In March, Nate Silver published a forecast for the 2014 U.S. Senate race and suggested Republicans have reason to be optimistic about the open-seat race in Michigan. “Republicans,” he said at the time, “will have an excellent candidate in Terri Lynn Land.
As much as I value Nate’s work, even he doesn’t bat a thousand. Tim Alberta reports that Land looked to be in very good shape as the race first got underway, but her standing has deteriorated since.
There’s one simple reason Michigan Republicans worked feverishly to recruit someone other than Land to run: She is not a top-tier candidate. The last few months of her campaign is proof, revealing the warts and weaknesses that her allies have always known could ruin the GOP’s best opportunity in two decades to take a grab at this Senate seat. […][O]n the nuts and bolts of campaigning – operational tactics, articulating policy specifics, messaging through advertisements and media – there were serious doubts about whether Land could compete…. Those fears are now being realized.
It wasn’t a specific gaffe or scandal that put Land’s candidacy in jeopardy, so much as it was a combination of factors: an odd campaign-finance controversy, a lack of depth on the stump, a reluctance to answer questions about her policy positions, and what Alberta described as “intentional under-exposure.”
Yesterday, things got much worse for the GOP candidate. An entity called Freedom Partners, financed in part by the Koch brothers, had purchased $1.1 million in television time in the Wolverine State, but the group “abruptly canceled the ads this week.”
That report came a day after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) re-election campaign “wouldn’t discuss” its relationship with Land’s campaign, and when Team Land said the two Republicans would appear together at an event this weekend, the Senate candidate’s spokesperson soon after reversed course.
In fairness, it’d be an overstatement to say Republicans have completely given up on this race. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, for example, is still investing in Land’s campaign.
But taken together, the Michigan race clearly is not where Republicans hoped it would be, and Terri Lynn Land is not shaping up to be the candidate her party wanted. Remember, Roll Call’s Stu Rothenberg noted in a recent column that he’s had “doubts” about whether the Michigan Republican is a credible candidate, adding, “Those doubts were recently heightened when one person who has met her said Land ‘is so not ready for prime time that it’s amazing.’”