TagRepublican primaries

President Trump endorses former White House physician Ronny Jackson in TX-13 Republican primary

President Donald Trump endorsed former White House physician Ronny Jackson ahead of the March 3 Republican primary for Texas’ 13th Congressional District.

On Friday evening, Trump tweeted, “I hope we can get Admiral @RonnyJackson4TX of Texas, who served our Country so well, into the runoff election in #TX13! Ronny is strong on Crime and Borders, GREAT for our Military and Vets, and will protect your #2A. Get out and vote for Ronny on Tuesday, March 3rd!”

Fifteen candidates are running in the primary on Tuesday. Incumbent Mac Thornberry (R), who was first elected in 1994, announced in September 2019 that he would not seek re-election.

Media coverage and endorsements have focused on six candidates: Chris Ekstrom, Lee Harvey, Elaine Hays, Jackson, Vance Snider II, and Josh Winegarner. Also running in the primary are Catherine Carr, Jamie Culley, Jason Foglesong, Richard Herman, Diane Knowlton, Matt McArthur, Mark Neese, Asusena Resendiz, and Monique Worthy.

If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the primary election, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will be held on May 26, 2020. The winner of the primary will run in the district’s general election on November 3, 2020.

Jackson was Trump’s 144th endorsement since taking office in 2017.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 7 (February 26, 2020)

This week: Senate candidates in Alabama release opposition ads, Democratic groups spend against Garcia, Knight in CA-25, and the battleground primaries to watch on March 3.

On the news

Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

“The fearmongering over Russian election ‘interference’ might be the most destructive moral panic in American political life since the Red Scare. Then again, to be fair, those who prosecuted the post-war hunt for Communists had the decency to uncover a handful of infiltrators. We’ve yet to meet a single American who’s been brainwashed or had their vote snatched away by an SVR Twitterbot. Probably because no such person exists. …

There are few people who detest the candidacy and philosophy of Sanders more than I, yet I’m positive that the KGB can’t give him the Democratic Party nomination any more than they can install Donald Trump in the White House. Only voters can.

It’s likely that Russia, as it did in 2016, will engage in amateurish efforts to foment divisions among some American — as if we needed any help. If they actually “hack” an election — a word incessantly, and erroneously, used by journalists at the height of the Russia scare in 2017 — we’ll know.”

David Harsanyi, National Review, Feb. 24, 2020

“Russian efforts to influence American social media didn’t stop in November 2016. In the words of former special counsel Robert Mueller, Russia is attempting to influence the 2020 elections ‘as we sit here.’ … 

Russian efforts to manipulate American social media have grown more sophisticated since the summer of 2016, when they were often easy to spot. … It’s much harder now. The Russian social media manipulation machine has been refining its techniques and building up a social media presence in preparation for 2020. Perhaps worse, the Russians’ success — and the lack of consequences — has encouraged others to try their hand at this sort of asymmetric warfare. Iran, North Korea and even China could decide to field their own troll armies in 2020.

If you think it was bad in 2016, it’s going to be much worse this year. The goal of these trolls isn’t just to manipulate our elections, it’s to fundamentally damage our democracy and undermine our trust in American institutions.”

Chris Truax, USA Today, Feb. 20, 2020

U.S. Congress

Five states will hold statewide primaries on March 3, 2020 (15 jurisdictions will hold presidential nominating events). Here’s a list of the Republican Congressional battleground primaries to watch.

Senate candidates in Alabama release opposition ads

The three Senate primary candidates topping polls in Alabama are using the closing days of the primary to run ads criticizing each other for past comments about or conflicts with President Donald Trump.

Bradley Byrne and Tommy Tuberville criticized Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election during his time as attorney general. Sessions has defended his recusal and emphasized that he was the first senator to endorse Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.

Sessions and Tuberville criticized Byrne for saying Trump was not fit to be president in 2016 following the release of the Access Hollywood recording. Byrne has said the comment was a mistake and that he has a 97% pro-Trump voting record in the House.

Byrne’s and Sessions’ ads said Tuberville supported amnesty for people in the country illegally. Sessions’ ads also featured audio of Tuberville criticizing Trump on veterans’ health care. Tuberville has said he does not support amnesty and that Trump has not been able to do everything he’d like due to resistance from others.

Most ads released earlier in the primary focused on candidates’ conservative credentials, experience, and criticisms of Democrats. 

Two independent polls from early February showed Sessions and Tuberville about tied for the lead and Byrne in third. Both Sessions and Tuberville received around 30% support. To win the March 3 primary outright, a candidate needs a majority of the vote. If no one wins a majority, the top two finishers will meet in a runoff on March 31.

Trump won Alabama in the 2016 presidential race, defeating Hillary Clinton 62% to 34%.

The Republican primary winner will face incumbent Doug Jones (D) in November. Jones won the 2017 special election, defeating Roy Moore 50% to 48%. The 2020 primary features seven candidates, including Moore.

TX-11 candidates criticize With Honor Fund support of Pfluger

Six Republican candidates for Texas’ 11th Congressional District held a press conference in response to With Honor Fund‘s endorsement of and satellite spending for August Pfluger. Overall, eight candidates signed a pledge stating:

“We pledge not to knowingly take money nor receive support from individuals or groups that do not hold to the conservative, Constitutional and Judeo-Christian values of our District – specifically groups supported by radical liberal activists such as Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg or George Soros.”

Candidates Gene Barber, Brandon Batch, Jamie Berryhill, J. D. Faircloth, Casey Gray, Ned Luscombe, Robert Tucker, and Wesley Virdell signed the pledge.

With Honor describes itself as “a cross-partisan movement dedicated to promoting and advancing principled veteran leadership in elected public service.” The group spent $214,000 on an ad campaign supporting Pfluger. The ad discusses Pfluger’s Air Force experience and calls him “an outsider like President Trump, not a politician.”

Trump endorsed Pfluger Feb. 12. Virdell questioned the endorsement: “There’s questions about ‘is he actually the one who’s actually sending tweets out?’”

Pfluger said following the press conference:

“I think we can all agree that nobody cares more about draining the swamp and defeating democrats than President Trump, which is why I’m honored to have his complete and total endorsement. To suggest that Donald Trump is either too weak or too stupid to make his own endorsements is insulting and offensive. The fact is, I’m proud of the conservative, and completely positive, grassroots campaign we’ve run focused on the issues that the voters of this district care about.”

If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the March 3 primary election, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will be held May 26. The seat is open — incumbent Mike Conaway (R) is retiring.

Democratic groups spend against Garcia, Knight in CA-25

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and House Majority PAC released ads opposing Mike Garcia (R) and Steve Knight (R), respectively, in California’s 25th Congressional District top-two primary.

The DCCC ad said Garcia supported a middle class tax increase and accused his business of not paying taxes. The House Majority PAC ad called Knight a Trump Republican. Politico reported that the DCCC spent $318,000 and House Majority PAC, $293,000 on their buys.

The DCCC also placed a coordinated ad buy with Democratic candidate Christy Smith.

The district will have both a special election primary and a regularly scheduled primary on March 3. In the special primary, a candidate can win outright by getting more than 50% of the vote. Otherwise, a special general election for the top two candidates will be held on May 12. 

Eleven candidates—including Garcia, Knight, and Smith—are running in both elections, with additional candidates running in one or the other race. 

Former Rep. Katie Hill resigned in November 2019 following her acknowledgment of having had a relationship with a campaign staffer. Knight represented the district from 2015 to 2019. Hill beat Knight in 2018 54% to 46%.

Since the state began using top-two congressional primaries in 2012, a Republican and a Democrat advanced to the general election in three out of four cycles. In 2014, two Republicans advanced.

State executives

Jan Garbett announces run for governor of Utah, Aimee Winder Newton halts signature collection efforts

Businesswoman Jan Garbett kicked off her campaign for governor of Utah Thursday, becoming the eighth Republican to join the race. 

Garbett, whose husband Bryson served two terms as a Republican member of the state House in the 1980s, has run for political office twice before. She challenged Rep. Chris Stewart (R) in the 2018 election as a member of the United Utah Party but dropped out before November. In 2016, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vaughn Cook selected Garbett as his running mate. Their ticket was defeated at the state Democratic convention. 

Garbett said she had planned to run for Congress again this year but switched to the gubernatorial election after hearing all six candidates participating in the Jan. 31 debate say that they supported President Trump.

Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton announced Wednesday that her campaign was suspending its effort to collect signatures to petition onto the primary ballot. Candidates for governor of Utah may qualify for the primary ballot in one of two ways. Up to two candidates can receive a place on the ballot by winning support from delegates at the state party convention, while any number of candidates can qualify by submitting 28,000 signatures from registered voters. Winder Newton joins Jason Christensen and Gregory Hughes, who are also seeking the nomination via the convention alone.

So far two candidates—Spencer Cox and Thomas Wright—have submitted nominating petitions. Each submitted over 30,000 signatures. As of noon Mountain Time on Feb. 25, 21,675 of Cox’s signatures had been verified—77% of the qualifying requirement. None of Wright’s signatures had yet been verified.

The candidate filing deadline is March 19. The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only. The winner of the primary is likely to also win the general election—no Democrat has won election as governor of Utah since 1980. Incumbent Gary Herbert (R) is not seeking re-election.

Montana Secretary of State candidates meet for forum

The four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Montana secretary of state met for a candidate forum in Kalispell Thursday. All four said that they were best-suited to keep the office in Republican hands in November. Each stated their support for ending the state’s same-day voter registration program and for cutting the size of the secretary’s staff.

Montana Supreme Court Clerk Bowen Greenfield (R) said he was the only candidate who has won a statewide election and that it was critical that Democrats not win the secretary of state’s office. 

Deputy Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen (R) said incumbent Corey Stapleton (R), who is running for U.S. House, has endorsed her and that she had the most experience in the secretary’s office. 

State Rep. Forrest Mandeville (R) said he had experience defeating election laws supported by Democrats, including automatic and online voter registration, as chairman of the State Administration Committee. 

State Senate President Scott Sales (R) said that he had the most private sector experience of any candidate and was the only person in Montana history to serve as both speaker of the state House and as state Senate president.

Montana’s secretary of state is the chief elections officer and has a variety of other duties including maintaining and updating the state’s regulatory codes, registering businesses and trademarks, licensing notaries public, and maintaining official government records.

The candidate filing deadline is March 9. The June 2 primary will be open to all registered voters. Since 1980, most Montana secretary of state elections have been won by the same party that won that year’s presidential election. The only exception was in 1988, when Mike Cooney (D) was elected Secretary of State and George H.W. Bush (R) was elected president.


Lyft targets Diep over AB5 vote

Ridesharing company Lyft is using direct mail to target California Assemblyman Tyler Diep (District 72) for his support of Assembly Bill 5. Diep was the sole Republican to vote in favor of the bill. AB5 requires gig economy companies (such as Lyft) to hire employees rather than use independent contractors. 

Lyft has spent $250,000 so far this cycle opposing Diep’s re-election. As reported previously in Heart of the Primaries, the Orange County Republican Party withdrew its endorsement of Diep in January. Diep faces former state Sen. Janet Nguyen (R), Bijan Mohseni (D), and Diedre Nguyen (D) in the March 3 top-two primary. The top two vote-getters will run in the Nov. 3 general election.

Open MI House primary becomes competitive

Yvonne Black filed to run for District 47 in the Michigan House of Representatives, making the Republican primary for the open seat competitive. Livingstone County Commissioner Bob Bezotte, who announced he would run in early 2019, is the other candidate in the primary. Rep. Henry Vaupel (R) is ineligible to run because of term limits. He has represented the district since 2015.

The filing deadline for the race is April 21, and the primary will take place Aug. 4. District 47 is located in central Michigan and includes the city of Howell and portions of Livingstone County.

SD Senate primary becomes competitive

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Bishop David Zellmer filed to run in the South Dakota Senate District 14 primary. State Rep. Larry Zikmund (R) has also filed to run for the seat. The current incumbent, Sen. Deb Soholt (R), is ineligible to run because of term limits.

The filing deadline for the race is March 31, and the primary will take place on June 2. District 14 includes portions of Sioux Falls.

Update: Mike Prax appointed to AK House District 3

The Alaska House Republican Caucus confirmed Mike Prax (R) to the seat left vacant when former Rep. Tammie Wilson (R) resigned in January to take a job with the Office of Children’s Services in the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Wilson was one of eight Republicans who caucused with Democrats to create a coalition majority in the House. Republicans hold a 23-15 numerical majority in the chamber, with two independents also holding seats.

Power players

“The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.” – Official Facebook page of the House Freedom Caucus 

The House Freedom Caucus is a congressional caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Nine Republican representatives established the caucus in 2015. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) was its first chair. An October 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found that the majority of caucus members were generally considered to be more conservative than most Republicans.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) was elected chairman of the House Freedom Caucus in September 2019. The House Freedom Caucus does not disclose its membership list. As of June 2019, the caucus was estimated to have 31 members.

The House Freedom Fund, a PAC associated with the Caucus, endorses candidates which it says are “dedicated to open, accountable, and limited government – candidates who will fight to defend the Constitution and advance policies that promote liberty, safety, and prosperity for all Americans.” According to Jordan, the fund “helps grassroots candidates get the financial support they need to compete with establishment candidates.” To view a list of candidates endorsed by the House Freedom Fund, click here.

No open seats in Pennsylvania U.S. House races; all races feature a Democratic and Republican candidate

Pennsylvania’s statewide major-party filing deadline was February 18, 2020. The primary is scheduled for April 28, and the general election is November 3. Fifty-four candidates filed for the 18 congressional seats on the ballot.

All 18 incumbents filed for re-election, and three face same-party challengers: Brian Fitzpatrick (R) in District 1, Mary Gay Scanlon (D) in District 5, and Michael Doyle (D) in District 18. The remaining 15 officeholders do not have primary competition.

At least one Democratic and one Republican candidate filed for each U.S. House seat. Of the 36 possible primaries, 25 are unopposed. Seven primaries feature two candidates, three primaries have three candidates, and one primary has six candidates on the ballot. Six of the contested primaries are Democratic primaries, and five are Republican primaries.

The 2018 election saw 11 incumbents file for re-election. Due to redistricting, not all officeholders filed for re-election to the same seat they held. Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District was the only U.S. House district in the state to not have a major-party candidate file for election that year.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 6 (February 19, 2020)

This week: Trump endorses House challengers, DeMaio, Issa ramp up criticisms ahead of CA-50 primary, and MN state senator in swing district announces retirement.

On the news

Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

“One of the most common misconceptions I hear about Donald Trump is that he is not a fiscal conservative. …

And yet, every year, when the president has presented his budget proposals to Congress, they have contained more spending cuts than any president in history. They sought to achieve balance within 10-15 years. They outline streamlining reforms to bloated and dysfunctional programs. …

It’s an election year now, and Democrats would love nothing more than to trigger another government shutdown in the cynical confidence the media will blame the president. And Washington Republicans love trying to buy goodwill from voters with money borrowed from our grandkids. So this year’s spending totals may end up no better than the last three years.

But it’s not Donald Trump’s fault. And when – not if – he wins re-election in the fall, the second Trump Administration will be ready to fight, and win, on this issue too.”

Jim DeMint, Daily Caller, Feb. 18, 2020

“Deficits have ballooned under President Trump. The popular narrative has been that the culprit is 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Alas, facts are stubborn things, and the available data so far shows that current deficits are primarily being driven by spending. There is room for reasonable debate over the long-term impact of non-offset tax cuts, but what is inescapably clear is that the other side of the federal ledger – spending – has increased dramatically under Trump’s watch. …

Under this budget, spending will increase to more than $4.8 trillion in 2021, though as Cato’s Chris Edwards points out, the true number is closer to $5.4 trillion when accounting for hidden fees and other budgetary gimmicks. …

Meanwhile, President Trump campaigned on and continues to support not touching entitlements, the single largest driver of deficits and debt. As [the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget] also highlights, the Administration has proposed reforms that would reduce Medicare costs by hundreds of billions of dollars, as it has in past budgets. But color me a pessimist for thinking that the most likely outcome is for those responsible elements never to materialize and all the existing spending (and a whole lot of new spending) to continue on autopilot.”

Jonathan Bydlak, Daily Caller, Feb. 18, 2020

U.S. Congress

Trump endorses 7 House challengers


President Donald Trump tweeted endorsements for seven House challengers Feb. 12. The endorsements are for battleground races with Democratic incumbents and open seats with retiring Republican incumbents. Four of the endorsed candidates are running in March 3 primaries (three in Texas and one in California). 


The following table shows each endorsed candidate’s race, including the district’s incumbent, whether the seat is open, race ratings from three outlets, and noteworthy district election history.

For more of the president’s 2020 endorsements, as well as endorsements from previous election cycles, click here.

DeMaio, Issa ramp up criticisms ahead of CA-50 primary

Former Rep. Darrell Issa and former San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio are criticizing one another over their immigration stances and Trump-supporting credentials ahead of California’s 50th District top-two primary

On Friday, DeMaio released an ad comparing Issa to Mitt Romney, the only Republican senator who voted to convict the president on the abuse of power article of impeachment. The ad’s narrator said Issa was “the only Republican to support the witch hunt against Trump” and that Issa supports amnesty for people in the country illegally. 

An Issa campaign ad released Feb. 12 says DeMaio supports amnesty, open borders, and sanctuary cities. A Feb. 13 ad said DeMaio “opposes Trump’s pro-life agenda.”  

Daily Kos wrote, “DeMaio and Issa each raised more money during the final three months of 2019 than any non-incumbent Republican candidate in any of the nation’s other House races.”

Nine candidates are running in the March 3 primary: four Republicans, one Democrat, three independents, and one member of the Peace and Freedom Party of California. The top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 3 general election.

California first used its top-two congressional primary system in 2012. In each 50th District election since then, a Democrat and Republican have advanced to the general election. Duncan Hunter (R), who resigned in January after pleading guilty to a count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds, won each of those general elections.

State executives

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson preparing for a possible primary challenge from ex-Gov. Eric Greitens

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s campaign is preparing for the possibility of former Gov. Eric Greitens seeking a return to office. Greitens was elected governor in 2016 and resigned in June 2018.

In an interview Friday, Greitens said the truth surrounding the allegations against him was beginning to come to light. He declined to say whether he would run again in 2020. In an interview with the Kansas City Star, an unnamed Parson advisor said of Greitens, “Will he run? I doubt it…Are we going to be haunted by his ghost until he declares or filing for the primary closes? Absolutely.”

Greitens resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct and misuse of campaign information. A Missouri Ethics Commission investigation concluded Thursday that Greitens’ campaign had violated state campaign finance law but did not find that Greitens himself had committed any wrongdoing. 

The pro-Parson PAC Uniting Missouri launched a $1 million statewide ad campaign Feb. 11 describing him as “a former sheriff, a conservative tough-on-crime governor.” Last month, the PAC released a poll it had sponsored which included a question asking voters who they would support in a hypothetical Parson-Greitens matchup.

Candidates for governor of Missouri have until March 31 to file. Parson’s only currently declared Republican challenger is state Rep. Jim Neely (R). The Aug. 4 primary is open to all registered voters.

Tim Eyman to run for governor of Washington as a Republican

Washington gubernatorial candidate Tim Eyman announced Feb. 12 that he would run for governor as a Republican. Eyman entered the race in November as an independent.

Although this is Eyman’s first run for elected office, he has previously been active in state politics as a ballot measure sponsor. Since 1998, 17 Eyman-sponsored measures have made the state ballot. Voters have approved 11 of them.

Under Washington’s top-two primary system, all candidates for governor will appear on the Aug. 4 primary ballot. The top two finishers, regardless of partisan affiliation, will advance to the general election. Each of the three gubernatorial elections Washington has held since switching to top-two primaries resulted in a Democrat and a Republican advancing.

Thirteen candidates are currently running for governor, including incumbent Jay Inslee (D), two other Democrats, seven Republicans, and three third party or independent candidates. The filing deadline is May 15.


MN senator in swing district announces retirement

Minnesota Sen. Paul Anderson (R) announced he would not seek re-election in 2020. Anderson represents District 44, which Hillary Clinton (D) carried with 60 percent of the vote in 2016. Anderson said he was retiring to focus on his personal and professional goals. 

Anderson’s district is one of two in the state represented by Republicans but won by Clinton in 2016. There are six districts in which the opposite is true—Trump won a district currently represented by a Democrat. According to the StarTribune, Democrats flipped a state House seat that overlaps with District 44 in 2018.

All 67 Senate seats are up for election in 2020. Republicans currently have a 35-32 majority. Minnesota has a divided government, with Democrats controlling the state House and the governorship. The candidate filing period runs through June 2.

Three challengers file in Alaska over dividend fund issue

In Alaska, three Republicans filed challenges to incumbent legislators over the state’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). As we reported earlier, the PFD issue has divided Alaska Republicans and led to the removal of three senators from committee assignments. 

The PFD is a payment to all residents of Alaska who lived there for the last full calendar year, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s (R) proposal to pay a larger divided has divided Republicans. Dunleavy has called for a payment of a full PFD according to a 1982 law and cutting spending elsewhere to balance the state’s budget, while lawmakers have proposed lowering the PFD instead.

Jesse Sumner filed to run against Rep. David Eastman in District 10. Sumner supports paying the full dividend and placing a constitutional cap on spending. John Cox filed to run against Sen. Gary Stevens in District P, and Michael Sheldon filed to run against Sen. Bert Stedman in District R. Both challengers say they support a full PFD payment.

Republicans currently hold a 13-7 majority in the Senate. While Republicans have a 22-15 numerical majority in the House, a coalition government of Democrats and Republicans control the chamber. The governor of Alaska is a Republican, so the state has divided government.

TX gov announces tour to campaign for incumbents

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced a pre-primary tour of the state to campaign on behalf of 10 incumbents with primary challengers and candidates for open seats or in Democratic districts. 

Abbott will campaign for Reps. Geanie Morrison (District 30), J.D. Sheffield (District 59), Jared Patterson (District 106), and Briscoe Cain (District 128), each of whom faces at least one primary challenger on March 3.

Ballotpedia has rated 10 of the 27 GOP primaries for Texas state house as battleground primaries. This is the second primary cycle to take place following the retirement of the House Speaker. Dennis Bonnen (R) announced his retirement in October 2019.

Special update: North Dakota presidential nominating process

We are passionate about politics. We’re dedicated to making it easier for you to understand the political process. 

The mechanics at the heart of the primary and caucus system can be particularly complex. We work to simplify the complexity—without compromising accuracy. Sometimes, we get it wrong. We sincerely regret those errors. But we also strive to correct them as soon as possible, giving you the right information in a timely manner.

In previous reporting on the North Dakota GOP’s presidential nominating process on Ballotpedia, we missed some key developments that distinguish the 2016 and 2020 cycles. Here’s what we’ve learned…

In 2016 (and in previous presidential election cycles), the North Dakota GOP did not hold primaries or caucuses. Instead, the party conducted a straw poll in the spring. At its state-level convention, the party then selected delegates to the national nominating convention. The results of the straw poll were non-binding, meaning the delegates to the national nominating convention were not required to vote in accordance with the poll’s results. This made the state convention the deciding event in the state party’s presidential nominating process.

This year, North Dakota’s Republican Party will conduct caucuses as part of its presidential nominating process. These caucuses are scheduled for March 10. 

Rule No. 21 of the State Endorsing Convention Rules states that delegates will be allocated proportionally to any candidate receiving at least 20 percent of votes cast in the caucuses. If a candidate receives at least 60 percent of votes cast, that candidate will be awarded all of the state’s delegates. According to The Bismarck Tribune, President Donald Trump will be the only candidate on the caucus ballot in North Dakota. 

Individual delegates will be elected at the state party convention, scheduled for March 27 through March 28. Delegate election, and all other party business, will take place on March 28. Twenty-six of the state’s total 29 delegates will be elected by secret ballot (the remaining three delegates are the party chairman, the national committeeman, and the national committeewoman). 

We are working to learn more about the terms of caucus participation, the location of caucus sites, and the form of voting. We will update this article with additional information as it becomes available.  

For more on the North Dakota GOP’s presidential nominating process, click here

Power players

“With Honor Action is a cross-partisan movement dedicated to promoting and advancing principled veteran leadership in elected public service. … As a part of our overall effort to highlight the importance of veterans and veteran issues, we support principled military veterans in Congress and help amplify their cross-partisan agenda that finds solutions for the American people. We also work with veteran candidates on the nuts and bolts of running for Congress, helping them organize their own campaigns and build a winning strategy.” – With Honor Action website

Founded in 2017, With Honor Action is a D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization associated with the With Honor PAC and the With Honor Fund super PAC. The group’s mission is to “promote and advance principled, veteran leadership in public service through education/advocacy programs, grants, and charitable contributions.” The With Honor Action website describes the group’s work as follows: 


  • Support organizations that promote cross-partisanship
  • Support organizations that help veterans
  • Enact substantial cross-partisan policies
  • Work with veteran candidates





So far, the group’s largest donation has come from Jeff Bezos, who gave $10 million to the With Honor Fund in 2018. In the 2018 cycle, the group spent around $4 million supporting Democratic candidates and around $5 million supporting Republican candidates. 

Tom Tiffany defeats Jason Church in WI-07 Republican primary

Tom Tiffany defeated Jason Church in Tuesday’s special Republican primary for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District. With 84% of precincts reporting, Tiffany received 57.3% of the vote to Church’s 42.7%. Tiffany advanced to the district’s special general election on May 12. The 7th District seat was vacated by Sean Duffy (R) in September 2019.

Church and Tiffany agreed on most policy positions but highlighted their different backgrounds. Tiffany, a state senator, described himself as a proven conservative who would “provide the leadership to get things done.” Church described himself as an outsider and a “combat veteran looking to continue my service on behalf of the people of Wisconsin’s 7th district.”

Duffy, U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), former Wisconsin Govs. Scott Walker (R) and Tommy Thompson (R), and organizations including the Club for Growth PAC and Americans for Prosperity Action endorsed Tiffany. U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), U.S. Reps. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), and organizations including SEAL PAC and Combat Veterans for Congress endorsed Church.

Satellite spending in the Republican primary came from Americans for Prosperity Action, Club for Growth, House Freedom Action, and United States Chamber of Commerce supporting Tiffany, and With Honor Fund and Americans 4 Security PAC supporting Church.

Michael Opela Sr. was disqualified from the Republican primary and ran as a write-in candidate. As of writing, write-in votes had not been reported.

The special general election will be held on May 12. Duffy, who was first elected in 2010, won his last election in 2018 by a margin of about 22 percentage points.

Click here to learn more.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 5 (February 12, 2020)

This week: Susan B. Anthony List endorses Loeffler after opposing her, Empower Texans donors make donations in three-way HD92 primary, and Jon Huntsman picks gubernatorial running mate.

On the news

Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

“The only reasonable step at this point is to strip Romney of his committee assignments and expel him from the Senate Republican caucus. While there is truth to Romney’s claim that he votes for the bulk of the administration’s policy proposals, if he is truly as principled as he claims to be, he will continue to do so as an independent senator.

In his speech Wednesday, Romney declared that the impeachment verdict ‘will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgment of the American people.’

He is correct. The American people should have a vote on both the Trump presidency and on a previously Trump-endorsed senator who went on to betray the will of his constituents. With the backing of national party leadership, the Utah state legislature should immediately pass H.B. 217 in order to allow for the recall of Sen. Romney. This would force him to stand for reelection this year, sharing a ballot with the Democratic presidential nominee he has already done so much to assist.”

Mark Ivanyo, Washington Examiner, Feb. 8, 2020

“If you honestly would prefer your children grow up to be more like Donald Trump than Mitt Romney, I don’t know that there’s anything left to talk about. Watch his actual speech on the floor. I have no problem with people who disagree with his reasoning. But to come away thinking he’s anything other than a man molded by charactering-building [sic] institutions (his family, his church, the Senate itself) who is trying to do right by them strikes me as a kind of Trump-personality-cult derangement. … 

The hysterics insisting that Romney must be kicked out of the GOP—an effort Mitch McConnell sees for the idiocy it is—are in effect arguing that you can vote for all of Trump’s judges and the vast bulk of his legislative initiatives and it counts for nothing if you don’t accept full baptism into his cult of personality. 

I’ve been saying for 20 years that the cult of unity is a poison and that the hero in the American political tradition is not the mob, but the man who stands up to it. This week there was one hero and it wasn’t Donald Trump.”

Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch, Feb. 7, 2020

U.S. Congress

WI-07 special primary election Feb. 18

Jason Church and Tom Tiffany are running in the Republican primary election for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District on Feb. 18. The district’s special general election is May 12. 

Church and Tiffany agree on most policy positions but have highlighted their different backgrounds. Church describes himself as an outsider and a “combat veteran looking to continue my service on behalf of the people of Wisconsin’s 7th district.” Tiffany, a state senator, describes himself as a proven conservative who would “provide the leadership to get things done.”

With Honor Fund and Americans 4 Security PAC have spent on advertising supporting Church. Club for Growth Action, Americans for Prosperity Action, House Freedom Action, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have spent in support of Tiffany. 

The special election was called to fill the vacancy left by Sean Duffy’s (R) Sept. 2019 resignation. Duffy cited the impending birth of his child as his reason for resigning. He was first elected in 2010 and won re-election in 2018, defeating Margaret Engebretson (D) 60% to 39%.

Incumbent, party chairs back Garbarino in NY-02

State Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino picked up endorsements from retiring Rep. Peter King (R) and chairs of the state, Nassau County, and Suffolk County Republican parties in the Republican primary for New York’s 2nd Congressional District. 

Garbarino is one of six candidates running in the June 23 primary. The filing deadline is April 2.

The field currently includes Islip Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, Suffolk County Director of Health Education Nancy Hemendinger, real estate developer Robert Kudler, Suffolk County Board of Elections member Nick LaLota, and state Assemblyman Michael LiPetri. Garbarino has been in the state Assembly since 2013.  

The general election is rated Lean Republican. Barack Obama won the presidential election in the district in 2008 and 2012, and Donald Trump won it in 2016. King, first elected in 1992, won re-election in 2018 with 53% of the vote. 

New York’s 2nd is one of 36 House districts with an open seat in the 2020 elections due to congressional retirements. Twenty-seven Republican representatives and nine Democrats are not seeking re-election.

Susan B. Anthony List endorses Loeffler after opposing her 

Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Kelly Loeffler in Georgia’s special Senate election after opposing her appointment to the seat last fall.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) resigned Dec. 31 for health reasons. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler, a financial executive and co-owner of Atlanta’s WNBA team, to fill the vacancy. She took office Jan. 6.

Monday, SBA List Candidate Fund said in its endorsement, “During her first week in office, she co-sponsored three major pro-life bills that would stop late-term abortions, protect babies who survive abortions, and end the funneling of taxpayer dollars to the abortion industry.”

In November, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser called a hospital whose board Loeffler sat on a “training ground for abortionists” and said her connection to the hospital should “disqualify her from representing the state in the U.S. Senate.”

Susan B. Anthony List says its “mission is to end abortion by electing national leaders and advocating for laws that save lives, with a special calling to promote pro-life women leaders.” 

Four Republicans, five Democrats, and one independent are currently running in the Nov. 3 all-party general election. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff between the top two will be Jan. 5, 2021.

As we reported earlier, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins—President Donald Trump’s preferred pick for the Senate appointment—entered the special election Jan. 29.

State executives

Jon Huntsman picks gubernatorial running mate

Utah gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman, Jr. (R) announced Friday he had selected Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi (R) as his running mate. Huntsman is the second Utah gubernatorial candidate to select a running mate — Thomas Wright (R) formed a ticket with Rep. Rob Bishop (R) last month. Five other Republican candidates have yet to pick a running mate.

Kaufusi was elected mayor of Provo in 2017, becoming the first woman to hold the job. She earlier served six years on the Provo School Board. 

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) became the first of the seven Republican candidates to formally turn in his nominating signatures Monday. Candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Utah may qualify for the primary ballot by either submitting petitions or winning the party’s nomination at the annual convention. 

Candidates may choose to focus on one track or pursue both. Every candidate other than Jason Christensen and Greg Hughes is seeking to qualify via petition. If Cox files the required 28,000 valid signatures, he will appear on the June 30 primary ballot regardless of his performance at the nominating convention.

The candidate filing deadline is March 19. The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only.

Dan Forest the fundraising leader in North Carolina GOP gubernatorial race

Dan Forest (R) leads Holly Grange (R) in fundraising with less than one month remaining before North Carolina’s gubernatorial primary, according to reports filed Jan. 31. Forest, the incumbent lieutenant governor, and Grange, a state representative, are the two candidates seeking the Republican nomination.

The reports cover all fundraising and spending between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2019. During that time, Forest raised $1.4 million to Grange’s $100,000. Since the beginning of the election cycle in Jan. 2017, Forest has raised $4.1 million, and Grange has raised $160,000.

The March 3 primary is open to registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters only. The last Republican to win election as governor of North Carolina was Pat McCrory (R) in 2012.


Abortion amendment vote sets off intraparty fight in Kansas

Last week, Kansas House Republicans fell four votes short of the threshold needed to send an abortion-related constitutional amendment to the August ballot. All House Democrats and four RepublicansDon Hineman, Jan Kessinger, Bill Pannbacker, and Tom Phillips—opposed the amendment. The four Republicans each expressed concerns about placing the issue on the August primary ballot instead of the November general election ballot when turnout would be higher. As soon as the amendment failed, Senate President Susan Wagle pulled several bills related to Medicaid expansion from consideration in the Senate and said none would be considered until the amendment passed the House.

In recent Kansas history, division within the Republican Party has led to primary battles between conservative and moderate factions of the party. In 2016, 14 conservative incumbents lost primary elections to opponents running against the tax cuts signed by then-Gov. Sam Brownback (R). The 2018 primary season saw a continuation of that fight, with 23 of the 31 contested primaries featuring at least one tax cut supporter and opponent.

Of the four Republicans that voted against the amendment in the House, only two (Hineman and Kessinger) have filed to run for re-election so far, and neither has a primary challenger. The filing deadline for those races is June 1.

Empower Texans donors make donations in three-way HD92 primary

Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks, the main supporters of the group Empower Texans, each donated $75,000 to the campaign of Jeff Cason, who faces Taylor Gillig and Jim Griffin in the three-way Republican primary for the District 92 seat held by Jonathan Stickland (R). Stickland announced in June 2019 that he would not seek re-election and endorsed Cason.

Empower Texans was the group that published the recording leading to the retirement of Texas Speaker Dennis Bonnen. Bonnen was recorded offering the group House media credentials in exchange for working to defeat 11 Republican members of the House. Bonnen initially denied that the meeting with Empower Texans occurred, before later apologizing to the Republican caucus in a letter and announcing his retirement.

Three tapped to fill Alaska House vacancy

As we reported last week in Heart of the Primaries, Alaska Rep. Tammie Wilson’s (R) retirement created an opportunity for the chamber’s Republican minority to pick up a seat. Wilson was one of eight Republicans who created a coalition majority with 15 Democrats and two independents in Feb. 2019. This meant that although Republicans had a numerical majority in the House, a Democrat was selected as Speaker.

The Alaska Republican Party submitted three names to Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) to consider for the open District 3 seat. 

  • Michael Prax is a former member of the Fairbanks borough assembly and has worked on several campaigns, including Dunleavy’s, in the past.
  • Thomas Studler is the chief of staff for District 6 Rep. Dave Talerico. 
  • Frederick Villa retired last year from his position as Associate Vice President of Workforce Programs for the University of Alaska System.

Dunleavy said he would meet with all three nominees to discuss their policy positions before making an appointment. In a statement, Dunleavy said he wants to discuss “creating a sustainable and affordable state budget, making Alaska safer, and developing Alaska’s vast reserves of natural resources.” Dunleavy has until Feb. 23 to make an appointment.

Power players

“Empower Texans is a non-profit service organization. Through multiple media formats, we educate and inspire Texans to exercise effective citizenship. Using research, reporting, and advocacy, we empower taxpayers to advocate for good governance and hold their elected officials accountable.” – Empower Texans website

Founded in 2006, Empower Texans is a nonprofit organization that describes its work as “[e]nsuring the Lone Star State shines brightly with empowered citizen-leaders holding elected officials accountable.” The group is affiliated with the Empower Texans PAC, which says it “exists to support conservative, reform-minded candidates for the Texas House and Senate.” 

Empower Texans’ projects include Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Texans for Courageous Courts, and the publication Texas Scorecard. To view 2020 primary endorsements made by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and Texans for Courageous Courts, click here

Empower Texans also produces a Fiscal Responsibility Index, which scores state legislators on what it calls their performance on “size and role of government issues.” 

Sanders, Trump win New Hampshire presidential primaries

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) won the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire on Tuesday night. With 93% of precincts reporting, Sanders led former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg by 1.6%. Both are projected to win 9 pledged delegates. Sanders also won the New Hampshire primary in 2016.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) was the only other candidate to cross the 15% viability threshold, receiving 19.9% of the vote. She is projected to receive 6 pledged delegates. No other candidate earned double-digit support in the state.

Coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire without any delegates, Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) and entrepreneur Andrew Yang both ended their presidential campaigns on Tuesday night. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will reportedly also withdraw from the race on Wednesday morning.

Raw voter turnout in the Democratic primary was projected to be the highest in all New Hampshire Democratic primaries since 2004. The previous record was 285,000 voters in the 2008 primary.

In the Republican primary, President Donald Trump won with 85.6% support. He is projected to earn at least 20 of the state’s 22 delegates. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld came in second with 9.2%.

The next primary event is in Nevada on Feb. 22. Early voting begins on Saturday.

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