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Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 23 (May 19, 2022)

In this issue: Takeaways from five states’ primaries and former V.P. Pence to campaign for Kemp

Primary results roundup

Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Oregon held primaries on May 17.

The big stories of the night: Expected Pennsylvania recount, Cawthorn defeated, and more

Pennsylvania Senate: As of Thursday morning, the race remained too close to call. Mehmet Oz led with 31.2% of the vote, while David McCormick received 31.1% and Kathy Barnette received 24.7%. Seven candidates ran in the primary. Senator Pat Toomey (R) did not run for re-election.

Under state law, any election with a vote margin within 0.5% is subject to an automatic recount. If applicable, the secretary of state must order the recount by May 26. It must start by June 1 and be completed by June 7.

Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Oz in April. Former candidate Sean Parnell, whom Trump initially endorsed before Parnell withdrew, endorsed McCormick. On May 12, Trump issued a statement opposing Barnette, who rose in recent polls. 

Three independent race forecasters rate the general election either Toss-up or Tilt Republican

North Carolina’s 11th: State Sen. Chuck Edwards defeated incumbent Madison Cawthorn and six others in the Republican primary for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. Eight candidates were on the ballot. Edwards received 33.4% of the vote to Cawthorn’s 31.9%.

Cawthorn is the second U.S. representative to seek re-election and lose a primary this year. Rep. David McKinley (R) lost to Rep. Alexander Mooney (R) in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. The two ran in the same district following redistricting. In addition, Rep. Bob Gibbs (R) remained on the ballot in Ohio’s 7th District after he unofficially withdrew. Max Miller won that primary. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) of Oregon’s 5th is trailing challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner as of Thursday morning and may become the third House member to lose a re-election bid.

Trump endorsed Cawthorn on March 31. Following Cawthorn’s claims in late March 2022 that Washington lawmakers hold orgies and use cocaine, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) endorsed Edwards. 

Three independent forecasters rate the general election either Safe or Solid Republican

Pennsylvania Governor: State Sen. Doug Mastriano won against eight candidates. Mastriano received 44% of the vote. Former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta was second with 20%.

Mastriano campaigned on his opposition to COVID-19 measures and said he would defend election integrity. Mastriano said voting fraud was prevalent in the 2020 election. On Feb. 15, the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach subpoenaed Mastriano, citing a November 2020 tweet and his presence outside the Capitol on the day of the breach. Trump endorsed Mastriano on May 14.

The 2022 primary featured the largest number of candidates in a Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial primary since at least 1978. Incumbent Tom Wolf (D) is term-limited. Forecasters view the general election as a Toss-up or Tilt or Lean Democratic.

Idaho Governor: Incumbent Gov. Brad Little defeated seven other candidates. Little received 53% of the vote to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s 32%.

According to the Idaho Press‘s Betsy Russell, a lieutenant governor hadn’t challenged an incumbent governor in a primary in Idaho since 1938. Idaho is one of 17 states where the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor instead of on the same ticket.

Trump endorsed McGeachin in the primary. The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund and the Idaho Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Little.

Twice in 2021, McGeachin issued executive orders related to COVID-19 measures while Little was out of state. The first banned mask mandates. The second expanded a prohibition against state entities requiring vaccination or testing. Little rescinded both orders when he returned to Idaho.

Independent forecasters rate the general election as Solid or Safe Republican.

We’ve been tracking Trump’s 2022 endorsements. The May 17 primary results (so far) bring Trump’s primary endorsement record to 73 wins (96%) and 3 losses. Aside from McGeachin and Cawthorn, Nebraska gubernatorial endorsee Charles Herbster lost last week.

Other marquee primary results

U.S. Senate

  • North Carolina Senate: Ted Budd defeated 13 other candidates with 59% of the vote. Pat McCrory was second with 25%. Trump endorsed Budd, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) endorsed McCrory. Incumbent Richard Burr (R) did not run for re-election. Three forecasters rate the general election as Lean Republican.

U.S. House

  • North Carolina’s 13th: Bo Hines defeated seven other candidates with 32% of the vote. DeVan Barbour IV finished second with 23%. The current incumbent, Rep. Ted Budd, ran for the GOP Senate nomination. Three forecasters rate the general election a Toss-up.

State legislative incumbents defeated

At least 30 state legislators—eight Democrats and 22 Republicans—lost in primaries on May 17. Including those defeats, 44 state legislative incumbents have lost to primary challengers this year. This number will likely increase: there are 42 primaries or primary runoffs featuring incumbents that remain uncalled or undecided.

Across the nine states that have held primaries, 4.7% of incumbents running for re-election have lost.

That 4.7% loss rate is the highest compared to previous cycles in these nine states. In 2020, 3.3% of incumbents running for re-election lost primaries. In 2018, 4.3% lost in primaries.

Of the nine states that have held primaries so far, one had a Democratic trifecta, five had Republican trifectas, and three had divided governments with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both legislative chambers. Across these nine states, 1,114 seats are up for election, 18% of the nationwide total.

Media analysis

The Washington Examiner‘s Kate Scanlon wrote about Mastriano’s perceived gubernatorial general election prospects: 

Trump offered his endorsement to Mastriano on Saturday after it became clear he was the front-runner in the race. The move was seen as a hedge, as Trump’s selection for the Senate, television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, was in a tight three-way race with businessman David McCormick and conservative commentator Kathy Barnette, who surged in polling in the final days of the race. Barnette and Mastriano ran campaigns in tandem, endorsing one another.

Some state Republicans were concerned Mastriano would hurt Republicans’ chances of winning not just the governor’s mansion but the Senate race and some congressional contests. They attempted to coalesce the field around former Rep. Lou Barletta, arguing he was better positioned to defeat Shapiro in November.

Politico‘s David Siders said Mastriano’s prospects may be better than some observers think, referencing Trump’s performance in the state:

Everything about Pennsylvania’s swing state electorate suggests Mastriano is a dead man walking.

Except for this: Lots of Republicans and Democrats alike felt exactly the same way about Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential primary, back when establishment Republicans were praying for anyone other than Trump to win the nomination and some of Hillary Clinton’s advisers were salivating over the prospect of running against Trump. The climate for Democrats in this midterm election year is no better than it was then. In fact, it’s worse. And Pennsylvania is a swing state for a reason. Trump only lost Pennsylvania by about 80,000 votes in 2020. He won the state four years earlier.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser described what he saw as both the strength and limitation of Trump’s influence in Tuesday’s primaries:  

The [Senate primary in Pennsylvania] is proving another test of Trump’s immense sway over the GOP. Sixteen months removed from the White House, the former president remains the most popular and influential politician in the Republican Party as he plays a kingmaker’s role in this year’s primaries and repeatedly flirts with another presidential run in 2024.

Trump was a winner in Pennsylvania’s GOP gubernatorial primary, as state Sen. Doug Mastriano bested a crowded field of contenders. Mastriano was already the polling front-runner when the former president endorsed him on Saturday.

Trump was also a big winner in North Carolina’s Republican Senate primary – in another crucial race in a general election battleground where the GOP’s defending an open seat.  

Trump’s clout couldn’t pull controversial Rep. Madison Cawthorne over the top in the Republican primary in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, however. Even with Trump’s backing in the final days heading into the primary, Cawthorne – who’s made plenty of enemies in the GOP in his short year and a half on Capitol Hill – came up short to state Sen. Chuck Edwards, who enjoyed the backing of many of the party’s establishment.

In Idaho, far-right Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin handily lost her bid to oust incumbent Republican Gov. Brad Little. Trump endorsed McGeachin last autumn, but did little to actively support her.

First poll released for special U.S. House top-four primary in Alaska

Alaska Survey Research published the first poll we’ve seen of Alaska’s top-four U.S. House special primary. The poll included 12 of the 48 candidates by name. 

We’ve colored in the names below based on party affiliation (blue for Democrats, red for Republicans, and gray for independents). Affiliation was not included in the poll.

  • Palin 19%
  • Begich 16%
  • Gross 13%
  • Claus 6%
  • Peltola 5%
  • Constant 5%
  • Sweeney 4%
  • Revak 4%
  • Lowenfels 3%
  • Wool 2%
  • Halcro 2%
  • Coghill 2%
  • Other 4%
  • Undecided 16%

The poll’s margin of error was +/- 4 percentage points.

Former Governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (R), Nick Begich III (R), and 2020 U.S. Senate candidate Al Gross (I) top the results. A cluster of candidates are within the margin of error for fourth place, including North Pole City Councilmember Santa Claus (I), former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D), Anchorage Assemblymember Christopher Constant (D), former Assistant Secretary of the Interior Tara Sweeney (R), and state Sen. Josh Revak (R).

Sweeney and Revak co-chaired former Rep. Don Young’s (R) statewide re-election campaign. Young died in March. 

The special primary is June 11, and the special general election is Aug. 16. The regularly scheduled primary will also be held Aug. 16.

In addition to top-four primaries, Alaska will use ranked-choice voting for both general elections.

Alaska Survey Research tested four general election scenarios. Each included Begich, Gross, and Palin, with someone different in the fourth spot. In each RCV simulation, Begich and Gross were left standing in the 3rd round, with Begich taking a majority.

Minnesota GOP endorses Scott Jensen for governor

On Saturday, the Minnesota Republican Party endorsed Scott Jensen for governor. According to the Star Tribune, it was “a heated endorsement fight that started with a crowded field of contenders and featured multiple rounds of balloting.” Kendall Qualls, who finished second in the voting, announced after the GOP convention that he was dropping out of the race.

Jensen, a physician who served in the state Senate from 2017 to 2021, has campaigned on his opposition to vaccine and mask requirements. 

Gov. Tim Walz (D) is seeking re-election. The primaries are Aug. 9.

Former Vice President Mike Pence to campaign for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

Former Vice President Mike Pence (R) announced he’ll be campaigning for Gov. Brian Kemp (R) at a rally on May 23. Pence said Kemp is “one of the most successful conservative governors in America.”

Kemp faces former U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R) and three others in the May 24 primary. Trump endorsed Perdue in December, saying, “Kemp has been a very weak Governor—the liberals and RINOs have run all over him on Election Integrity, and more.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein said Pence’s upcoming rally appearance “illustrates a growing proxy fight in Georgia between establishment forces backing Kemp and the Trump loyalists who want to remake the state Republican Party in the former president’s mold.” Bluestein said Pence’s endorsement “deepen[ed] a split with Donald Trump as each maneuvers for a possible 2024 White House run.”

Pence’s announcement followed news that Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), and former President George W. Bush (R) would campaign for Kemp. Ricketts and Ducey are co-chairmen of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), and Christie is a former RGA chairman.

Competitiveness data: Alabama

Alabama holds primaries on May 24. 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.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 23 (May 19, 2022)

In this issue: Takeaways from five states’ primaries and another possible incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary in NY

Primary results roundup

Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Oregon held primaries on May 17.

The big stories of the night: Fetterman wins, and too-close-to-call House races in Oregon

Pennsylvania Senate: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman defeated U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, and Alexandria Khalil. As of Thursday morning, Fetterman received 59% of the vote and Lamb was second with 26%.

Fetterman’s top campaign priorities were adopting a single-payer healthcare system, legalizing marijuana, and supporting LGBTQIA+ rights. The Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association and The Philadelphia Tribune were among his backers. Lamb said his priorities included expanding Medicare, reducing prescription drug prices, a $15 minimum wage, and strengthening unions. Lamb’s endorsers included the Philadelphia Democratic Party and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Pennsylvania is one of two states Joe Biden won in 2020 that has a U.S. Senate election this year in which the current incumbent is a Republican. Pennsylvania is also one of six states with one senator who caucuses with Democrats and another who caucuses with Republicans. 

Oregon’s 5th: As of Thursday morning, Jamie McLeod-Skinner led incumbent Kurt Schrader 60%-39%. Schrader has represented the 5th District since 2009. According to Daily Kos, 47% of the population in the new 5th District after redistricting comes from the old 5th District that Schrader has represented. 

Schrader campaigned on what he called a record of bipartisanship, saying it represented his constituents. McLeod-Skinner criticized Schrader’s record and said she’d do more on the issues of housing, healthcare, childcare, and the environment. 

President Joe Biden (D) and Planned Parenthood Action Fund were among Schrader’s endorsers. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and the Democratic parties in Deschutes, Linn, Clackamas, and Marion counties—containing more than 90% of the new district’s voters—endorsed McLeod-Skinner.

Schrader may become the third House member to lose a re-election bid this year. Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) and David McKinley (R-W.V.) lost their primaries. 

Oregon’s 6th: As of Thursday morning, Andrea Salinas led eight other candidates with 37% of the vote. Carrick Flynn was second with 19%. 

Satellite group spending was a big issue in the race. The House Majority PAC spent $1 million and Protect Our Future PAC spent more than $10 million backing Flynn, while the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Bold PAC spent $1 million supporting Salinas. Salinas and five other candidates criticized House Majority PAC’s spending, saying in a joint statement, “This effort by the political arm of the Democratic establishment to buy this race for one candidate is a slap in the face to every Democratic voter and volunteer in Oregon.” The PAC’s communications director said it was “doing whatever it takes to secure a Democratic House majority in 2022.”

Other marquee primary results

U.S. House

  • Kentucky’s 3rd: Morgan McGarvey defeated Attica Scott 63% to 37%. Incumbent John Yarmuth (D) did not seek re-election. Yarmuth endorsed McGarvey. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee endorsed Scott. Three forecasters rate the general election Safe or Solid Democratic.
  • North Carolina’s 1st: Donald Davis defeated three other candidates with 63% of the vote. Erica Smith finished second with 31%. Incumbent G.K. Butterfield (D) didn’t seek re-election this year. Butterfield endorsed Davis. Three forecasters rate the general Lean Democratic.
  • North Carolina’s 4th: Valerie Foushee defeated seven other candidates with 46% of the vote. Nida Allam finished second with 37%. Incumbent David Price (D) did not seek re-election. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) backed Foushee. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Allam. Three forecasters rate the general Safe or Solid Democratic.
  • Pennsylvania’s 12th: This race was too close to call as of Thursday morning. Summer Lee had 41.7% to Steve Irwin’s 41.3%. Forecasters rate the general Safe or Solid Democratic.

State executive

  • Oregon Governor: Tina Kotek defeated 14 other candidates with 58% of the vote. Tobias Read finished second with 33%. Incumbent Kate Brown (D) was term-limited. Three forecasters rate the general election Lean or Likely Democratic.

State legislative incumbents defeated

At least 30 state legislators—eight Democrats and 22 Republicans—lost in primaries on May 17. Including those defeats, 44 state legislative incumbents have lost to primary challengers this year. This number will likely increase: there are 42 primaries or primary runoffs featuring incumbents that remain uncalled or undecided.

Across the nine states that have held primaries, 4.7% of incumbents running for re-election have lost.

That 4.7% loss rate is the highest compared to previous cycles in these nine states. In 2020, 3.3% of incumbents running for re-election lost primaries. In 2018, 4.3% lost in primaries.

Of the nine states that have held primaries so far, one had a Democratic trifecta, five had Republican trifectas, and three had divided governments with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both legislative chambers. Across these nine states, 1,114 seats are up for election, 18% of the nationwide total.

Media analysis

Politico‘s David Siders said Tuesday was a good night for progressives:

In North Carolina, two progressives, Nida Allam and Erica Smith, went down in open seat House primaries. But even with those losses — and even if the results in Oregon [5th and 6th District] and Pennsylvania [12th District] turn — it will go down as a good night for the left.

At a minimum, they have Fetterman and Salinas. And in the Senate, the rest of the map was pretty promising for progressives as well. A night that produced Fetterman — and Charles Booker and Cheri Beasley in Kentucky and North Carolina, respectively — as Democratic Senate nominees is a night progressives can learn to love.

CNN said that Fetterman’s win in Pennsylvania and Cheri Beasley’s win in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate primary speak to a shift in the Democratic Party: 

What it means to be a top Democratic recruit is changing.

On Tuesday night, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a 6-foot, 8-inch, bald, tattooed former mayor known for wearing shorts and hoodies, ran away with the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary. In North Carolina, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley largely cleared the primary field and coasted to a nomination that could make her the state’s first Black senator.

Their wins are part of a change within the Democratic Party, where what constituted a good recruit in cycles past meant someone who looked a lot more like the people Fetterman and Beasley beat.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency‘s Ron Kampeas wrote that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s super PAC contributed to Davis’ and Foushee’s wins in North Carolina:

Moderate Democrats backed by political action committees affiliated with the AIPAC pro-Israel lobby won hotly contested Democratic primaries Tuesday, which the group said was a vindication of its controversial decision to dive into direct campaign funding.

Both races were to replace longtime Democrats who are retiring and were two of three closely watched in the pro-Israel community because of massive injections of cash by United Democracy Project, a so-called “super PAC” launched last year by AIPAC. The PAC targeted the races because [Erica] Smith and [Nida] Allam would have added to the contingent of congressional lawmakers who seek stricter oversight and limitations on defense aid for Israel.

The third race, in Pennsylvania’s newly drawn 12th District, was too close to call, with the United Democracy-backed candidate, Pittsburgh lawyer Steve Irwin, less than a percentage point behind State Rep. Summer Lee with 98% of the vote counted.

It’s not clear how much AIPAC’s support drove the outcomes, as both Davis and Foushee had support from the local Democratic establishment and the cryptocurrency sector, which is seeking to deter congressional oversight, also poured money into the races.

But it’s clear that the pro-Israel funding, which also flowed to a lesser degree from a PAC associated with the group Democratic Majority for Israel, did register in the races. In the Pittsburgh-area district Lee was seen as the clear front-runner until she was hit by a barrage of negative ads paid for by United Democracy. And in North Carolina’s 4th District, the pro-Israel donations caused the state’s progressive caucus to rescind its endorsement of Foushee.

The Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake said Oregon’s big House races were heading in a negative direction for what he called the Democratic establishment:

There’s a reason we focus on Trump’s endorsements: Because he makes a lot of them, and he’s obviously trying to maintain control of the party during an uncertain time. But President Biden has made a couple of endorsements, too, including for Rep. Shontel M. Brown (D-Ohio) in her landslide over Turner.

It’s worth noting that one of those endorsed — Schrader — is losing pretty badly. … Schrader is a moderate who sometimes alienated fellow House Democrats on spending bills — and who, because of redistricting, was campaigning in a very different district than in years past.

Backing an incumbent facing a primary challenge is kind of a no-brainer for a president, but it’s looking as if Oregon voters had little regard for Biden’s advice.

Speaking of the Democratic establishment getting one wrong: Biden aside, the party more broadly didn’t fight too hard for Schrader. But a PAC affiliated with House Democratic leaders did spend $1 million on a candidate in the neighboring 6th District, Carrick Flynn. …

That investment in an apparently losing candidate, though, pales to Flynn’s biggest benefactor: cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried. His Protect Our Future PAC spent more than $11 million on Flynn — a stunning sum for one out of 435 House seats — and it appears to have failed badly.

Flynn ultimately benefited from $13 million in outside spending … for 19 percent of the vote.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler may both run in NY-12 

On Monday, Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler both said they would run in New York’s 12th Congressional District under a new draft district map. Maloney chairs the House Oversight Committee. Nadler chairs the Judiciary Committee. Both representatives were first elected to the House in 1992.

A special master released the draft after the New York State Court of Appeals overturned the legislature’s previously enacted map. The court ruled the legislature did not get enough input from the state’s redistricting commission.

According to Daily Kos, Nadler “represents 39% of the redrawn (and safely blue) district while Maloney represents the remaining 61%.”

If the state Court of Appeals approves the draft map, the Maloney-Nadler primary would be the sixth U.S. House primary this year featuring two incumbents and the fourth with two Democratic incumbents.

We wrote about the 12th District primary under the overturned congressional map. That race included candidates Suraj Patel and Rana Abdelhamid. Both said they are holding off on decisions about their bids as the draft map is not final.

The primary is scheduled for Aug. 23.

Satellite ads zero in on abortion stances in TX-28 runoff

Recent satellite group ads supporting either incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar or Jessica Cisneros highlight their positions on abortion.

Last week, the group Mainstream Democrats PAC released an ad supporting Cuellar. The narrator said, “With women’s rights under attack from extremists, Democrat Henry Cuellar has made it clear that he opposes a ban on abortion.” The ad also says Cuellar “is standing up for South Texas families by working every day to hold down our cost of living,” including supporting lower drug prices, affordable health care, child care assistance, and a $15 minimum wage. 

On May 13, Women Vote!, a super PAC affiliated with EMILY’s List, booked $526,000 in TV ads supporting Cisneros. One ad, with versions in both English and Spanish, criticizes Cuellar for being the only Democrat to vote against the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have legalized abortion nationally. The narrator says “[Cuellar is] voting with MAGA Republicans against women’s healthcare.” The ad also says Cuellar “voted to make it harder to join a union and opposed expanding overtime pay.” 

As we wrote earlier this month, abortion policy has been in the spotlight in the runoff, especially after Politico published a leaked initial draft opinion from the Supreme Court that would overturn rulings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, allowing states to decide the legality of abortion. To learn more about the issue of abortion in this race, click here

In the March 1 primary,  Cuellar received 48% to Cisneros’ 47%. Tannya Benavides received 5%. The primary runoff is May 24. 

Competitiveness data: Alabama

Alabama holds primaries on May 24. 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.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 21 (May 5, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition

May 5, 2022

In this issue: Takeaways from Ohio’s and Indiana’s primary elections and Manchin’s pro-McKinley ad in WV-02

May 3 primary results roundup

Ohio and Indiana held primary elections on Tuesday. Indiana’s ballot included state legislative elections, while Ohio’s did not, as redistricting is still underway. Below, you’ll find results from marquee GOP primaries, takeaways, and info on incumbents who lost primaries.

The big story of the night: Vance wins U.S. Senate primary in Ohio 

Ohio U.S. Senate: J.D. Vance won Ohio’s U.S. Senate primary with 32% of the vote. Josh Mandel was second with 24%, and Matt Dolan finished third with 23%. Four other candidates ran. 

Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Vance in mid-April. Independent polling available before that, from late February and early March, showed Mandel and Mike Gibbons leading. Four of the five candidates with the most votes—except Dolan—campaigned on connections to and support for Trump. 

Incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R) is retiring.

Other marquee primary results

U.S. House

  • Indiana’s 9th: In the state’s only open House district, Erin Houchin defeated eight other candidates with 37% of the vote. Mike Sodrel was second with 26%. Incumbent Trey Hollingsworth (R) didn’t seek re-election. Three forecasters rate the district Safe or Solid Republican.
  • Ohio’s 9th: J.R. Majewski won with 36% of the vote. Craig Riedel was second with 31%. Incumbent Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) was first elected in 1982 and is seeking re-election. This is a Toss-up district in race ratings.
  • Ohio’s 13th: Madison Gesiotto Gilbert defeated six other candidates with 29% of the vote. Gregory Wheeler was second with 23%. Gilbert worked on Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. Incumbent Tim Ryan (D) is running for U.S. Senate. This is a Toss-up or Tilt Republican district in ratings.

State executive

  • Ohio Governor: Incumbent Mike DeWine won with 48%. Jim Renacci was second with 28%. DeWine’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was an issue in the race. Renacci said DeWine overreacted with restrictions, while DeWine said he acted in the best interest of Ohioans.
  • Ohio Secretary of State: Incumbent Frank LaRose defeated John Adams 65% to 35%.

Defeated incumbents

U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs (OH-07) was the only Republican congressional incumbent to (technically) lose in Tuesday’s primaries. Gibbs announced on April 6 that he wasn’t running for re-election. But because Gibbs already qualified, he remained on the primary ballot.

In Indiana, six GOP state legislators—five representatives and one senator—lost primaries. 

  • Three Republican incumbents—one in the Indiana Senate and two in the Indiana House—were defeated in incumbent-on-incumbent primaries resulting from redistricting. 
  • Three Republican incumbents in the state House lost to non-incumbent challengers.

In 2020, one Indiana GOP legislator—a state representative—lost in a primary. In 2018, two GOP incumbents—a state senator and a representative—lost primaries.

The following shows data from 14 states for which we have post-filing deadline information and from two states—Texas and Indiana—where state legislative elections have taken place.

Media analysis

Media analysis following the May 3 GOP primaries has largely focused on Trump’s influence in Ohio. We present a few perspectives on that below, in addition to a takeaway from Indiana’s state legislative races.

Politico‘s David Siders and Adam Wren said Vance’s victory was a victory for Trump and that Dolan’s performance did not suggest good prospects for non-Trump-aligned candidates in 2024: 

People in Trump’s orbit are preparing for his dominion over the GOP to take a hit in primaries scheduled for later this month. The candidates he’s supporting for governor in Georgia and Idaho are both running far behind more establishment-minded incumbents, and several other Trump-endorsed candidates are in toss-up races. Trump isn’t likely to win them all.

But J.D. Vance’s victory in the Ohio Senate primary on Tuesday was an unmistakable victory for Trump. Unlike in the Texas primaries, where the former president backed a raft of successful Republicans — but mostly made safe choices — Trump took a risk on Vance.

With Vance, Mandel, Timken and Gibbons clobbering each other over who was the Trumpiest, Dolan, who distanced himself from Trump, appeared to have space open to him with a non-MAGA hardliner crowd.

But he didn’t win. Or even come close. …

Dolan isn’t a pure test of the anti-Trump Republican. He was a supporter of Trump, after all, voting twice for the former president. But it’s the closest thing we’ve seen this election cycle to a different prototype for 2024 — and it ended poorly for the candidate tied least tightly to Trump.

CNN said that Ohio’s Senate primary result attests to Trump’s endorsement power in open primaries:

Vance’s victory underscored the former President’s role as the kingmaker in the Republican Party. Though it’s not clear whether Trump will succeed in his effort to oust incumbent Republicans he believes have wronged him, Ohio’s results demonstrated that in open-seat races, his endorsement might be the most important factor.

ABC News’ Brittany Shepherd said DeWine’s win was slightly unfavorable for Trump:

Incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine, who rose in popularity after imposing more aggressive coronavirus restrictions in his state, won the Republican bid for reelection and defeated Trump-affiliated candidate Jim Renacci (who was endorsed by Trump in 2018, when Renacci ran and lost a Senate bid.) DeWine’s win means a slight loss for the former president, who suggested DeWine needed to be primaried for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Even though Trump steered clear of a formal endorsement, his apparent disdain for the incumbent governor is no secret and his opponents differed little from Trump in campaign talking points, which calls into question the lasting power of Trump’s influence.

The Associated Press‘ Tom Davies and Casey Smith said Indiana state legislative candidates frustrated over COVID-19 restrictions and other issues performed poorly on Tuesday:

Frustrated Indiana conservatives fell short in most primary races Tuesday in their drive to push the Republican-controlled state Legislature further to the right, and two of the movement’s leaders lost their reelection bids.

The roughly two dozen so-called liberty candidates saw only a few victories in Republican legislative races across the state, with one defeating a 10-term incumbent in northern Indiana and two others winning nominations for GOP-leaning open seats.

A few races remained uncalled late Tuesday, but more than 10 incumbent lawmakers overcame challenges from candidates who argued that the Legislature hasn’t been aggressive enough in attempting to ban abortion, enhancing gun rights and overturning COVID-19 restrictions that were ordered by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

McKinley ad features Manchin support in WV-02

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) appeared in an ad defending Rep. David McKinley (R) against criticisms from Rep. Alex Mooney (R). McKinley and Mooney are running in the GOP primary for the state’s redrawn 2nd Congressional District.

Manchin said, “For Alex Mooney and his out-of-state supporters to suggest David McKinley supported Build Back Better is an outright lie. David McKinley has always opposed reckless spending because it doesn’t make sense for West Virginia.”

Mooney said Republicans who voted for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act “paved the way for Democrats to pass President Biden’s socialist Build Back Better plan.” McKinley was one of 13 Republican House members who voted for the infrastructure bill.

Manchin said in December that he would not support the Build Back Better Act.

West Virginia lost a congressional district after the 2020 census. According to Daily Kos data, McKinley currently represents 66% of the new 2nd District’s population and Mooney currently represents 34%.

Along with Manchin, McKinley’s supporters include Gov. Jim Justice (R), former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R), and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Mooney’s endorsers include former President Trump, the House Freedom Fund, and Club for Growth PAC.

(In Ohio’s U.S. Senate primary, Trump and the Club for Growth backed different candidates—the Club endorsed Mandel, whereas Trump backed Vance.)

West Virginia’s primaries are on May 10.

Michigan GOP committee member resigns over state party endorsements

Tony Daunt resigned as a state GOP committee member days after the party’s endorsement convention. 

Daunt said in his resignation letter that the “feckless, cowardly party ‘leaders’ have made the election here in Michigan a test of who is the most cravenly loyal to Donald Trump and relitigating the results of the 2020 cycle.”

The party endorsed Kristina Karamo for secretary of state and Matt DePerno for attorney general. Both candidates have questioned the results of the 2020 election and have endorsements from Trump. In the second round of voting at the convention, DePerno got 54% to former state House Speaker Tom Leonard’s 46%. Karamo got 67% in the first round, followed by state Rep. Beau LaFave’s 19% and Chesterfield Township Clerk Cindy Berry’s 13%.

Daunt serves on the Michigan Board of State Canvassers. He previously served as logistics director for the state party and as executive director of the Michigan Freedom Fund, a nonprofit with funding from the DeVos family.

After the convention, state party chairman Ron Weiser said, “We’re coming out united and ready to move forward and win in the fall.”

Michigan is a Democratic triplex, meaning its governor, secretary of state, and attorney general are all Democrats.

The primaries are Aug. 2.

Trump defends Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster against accusations of sexual assault 

We wrote a couple of weeks ago that Nebraska state Sen. Julie Slama (R) and seven other women accused gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster of sexual assault. The Nebraska Examiner first published the allegations on April 14. 

Former President Trump, who endorsed Herbster in October 2021, spoke at a rally for Herbster in Greenwood, Nebraska, on May 1. Trump said, “Charles is a fine man and he is innocent of these despicable charges, by the way Charles welcome to politics. … These are malicious charges to derail him long enough that the election can go by before the proper defense can be put forward.” 

Herbster filed a defamation lawsuit against Slama on April 22. Herbster said, “As set forth in my lawsuit, the false accusations and attacks on my character are part of a greater scheme calculated to try and defeat my candidacy.” 

Slama countersued Herbster for sexual battery on April 25. Slama’s attorney said, “We will not permit Charles Herbster to file a frivolous, bad faith lawsuit that purports to cast doubt on Senator Slama’s account of her sexual assault, use his national media megaphone to herald the existence of that lawsuit for his own gain, but then take no steps to actually serve it and subject himself to the legal accountability such service would trigger.” 

On April 26, the Herbster campaign released an ad that said, “Clarence Thomas. Then Brett Kavanaugh. Lies stacked up to ruin them. Now [gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen] and [incumbent Gov. Pete Ricketts] are doing it to Charles W. Herbster. The facts? Herbster’s accuser was employed by Ricketts. Her husband and sister? Ricketts gave them jobs too. And even after the supposed incident, she kept contacting Herbster. Texts, calls, meetings, even invited Herbster to her destination wedding. Jim Pillen’s attack on Herbster: built on lies.” 

Slama’s attorney said the ad “promotes a far-ranging conspiracy theory that other people are behind well-corroborated reports of sexual assault and harassment of 8 women and at least 3 on-the-record witness accounts.” 

Days before Herbster released the ad, Ricketts said, “It is ridiculous to suggest that I or anyone else conspired to talk eight women and even more witnesses to make up stories about Charles Herbster. … It’s just not plausible.” In January, Ricketts endorsed Pillen in the May 10 gubernatorial primary. 

Competitiveness data: South Dakota  

South Dakota’s filing deadline for congressional and state candidates was March 29.

We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

South Dakota

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.


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.

Montana

Mississippi

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.


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

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

April 28, 2022

In this issue: President Biden makes first 2022 congressional endorsement and Utah Democrats back independent McMullin

President Biden’s first congressional endorsement of 2022: Kurt Schrader in OR-05

On April 23, President Joe Biden (D) endorsed incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader in the May 17 Democratic primary for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District. It’s Biden’s first congressional endorsement of 2022. 

Biden said, “We don’t always agree, but when it has mattered most, Kurt has been there for me. … And in doing so, he has helped to pass much of my agenda into law—making a huge difference in the lives of the Oregonians he represents and all of America.”

Jamie McLeod-Skinner, an attorney and board member of the Jefferson County Education Service District, is challenging Schrader in the primary. McLeod-Skinner tweeted, “I respect Biden’s work to tackle Covid-19 & rebuild our economy but I have to disagree with the President here. Schrader took over $1 million from Big Pharma & other corporate donors—and then voted against Oregonians. We need a leader in Congress who will finally fight for us.”

McLeod-Skinner has criticized Schrader’s voting record more broadly: “When he does vote with Democrats, it is often after working to water-down the original ideas.” 

In December 2020, Schrader was one of two House Democrats to vote against a plan to send every American a $2,000 stimulus check. Schrader also voted against an initial version of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that Congress passed in March 2021, saying members “were not allowed or encouraged to offer amendments.” Schrader voted for the final bill. 

Schrader said his voting record reflects the partisan composition of his district. “This is not an easy district to run in — 40% of the folks have told both parties ‘I’m not interested.’ They’re non-affiliated. So I have to bridge that gap between the far right and the far left (to) represent this district. … We forget that’s our job — representation, not being a party ideologue. I am representing this district and proud to have done so for the last 10 years.”

Redistricting after the 2020 census changed the 5th District’s boundaries. According to data from Daily Kos, 47% of the population in the new 5th District comes from the old 5th District. Earlier this year, Democratic party leaders in Deschutes, Linn, Marion, and Clackamas counties—where about 90% of voters in the new district liveendorsed McLeod-Skinner (D).

According to FiveThirtyEight, the district has a Democratic lean of D+3, compared to the old district’s D+4 lean. 

Utah Democrats endorse independent Evan McMullin for U.S. Senate

The Democratic Party of Utah voted 57%-43% not to nominate a candidate for U.S. Senate at its convention Saturday, instead backing Evan McMullin, an independent running for the seat. 

This means there will be no Democrat on the ballot. Candidates in Utah qualify for the ballot through a convention vote or petitions, and no Democrats qualified via petition. Democrat Kael Weston sought the convention nomination. 

Supporters of the party’s decision included former U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams (D), who served in the House from 2019 to 2021.

The party’s endorsement came one week after the United Utah Party endorsed McMullin at its state convention. This was the first time since the party’s establishment in 2017 it voted to endorse a non-member. 

McMullin, a former operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency and policy advisor to House Republicans, ran for president in 2016 as an independent. He secured ballot access in 11 states and received more than 700,000 votes, including 21.5% of the vote in Utah. McMullin said Monday that if elected, he would not caucus with either party.

Incumbent Sen. Mike Lee (R) faces three Republican primary challengers. Lee has said he voted for McMullin for president in 2016.

In the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) defeated Joe Biden (D) 58% to 38% in Utah. Democrats haven’t won a Utah Senate race since 1970. An independent has never held the office in the state.

John Fetterman rejects progressive label in Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a candidate for U.S. Senate, rejected the term progressive to describe his views in recent interviews with CNN and Jewish Insider.

CNN reported:

A staunch backer of labor unions, Fetterman supports at least a $15 minimum wage, legal marijuana, universal health care and Black Lives Matter while calling climate change “an existential threat.” But he rejects the notion that he is some kind of liberal.

“I don’t mean to nitpick, but I wouldn’t categorize myself as progressive,” Fetterman told CNN. “I consider myself a Democrat that’s running on the same platform of ideas that every other Democrat in this race is running on.”

In an interview with the Jewish Insider, Fetterman said he hadn’t encountered concerns that he’s critical of Israel throughout his campaign, “I’m not really a progressive in that sense. … Our campaign is based on core Democratic values and principles, and always has been, and there is no daylight between myself and these kinds of unwavering commitments to Israel’s security.” Fetterman said he opposed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and votes from some House members against funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system last year.

Fetterman and candidates state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb expressed similar views on Israel during an April 14 forum, each saying they supported security funding for Israel. 

Writing about policy disagreements between those three candidates, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Julia Terruso said that only Kenyatta supports a moratorium on new fracking sites and abolishing the Electoral College. Lamb is the only candidate who opposes federal recreational marijuana legalization, instead supporting state and local decriminalization along with legalized medical marijuana. Fetterman has made recreational marijuana legalization a key issue.

Earlier this month, Lamb said of moderate/progressive comparisons between himself and Fetterman, “I think those labels don’t really mean a whole lot at the end of the day. …  I’m a Democrat that represents an area where there’s more Republicans than Democrats, and I’ve been successful at that because people felt I was working hard for them and … not so much ideological.”

In related news, the super PAC Penn Progress recently released a revised version of an ad that initially called Fetterman a “self-described socialist.” The new ad says Fetterman “sought the Democratic Socialists’ endorsement,” which he did in 2017. Fetterman said in a Pittsburgh DSA questionnaire, “I don’t consider myself a socialist.” He did not receive the endorsement.

The primary is May 17.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield endorses Davis in N.C.-01 primary

On April 25, retiring incumbent Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D) endorsed Don Davis in the Democratic primary for North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Butterfield has represented the 1st District since 2004. 

Davis, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former mayor, has served in the state Senate since 2013, in addition to one previous term from 2009 to 2011. Davis is running against former state Sen. Erica Smith, Jullian Bishop Sr., and Jason Spriggs in the primary.  

Butterfield said, “Don has the legislative experience and is prepared to fight for the Democratic agenda of empowering America’s families and communities. I’m confident Don Davis will fight to protect voting rights, provide a safety net for those who have been left behind due to the pandemic and advocate for public-private partnerships to build much-needed infrastructure in the 1st District.” Butterfield also said, “I’m completely satisfied Don Davis can be the strongest Democrat to beat the strongest Republican in the general election.”

Spectrum News 1’s Reuben Jones said, “Butterfield’s endorsement may speak to the debate happening nationally in the Democratic Party. … The question is whether [the district’s voters] will be more moderate or more progressive Democrats.” 

Smith said, “Voters don’t care about labels. … I’m running on a survivor’s agenda that delivers an increase in living [sic] wage for workers. … I’m center left, and I’m excited about the progressive values and the progressives [sic] voices we are running on, because we know it will produce true structural change.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is among Smith’s endorsers. Smith served in the state Senate from 2015 to 2020 and ran for U.S. Senate in 2020, losing the primary to Cal Cunningham (D) 57%-35%.

The primary is May 17.

Ohio gubernatorial candidates sharpen criticisms of one another

On April 20, former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley criticized former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley at a gubernatorial primary forum. The same day, Cranley released an ad comparing what he called Cincinnati’s comeback and Dayton’s decline during each candidate’s mayoral tenures.

Cleveland.com’s Jeremy Pelzer reported that Whaley “accused Cranley of overstating the financial benefits of his marijuana legalization plan, again criticized his past opposition to abortion, and said it was time for Democrats to nominate someone besides a ‘moderate white man’ for governor” at the Columbus Metropolitan Club forum.

Cranley said his marijuana legalization plan would bring 30,000 jobs and that he’d use resulting tax revenue for initiatives such as expanding high-speed wifi access. Cranley also said he now supports abortion access. Cranley said he was more likely to win the general election and “whether either of us are men or women is out of our control. But what is in our control is how we govern our state.” 

Cranley’s most recent campaign ad said he was better equipped to lead the state’s recovery. A narrator said, “Under John Cranley, Cincinnati has made a real comeback. More jobs, higher wages, a city moving forward. While under Nan Whaley, Dayton has continued to decline even more than Mike Dewine’s Ohio.” The ad cited a WCPO-TV headline, “Cincinnati is growing more quickly than Akron, Cleveland and Dayton.”

Whaley’s campaign representative said, “Attacking a major Ohio city and its residents is one ‘strategy’ for attempting to gain relevance in a primary you’re clearly losing. … Voters know better than to fall for these self-serving attacks from a desperate millionaire who is focused on himself, not Ohio families.” 

The primary is May 3.

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.

Montana

Mississippi

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.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 19 (April 21, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition

April 21, 2022

In this issue: Trump endorses Vance for Senate in Ohio and the latest in WV-02’s incumbent-vs-incumbent primary

Trump endorses Vance in Ohio U.S. Senate primary

On April 15, former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed author J.D. Vance in the May 3 Senate Republican primary. Vance, one of seven GOP primary candidates, will appear at a rally with Trump on April 23.

Trump said, “Like some others, J.D. Vance may have said some not so great things about me in the past, but he gets it now, and I have seen that in spades. He is our best chance for victory in what could be a very tough race.” 

Vance was critical of Trump in 2016 and later supported him. Vance said the endorsement “sends a bit of a signal to all of the people who’ve heard millions of dollars in negative advertising that I’m somehow anti-Trump. … I think it sort of sticks a fork in that.”

Vance and candidates Josh Mandel, Jane Timken, and Mike Gibbons have emphasized connections to and support for Trump in their campaigns. Politico‘s Alex Isenstadt wrote in February that “[t]he Senate race in Ohio is a high-profile example of how Trump is dominating Republican down-ballot primaries, and how his support is seen as make-or-break for those seeking the party’s nomination.” 

As media outlets began reporting that Trump planned to endorse Vance, several dozen GOP county chairs and state committee members urged Trump not to do it, saying in a letter that Vance “referred to your supporters as ‘racists’ and proudly voted for Evan McMullin in 2016.” 

Timken said, “Ohio voters know that J.D. Vance was a ‘never Trumper’. And, more importantly, he said some pretty terrible things about the Trump voter, that they were racist or uneducated.” 

Timken and Mandel said they looked forward to Trump’s endorsement in the general election. 

Gibbons said, “While I would have loved the endorsement, I continue to be in a strong position in this race.” 

And Matt Dolan said Gibbons, Mandel, Timken, and Vance “embraced lies and undermined the Constitution to go all-in for one endorsement.”

RealClearPoliticsaverage of polls conducted from late February to mid-April showed Mandel at 21%, Gibbons at 19%, Vance at 14%, and Dolan and Timken each at 8%. A Trafalgar Group poll conducted April 13-14, just before Trump issued his endorsement, showed Mandel at 28%, Vance at 23%, and Gibbons at 14%. The Trafalgar poll’s margin of error was +/- 3 percentage points.

Incumbent Sen. Rob Portman’s (R) is retiring. Portman endorsed Timken.

April endorsements and spending in WV-02

In West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, Reps. David McKinley and Alexander Mooney are running in the May 10 Republican primary as a result of redistricting. Here’s a rundown of endorsements and satellite spending from this month:

  • On April 11, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce endorsed McKinley. On April 20, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) endorsed McKinley.
  • The American Conservative Union, which organizes the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), endorsed Mooney on April 12 and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) endorsed Mooney on April 13. 
  • On April 12, Club for Growth announced that Club for Growth Action and School Freedom Fund spent $1.1 million on three ads supporting Mooney. 
  • Two other satellite groups purchased ads in the district earlier this month. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce placed a $160,000 ad buy telling voters to call and thank McKinley for his plan to lower gas prices, while Defending Main Street bought $250,000 in ads opposing Mooney.

McKinley’s other endorsers include Gov. Jim Justice (R) and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang (who is now an independent). Trump endorsed Mooney in November.

Newly available finance reports from Jan. 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022, show that Mooney had spent $4.5 million and McKinley had spent $1.3 million. 

According to the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, the new 2nd District is a combination of parts of the old 1st and 2nd districts. The new district contains eight counties Mooney represents and 19 of 20 counties McKinley represents. The first map below shows the old 2nd District and the second map shows the new 2nd.

McKinley was elected in 2010, and Mooney was elected in 2014. Race forecasting outlets view West Virginia’s new 2nd District as Safe Republican. This is one of five districts with incumbents challenging one another in primaries this year.

Former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt files for Oklahoma special U.S. Senate election

Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt filed for the special Senate Republican primary. Incumbent Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) is resigning effective Jan. 3, 2023. 

More than a dozen Republicans are running, including state Sen. Nathan Dahm, Inhofe’s former chief of staff Luke Holland, U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, and former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon. 

Inhofe endorsed Holland in his retirement announcement.

Michael Crespin, director of the Carl Albert Congressional Research & Studies Center at the University of Oklahoma, said Pruitt has high name recognition in the state and, “I don’t know if all of his name recognition will be positive,” referring to investigations into Pruitt while he led the EPA. 

Pruitt served as head of the EPA from February 2017 to July 2018. The EPA’s Office of Inspector General, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the Government Accountability Office conducted several investigations, with most of the inquiries focused on Pruitt’s travel and spending habits while in office. Pruitt resigned, saying that “the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.” 

In an Associated Press interview, Pruitt said the criticism of his tenure at the EPA came from him heading what he called the “Holy Grail of the American left.” Pruitt said, “I think Oklahomans know when the New York Times and CNN and MSNBC and those places are against you, Oklahomans are for you.”

Pruitt served as Oklahoma’s attorney general from 2011 to 2017 and as a member of the state Senate from 1999 to 2007.

Pruitt is one of several former Trump administration officials running for Congress in 2022. Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is running in Montana’s 1st Congressional District. Former Trump advisor Max Miller is running in Ohio’s 7th. And former White House Assistant Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt is running in New Hampshire’s 1st. 

The special primary is set for June 28. If no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the top two finishers head to a runoff on Aug. 23.

Update: Tennessee GOP removes three candidates from TN-05 ballot

The Tennessee Republican Party voted to remove Baxter Lee, Morgan Ortagus, and Robby Starbuck from the ballot in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District. The party disqualified the candidates for not meeting requirements in its bylaws, which include having voted in three of the last four statewide GOP primaries and participating in state or local Republican parties. As we wrote last week, the state executive committee voted April 9 to remove the candidates, and candidates were able to challenge the vote.

Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster is accused of sexual assault and denies allegations

On April 14, the Nebraska Examiner‘s Aaron Sanderford reported that eight women, including state Sen. Julie Slama (R), say gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster sexually assaulted them between 2017 and 2022.

According to Sanderford, “Slama confirmed that as she walked by Herbster, he reached up her skirt, without her consent, and touched her inappropriately. … [Six women] said Herbster groped them on their buttocks, outside of their clothes, during political events or beauty pageants. … A seventh woman said Herbster once cornered her privately and kissed her forcibly.” 

Sanderford said the Examiner corroborated each account with either at least one witness or at least one individual who was told about the alleged incident on the same day it was said to have occurred. As of April 19, three people in addition to Slama had spoken on the record

Herbster responded, “These libelous accusations are 100% false. For over thirty years, I’ve employed hundreds of people. I’ve respected and empowered women to run my company, my farm and now my campaign. Not once has my integrity EVER been challenged in this manner. It’s only after I’ve threatened the stranglehold the establishment has on this state do they stoop to lies this large. This story is a ridiculous, unfounded dirty political trick being carried out by Pete Ricketts and Jim Pillen.”  

In an April 15 Facebook post, Herbster wrote, “I will not back down. I am a fighter just like Justice Kavanaugh and President Donald J. Trump. I will fight for my character and reputation.” 

Trump endorsed Herbster, who served as the chairman of Trump’s Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee, in October. On April 19, Trump announced he would hold a rally for Herbster in Greenwood, Nebraska, on April 29.   

Other gubernatorial primary candidates responded to the allegations. 

University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen said, “Sexually assaulting women should be disqualifying for anyone seeking to serve as a leader.” 

State Sen. Brett Lindstrom said, “I was disgusted reading the stories of my colleague, Senator Slama, and the other brave women who came forward today. … We need to listen to and stand with the victims.” 

Former state Sen. Theresa Thibodeau said, “The allegations outlined against Charles Herbster are morally repugnant and in stark contrast to the principles of basic human decency. … I unequivocally support Senator Julie Slama and the seven brave young women who shared their stories.”

On April 15, Nebraska Republican Party Chairman Dan Welch said, “Without casting judgement in this matter, the NEGOP condemns all forms of sexual assault and believes any allegation must be investigated appropriately. … Per the NEGOP Constitution, the party remains neutral in the Governor’s primary. … The NEGOP will support our nominees for the general election.” 

The primary is scheduled for May 10.

Recent polling and PAC spending in Georgia

Former President Donald Trump’s leadership PAC donated to a super PAC opposing incumbent Brian Kemp in Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary. Recent polling shows Kemp leading the race. 

Save America PAC, which Trump formed shortly after the 2020 general elections, gave $500,000 to the super PAC Get Georgia Right. The latter group ran a TV ad saying Kemp “dismissed concerns about voter fraud in the 2020 election.”

Politico‘s Alex Isenstadt said this was Save America PAC’s first major midterm spending: “While Trump has cut small checks to favored candidates and spent money to stage rallies, he had yet to direct a sizable sum toward bolstering a particular contender.” 

A recent Landmark Communications poll showed Kemp leading David Perdue 52% to 28%, with 10% undecided. The poll was conducted April 14 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

Trump has been critical of both Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) for certifying the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Trump endorsed Perdue in the gubernatorial race and Jody Hice in the secretary of state race. 

In the secretary of state GOP primary, the Landmark poll showed Jody Hice leading Raffensperger 35% to 18%, with 33% of respondents undecided. 

An Emerson College poll from early April showed Kemp leading Perdue 43% to 32% and Raffensperger leading Hice 29% to 26%. The poll had a credibility interval (similar to a margin of error) of +/- 4.3 percentage points.

In Georgia, if no candidate wins a majority of the vote in an election, a runoff is held between the top two vote-getters. The primaries are set for May 24.

Competitiveness data: Arkansas and California  

Akransas’ filing deadline for congressional and state candidates was March 1, and California’s was March 14. 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.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 19 (April 21, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

April 21, 2022

In this issue: The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC backs Brown over Turner in OH-11 and a look at the first U.S. House debate in Vermont

Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC backs Brown over Turner this year

The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC endorsed incumbent Rep. Shontel Brown in a rematch against Nina Turner in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. This is a change for the PAC, which endorsed Turner in the 2021 special primary election. Brown defeated Turner 50% to 45% last August. Brown was sworn into office in November and has since become a member of the Progressive Caucus.

PAC co-chairs Mark Pocan (Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), and Jamie Raskin (Md.) said in a statement announcing Brown’s endorsement as part of a slate, “Each and every one of [the endorsees] is working every day to take on corporate special interests, fight for economic and social justice, universal health care, climate action, and bold solutions to the urgent crises facing our country.” 

Cleveland.com’s editorial board and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recently endorsed Turner, as they did in 2021. Turner co-chaired Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. 

The PAC Protect Our Future has spent more than $1 million supporting Brown. Last week, we wrote about that group’s spending in Oregon’s 6th Congressional District primary. 

Last year’s special election was held after former incumbent Marcia Fudge (D) became secretary of Housing and Urban Development in President Joe Biden’s administration. Brown served on the Cuyahoga County Council from 2015 until she joined the House in November. Turner was a state senator from 2008 to 2015. 

The primary is scheduled for May 3.

Rep. Chuy Garcia endorses Jonathan Jackson in IL-01

Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.) endorsed Jonathan Jackson, son of Jesse Jackson Sr., in Illinois’ 1st Congressional District Democratic primary. Jonathan Jackson is the national spokesman for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which says it is “a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international membership organization fighting for social change.” Jesse Jackson Sr. formed the group in 1996.

Twenty candidates are running for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent Rep. Bobby Rush (D) is retiring and endorsed Karen Norington-Reaves, former CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, in the primary. 

Campaign finance filings current through March 31 show Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell and Jonathan Swain led with $382,000 and $376,000, respectively. Norington-Reaves raised the third-highest amount with $291,000, and Jackson was next with $145,000.

Politico‘s Shia Kapos wrote, “Rush’s seat holds historical significance for many Chicagoans. The nation’s first Black congressman elected in the 20th century, Oscar De Priest, held Illinois’ 1st Congressional District for three terms, previewing the political shifts wrought by the Great Migration. Black men have held the seat ever since.”

Kapos wrote, “While it remains predominantly African American, the [1st District’s] new boundaries extend farther into suburban, whiter, Republican neighborhoods to the southwest. … For the Democratic primary, … 75 percent of the votes will come from Chicago and 85 percent from the broader Cook County, [redistricting consultant Frank Calabrese] said.” 

The primary is set for June 28.

Vermont’s U.S. House candidates meet for first debate

Four Democratic candidates for Vermont’s sole U.S. House seat met for a debate sponsored by VTDigger on April 14. Incumbent Rep. Peter Welch (D) is running for U.S. Senate, leaving the district open for the first time since 2006.

Candidates Becca Balint, Sianay Chase Clifford, Molly Gray, and Kesha Ram Hinsdale discussed the invasion of Ukraine, what they would do differently than Welch, and drug legalization, among other topics.

Balint, who currently serves as state Senate president pro tempore, said she might support a U.S. military intervention in Ukraine if Russia uses chemical weapons. Balint also said she supports strengthening sanctions against Russia and sanctioning Belarus.

Chase Clifford, who was a staffer for U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), opposes sending the U.S. military to Ukraine and supports targeting sanctions to reduce their impact on vulnerable communities.

Gray, the current lieutenant governor, opposes a no-fly zone over Ukraine and said she would not support U.S. military intervention unless allied organizations like the United Nations decided on it. 

Ram Hinsdale, a state senator, supports the president’s response and said the role of fossil fuels in global crises should be discussed.

The four were also asked about votes Welch made that they disagreed with.

Balint said she opposed Welch’s vote for additional funding for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in 2007. 

Chase Clifford said she was concerned that Welch may have used his position to make advantageous stock trades. 

Gray criticized Welch for not doing more to pass paid family and medical leave. 

Ram Hinsdale said that “for a long time [Welch] was accepting corporate PAC dollars” and that she was glad Welch was not accepting those donations in his run for U.S. Senate.

Balint and Ram Hinsdale said they support the federal legalization of marijuana and other controlled substances. Chase Clifford said she supports marijuana legalization and decriminalizing other substances. Gray said she supports decriminalizing marijuana and not other substances. 

The Democratic primary is set for Aug. 9. Three election forecasters rate the general election Solid Democratic.

Update: Finkenauer back on Iowa’s U.S. Senate ballot

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that Abby Finkenauer can appear on the Senate Democratic primary ballot after a lower court ruled she could not. The state supreme court said the state legislature “did not include missing or incorrect dates as one of the grounds for sustaining an objection to a petition.” As we wrote last week, a lower court said Finkenauer didn’t meet the state’s ballot access requirements.  

N.C. Democratic Party Progressive Caucus rescinds endorsement in 4th Congressional District

On April 17, the North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus rescinded its endorsement of state Sen. Valerie Foushee over contributions Foushee received from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Foushee is running in the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary.

In a press release, the Progressive Caucus said, “No American candidate should be accepting funds from an organization that provides financial support for those seeking to destroy our democracy,” referring to AIPAC’s endorsement of 37 Republicans who voted against confirming the results of the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6, 2021, while Congress counted the electoral votes.

Foushee’s campaign said, “Her 25 years of elected service to her community speaks to her deep commitment to progressive values,” and, “Senator Foushee is going to Washington to unify, not divide, as she has always done.

Foushee is a state senator, former Orange County commissioner, and former member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education. Foushee is running against seven other candidates in the Democratic primary, including former American Idol contestant and National Inclusion Project co-founder Clay Aiken and Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, the first Muslim woman elected to public office in North Carolina.

Both Foushee and Allam have received noteworthy endorsements in this primary. State Attorney General Josh Stein (D), EMILY’s List, and the state AFL-CIO endorsed Foushee. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Our Revolution endorsed Allam.

Incumbent Rep. David Price (D) is not seeking re-election, leaving the solidly Democratic district open for the first time since 1972. The 4th District is located outside of Raleigh, including portions of the state’s Research Triangle. The district has the largest percentage of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 (27%) and the largest percentage with a bachelor’s degree (52%) in North Carolina.

Pelosi endorses Crist in Florida governor primary

On April 18, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) endorsed Charlie Crist in Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Crist represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District in the House. 

Pelosi said, “From his tireless work in Congress to his commitment to Floridians across the state, Charlie Crist has an impenetrable record of fighting for the people of the Sunshine State and delivering results that matter. … Charlie can and will defeat the current Governor and hit the ground running on Day 1 in Tallahassee.”  

Crist said Pelosi’s “leadership uplifts the voices of all Floridians that are ready to put divisive, inflammatory rhetoric behind us and truly get to work for the people.”

Crist was Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011. He was elected as a Republican and switched his affiliation to Independent in 2010, then to Democratic in 2012. 

Five other candidates are running, including state Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried. 

Fried called herself a true Democrat and said, “Look, every single issue that we as Floridians are fighting for today — whether that is access to affordable health care, whether that’s affordable housing, our environment, to criminal justice reform, to medical marijuana and legalization, to civil rights, to criminal justice reform, you name the issue — unfortunately, Charlie was on the other side of it.”

The Democratic primary is scheduled for Aug. 23.

Competitiveness data: Arkansas and California  

Akransas’ filing deadline for congressional and state candidates was March 1, and California’s was March 14. 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.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 18 (April 14, 2022)

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.

In September 2021, Trump endorsed Sean Parnell in the primary. Parnell dropped out of the primary after losing a custody battle in November and endorsed McCormick in January. 

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.

The primary is set for Aug. 4. At least seven candidates made the ballot so far, including former state House Speaker Beth Harwell and Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles.

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.

Oregon

Nevada

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.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 18 (April 14, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

April 14, 2022

In this issue: The Blue Dog Coalition PAC’s first 2022 endorsements and PAC spending mounts in OR-06

Blue Dog PAC announces first round of 2022 endorsements

The Blue Dog Coalition PAC made its first endorsements in the 2022 elections: Ruben Ramirez in Texas’ 15th Congressional District, Adam Gray in California’s 13th, and Rudy Salas in California’s 22nd.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), coalition co-chair, described the candidates as “independent-minded individuals who are committed to serving a diverse constituency.”

The PAC’s website says the U.S. House’s Blue Dog Coalition is a group of 18 “moderate, fiscally-responsible Democrats who represent every corner of the country and continue to work to end the divisive and toxic nature of politics today.”

Ramirez, an Army veteran and former attorney and educator, is running against Michelle Vallejo in a May 24 Democratic primary runoff in Texas’ 15th. Forecasters rate the general election either Tilt or Lean Republican. Ramirez ran in the same district in 2012 and 2016, finishing with 5% and 6% of the Democratic primary vote, respectively. He was the first-place finisher in this year’s Democratic primary, with 28% of the vote to Vallejo’s 20%.

Gray, a state assemblyman and owner of a public affairs firm, is one of five candidates running in the open race for California’s 13th. The two Democrats and three Republicans running will appear on the same primary ballot, with the top two finishers advancing to the general election regardless of partisan affiliation. The other Democrat running in the 13th District is Phil Arballo, who ran against Devin Nunes (R) in the 22nd District in 2020. Election forecasters rate the general election in the new 13th as Lean or Likely Democratic.

Salas, a state assemblyman and former city councilor, is the only Democrat running for the 22nd District alongside three Republicans, including incumbent David Valadao (R). Forecasters call the general election a Toss-up.

OR-06 candidates respond to House Majority PAC spending

House Majority PAC spent $1 million on TV advertising supporting Carrick Flynn in Oregon’s newly created 6th Congressional District. 

Six of the eight other Democratic primary candidates said in a joint news release, “This effort by the political arm of the Democratic establishment to buy this race for one candidate is a slap in the face to every Democratic voter and volunteer in Oregon.” 

Flynn’s campaign manager said, “Carrick is proud to have the backing from a broad coalition of supporters from throughout Oregon’s 6th congressional district, across the state and from all over the country. … The path to keeping the House in Democratic hands starts right here in Oregon’s 6th and Carrick is the only candidate who can solidly carry this district for the Democrats in the fall.”

Bold PAC, associated with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, endorsed state Rep. Andrea Salinas in the primary. PAC chairman Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said, “Right now, Democrats should be doubling-down on their investments to empower Latino and Latina candidates like Andrea who are running strong campaigns focused on issues that matter to communities of color and working families.” 

House Majority PAC’s communications director, CJ Warnke, said it is “doing whatever it takes to secure a Democratic House majority in 2022, and we believe supporting Carrick Flynn is a step towards accomplishing that goal.” 

All independent expenditures in this primary reported to the Federal Election Commission as of Wednesday have supported Flynn. Decision Desk HQ‘s March 28 newsletter said the 6th District had the highest independent expenditure amount of all House primaries (excluding Texas, which held its primaries on March 1). 

Protect Our Future PAC, associated with cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried, has spent $5 million supporting Flynn. The PAC says it supports “candidates who take a long-term view on policy planning especially as it relates to pandemic preparedness and prevention.” Flynn has worked in the fields of artificial intelligence and disaster relief, co-founding the Centre for the Governance of Artificial Intelligence at Oxford University.

The Justice Unites Us PAC spent more than $800,000 on canvassing supporting Flynn.

Flynn and two other candidates completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. You can read their responses here

The primary is May 17. Three independent forecasting outlets view the general election as Likely Democratic. Oregon was apportioned six U.S. House seats after the 2020 census, one more than after the 2010 census. The 6th District is located in the northwest part of the state and consists of all or parts of Clackamas, Marion, Polk, Washington, and Yamhill counties. 

Iowa judge rules Finkenauer can’t appear on primary ballot

On April 10, Polk County District Judge Scott Beattie ruled that U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer didn’t meet the state’s requirements to appear on the Democratic primary ballot.

The disqualification process began when two Iowa Republicans challenged Finkenauer’s petitions with the State Objection Panel. The challenge said Finkenauer failed to submit valid signatures from at least 100 eligible voters in 19 different counties, a requirement for U.S. Senate candidates in Iowa, because some signatures were not properly dated. 

On March 29, the panel—comprised of Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R), Attorney General Tom Miller (D), and State Auditor Rob Sand (D)—dismissed the challenge in a 2-1 vote, ruling that the dates of the signatures could be inferred using the dates of the signatures before and after the ones in question. Pate voted against allowing Finkenauer on the ballot.

Polk County District Judge Scott Beattie said the panel incorrectly interpreted the regulations governing signature requirements. Beattie ruled that three signatures were invalid, which left Finkenauer with an insufficient number of signatures in two counties. 

Finkenauer appealed the ruling to the Iowa Supreme Court. Finkenauer said, “In a massive gift to Washington Republicans, this partisan decision overrules both the Republican secretary of state’s office and the bipartisan panel, ignores decades of precedent, interferes in the electoral process, and makes a mockery of our democracy.”  

The state supreme court heard oral arguments on April 13 and is expected to issue a ruling this week. No ruling had been issued as of Thursday morning.

Finkenauer represented Iowa’s 1st Congressional District from 2019 to 2021. Michael Franken and Glenn Hurst are running in the Senate Democratic primary, which is scheduled for June 7. 

Update: State Rep. Caraveo is only Democratic candidate to make CO-08 ballot

State Rep. Yadira Caraveo is the only candidate who will appear on the June 28 Democratic primary ballot in Colorado’s 8th Congressional District after receiving 71% of delegates’ support at the district’s April 5 assembly. Chaz Tedesco received 29%.

In Colorado, if U.S. House candidates did not submit 1,500 signatures by the deadline (March 15), then they needed to receive at least 30% of the delegate vote at assemblies to qualify for the ballot. Caraveo was also the only 8th District Democratic candidate who submitted enough signatures to make the ballot.

Colorado was apportioned eight U.S. House seats after the 2020 census, one more than it received after the 2010 census. The Denver Post‘s Alex Burness wrote that the newly created district would be competitive based on recent results.

At least four Republicans have qualified for the GOP primary.

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 31 Democratic members of Congress are retiring in the 2022 cycle, representing 11.5% of the party’s total caucus members immediately following the 2020 election. Ten Democratic members retired in the 2020 cycle, representing 3.6% of the party’s total caucus members immediately following the 2018 election.

Of 2022’s retiring Democratic incumbents, seven 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 zero. 

Three candidates running in Democratic primary for Davidson County District Attorney

Three candidates are running in the May 3 Democratic primary for Davidson County, Tennessee, district attorney: incumbent Glenn Funk, Sara Beth Myers, and Danielle Nellis. Funk was elected to an eight-year term in 2014. 

Both Myers and Nellis have criticized Funk for how he handled the prosecution of Andrew Delke, a Nashville police officer who shot Daniel Hambrick, a Black man, during a traffic stop on July 26, 2018. Funk charged Delke with criminal homicide, making Delke the first Nashville police officer to be charged with an on-duty murder. Shortly before the case was set to go to trial, Delke pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in return for a reduced sentence. Funk said he accepted the plea deal because he did not believe he could get a conviction in a trial. Nellis said she would have taken the case to trial, while Myers said Funk mishandled the entire case. Click here to read candidates’ responses to a question about this case.

Funk is running on his record. Myers and Nellis are campaigning on reforming the criminal justice system and stopping what they say is a rise in the city’s crime rate.  

Funk said he’s helped “restore public confidence in the criminal justice system by effectively prosecuting violent crime while focusing on treatment and rehabilitation for low-level, nonviolent offenders.” Funk said his record includes prosecuting domestic violence cases and offering better support for victims, declining to prosecute cases involving small amounts of marijuana, and declining to enforce a state law he said restricts abortion. 

Myers, who worked as a prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice, has campaigned on crime prevention, civil rights advances, and restorative justice. Myers proposes breaking the district attorney’s office “into precincts and assign[ing] assistant DAs to precincts so that they get to know the communities that they’re serving.” 

Nellis, who clerked for a Nashville judge and worked as an assistant district attorney in Funk’s office, said, “We know that most criminal behavior is trauma response. So how are we addressing whatever the underlying trauma is, including poverty, which has been studied and determined to be a traumatic experience? How are we addressing that as a community and the way you do that?”

Nashville, Tennessee’s largest city, is the county seat of Davidson County.

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.

Oregon

Nevada

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.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 17 (April 7, 2022)

In this issue: 48 candidates running in Alaska’s special U.S. House election and a rundown of recent Senate forums in Pennsylvania

48 candidates file for special U.S. House election in Alaska

Forty-eight candidates filed for the special election for Alaska’s at-large congressional district. The primary includes 16 Republicans, six Democrats, two Libertarians, and 24 nonpartisan, undeclared, or otherwise affiliated candidates.

Among the candidates are former governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (R), who former President Donald Trump endorsed; Emil Notti (D), who ran against former incumbent Rep. Don Young (R) in the 1973 special election that Young won; Young’s former re-election campaign co-chair Tara Sweeney (R); state Sen. Josh Revak (R); state Rep. Adam Wool (D); and North Pole, Alaska, City Council member Santa Claus (formerly Thomas O’Connor), who is undeclared and describes himself as a Democratic socialist.

All will appear on the June 11 primary ballot, with the top four finishers advancing to the Aug. 16 general election. This will be the first congressional election using the state’s new voting system with top-four primaries and ranked-choice voting general elections.

Young died last month. The special election winner will serve the rest of Young’s term until Jan. 3, 2023. Candidates may file for both the special and regular elections. The filing deadline for the regular election is June 1. The regular top-four primary will be held Aug. 16, the same day as the ranked-choice voting special general election.

Upton retiring, leaving one incumbent in MI-04

Rep. Fred Upton (R) announced Tuesday he won’t seek re-election. This leaves Rep. Bill Huizenga as the only incumbent running in Michigan’s 4th Congressional District GOP primary. As we wrote recently, Trump endorsed Huizenga. Upton was one of 10 Republican U.S. House members who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.

Trump to rally for Cawthorn, while Tillis and others endorse challenger

Former President Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in North Carolina on Saturday featuring 11th Congressional District incumbent Rep. Madison Cawthorn and other GOP candidates. Republicans Sen. Thom Tillis, state House Speaker Tim Moore, and state Senate leader Phil Berger recently backed state Sen. Chuck Edwards in the 11th District GOP primary. 

Trump endorsed Cawthorn in May 2021. Tillis said last Thursday, “Unfortunately, Madison Cawthorn has fallen well short of the most basic standards western North Carolina expects from their representatives, and voters now have several well-qualified candidates to choose from who would be a significant improvement. I believe Chuck Edwards is the best choice.”

Last Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) met with Cawthorn to discuss a recent podcast interview in which Cawthorn said he’d been invited to an orgy in Washington and observed people doing cocaine. McCarthy said he told Cawthorn that “he’s lost my trust, and he’s going to have to earn it back. … He’s got a lot of members upset. You can’t just make statements out there.” 

Cawthorn said in a statement last Friday,

Western North Carolina, you sent me to Washington to change the culture. If you want Washington to operate without accountability, send someone else. If you want someone who will throw the entire DC swamp into a meltdown because I call out corruption — send me back.

The left and the media want to use my words to divide the GOP. They are terrified of Republicans taking back the House and seeing Leader McCarthy become Speaker McCarthy. Their efforts to divide us will fail.

Cawthorn faces seven challengers in the May 17 primary. Cawthorn was first elected in 2020.

Competitiveness data: North Carolina’s primaries

North Carolina’s filing deadline for congressional and state elections was March 4. 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.

Tennessee bill that would prevent Trump-endorsed candidate from running faces court challenge

The Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill last week that would disqualify a Trump-endorsed U.S. House candidate from running in the Republican primary. The bill has been challenged in U.S. district court.

According to the Nashville Tennessean‘s Melissa Brown, SB2616 “implicitly targeted the candidacy of [former U.S. Department of State spokeswoman] Morgan Ortagus” for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District. Trump endorsed Ortagus in January.

The bill says primary candidates for Congress would have to meet residency requirements for state legislators contained in the state constitution. That means a candidate would need to have been a Tennessee resident for at least three years and a resident of the relevant district for at least one year before the election. Ortagus moved to Nashville from Washington, D.C., in 2021.

State Sen. Frank Niceley (R), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said that people who don’t meet the residency requirements could still run as independent or third party candidates.

Ortagus said, “No one questioned my residency when I served our country in the intelligence community, the Trump Administration, nor in the U.S. Navy Reserves, and President Trump certainly didn’t question my residency when he endorsed me for this seat.”

According to University of Iowa College of Law professor Derek Muller, “[W]hile there’s a partisan valence to this specific situation, the position has attracted wide bipartisan support in Tennessee. There is nearly unanimous support to stop ‘carpetbaggers’ from getting elected to Congress.” 

The Senate passed the bill 31-1 on Feb. 28. Brown said of the voter against the bill, “[Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R)] didn’t object to the details of the bill but said he wouldn’t support the effort in the middle of an ongoing campaign season.” The House passed the bill 70-18 on March 28, with 12 Republicans and six Democrats voting against it. 

The bill was sent to Gov. Bill Lee (R) on April 1. As of the morning of April 7, he hadn’t taken action on it. The filing deadline for the primary is April 7. We’ll follow up in a future issue on the outcome.

On March 31, three 5th District residents who say they plan to vote in the Republican primary filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, asking the court to declare the bill unconstitutional and to ensure Ortagus remains on the ballot. 

The plaintiffs’ attorney said, “The legislature’s last minute attempt to restrict President Trump’s endorsed candidate from running for Congress clearly violates the US Constitution and Supreme Court precedent.”

Tennessee’s primaries are set for Aug. 4.

Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidates participate in forums

Six Republican primary candidates for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat participated in a forum on April 2 at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference. Kathy Barnette, Jeff Bartos, George Bochetto, Sean Gale, Mehmet Oz, and Carla Sands attended. The race’s seventh candidate—David McCormick—did not participate. A campaign representative said he was holding other events on that date.

PennLive.com‘s Charles Thompson wrote, “All the candidates said they would embrace a Trump endorsement; oppose [U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown] Jackson’s confirmation; would support either greater regulation or the break-up of Big Tech companies like Facebook and Twitter as a matter of protecting free speech; and support tougher policies against China, including a strong defense of Taiwan.”

An Emerson College poll of 372 likely Republican primary voters conducted from March 26 through 28 showed 50% were undecided. David McCormick and Mehmet Oz both had 14%. Barnette and Sands received 6% support each, and Bartos was fifth with 5%. The margin of error was +/- 5 percentage points.

Last week, McCormick and Oz participated in a forum together for the first time. The Associated Press‘ Marc Levy wrote, “Energy was a constant theme … since Pennsylvania is the nation’s No. 2 natural gas-producing state” and that Oz “absorbed the brunt of criticism from rivals.” McCormick said that Oz has argued for increased fracking regulations, which Oz said was untrue. 

Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is not seeking re-election. In 2016, Toomey defeated Katie McGinty (D) 49% to 47% to win a second term. 

Pennsylvania is one of two states holding a Senate election in 2022 with a GOP incumbent that Joe Biden (D) won in the 2020 presidential election. And it’s one of three Senate election states with one Democratic and one Republican senator. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) holds Pennsylvania’s other Senate seat.

The primary is May 17.

Ted Cruz endorses Josh Mandel in Ohio Senate primary 

On April 4, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) endorsed Josh Mandel in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio. 

Cruz said, “A United States Marine, Josh is a proven fighter for our American way of life, a champion for the unborn, and a stalwart advocate for our religious liberties.” U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) and U.S. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) have also endorsed Mandel. 

A number of other Republican members of Congress have endorsed candidates. Retiring incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) endorsed Jane Timken, as did Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (W.V.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), and Deb Fischer (Neb.) and Reps. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Bob Gibbs (Ohio). Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) endorsed Mike Gibbons. Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Reps. Jim Banks (Ind.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (N.C.) endorsed J.D. Vance. 

An exchange between Gibbons and Mandel at a March 18 debate drew heightened attention to the primary. Gibbons said Mandel never worked in the private sector. Mandel rose from his seat to stand in front of Gibbons and said he had done “[t]wo tours in Iraq, don’t tell me I haven’t worked.” Gibbons said, “You don’t know squat,” and Mandel said, “Watch what happens.”

Gibbons’ campaign released a statement saying Mandel “doesn’t have the temperament, experience, or fortitude to be a U.S. Senator and Ohio voters got a first-hand look at just how unprepared Josh Mandel has become and that will be reflected on the ballot on May 3.” 

On March 26, Mandel released an ad in which a Gold Star mother says, “Mike Gibbons has the nerve to say military service doesn’t count as real work.”  

Vance said Gibbons and Mandel “completely made clowns of themselves.” 

Timken criticized the debate moment along with a comment Gibbons had made about her, saying she barely worked before serving as state GOP chair. Timken said, “Friday and Monday night’s antics, the only person who really won was Tim Ryan. … What happens if Mike Gibbons is the nominee? The Democrats will gladly pour 50 million dollars into the race to defeat him and he has given them much fodder.”

The primary is set for May 3. Along with Pennsylvania, Ohio is one of the three states with a Senate election this year that has one Republican and one Democratic senator—Sherrod Brown (D) holds the state’s other U.S. Senate seat.