The blue wave is to come in November as sure as the sun is going to rise tomorrow, at least if you listen to most mainstream political commentators.
Never mind the fact that President Donald Trump’s poll numbers are up, that the generic Republican vs. generic Democrat polls for this year’s midterms have closed significantly over the past few months and the only two seats the Democrats have managed to pick up in congressional special elections have come with a candidate running against an accused pedophile and a candidate virtually indistinguishable from his Republican counterpart in any of his policy positions. There’s going to be a blue wave, dagnabbit, and it’s going to crush both the GOP and the president’s agenda.
While special elections are all well and good, Tuesday was the beginning of the election season proper. Primaries were held in several key states, and the takeaway didn’t exactly look like a blue wave.
The night’s most watched race was in West Virginia, where coal executive, convicted criminal and general annoyance Don Blankenship was tipped by the media as the favorite in the GOP primary race that will produce a challenger for Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin in a state Trump won by 42 points.
Blankenship called himself “Trumpier than Trump,” although his only real campaign position seemed to be a strident objection to political correctness which verged upon vulgarity. His television ads called Sen. Mitch McConnell “Cocaine Mitch” and his “China family” (McConnell’s better half, and I mean that in every sense, is Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who immigrated to the United States from Taiwan early in her life).
When confronted about this, Blankenship decided to insert his foot deeper into his mouth. “Races are negro, white Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian,” he said when he addressed those who called him racist over the “China family” ads. “There’s no mention of a race. I’ve never used a race word.”
Issues of political correctness aside, Blankenship was clearly a self-sabotaging candidate with more money than sense who didn’t want to change Washington so much as see his name written large in lights. That’s really what he thought Trump was all about. And the media would have loved to have been along for the ride.
Unfortunately for both of them, President Trump knew exactly what Blankenship was up to and warned voters off of Blankenship.
To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
It’s worth noting, as Breitbart did, that we probably wouldn’t have had this problem had McConnell not thrown his weight behind Rep. Evan Jenkins, an insufferable RINO who didn’t switch parties until after the first term of Barack Obama, thus splitting the vote between him and state Attorney General Patrick Morrissey, a reliable conservative who first made his name nationally by suing the Obama administration over their global warming policy.
Thankfully, Morrissey ended up handily beating Jenkins. Blankenship, tipped to be the favorite just days before the election, finished a distant third with 20 percent and blamed it all on the Trump tweet.
So, a reliable conservative winning in West Virginia, all with the help of President Trump. That’s certainly some good news for conservatives. Trump also got his choice in Ohio, where Jim Renacci won the nomination. Businessman Mike Braun, a political novice favorable to Trump, won a tough primary in Indiana over two more experienced contenders to challenge another vulnerable Democrat, Joe Donnelly.
“This fall, we’re going to send a message to Senator Donnelly and the rest of Washington that politics shouldn’t be a career and if we want to change things we need to change the people we send there,” Braun said in his victory speech.
“Senator Donnelly is just another career politician who has spent nearly his entire career in politics and government. When he’s in Indiana he acts like one of us, but in Washington he votes against us, against President Trump and in lockstep with the Democrats.”
The point is that if the media thought that the drain-the-swamp mood in the GOP had changed in Trump’s 15-odd months in the White House, that certainly wasn’t borne out by Tuesday’s elections. Meanwhile, for a Democrat Party whose base has been tilting to the left lately, Tuesday might have been a bit of a wake-up call.
Dennis Kucinich, former manic pixie dream presidential candidate who somehow wormed his way into the nation’s lower house, now wanted to run for governor in Ohio. Alas, voters sensibly decided that pretty much anyone would have been better, anyone in this case being Richard Cordray — who, despite receiving backing from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, still qualifies as more sensible than Kucinich. He now faces former Sen. Mike DeWine in the general election, who beat Cordray back in 2010 to win the office he currently holds, Ohio attorney general.
There wasn’t much in the way of special election action on Tuesday, although that which occurred didn’t work out well for the Democrats. In Texas, a special election for the state House of Representatives finished with 80.2 percent of the vote for two Republican candidates, compared to 19.8 percent for the Democrat. Two Republicans will now face a runoff later in the month.
There was also good news in North Carolina where Rep. Walter Jones, a longtime anti-establishment conservative, won a difficult primary challenge against Phil Law, a lobbyist who tried to paint his votes against the GOP establishment as disloyalty to Trump.
Back in 2016, the vote in the same district was 78.6 percent for Republicans to 23.7 percent for the Democrats.
More evidence the #BlueWave is DYING:
Texas House District 13-
Republicans- 80.2% (!)
4 point SWING to Republicans- wonder why you didn’t hear about this in the media this week?
— Bruce H (@_hollister_99) May 7, 2018
That’s not too big of a difference, but that’s also entirely the point. Texas is one of the states that the Democrats have been desperately trying to turn purple despite the fact that it remains as red as the horizontal stripe on the state flag. Despite the fact that we’ve been told that Democrats everywhere are more motivated to turn up and vote in any special election anywhere, be it in Silicon Valley or in rural Kansas, Republican turnout in this election actually went … up.
That was the takeaway from Tuesday’s elections. It doesn’t appear as if there’s an anti-Trump rebellion is in the works on the right, nor does it appear as if the left is keeping up the momentum we’ve seen.
In West Virginia, the Republicans didn’t punt away a seat in the primary stage that the Democrats desperately need to win. In Indiana, they fielded a good candidate to take out Sen. Donnelly. In Ohio, Kucinich’s return to the political fray has been ended and a Democrat apparatchik will face off against former Sen. DeWine in the gubernatorial race. In Texas, a minor special election was disappointing for the Democrats.
All in all, those looking out on the political waterfront on Monday didn’t see a blue wave coming. It may still be that the tsunami remains far offshore and will peak closer to the election. As it stands, however, there’s good reason to believe that both houses of Congress could still remain in Republican hands.