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It's been a long year
Way back in March, Yr Editrix had a brilliant idea: there were something like 35 weeks to the election, and 34 Senate races this year. Hey, Dok, would you want to profile one Senate race a week? Yes, Dok, you would! And so began a brain melting odyssey through the races for the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, a phrase that still makes us giggle even now. This week, a brief look at some of the top Senate races, some of which hadn't even had their primaries when we started this mess back in March with our first Senate Sunday column, which focused on the challenge to John McCain, my friends, by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who had an outside chance of kicking Ol' Grumpyupants to the curb. Now, here we are in November, and while Kirkpatrick still has an outside chance, polling suggests McCain is likely to be with us for a sixth term, darn it. One unknown: Latino turnout is expected to be yooge in Arizona this year, since there's a realistic chance of voting out loathsome Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, so Kirkpatrick may still get an unexpected boost. Don't bet a lot on it, but she's not out altogether.
Some of the Senate races looked like gimmes from the start, and still do. In Illinois, Tammy Duckworth is all but a lock to send Mark Kirk packing, even if saying so risks the Wrath of the Whatever from High Atop the Thing. Kirk tried to play Mr. Moderate by becoming the first high-profile R to undorse Donald Trump, but it didn't help, and then he went and dug his own hole deeper by making a hilarious "joke" in a debate: Duckworth said her family had a history of military service going back to the American Revolution, and Kirk thought this would be a witty thing to say: "I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington." Get it? No way could her father's side of the family have any history, right? Kirk out.
Wisconsin looks about like it did when we profiled it in late March: Russ Feingold would very much like to return to the Senate, and incumbent Ron Johnson is kind of a dope. Enough of a dope that his idea of a great way to fight the opioid epidemic is to bring back those "this is your brain on drugs" ads that didn't work the first time. Johnson is yet another of the R's elected in the 2010 Teabagger Tsunami, and his appeal seems to have worn off. The race has tightened as outside spending from PACs on both sides has flooded into the state almost as much as electoral cliches have, but Feingold still holds a narrow edge.
Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey looks likely to lose his seat, let's hope, to Katie McGinty, who was merely one of three primary candidates when we looked at Pennsylvania way back in April. How hard is Toomey trying to hold on to his seat? For one thing, he's just about the only Republican senator who has refused to say who he's voting for in the presidential election. That fence in his crotch must hurt! Also, take a look at this last-minute ad suggesting Barack Obama would love him and hug him and call him his favorite senator:
Barack Obama was careful to clarify last week he's with McGinty, thank you very much:
"Pat Toomey may have done the right thing on one vote, but courage is telling Pennsylvania voters where you stand on the tough issues, not just the easy ones like background checks," Obama said in a statement Saturday afternoon. "Pat Toomey won't tell Pennsylvania voters where he stands on Donald Trump, trying instead to have it both ways by telling different people what he thinks they want to hear. That's not courage."
Still, you have to admire Toomey for his chootzpah. Or not.
One race that's gotten a lot closer than it initially looked is Missouri, where Secretary of State Jason Kander is playing the "not a Washington insider" game against incumbent Roy Blunt, and also seems to have gotten a real boost from the slickest campaign ad of the year:
Sen. Blunt has not yet assembled an AR-15 blindfolded, so we think that means Kander semi-automatically wins. Also, isn't it nice to see a campaign ad where somebody does something with a gun other than shooting a bill they don't like?
The great big Senate Girlfight in Hew Hampshire between Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan is expected to go Hassan's way, especially if Hillary Clinton wins the state. Ayotte has been all over the place in her support for Donald Trump, and we honestly couldn't remember whether she'd finally undorsed him for good, so we had to look it up. After the Grope Video came out, Ayotte said she definitely wasn't for the hairbag. On t'other hand, she'd still like to cash in on Republicans' hatred of the Clintons, so last week she made a point of saying she "wouldn't want my daughter in the room" with either Bill Clinton or Donald Trump. That's a month after she "misspoke" and said Trump would be a fine role model for kids. If she loses to Hassan, Ayotte has a bright career ahead of her as a spin doctor. Or maybe she doesn't. But she might!
After taking his damn sweet time to notice he was getting whupped by a girl, North Carolina's Richard Burr finally started campaigning against former state Rep. Deborah Ross, who probably has the advantage. Burr has tried to out-Republican other Republicans in recent weeks, suggesting maybe he'd never allow Hillary Clinton to appoint anyone to the Supreme Court, and incidentally making a funny joke about having seen Clinton's face on the cover of the NRA's American Rifleman magazine on the cover: "I was a little bit shocked at that ― it didn’t have a bullseye on it." The senator later apologized for just joshing around like that; we think maybe people named Burr shouldn't joke about shooting anyone.
Nevada looks to have one of the closest Senate races in the country; the polling has Rep. Joe Heck slightly ahead of former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, but a huge early-voting turnout suggesting the state's Hispanic voters would really, really like to make Cortez-Masto the first Latina senator. God Emperor of Nevada politics Jon Ralston declared Donald Trump dead in Nevada's presidential race, based on Democratic early voting turnout:
Ralston says Cortez Masto has the advantage, and we know better than to disagree with Jon Ralston.
We may as well get a disappointment or two in here as well, so how about Ohio, where we thought maybe former congressman and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland might have had a chance. However the state may go in the presidential race, it looks like we're stuck with Portman, even if Beyonce had backup dancers in pantsuits at Hillary's big get out the vote concert. Ain't no coattails on a pantsuit.
We feel compelled to make this a Top Ten or better, so let's just say our favorite headline of the whole series remains our one about Indiana a few weeks ago, and Florida, well, I don't know. Also, everyone in Louisiana is freaking crazy, and no matter what anyone tells you, Tuesday's election there is really just a big weirdass primary. Finally, while he's not in any electoral (or Carlos) danger, we encourage you to once again enjoy the Collected Twitter Stylings of Chuck Grassley.
Be sure to get out and vote, and for Crom's sake stock up on guns and liquor.