While the Club once focused on denying renomination to incumbents it considered insufficiently conservative on fiscal issues (in 2013, it even threw up a site called PrimaryMyCongressman.com), the group has almost completely turned its attention in recent years towards aiding like-minded candidates in open seat primaries and in general elections. As Isenstadt notes, Granger is the first GOP incumbent that the Club has targeted since 2016, when it unsuccessfully went after Illinois Rep. John Shimkus.
Granger, though, is exactly the type of Republican the Club has long detested. As we've noted before, the 12-term congresswoman has played a vital role in the creation and funding of Panther Island, an expensive development project in Fort Worth that has gone far over budget and appears to be nowhere close to being finished. Granger's son, J.D. Granger, also ran the initiative until he was replaced after an independent review released last summer argued that leadership changes needed to be made.
The congresswoman's opponents have already signaled that they'll use Panther Island to attack Granger. The Club's president, David McIntosh, said this week that his group would focus on her work securing federal money for the project, while Putnam has labeled Panther Island "a boondoggle."
Granger will be tough to defeat here, though. Trump endorsed the incumbent last year, and Granger has already launched ads tying herself to the White House. Granger's campaign also released a poll from mid-December that gave her a massive 62-16 lead over Putnam, and the challenger has yet to respond with contradictory numbers. However, an expensive ad campaign from the Club could weaken her and give Putnam more of an opening ahead of the March primary.
● SC-Sen: Lindsey Graham (R-inc): $3.5 million raised, $10.3 million cash-on-hand
● TN-Sen: Bill Hagerty (R): $1.5 million raised, $3 million cash-on-hand
● CA-16: Jim Costa (D-inc): $506,000 raised, $904,000 cash-on-hand
● FL-13: Charlie Crist (D-inc): $372,000 raised, $2.8 million cash-on-hand
● FL-27: Donna Shalala (D-inc): $600,000 raised, $1.2 million cash-on-hand
● MN-02: Angie Craig (D-inc): $560,000 raised, $1.5 million cash-on-hand
● GA-Sen-A: This week, 2014 gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter took his name out of contention for this seat by endorsing former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson in the May Democratic primary to take on GOP Sen. David Perdue.
● GA-Sen-B: DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston, a Democrat, announced Wednesday that she would not run in this fall's special election. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Greg Bluestein wrote afterwards that Boston's decision was "yet another sign Democrats are trying to clear the field for the Rev. Raphael Warnock." Warnock has not yet said that he'll challenge appointed GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler, but the AJC wrote this week that he was "expected to announce his candidacy within days."
● ME-Sen: GOP Sen. Susan Collins is out with a TV spot that begins by going after state House Speaker Sara Gideon, who has the support of national Democrats ahead of the June primary. The narrator declares, "Sara Gideon's extreme allies flood Maine with dark money lies about Susan Collins." The commercial goes on to feature various people declaring that the Democratic spots are false, and that "[m]isleading dark money ads prove that those people don't know Maine. And they don't know Susan Collins."
● CA-25: Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith is out with her first spot, which The Hill writes is part of a "six-figure" TV and digital buy.
Smith begins the ad by telling the audience, "My mom died holding my hand. She was a lifelong nurse but died too young because she couldn't afford the insulin to treat her diabetes and heart disease." The candidate pledges to work across party lines to improve and protect access to healthcare and concludes, "My mom couldn't afford the medicine and care she needed. I'm running for Congress to make sure you can."
● FL-03: Clay County Commissioner Gavin Rollins parted ways with several of his senior campaign consultants just weeks after he entered the GOP primary for this reliably red seat, and one of them is publicly torching his now-former client.
Tim Baker, who was Rollins' general consultant, told Florida Politics that he and the others chose to quit because the candidate was "[n]ot ready for prime time." Baker continued, "Financial support looks thin, candidate difficult to work with. Too many early indicators of low probability of success but candidate didn't share our views on that so very easy decision for us all to punch." Rollins, by contrast, insisted that he was the one who decided not to keep Baker and the other advisers on.
● FL-26: On Thursday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez announced that he would seek the GOP nod to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. While Giménez publicly supported Hillary Clinton over his old golf buddy Donald Trump in 2016, national Republicans reportedly spent months working to recruit him for this Miami-area seat. Giménez joins restaurateur Irina Vilariño and former Miami-Dade County firefighters union president Omar Blanco in the August primary.
Giménez himself seemed eager to get on the good side of Trump and his supporters from the jump, since he kicked off his congressional bid by excitedly tweeting about Trump's visit to the area that same day and thanking him "for all you've done for our economy & to fight socialism." However, while embracing the White House could help Giménez in the August GOP primary against Vilariño, who has a history of spreading pro-Trump conspiracy theories, it could be a liability in the general election in a seat that backed Clinton 57-41.
While Trump did very poorly here and the entire 2018 GOP statewide ticket also lost the seat, local Republicans have still been able to prevail in this area. Last cycle, the GOP won three state House seats contained entirely in the 26th Congressional District (House Districts 118, 119, and 120) that had backed Clinton two years before. Rep. Carlos Curbelo wasn't so lucky, but he put up quite a fight: After making a great effort to distance himself from the White House in word (though not in deed), Curbelo ended up losing a very expensive re-election contest to Mucarsel-Powell by a tight 51-49 margin.
Giménez also looks capable of running a strong race. His Miami-Dade County base makes up about 90% of this congressional district, and Giménez raised a massive $7 million during his successful 2016 re-election contest. Mucarsel-Powell is a very strong fundraiser herself, though, and she ended December with $1.6 million in the bank.
● MD-02: This week, Del. Richard Impallaria announced that he would seek the GOP nod to challenge veteran Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger in this 60-36 Clinton seat, and it's extremely unlikely he's going to put it into play. As Politics1 notes, Impallaria has been "charged with attempted murder, DUI, battery, bribery; and his campaign engaged in criminal tactics in 2018."
However, that long rap sheet didn't stop Impallaria from getting decisively re-elected in 2018 to his very red legislative district, which led the Baltimore Sun to publish an editorial months later titled, "Hey 7th District, can we talk about Rick Impallaria?"
Another Republican state legislator, state Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, was already campaigning in this safely blue seat in the Baltimore suburbs. Because Maryland only holds legislative elections in midterm cycles, though, neither Impallaria or Salling need to give up their seats to run against Ruppersberger.
● TX-10: Attorney Shannon Hutcheson is out with her first TV spot ahead of the March Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Michael McCaul. Hutcheson begins by describing how she grew up in a “working, poor family” with deep roots in Texas, and she goes on to talk about starting a “woman owned-law firm” and representing Planned Parenthood. The candidate then declares that no one is fighting for families like the one she grew up in and concludes by calling for “quality, affordable, and accessible healthcare.”
● TX-22: Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star CEO Pierce Bush is out with his first TV spot ahead of the crowded March GOP primary for this open seat. The ad begins with clips of Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Beto O’Rourke calling for ending deportations, abolishing ICE, and taking down a border wall with Mexico. Bush then argues that “Democrats want to open borders and it’s dangerously naive.”
● WA-08: This week, GOP former Rep. Dave Reichert endorsed Amazon senior program manager Jesse Jensen's bid against freshman Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier. Jensen's only intra-party foe so far is Seattle police captain Keith Swank, who has raised very little money so far, and it's not clear if any other Republicans are eying this 48-45 Clinton seat.