Nearly every politician ever to enter Congress has a case for being bad at their job. But two of the absolute worst are the heavy-hitters of the Republican Party, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. McConnell spent the Obama administration being more obstructionist than the three weeks of lockdown Hot Pockets sitting in your colon, while Graham is essentially President Trump's footstool.
Both are facing an election year that's been pushed to the backburner by a global pandemic. But there's never been a better time to vote these pricks out, and it looks like both are facing serious challenges for the first time in forever.
Let's look at McConnell's race first. It looks like the candidate to beat in the Democratic Primary (tentatively to be held in June) is Amy McGrath, and seems to have the right kind of energy for Kentucky. She's a former Marine fighter pilot, and career-wise, that's really been the focal point. She unsuccessfully ran for Congress back in 2018 shortly after retiring from the military, and now, depending on the polling you look at, she's in a pretty tight race against McConnell -- occasionally a dead heat tie.
That tight polling is arguably as much a product of his unpopularity as it is her popularity, but that's not to be discounted. Speaking as someone who's lived in Kentuckian border states most of my life, Kentucky is the type of place that eats that kind of "progressive who served" thing right up.
Down in South Carolina, Graham is looking at a race against Jaime Harrison, who seems to be the frontrunner in the Palmetto State's June Democratic Primary. Harrison has spent a lot of time with the South Carolina Democratic Party, actually serving as its first African-American chairperson. He also ran for the DNC chair, eventually backing out to back Tom Perez. Winning this race would, like McGrath, be his first elected office. He's got an uphill battle but just has a few points to go to close the gap. He's even pulled former Graham donors over to his side.
Both McGrath and Harrison are names you may have seen pop up in your Facebook ad feed (between those weird oils your aunt keeps trying to get you into) asking for money to finance their campaigns, even though neither has won their primary yet and the general election is months away. The ads are targeting left-leaning folks with money who want to take back the Senate, despite the fact that McGrath and Harrison are pretty centrist and will inevitably frame their work with Republicans as "reaching across the aisle" or whatever. This isn't a new strategy: by using social media to reach out beyond the borders of their states, the races become national news and up the ante, to say nothing of all the fundraising it brings in.
The DNC isn't totally blind to the power of social media, and neither are these down-ballot candidates. This strategy damn near worked with Beto O'Rourke taking on Ted "thousands of worms in a human meat suit" Cruz in Texas. Cruz repeatedly hit O'Rourke with the claim that he was being funded by rich Californians and New Yorkers who didn't really have Texas' best interests at heart. McConnell is taking a similar line from that Cruz/O'Rourke fight with McGrath.
And if there were ever a place to work this strategy, it's in Senate races. Sure, social media now allows random folks in Idaho to send money to a candidate in Arizona (like Mark Kelly, who's also pulling in tons of money this way), but that's because the Senate is the place where legislation is getting killed that would really help people all over the country. If an obstructionist-and-proud-of-it Kentuckian senator is affecting Californians' lives, they might as well send a few bucks to his opponent and not feel bad about it.
Top Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr