Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 5

January 13, 2022

In this issue: Taylor drops Senate bid in Alabama, endorses Durant and several Tennessee counties opt for partisan school board elections

Taylor drops Senate bid, endorses Durant in Alabama

Jessica Taylor, a business owner who lost the 2020 Republican primary for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, ended her campaign for U.S. Senate last week and endorsed aerospace company founder and former Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant.

The Hill’s Tal Axelrod wrote, “The nominating contest is largely a race between Rep. Mo Brooks (R) and Katie Boyd Britt, the former chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R).” Between Brooks, Britt, and Durant, Axelrod said, “The primary represents a clash of résumés that appeal to various flanks of a fractured GOP … And with none of the three establishing themselves as an early front-runner, Alabamians are gearing up for a slog.” 

Brooks has represented Alabama’s 5th Congressional District since 2011. He ran in the special U.S. Senate election in 2017, losing in the primary. A campaign spokesman said, “Mo Brooks has consistently been rated as the most conservative member of Alabama’s Congressional delegation. … The comparison of records couldn’t be clearer. Mo Brooks is a proven conservative, with a proven record. Katie Britt is a moderate.” Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Brooks in April 2021.

Britt was most recently president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama. A campaign spokesman said, “Alabamians are ready for fresh blood and are tired of do-nothing career politicians who make running for office a business model.”

Durant’s Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Somalia in 1993, an event depicted in the film Black Hawk Down. Durant said, “For too long, career politicians who have never held a real job in their life have made poor decisions that have left Alabama families behind and put America last. I’m running to change that.” 

The filing deadline is Jan. 28 and the primary is May 24. If no candidate receives over 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held on June 21. 

Thune, Johnson running for re-election

In other recent Senate news: Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) were the last senators up for re-election in 2022 to announce their plans, both deciding to run for re-election. Six senators—five Republicans and one Democrat—aren’t seeking re-election. Three of the open Senate races—in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio—have at least one competitive rating (Toss-up, Tilt Republican, or Lean Republican) from three election forecasters.

State Sen. Coram challenges U.S. Rep. Boebert in Colorado

State Sen. Don Coram announced last week he is challenging Rep. Lauren Boebert in the Republican primary for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. Coram said, “I’m looking at our state and our nation and I’m very concerned that the 10% on the right and the 10% on the left are making all the noise and getting all the attention, and the 80% in the middle are totally ignored.”

Boebert was first elected in 2020 after defeating five-term incumbent Scott Tipton (R), who had Donald Trump’s backing, in the Republican primary 55% to 45%. Trump endorsed Boebert for re-election last month. Boebert called Coram a “self-serving, super-woke social liberal who would have a far better chance of winning the Democrat nomination.”

The primary is scheduled for June 28. Marina Zimmerman, who has worked as a crane operator and businesswoman, is also running. 

Coram was appointed in 2017 to fill a vacancy in the state Senate and was elected in 2018. Due to redistricting, Coram cannot run for re-election in the 6th Senate District because he was drawn into a district with a state senator whose term doesn’t end until 2025. 

E-PAC, group supporting GOP women, makes first Senate endorsement

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik’s E-PAC endorsed its first U.S. Senate candidate since the group launched in 2019: former state GOP Chair Jane Timken in Ohio. The group has so far endorsed 10 U.S. House candidates in 2022 elections. 

E-PAC’s website says, “In the 116th Congress, only 13 Republican women served in the House of Representatives, making up only 2.9% of Congress. E-PAC was launched after the 2018 midterm elections to increase that number by supporting top Republican female candidates in primaries across the country.” The group says it is responsible for increasing the number of Republican women in Congress to 35 in the last election cycle. 

Sixteen percent of Senate Republicans and 14% of House Republicans are women compared to 40% of House Democrats and 32% of Senate Democrats.

Stefanik was first elected to represent New York’s 21st Congressional District in 2014. She previously served as the National Republican Congressional Committee’s recruitment chair, a role she left before launching E-PAC. The NRCC does not endorse in primary elections.

Other GOP primary candidates for Senate in Ohio include Matt Dolan, Mike Gibbons, Josh Mandel, Bernie Moreno, and J.D. Vance.

Multiple Tennessee counties switch to partisan school board elections 

At least eight of the 10 largest counties in Tennessee will hold partisan primary elections for school board in 2022. Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill in November giving county parties the ability to hold partisan primary elections. Before now, school board elections were nonpartisan with candidates prohibited from identifying or campaigning with any political party. 

Davidson, Knox, Hamilton, Rutherford, Williamson, Sumner, Sullivan, and Wilson counties will hold partisan primary elections for school boards this year. 

In Williamson County, the GOP made the switch first. County GOP Chairwoman Cheryl Brown said, “If you’re running for something, if you’re running for a particular position … you should state your political stance.” The county Democratic Party opposed the switch but followed suit.  The party said in a statement, “While the WCDP firmly believes partisanship has no place in school board elections, we can’t sit idly by while Republicans choose political power and polarization over the quality of education and safety of our children.”

Shelby County, the state’s largest county and home to Memphis, will continue holding nonpartisan school board elections in 2022. County Democratic Party Chairwoman Gabby Salinas said, “All of us, regardless of political affiliation, have a vested interest in the education of our children.” County GOP Chairman Cary Vaughn said the party “see[s] no advantage or benefit in changing our protocol.”

County Democratic and Republican parties had until Dec. 10 to alert county election officials as to whether they would hold a partisan or nonpartisan primary or caucus. In counties where candidates advance from a partisan primary to the general election, party labels will appear beside candidates’ names on the general election ballot.

Click here to learn about prominent conflicts in school board elections across the country.

Mastriano enters Penn. governor’s race, Kellyanne Conway joins Corman’s staff

On Jan. 8, state Sen. Doug Mastriano announced his Republican primary bid for governor of Pennsylvania. A supporter of Trump’s challenges to the 2020 election results, Mastriano has sparred with fellow Senate Republicans over how to run the investigation he launched in July 2021 into Pennsylvania’s election results. Mastriano wanted to subpoena three counties to provide access to their voting machines as part of the investigation and said that Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman undermined his efforts.

Corman is also running in the GOP gubernatorial primary. Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau’s Candy Woodall wrote, “Corman, who is typically regarded as the most powerful Republican in Harrisburg, in August replaced Mastriano on the committee leading the election review and also removed his staff — actions that are rare from chamber leadership.” Corman said Mastriano “was only ever interested in politics and showmanship and not actually getting things done.” 

After the committee voted to subpoena personal information on all Pennsylvania voters in September, Mastriano said that “the subpoenas do not go nearly far enough to begin a full forensic audit of the 2020 election.”

On Jan. 7, Corman announced former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway would join his campaign as a pollster and special advisor. Last month, Corman’s campaign announced it would employ Poolhouse, the agency that oversaw ad production for Glenn Youngkin’s (R) successful campaign for governor of Virginia.

In addition to Mastriano and Corman, at least 13 other Republicans are running in the primary, including former U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta and Melissa Hart, state Sen. Scott Martin, and former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William McSwain. The primary is scheduled for May 17. 

Three candidates for Alabama governor have more than $1 million on hand

Three of the seven Republicans running for Alabama governor—incumbent Kay Ivey, Lynda Blanchard, and Tim James—had at least $1 million on hand as of Dec. 31, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Alabama Secretary of State.

Blanchard reported ending 2021 with $3.5 million in her campaign account after loaning her campaign $5 million in December. Ivey ended 2021 with $2.6 million. James had $1 million, including a $500,000 loan. 

In December, Blanchard spent $1.5 million, Ivey spent $466,000, and James spent $10,000.

All three candidates have since filed supplementary reports, required for individual contributions of $20,000 or more. Blanchard increased her cash-on-hand lead with a further $2.8 million loan, while Ivey reported raising an additional $170,000 and James, an additional $600,000.

None of the other four primary candidates had more than $50,000 cash on hand as of Dec. 31. 

Ivey became governor following Robert Bentley’s (R) resignation in 2017 and was elected to a full term in 2018. Ivey says her record includes boosting the state’s economy, signing legislation that increases restrictions on abortion and the teaching of critical race theory, and resisting the Biden administration. Blanchard, who served as U.S. ambassador to Slovenia from 2019 to 2021 during the Trump administration, says she is running to bring conservative leadership to state government and that she is a political outsider. James, a real estate developer who ran for governor in 2010, has criticized Ivey for supporting an increase in the state gas tax in 2019 and says he would work to outlaw same-sex marriage.

Seven Republicans have filed to run in the May 24 gubernatorial primary. The filing deadline is Jan. 28. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the primary vote, a runoff will take place June 21.

Results from Arkansas’ state Senate special GOP primary runoff 

Colby Fulfer won the special primary runoff election for state Senate District 7 in Arkansas on Jan. 11. Fulfer and Steven Unger advanced from the Dec. 14 primary as the top two vote-getters of four candidates. Fulfer had 52% of the runoff vote to Unger’s 48%.

Fulfer faces Democrat Lisa Parks in the Feb. 8 special election.
Former incumbent Lance Eads (R) resigned in October to accept a position with the group Capitol Consulting Firm. Eads was first elected in 2016 and did not face Democratic opposition in either 2016 or 2020.