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5 Races That Could Decide The U.S. Senate, From Dr. Oz To Herschel Walker

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For Republicans to wrest back control of the chamber, they will need to overcome quite a few challenges. With only 4 weeks to go before the fate of the country is decided, things have already turned nasty amongst the candidates fighting to keep their party in control.

First, there’s Mehmet Oz, the GOP Pennsylvania nominee and one-time TV doctor wo is being attacked and accused of leading experiments that killed hundreds of dogs. Not to mention, Oz isn’t from Pennslyvania and John Fetterman has been quick to highlight that very point during practically every single speech.

Then you have Sen. Ron Johnson, who Democrat opponents have proclaimed as the “race-baiting Wisconsin incumbent”. If you ask the Democrats about his approval ratings, they’ll tell you he is deeply unfavorable, however recent polls suggest he’s leading by 1 point.

And last but not least, the most controversial Senate race of them all, Georgia. Herschel Walker, the eccentric Georgia nominee whose sensational college football career elevated him to godlike status in his state but whose chaotic personal life has generated scandal after scandal.

Fortunately for Republicans, Democrats all have their own problems, and statistics show that the party controlling the White House typically loses ground at the midterms, and the Democratic candidates have their own vulnerabilities.

In Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman — 6-foot-8-inch and goateed, with a penchant for wearing sweatpants and shorts — is recovering from a stroke and is sheepish about debating Oz. In Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan is fresh off an embarrassing campaign finance news report, albeit one that hit a sturdy campaign. And in Wisconsin, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes appears to have been sent off-course by a wave of GOP spending.

“The Senate is probably pretty close to a coin flip,” said Jacob Rubashkin, an analyst at the nonpartisan newsletter Inside Elections. “Republicans have made life more difficult for themselves with the candidates they have nominated for almost every competitive Senate race on the map.”

“It is striking the level of candidate-specific issues that are plaguing some of these races,” Rubashkin added.

Georgia

No Senate campaign has drawn more attention than the one in Georgia, where Herschel Walker is working to unseat Sen. Raphael Warnock, the Atlanta pastor who rode into office in a 2021 special election.

Opinion polls have shown Warnock leading Walker narrowly. The former football star who won the Heisman Trophy in 1982 faced a bomb of a disclosure last Monday when The Daily Beast reported that the vocally anti-abortion politician once paid for a girlfriend’s abortion. The outlet reported Wednesday that the woman was the mother of one of his children.

Herschel Walker paid for girlfriend’s abortion, report says  ]

Walker has vehemently disputed the reports, which quoted an unidentified woman, and threatened to sue the Daily Beast. But his son Christian Walker responded to the report by ripping the campaign.

I know my mom and I would really appreciate if my father Herschel Walker stopped lying and making a mockery of us,” Christian Walker, 23, wrote on Twitter. “You’re not a ‘family man’ when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over 6 times in 6 months running from your violence.”

Republicans have responded to the remarkable scandals swirling around Walker by closing ranks. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, took to Fox News to describe Walker as the “most important Senate candidate in the country.”

“He’s been through a long tough period. He had a lot of concussions coming out of football,” Gingrich said. “He’s recovered. He’s committed. He’s a decent human being.”

The race could go to a runoff: Georgia candidates must clear 50% of the vote to win a Senate seat.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is looking like a bellwether. If Fetterman, who has led narrowly but consistently in polls, struggles on Election Day, Republicans could be headed for control of the Senate.

Oz’s campaign was catastrophically rocked last Monday by a scandal, dubbed “puppygate,” stemming from a Jezebel report that said his research led to the deaths of more than 300 dogs. Oz’s campaign disputed the report.

Fetterman, whose everyman appeal has boosted him in the campaign, has drawn scrutiny for only agreeing to join a single debate after suffering a stroke in May. Oz asked for five and the release of Fetterman’s medical records.

Ohio

In fund-raising, Ryan has dominated his Republican opponent, J.D. Vance, the never-Trumper turned mega-Trumper who wrote “Hillbilly Elegy.” (”J.D. is kissing my a-s, he wants my support so bad,” Trump recently told a rally.)

But even as he runs what has been viewed as a strong campaign, Ryan is far from a clear front-runner in a state that went for Trump by eight percentage points in the 2020 presidential election.

On Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that Ryan had received campaign donations from drug companies accused of playing roles in the opioid crisis.

Wisconsin

Johnson is a disease to Democrats, who have relentlessly accused him of spreading misinformation about COVID and election integrity, and of downplaying the gravity of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Democrats have long seen an opening to dispatch the Republican senator after two terms in a state that Biden won in 2020. Johnson’s favorability rating in the state polls is under 40%, according to Marquette Law School’s surveys.

But Republicans may be having some success tying Barnes, a progressive Black former community organizer, to the defund the police movement. He has said he does not support defunding the police.

Nevada

Polls signal a photo finish ahead in Nevada, where Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is in a battle with Adam Laxalt, the state’s former attorney general. Laxalt, endorsed by Trump, is looking to tap into a bloc of swing Latino voters to unseat the incumbent in the race.

Laxalt has struggled to keep up with Cortez Masto in the fund-raising battle. But Laxalt has still led the one-term senator in many recent polls, and a COVID-era cocktail of rising rents and grisly gas prices in the state could play to his advantage.

CNN reported Thursday that its polling put Biden’s approval rating in Nevada at just 39%.

Rubashkin, the Inside Elections analyst, also said Nevada is perhaps the “most favorable pickup opportunity for the Republican Party” because Laxalt has past experience running statewide.

“Compared to the rest of the candidates that Republicans are running in these most competitive races, he has shown himself to be capable of not getting in his own way,” Rubashkin said.

The Senate race is going to be a nail-biter for sure, and will most certainly come down to these 5 states.

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