Conservatives warn of Republican
complacency ahead of U.S. election
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[September 22, 2018]
By Ginger Gibson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservative
candidates sounded alarms to their evangelical supporters on Friday
about voter complacency that could allow a Democratic takeover of
Congress and an undermining of President Donald Trump's agenda.
The admonition at the annual Value Voters Summit gathering in Washington
came as some Republican strategists caution the party's voters are not
worried enough about the risk that Democrats could gain control of
Congress in the Nov. 6 elections, when a third of the Senate and all
House of Representatives seats are up for a vote.
"This is the most important midterm of our lifetime because it's setting
the direction of our country, and we've got to take it just that
seriously over these next six and a half weeks," said Mark Harris, a
Republican running for a U.S. House seat in North Carolina that is
considered highly competitive.
During a panel about the elections, Harris and others asked for more
help from activists.
"We've got to get out there and work very hard to stop this destructive
anti-freedom agenda," said Mark Green, a Republican candidate for
Congress in Tennessee.
The concerns echo those of Republican strategists who say they are
seeing complacency across the country. Democrats are currently favored
to take the House and have growing confidence of adding the two Senate
seats that would give them control of that chamber.
"They don’t seem to grasp what is at stake, and they don’t seem to
believe the polls," strategist Ford O'Connell said of Republican voters.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, disagreed,
saying he felt voters were starting to sense the gravity of the
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"They’re beginning to see the numbers that this is a risk – look at
the polling numbers, Congress is not in held in high esteem," said
Perkins, whose group advocates for conservative social issues and
organized the event.
Republicans are touting the strong U.S. economy and tax cuts passed
by Congress in December, while Democrats are hoping anger at Trump,
particularly among women and minority voters, will hand them
Several attendees at the gathering seemed unconvinced that Democrats
present a significant electoral threat.
"Republicans are going to come out pretty good," said Jim
Whitefield, 54, of Tecumseh, Oklahoma, who called polls and news
reports that Democrats could win the House "fake news."
David Smith, 49, a Christian minister from Chicago, Illinois, who
attended the summit with his seven children, said conservatives
risked getting complacent after winning political power but
activists were working to make voters more engaged.
"I'm optimistic from what I'm hearing that the blue wave may be
overstated," he said.
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Alistair
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