Thursday, April 5, 2018


An unsettling factor in this year’s mid-term elections
is the presence of extreme candidates in both parties
for competitive U.S. house and senate seats.

It is by no means unprecedented. These kind of
candidates appear with some regularity at all levels
of local, state and national campaigns. Some are
perennial candidates, and others run as third party
or independent office seekers.

In recent cycles, some of these candidates actually
won their party nomination --- and inevitably went
down to defeat in November even though their party
usually won their races.

Republicans particularly have paid a political price
for these candidacies. Most recently, a safe GOP
senate seat was lost in Alabama to a Democrat
because the Republican nominee was not acceptable
even to many conservative voters. But in the past decade,
conservatives have also lost likely wins in Nevada,
Missouri, Delaware, Indiana and elsewhere because
they did not nominate their strongest candidates.

This cycle, some Democrats with apparently more
extreme views, following the populist outburst of
2016, are seeking their party’s nominations in
house and senate races. On the other hand, as
happened in a recent special congressional
election, Democrats nominated a moderate and
atypical candidate --- and picked up a seat.
This is being repeated in other congressional
races where Democrats are running left-center
candidates in districts where more radical
candidates would fail.

In the senate races, Democrats are defending
about a dozen seats with vulnerable incumbents.
In many cases, Republicans are  putting up
attractive challengers, as they did so effectively
in 2010 and 2014, but in a few contests, their
potential success is muddled by more extreme
candidates. Two examples of this are Arizona
and Mississippi. Two extreme candidates are in
the Arizona race, and this might enable a third,
and excellent candidate, to win the nomination.
Otherwise, the Democrats will pick up a seat.

It’s a free country, and we hold free elections.
Anyone qualified to run can run, no matter
what views they hold. That is as it should be.
It is the responsibility of the political parties
to make sure that they put their best candidates
on the ballot. When they do not, as has been
demonstrated so often, they do pay a dear price.

Within liberalism and conservatism, there is a wide
range of views that have the potential of succeeding
with voters. Outside that range on both the left and the
right, it is far more difficult to assemble a winning

One of the reasons it is premature to assess
what will happen in November is that the names
of the candidates in so many competitive races are
still unknown.

The two major parties should be paying special
attention to their nominees this cycle.

Candidates matter.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved

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