Almost none of the Republicans in competitive Senate races have ever held office.
by Gregg Opelka, The Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2022
If the “red wave” of recent predictions comes to fruition on Tuesday, the 2022 midterms should be called the Inside-Out Election, because Republicans will have put so many outsiders in and turned so many insiders out.
I’m old enough to remember the Beatles appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and I can’t remember an election in which so many political newcomers had a serious shot at taking out established politicians of the opposite party.
Here’s the short list among the Senate races: J.D. Vance in Ohio, Herschel Walker in Georgia, Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Blake Masters in Arizona, Don Bolduc in New Hampshire, Joe O’Dea in Colorado and Tiffany Smiley in Washington. They are, respectively, a venture capitalist/author, an ex-football star, a doctor/television celebrity, another venture capitalist, a retired Army general, a construction company CEO and a nurse. They’re all complete outsiders with no political experience. Their Democratic opponents, except for Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman, on the other hand are all incumbent senators or representatives. Even so, Mr. Fetterman is no rookie, having served as a small-town mayor before becoming lieutenant governor.
One exception is Nevada’s Adam Laxalt, the grandson of a governor and senator who served a term as attorney general and lost his own bid for governor in 2018. The GOP also has a few veteran politicians fighting to retain their Senate seats. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who’s been in public office nearly 64 years, faces the first serious threat to his incumbency in decades. Ron Johnson, a businessman before being elected to the Senate in 2010, hasn’t exactly had a cakewalk in Wisconsin, though he appears to be pulling away from his challenger. But what is remarkable is both the number of first-time Republican politicians running and, more astounding, how well they are doing.
The MVP among the GOP governor candidates is undeniably Kari Lake in Arizona, who during her run has given a master class in how to handle a recalcitrant media with aplomb. Not since Joan Rivers has a woman delivered so many zingers with a smile. President Trump provided the blueprint. The first political outsider in at least a century to seek and win the presidency showed how best to deal with the press—never stop hitting back. Like Mr. Trump, Ms. Lake also benefited from years in front of a TV camera. She was a news anchor in the Grand Canyon State for more than 20 years.
They used to run musical revues on Broadway decades ago with the same title, only changing the year. They were called “New Faces of 1934,” “New Faces of 1936,” “New Faces of 1943,” etc. Welcome to New Faces of 2022. Something tells me we’re going to be seeing a lot of them.
Mr. Opelka is a musical-theater composer-lyricist.