At National Review Online, Ryan Lovelace makes the argument that opposition to immigration reform could be the issue that allows the GOP to retake the Senate. As evidence, he points to several GOP campaigns, including Scott Brown in New Hampshire and Tom Cotton in Arkansas, both of whom have made opposition to amnesty part of their general election campaigns.
Support for immigration reform has been cited as a key factor in the defeat of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by David Brat in Virginia’s GOP primary election. It’s something that’s been used here in Georgia as well:
Cantor wasn’t the only Republican sunk by his stance on immigration. Georgia congressman Jack Kingston also lost his primary runoff to businessman and political neophyte David Perdue in the race to replace retiring Republican senator Saxby Chambliss in Georgia after Perdue honed in on the issue of illegal immigration. Perdue labeled Kingston “pro-amnesty” and highlighted the pro-amnesty positions of Kingston’s financial supporters in an ad in July.
Perdue has continued to focus on immigration in his general-election race against Democrat Michelle Nunn. The Perdue campaign says the immigration issue has national-security and economic components, which is why Perdue has continued to talk about it. “I think that’s something that’s always on the top of minds of voters, but it’s become more apparent because of the news of the day and things that are happening around the world,” a Perdue spokeswoman says. “People see what’s happening around the world and the potential threats that could happen anytime here at home and really understand that that’s why we need to secure our borders.”
Opposition to any type of immigration reform is a major motivator for much of the GOP base. If anything, concerns over minors entering the country illegally over the summer, and threats by President Obama to take executive action to legalize many of the undocumented has kept the issue front and center throughout the campaign season.
Continued strong resistance to changing immigration law isn’t part of the playbook imagined by the Republican National Committee when they released their report and recommendations following Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012. That report recommended taking action on immigration reform in order to gain the support of Hispanics and millennials.
It remains to be seen whether Perdue and the other Republican Senate candidates will double down on the Amnesty card in their efforts to gain a Senate majority in November. The larger question, though, is whether the short term gain of Senate control during the final two years of the Obama presidency is worth the potential long term pain of being a party abandoned by minorities and young people.