- - Sunday, November 4, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I’ve been arguing for months that the ideal outcome in the midterm elections to set up Donald Trump for a landslide re-election in 2020 is for Republicans to hold the Senate and narrowly lose the House.

Mr. Trump is best when he has a foil to run against — and who better (other than Hillary Clinton) than the least popular politician in America, Nancy Pelosi. She won’t be able to contain herself or her deranged far-left followers from pushing a litany of half-baked ideas. American voters need to see first-hand how radical the Democratic Socialist party has become.

Also, one virtue of Republicans being thrown back into the minority in the House is that it will be a punishment for their spendthrift ways of late. If the GOP loses the House, the Republican caucus will start to act and vote in a much, much more fiscally conservative direction. Also, the stock market typically does better with divided power in Washington.

What’s more important is that some races carry a lot more weight than others in terms of their political and economic ramifications. These five you should keep a close eye on.

1) Florida governor. No state in the nation has done better economically over the last eight years than Florida. Rick Scott has been — arguably — the best governor in America. But now he’s out of the state house and Democrats have nominated Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is black and leans far to the left.

He is facing off against Ron DeSantis, the conservative congressman and former Marine. This is a clear clash of ideologies in a state that Republicans must keep red. Florida is now the third-largest state and Republicans can’t win nationally without keeping a hold of the Sunshine State. If Mr. Gillum wins, taxes in Florida are going way up, and Dems will have control of redistricting after the 2020 census. The race is a toss-up.

2) Florida Senate. Rick Scott has won two razor tight races for governor and now is seeking the Senate against do-nothing incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. Mr. Scott’s stellar performance as governor should have earned him the goodwill of voters, but the angry left is alive and activated in gatorland. Mr. Scott is tied to President Trump, so this race is a bit of a referendum on Mr. Trump’s approval in the state. I predict both of these close Florida races will swing in the same direction. It’s all about turnout.

3) Connecticut Governor. Connecticut is in an economic free fall, even with the Trump bounce nationally. The state is bleeding money and people as taxes have been raised three times in the last five years. Dan Malloy, the Democratic governor for the last eight years, presided over the tax increases and the fiscal carnage, and his departure is celebrated by most working residents.

Now the Democrats have managed to nominate Ned Lamont, who, if possible, is even more hostile to enterprise than Mr. Malloy. Meanwhile, Bob Stefanowski is a pro-growth supply-sider who wants to radically change the direction of the state by slashing the income tax and the estate tax that chases rich people out of the state, and getting government off the back of employers. He relies on Arthur Laffer, the architect of the Reagan tax cuts as his economic adviser, and former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman promises to help Mr. Stefanowski in the transition if he wins.

It’s a long shot in this deep-blue state, but he’s only 4 points down. If Mr. Stefanowski pulls off the upset, Connecticut could be back open for business, and it will be a long-overdue acknowledgement that Connecticut voters really do understand how much trouble the state is in. This would be a political earthquake in the slowly dying Northeastern region.

4) New Jersey Senate. This one defines whether Democrats are so hungry for power and patronage that they will actually re-elect one of the most corrupt politicians in Washington — which is saying a lot. Bob Menendez barely survived a conviction for graft when a jury failed to find him guilty. The Senate Ethics Committee reprimanded Mr. Martinez for “knowingly and repeatedly” accepting lavish gifts from donors.

This hasn’t stopped the Democratic Party or its firehouse of money that is slamming into the state. The Republican Bob Hugin, a businessman, is hammering Mr. Menendez on his ethical problems — but in a solidly blue state, that may not matter to Garden State voters. The New York Times quotes Cory Booker, the other New Jersey senator, as saying Mr. Menendez is “the future of this state.” Of course, that’s the problem with the modern day Democratic Party.

5) Michigan Senate. Incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow, seeking her third term, is drowning in money and is beloved by the union bosses and the Washington, D.C., lobbyists. She is the candidate of the Swamp. But her opponent, John James, has suddenly become the darling of the conservatives nationally. He’s a former West Point grad and Iraq War vet, with a business background. He’s a savvy conservative — and he’s black.

It’s striking that the Oprah crowd is all in on black upstart and liberal candidates in Georgia and Florida, but won’t give Mr. James the time of day. Mr. James is still a big underdog, but Ms. Stabenow’s lead has shrunk in recent weeks, and if Mr. James pulls off the upset or even comes close, he could be on the national stage soon. Could he be the GOP‘S version of Barack Obama?

• Stephen Moore, a contributor to The Washington Times, is an economic consultant for FreedomWorks. His new book is “Trumponomics: Inside Trump’s America First Strategy.”


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