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Previewing the Midterm Elections

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Previewing the Midterm Elections

10 Blocks podcast November 2, 2022
Politics and law

Washington Free Beacon reporter Joseph Simonson joins Theodore Kupfer to discuss the 2022 midterms, including races in Ohio, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, and more.

Audio Transcript

Teddy Kupfer: Welcome back to 10 Blocks. This is Teddy Kupfer, an associate editor of City Journal. Joining me on the show today is Joe Simonson, a senior investigative reporter at the Washington Free Beacon. He’s been all over the country in recent weeks reporting on various House, Senate, and gubernatorial races. With election day a week away, I can’t think of a better person to have on to preview the midterms. So, Joe, thank you very much for joining.

Let’s just dive right in. The Democrats currently hold control of the 50-50 Senate. They have an eight-seat House majority. But as of now, betting markets and forecasting services see Republicans as a pretty safe bet to win back control of the House, as tends to happen in the middle of a president’s first term. They also rate the Senate a toss up. And of course, there’s plenty of fascinating governors and local races as well.

I want to start with two states that sort of look like mirror images: Pennsylvania and Georgia. In PA, we have an extremely tight contest for the Senate seat currently held by Pat Toomey. Republican Mehmet Oz is gaining momentum on Democrat John Fetterman after Fetterman’s, shall we say, unfortunate debate performance. But the governor’s race, polling suggests, is much less tight. Democrat Josh Shapiro has a commanding lead over Republican Doug Mastriano, who’s associated with the Stop the Steal wing of the GOP.

Then, in Georgia, you have something similar unfolding—with the parties reversed. Republican Brian Kemp, the incumbent governor, holds a commanding lead to win reelection over political celebrity Stacey Abrams. But there’s a tight contest in the Senate with Herschel Walker, a Republican, trying to fend off bad press against Democrat and incumbent Raphael Warnock. So, in both cases, you have two very close Senate races. You have this confounding variable of lopsided—or what appear would be lopsided—gubernatorial races. And you have the question of whether Oz and Warnock can overcome their weak party mates or whether we’re likely to see a lot of ticket splitting. I don’t know. You can take Georgia or Pennsylvania in whatever order you’d like, but tell me what you’re seeing in both of these races.

Joe Simonson: Well, in Pennsylvania, obviously the debate performance from Fetterman probably moved over a lot of undecideds. In every race, every year, the amount of undecideds probably shrinks just due to general polarization. But I will say that Oz’s numbers were really strengthening, and more importantly, Fetterman’s numbers were really weakening in the weeks leading up to the debate. That was purely due to the fact that Fetterman really hasn’t been on the campaign trail very much. Oz is probably campaigning harder than any candidate on the House or Senate or running for a governor on the map right now. I mean, he is driving around the state every single day. Going to diners, going to schools, going to just about anything you can think of, going into the cities. He’s really just been doing retail politics for the past four or five months in a way that Fetterman is essentially physically unable to do.

The consequence of that is also that Oz has been getting a lot more money from the Senate Leadership Fund. The consequence is that he’s been able to talk about Fetterman’s record in a way that Fetterman can’t really respond to—both literally and also because he’s just not getting the type of media exposure. And so what Oz was able to do before the debate was really shift the narrative against Fetterman. Talking about issues related to criminal justice. Talking about healthcare. Crime generally has been really Oz’s strongest suit in that race. And so I think that the debate definitely pushed the momentum even further in Oz’s direction and probably helped him clean up a lot of those undecideds. Probably a majority of them if I had to guess. That would probably explain a recent polling. But I will say that, even before this debate, Oz had the momentum.

Teddy Kupfer: Jamelle Bouie at the New York Times chastised Oz for allegedly mocking Fetterman’s condition during the debate. Obviously, Fetterman is a stroke victim. He’s having what his campaign says are “auditory processing issues.” He uses closed captioning. Anyway, I don’t think I saw that at the debate. I watched the debate on local news here in central PA, and Oz, as you suggest, is really running very hard against what he says is the Democratic agenda—not against Fetterman’s cognitive condition, which obviously has—

Joe Simonson: Hold on, Teddy. It’s not cognitive.

Teddy Kupfer: Ha, right. It’s not cognitive. But as many people have pointed out, that would not be a winning strategy: mocking a guy for struggling to speak. People have family members who have suffered strokes, that sort of thing. But I think it’s sort of a red herring, this notion that Oz is mocking Fetterman.

On the other hand, early voting is pretty permissive in the Keystone State. Lots of ballots have already been cast and many of those ballots were cast before the debate. So in this case, you have voters voting without the information that the debate supplied them. Do you think that could help push Fetterman over the line? Without asking you to make a prediction, do you think that early voting is going to swing this race?

Joe Simonson: Pennsylvania’s been weird. I haven’t been able to find good, reliable information on early voting. Most people who work in consulting or who are data junkies, which I am not, usually tend to say, “Don’t pay so much attention to early voting.” Obviously, early voting is going to be down in an off year. With that being said, again, if Oz doesn’t win, it would probably be kind of easy to blame early voting. It’s always going to be a counterfactual of, would 100 percent of these people who voted for Fetterman have done so if they had seen the debate beforehand? But at the same time, people who tend to vote early tend to be partisan Democrats. They’re probably just going to vote for the person with a D next to their name. It’s one of these things where Pennsylvania is unique, I think, from just my impression in that I can’t seem to find any good reliable analysis on it.

Teddy Kupfer: Let’s move on to Georgia. The two big storylines, I think, seem to be Stacey Abrams, who is a national political celebrity, yet seems like a very weak candidate when it comes to actually winning office in Georgia. Second of all, there’s the Herschel Walker campaign. He’s been the subject of multiple reports now that he in the past had paid off women to receive abortions. He denies this. And yet he, despite this press, appears to be running neck and neck with Raphael Warnock, the incumbent. What are you seeing in these races?

Joe Simonson: I think the Georgia Senate is probably almost guaranteed at this point to go into a runoff, which would be held in December. You have a libertarian getting four or five percent of the vote. He’s basically a spoiler candidate. One of my colleagues, Alana Goodman, wrote a great piece about the libertarian in this race. He was basically a partisan Democrat until five years ago. All in on universal healthcare, was a big Obama fan. Now has decided that he’s a libertarian and his platform is really focused on social issues and criminal justice.

With that being said, there’s a not-insignificant amount of Republicans who probably aren’t huge fans of Warnock. They might be Trump-to-Biden voters. And they might not be really fans of Herschel Walker either. And so they might be casting a protest vote by picking the libertarian. Even if he gets 3 or 4 percent, that’s probably enough to push it into a runoff, which will be held in December.

It's really hard to say right now where that race is going because what happens on Election Day might not actually make that big of a difference. We saw that, again, in 2020 in the runoffs after the presidential race. It’s going to be very close. I don’t see either candidate getting 50 percent on Election Day right now. But if there was going to be someone who got 50 percent, I probably would give that just to... I would probably give those odds to Herschel Walker just because, as you mentioned, Abrams is running so far behind the incumbent Kemp.

Abrams has essentially, in my opinion, given up. If you look at Abrams’s recent rhetoric, she’s doubling down on identity politics. She’s now coming out again in favor of reparations and defending her record on reparations in the debate. During that debate, she started attacking the police, because she’s not getting any endorsements from sheriffs, et cetera. She was saying essentially that she doesn’t need the good old boys who just want to basically take black people off the street backing my campaign. That’s just not a candidate who’s remotely interested in winning the white suburban center that decides Georgia’s elections. She either thinks A, I need to get an MSNBC gig out of this, or B, it’s all going to be about the base. I need to get as many black partisan Democrats as possible to go to the polls. But she does not seem to be taking the race very seriously at this point.

Teddy Kupfer: Let’s bounce around the country. In the Ohio Senate race, Republican J. D. Vance is running against Democrat Tim Ryan. This is one that Democrats had identified as a possible surprise pickup earlier in the cycle. Ryan fashions himself a moderate Democrat. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, is an investor backed by the entrepreneur Peter Thiel. It looks like he has consolidated his support and he is ultimately going to win; the FiveThirtyEight polling average has him up two percentage points, 46.8 to 44.8. What are some of the lessons of this race? Why were Democrats so optimistic in the first place and why does it appear they’re going to fall short?

Joe Simonson: I have a lot to say on this race, but I’ll keep it brief. I’m working on a piece about it that’ll come out after the election. To keep it brief and to answer your question as directly as possible:

One, J. D. had a very rough primary. He barely won the primary. He was certainly a weak handed. There was plenty of evidence in the early months, even mid months, of the campaign that he was a weak general candidate. He did not have very high name recognition in the state. Tim Ryan, even if you don’t like him, if in you’re in Ohio, you’re familiar with him. He’s been there for 20 years. Well, actually longer. He’s been in Congress for 20 years and he was a state legislator for a few.

Two, Tim Ryan has dominated in terms of small-dollar donations. I think he’s the fourth or fifth biggest recipient on ActBlue, which is the Democrats’ main fundraising platform for normal people. If they want to donate money to a candidate, you go through ActBlue if you’re donating to a Democrat. This is kind of remarkable. He’s out-raising candidates like Raphael Warnock. He’s out-raising Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin. He’s out-raising Democrats on the House and Senate level in North Carolina. He’s outraising Mark Kelly and other Democrats in Arizona. It is rather remarkable that a state that Trump won twice by over eight points has captured the Democratic base—people who, like I said, are willing to actually write a check, whether it’s $50, $100, $200, or $2000. He’s done an excellent job nationally at cultivating an image that this race is winnable. And like I said, I think a lot of Democratic consultants, I think a lot of Democrats in the media and reporters in the media, smelled blood in the water in the summer with J. D. That really, like I said, helped propel Ryan to have this huge campaign apparatus. Basically, the more money you have, the more media you get.

But I’m not too confident in Ryan’s chances as we get closer to the election. I don’t get the sense at this point Ryan is trying very hard to win it. There were all sorts of questionable decisions candidates such as Tim Ryan have made in the past two or three years knowing that he wanted to run for Senate. There are two ballot initiatives in Ohio on Election Day that Ryan has refused to take a position on. The first ballot initiative is whether judges ought to be required to take into consideration an accused criminal’s threat to public safety when setting bail. That’s a really easy thing for a Democrat to endorse. The Democrat gubernatorial nominee, who has basically no shot to win—and she’s been running on abortion rights, on a very progressive platform—has even endorsed this ballot measure. Ryan says he hasn’t taken a position.

The second ballot initiative is whether the Ohio state constitution should be amended to forbid illegal aliens from participating in elections at the federal, state and local level in the state. Again, Tim Ryan has been asked about this several times. Most recently, he was asked about it last week, I believe. He says, “I haven’t even read them yet. I don’t know.” These are softball questions down the middle. J. D. obviously has been consistent on this. He won’t take a position. Again, for someone who’s trying to pitch himself as a moderate, if you can’t tell voters whether you think illegal immigrants should be able to vote or not, I don’t see how you’re seriously running for a statewide seat.

Teddy Kupfer: Yeah. This question of whether Democrats are capable of moderating on some of these big issues, crime and immigration, is definitely something we should return to later on. It’s been a big theme.

Joe Simonson: I’ll just say really quickly, you can just lie! You can just lie. I mean, John Fetterman lied in the Pennsylvania debate. His most famous moment was when he was asked about fracking. Of course, he was barely coherent, but he said, “I support fracking, I support fracking.” No one believes John Fetterman supports fracking. He’s been on the record a hundred times saying he doesn’t support it. Liberal Democrats do not support fracking. He’s just going to lie. Electorally speaking, that’s better than just saying, “I don’t know. I haven’t looked into the matter.” And these are softball issues.

By the way, your average Democrat doesn’t think illegal immigrants should be able to vote. I mean, this is complete capture by the left-wing base of the party and the donor class. It’s really puzzling to see. It defies explanation if you seriously think you’re in the hunt to win.

Teddy Kupfer: Let’s move over to the Grand Canyon State, Arizona, where we have two fairly competitive races. In the Senate, Mark Kelly leads Blake Masters in the polling average 48.1 percent to 44.8 percent. Masters, of course, an executive at Thiel Capital, backed by his former boss, Peter Thiel, in the primary, had a bit of a rocky start to the general election after the primary. But he has shored up his support lately and some recent polls show him ahead. And then the governor’s race has been really interesting. You have Kari Lake, a former television anchor and a Republican, beating Katie Hobbs, the Democrat. Lake is a very exciting candidate for many Arizona voters, and a very disturbing candidate for many others. She’s been associated, like Mastriano, with the stop-the-steal wing of the movement, and has echoed some of Trump’s claims about the 2020 election. And yet there’s something about her that has really resonated. So, talk about these races. Tell me what’s happening lately and why you think these candidates are in the positions they’re in.

Joe Simonson: Like you said, the apt comparison for someone like Masters is J. D. in Ohio. They both had really tight primaries. They weren’t particularly strong primary candidates. The Trump endorsement pushed them where the edge. They were bankrolled by a single guy. That pissed off a lot of people both in the state and nationally in the GOP. But J. D., I think, has done a much better job at adjusting to a general election. His message has been very consistent. J. D. is running the kind of race your generic Republican is running around the country: Things cost too much, there’s too much fentanyl in the country, and the American people are tired of one-state rule.

Blake is interesting. Blake has run a hard-right campaign except, similarly to J. D., has moderated on one issue and one issue only, which is abortion. But at the end of the day, again, Blake, like J. D., has low name recognition and is really hoping that “R” next to his name pushes him over. Aside from, I think, some sort of vague ideas about the more hard right on social issues and stuff like that.

But that’s, I think, totally beside the point right now. I think his entire campaign strategy is tying himself to Kari Lake. Blake Masters does not hold independent campaign events anymore. In fact, I don’t think he has held a rally by himself in the last—I’m sure I’ll be fact checked here, but I’m sure you go back in the last month, I think every single campaign event he has held has been of Kari Lake. Why? Kari Lake is a complete juggernaut. We’re going to be talking about Kari Lake for a very long time after this race. She is absolutely annihilating her opponent, Katie Hobbs, who is very weak, and is taking full advantage of that. And Kari also is tying herself to Blake. I think at the end of the day, Kari Lake wants to be seen as someone who pulled Blake across the finish line.

The polls are tightening. I think basically Republican voters are coming home. Most polling shows Mark Kelly holding a slight lead. I think at the end of the day, this entire race is going to come down to whether Kari Lake can pull Masters over the edge. Because Blake does not want to be seen as Blake Masters. Blake wants to be seen as Kari Lake’s running mate and a Republican, a generic Republican. I think that’s the way that that race is pulling out. And so, again, it’s going to come down to ticket splitting. Mark Kelly, whatever you think of him, has essentially unlimited money. He’s a very, very generic Democrat. Doesn’t really sponsor much legislation. He votes with Biden 100 percent of the time, like every other Democrat. But he’s not the easiest opponent to land a punch on. And Blake really hasn’t, other than maybe on the border.

Teddy Kupfer: I want to talk about a specific issue, crime, and how you’re seeing it play out in races across the country. Two races that come to mind for me are Wisconsin Senate and Oregon governor. In Wisconsin, you have Ron Johnson with a significant and, I think, consistent lead over Mandela Barnes, who was, again, another favorite of the Democratic Party early on. Barnes looked like he could perhaps knock off Johnson, who tends to be a pretty hard-right Senator. But he’s been absolutely killed by his advocacy for defunding the police in 2020. His participation in what was called, in many quarters, the “racial reckoning” has come back to hurt him.

Meanwhile, there’s Oregon, where Portland, the largest city in the state, was ground zero for some of the disorder that we saw in the wake of those protests and riots. The governor’s race is really tight. Republican Christine Drazan is challenging Democrat Tina Kotek. Portland voters are considering a ballot initiative to remake their system of government. There are all sorts of surprising results in these two states that I think it’s fair to say are significantly influenced by voters just not regarding Democrats as serious on crime. You don’t have to stick to these two states, but tell me about how you’re seeing this issue affect races across the country.

Joe Simonson: I think, honestly, the GOP really found its footing on the issue following the Dobbs decision. They were clearly talking about it beforehand. Dobbs kind of put a pause on their messaging for a few weeks if not a month. That hurt Republicans most at the House level, because you had a bunch of people who were new to politics who had been saying they were pro-life in a state legislature for years. Then, suddenly: Oh, you want to be sent to D.C.? So you want to ban abortion? For about two or three weeks, close to a month, the GOP really had a hard time figuring out their messaging.

They found their footing on abortion, but more importantly, they found their footing on the issue of crime. We cover it so much at the Free Beacon. All these House races that I’m not going to get into—your viewers or your listeners don’t need to know all their names—but it is remarkable how, during the summer of 2020, essentially every Democrat felt the need to take a radical position on criminal justice reform: whether that meant abolishing the police, whether that meant supporting Black Lives Matter, which now is extremely unpopular as an organization, or just making kind of vague assertions about systemic racism in criminal justice. Every Democrat felt pressure and I think were happy to make all these sort of pronouncements on the issue.

Republicans are more than happy to dig up all these old sound clips to really whack the mole over the head. You go to the House level of how these races will be decided. Well, what are these candidates saying on the ground? Republicans have been beating Democrats over the head with this issue because it doesn’t matter whether you’re in Portland, Denver, Tucson, Lansing, Michigan, Pittsburgh, wherever, random town in Ohio: everyone is worried about crime. It is going up everywhere. Democrats like to say that Republicans only talk about crime in blue cities, but that it’s also going up in red states. Yeah, sure, but who runs the cities in red states? It’s mostly Democrats. At the end of the day, even if it is a state that’s controlled by Republicans, a red state, voters will always trust the Republican on criminal justice reform.

Take Wisconsin, for example. Democrats really saw Ron Johnson as the prime pickup there, which I always think is interesting because Ron-John is really a fascinating political creature. He was first elected in 2010 during a GOP wave, reelected in 2016, outperformed Trump in 2016. The Senate Leadership Fund, all major GOP donors, cut off Ron in the final months of that Senate campaign. He ends up winning, his big middle finger to the establishment, and like I said, outruns Trump. Arguably pulls Trump across the finish line there. And now, again, all the Democrats thought he was a target, but the race is tight. I think Ron-John is really good at retail politicking. Voters there trust him. And Democrats basically nominated this guy, Mandela Barnes: he’s the lieutenant governor, but it was a coronation. He did not face a real primary. No one was going to hit him from the right in the Democratic primary, and now, because he was untested in that primary, he’s got this record that is just turning off the suburban voters in the state.

Teddy Kupfer: Couple more issues. I think both of us think the Republican position on abortion rights had been a drag electorally after Dobbs, which you mentioned. We saw a Kansas referendum to the state constitution and a New York special election in a representative House district, both of which seemed to suggest that voters were punishing Republicans for what they viewed as their extreme stance on abortion. And yet that seems to have subsided recently. Is it that Republicans have found their messaging, as you suggested earlier on? Is it that the critique of the Republican stance was overblown? Or is it just that inflation, crime, cost of living, kitchen-table issues are ultimately what people are voting on and caring about right now?

Joe Simonson: I think it’s a combination of all the above. I’m probably in the minority here where I think that the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, actually really did set back Republicans momentarily. I think a lot of the momentum we’re seeing in polling—to the extent you can trust polls, but it’s the only information we really have right now—would’ve been probably nicer if you’re a Republican running a campaign to see maybe one, two weeks earlier. Before Dobbs, at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, I mean, gosh. Biden’s approval numbers were just atrocious. He was not even breaking 40 percent. That’s not to say that would’ve held until November, but Republicans would be talking about maybe a 50-seat majority in that case—1992-type numbers.

The Dobbs decision really made the GOP pause. It made them have to figure out messaging. I think a lot of House candidates were bailed out by Lindsay Graham’s bill in the Senate, which is a 15-week nationwide abortion ban. That gave the opportunity for Republican candidates to say, “Oh, I support that,” and then flip the question around to Democrats and say, “Well, what do you support? You don’t support any limits. You’re the radical.”

Also, as an extension of that pause, it really did mean that SLF and also the CLF, Congressional Leadership Fund, which is the GOP big-money PAC, had to rethink where they were going to spend money. They started having to spend money to candidates that were really either incumbents who suddenly looked a little bit more vulnerable. Don Bacon in Nebraska is one I’m thinking of. Nebraska-2. They had to start spending money on him. He was now on the defensive. And that meant that seats that should have been targeted GOP pickups from Democrats just weren’t getting money for a crucial one-month period.

At the end of the day, I think GOP found its footing. The economy is not in good shape. That’s what voters care about the most. I think it was a bunch of things. But people who are saying abortion actually didn’t matter really need to rethink what exactly is helping Republicans right now.

Teddy Kupfer: One more broad story I wanted to talk about: thi- much ballyhooed notion of a rightward shift among Hispanics. After 2020, where Trump and Republicans seemed to run ahead in many Hispanic heavy counties—though not everywhere across the country; largely in Texas and Florida—people have been looking to 2022 to ask whether this is going to persist. Are we going to see yet another nail in The Emerging Democratic Majority’s coffin? I’m curious what you make of this.

In Florida, Rubio and DeSantis look like they’re heading to big wins, suggesting the Sunshine State’s transformation into a red state is continuing apace. In Texas, Greg Abbott holds a pretty substantial lead over Beto O’Rourke in the governor’s race. Mayra Flores, a Republican congresswoman in a South Texas district, is running close to maintain the seat that she won in a special election. In Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democrat, is running very close with Adam Laxalt, the Republican. It’s too early to say, obviously, as we certainly don’t have conclusive evidence that the putative Hispanic rightward shift is continuing. But what are some of the races to look for if observers are hoping to test that thesis on Tuesday?

Joe Simonson: I think one way to think about the Hispanic voter shift is where exactly it’s going on. It’s going on in the Rio Grande Valley. A lot of these towns and cities are virtually 100 percent Hispanic. And I think it’s rather—

Teddy Kupfer: With people from Mexico, right? These are Mexican-Americans.

Joe Simonson: Yes. These are second, third-generation Mexican Americans. These are not where migrants stay, either. When someone crosses the border legally or is claiming asylum, they’re not hanging out in Brownsville; they’re going somewhere else. But that’s important also to note because, A, these are Mexican-Americans and the migrants who are coming through are not Mexican-American usually. They’re Guatemalan, El Salvadoran, Venezuelan. A lot of the rightward shift there is that these people are just fed up. I was down in the Rio Grande about six months ago for a work trip and the havoc the border chaos is wreaking on these towns really can’t be overstated. I mean, you cannot go anywhere along the Rio Grande, any of these towns here, and not see evidence of the border crisis. Whether that’s just migrants walking around looking to leave, whether it’s debris, litter . . . It’s just absolutely everywhere.

We’ve been living through a period of elevated illegal immigration or elevated migration through the southern border. We talk about crime and how maybe voters in Philadelphia suburbs or whatever are worried about crime in the city 20 minutes away. Down there, it’s a fact of everyday life. You have smugglers. You have drugs running through. You have just all sorts of, frankly, chaos. And so I think that alone kind of explains it. Yeah, there are these macro trends. The economy is not very good and it’s hard to be a Democrat right now, but I think that explains a lot of it.

Nevada as well. I think Nevada’s a little bit different situation. Why would Laxalt maybe be doing so well among Hispanics? Well, it could be this general trend of Hispanics moving rightward. But if you look at Nevada, it has some of the worst inflation in the country. Food prices have gone up the most there. Rents have gone up the most there. Gas is some of the most extensive in the country there. At the end of the day, if you’re a Hispanic voter, which makes up an increasingly larger share of voters in Nevada, you’re tired of Democratic leadership. And they don’t have good answers. Democrats do not have good answers on this.

The simplest explanation is usually the best one. You have to look state by state, district by district, to look at why Hispanics are moving rightward. Now, it is true, obviously, nationwide in 2020, it did. Hispanic and immigrants did move rightward. But I think, when analyzing specific races, you should probably mostly pay attention to the issues facing that state or district.

Teddy Kupfer: Always good advice. Before we close, I want to ask you, are there any other races we didn’t mention today that you’re eyeing? I know you’ve been in Michigan recently reporting on some of the contests there. We didn’t get to the New York gubernatorial race, where Lee Zeldin is running close. North Carolina Senate. Any or all or none of these. What else are you going to be watching Tuesday night?

Joe Simonson: On election night, start by looking at the northeast.

Jahana Hayes, who’s an incumbent in Connecticut, is facing a very, very tough reelection race from George Logan, who’s a black Republican. I believe that’s CT-5. Logan is a very impressive guy. This could be the first time in I think 20 years that Connecticut elect a Republican to go to the House.

And in Rhode Island, Allan Fung. He’s another really impressive guy. Kind of a funny pitch from him. He was a mayor of a small city in Rhode Island. He’s running against this guy named Seth Magaziner. Magaziner is a very wealthy white guy who, again, didn’t really have much of a primary. Was more of a coronation because his family’s been there for a long time and he worked for the governor. And he’s being challenged, like I said, by Allan Fung, who’s entire central pitch is just essentially, I’m a moderate. I don’t really think of myself as a Republican or a Democrat. I guess I’m a Republican because I’m kind of a business guy and they seem most effective in getting things done. He’s a moderate on abortion. He’s not a MAGA guy. Although, he did compliment Trump on the economy. And so if you’re someone like Magaziner, you just don’t have a message right now. When the economy’s in bad shape. It’s kind of remarkable in these districts how much a normie Republican... how much damage they can really do. It’s really hard to stick anything against someone like that. And that’s, I think, the same dynamic you’re seeing in Connecticut as well.

If those two flip—and the NRCC, National Republican Congressional Committee, is pretty bullish on their chances—relatively handily, then I think Republicans will probably have a very good night.

Teddy Kupfer: All right. Joe Simonson, thank you very much. Listeners, don’t forget to check out Joe’s reporting for the Washington Free Beacon. His writing on the City Journal website as well is at city-journal.org. We will link to his author pages in the description. You can also find City Journal on Twitter @cityjournal, on Instagram @cityjournal_mi, and you find Joe on Twitter @sayssimonson. And as always, if you like what you heard on the podcast, give us a five star rating on iTunes. Joe, thanks for coming on the show.

Joe Simonson: Thank you, Teddy.

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Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

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