Republicans are planning a big campaign against Elizabeth Warren’s 2018 Senate re-election—but it’s aimed at beating her in 2020, not 2018. Drawing on the playbook they developed against Hillary Clinton, Republican groups will track and record Warren intensively to build their stock of attacks on her:
“We learned from our experience with Secretary (Hillary) Clinton that when you start earlier, the narratives have more time to sink in and resonate with the electorate,” said Colin Reed, executive director at the Republican outside group America Rising.
Reed’s group launched an effort in April to catalog and promote Warren’s mistakes, announcing that it would try to defeat the senator during next year’s race while also trying to “continue developing the long-term research and communications angles to damage her 2020 prospects.”
And while Republicans’ ultimate goal may be defeating Warren in 2020, or keeping her out of that race altogether, it raises the stakes for 2018 as a Senate re-election campaign:
Williams said he expected GOP donors and groups like America Rising and other outside entities to use the midterm contest as an opportunity to tarnish Warren’s brand, regardless of who her 2018 opponent might be.
“The more serious her campaign is, the more opportunities to make mistakes,” he said. “Republicans would love to see her make a few gaffes in this race that could be used against her in 2020.”
In short, it’s going to get nasty, because that’s what happens when Republicans are scared of a Democrat. Arguably when they’re scared of a Democratic woman, in particular. And while Massachusetts is a blue state at the presidential level, it has a popular Republican governor and Warren’s Senate predecessor was a Republican; additionally, Warren is the first woman elected senator in Massachusetts and no woman has been elected governor. Republicans may not have a candidate who can beat her in 2018, but that doesn’t mean they can’t inflict damage given unlimited money and an unlimited appetite for ugliness.
Then again, they may force Warren to become even tougher and better as a candidate.