that took him off the campaign trail for weeks. Some Democrats have since raised concerns over his viability as a candidate.

“Pennsylvania is completely dependent on how physically capable Mr. Fetterman is,” McKenna told the DCNF.

Despite his health troubles, Fetterman is leading Oz in the polls by a range of 4 to 9 percentage points, according to a Newsweek analysis of polls last week. Fetterman has tried to paint Oz as a “carpetbagger” from New Jersey who only came back to Pennsylvania in hopes of being elected to political office.

“Dr. Oz is gaining support throughout the Commonwealth from Republicans, Democrats, and Independents because he is out on the campaign trail listening to and learning from voters,” Brittany Yanick, communications director for the Oz campaign, told the DCNF. “Dr. Oz’s campaign will also have ample resources to get its message out, just like in the primary.”

Yanick also argued that support for Fetterman will dwindle as voters learn more about his platform.

“There are a lot of experts that will say the opposite,” Liz Preate Havey, the Montgomery Republican County Chairwoman, told the DCNF. “I think that Oz is a very strong candidate. There is a concern about [Fetterman’s] extreme policies, and I am confident that once people know his extreme polices people will vote for Oz.”

McKenna speculated that former football star and Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker may win the race in Georgia, despite recent revelations that Walker had children out of wedlock who he did not raise. (RELATED: GOP Set To Win Massive Majority In House, Analysis Finds)

“We might do OK in Georgia; Mr. Walker seems to have a pretty solid coating of teflon,” McKenna told the DCNF.

Incumbent Democratic Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock has raised almost $85 million compared to Walker’s $20 million war chest, according to FEC filings. But despite his massive fundraising support, Warnock’s seat is far from safe with the latest polling showing him only 3 percentage points ahead of Walker.

“Democrats should be worried,” National Republican Senate Committee spokeswoman Lizzie Litzow told the DCNF. “Our Republican Senate candidates across the country are strong and willing to fight against Biden’s failing agenda, unlike Senate Democrats and their candidates who will simply continue to be a rubber stamp for Biden.”

Overall, McKenna remains optimistic ahead of the 2022 midterms and maintains that all is not lost for GOP candidates in tough Senate races, despite the current polling. As for the other toss-up seats, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada seem most likely to fall into the GOP’s hands, according to McKenna.

“In most places, the races are within the margin of error, so, it’s probably a little early to get nervous,” McKenna said.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said the GOP needs to take advantage of President Joe Biden’s unpopularity. “The environment is excellent for us,” he told Axios. “We can’t fumble the ball on the five-yard line.”

The Fetterman, Warnock and Walker campaigns did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

UPDATE: This piece has been updated to include comments from Liz Preate Harvey, the Montgomery Count Republican Chairwoman.

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