News / USA

    US Republicans See Senate Chances Bolstered by Primary Results

    FILE - Workers position a sign for U.S Senator Pat Roberts at a Johnson County Republican's election watch party Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Overland Park, Kansas.
    FILE - Workers position a sign for U.S Senator Pat Roberts at a Johnson County Republican's election watch party Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Overland Park, Kansas.
    Reuters

    Republicans counting on an unpopular president and a favorable electoral landscape to help them win control of the U.S. Senate could have another asset this year - stronger candidates who are less likely to say embarrassing things.

    As the months-long primary season nears its end, Republican leaders appear to have achieved their goal of producing more disciplined Senate candidates who can avoid the kind of campaign blunders that cost the party winnable races in 2010 and 2012.

    Candidates backed by the party's establishment and business allies secured Republican Senate nominations in states like North Carolina, Colorado and Arkansas that will be hotly contested in November, in some cases beating out rivals backed by the insurgent Tea Party movement.

    Tea Party challengers also failed to unseat any of the 12 sitting Republican senators who are up for re-election.

    The Republican establishment celebrated another victory on Tuesday when their preferred candidate, former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan, won the nomination to oppose Democratic Senator Mark Begich. Sullivan beat two other contenders, including one endorsed by home-state Tea Party hero Sarah Palin.

    The results have left Republicans upbeat about their prospects in the November 4 elections, when they need to pick up six seats from Democrats to win control of the 100-seat chamber.

    ‘Best recruiting class’

    “It's the best recruiting class in decades,” said Rob Engstrom of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent at least $15 million to back business-friendly candidates this cycle.

    Many forecasters now give Republicans a slightly better-than-even chance of winning control of the Senate. They are heavily favored to pick up open Democratic seats in South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia, and six other competitive races will be fought in conservative-leaning states that President Barack Obama lost when he ran for re-election in 2012.

    Obama isn't likely to be much help for Democrats. His approval ratings have not topped 50 percent since early 2013, and vulnerable incumbents like Colorado Senator Mark Udall have been avoiding him on the campaign trail.

    But a favorable political environment is no guarantee of success, as Republicans have found in recent elections.

    “One of the things we heard after 2012 is candidate quality matters,” said Brad Dayspring, communications director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which ran a “candidate school” for hopefuls to bring them up to speed on policy issues and anticipated Democratic lines of attack.

    That's a contrast to 2010 and 2012, when undisciplined candidates doomed the party's chances of winning the Senate.  Republican candidate Christine O'Donnell lost the Delaware Senate race in 2010 after proclaiming she was “not a witch.”

    In 2012, Todd Akin lost Missouri after asserting victims of “legitimate rape” had the ability to block a pregnancy. Richard Mourdock saw his lead wither away in Indiana after saying a pregnancy resulting from rape was something “God intended to happen.”

    Those comments also hurt Republicans in other races, as Democrats used them to argue the party was out of touch with mainstream voters.

    “One thing Democrats were really good at was taking the Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks and Christine O'Donnells of the world and using them to infect other Senate campaigns,” said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

    New set of candidates

    This year, Republican Senate candidates with a flair for controversy won't be on the ballot in November.

    U.S. Representative Paul Broun, who called biological evolution and the Big Bang theory “lies straight from the pit of Hell” finished a distant fourth in the Georgia Senate primary in May. Milton Wolf, a radiologist who joked about gunshot victims on Facebook, fell short in his bid to unseat Kansas Senator Pat Roberts earlier this month.

    Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party favorite who made sexually suggestive comments about Hispanic women on a radio show, narrowly lost a challenge to Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran.

    Meanwhile, Democrats have been playing defense in Iowa after their nominee Bruce Braley drew negative attention for threatening to sue a neighbor over unfenced chickens and disparaging the farm state's senior senator, Republican Charles Grassley, as a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.”

    Democrats say Senate candidates backed by the Republican establishment are no sure bet, having lost in recent years in Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Virginia.

    This year, Republicans like Tom Cotton in Arkansas and Corey Gardner in Colorado will have to explain their votes in the House of Representatives on contraception, farm policy and other issues that could alienate a statewide electorate, said Matt Canter of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

    “What makes a candidate loved by the Republican establishment is sometimes the thing that makes them detested by voters,” Canter said.

    Still, Republicans like their chances.

    “At the end of the day, this all comes down to product. The product out there, the candidates, are of much stronger caliber than in previous election cycles,” said Paul Lindsay, spokesman for American Crossroads, a Republican “Super PAC” that has spent at least $5.7 million in political races so far this year.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.