There seems to be a sudden and increasing buzz around the idea of Dr. Ben Carson running for a seat in the US Senate from Michigan next year, now that Carl Levin is exiting Stage Left. Unfortunately, some of the reasons being foisted – not just from the Left, but from the Right as well – represent precisely why the doctor should eschew any such temptations.
About that prospect, Carson, who officially calls himself an independent, said: “If the Lord grabbed me by the collar and made me do it, I would.”
Before the Lord gets a hold of him, Michigan Republicans should consider locking him up.
The state GOP hasn’t won a U.S. Senate race in Michigan since 1994. With the retirement of Democratic incumbent Sen. Carl Levin, Republicans believe they have a shot at the seat in 2016.
Carson, if he could be lured back to his native state, would bring national attention to the race, as well as national dollars. There are few things conservatives love more than a black Republican. And one of Carson’s stature would draw money out of moldy GOP wallets everywhere.
Carson would help a party addicted to white suburban candidates intrigue young and urban voters, black and white, who grew up looking at his picture hanging on their classroom walls.
Allahpundit recently looked this idea over and also found some appeal.
Given his sudden star power in conservative media, his candidacy is likely to become a grassroots cause celebre the way Ted Cruz’s campaign against David Dewhurst was. The national party may very well prefer him as an opportunity to showcase the GOP’s racial diversity. If you’re one of his primary opponents, how exactly would you attack him? The usual knock on a novice candidate is that he’s too inexperienced to be effective in Congress, but that’s a hard sell when you’re talking about a renowned neurosurgeon.
AP also quotes Nolan Finley’s observations about how the GOP hasn’t won a Senate seat there but the GOP should have a chance since they hold the Governor’s mansion, taking this as a smoke signal that the Republican’s can grab this particular brass ring and give Carson some government job experience to boot. (Something which would admittedly help before thinking about a White House run.)
This is, as I see it, a bad idea on two levels. First, it’s true that Michigan has demonstrated its ability to elect Republicans in non-POTUS cycle runs. But what sort of Republicans? Snyder is a popular figure in a number of circles, but his success also speaks to the need to maintain alliances with a variety of coalitions to keep power in Motor City. He won a fairly impressive victory in his gubernatorial race with 58%,but his approval ratings since then have hovered right around the 50% mark. Michigan generally only leans the GOP’s way in low turnout elections, and even then not by a large margin. To win a Senate seat there, Carson will probably need to lean a bit further left than his normal bent, and that won’t serve him well down the road.
But even more so, this idea that Michigan’s minority voters will suddenly abandon their liberal, union loving ways to support Carson – simply based on the color of his skin – should be offensive to both liberals and conservatives. The reaction to such a move was already outlined in the previously linked article.
The furor over Carson’s politics began in February, when he was invited to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast.
The doctor told an audience that included President Barack Obama that the president’s policies are hindering economic growth and opportunity in America.
Liberals screamed that Carson was parroting right-wing talking points and disrespecting the president.
Social networks lit up with diatribes against Carson, calling him a “house negro” and worse.
All of which, of course, caused conservatives to fall in love with him.
Win or lose in a Senate race, this is the legacy of it being predicted far in advance. It would be a bruising race which could force a number of nationally unpopular positions if he really wants to win, and those would come back to haunt him later. If he stuck to his guns and lost, the meme would begin about how he couldn’t even win in his home state. And the expected flood of traditionally liberal voters to his side would likely still not happen, as ideology can be easily swamped in the cat calls sure to follow.
I’m not saying Carson couldn’t pursue some sort of lower office before we begin talking about a POTUS run for him. It’s probably a good idea. Do you really want to open the doors to another round of “amateur” charges for a first timer going for the top rung of the ladder? But to my view of this, Michigan isn’t the place to do it, unless he was running for Governor. And that’s not currently a viable option.