However one feels about this year’s presidential election, I don’t think conservatives can dispute the importance of the congressional races. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, a Republican House and Senate will be crucial to thwarting her left-wing designs. If Trump wins, a Republican House and Senate will be crucial to advancing the conservative part of his agenda (if any) and blocking the liberal part (if any).
It’s true that the current Republican House and Senate have been unable to block parts of President Obama’s left-wing designs and less willing than they should be to block other parts. But without the efforts of Republican Senators and Representatives during the last five and a half years, Obamacare would be just the tip of a huge enacted liberal agenda.
With this in mind, we present our 2016 Power Line Picks with the goal of raising money for six deserving Republican congressional candidates. We have selected two incumbent Senators — Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin; two incumbent Representatives — Mia Love of Utah and Scott Garrett of New Jersey; and two House challengers — Stewart Mills of Minnesota and Brian Mast of Florida.
In the coming weeks, we will be writing separate posts in support of each candidate. For now, let us briefly discuss all of them.
Stewart Mills was a Power Line Pick in 2014. He’s running in Minnesota’s 8th congressional district. Mills is a friend of John’s. John wrote about him here.
Mia Love represents Utah’s 4th district. We introduced her to many of our readers in this post from 2012. She lost that year, but won in 2014.
Earlier this year, Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, described Rep. Love as “a critical voice in the effort to bring conservatives together.” However the presidential race turns out, such voices will be needed in Congress.
Sens. Toomey and Johnson need no introduction to our readers. Both were upset winners in 2010 and have been targeted by the Democrats since their arrival in Washington the following January. Neither has stinted on his conservative principles notwithstanding the prospect of a difficult re-election campaign.
Sen. Toomey’s race against liberal Democrat Kate (“the not so Great”) McGinty is dead even. The RCP average has McGinty up by 0.2.
Sen. Johnson has consistently trailed the man he beat in 2010, former Senator Russ Feingold. However, a recent Marquette University poll of 650 likely voters had him only 3 points behind.
In Ohio and Florida, we have seen the Republican incumbent Senators — Rob Portman and Marco Rubio — pull away from their challengers in recent polls. The trend may carry over to Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. If it does, and Trump continues to gain on Clinton, I can envisage both Toomey and Johnson winning. That would be big for conservatives.
Scott Garrett was elected to represent New Jersey’s 5th district way back in 2002. This year he faces a tough challenge from Josh Gottheimer, a former speechwriter for Bill Clinton and John Kerry. Larry Sabato rates the race “leans Republican.”
Rep. Garrett is a strong economic conservatives, as his backing by the Club for Growth will attest. He’s also a member of the House Freedom Caucus.
A strong social conservative, Rep. Garrett has come under fire for his strong position against gay marriage, which the Democrats and the media have tried to distort into general anti-gay animus. We’ll have more to say about this when we discuss Rep. Garrett separately.
Brian Mast, running in Florida’s 18th district, is probably the most interesting member of our “pick six.” He volunteered for the Army after graduating from high school in 1999 and served for 12 years.
While serving in the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) as a bomb disposal expert, Mast lost both of his legs protecting soldiers from an IED. His awards include The Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, the Purple Heart Medal, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
There’s much more to Mast’s story. I will recount some of it when I write about him separately.
On the issues, I was impressed by Mast’s emphatic support for Israel, his strong opposition to the Iran deal, his focus on defeating global jihad, and his stance against illegal immigration.
Mast faces a tough race against liberal Democrat Randy Perkins. The seat is open because incumbent Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, is running for the Senate.
Sabato rates the content a toss-up. So do Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg.
This is one of the few opportunities the GOP has to flip a House seat from Democrat to Republican. We’re pleased to be involved in our small way.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned for a discussion of each candidate and the inevitable request for financial support. But feel free to contribute to one or more these campaigns now, if so moved.