Now is the time to support Tom Cotton

I share John’s uneasiness about the November elections. Republican chances of gaining control of the Senate have been downgraded to less than 60 percent by Nate Silver, whose track record as a political forecaster is outstanding.

One reason for the downgrade is the emergence of pseudo-independent Greg Orman in the Kansas race. If he defeats Republican Pat Roberts, and the polls give him a clear lead, the GOP will have to win seven Democratic seats (assuming the GOP wins somewhat dicey races in Georgia and Kentucky).

Turning over seven seats is no small task. There are only three that seem nearly certain to turn — Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. That leaves four more, assuming Roberts loses in Kansas.

The list of seats that Republicans have a decent chance of turning is not long. In my view, it consists of Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire (maybe), North Carolina, and Louisiana. Optimists might also include Michigan.

If our friend Tom Cotton were to lose his race in Arkansas, Republicans would need to win four of the six remaining tight races (assuming, again, that Roberts loses and Michigan doesn’t turn). But Colorado and Iowa are purple states, and the Republican is running behind in North Carolina.

So the bottom line, I think, is that the Republicans desperately need Tom Cotton to win in “red” Arkansas.

But that’s not the only reason to support Tom. He is a potential Republican superstar for decades to come. Tom has it all. He is exceptionally intelligent, strongly conservative, a true patriot, and a man of principle.

His personal journey — from a small town in Arkansas, to Harvard College and Law School, to “Big Law,” but then to serving as a volunteer in the infantry in Iraq after 9/11 — seemed so implausible to the left that when we reported it, many thought we had invented Tom.

But Tom’s sacrifice to his country didn’t end with his service in Iraq. After a stint here in the Washington D.C. area, during which I got to know him pretty well, he was set to leave the Army. After a visit to our wounded warriors at Walter Read Hospital, however, he told me he still didn’t think he had done enough.

This time, frankly, I thought I was talking to a fictional character. But truth can be stranger than fiction. Tom volunteered for another tour in harm’s way, this time in Afghanistan.

Politics can change the best of people, but it doesn’t seem to have changed Tom. While many conservative Republicans, all-too conscious of public opinion polls, were shying away from aggressive prosecution of the war on terror, Tom was a consistent voice for staying the course. For example, at an AEI event a year ago, he warned about the rise of al Qaeda style forces in Iraq.

In sum, a man of Tom’s character and intellect would be worthy of support even if his race were irrelevant to control of the Senate. As noted, though, his race may well be central to Republican control.

The good news is that Tom is ahead. A new poll from PPP puts his lead at six points.

The bad news is that the race is probably much tighter. No other poll taken in the last month gives Tom that big of a lead, and one such poll actually has his opponent, Mark Pryor, fractionally ahead.

Now is the time to support Tom Cotton. As John says, contributions in October are less valuable to a candidate than contributions now.

You can support Tom by donating here. I just did, again.

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