Recent scandals threaten Senate campaigns of two Democratic candidates

Control of the U.S. Senate is a bit less likely to be won by Democrats this November, now that two of the party’s top candidates are embroiled in scandals.

Over the past couple of weeks, current candidate and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) has made headlines for his violation of state ethics laws, and now Chris Janicek, a Democratic Senate candidate from Nebraska, is facing questions over a scandal of his own.

Janicek’s troubles

The Janicek scandal stems from a group chat in which the candidate made salacious comments about a female staffer and asked participants, “Do you think the campaign should spend some money on getting her laid?” Janicek wrote. “It will probably take three guys.”

According to the New York Post, Janicek went on to describe in detail how the task would be accomplished, before trying to offer a half-hearted apology in which he said, “I’m going on no sleep and a bunch of exuberant excitement and I think I was out of line,” he wrote.

The female staffer, who has decided to remain anonymous, was unhappy with Janicek’s behavior and scolded him for his statements, saying, “You are my boss and a candidate running for Senate, (an) office held by just 100 Americans representing approximately 330 million of her people,” she wrote, according to The New York Times. “There is zero tolerance for what you said.”

As a result of her anger, the staffer quit her job, withdrew her support for Janicek, and filed a complaint with the Nebraska Democratic Party, according to the Post.

Hickenlooper sanctioned

Failed presidential candidate and current Senate contender Hickenlooper was found earlier this month to have committed multiple violations of state ethics rules, according to the Denver Post.

The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission determined that Hickenlooper ran afoul of the rules by permitting large corporate interests to pay for a trip he took to Connecticut on a private jet and for travel in a Maserati limousine. Hickenlooper was also held in contempt by the panel for defying a subpoena to provide testimony in the matter, according to The Hill.

In the end, as The Hill noted, the Commission assessed the former governor a fine of $2,750, but the political implications for Hickenlooper may be far costlier.

Should he win his June 30 Democratic primary, Hickenlooper is set to face off against incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) this November, and Gardner’s campaign has indicated that it plans to take full advantage of these ethics findings as the race heats up, according to the Denver Post.

Good news for GOP

The Nebraska Democratic Party issued a statement of their own demanding Janicek’s withdrawal from the Senate race, in which he is going up against Republican Sen. Ben Sasse. Janicek, however, has refused, claiming that the controversial incident in question was a private matter for which he apologized.

It’s is stuff like this — the scandals of Hickenlooper and Janicek — that should help make it easier for Republicans to do very well indeed this November.

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