However, Republicans have a good chance to hold on, especially if Trump comes close to carrying the state again: Six Democrats represent seats that Trump won, while Anderson is one of just two Republicans in a Clinton district.
Democrat Tim Walz won the governorship in 2018 as his party flipped the state House, so if Team Blue can retake the state Senate, they'll have control of the trifecta for the first time since the 2014 elections. However, Democrats will also need to fight hard to keep the lower chamber: While Democrats hold a large 75-59 House majority, Trump actually carried 72 of the 134 House districts.
● Wisconsin: The Badger State holds its nonpartisan local primaries on Tuesday, which will winnow the field in key races for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, mayor of Milwaukee, and Milwaukee County executive. In each of these races the two contenders with the most votes in will advance to the April 7 general election, which will take place on the same day as the state's presidential primary. Candidates cannot win their election outright on Tuesday by taking a majority of the vote.
The biggest race to watch will be the contest for state Supreme Court, where conservatives currently hold a 5-2 majority. Incumbent Dan Kelly, who was appointed in 2016 by then-Gov. Scott Walker, is seeking a full 10-year term, and the conservative justice has Donald Trump's endorsement. While a Kelly defeat in April would still leave his allies with a 4-3 majority, progressives would have a shot to flip the balance of power in 2023 when another conservative justice will be up.
The two progressive candidates running to take on Kelly are Dane County Circuit Court Judge Jill Karofsky and Marquette Law School professor Ed Fallone, who lost a 2013 general election to a conservative incumbent 57-43. Kelly had $463,000 in the bank on Feb. 3, while Karofsky and Fallone had $83,000 and $52,000 on-hand, respectively.
Over in Milwaukee County, incumbent Chris Abele, a Democrat who has often worked with the GOP legislature, is not seeking another four-year term as county executive. Abele is supporting Democratic state Rep. David Crowley's bid to succeed him, and Abele's Leadership MKE group has spent $231,000 on ads for him.
The other candidates are Democratic state Sen. Chris Larson, who challenged Abele in 2016 and lost 56-44; Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb Sr., and businesswoman Purnima Nath. Larson held a $56,000 to $30,000 cash-on-hand lead over Crowley on Feb. 3, while Lipscomb and Nath had just $10,000 and $3,000 each.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is seeking a fifth four-year term as the leader of Wisconsin's largest city. Barrett, who was Team Blue's nominee for governor in both 2010 and the 2012 recall against Walker, faces two fellow Democrats, Alderman Tony Zielinski and state Sen. Lena Taylor. Barrett had $896,000 to spend on Feb. 3 while Zielinski, who has self-funded much of his campaign, had a big $416,000 to $7,000 cash-on-hand lead over Taylor.
● AL-Sen: The anti-tax Club for Growth, a group that is actively opposing Rep. Bradley Byrne in the March 3 GOP primary to face Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, is out with a poll of that contest showing its old antagonist in third place.
The survey from the Republican firm WPA Intelligence finds former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in first with 34%, while former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville leads Byrne 29-17 for the second spot in a potential March 31 runoff. Roy Moore, who lost this seat to Jones in the 2017 special election, is far behind with just 6%. These numbers are all very similar to Mason-Dixon's recent poll for the Alabama Daily News, though surveys for Sessions and Byrne have both found Byrne and Tuberville locked in a tight race for second place.
Sessions is also out with a new ad where he touts that he's worked with Donald Trump to improve border security.
● GA-Sen-B: While Donald Trump hasn't taken sides yet in the intra-party fight between appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins, the NRSC is doing whatever it can to cripple Collins' campaign well ahead of the November all-party primary. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Senate GOP's campaign arm has successfully pressured several campaign vendors to abandon the congressman, while the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that the consulting firm that's worked with Collins in his House races hasn't signed up for this contest.
The AJC also says that Collins' longtime pollster McLaughlin & Associates, which did a survey for him as recently as December, also hasn't joined his Senate campaign amid "pressure not to work for Republicans challenging incumbents."
The paper didn't explicitly say that it was the NRSC telling McLaughlin to stay away from Collins, but it certainly wouldn't be a surprise if this was the case. Back in May, Politico reported that the NRSC successfully pressured McLaughlin to abandon North Carolina Senate candidate Garland Tucker, who was challenging Sen. Thom Tillis in the primary at the time, as a client. Personally, though, we think Loeffler's allies would be doing her a favor if they let Collins keep McLaughlin.
● NC-Sen: Carolina Blue has thrown down an additional $355,000 to support former state Sen. Cal Cunningham in the March 3 Democratic primary, which takes its total investment here to $1.16 million.
● WA-Gov: In an unusual situation, developer Josh Freed is stuck having by far the largest war chest of all the Republican candidates running against Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee in the August top-two primary.
Freed, a former mayor of the Seattle suburb of Bothell, loaned his campaign $500,000 in September but tried to take it back last month. However, as the Seattle Times' Jim Brunner notes, state law only allows candidates to repay themselves for loans of up to $6,000 for the primary and general election each, so Freed can't get most of his money back. Brunner writes that this law exists so that wealthy candidates can't just loan themselves a huge amount of cash to deter potential opponents from running only to reclaim those funds later.
Freed had told Brunner a few days ago that he just wanted the loan returned so he could contribute the money directly to his campaign and avoid listing a "liability on my campaign books," so the candidate may not actually end up self-funding more than he'd planned to. Weirdly, though, Freed offered conflicting accounts on Wednesday and Thursday about whether he'd "put money in as a loan" when he entered the race or if the $500,000 had been "initially mischaracterized as a loan." In any case, Freed and his campaign seem to have a lot of bugs to fix if he wants to become the first Republican to win this office since the 1980 election.
● CA-50: Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio is out with a TV spot tying his fellow Republican, former Rep. Darrell Issa, to the most hated man in the GOP: 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. This is the first TV ad we've seen where a Republican candidate compares an intra-party rival to Romney, but it probably won't be the last.
The narrator declares that both Romney and Issa betrayed Trump because "[l]ike Romney, Issa was the only Republican who supported the witch hunt against Trump." The commercial then shows a clip of Issa saying, "You're going to need to use the special prosecutor's statute and office."
The narrator goes on to insist that Issa "supports amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants," which is essentially the same charge that Issa has been hurling at DeMaio. The commercial concludes, "Don't believe Issa's lies, Trump has not endorsed Issa. Darrell Issa: Another Mitt Romney. Lying to you, betraying President Trump."
● NC-11: Politico's Ally Mutnick reports that a mysterious text message recently went out to GOP voters in this Appalachian North Carolina seat that featured 45 seconds of audio where businesswoman Lynda Bennett, who has the endorsement of retiring Rep. Mark Meadows in the March 3 primary, appeared to be trashing Donald Trump.
Listeners heard a woman, who is identified in the message as Bennett, saying, "I'm never Trump. So now what?" and continuing, "What are you going to do? Going to ask me to get out there and help Trump get elected?" The audio finishes with her asking, "And you want me to help organize 100 people to come and work the polls to get Trump elected when I am not for him? I am against him—never Trump!"
Both Bennett and Meadows argued that this audio was edited to hurt the candidate when she was hardly a #NeverTrumper. Instead, they say that, while that was Bennett's voice, she was actually roleplaying a Republican opposed to Trump at a Haywood County GOP meeting when this was recorded in the fall of 2016. (Note: Never play "Dungeons & Dragons: Donald Trump Edition.")
Bennett herself told Mutnick that she was trying to convince reluctant Republicans at the gathering to include Trump's name on party literature along with other candidates, and she insisted, "I'm saying, 'This is what I've been hearing,' and then I mimic the 'Never Trumpers."
Party activist Monroe Miller, who has frequently opposed Haywood County GOP leaders, confirmed that he recorded the audio and posted unedited portions to his website recently. However, while Miller he said that he believed Bennett was actually sharing her real anti-Trump views rather than doing some roleplaying, he denied that he was behind the text message that went out to voters. In fact, no one else seems to know who the culprit was, though in a race with over a dozen candidates, there are plenty of people who could benefit from taking down Bennett.
Meadows himself endorsed Bennett two days after the texts went out, and his support could help her stand out next month. However, plenty of Republicans suspect that the congressman has been pulling for Bennett for a while behind the scenes.
Meadows notably announced his departure in December one day before the filing deadline and after it was too late for anyone running for another office to switch to this race: That decision came as a shock to everyone except for maybe Bennett, who set up a Facebook campaign page five hours before the congressman broke his own news. However, both Meadows and Bennett have denied that he timed his announcement to aid her.
Meadows also recently starred in a TV spot by House Freedom Action, which is the campaign arm of the Freedom Caucus. Meadows, who used to lead the Freedom Caucus, tells the audience, "I've known Linda for years. She's a devout Christian, pro-life, and a defender of the Second Amendment." He continues, "A lot of people go to Washington D.C. and change, and that just won't happen to Linda."
Bennett herself is also out with an ad that features her standing in a living room with a herd of CGI elephants meant to represent the other primary candidates in what could pass for a clip from a very terrible sequel to "Dumbo." ("Dumbo 2: 2 Fast, 2 Freedom Caucus.")
Bennett informs the audience that she's the only candidate in the crowded field that's ready to work with Trump to pass his agenda. She also informs the audience she's the one candidate backed by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Meadows. As a rhinoceros walks across the screen, Bennett points at the elephants and declares that "in D.C., this boy's club will become RINOS, but I never will."
North Carolina requires candidates to take at least 30% of the vote in order to win the primary outright, which is going to be a very difficult task for anyone to pull off in a contest this large. If no one takes that much support, the runner-up has the option of requesting a runoff that would take place on May 12. That could mean we're in for an additional two months of strange text messages and CGI animals in this 57-40 Trump seat.
● NJ-11: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has endorsed tax attorney Rosemary Becchi’s bid to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill. Becchi announced last month that she would end her campaign in the neighboring 7th District and run against Sherrill instead, and she doesn't face any notable GOP primary opposition.
● NY-27: On Thursday, Democratic county leaders officially named Nate McMurray as the party's nominee for the April 28 special election to succeed disgraced former GOP Rep. Chris Collins. McMurray ran here last cycle and held Collins, who was under indictment at the time, to a 49.1-48.7 win in this 60-35 Trump seat. (Collins later resigned and was sentenced to prison on charges related to insider trading.)
GOP leaders nominated state Sen. Chris Jacobs here last month, though several conservatives were pissed at their choice and have vowed to beat Jacobs in the regular June primary. Jacobs is still favored to keep this seat red, although because the special election will likely take place on the same day as the presidential primary, disproportionate turnout on the left could give McMurray a boost.
● TX-02: Attorney Sima Ladjevardian is out with her first TV spot ahead of the March 3 Democratic primary to face freshman GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw.
Ladjevardian talks about how she had to pay $1,000 for one pill to help relieve her symptoms for her breast cancer radiation treatment because she didn't have her insurance card. She tells the audience, "[i]f I can beat cancer, together, we can beat the congressman who wants to take our healthcare away." The commercial also shows footage of Ladjevardian going door-to-door with 2018 Senate nominee Beto O'Rourke, who is supporting her campaign.
● TX-11: Air Force veteran August Pfluger is already up with an ad informing GOP primary voters that he has Trump's endorsement.
● TX-13: Texas Cattle Feeders Association official Josh Winegarner's new TV ad for the March 3 GOP primary once again touts his local roots and informs viewers that he has the support of retiring Rep. Mac Thornberry.
● TX-23: Navy veteran Tony Gonzales uses his first TV spot ahead of next month's GOP primary to tie himself to Donald Trump and his immigration policies. That's certainly a risky message in a seat that swung from 51-48 Romney to 50-46 Clinton, but the GOP doesn't have any other viable candidates here. Gonzales, who has the support of retiring Rep. Will Hurd, raised $218,000 for the final quarter of 2019 while attorney Sharon Thomas took in a mere $7,000.
Gonzales' fundraising was a big improvement from his opening quarter, but he's still far behind 2018 Democratic nominee Gina Ortiz Jones. Ortiz Jones, who held Hurd to a surprisingly close win last cycle, took in $785,000 during the last three months of 2019 and ended December with a $2 million to $267,000 cash-on-hand lead over Gonzales.
● TX-28: Conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar has the dubious honor of being the first Democrat to receive an endorsement from LIBRE Initiative Action, which is the Kochtopus' Hispanic outreach arm, in a federal election. The Texas congressman also has already benefited from air support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which usually backs Republicans, in his March 3 Democratic primary against immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros.
Cisneros, by contrast, has picked up endorsements from more traditional Democratic constituencies. On Friday, she announced that she had the support of AFSCME, state SEIU, Texas American Federation of Teachers, and UNITE HERE Local 23. Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, a former San Antonio mayor who is one of the most prominent Democrats in the state, also endorsed her on Friday.
Cisneros herself is out with a new TV spot in this heavily Hispanic 58-36 Clinton seat that goes after Cuellar for siding with the Trump administration on immigration issues. The narrator declares, "Instead of a bridge, Donald Trump is building a wall with the help of Henry Cuellar, his favorite Democrat." The narrator continues, "Not only did Cuellar vote for Trump's wall twice, but he's taken over $100,000 from corporations that build facilities and cages to detain families."
Cisneros herself then tells the audience, "I became an immigration attorney to help our community," and pledges she'll "fight against Trump's wall and to keep families together."
● WI-07: Tuesday's special GOP primary between state Sen. Tom Tiffany and Army veteran Jason Church has largely been a positive affair, but the negative ads finally started to fly in the final days of the campaign.
Americans 4 Security PAC, a newly formed group that's supporting Church, is up with a TV spot where a narrator argues, "Tiffany opposed Donald Trump, and his big money backers spent millions to stop Trump." The rest of the ad touts Church as someone who's "not a politician. He's a combat veteran that'll have President Trump's back."
Tiffany's allies at the anti-tax Club for Growth, which did indeed try to defeat Trump in the 2016 presidential primary, is also out with a commercial attacking Church's Republican credentials. The ad begins, "Jason Church served with honor, but why'd he back a liberal Democrat who voted to impeach President Trump?" The narrator declares that Church made a donation to New York Democrat Max Rose, who "beat a solid Republican. The guy Church backed sides with Nancy Pelosi 96% of the time and voted to impeach President Trump." The ad concludes by asking if voters can count on someone who supported a liberal for Congress.
Comments are closed on this story.