Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 10

February 17, 2022

In this issue: Republican Governors Association runs pro-Kemp ad in Georgia and Arrington challenges Mace in SC-01 

Republican Governors Association releases pro-Kemp ad in Georgia  

RGA Georgia 2022 PAC, an affiliate of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), spent $500,000 on an ad supporting Gov. Brian Kemp. The Hill’s Max Greenwood wrote, “While the RGA typically backs incumbent GOP governors, the spot for Kemp marks the first time that the group is financing a TV ad in a primary to support an incumbent facing a Republican challenger.”

Kemp faces former Sen. David Perdue and at least two other candidates in the May 24 GOP primary. Perdue has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement and released an ad featuring Trump last week. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein wrote that the RGA ad “underscores a growing proxy war between mainstream GOP groups and Trump’s allies.”

The RGA ad criticizes President Joe Biden on spending, inflation, and illegal immigration and says, “Georgia has a proven conservative leader fighting back. … Kemp cut taxes, creating one of America’s fastest-growing economies and good-paying jobs. And Governor Kemp sent the National Guard to the border to help stop the illegal drugs flooding into our communities.”

In Perdue’s ad, Trump says on camera, “The Democrats walked all over Brian Kemp. He was afraid of Stacey ‘The Hoax’ Abrams. Brian Kemp let us down.”

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser wrote that Trump appeared to refer to legislation the GOP-controlled legislature passed and Kemp signed in 2019: “Some of the provisions, which were backed by Democrats, addressed concerns raised during Kemp’s 2018 victory over Abrams regarding how nonwhite voters were treated.” Steinhauser said the law changed the process for rejecting absentee ballots and removing people from voter rolls and “also strengthened election security by adding Georgia to a 25-state electronic registration information center that is used for the purpose of tracking voters who move in and out of state to keep the voting rolls clear.”

Trump and Kemp clashed over the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia, which Kemp certified. 

Perdue lost his Senate re-election bid to Jon Ossoff 49.4% to 50.6% in a January 2021 runoff election.

Abrams is running in the Democratic primary for governor. Kemp defeated Abrams 50.2% to 48.8% in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

Texas roundup: Polling and endorsements two weeks out

The first midterm primaries are on March 1. Runoffs in Texas are scheduled for May 24 for races in which no candidate receives more than 50% of the primary vote. The Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle editorial boards recently issued endorsements, and the University of Texas released a poll on Feb. 14. Here’s a roundup of polling and endorsements in marquee state executive and legislative races.


A University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll surveyed 375 likely GOP primary voters between Jan. 28 and Feb. 7. The poll’s margin of error was +/- 5 percentage points.

  • Gubernatorial primary: Incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott leads with 60%. Former state GOP Chair Allen West and former state Sen. Don Huffines were about tied with 15% and 14%. No other candidate received 10%.
  • Attorney General primary: Incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton leads with 47%. Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush had 21%, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman had 16%, and U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert had 15%.


  • Gubernatorial primary: The Houston Chronicle and The Dallas Morning News endorsed Abbott
    • Other noteworthy endorsements in this primary include Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for Abbott, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for Huffines, and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn for Allen West.
  • Attorney General primary: The Houston Chronicle and The Dallas Morning News endorsed Guzman in the GOP attorney general primary, mentioning Paxton’s 2015 indictment on counts related to securities fraud violations and claims that Paxton used the office to benefit a political donor, which led to an FBI investigation. Paxton has denied wrongdoing in both cases.
    • Trump endorsed Paxton. U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) endorsed Bush.
  • Senate District 11 primary: The Houston Chronicle endorsed Bob Mitchell in the state Senate District 11 GOP primary. Mitchell is one of four candidates in the open race, including Mayes Middleton, who, according to Transparency USA data, raised more than any other Texas state legislative candidate during the reporting period from July 1 to Dec. 31. Middleton has raised $1.9 million to Mitchell’s $55,000 (in addition to $50,000 in loans). The Dallas Morning News didn’t endorse in this race.
    • Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) and Trump endorsed Middleton.

Arrington challenges Mace in SC-01 with Trump endorsement

On Feb. 8, Katie Arrington announced she would challenge incumbent Nancy Mace (R) in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. The next day, Trump endorsed Arrington.

Arrington was the GOP nominee in the 1st District in 2018 after defeating incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford in the Republican primary. Joe Cunningham (D) defeated Arrington in the general election 50.6% to 49.2%. In 2020, Mace defeated Cunningham 50.6% to 49.3%. 

Arrington said Mace “sold out the Lowcountry. She sold out President Trump. She is more interested in becoming a mainstream media celebrity than fighting for the people she’s supposed to represent.” 

Trump said, “Arrington is running against an absolutely terrible candidate, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, whose remarks and attitude have been devastating for her community, and not at all representative of the Republican Party to which she has been very disloyal. Katie Arrington, on the other hand, is liked and respected and a true Republican.” 

Mace criticized Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol breach, though she voted against impeachment later that month. 

On Feb. 10, Mace said, “I remember in 2015 when President Trump announced his run, I was one of his earliest supporters . … I supported him again in 2020 because of policies I believed in.” Mace said of Arrington’s bid, “I won this seat back for Republicans in 2020. … If you want to lose this seat once again in the midterm election cycle to Democrats, then my opponent is more than qualified to do just that.” 

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) endorsed Mace on Feb. 7. Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, called Mace “the conservative voice the Lowcountry needs in Washington.”

The primary is scheduled for June 14.

Trump endorses Loren Culp in challenge to pro-impeachment House Republican

On Feb. 9, Trump endorsed Loren Culp in the primary for Washington’s 4th Congressional District. Incumbent Rep. Dan Newhouse was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January 2021. 

Newhouse was first elected in 2014 and hasn’t announced yet whether he’ll seek re-election. Culp, a former police chief for the town of Republic, ran for governor of Washington in 2020, losing to incumbent Jay Inslee (D) 57% to 43%. 

Trump has endorsed more than 40 candidates running for the U.S. House this year, including five challengers running against incumbents who voted to impeach him in January 2021. Of the 10 House Republicans who voted in favor of impeachment, three (Anthony Gonzalez, John Katko, and Adam Kinzinger) aren’t running for re-election. 

Washington holds top-two primaries for Congress, meaning that every candidate for a particular office appears on the same primary ballot. The top two finishers, regardless of their partisan affiliation, advance to the general election. Five Republicans and one Democrat are running in the primary so far.

The primary is set for Aug. 2.

U.S. representatives not seeking re-election

As of the end of January—nine months ahead of the general election—42 members of the U.S. House had announced they would not seek re-election. At the same time in the 2020 election cycle, 34 representatives had announced they wouldn’t seek re-election. That number was 45 in 2018.

On Tuesday, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) announced her retirement, bringing the total up to 43 incumbents not seeking re-election this year.

Sen. Josh Hawley endorses Vicky Hartzler for Missouri’s other Senate seat

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) endorsed U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler in the GOP U.S. Senate primary. Incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt (R) isn’t seeking re-election.

On Feb. 12, before the Republican Lincoln Days forum that included four GOP primary candidates, Hawley said that Hartzler “is unafraid to stand up for conservative values, and she is exactly who Missouri needs in the U.S. Senate.” 

Attorney Mark McCloskey said after the forum, “It exemplifies why I’m in the race. Having Josh Hawley endorse Vicky Hartzler is just more evidence of machine politics … politics as usual.” U.S. Rep. Billy Long, who also participated in the forum, criticized Hartzler at the end of the event. According to the Missouri Times‘ Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Long “questioned Hartzler’s conservative voting record, comparing it to Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney.”

Nine candidates are running so far. 

On Feb. 16, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) endorsed Attorney General Eric Schmitt in the Senate primary.

According to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings, five Missouri Republican U.S. Senate candidates had raised more than $500,000 as of Dec. 31: Schmitt ($2.4 million), Hartzler ($1.9 million), former Gov. Eric Greitens ($1.5 million), State Sen. Dave Schatz ($1.2 million), and McCloskey ($940,000).

The candidate filing deadline is March 31, and the primary is set for Aug. 2.