Amy Walter: “The good news for Democrats is that (at this point) there are only 21 districts where Biden’s margin was fewer than seven points. Even if we expand that universe to include districts Biden carried by 8-10 points, that universe of potentially vulnerable Democratic-held seats expands only slightly.”
“However, the good news for Republicans is that they currently hold eight of those 21 seats that Biden carried by less than seven points. In other words, it would make some of the most vulnerable GOP-held districts’s, like Rep. Don Bacon’s Omaha-based NE-02 (Biden +6) and Rep. Dave Schweikert’s Phoenix-based AZ-01 (Biden +1.4), tougher for Democrats to pick off. But, these are “holds,” not flips, which lowers the ceiling for GOP gains.”
“Another factor that may cap GOP gains is that Democrats don’t have to defend many Trump-won districts.”
Jonathan Chait: “As DeSantis spoke, he looked like a man who had been mimicking Donald Trump’s speeches in front of the mirror. He performed a series of hand thrusts, in which he drew his thumbs together until they were almost touching, then jerked them apart in quick horizontal motions, as if he were playing an invisible accordion. After five such accordion pulls, he swung his right hand, thumb pointing up, in a semi-circular motion back inward to the center. DeSantis tweeted out the clip, and any MAGA fan watching, even without the sound on, would have grasped the gist just through the eerie physical impersonation.”
“Republicans have collectively recognized that however much Trump may exasperate them, their president-in-exile will not be purged, nor will the changes he brought to their party be rolled back. He might, however, be co-opted. And if this is to happen, they have settled with remarkable unanimity on DeSantis as the person to do it.”
AdImpact tweets that Senate Majority PAC has booked ad time to aid Democrats in five states in addition to the $24.4 million we’ve previously noted for Georgia, though these sums are almost surely just preliminary. So far, AdImpact reports that SMP has reserved $19.1 million in Pennsylvania, $3 million each in Arizona and Wisconsin, and $1 million in Nevada.
House Majority PAC, which was the largest spender on House races among outside groups on the Democratic side in 2020, has announced that it’s reserved a total of $86 million in fall TV time in 45 different media markets. We’ve assembled this new data into a spreadsheet, but as you’ll see, it’s organized by market rather than district, so we’ve also included our best guesses as to which House seats HMP is specifically targeting or defending.
The reason these buys are listed this way is because advertising can only be booked market by market: The geographic regions served by particular TV stations rarely correspond with political boundaries, and the reverse is true as well. Inevitably, this mismatch means that many TV watchers will wind up seeing ads for districts—and sometimes even states—they don’t live in.
HMP is the first of the House’s big four outside groups to make fall reservations: The others are their allies at the DCCC, and the NRCC and Congressional Leadership Fund for the Republicans. These bookings give us an early window into which races HMP expects to be competitive, but they don’t tell us everything. For instance, none of these reservations are in states where redistricting is still in progress, though theoretically there could be some spillover from this batch.
The PAC also included several markets in this first wave of reservations that contain at least a portion of several different competitive House seats, most notably Los Angeles and Philadelphia. However, it’s still too early to know how much money HMP will direct towards each race because major outside groups often change their planning based on how individual contests seem to be shaping up.
Politico: “In the eight weeks running up to the May 24 primary, two super PACs supporting Walker’s GOP rivals plan to drop millions of dollars in ads attacking Walker, according to people familiar with their spending plans — ad buys that stand to alter the shape of a race that could decide control of the Senate.”
“Walker is still expected to finish first in the primary. But his opponents intend to drive his support under 50 percent and force him into a June runoff, when the second-place finisher will be able to focus attention on what many Georgia Republicans contend is Walker’s unique vulnerability to Democratic attack: his history of alleged domestic abuse.”
Related from NPR: Trump is struggling again in Georgia, with 2022 endorsements driven by his 2020 loss.
NORTH CAROLINA 11TH CD. Sen. Thom Tillis announced Wednesday that he was endorsing state Sen. Chuck Edwards’ campaign to defeat freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn in the May 17 Republican primary, saying the next day that the incumbent “has fallen well short of the most basic standards Western North Carolina expects from their representatives.”
The senator also horned in an unsubtle reference to Cawthorn’s previous attempt to leave his constituents behind to run for an even more conservative district in the Charlotte area that he had almost no ties to before a new court-drawn map foreclosed that possibility, antics that likely did him far more damage at home than his litany of embarrassing behavior. Tillis asserted that Edwards would “never turn his back on Western North Carolina or abandon his constituents for the sake of political expediency” and wouldn’t “embarrass Western North Carolina with a consistent pattern of juvenile behavior, outlandish statements, and untruthfulness.”
In fact, it was Cawthorn’s abortive move to shop for a more glamorous district that brought Edwards into the race in the first place: During the brief period when Cawthorn planned to run in the Charlotte-based district, Edwards hopped into the contest for Cawthorn’s momentarily open seat, a district nestled into the state’s far-western tip. When state courts replaced the GOP’s gerrymandered map with a much fairer one, and Cawthorn skipped back home, Edwards was adamant that he wouldn’t defer.
However, an internal poll for Edwards himself underscores just how tough it will be for him to deny Cawthorn renomination. A mid-March Public Opinion Strategies survey obtained by Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel shows the far-right congressman defeating Edwards 52-20, while a third candidate who went unidentified in the memo takes 11%.
The pollster argues that Edwards could gain ground once respondents learn more about him and are exposed to negative messaging about Cawthorn, such as claims that he “favors cutting the U.S. military budget.” Kassel adds, “The poll did not include references to some of Cawthorn’s recent controversial remarks, such as describing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a ‘thug.'” (Tillis highlighted Cawthorn’s insult in his statement, saying Edwards won’t “find himself being used as propaganda on Russian state television.”)
The survey was also finished before Cawthorn humiliated House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other party leaders this week when he claimed on a podcast that an unidentified colleague had invited him to an “orgy” and that he’d witnessed prominent conservatives doing “a key bump of cocaine.” After a private meeting with Cawthorn on Wednesday, McCarthy said, “I just told him he’s lost my trust, and he’s going to have to earn it back.” CNN says that even Cawthorn’s compatriots at the far-right Freedom Caucus are pissed and have considered ejecting him from their ranks, though these same sources acknowledge such a banishment is unlikely.
But while the cocaine-and-orgy remarks made national headlines, Cawthorn’s poor politicking back home has been the chief source of the congressman’s troubles. As Tillis put it, “It comes down to focus on the district, producing results for the district, and in my opinion, Mr. Cawthorn hasn’t demonstrated much in the way of results over the last 18 months.” In his Thursday statement touting Edwards, he threw further shade, saying that unlike Cawthorn, his preferred candidate would “never give up on his day job in search of celebrity status in Washington, D.C.”
CNN reports that other like-minded Republicans may soon board the Edwards bandwagon, and in fact, some powerful GOP figures already have: Earlier this month, before Cawthorn’s latest spew, state Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and state House Speaker Tim Moore announced that they’d hold a fundraiser for the challenger. Cawthorn’s failed district-hopping endeavor seemed to be aimed both at boosting his own profile and bullying Moore out of a planned campaign for Congress, so it probably didn’t take much to persuade the speaker to come out against him now. (Court-ordered redistricting ultimately left Moore without a seat to run for.)
However, even if Edwards—and Cawthorn’s own mouth—can further weaken the incumbent, the state’s election laws still pose a huge obstacle for any challengers. That’s because the leading candidate in a primary only needs to clear 30% of the vote in order to avoid a July runoff, and with six other candidates running, it’s very possible that Cawthorn can win outright even if he falls well short of a majority. And if he does win renomination, he’ll be difficult to beat in November in a seat that Trump would have carried 54-44.
Cawthorn, predictably, shows no sign of changing. On Thursday, he released an ad arguing that, even as “[t]he entire left-wing establishment has targeted” him as “public enemy number one,” he “cannot be stopped.”
ILLINOIS 3RD CD. State Rep. Delia Ramirez has publicized an internal from Impact Research that shows her leading Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas 25-10 in the June Democratic primary for this open seat, with a 62% majority undecided. The only other poll we’ve seen was conducted about a month ago by Lake Research Partners on behalf of the pro-Ramirez Working Families Party, and it gave Ramirez a smaller 19-11 edge.
ALASKA AT LARGE CD. Independent Jeff Lowenfels, a former oil executive and state prosecutor who has published a gardening column in the Anchorage Daily News for 45 years, announced Wednesday that he would run in both the special election and regular contest to succeed the late GOP Rep. Don Young. Lowenfels, among other things, used his campaign announcement to tout that he was the one who “introduced pizza by the slice to Alaska” in 1975 when he co-founded a New York-style pizza restaurant in Anchorage.
Another independent running in the top-four primary, 2020 Democratic Senate nominee Al Gross, has meanwhile picked up the support of Tony Knowles, who is the Last Frontier’s most recent Democratic governor.
IDAHO 2ND CD. Both incumbent Mike Simpson and attorney Bryan Smith are out with new ads attacking one another ahead of their May 17 Republican primary showdown, which is a rematch of the 2014 contest that Simpson won 62-38. The congressman, just as he did years ago, is portraying his opponent as a greedy lawyer. A retired policeman tells viewers, “My daughter was born in 2012. Bryan Smith sued me for $36 and change that I owed the pediatrician, plus attorneys fees. He refused our payment. It was all or nothing.”
Smith, for his part, is airing a commercial in which the narrator insists that, despite what Simpson claims, the challenger “donated to President Trump and helped to nominate him for president as a Trump delegate.” He continues, “And RINO Mike Simpson? He called Trump unfit to be president, wouldn’t endorse him against Hillary. Then he voted for Nancy Pelosi’s anti-Trump Jan. 6 witch hunt.”
NEBRASKA 2ND CD. Democratic state Sen. Tony Vargas’ allies at 314 Action are out with a Change Research survey that gives him a narrow 40-39 edge over Republican incumbent Don Bacon; this is the first poll that’s been publicized for this Omaha-based seat, which would have favored Biden 52-46. The release did not mention 2020 Senate candidate Alisha Shelton, who is Vargas’ opponent in the May 10 primary.
NEVADA 4TH CD. Air Force veteran Sam Peters is out with a WPA Intelligence poll arguing that the 2020 primary runner-up is in good shape this time to claim the Republican nod to take on Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford. The survey shows Peters beating Assemblywoman Annie Black 33-14 in the June primary, with 5% going to Las Vegas City Council aide Chance Bonaventura.
NEW JERSEY 3RD CD. Ian Smith (R), who is challenging Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), was arrested on charges that he was driving under the influence last weekend after refusing to take a breathalyzer test, the New Jersey Globe reports.
OREGON 4TH CD. Climate Hawks Vote, a Democratic group that’s supporting communications consultant Doyle Canning, has dropped a survey from Public Policy Polling that shows Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle leading Canning 24-8 in the May 17 primary to succeed retiring Rep. Peter DeFazio, with a 54% majority undecided. This is the first poll we’ve seen of this contest.
Climate Hawks argues that Canning, who challenged DeFazio for renomination in 2020 and lost in an 84-15 landslide, has room to grow because of her opposition to the Jordan Cove Energy Project, which was canceled late last year. However, while PPP found that primary voters would be less likely to support a candidate who backed Jordan Cove, the release doesn’t include any questions informing respondents about Canning or anyone else’s positions on the now-defunct project.
SOUTH CAROLINA 1ST CD. Freshman Rep. Nancy Mace infuriated Donald Trump last year when she blamed him for the Jan. 6 attack, and he responded in February by endorsing former state Rep. Katie Arrington’s primary campaign against her in South Carolina’s 1st District along the state’s southern coast. In 2018, Arrington denied renomination to another incumbent who wound up on Trump’s bad side, the one and only Mark Sanford, before losing the general election to Democrat Joe Cunningham, and Mace is arguing Arrington would again endanger Team Red’s hold on this seat. (Mace herself unseated Cunningham two years later.)
The only poll we’ve seen was a February Remington Research Group survey for Arrington that showed Mace beating her 50-35 but argued that the challenger would pull ahead once voters learned she was Trump’s pick. One little-known candidate, Lynz Piper-Loomis, is also in, and her presence could be enough to keep either Mace or Arrington from winning without a runoff.
On the Democratic side, pediatrician Annie Andrews has the field to herself. Republican legislators sought to protect their hold on this seat by extending Trump’s 2020 margin from 52-46 to 54-45, but Team Blue is hoping another nasty GOP fight will give them an opening, especially if Arrington beats Mace.
SOUTH CAROLINA 7TH CD. Rep. Tom Rice shocked observers last year when he became one of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump, and he now faces six primary opponents in this safely red seat in the northeastern part of the state. Trump’s endorsed candidate is state Rep. Russell Fry, while former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride and Horry County Schools Board of Education Chairman Ken Richardson are also in. A mid-March poll for Fry from Ivory Tusk Consulting (which is run by fellow state Rep. R.J. May) had him leading Rice 39-18, with everyone else taking single digits.
TENNESSEE 5TH CD. State Sen. Heidi Campbell filed paperwork with the FEC this week for a potential bid to succeed Rep. Jim Cooper, a fellow Democrat who announced his retirement after the GOP legislature gerrymandered his seat.
OREGON 6TH CD. Primary School highlights that Protect Our Future, a super PAC backed by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, has deployed an additional $2.5 million to aid economic development adviser Carrick Flynn in the May Democratic primary for this new seat, which takes its total spending here to $3.7 million.
NEW YORK 16TH CD. Freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman has earned the backing of the influential healthcare workers union 1199SEIU in his June Democratic primary against Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi.
NEW YORK 12TH CD. Voting rights advocate Maya Contreras, who struggled to raise money last year, announced Thursday that she was ending her Democratic primary bid against Rep. Carolyn Maloney, though several other intra-party challengers are still running.
UTAH 1ST CD. Freshman Rep. Blake Moore doesn’t appear to be in danger ahead of the June Republican primary for this safely red seat in northern Utah and the northern suburbs of Salt Lake City, but his predecessor is hoping to change that. Former Rep. Rob Bishop, who retired last cycle after 18 years in Congress, published an op-ed in the Deseret News this week detailing five reasons why he’s supporting former Morgan County Councilmember Tina Cannon, who unsuccessfully ran to succeed him in 2020. Bishop, who badly lost his own bid for lieutenant governor that year, did not mention Moore in his piece.
Cannon last time sought to advance to the primary by competing at the party convention without also collecting petitions (we explain Utah’s ballot access process here), so her narrow third-place showing at the party gathering ended her campaign; Moore, who edged out Cannon for second, went on to win the nomination 31-29. This time Cannon, as well as Moore and Vineland Mayor Julie Fullmer, are pursuing both the signature and convention routes, while retired intelligence officer Andrew Badger is only gathering petitions. The final candidate, businessman William Campbell, is staking his campaign on a good performance at the April 23 party convention.
Cannon used a recent appearance in front of a local party organization to unsubtly go after Moore for living outside the new 1st District. (He didn’t reside in the old 1st during the 2020 primary either.) The incumbent, though, does represent over 90% of the redrawn seat, while Fullmer’s Vineland community is located entirely in the new 3rd.
Meet Karen Mueller, a Republican attorney who thought it was possible to get the 2020 election results decertified (it’s not) and is now running for attorney general in her state on the platform of suing doctors who don’t prescribe ivermectin, an anti-parasitic generally given to horses, as treatment for COVID-19. This is in spite of the fact that the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned people not to take ivermectin to treat COVID, and a new study found that the drug doesn’t treat the virus.
The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are “liars,” according to Mueller.