The Republican Party has a serious vetting problem. Far too many fringe and ringer candidates are making it onto GOP primary ballots in too many states. And unless something is done, the expectation that the GOP is going to get control of the U.S. Senate back as well as gaining control of the House of Representatives in the 2022 midterm elections will not happen.
Vetting is when you check the background and qualifications of prospective candidates for public office. And this important vetting should be done well before the primary elections are held.
Primary elections are key because they determine which candidates will advance to the general election in the fall. And yet very few people participate in them. Often the number of registered voters who show up for the primaries is less than 10 percent.
While most of the voting public isn’t paying any real attention to these primaries, a small, committed cadre of activists can ensure their fringe or ringer candidate gets on the ballot for the general election in November.
By the time most voters start paying attention to the state and federal races later on in the year, the choices on the ballot have already been set.
It’s up to each individual U.S. state’s GOP party to vet the candidates running in their primaries, but too many states can’t seem to vet their candidates adequately and prevent the insertion of fringe and ringer candidates on the ballots.
A fringe candidate is someone who’s running as a gimmick, or as some kind of protest, who has no real chance at winning. Allow too many fringe candidates on your primary ballot and you risk them siphoning off enough votes to lose the race for the party.
A ringer is working for the other party, trying to split the primary vote. Sometimes more than one ringer is used to try to split the vote between three or even four candidates. The goal is for a ringer to win the primary, and then essentially throw the race to the other person.
Fringe and fraudulent candidates are able to split the vote two, three, or even four ways, often resulting in one of the fringe candidates winning the primary. This enables the opposing party to sail into the general election in November and easily win the race.
All it would take is a dozen or so House races and a handful of Senate races where fringe or ringer candidates manage to win the primaries and hand those seats to the Democrats for the expected GOP control of the House and Senate in 2022 to fail to materialize.
Former President Donald J. Trump is certainly doing his part to ensure his base knows who to vote for when the primary elections get here.
When he was in the White House, Trump was often terribly busy and had limited time to devote to making endorsements and campaigning for Congressional candidates. And sometimes the base went with someone else who wasn’t Trump’s pick, as they did with Judge Roy Moore in Alabama back in 2017. (Trump had endorsed Luther Strange.)
But now that he’s a private citizen again, Trump can give this his undivided attention, and he’s not wasting the opportunity. He’s very transparently building his own slate of endorsed candidates at both the state and federal levels. At every rally he does, he makes sure everyone knows exactly who it is he’s endorsing and why.
So, Trump is doing his best to cut down on the primary confusion and chaos that too many times has led to fringe candidates or ringers getting on the ballots for the general election. He’s begun assembling his slate well in advance of the primary season.
What we need to see now is the GOP state parties exercising their own due diligence in vetting candidates for their primaries. After the fiasco that was the 2020 election, this is probably the most important election in our nation’s history coming up in 2022.
Let’s hope everybody in these 50 state GOP parties are doing their job when it comes to vetting primary candidates.
Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Telegram at t.me/drawandstrikechannel.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.