Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition
April 14, 2022
In this issue: Trump endorses Oz in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate primary and candidates qualify at the Colorado Republican Party Assembly
Trump endorses Oz in Pennsylvania U.S. Senate primary
On April 9, former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Mehmet Oz in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. Oz is one of seven candidates running in the May 17 Republican primary. Oz and David McCormick have performed best in polling and received the most endorsements.
Incumbent Pat Toomey (R) is not running for re-election. Toomey was one of seven Republican senators who voted “guilty” at Trump’s impeachment trial following the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.
Three independent forecasters rate the general election either Toss-up or Tilt Republican. President Joe Biden (D) won the state by 1.2 percentage points in the 2020 presidential election. In 2016, Toomey won re-election by 1.5 percentage points and Trump won the presidential election by 0.7 points. The state’s other U.S. Senator, Bob Casey Jr. (D), won re-election by 13 percentage points in 2018.
Executive committee removes four candidates from TN-05 primary
The Tennessee Star reported that the Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee voted on April 9 to remove Baxter Lee, Morgan Ortagus, Stewart Parks, and Robby Starbuck from the 5th Congressional District ballot. The candidates may challenge the committee’s ruling and request a restoration vote no later than April 21.
The Tennessee Star said that the party’s bylaws allow the committee to remove candidates if they “were not considered active members in the TNGOP, local party, or recognized affiliate, did not vote in three of the last four statewide Republican primaries, or in races where there is a Republican incumbent, did not submit a filing fee.”
The Associated Press reported that challenges against Ortagus, Lee, and Starbuck concerned their voting records. Ortagus said in a statement, “I respect the rules and the process outlined by TNGOP, and I’m a bona fide Republican by their standards.”
Former President Trump endorsed Ortagus in January. Ortagus moved from Washington, D.C., to Nashville in 2021.
This vote was separate from the legislation and challenge we wrote about last week. SB2616 requires primary candidates for Congress to meet residency requirements for state legislators contained in the state constitution. The bill became law on April 13 without the governor’s signature. Because it didn’t become law before the April 7 filing deadline, its requirements don’t apply to this year’s congressional primaries. Three residents filed a lawsuit challenging the residency requirement.
Federal judge dismisses lawsuit seeking to prevent unaffiliated voters from voting in Colorado primaries
On April 8, U.S. District Judge John Kane dismissed a lawsuit that sought to prevent unaffiliated voters from voting in the state’s June 28 primary.
Five members of the Colorado Republican Party State Central Committee filed the lawsuit against Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) in February. John Eastman and Randy Corporon represented the plaintiffs. Eastman was a legal adviser to Trump who wrote a memo about how Vice President Mike Pence (R) could intervene in the Jan. 6, 2021, electoral vote counting. Corporon is a talk radio host and member of the Republican National Committee.
The suit challenged Proposition 108, a ballot measure that allowed unaffiliated voters to vote in partisan primaries. Voters approved Proposition 108 53% to 47% in 2016. The plaintiffs argued that Proposition 108 violated their First Amendment right to freedom of speech and association and their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. Among the plaintiffs were two current Republican candidates for office: U.S. Senate candidate and state Rep. Ron Hanks and 7th Congressional District candidate Laura Imer.
Assistant Solicitor General Grant Sullivan said that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing because the Colorado Republican Party didn’t join the lawsuit. Sullivan also said the party had the option to carry out a non-taxpayer-funded primary where only party members could participate. The party’s central committee voted against that option in September.
Kane ruled that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing for most of their claims and that a political party member “suffers no constitutional injury when denied the preferred method for selecting his party’s nomination of a candidate for office.”
U.S. representatives not seeking re-election
As of the end of March—seven months before the general election—46 members of the U.S. House had announced they would not seek re-election. At the same time in the 2020 election cycle, 35 representatives had announced they wouldn’t seek re-election. That number was 49 in 2018.
A total of 23 Republican members of Congress are retiring in the 2022 cycle, representing 8.8% of the party’s total caucus members immediately following the 2020 election. Twenty-nine Republican members retired in the 2020 cycle, representing 11.5% of the party’s total caucus members immediately following the 2018 election.
Of 2022’s retiring Republican incumbents, three are retiring from seats with a margin of victory of fewer than 10 percentage points in the last election. In the 2020 cycle, this number was seven.
Two candidates secure spots in Colorado Secretary of State primary at Republican Party Assembly
Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and Mike O’Donnell secured spots on Colorado’s Republican primary ballot for secretary of state at the Republican State Assembly on April 9. Peters received 61% of delegates’ support and O’Donnell, executive director of a nonprofit lender, received 39%.
Pam Anderson, a former Jefferson County clerk and former executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, qualified for the ballot after submitting a nominating petition with the required number of signatures.
In March, the Colorado Republican Party called on Peters to suspend her campaign after a grand jury indicted her on several felony and misdemeanor counts amid an investigation into equipment tampering and official misconduct. Party leaders said in a statement, “It is our belief, as leaders of the Colorado Republican Party, that any Republican candidate who is indicted with felonies by a grand jury and who will be charged by a Republican District Attorney should suspend their campaign while they undergo the legal challenges associated with those indictments.”
Peters said she didn’t break any laws and had been attempting to locate evidence of voter fraud.
Republican candidates who qualified for the primary ballot for other offices at the assembly include state Rep. Ron Hanks, who qualified for the U.S. Senate primary, and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez and University Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, who qualified for the gubernatorial primary.
Competitiveness data: Oregon and Nevada
Oregon’s filing deadline for congressional and state candidates was March 8, and Nevada’s was March 18. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.
Notes on how these figures were calculated:
- Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
- Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
- Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
- Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.