Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 20 (April 28, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition

April 28, 2022

In this issue: Trump and Club for Growth at odds in Ohio and Rep. Wilson backs Mace challenger in SC-01

Ohio U.S. Senate updates: Former President Trump appears at Vance rally, Club for Growth releases anti-Vance ad

As former President Donald Trump (R) increases his presence in support of Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance, the Club for Growth has continued its anti-Vance campaign with a new ad.

Trump appeared at a rally for Vance in Delaware, Ohio, on April 23, saying, “J.D. is really an America First warrior. He believes so much in making our country great again, and he’s going to do a job on these horrible people that are running against him.” 

Vance is one of seven Republicans seeking the GOP nomination. The current incumbent, Sen. Rob Portman (R), is retiring. Trump endorsed Vance on April 15. The former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., appeared with Vance at another rally in Toledo, Ohio, on April 25.

After Trump endorsed Vance, the Club for Growth super PAC bought airtime for a new ad that includes Vance’s past criticism of Trump. Politico reported on April 22 that Club for Growth president David McIntosh “had warned Trump that the Club for Growth would continue to take out television ads attacking Vance for his past anti-Trump comments” before Trump’s endorsement. Club for Growth supports Josh Mandel in the primary.

Columbiana County Republican Party chairman Dave Johnson said of Trump’s endorsement, “Will it be enough to put [Vance] over the victory line? I don’t know the answer to that question.” Johnson supports Jane Timken in the primary.

A Fox News poll conducted April 20-24 showed Vance at 23%, Mandel at 18%, and Gibbons at 13%. The poll’s margin of error was +/- 3 percentage points.

Two independent race observers view the general election as Solid or Likely Republican. The Cook Political Report sees the general election as Lean Republican.

Rep. Joe Wilson endorses Katie Arrington in SC-01 Republican primary

On April 21, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) endorsed Katie Arrington in South Carolina’s 1st  Congressional District Republican primary. Arrington and Lynz Piper-Loomis are challenging incumbent Nancy Mace for the Republican nomination.

Wilson said, “As murderers and enemies of freedom grow emboldened by the feeble leadership of the Biden Administration, Washington needs more people who understand the significant implications of a weak America on the world stage.” 

Mace’s campaign said, “Joe Wilson is the reason we need term limits in Congress. Conservative groups rate him the most liberal Republican Congressman from South Carolina. Of course he endorses the most liberal Republican in the primary, who voted for the largest tax increase in SC history.” 

According to The Hill, the campaign was referring to “a bill the state House passed in 2017, when Arrington was a state lawmaker, that proposed a motor fuel user fee.”

Arrington defeated incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford 50.6%-46.5% in the 1st District’s 2018 Republican primary. Arrington lost the general election to Joe Cunningham (D) 50.6%-49.2%. Mace defeated Cunningham in 2020 50.6%-49.3%.

Arrington has criticized Mace for critical comments she made about former President Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach and for her position on marijuana (Mace has sponsored legislation to federally decriminalize marijuana). Mace said of Arrington’s 2018 election loss: “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.” 

Trump endorsed Arrington in February. Mace received endorsements from former Trump administration officials Nikki Haley (R), a former South Carolina governor, and Mick Mulvaney (R), a former U.S. representative from the state.

The primary is on June 14. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, a runoff will be held June 28.

No candidates receive GOP endorsement in MN-01 primary

After seven rounds of voting on April 23 and 24th, none of the candidates running in the Republican primary in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District received enough delegate votes to win the 1st District GOP’s endorsement.

The Post Bulletin’s Matthew Stolle wrote that winning the endorsement for the regular election “would have given the winner bragging rights and prominence as the special election approaches.”

A candidate needed to receive support from at least 60% of the delegates in order to receive the endorsement. State Rep. Jeremy Munson came the closest with 55% after leading the field in all seven rounds. Brad Finstad, a former state representative and U.S. Department of Agriculture official in the Trump Administration, came in second with 35%.

During the convention, Munson also announced an endorsement from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Paul joins other members of Congress, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Freedom Caucus chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.), in supporting Munson.

Finstad has endorsements from members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, including Reps. Michelle Fischbach (R) and Pete Stauber (R). Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), the Republican leader of the House Committee on Agriculture, also endorsed Finstad.

Other candidates running in the primary with past or present experience in politics include former Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s (R) wife and former state GOP chairwoman, Jennifer Carnahan, and state Rep. Nels Pierson.

The 1st District also has an upcoming special Republican primary using the old district lines to fill the remainder of Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s (R) term. Hagedorn died on Feb. 17. Ten candidates are running in the special Republican primary on May 24. The special general election is on Aug. 9. 

The regular primary election is also on Aug. 9. The filing deadline for the regular election is May 31.

2020 election conflict in spotlight at first Georgia gubernatorial debate 

Gubernatorial candidate David Perdue opened the first GOP primary debate on April 24 with, “First off folks, let me be very clear tonight. The election of 2020 was rigged and stolen.”

In the exchanges that followed, Perdue detailed his criticisms of incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp’s handling of the state’s 2020 election results. Kemp defended his actions, saying Perdue was blaming others for his own election loss in the January 2021 U.S. Senate runoff.

Kemp affirmed Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s (R) certification of the 2020 election results after two statewide recounts.

Perdue said Kemp didn’t investigate claims of voter fraud, didn’t call a special session of the legislature to investigate the election, and didn’t stop a consent decree. Perdue said the consent decree “invalidated all voter ID law … and allowed fraudulent ballots to be accepted into the race.”

The consent decree referred to a settlement that Raffensperger, the Georgia Democratic Party, and others not including Kemp signed in March 2020. The decree details a procedure for reviewing absentee ballot envelope signatures and states that election officials must give voters notice of and opportunity to cure rejected ballots either within three business days or by the next business day if the ballot is “rejected on or after the second Friday prior to Election Day.”

Kemp said that he “followed the law and the constitution,” that his office referred fraud allegations it thought had merit to authorities that have subpoena powers, and that he didn’t have anything to do with the consent decree. Kemp also said, “I didn’t say there wasn’t problems in this election. Look, I was as frustrated as anybody else. … But the point is a special session would have done nothing to solve this problem.” 

Perdue and Kemp are among five candidates in the May 24 GOP primary. They were the only two to meet WSB-TV’s debate inclusion threshold of receiving at least 10% support in the average of seven independent polls.

Donations, opposition ads increase in Illinois gubernatorial primary

State Sen. Darren Bailey’s Illinois gubernatorial campaign got a big donation last week, and recent opposition ads against him and challenger Richard Irvin highlight past statements from each candidate.

Republican donor Richard Uihlein gave Bailey’s campaign $2.5 million on April 20. Uihlein also gave $1 million to Bailey’s campaign in February and $1 million to the People Who Play by the Rules PAC in March. The PAC recently aired an ad opposing Irvin, mayor of Aurora.

The Chicago Tribune’s Rick Pearson reported that Uihlein’s first donation to Bailey’s campaign came shortly after Citadel founder Ken Griffin donated $20 million to Irvin. 

According to The Hill’s Reid Wilson, the 2018 Illinois gubernatorial election was the “most expensive gubernatorial campaign in American history,” with current incumbent J.B. Pritzker (D) spending $175 million and then-incumbent Bruce Rauner (R) spending $79 million.    

On April 18, the People Who Play by the Rules PAC released an ad quoting Irvin saying in March 2021, “I support Black Lives Matter strongly and passionately.” The ad’s narrator says, “Black Lives Matter promotes looting our cities, defunding the police, and deconstructing the nuclear family.” 

Irvin’s campaign website says he “defeated the local ‘Defund the Police’ movement” while mayor of Aurora and “opposed the criminals and looters who damaged property and harmed cities during the riots in 2020. … And he made sure the law-breakers were arrested.” In his January campaign launch video, Irvin said, “I believe that all lives matter. Every family should be safe.”

On April 20, Irvin’s campaign began airing an ad that shows Bailey saying in March 2022 that he “might have voted for Biden.” The ad’s narrator says, “True conservatives don’t vote for Biden. Darren Bailey did.” 

In an April 7 video, Bailey said, “In 2008, conservative Rush Limbaugh, myself, and thousands of other Republicans helped bring chaos to the Democratic primary to help Republicans in November. … I’m a lifelong Republican who has never supported a Democrat.” Bailey has also said he voted in the Democratic presidential primary in 2008 “to make sure that Obama and Hillary didn’t get elected.”

The primary is on June 28. 

Competitiveness data: Mississippi and Montana  

Montana’s filing deadline for congressional and state candidates was March 14. Congressional candidates in Mississippi had until March 1 to file. Mississippi is not holding state legislative elections in 2022. 

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.