Surprises rock the Senate races that will decide America’s future

Surprises rock the Senate races that will decide America’s future

Late twists are rocking the tight Senate races that will decide the destiny of a chamber now narrowly run by Democrats – as well as the future direction of America itself – on Election Day in just 12 days.

The Democrats’ best chance of snatching a Senate seat held by Republicans may have been further complicated by John Fetterman’s shaky debate performance in Pennsylvania Tuesday night, which raised more questions about the stroke survivor’s fitness to serve.

That same question – albeit from different circumstances – is again swirling around Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker after an unnamed woman claimed at a press conference Wednesday that he pressured her to have an abortion in 1993. The college football icon branded the accusation “a lie,” but after facing similar accusations by a former girlfriend, it’s opened him up to more charges of hypocrisy since he has before called for a national ban on abortion with no exceptions.

Meanwhile in Arizona, where the Republican Party’s march to its anti-democratic fringe is gathering steam, Senate nominee Blake Masters was shown on camera vowing to ex-President Donald Trump that he would not go “soft” on false voter fraud claims. Separately, Masters on Tuesday told supporters it was fine for them to film drop boxes to prevent “ballot harvesting” amid a controversy over “vigilante groups” allegedly conspiring to intimidate voters using the early balloting boxes.

The volatile state of all three races – each of which could be pivotal to determining Senate control – underscores the huge stakes going into the election. It explains the intensifying fight between the parties and an increasingly nasty tone that is rattling debate stages across the country. And it comes as Democrats desperately seek to stop Republican momentum in the campaign, which is rooted in voter frustration about raging inflation and high gas prices coming out of the pandemic.

President Joe Biden’s approval ratings have been driven down to levels that could prove disastrous for Democratic candidates. GOP attack ads are also creating a dystopian vision of a nation stalked by violent crime, while Democrats are hitting Republicans over their anti-abortion positions, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.

If Republicans win the Senate – in a year in which they are favorites to win back the House – they will be able to blitz the White House with investigations and crimp Biden’s presidency. They will also be able to halt the White House’s efforts to balance out Republican success in reshaping the judiciary on deeply conservative lines.

Fetterman’s debate struggles vex Democrats in critical race

Pennsylvania, which is critical to Democratic hopes of holding their majority in the 50-50 chamber, could end up being the most important Senate race in the country. Republicans only need a net gain of one seat to win the majority, so winning the Keystone State could help Democrats mitigate losses in other states where they’re on defense.

Even after suffering a stroke in May, Fetterman had the momentum for much of the summer over celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz. But the race has tightened in recent days. The Democrat’s struggle to articulate his positions and deliver attacks on his rival in Tuesday night’s debate caused reverberations of concern in Washington.

Fetterman had warned that he is still dealing with auditory and linguistic after-effects from his stroke but his struggle at times to find the right words on the debate stage was painful to watch. Several times, he seemed to lose his train of thought and repeated phrases. “To be honest, doing that debate wasn’t exactly easy,” Fetterman told supporters at a rally Wednesday night.

The question now is whether undecided voters will wonder whether he is well enough to go to the Senate – even if his doctors say that he is getting better all the time. It’s possible partisan lines are so cemented by this point that his performance will not matter. Still, more than 600,000 Pennsylvanians have already cast votes in the race and Fetterman’s debate showing – effectively a job interview – came at a moment when voters are making up their minds all the time, more than a week from Election Day. If he loses, his campaign will face questions over whether he erred in agreeing to debate Oz.


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