The Florida legislature passed Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pro-GOP House map, Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance surges thanks to Trump’s endorsement, and more…
State of Play – April 23
- President’s job approval: Biden -13.0 (Biden -0.2)
- 40.8% approve
- 53.8% disapprove
- Generic Congressional ballot: Republicans +3.5 (GOP -0.1)
- Democrats- 42.3%;
- Republicans- 45.8%
- Direction of the country: Wrong Track -36.5 (+1.4)
- Right track- 28.1%
- Wrong track- 64.6%
- Congressional retirement scorecard:
- 30 Democrats, 18 Republicans (no change)
- 6 vacancies: 4 resignations (2 R’s, 2 D’s); 2 deaths (2 R’s) (no change)
Election Watchers Shift Races Towards the GOP
Three top elections forecasters – Politico, UVA’s Center for Politics, and Cook Political Report – all moved competitive races towards the Republican Party this week. Politico now says a GOP House is “likely” and the Senate “leans GOP.”
Florida: The Florida legislature passed a new map backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) that strongly favors Republicans. The new district lines would create 18 Republican, 8 Democratic, and 2 competitive seats. The map dismantles Democratic Rep. Al Lawson’s seat, a racial gerrymander that links Tallahassee and Jacksonville. Democrats are expected to challenge the map in court.
New York: State courts struck down New York’s 22-4 Democratic gerrymander as an illegal partisan gerrymander. The case is now headed for New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, where every judge has been appointed by Democrats. If the courts force the legislature to redraw the lines, Republicans could pick up a few more seats in the Empire State.
Senate Primaries Heat Up
Arizona: Donald Trump’s personal grievances may cost the GOP a must-win Senate seat. Trump ripped state Attorney General Mark Brnovich in a statement, issuing an “anti-endorsement” against the leading GOP challenger to well-funded Sen. Mark Kelly (D). Trump has now attacked the two leading GOP candidates for this seat (Brnovich and Gov. Doug Ducey, who decided not to run). The remaining GOP candidates – businessmen Blake Masters and Jim Lamon and retired Gen. Mark McGuire – are untested first-time candidates who lag Brnovich in the polls.
Arkansas: Trump-endorsed GOP Sen. John Boozman’s “under the radar” primary challenge appears to be gaining steam. Army vet and former Arkansas Razorbacks/New England Patriots practice squad defensive end Jake Bequette’s campaign, bankrolled by a conservative billionaire, is now one of the best-financed efforts to oust an incumbent senator this year.
Ohio: Author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance won Trump’s endorsement for retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman’s seat. Donald Trump Jr. attacked ex-Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, another leader whose desperate efforts to win Trump’s backing were all for naught. Tech billionaire Peter Theil gave Vance an additional $3.5 million after Trump’s endorsement. Ex-OH GOP chair Jane Timken, state Sen. Matt Dolan and banker Mike Gibbons are also running.
Pennsylvania: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic frontrunner, faced sustained attacks from his primary rivals, Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, in a televised Thursday debate. Lamb and Kenyatta, who trail Fetterman in the polls and fundraising, criticized Fetterman for a 2013 incident where he pulled a gun on an unarmed black jogger.
On the Republican side, Trump-endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz and ex-Bridgewater CEO Dave McCormick have spent millions on TV ads in one of the nation’s most expensive primaries. Both candidates have raked in millions from Wall Street executives.
The Trump picks: Spangld analyzed Trump’s gubernatorial endorsements before primary season begins in earnest on May 3. Trump’s picks for governor have won their primaries 88% of the time but have been victorious in only 57% of general elections. Trump has endorsed two primary challengers to sitting GOP governors and five candidates in open-seat races.
Nebraska (GOP Primary): Eight women, including a state senator, accused Trump-backed agribusinessman Charles Herbster of unwanted groping and sexual misconduct, and multiple witnesses came forward to corroborate the claims. GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts and lawmakers condemned Herbster, but former President Trump is now headed to Nebraska to rally for his embattled pick. Ricketts backs Univ. of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, Herbster’s leading rival.
Battle for the House
Hawaii’s 2nd (Dem primary): Rep. Kai Kahele (D) is in hot water after Hawaii media reported he’s skipped votes for all of 2022 and flies for American Airlines as a side gig. Kahele hasn’t traveled to Washington since January, and observers expect the first-term Congressman to launch a long-shot bid for Hawaii governor against the leading candidate, Lt. Gov. Josh Green (D).
Oregon’s 6th (Dem primary): The Nancy Pelosi-affiliated House Majority PAC is spending $1 million to back first-time candidate Carrick Flynn, a rare intervention in an open primary. Six Democratic candidates joined together to denounce the outside group’s intervention and accused the Democratic establishment of trying to “buy this race.” Latino Democrats were angered by the decision to back a white male candidate over Latina state Rep. Andrea Salinas.
Tennessee’s 5th (GOP primary): The Tennessee GOP knocked three candidates off the ballot for having weak ties to Tennessee and failing to vote in three of the last four GOP primaries. Robby Starbuck and Trump-endorsed Morgan Ortagus only recently moved to the state, while businessman Baxter Lee was also kicked off. Ex-TN House Speaker Beth Harwell is now the likely frontrunner for this open seat held by retiring Rep. Jim Cooper (D).
© Dominic Moore, 2022