Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 3 (December 16, 2021)

December 16, 2021

Welcome to our last biweekly edition of The Heart of the Primaries. Catch us weekly on Thursdays in the new year, starting Jan. 6!

In this issue: Early messaging in Ohio’s GOP Senate primary and Perdue challenges Kemp in Georgia gubernatorial race

Early messaging in Ohio’s GOP Senate primary

Fourteen candidates are running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio so far. The current incumbent, Sen. Rob Portman (R), is retiring. Candidates and satellite groups have been running ads since the first few months of 2021. Here are some highlights.  

This month, candidate Bernie Moreno released an ad comparing inflation under President Joe Biden (D) to inflation during Jimmy Carter’s (D) presidency. In another ad, Moreno refers to himself as a “pro-Trump legal immigrant.” Moreno immigrated to the U.S. from Columbia as a child. 

Also this month, investment banker Mike Gibbons released an ad opposing candidate J.D. Vance, highlighting Vance’s past criticisms of former President Donald Trump (R). Gibbons discussed his stances on immigration and election security in another ad. Gibbons ran for Senate in 2018, placing second in the GOP primary behind Jim Renacci 32% to 47%.

The Club for Growth and the USA Freedom Fund have also released ads criticizing Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, over his previous statements on Trump. Both groups have endorsed former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who was the Republican nominee for Senate in 2012. He lost to Sherrod Brown (D) 45% to 51%. A USA Freedom Fund ad also criticizes Jane Timken and Gibbons.

Vance said in July, “I ask folks not to judge me based on what I said in 2016, because I’ve been very open that I did say those critical things and I regret them, and I regret being wrong about the guy [Trump]. I think he was a good president.”

Mandel says in an ad titled “Faith” that his grandmother was “saved from the Nazis by a network of courageous Christians, who risked their lives to save hers. Without their faith, I’m not here today.” 

Timken, a former state Republican Party chair, has released ads about her opposition to critical race theory, mask and vaccine mandates, and Biden’s immigration policy.

The primary is scheduled for May 3. Four Republican primary candidates have filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Click their names below to read their responses.

North Carolina Supreme Court postpones statewide primary to May 17

On Dec. 8, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued an order postponing the state’s primary election from March 8 to May 17. The change comes as a result of two lawsuits that originated in Wake County Superior Court challenging the newly enacted congressional and state legislative district maps that the state legislature passed. Both lawsuits allege partisan and racial gerrymandering.

The court also suspended the Dec. 17 candidate filing deadline for those elections and ordered the trial court to make whatever changes to the election schedule necessary. The trial court has until Jan. 11 to make a final ruling.

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R), a named defendant in both lawsuits, said the order moving the election date “leaves North Carolinians with uncertainty,” adding, “Despite this delay, we are confident that we will prevail at trial.” Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said the court’s order “restores faith in the rule of law and it is necessary for the Court to rule on the constitutionality of these unfair districts before the next election.”

All states have been engaged in redistricting after the 2020 census. This is the only primary date changed during the 2022 election cycle (so far). We’ll follow up with North Carolina’s filing deadline and any news on changes to the primary timeline in other states.

Rep. Miller might challenge either Rep. Davis or Rep. Bost after Illinois redistricting

U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) told Politico that she is planning to run for re-election but hasn’t decided which House district she’ll run in. According to Politico, “Illinois’ new congressional map splits her downstate district in two, leaving her in the undesirable spot of choosing between challenging GOP Reps. Mike Bost or Rodney Davis, two well-funded and popular incumbents who have both declared 2022 bids.” Miller, first elected in 2020, represents Illinois’ 15th Congressional District.

First elected in 2014, Bost represents Illinois’ 12th Congressional District and is running for re-election. Bost said of his chances after redistricting, “If you look at the largest cities…the first five largest cities are in my old district.”

Davis, who was first elected to the House in 2012, currently represents Illinois’ 13th Congressional District and will run in the new 15th District. Davis said, “We didn’t ask for the gerrymandered mess that is the Illinois map. … But I’m going to run in the district that I live in, which is always where I will run. And my job is to make sure that we hold that seat for Republicans.”

CNN’s Melanie Zanona and Manu Raju reported that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has encouraged Trump to endorse Miller and that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has asked Trump not to get involved. Zanona and Raju wrote, “A Trump endorsement would turbocharge the intraparty battle and potentially make things even stickier, something GOP leaders are eager to avoid.”

Illinois lost one U.S. House district following the 2020 census—down to 17 from 18. The state enacted its new congressional map on Nov. 24. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, “The new map drawn by state Democrats includes three very safe GOP districts, down from five.” The filing deadline is scheduled for March, and primaries are scheduled for June 28.

Former Sen. David Perdue challenging Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

Former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) announced on Dec. 6 he is running for governor of Georgia, setting up a primary challenge to incumbent Brian Kemp. The primary is scheduled for May 24.

In a video announcing his candidacy, Perdue said, “Unfortunately, today, we are divided, and Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger are to blame. Look, I like Brian. This isn’t personal. It’s simple. He has failed all of us and cannot win in November.” Kemp and Raffensperger—Georgia’s Republican secretary of state—clashed with Trump over the legitimacy of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results. Trump and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) endorsed Perdue, each saying Kemp’s conflict with Trump meant he could not win the general election.

On Dec. 10, Perdue filed a lawsuit in state court asking for an inspection of the 2020 election’s absentee ballots in Fulton County. 

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said, “Perdue is best known for ducking debates, padding his stock portfolio during a pandemic, and losing winnable races.” The political action committee Georgians First Leadership Committee released six ads between Dec. 6 and Dec. 14 criticizing Perdue for stock trades at the start of the pandemic, losing his Senate re-election bid, and his business record. The group also launched an opposition website. 

Perdue was first elected to the Senate in 2014 and lost to Jon Ossoff (D) 49.4% to 50.6% in the January 2021 Senate runoff. Kemp defeated Stacey Abrams (D) 50.2% to 48.8% in the 2018 gubernatorial election. Abrams is running again in 2022. Before serving as governor, Kemp was secretary of state from 2010 to 2018.  

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey draws several primary challengers

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is seeking re-election. Since Ivey announced her bid in June,  several other Republicans have launched primary campaigns. 

Ivey assumed office in 2017 after serving as the state’s lieutenant governor. Ivey is running on what she says is a record of job creation, signing pro-life and anti-critical race theory legislation, and pushing back against the Biden administration.

Among Ivey’s challengers is Lynda Blanchard, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Slovenia from 2019 to 2021. Blanchard originally declared her candidacy for the Alabama U.S. Senate race before entering the gubernatorial race. Blanchard said she is running because “people made it unmistakably clear to me that they wanted a conservative outsider, not just in (Washington) D.C. but … here in Montgomery, a leader who will run our state boldly.”

Another challenger is correctional officer Stacy George. George has criticized Ivey’s COVID-19 emergency orders and supports a state lottery to fund mental health services.

Candidate Tim James is a toll road developer and the son of former Alabama Gov. Fob James. James has criticized Ivey for supporting a 2019 increase in the gas tax. His platform includes working to ban same-sex marriage.

Dean Odle, a pastor, said he is running because he thinks Ivey mishandled the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also criticized Ivey’s handling of the state’s prisons and support for the gas tax increase. 

Candidate Jim Zeigler is the current Alabama auditor. Zeigler said, “Governor Ivey is not running the Governor’s office. We have a Joe Biden situation in Montgomery. So Joe Biden is not running the President’s office. In Alabama, our former congressman, Jo Bonner, is the chief of staff, and he is running things. He is the acting governor of Alabama.” 

The primary is scheduled for May 24.

Mike Brown to challenge Kansas SoS Scott Schwab

Former Johnson County Commissioner Mike Brown announced he would run for Kansas secretary of state on Dec. 7, challenging incumbent Scott Schwab in the Republican primary. The primary is scheduled for Aug. 2. 

Brown said, “Kansans’ trust in our elections has been broken. I fix problems and I want to restore their faith in our broken election system. Anything less than 100% confidence in our elections should never be enough for the Kansas Secretary of State.”

A spokeswoman for Schwab, Lydia Meiss, said, “While others would rather play partisan politics with our elections, Scott is working hard to defend your right to vote securely and safely. To Scott, this is not about politics — it’s about protecting your vote and your rights.”

Brown served as county commissioner for one term before Shirley Allenbrand defeated him in 2020. Schwab is a former Republican member of the Kansas House of Representatives. He was elected secretary of state in 2018.

Texas primary update after Dec. 13 filing deadline

The filing period for Texas’ U.S. House and state legislative races ended on Dec. 13. Texas has next year’s first primaries on March 1. We reviewed the list of candidates that filed with the secretary of state’s office to identify the number of contested primaries. The numbers below were current the morning of Dec. 15. Note that the state may not have processed all candidates at that time. 

U.S. House of Representatives

  • 91 Republican candidates have filed.
  • 20 Republican incumbents filed for re-election. Republicans currently represent three U.S. House districts where no incumbent is running.
  • Nine Republican incumbents currently face a contested primary.
  • 21 U.S. House districts have multiple Republican candidates. 

The current partisan composition of Texas’ U.S. House districts is 13 Democrats and 23 Republicans. The state gained two additional districts after the 2020 census.

State Senate

  • 34 Republican candidates have filed.
  • 14 Republican incumbents have filed for re-election. Four Republican incumbents are not running for re-election.
  • 1 Republican incumbent currently faces a contested primary.
  • 6 Senate districts have multiple Republican candidates.

The current partisan composition of the Texas Senate is 18 Republicans and 13 Democrats.

State House of Representatives

  • 201 Republican candidates have filed.
  • 69 Republican incumbents have filed for re-election. Fifteen Republican incumbents are not running for re-election. In addition, State Rep. Trent Ashby (HD-57) is running in Texas’ 9th House District.
  • 24 Republican incumbents currently face a contested primary.
  • 47 House districts have multiple Republican candidates.

The current partisan composition of the Texas House is 85 Republicans and 65 Democrats.

Texas county GOP to conduct its own party primary

The Potter County Republican Party in Texas announced it would conduct its own primary in March rather than contract the primary to the county election board. The county election board is still expected to handle absentee and early voting. State law allows county parties to conduct their own primary elections. According to The New York Times, “the vast majority have contracted with local boards of election for decades.”

Daniel Rogers, the county party chair, said he made the decision because voters in his party had concerns about electronic vote counters and that paper ballots were more secure. Rogers said, “The voters are smarter than our elected officials, than administrators—they don’t trust the voters. I do.” 

Potter County is located in the panhandle of Texas and had a population of 118,525 as of the 2020 census. There are approximately 57,000 registered voters in the county. Its largest city and county seat is Amarillo. Trump received nearly 70% of the vote in Potter County in 2020.