Republicans have been optimistic about their chances of making gains in the U.S. Senate this fall or perhaps even gaining control in the upper chamber. But a couple of races in the Northeast demonstrate just how grave the party’s problems have become. If Republicans had even a semblance of statewide party organization or talent, they might have had a chance to knock off Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, an undistinguished freshman whose transformation from moderate to liberal has attracted little notice since her surprise appointment to replace Hillary Clinton. But there is no New York Republican Party, so the little-known Gillibrand will skate to re-election this fall. But as infuriating as the utter collapse of a once vibrant New York GOP may be, in some ways the party’s dilemma in Connecticut is even worse.
It’s true that the Constitution State is as deep blue as New York and the rest of New England. But Republicans might have had a fighting chance to snatch the open seat that Joe Lieberman is leaving this fall. The likely Democratic nominee, Rep. Chris Murphy, is favored but is eminently beatable. But instead of nominating a Republican who might have a chance to steal a blue state seat, state Republicans are likely to choose a candidate in tomorrow’s primary who isn’t much more likely to be sworn in next January than Wendy Long, the New York GOP’s sacrificial lamb, who will be slaughtered by Gillibrand. Linda McMahon is probably going to be the GOP winner in Connecticut tomorrow. That will be no reason for anyone, Republican or Democrat, to celebrate.