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South Carolina, Nevada host key primaries
Primaries in four states and a special election in Texas are on the docket today, including several key races that pose the latest test of former President Trump’s endorsement.
In South Carolina, Trump has backed challengers to Reps. Nancy Mace (R) and Tom Rice (R) after Mace criticized the former president following the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and Rice voted to impeach him.
Though Mace did not vote in favor of impeaching the former president, she also did not vote against certifying President Biden’s 2020 election win as Rice had done. Rice told Politico in an interview late last year he regretted that decision.
“In retrospect I should have voted to certify,” Rice told Politico. “Because President Trump was responsible for the attack on the Capitol.”
Those votes and statements drew the ire of Trump, who backed former state Rep. Katie Arrington (R), who is running against Mace, and state Rep. Russell Fry (R), who is running against Rice. Both Trump-backed challengers have depicted themselves as being more loyal to the former president.
That’s led some high-profile Republicans to wade into both races. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and former Trump White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney have endorsed Mace, while former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has campaigned for Rice.
Voters will ultimately decide whether Trump’s rejection of Mace and Rice will be enough to sway their opinions. Rice won his last reelection by more than 20 points while Mace flipped her House seat red again in 2020, though by just over one percentage point.
Trump has also waded into several Nevada races, including its gubernatorial race and the GOP primary to decide who will challenge Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D).
Back in April, the former president endorsed Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in the Nevada governor’s race. Lombardo, who’s touted his Army and law enforcement credentials, is up against several other candidates, including former Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). Heller received Trump’s endorsement in 2018 during his Senate reelection bid but ultimately lost his seat to Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).
A Nevada Independent/OH Predictive Insights poll out on Friday has Lombardo leading the pack of Republican gubernatorial candidates among likely GOP primary voters, maintaining a 13 percent lead against Reno attorney Joey Gilbert, who finished second in the poll.
Another key primary to watch for in the Silver State is the Senate GOP race. Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt has already notched endorsements from Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and polling shows him outpacing Army combat veteran Sam Brown, his closest political rival.
Trump isn’t the only one weighing in on Nevada’s primaries. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last week endorsed a challenger to Rep. Dina Titus (D-N.V.), Amy Vilela, who was a national surrogate to Sanders’ last presidential campaign.
All three races will be closely watched as Cook Political Report rates all of them as “toss ups” in the general election.
And don’t forget about the Republican primary in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, between former Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine), who once held the spot before Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) unseated him, and small business owner Liz Caruso.
Also rated by Cook Political Report as a “toss up,” Golden recently voted against a major gun package that the lower chamber passed last week, and he was the only Democrat in the House to vote against Build Back Better last fall.
Turning the political tables
Politically speaking, 2022 isn’t looking good for Democrats. President Biden’s approval rating is stuck underwater, inflation remains at its highest point in decades and gas prices hit a record over the weekend, rising to $5 a gallon on average.
So it’s no wonder Democrats are eyeing the ongoing hearings on the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol as a way to turn the political tables.
The party is hoping to use the six hearings to recast the 2022 midterms as a way to hold to account Republicans and Trump, who has continued to falsely claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.
So far, the hearings have contained some embarrassing revelations for Trump. Former Attorney General Bill Barr said in a recorded deposition that he worried the former president was “detached from reality.” The committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot accused Trump’s campaign of willfully lying to supporters about election fraud to raise money. Jason Miller, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign, told the Jan. 6 panel that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) was “definitely intoxicated” on Election Night when he urged Trump to declare victory.
Here’s the problem: While such revelations would almost certainly prove damaging in any other political environment, recent polling suggests that voters are focused on other things: rising gas prices and inflation, crime and fears of a coming economic recession.
At the same time, the shock and outrage that immediately followed the Jan. 6 riot have largely faded into the background for many voters after more than a year.
But the hearings aren’t over yet, and there’s still time for Democrats to make their case that handing Republicans control of the House and Senate in November would amount to rewarding the party that aligned itself with a former president intent on eroding American democracy and who is weighing a return to the White House in 2024.
ON THE TRAIL
Expanding the map: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is adding 11 more candidates to its “Red to Blue” program as it looks to broaden its pick-up opportunities ahead of November.
The program typically focuses on top-tier candidates vying against vulnerable Republican incumbents, but the list also includes candidates running in open Democratic seats that have become more competitive due to redistricting.
Here are the latest additions:
AZ-01: Jevin Hodge, who’s challenging Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-Ariz.).
FL-27: Annette Taddeo, who’s challenging Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.).
NC-01: Don Davis, who’s running for an open seat against Republican Sandy Smith.
NC-13: Wiley Nickel, who’s running for an open seat against Republican Bo Hines.
NC-14: Jeff Jackson, who’s running against Republican Pat Harrigan in the new 14th District.
NY-01: Bridget Fleming, who’s running for an open seat currently held by a Republican.
NY-22: Francis Conole, who’s running for an open seat.
OR-04: Val Hoyle, who’s running for the open seat currently held by retiring Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).
OR-05: Jamie McLeod Skinner, who defeated Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) in a primary last month and will now face Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the general election.
OR-06: Andrea Salinas, who’s running for the state’s new 6th District and is up against Republican Mike Erickson.
PA-17: Chris Deluzio, who’s running for the open seat currently held by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.).
Incumbent protection: The DCCC also added four more House Democrats to its “Frontline” incumbent protection program. Each of the lawmakers – Reps. Reps. David Trone (D-Md.), Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-N.M.) and Frank Mrvan (D-Ind.) – was made more vulnerable by redistricting this year.
First on the air: Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) unveiled the first TV ad of her campaign against Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Monday, highlighting her 27-year career in law enforcement and time as Orlando’s police chief. It’s not only Demings’ first television spot since launching her Senate campaign, but the first statewide media buy from a Florida Senate candidate this cycle. You can check out the ad here.
Rubio’s response? “Congresswoman Val Demings’ first ad conveniently ignores her record of voting with Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time and being a champion for Biden’s disastrous policies, which have led to record high gas prices and skyrocketing inflation,” Elizabeth Gregory, Rubio’s communications director, said in a statement.
Jobs, jobs, jobs: Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is out with the latest ad of his reelection bid. The 30-second spot – part of a $3.5 million statewide broadcast and cable buy – talks up the governor’s push to fund skills-training and apprenticeship programs as part of an effort to fill high-demand jobs in the state. Check out the ad here.
IN THEIR OPINION
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Campaign page for the latest news and coverage. See you on Thursday.