By ARUL LOUIS
New York, Nov 13 (IANS) With the defeat of a candidate backed by former President Donald Trump, the Republican Party has lost a shot at the control of the Senate which will remain in the hands of the Democrats.
With the victory of sitting Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto over Republican Adam Laxalt declared Saturday night, the Democratic Party will have at least 50 senators in the 100-member chamber and with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote a command a majority.
The one pending result is from Georgia where a runoff will be held next month, and even if the Republicans win it, the chamber will be split 50-50 with Harris tilting the balance.
A Christian Pastor, Raphael Warnock who is the Democratic Party candidate, polled more votes than the Trump candidate, former football star Herschel Walker, but narrowly fell short of the 50 per cent mark required to win in Georgia necessitating the repoll.
Trump appears in public undeterred by the series of setbacks to his loyalists that dashed Republican hopes of capturing the Senate and raised questions over his influence over voters at large.
He is going to announce on Tuesday that his plan to run for president in the 2024 election, his former campaign communications chief and member of his inner circle, Jason Miller, told a podcast on Friday night.
Politico reported that some members of Trump’s inner circle had “begged him to wait till after the Georgia runoff because of his “toxic effect” on swing voters.
Now it may not matter as the outcome in that state will not change the Senate equation.
The Republicans, whose expectations of a “red wave” turned into a ripple, still have a chance at getting control of the House of Representatives, but they suffered a setback on Saturday when their candidate lost a House seat that they had held for over a decade in Washington State.
With 21 results pending, they lead Democrats, 211 to 203 in the 435-member House where 218 seats are needed for a majority.
In the Senate, the Democrats will continue to face the same problems they had because for many important matters they will not have the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles to legislate.
For Trump, at least, a Republican majority in the House, however slim, will matter more.
They could stop inquiries into Trump’s affairs and delve into President Joe Biden’s and his administration’s.
The Republicans lacked a clear plan of action for the country’s problems like inflation and immigration going into the midterm elections, and if they were to get control of the House, their leadership’s capacity to act would be limited by the slender majority which could turn factions into spoilers.
Already, the dissensions within the Republican party have come to the fore over the election of its Congressional leaders.
Trump opposes Mitch McConnell, the party’s leader in the Senate, and some senators have called for delaying the election so they can work out their strategy.
Kevin McCarthy, who is the leader of the Republican Party in the House, is seeking re-election to the post, which would make him the speaker if the party gets the majority.
Several media reports said that he is opposed by the Freedom Caucus, a right-wing faction of the Republican Party in Congress, and even if he wins the party’s leadership in his bid for speaker he would still need almost every vote of party members in the house for the 218 votes needed in the House.
In Nevada, Laxalt lost by under 5,000 votes or a half per cent and he was one of the stronger candidates Trump had backed.
He was the state’s attorney general and came from an influential political lineage – his father Pete Domenici had been a senator and his grandfather Paul Laxalt was a former Nevada governor and senator.
Some of Trump’s proteges had hardly any political credentials.
Mehmet Oz, who lost in Pennsylvania was a TV personality, who was defeated by Democrat John Fetterman, a man recovering from a stroke and had communication problems.
Blake Masters who lost in Arizona was a venture capitalist without a political base.
In New Hampshire, retired US Army Brigadier General Don Bolduc was another Trump protege to lose the Senate battle.
Walker, the former football star, was burdened by allegations that he had made two women get abortions even though he made banning the procedure a key element of his campaign.
The negative Trump effect was evident in Georgia where the Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who had defied Trump and had drawn his wrath, won reelection against the popular Democrat Stacy Abrams by nearly 300,000 votes, while Walker polled about 200,000 fewer votes than Kemp.
If the Republicans have a shot at House majority, it because of its strong performance in New York state where the candidates kept him away.
Before his election in 2016, Trump had boasted that if he were to shoot someone in the middle of New York, he still wouldn’t lose any voters.
And he got away with several scandals and snafus before and after his election.
But that changed after his 2020 defeat and even more now with voters.
His loyalists – and the Republican Party that was cringing under his shadow – couldn’t outdo a president with a disapproval rating of 54.6 per cent according to an aggregation by RealClear Politics, and eight in ten voters saying in a VoteCast poll the economy was in a bad shape.
The January 6 riots last year by Trump supporters who broke into the Capitol in a failed attempt to force Congress to declare him the winner appeared to have weighed more with independent voters, an issue repeatedly spotlit by Biden.
By ARUL LOUIS