Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 4

January 6, 2022

In this issue: Hogan campaigns for GOP incumbents Trump opposes and gun policy becomes issue in Georgia gubernatorial primary

Hogan seeks to counter Trump influence in GOP primaries

We wrote last month that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed different candidates in Maryland’s gubernatorial GOP primary, which Hogan can’t run in due to term limits. The endorsement conflict doesn’t stop in Hogan’s current office. Hogan is campaigning for Republican incumbents around the country who have been critical of Trump and, in some cases, who face primary challengers Trump endorsed. 

Hogan has so far fundraised for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.). Politico reported that Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Idaho Gov. Brad Little may also receive Hogan’s support.

Hogan said, “It’s crazy. We’ve got the former president going after all these really good elected Republicans, and so I’m trying to support people who I think deserve to be in office. … We’re trying to help people wherever we can, and I’m sure we’re going to be doing a lot more of it.”

Hogan held a fundraiser with Herrera Beutler in December. She was one of 10 House Republicans to vote for impeaching Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol breach. Hogan has also hosted fundraisers for Kemp. Kemp and Trump clashed on the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Trump backed challengers to both Herrera Beutler and Kemp.

Media outlets have discussed Hogan as a potential 2024 presidential contender, and Hogan hasn’t confirmed or denied that he’ll run. Politico‘s Alex Isenstadt wrote, “A Hogan 2024 bid would be decidedly uphill given Trump’s ongoing, vise-like hold over the GOP. But the governor has argued there is an opening in the party for a Trump critic.”  

Incumbents Miller, Davis face each other in redistricted IL-15

U.S. Rep. Mary Miller announced she’ll run for re-election in Illinois’ redrawn 15th Congressional District. Miller faces Rep. Rodney Davis, who represents the current 13th District, in the Republican primary. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Miller. Thirty-two of 35 county GOP chairs in the new 15th endorsed Davis.

Davis was first elected in 2012. Miller won her first term in 2020. Part of the current 15th District, which Miller represents, lies within the new 15th District. Miller’s home is in the new 12th District. Davis lives within the new 15th District. Illinois lost one congressional district following the 2020 census.

According to CNN, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) encouraged Trump to endorse Miller, while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) asked Trump not to get involved.

The Hill‘s Tal Axelrod wrote that Davis “has supported Trump in recent years but broke from him at times, including crossing the former president and House GOP leadership in voting to create a panel to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.” Davis criticized Trump in 2016 before the presidential election and went on to co-chair Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign in Illinois. 

Davis campaign spokesman Aaron DeGroot called Miller a carpetbagger and said Davis has “been hard at work highlighting his conservative accomplishments and work with President Trump during his time in office. … Rodney is an effective conservative member of Congress and Mary is not.” 

Miller said, “My life is spent in the real world, on my small family farm with my husband Chris, where we were blessed to raise our seven children and welcome our seventeen grandchildren. I bring those values to Washington, not the other way around.” Miller is a member of the House Freedom Caucus.

The primary is scheduled for June 28.

House GOP leadership backs Chris Smith for re-election after Trump calls for primary challenger

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) is running for a 22nd term in New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District with endorsements from the highest-ranking Republicans in the House—Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), and Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.). 

Smith was one of 13 House Republicans who voted for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, which President Joe Biden (D) signed into law in November. Trump encouraged people to launch primary challenges against Smith and several other Republicans who backed the infrastructure bill. 

So far, the primary field includes Mike Blasi, an Army veteran and retired law enforcement officer, and Mike Crispi, a talk show host. Save Jersey’s Matt Rooney reported that former Trump advisor Roger Stone would direct Crispi’s campaign. 

We wrote in a previous issue about Stone’s endorsement of Martin Hyde in Florida’s 16th Congressional District primary, where Hyde is challenging eight-term incumbent Vern Buchanan. 

New Jersey’s new congressional district map places Smith’s hometown in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. Smith said he’ll move to a new house in the 4th Congressional District.  

The filing deadline is scheduled for April 4 and the primary, for June 7.

Gun policy becomes early issue in Georgia gubernatorial primary

Gun policy is in the spotlight in Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary, with incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp and former Sen. David Perdue both issuing statements in recent weeks.

Perdue said in a statement last month, “As governor, I’ll work with the state Legislature to finally enact constitutional carry. Georgia needs a bold leader who will make waves to get things done – not a career politician who hasn’t delivered.” 

Constitutional carry is one term (along with permitless carry) for a policy allowing people to carry a firearm without a permit. 

On Jan. 5, Kemp joined state lawmakers and the National Rifle Association to announce support for related legislation in the next legislative session. Kemp wrote in a press release, “As I said on the campaign trail in 2018, I believe the U.S. Constitution grants our citizens the right to carry a firearm without the approval of government. For law-abiding Georgians, the 2nd Amendment is their carry permit, and I look forward to working with members of the General Assembly to get Constitutional Carry across the finish line this legislative session.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote, “Georgians are currently required to have a Weapons Carry License to carry a concealed weapon. The process requires a valid Georgia ID, fingerprinting, a background check, and that the owner be at least 21 (with some exceptions).” The AJC also wrote that Kemp “endorsed constitutional carry during his first run for governor, but it’s stalled in the Legislature.”

The primary is set for May 24.

Trump endorses Dunleavy in Alaska—with a condition

Former President Trump offered a conditional endorsement of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) in the 2022 gubernatorial election

Trump wrote that his endorsement “is subject to [Dunleavy’s] non-endorsement of Senator Lisa Murkowski who has been very bad for Alaska, including losing ANWAR, perhaps the most important drilling site in the world, and much else. In other words, if Mike endorses her, which is his prerogative, my endorsement of him is null and void, and of no further force or effect!”

After the House voted to impeach Trump in 2021, Murkowski was one of seven Senate Republicans to vote that Trump was guilty of inciting an insurrection.

A spokesman for Dunleavy confirmed Dunleavy accepted Trump’s endorsement. Dunleavy wrote to a Trump assistant, “Please tell the President thank you for the endorsement. With regard to the other issue, please tell the President he has nothing to worry about.”

In other endorsement news, on Jan. 3, Trump endorsed Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) in the state’s gubernatorial election.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick endorses candidates in five GOP state Senate primaries

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R)—who serves as president of the state Senate—has endorsed candidates in five contested GOP primaries. 

Patrick endorsed GOP primary candidates in four districts where Republican incumbents aren’t seeking re-election: Mayes Middleton (SD-11), Tan Parker (SD-12), former state Sen. Pete Flores (SD-24), and Kevin Sparks (SD-31). 

Patrick also endorsed State Rep. Phil King in SD-10, which was substantially modified when Texas enacted new state legislative districts on Oct. 25. State Sen. Beverly Powell (D) currently represents SD-10. The Dallas Morning News‘ Sami Sparber wrote that SD-10 “previously favored President Joe Biden by eight points, according to election returns. But the redrawn district would have gone for Republican Donald Trump by 16 points, a 24-point swing that likely dooms Powell’s hopes for re-election.” Powell was among a group of plaintiffs that filed a lawsuit in federal court on Nov. 3 challenging Texas’ legislative redistricting plan.

Nine of 31 Texas state Senate districts have contested Republican primaries this year, including five open races and two districts Democrats currently represent.

Patrick is himself running for re-election in 2022 and faces five challengers in the Republican primary.

Texas’ primary elections are scheduled for March 1. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in federal district court on Dec. 6 challenging Texas’ congressional and state House redistricting plans, arguing that the state’s new districts violate the Voting Rights Act and discriminate based on race and ethnicity. The lawsuit asks the court to block the state from conducting elections using those maps, which, if granted, would likely delay Texas’ primaries.

District leaders walk out of N.D. Republican State Committee meeting

Republican National Committeewoman Lori Hinz and seven district party chairs walked out of a Republican State Committee meeting in North Dakota last month in opposition to state Party Chairman Perrie Schafer’s appointment of eight temporary district chairs. The appointments followed a new state law allowing parties to appoint temporary district chairs to fill vacancies created during redistricting.

The Dec. 18 committee meeting was held to vote on bylaws and plan 2022’s convention. District 38 Chairman Jared Hendrix—one of the seven district chairs who walked out—said the meeting’s proceedings were illegitimate: “It was not proper to conduct very important business where the members of our party in those districts did not have elected representation at that meeting.”

The Minot Daily News wrote that Schafer “later explained that a short timeframe existed to replace the 25% of chairs who were removed from their districts due to redistricting. Some districts found their own replacements, but about eight were appointed by the state party after working with the district’s elected representatives.” Schafer said, “The only districts that were not represented were the ones that walked out.”

The state committee consists of 47 district chairs and the party executive committee.