Only it didn't. Arrington learned the hard way that sometimes, there's a price to pay for far-right Trump sycophancy. A wide range of issues plagued her campaign, including poor fundraising, the ongoing defection of suburban voters from the GOP, and a Democratic opponent of much higher quality than Republicans were used to encountering in the district—a sharp-witted attorney and ocean engineer named Joe Cunningham.
Cunningham seized on a grave stumble Arrington made during her primary battle with Sanford, when she expressed her support for Trump's plan to allow offshore oil drilling in almost all of the country's coastal waters—a proposal even many Republicans opposed. In the 1st District, which stretches along much of the state's Atlantic shore, the idea was particularly unpopular, and Arrington soon tried to walk back her remarks. Cunningham relentlessly pounded her on the flip-flop, and his considerable financial advantage allowed him to go on the airwaves first and stay there while Arrington struggled to keep up.
The final result was one of the midterms' most shocking, even with the elevated expectations many Democrats brought with them to election night. Cunningham defeated Arrington 51-49, despite the fact that Trump had carried the district 54-40 just two years earlier. In a bizarre concession speech, Arrington explicitly blamed Sanford and his supporters for her defeat, and even exhorted the congressman's donors to ask that their contributions be refunded while pledging to seek a rematch in 2020.
Unfortunately for Cunningham, he wasn't lucky enough to face Arrington again, as she instead took a job in Trump's Defense Department. Instead, he wound up running against another state representative—Mace—who had the good sense to oppose offshore drilling from day one. Amid a less favorable political environment for Democrats, Cunningham lost 51-49. (He's now running for governor.)
Arrington's tenure at the Pentagon didn't work out particularly well, though: She was suspended from her job last year after being accused of disclosing classified materials without permission and resigned a day prior to launching her campaign.
Thanks to the GOP's intervention on Mace's behalf, the 1st is indeed now redder: Under the old lines, it voted for Trump by a 52-46 margin, but now it would have gone for Trump 54-45. As a consequence, national Democrats aren't likely to make a concerted effort to flip this district, though one candidate, pediatrician Annie Andrews, just reported raising almost half a million dollars in her first two months in the race. Of course, the lead-footed Arrington managed to put this seat in play once before with an unexpected primary win. Perhaps she'll do so again.
● KS Redistricting: After failing to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's veto on Monday night, Republicans in the Kansas Senate were just barely able to muster the necessary two-thirds supermajority to do so in a re-vote on Tuesday. The original vote fell two short thanks to defections by four GOP lawmakers, but party leaders were able to convince two to return to the fold.
Notably, the about-face happened after Republicans fast-tracked a bill that promotes the use of drugs like ivermectin to treat COVID and contains a raft of measures targeting vaccination mandates. One of the vote-switchers was state Sen. Mark Steffen, who is under investigation for prescribing such drugs.
The Senate, though, was supposed to be the easy chamber; the House, where multiple Republicans are either out sick or have expressed dissenting views, was always going to be more difficult. Republicans hold 86 seats and would need 84 votes to override Kelly.
● OH Redistricting: Republican state House Speaker Bob Cupp said on Tuesday that lawmakers would not redraw Ohio's congressional districts as ordered by the state Supreme Court, which struck down the GOP's map last month, and would instead punt the task to the state's redistricting commission, which has until March 15 to act.
● WA Redistricting: Washington's new congressional and legislative maps are now law, following a vote in the state Senate on Tuesday (the House approved the plans last week). Lawmakers made minor tweaks to the maps, which were drawn by the state's bipartisan redistricting commission in a chaotic process. Overall, though, the new districts largely maintain the status quo.
● GA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has released his first TV ad of his re-election campaign, a minute-long spot he narrates himself. He begins by acknowledging that "[p]eople are hurting" and "wondering when things will get back to normal" and goes on to explain that's why he's working to "create jobs," "make healthcare more affordable," and "crack down on the corporations who are raising prices out of control." AdImpact reports that Warnock is spending about $820,000 to air the spot.
● MD-Sen: Term-limited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Tuesday that he would not challenge Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen despite an effort to recruit him by GOP leaders.
Hogan, who has cultivated a moderate profile in his two terms in office, has long been very popular with Marylanders and would have posed a worrying threat, especially given a typical midterm environment. Gubernatorial elections, however, can play out very differently from their federal counterparts: In recent years, we've seen multiple well-liked Democratic governors fall short in Senate bids in red states, including Steve Bullock in Montana and Phil Bredesen in Tennessee.
Hogan might well have faced the same difficulties in deep-blue Maryland. As his state's top executive and a critic of Donald Trump, he's been able to present himself as a free agent above party politics. That's considerably harder to pull off in the context of a Senate race, when your opponents can readily link you to unpopular D.C. figures whose caucus you're seeking to join. That dynamic helps explain why the Old Line State hasn't elected any Republican senators since 1980.
Whether or not Hogan could have defied this trend, he would undoubtedly have made Van Hollen seriously sweat, and the last thing Democrats need is another competitive race this fall. Hogan acknowledged that dynamic at a Tuesday press conference, saying that he'd called his would-be Democratic opponent "to let him know that he can rest easy and get a good night's sleep tonight."
● CA-Gov: State Sen. Brian Dahle announced a bid against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday, giving Republicans their first even marginally notable candidate in the race. Dahle, who's refused to say whether he's received a COVID vaccination, is an extreme long-shot, but as the AP notes, it's also a free shot for him, since he's not on the November ballot and will be term-limited in 2024.
● GA-Gov: Republican David Perdue finally released his first fundraising report, and unsurprisingly, it was a disappointing one: The former senator, who entered the race for governor in December, brought in just $1.1 million from donors and had under $1 million on-hand as of Jan. 31. By contrast, Gov. David Perdue said a week ago that he'd raised $7.4 million in the second half of last year and had stockpiled $12.7 million in his campaign war chest. Perhaps the better comparison, though, is to Democrat Stacey Abrams, who kicked off her second bid just days before Perdue but hauled in a massive $9.2 million during almost the same timeframe and reported having $7.2 million banked.
● RI-Gov: Businesswoman Ashley Kalus, who is reportedly considering a bid for governor as a Republican, has filed paperwork to create a campaign committee with Rhode Island's Board of Elections. She still has not yet publicly discussed her plans, however.
● GA-09: Former FBI agent and University of Georgia football player Ben Souther has launched a primary challenge to Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde, specifically citing the fact that Clyde does not live in Georgia's dark-red 9th District. When Republican legislators drew the state's new congressional map, they placed Clyde's home county of Jackson into the 10th District—a move he claims was "a purposeful decision made by a handful of establishment politicians" to target him for being a "hardcore conservative." He nevertheless said he'll continue to run in the 9th, though it doesn't appear that he plans to relocate.
● GA-10, GA-06: Former Republican state Rep. Vernon Jones confirmed on Tuesday that he'd run in Georgia's 10th Congressional District rather than the 6th, a day after he dropped his long-shot bid for governor. However, the dark-red 10th, which would've voted for Donald Trump 61-38, doesn't overlap with the legislative district Jones most recently held, nor with DeKalb County, where he served as CEO in the 2000s. He also joins a field that includes a large number of Republican candidates already running, including one, businessman Mike Collins, who greeted Jones with a web video blasting him as a "corrupt, carpetbagging, lifelong Democrat from DeKalb County accused of rape."
● NY-03: Freshman Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman endorsed state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi's new bid for New York's open 3rd Congressional District on Tuesday. Bowman, an outspoken progressive, currently represents about 13% of the redrawn 3rd, a Long Island-based seat that Democrats reconfigured to take in part of the Bronx and Westchester.
● PA-17: Republican Jeremy Shaffer, a former commissioner in Ross Township (pop. 30,000), said on Tuesday that he'll run for Pennsylvania's open 17th Congressional District. In 2018, Shaffer unseated state Sen. Randy Vulakovich in the GOP primary but cost his party dearly when he narrowly lost the general election to Democrat Lindsey Williams.
● TX-35: Austin City Councilman Greg Casar is running his first TV ad ahead of the March 1 Democratic primary, which his campaign says is backed by a "six-figure" buy. In the spot, Casar touts his accomplishments in office, including passing paid sick leave, raising the minimum wage, and protecting a Planned Parenthood clinic from closure at the hands of Republicans. He then describes his priorities for Congress: "Expanding Medicare to every Texan, fixing our power grid, and tackling the climate crisis."
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