Here is what I’d like to see happen at the end of the 2022 mid-terms. The Senate would remain split 50-50. The Democrats would remain in control of the House by just 1 vote.
If this happens it will probably be because Trump-endorsed Republicans will have lost in contests that a more moderate Republican could easily have won. This outcome will also make it clear to Democrats that they have no mandate. Their success was the result of the other side’s foolishness (or their own hypocrisy in promoting Trump-endorsed candidates in the primaries), not because America hungers for a progressive agenda.
This outcome should make it clear to both sides that success in 2024 requires moving toward the center. Republicans should abandon Trump, as political poison. Democrats should find and promote centrist candidates within their ranks and do their best to hush up the far left. Both parties should accept that rallying your base at the expense of alienating the center is bad campaign strategy.
If you have a different vision of centrist success, please comment below.
What Should Centrists Do in the 2022 General Election?
The Centrist Independent Voter is a new organization. We have a very small, all volunteer staff. With the limited time and resources available to us this year, we have tried to identify some high profile, mostly U.S. Senate, races and endorsed candidates in the primaries and the general election in those races.
Beyond those specific endorsements, I have some general advice about how to promote a more sane and centrist approach to politics during the general election in 2022.
First, vote against any candidate that owes their position on the ballot to Donald Trump. This does not mean voting for every Democrat. It does not even mean voting against every Republican that Donald Trump endorses. Trump has endorsed many candidates who would have won easily without his support and did not go out of their way to ask for it. It does mean voting against any candidate that would not be on the ballot in the general election were it not for Donald Trump’s endorsement. Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, J.D. Vance in Ohio, and Herschal Walker in Georgia come to mind. Many of these candidates show up in our Rogues Gallery of Candidates.
Second, where the first rule does not dominate, vote against Democratic candidates that are endorsed by the “Working Families Party.” This far-left organization includes Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren along with the so-called Squad in the House of Representatives. Many of these candidates, also, show up in our Rogues Gallery of Candidates.
Fourth, vote for fiscally conservative Democrats who broke party ranks to oppose excessive government spending and who oppose packing the Supreme Court and ending the filibuster rule in the Senate. This rule is never in conflict with the second rule, as far as I know.
Unfortunately, there may be races where these rules conflict with each other. In those cases, I would recommend that you start with the first and work your way down.
There is nothing normal about the 2022 race for the U.S. Senate seat from Utah.
Mike Lee (R) is the incumbent and was initially a heavy favorite. The race is now too close to call. Mike Lee is a full throated Trump supporter. Lee’s opponent, Evan McMullen is a conservative who has been endorsed by the Democratic Party in Utah.
While there is no true centrist running in Utah, you would not expect to see one in what is certainly among the most conservative states.
McMullen has promised not to caucus with either party in the Senate. That may be a mistake since it would limit his access to committee appointments. In our view, if he wins, he should caucus with the majority party. This is especially valuable if he gives that party a majority, in which case he should demand key committee assignments as a quid pro quo. He should then feel free to break party ranks and vote truly independently on legislation.
For the Centrist Independent Voter this is not a difficult call. The Centrist Independent Voter enthusiastically endorses Evan McMullen for the U.S. Senate seat from Utah.
Our Board of Governors is still wrestling with whether to endorse Sen. Marco Rubio (R), the incumbent, or Rep. Val Demings (D) in the Florida U.S. Senate race.
Some oppose Rubio because he has Trump’s endorsement and because he co-sponsored Lindsay Graham’s national ban on abortions after 15 weeks. Some are also put off by Rubio’s dismissal of a bi-partisan effort to protect same sex marriage rights, legislatively, at the federal level as a “waste of time.”
Some oppose Val Demings because she consistently voted along party lines in the House and was therefore likely to be a rubber stamp for Majority Leader Chuck Shumer (D) in the U.S. Senate. This later fear is made all the more important by the fact that President Biden recently announced that if he gets two more votes in the Senate and keeps control of the House, he will support overturning the filibuster rule. Rep. Demings has referred to the filibuster rule as a “procedural game,” so we know where she stands.
Faced with the inability to find a majority in support of either of the two major party candidates, I decided to examine the issue positions of the other candidates in the U.S. Senate race in Florida.
The Libertarian candidate was far too isolationist for us. Many of the others were either too right wing or too vague to be worth considering.
One candidate had a surprisingly thoughtful, albeit short, set of policy positions that struck me as remarkably centrist and reasonable: Tuan Nguyen. To see his platform, click here: Platform.
I realize that Nguyen has little to no chance to win the election. However, if a centrist candidate were able to capture enough votes to prevent either major party candidate from having a majority, that could be important. If the votes for a centrist, non-affiliated candidate would have provided the margin of victory to the major party candidate that loses, we will have made an important point.
If either of the major party candidates were notably more centrist than the other, the opportunity cost of casting a vote for Nguyen might be considered too high. That does not appear to be the case.
If you were considering not voting because you cannot abide either of the major party candidates, please consider voting for Tuan Nguyen. There is no downside.
It is very easy to imagine that a centrist candidate could win if Florida adopts Ranked Choice Voting. Until then, it is important to do everything possible to demonstrate that extremism of the right and the left are not good campaign strategies.
At this point our Board of Governors is still trying to decided who, if anyone, to endorse in this race. I suspect that the fact that Nguyen’s platform does not address the issues of abortion, the filibuster, and court packing may make it difficult for the Board to endorse him. Nevertheless , Tuan Nguyen has my personal endorsement in the U.S. Senate race in Florida.
To see Budd’s positions on a number of issues, visit his website.
His Democratic opponent Cheri Beasley is the former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. She is no centrist but counts as a moderate among Democrats, although her willingness to consider expanding the U.S. Supreme Court seems less than moderate.
To see Beasley’s positions on a number of issues, visit her website.
Nevertheless, the Centrist Independent Voter endorses Cheri Beasley for the U.S. Senate seat from North Carolina. We do so because of Budd’s close association with Trump and because Beasley is more moderate than most of the Democratic Party.
The top four candidates in the Alaskan non-partisan U.S. Senate primary are in order of the number of votes: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), the incumbent; Kelly Tshibaka, a Trump-backed Republican challenger; Patricia Chesbro, a progressive Democrat; and Buzz Kelly (R). Kelley, the fourth place finisher in the Alaskan primary, has chosen not to run in the general election, so the election should only require a maximum of two rounds of calculations.
If you favor the Democrat you can safely vote for her and make Murkowski your second choice without risking the possibility that your vote will help the Trump-backed candidate win. If you despise the Democrats, you can vote for Murkowski and let the other Republican be your second choice and there is no chance that your vote will help the Democrat win.
The beauty of the system is that you can vote how you feel without fearing that you will be wasting your vote on a losing candidate or enabling the success of your least liked candidate.
Sen. Murkowski is not a centrist, but she is among the most moderate Republican senators. We therefore endorse her over her Republican, Trump-backed, opponent and over the progressive Democrat.
The New Hampshire Senate Race Should be Closer than It Is
Normally, the New Hampshire Senate race would be in play since the the incumbent Democrat, Maggie Hassan, only defeated her Republican opponent by 0.1% when she took office six years ago. But despite the fact that mid-term elections generally turn against the party in power and the fact that President Biden still suffers from low approval ratings, Hassan appears to be about 11% ahead of her Republican opponent, Don Bolduc, a Trump endorsed extremist.
It is difficult to understand how Democrats can think that their claims that MAGA Republicans are a threat to the nation will be taken seriously when they promote the election of MAGA Republicans in the primaries. All it leaves one with is the feeling that these Democrats are every bit as power hungry and indifferent to the fate of the nation as the Republicans they decry for sticking with Donald Trump.
The Centrist Independent Endorsement (with a caveat)
Sen. Maggie Hassan is a moderate Democrat. We might well have endorsed her even if the Trump endorsed candidate had not won the Republican primary. At this point, we have to move forward and endorse the more moderate candidate, while noting our disgust at the craven cynicism of Democrats who promote the election of the very candidates they believe constitute an existential threat to the nation.
With that caveat noted, the Centrist Independent Voter endorses Sen. Maggie Hassan for the U.S. Senate seat from New Hampshire.
Mitch McConnell was right. The U.S. Senate will probably not flip to Republican control in 2022. He was also right about the reason: poor candidate quality on the Republican side. Republicans will not control the Senate after 2022 for the same reason that they lost control of the Senate in 2020: Donald Trump.
It is almost certain that Trump’s interference in the elections in Georgia, and his efforts to discourage Republicans from voting in the runoffs that followed, cost the Republicans at least one Senate seat. It now appears that Donald Trump is about to reprise his role as spoiler in 2022, by successfully endorsing candidates in the primaries who will be unelectable in the general election.
Centrist Independent Endorsements for the U.S. Senate General Election Races
Georgia is perhaps the most obvious case of Trump endorsing a weak candidate and discouraging potentially strong candidates from entering the Senate primary race.
Rev. Raphael Warnock is a progressive Democrat. He is endorsed by the Working Families Party (think Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez). It is unlikely that, in normal times, Warnock would receive the endorsement of the Centrist Independent Voter. These are not normal times. Making sure that Donald Trump loses his control over the Republican Party, and potentially the country, is far more important than keeping a Progressive Democrat out of the Senate.
As mentioned above, Donald Trump endorsed Herschel Walker in the Republican primary in Georgia and actively discouraged other potentially more viable candidates from running. Apart from opposing Walker because he is a Trump acolyte, we also find Walker to be unqualified for the U.S. Senate. His answers on the campaign trail seem bizarre and uninformed. I have nothing against famous football players, but there is nothing about that job that qualifies you for the U.S. Senate.
You might say that there is nothing about being a minister that qualifies you for the U.S. Senate either. It is not my favorite background for a member of the Senate. Nevertheless, ministers are public speakers and they have presumably spent many years wrestling with philosophical and ethical questions. While Warnock is hardly a centrist, he has at least spent a lot of time thinking about public policy positions and articulating positions on those issues.
We, therefore, endorse Sen. Raphael Warnock to be re-elected to the U.S. Senate from Georgia.
It was by no means a foregone conclusion that we would be endorsing the Democrat for the U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump, by endorsing Dr. Mehmet Oz, made the endorsement of John Fetterman inevitable. Fetterman is no centrist. He is a populist Democrat. That would normally disqualify him from endorsement by the Centrist Independent Voter.
However, making sure that Donald Trump loses his control over the Republican Party, and potentially the country, is far more important than keeping a populist Democrat out of the Senate.
Apart from Trump’s endorsement, we have other concerns about Dr. Oz.
The second concern is about his allegiance to the United States. Oz has dual citizenship with Turkey. He has served in the Turkish military. He defends this on the basis of his desire to be able to easily visit and care for his aging mother. Maybe there is nothing more to it than that. There is nothing inherently wrong with maintaining dual citizenship. As many as 40% of Americans may be eligible for dual citizenship and millions of Americans maintain dual citizenship. However, very few of these people have the need to handle sensitive national security information.
You might say that Turkey is an ally. Yes, they are a member of NATO, but they often take positions and actions that are inconsistent with U.S. interests. Consider Turkey’s attitude toward the Kurds during the fight against ISIS and their initial opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. Even the best of allies will occasionally be at odds with U.S. national interests.
Dual citizenship, even with an ally, raises some legitimate concerns, considering that Senators are granted access to sensitive national security information as a matter of course. Oz has said he would forego any security clearances that might pose a problem, but Senators don’t need security clearances to have access to sensitive information. At the moment, there are no U.S. Senators holding dual citizenship.
In addition, I think you may all remember that in 2016 Donald Trump pledged to put his assets in a blind trust. That was an obviously meaningless pledge, since even if he did it, he would still know what actions hurt or help his business interests unless the trust was directed to sell them. In addition, we know that he never honored that pledge. What guarantee would we have that Oz, Trump’s acolyte, would honor his pledge.
You will notice that I did not mention Oz’s dubious claim to be a Pennsylvania resident. I suspect there are many Pennsylvanians who care about this issue. I am not concerned. There are many cases of U.S. Senators with dubious connections to the states they represented.
To be clear, the Centrist Independent Voter endorses John Fetterman for the U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania.
The race for the U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania, currently held by Pat Toomey (R) is heating up. Toomey is not running and there is a big field in both the Republican and Democratic primaries.
The Democratic Primary
The four candidates in the Democratic primary are: Conor Lamb, Alexandria Khalil, Malcolm Kenyatta, and John Fetterman. Khalil, Kenyatta, and Fetterman all seem to be competing for the progressive vote. Conor Lamb is reliably left of center on most issues. He is also a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, which earns him our endorsement in the Democratic primary. The Philadelphia Inquirer, also, identifies him as the most moderate candidate in the race.
The Republican Primary
The seven candidates in the Republican Primary are: Kathy Barnette, Jeff Bartos, George Bochetto, Sean Gale, David McCormick, Mehmet Oz, and Carla Sands. Oz managed to secure Donald Trump’s endorsement which excludes him from our endorsement. Oz has no political or public policy experience and he would not have gotten our endorsement even if Trump had not endorsed him. While there isn’t anyone remotely centrist running for this seat as a Republican, the least extreme candidate appears to be Jeff Bartos. On the basis of this dubious distinction Bartos is able to garner our endorsement for the Republican primary.
Our overall recommendation is, therefore, to vote for Conor Lamb in the Democratic primary, if you can. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is a closed primary state and you have to register by May 2, 2022. If you have to vote in the Republican primary, our recommendation is Jeff Bartos.