The Republican Party could regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in next Tuesday's midterm elections for the first time since losing power four years ago.
How's that for a scary Halloween trick?
Sure, there are familiar faces among those hoping to take power -- people like Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the GOP's leader in the House. The pumpkin skinned, chain smoker has complained for years that President Obama and Democrats have not reached across the aisle enough with the hope of finding "common ground."
Accepting for a moment that Boehner is correct, even though the President has repeatedly sought to work with Republicans to little success -- how closely does Boehner plan to work with Democrats should he become Speaker?
Not too closely. After all, it wasn't long ago that Boehner said he supports bipartisanship "if the balance leans in our direction, and things that we believe in."
While it isn't nearly as likely, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky could very well become Majority Leader. His version of bipartisanship? Doing everything he can to defeat Obama in 2012.
And here I thought bipartisanship was a two way street.
"Speaker" Boehner and "Leader" McConnell won't be all alone should things go splendidly for Republicans and horribly for the rest of us on Election Day.
In an effort to speed along the introductions, I present to you some of the leading contenders for the 2011 Republican freshman class -- from the statehouse to the halls of Congress.
In New York there's Carl Paladino, the Republican nominee for Governor. This guy has a history of sending racist and sexist emails. Once he even sent around a bestiality video. And still, GOP voters chose him as their nominee. Perhaps it was his proposal to put those most in need in prison where they would be taught about "personal hygiene" that won over Republican primary voters.
Down south in Kentucky we have Rand Paul running as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. He's been attacked by his opponent for belonging to a secret society in college, "that called the Holy Bible 'a hoax'" and "was banned for mocking Christianity and Christ." Perhaps even more bizarre, it has been reported -- though he denies it -- that in college, Paul and others in the secret society once tied up a woman before attempting to force her to "take bong hits" and telling her to "worship" a god named "Aqua Buddha." Over on the policy front, Paul has said that had he been in office at the time, he would have questioned a portion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which bars private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race. Now that's what I call a winning southern strategy. Sigh.
Heading out west we find Republican Meg Whitman, the former head of eBay, who has spent more of her own personal wealth on a bid for Governor of California -- at least $160 million -- than any candidate in any state ever. Whitman has said that she moved to the Golden State "30 years ago" because "anything was possible" back then. Her opponent, Jerry Brown, is quick to point out that he was Governor when Whitman thought things were so peachy keen. Apparently all the money in the world can't buy you a good California history textbook.
As for candidates hoping to join Boehner in the House? In Florida we've got Allen West who is a fan and defender of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, which, according to reports, has been "targeted by the FBI" for such things as "racketeering" and "attempted murder." Then there's Glenn Beck's buddy, Stephen Broden of Texas who has said that a violent overthrow of our government is "on the table." In the Buckeye State a city prosecutor is reviewing molestation claims made against candidate Tom Ganley and we've discovered that Rich Iott's hobbies apparently include dressing up like a Nazi.
Yes, the nation continues to laugh at Delaware Senate hopeful Christine "I'm not a witch" O'Donnell for her colorful past (and present), but it bears noting that she is far from the only GOP joke on the ballot next Tuesday. In fact, this column could be extended ten-fold and it would still miss some of the GOP's fringe candidates.
It would be funny if it weren't so absolutely frightening and if Republicans succeed next week, we're in for the scare of our lives.
Karl Frisch is a syndicated columnist and progressive political communications consultant. He can be reached at KarlFrisch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube or sign-up to receive his columns by email.
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