Gary Peters, Terri Lynn Land — May 10, 2014 at 10:41 am

This is how Republicans will lose the Senate


Without Obamacare to demonize, their agenda is to find an agenda


Likely Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Michigan, Terri Lynn Land’s debuted two new ads on Friday. Both were about the Keystone pipeline.

This sudden shift of focus is reminiscent of Republican Gabriel Gomez’s failed attempt to win the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry of Massachusetts in 2013. Gomez tried to make Keystone a liability for his opponent Ed Markey by overstating both the benefits and job creation of the proposed pipeline.

Keystone is the only infrastructure project Republicans vocally support. Unfortunately for Land it will create only 35 permanent jobs and may actually raise gas prices in the Midwest — not to mention Michigan’s own experience with an oil pipeline breaking and spilling into our waterways.

Keystone, which sends Canadian oil to China, does poll well, as does most infrastructure spending. But it doesn’t poll nearly as well as raising the minimum wage, which is why Republicans in Michigan are desperate to keep a proposal to raise it off the ballot.

Keystone is extremely popular with the Koch brothers who are among the largest leaseholders of Canadian oil sands. Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity has spent millions propping up Land’s campaign.

And she was briefly leading likely Democratic nominee Rep. Gary Peters until two things happened: The Majority Senate PAC began running ads connecting her agenda to the Kochs and Obamacare exceeded its enrollment goals and we found out the law was responsible for a 25 percent reduction in America’s uninsured population in just seven months.

Land’s allies are still running ads blasting Peters for voting for Obamacare — even though she says she doesn’t want to get rid of Medicaid expansion, which is proving extremely successful in this state. That should mean she’s not for full repeal, a fact that will disturb base Republicans should she ever be forced to awkwardly admit it in public.

Obamacare isn’t wildly popular unless you compare it to the Republican Party and Obamacare repeal. And Land’s pivot to Keystone reveals that she recognizes it will not win her a Senate seat.

Land’s “issues” section of her site is still painfully thin, especially compared to Peters’ actual record.

However, she does have substantial advantage in outside money and voters who tend to show up in off-year elections. Sasha Issenberg who vote The Victory Lab, which reveals the science of elections, says Democrats in Michigan start off with a 229,870 vote deficit in 2014, which is just a bit larger than their deficit in Kentucky.

(Issenberg numbers also suggest that West Virginia, Montana and Alaska are highly winnable for Democrats. Victories there would assure Republicans would not take the Senate.)

Terri Lynn Land is doing her best to help Democrats keep this Senate seat. Just as Scott Brown is helping Senator Jean Shaheen for attacking her for the exact same votes he took. Just as Thom Tillis is helping Senator Kay Hagan by refusing to say if he thinks the minimum wage should be raised and bragging about denying 500,000 North Carolinians Medicaid Expansion.

The winner in off-year elections is the party that gives people a reason to vote. That reason can be a positive agenda — like raising the minimum wage, equal pay, help with student loans — or chance to punish the other party.

In 2010, the GOP managed to convince voters to punish Democrats for the economy Bush left. In 2012, President Obama convinced voters that his policies were better for everyone who wasn’t Mitt Romney.

In 2014, Terri Lynn Land is doing her best to find some reason that voters who don’t hate Democrats already should support her.

Gary Peters has the reasons. Now he just needs to let those 229,870 voters know.