Dem Senate Candidates Face Reckoning for Support of Soft-on-Crime Policies

Posted on Friday, October 28, 2022
by AMAC Newsline

AMAC Exclusive – By Claire Brighn

With just over a week to go until Election Day, Democrats in key Senate races throughout the country are faltering, with polls showing Republicans pulling ahead in nearly every toss-up race. One major reason why has been the wave of violent crime sweeping the country, which has remained a top issue for voters – and one for which Americans continue to blame Democrats.

Since the 2020 election, crime has skyrocketed throughout the country, with nearly every major metropolitan area seeing a spike in murders, robberies, and other less violent crimes like carjackings. Amid the rise of far-left prosecutors, the continuing fallout from the “Defund the Police” movement, and the liberal push to “reimagine” the criminal justice system, it’s no surprise that voters blame Democrats for much of the chaos on American streets. According to a recent Harvard-Harris poll, 64 percent of voters said that crime is increasing because of “woke politicians” – including 52 percent of Democrats. In AMAC’s inaugural national opinion poll, conducted by the Trafalgar Group and released earlier this month, a majority of likely voters likewise blamed President Joe Biden, lenient prosecutors, or lack of police presence for the increase in violent crime in the United States.

While many are now desperately trying to cover up their association with the left-wing criminal justice “reform” movement, Democrat Senate candidates are now being caught up in the growing voter backlash to soft-on-crime policies such as decriminalizing numerous offenses, ending cash bail, and freeing large numbers of convicts from prison.

In Wisconsin, where Democrat Mandela Barnes is facing off against incumbent Republican Ron Johnson, Barnes has faced mounting criticism for past comments calling for defunding the police and abolishing ICE and ending cash bail nationwide regardless of crime. At the same time as Barnes was proposing these policies, Wisconsin was experiencing a 70 percent increase in murders and a historic shortage of police. While Democrats had originally considered Wisconsin to be perhaps their top pickup target of 2022 cycle, Johnson is now polling more than three points ahead of Barnes in the latest RealClearPolitics average.

Other Democrat Senate candidates have faced similar struggles owing to their past support for radical crime policies. North Carolina candidate Cheri Beasley, with a nearly two-decade tenure on the state’s Supreme Court behind her, agreed that there is “great value” in “tearing down” the criminal justice system. Pennsylvania candidate John Fetterman said we must “reimagine” policing. In 2019, the supposedly “moderate” Tim Ryan of Ohio called the criminal justice system “racist” and “the new Jim Crow.”

Many Democrats have also openly supported the radical prosecutors that are often the primary target of voters’ ire when it comes to violent crime. As lieutenant governor, Fetterman praised Philadelphia’s Soros-backed DA Larry Krasner – who is now facing impeachment – as a “champion of criminal justice reform.” Recently, the city hit over 1,000 carjackings for the first time ever. Murders in Philadelphia hit an historic high in 2021, and there have already been 437 this year.

Even as crime goes up, Democrat Senate candidates have also almost uniformly called for a drastic and rapid reduction in the prison population, regardless of how devastating such a move would be for public safety. Numerous times Mandela Barnes has proposed releasing half of the state’s prisoners and once said it “won’t make anyone less safe.” John Fetterman has similarly said releasing one-third of prisoners “would make everyone safer,” while Tim Ryan has also supported releasing half of prisoners.

On this issue in particular, Fetterman is perhaps the most radical. When asked what he would do if he had “one wish,” Fetterman said he would “end life without parole” – a punishment reserved for only the most heinous of crimes. This squares with his record as chair of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, where he voted to release more criminals sentenced to life in prison than any other board member. He has said these convicts are “like your grandfather, they’re like your grandmother.” In one instance, he cast the sole vote to release a man charged with killing a woman with a pair of scissors.

Incumbent Democrat Senators running for reelection this year haven’t escaped criticism for their support of radical crime policies, either. Republicans were quick to note that Georgia Democrat Raphael Warnock supported ending cash bail in 2018 – long before the policy became popular even among the far left. Warnock and Nevada Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto – also seeking re-election this year – have accrued soft-on-crime records in Congress, as well. Amid the current crime wave, they recently voted against a Republican-led amendment to address the rise in violent crime and ensure progressive prosecutors do their job and appropriately detain violent criminals pre-trial.

As they compete for votes in the midterms – and not just the support of far-left activists – many of these same Democrats have desperately tried to hide their records on crime and now voice support for law enforcement on TV and social media. But to their credit, Republicans have begun hammering home just how responsible Democrats are for the rise in violent crime that Americans suffered over the past two years.

In recent weeks, a GOP ad blitz hitting Democrat Senate candidates on crime has blanketed the airwaves in key states. The increase in messaging on public safety has directly coincided with a bump in the polls for Republicans, who now appear poised to take back control of the Senate in November. A recent Marquette Law School poll found support for Barnes has dropped a sizeable 6 percent since August. In Pennsylvania, Republican candidate Dr. Oz has caught up with Fetterman after trailing for months. Similarly, Adam Laxalt has overtaken Cortez-Masto in the polls, per the RealClearPolitics average.

If Democrats do lose their Senate majority this year – as well as what looks to be a hefty number of other races – it seems clear that crime will be a big reason why. After two years of descent into anarchy and chaos, Americans are demanding leaders who punish criminals, not victims, and restore safety and security to the country’s streets.

Claire Brighn is the pen name of a conservative researcher and writer with previous domestic and foreign policy experience in the Executive Branch.