Spotlight: Republicans Hope to Move Back to the Suburbs

While former President Trump and his surrogates work behind the scenes to keep the voters he added to the GOP coalition in 2016, the GOP establishment is very publicly working to win back the voters who the former president drove from the party.

As Matt Holt writes in the Senate section in today’s newsletter, the NRSC released a battleground survey of suburban voters yesterday, polling topics like critical race theory, inflation, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. In Virginia, former Carlyle executive Glenn Youngkin’s closing message focuses on parents, as Mary Frances McGowan noted in this morning’s Wake-Up Call, and his portfolio of ads seems to overlap with the issues the NRSC highlighted in its polling.

The acceleration of suburban voters trending toward Democrats coincided with Republicans losing the presidency, House, and Senate in a four-year period, the first time a party has suffered such losses since President Hoover. The 2020 race for the House suggested that suburban voters might not be gone from the GOP forever, however, as some who rejected Trump seemed open to Republicans like Reps. Michelle Steel (CA-48) and Young Kim (CA-39). Even in south Florida, where support for Trump ballooned in 2020, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL 27) only won because she overperformed Trump, who improved his performance by nearly 10 points but still lost her district.

As Kirk A. Bado noted in this morning’s Wake Up Call, Democrats are responding by reminding voters that Trump still controls the GOP. Tuesday’s elections will provide a clue as to whether voters care.

Leah Askarinam
[email protected]

 
 

Quote of the Day

"It's a very complicated issue, Jim, for all kinds of reasons.”

— Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) to Boston Public Radio host Jim Braude on whether he will seek reelection, Boston.com, 10/27.


 
 

Top News

GEORGIA SENATE: Stand Up
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed former NFL running back Herschel Walker (R), solidifying GOP leadership's support for the Senate candidate.

OREGON GOVERNOR: Southern Hospitality
President Biden stumped for former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) as polls show a tightening race for the governor’s seat.

BATTLE FOR THE SENATE: The Potion
NRSC Chairman Rick Scott laid out his keys to winning back the majority: grow support from working class voters, continue growth among Hispanic voters, and reverse the suburban slide.

OHIO: Area Codes
Republicans in the state legislature will draw the new congressional map after the Ohio Redistricting Commission ran out of time.

 
 

National
Curated by Erin Covey and Dylan Wells

2024 CORNER: Kansas City Lobbies to Host 2024 RNC

Kansas City, MO, “plans to put in a bid to host the 2024 Republican National Convention.”

  • According to Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas (D), “a delegation from Missouri was in Washington D.C. Tuesday to discuss the possibility. The city has until Dec. 1 to submit a formal bid.” (Kansas City Star)
  • COTTON. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) penned an op-ed for National Review defending qualified immunity, which protects police officers from civil lawsuits. (National Review)
  • POMPEO. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) endorsed Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) for reelection. (release)

VOTING: Virginia Early Voting Triples Following Expanded Early Vote Period

Ahead of the Virginia governor’s race, more than triple the early ballots have been cast than four years ago.

  • Since 2020, early voting has been expanded from seven days to 45. “Last week, the Democratic Party of Virginia sued the Postal Service for what it claimed was an unusually slow processing of more than 25,000 mail ballots across three key counties: Albemarle, James City, and Portsmouth.” (New York Times)
  • WISCONSIN SUBPOENAS. Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R), “who ordered an investigation into the 2020 presidential election, said Tuesday that more subpoenas may be needed and that the work could stretch into 2022.” Vos “said it was possible he would try to force the state’s top elections official to submit to an interview with the attorney leading the investigation before a judge holds a hearing on the validity of the subpoena.” State Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) “sued last week in an attempt to block the subpoena.” (AP)
  • MORE FROM WISCONSIN. “This week, Senate Republicans also launched another investigation to further review the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau's report that revealed some clerks, including Milwaukee County, did not let auditors handle physical ballots.” Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson “argues auditors never requested to view or touch ballots, but he did provide several other election documents requested.” (WDJT)
  • MICHIGAN. “Republican lawmakers are banking on a petition initiative to deliver on their promise to tighten Michigan’s election laws.” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) “has vowed to veto any GOP-led election legislation that lands on her desk, but the petition represents a way around the threat of a veto.” Among the provisions, voters without an ID “would have to use a provisional ballot that wouldn’t count until that person proves their identity with their local clerk’s office.” (MLive)
  • NATIVE VOTE. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold a hearing today on “Voting Matters in Native Communities.” (Native News Online)
  • SQUAD. Nevada secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant (R) announced a coalition of “five GOP candidates running for the key election position of secretary of state in Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Georgia, and California, as well as one Pennsylvania lawmaker who may run for governor, which in Pennsylvania appoints the secretary of state.” One member of the group “says they’re formally working with a group of conspiracy theorists, as well as with a QAnon influencer who some in the conspiracy movement believe in John F. Kennedy Jr. in disguise.” (Vice)

DEMOCRATS: Senate Dems Propose Tax on Billionaires to Pay for Social Safety Net Bill

“Senate Democrats rushed on Tuesday to nail down the details of a groundbreaking tax on billionaires’ wealth, part of an elaborate menu of tax increases to finance a significantly scaled-back bill that would strengthen the social safety net and address climate change.”

  • Democrats also proposed imposing “a 15% minimum tax rate on corporations based on the profits they report to their shareholders, not what they show to the Internal Revenue Service.” (New York Times)
  • HEALTH CARE. “It’s been more than a decade since the Affordable Care Act was passed into law, and Democrats are still fighting over one of the statute’s main provisions: Medicaid expansion. President Biden outlined closing the Medicaid coverage gap as one of his goals for the Build Back Better agenda. … But Senate Democrats who didn’t get a chance to vote on the Affordable Care Act 12 years ago are at loggerheads on the prospect of expanding coverage to states that have yet to take advantage of the law’s benefits.” (National Journal)
  • FAIR FIGHT. The organization founded by 2018 GA GOV nominee Stacey Abrams (D) announced it donated $1.34 million to eliminate medical debt. “CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo of Fair Fight Action said that paying off medical debt is another facet of the group’s advocacy seeking expansion of Medicaid coverage in the 12 states that have refused to expand the health insurance to all poorer adults.” (AP)

REPUBLICANS: Some Republicans Fear Election Conspiracies Will Depress Turnout

“Hogan Gidley, one of" former President Trump’s "top lieutenants, took a subtle dig at some Trump allies and put some distance between their efforts and his group’s work on election reform.”

  • “Other Republicans have expressed fears that talk of ‘audits,’ machine rigging, and foreign plots will depress voter turnout and discourage some people from seeking office.”
  • GIDLEY SAYS: “People are going to do whatever they want, and I can’t answer for any of those other groups.” (Politico)
  • AD WARS. “Since August, 36 campaigns and political committees have spent at least $13.5 million on 50 different television ads invoking” Trump’s name. “It's more evidence of how polarizing and motivating a figure the former president remains for Democrats and Republicans alike.” (Axios)
  • TEXAS. “Texas’ transgender student athletes will be restricted from playing on K-12 school sports teams that align with their gender identity under a bill” Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed Monday. “Such legislation was a top Republican priority and among several conservative initiatives lawmakers passed and sent to Abbott for his signature this year.” (Texas Tribune)
 
 

Senate
Curated by Matt Holt

BATTLE FOR THE SENATE: Rick Scott Lays Out Midterm Plan

Speaking to reporters at NRSC headquarters Tuesday night, Chairman Rick Scott presented findings from a battleground poll conducted in nearly 200 suburban counties across the country by GOP firm OnMessage Inc. (Sept. 27-30; 1,200 LVs; +/-2.8%).

  • The poll found President Biden’s approval rating at 45%, while 53% disapproved. Republicans also led the generic ballot, 43%-39%. 63% of suburban voters believe that the nation is on the wrong track.
  • THE PLAN. Scott laid out his three keys to winning back the Senate majority: hold and grow support from working class voters, continue growth among Hispanic voters, and reverse the suburban slide by emphasizing issues like inflation and education.
  • RECRUITING TIDBITS. Scott said that he had a hunch that Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) may still jump into the Senate race, despite him publicly saying that he has no interest in launching a bid. He also told Hotline that he believes New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) will eventually take the plunge and run.
  • SENATOR SUPERLATIVES. Scott said he believes that Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) is the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent right now.
  • THE SINEMA EFFECT. When asked about the dynamic between Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), who is holding up Biden’s agenda, Scott said that she’s “helpful” to Republicans because of the contrast. Scott said that Kelly votes with Schumer most of the time and isn’t representative of Arizona. (Hotline reporting)
  • RECOMMENDED READING. Hotline wrote about the Sinema-Kelly dynamic back in July.
  • HOTLINE ANALYSIS. Battleground polls aren’t the best way to measure the temperature of the electorate, as individual state polls provide more accurate snapshots in time. Nonetheless, the political environment does seem to be getting worse for Democrats as they struggle to pass their agenda combined with historical headwinds.

GEORGIA: GOP Senate Leadership Gets Behind Herschel Walker

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) endorsed former NFL running back Herschel Walker (R). (release/New York Times)

  • HOTLINE ANALYSIS. After initial skepticism surrounding Walker’s candidacy, the GOP leadership is getting behind him. McConnell and Barrasso’s endorsements come a day after Minority Whip John Thune backed Walker, who raised more money than any other GOP challenger last quarter.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Chris Sununu Leads Hassan in Another Poll

A St. Anselm College poll (Oct. 20-22; 1,323 RVs; +/-2.7%) found Gov. Chris Sununu (R) leading Hassan in a hypothetical Senate matchup, 46%-41%.

  • Hassan’s job approval was 44%, while 50% disapproved; meanwhile, Sununu’s job approval was at 56%, while 42% disapproved.
  • HOTLINE ANALYSIS. The last St. Anselm poll in August found Sununu leading Hassan, 49%-41%. As Sununu gets closer to jumping in, the race appears to be tightening and his numbers have steadily declined, but Republicans find themselves in a strong position.

NEVADA: NRSC Successfully Gets SMP TV Ad Off the Air

The NRSC successfully petitioned a local TV station in Nevada to stop airing an ad from Senate Majority PAC, an outside group aligned with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

  • “In its first ad of the cycle,” SMP praised Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and said former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) “opposed the child tax credit, ‘relief’ for Nevada’s economy, and lowering prescription drug costs for seniors.” Scott “wrote a memo to the stations airing the ad, refuting the points and threatening legal action.” (Politico)
  • BEHIND THE SCENES. GOP megadonor Don Ahern said he has “encouraged” former President Trump “to change his endorsement from” Laxalt to Army veteran Sam Brown (R). (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

PENNSYLVANIA: Carla Sands Launches New TV Ad

Former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands (R) released a new TV ad, saying “she’s had it with weak politicians” before cutting to images of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY AL).

  • She adds that she “can’t be bought.” The ads will run on cable TV and digital as part of a seven-figure ad campaign. (Fox News)
 
 

House
Curated by Kirk A. Bado

MICHIGAN 11: Eric Esshaki Launches Rematch Against Stevens

2020 nominee Eric Esshaki (R) launched a rematch against Rep. Haley Stevens (D) on Wednesday. Last year, Stevens defeated Esshaki, 50%-48%. (release)

  • HOTLINE ANALYSIS. The race was closer than expected, and GOP strategists have said after the fact that a little more investment from outside groups could have dragged Esshaki over the line.

NEBRASKA 01: Democratic Lawmaker Prepares Longshot Bid Against Fortenberry

State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks (D) will “announce soon that she will” challenge Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R).

  • Fortenberry, “who has pleaded not guilty, is facing trial in Los Angeles on federal charges that he lied to the FBI and concealed information about illegal campaign contributions that he accepted from foreign sources in 2016.” (Lincoln Journal Star)
  • HOTLINE ANALYSIS. Even with a scandal-plagued incumbent, Pansing Brooks has a tough task ahead of her. This Lincoln-based seat is still safely Republican even after redistricting, and there is a possibility he does not run for reelection and a baggage-free candidate takes his place.

NEW HAMPSHIRE 01: Pappas’ Approval Nosedives in New Poll

A generic ballot poll from St. Anselm College (Oct. 20-22; 692 RVs; +/-3.7%) found voters would prefer a generic Republican over a generic Democrat if the election were held today, 48%-41%.

  • The poll also found Rep. Chris Pappas’ (D) approval ratings underwater for the first time in more than two years, with 46% disapproving of his job performance and 42% approving. (WMUR)
  • HOTLINE ANALYSIS. "Generic" candidates do not run in elections, but this is a troubling sign for Pappas as national Republican groups like the NRCC and Congressional Leadership Fund have listed him as a top priority target in the midterm.

OHIO: State Republicans Will Draw New Congressional Map

Republicans in the state legislature will draw the new congressional map after the Ohio Redistricting Commission “ran out of time to approve a 10-year map for the state's 15 congressional districts. The commission will miss its Oct. 31 deadline—the second missed deadline for a congressional district map.”

  • COMING ATTRACTIONS. A joint legislative committee could convene by Nov. 4, “​​introduce a bill detailing the congressional map by Nov. 10 and start public hearings by Nov. 15.” (Columbus Dispatch)

TEXAS 30: Eddie Bernice Johnson Retirement Speculation Heats Up With New Challenger Filing

State legislative staffer Abel Mulugheta (D) filed to challenge Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D). Mulugheta is the fifth Democrat to challenge Johnson, who has strongly hinted at retiring and only raised $2,500 last quarter. (Texas Tribune)

UTAH: Former Rep Resigns From Redistricting Commission

Former Rep. Rob Bishop (R) “abruptly resigned from Utah’s independent redistricting commission on Monday evening.”

  • Bishop said the commission was too focused on the state’s cities without giving proper consideration to the needs of rural communities. “Bishop felt the congressional map proposals favored by most of the group unfairly tilted toward Democrats.”
  • BISHOP SAYS. “You cannot gerrymander a gubernatorial race, which is why the minority Democrats have not elected a governor since 1980. You cannot gerrymander a U.S. Senate race, which is why the Democrats haven’t elected a senator since 1970. You can gerrymander a congressional race.” (Salt Lake Tribune)
 
 

States
Curated by Mary Frances McGowan

HAWAII: Kirk Caldwell Prepares to Run for Governor

“While he has yet to make it official,” former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell (D) “is actively raising money to campaign to be governor of Hawaii.”

  • CALDWELL SAYS: “I am preparing to run for governor. I have been on the neighbor islands putting together campaign organizations, putting the infrastructure together to run a statewide campaign. I am doing all the things that I think someone running for governor needs to do, but we have not set a formal announcement yet. We will make that when we are ready.” (Honolulu Civil Beat)

NEBRASKA: Charles Herbster Says Trump Backs Him

Businessman Charles Herbster (R) told a small crowd of supporters on Tuesday that shortly before he spoke to them, he received a phone call from Trump “calling to tell Herbster he was endorsing him to be the Republican nominee for Nebraska governor.”

  • Herbster was the agricultural adviser to Trump's 2020 campaign.
  • HERBSTER SAYS: "I'm humbled. There's been a lot of pressure in the state of Nebraska for him not to get involved in the governor's race. A tremendous amount of pressure—monetarily and otherwise. I know it was a big decision for him to do this." (News Channel Nebraska)

NEW JERSEY: Bernie Sanders to Campaign With Phil Murphy

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will campaign for Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Thursday at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

  • “Sanders announced his New Jersey appearance in a tweet praising Murphy for raising the state’s minimum wage and passing paid family leave and equal pay protections.” (New Jersey Globe)
  • POLL. A poll from Monmouth University (Oct. 21-25; 1,000 RVs, +/-3.1%) found Gov. Phil Murphy (D) leading former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R), 50%-39%. The numbers are consistent with Monmouth’s September poll of the race. (release)

NEW MEXICO: Mark Ronchetti Expected to Announce GOV Bid Today 

2020 Senate nominee Mark Ronchetti (R) will “join a crowded field of Republican candidates seeking the party’s 2022 nomination for governor, providing a new jolt to what was already shaping up to be a high-pressure election cycle.”

  • “The Albuquerque meteorologist, who stepped down from his job at KRQE-TV last week amid escalating intrigue about his political plans, is set to announce his campaign Wednesday morning.” (Albuquerque Journal)

OREGON: Nicholas Kristof Is Running for Governor

Former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (D) announced his anticipated run for governor on Wednesday in a video on Twitter.

  • Gov. Kate Brown (D) is term-limited.
  • KRISTOF SAYS: “I’ve never run for political office in my life, but I have spent a lifetime shining a light in the darkest corners of the globe. And it broke my heart when I returned from crises abroad only to find crises here at home.” (YouTube)

VIRGINIA: Biden Campaigns With Terry McAuliffe, Ties Glenn Youngkin to Trump

President Biden campaigned with former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) for the second time this year on Tuesday.

  • In his remarks in Arlington, Biden drew “a direct line from last year’s presidential race to next Tuesday’s election.”
  • BIDEN SAYS: “I ran against Donald Trump and Terry is running against an acolyte of Donald Trump.” (AP)
  • DANVILLE. Meanwhile, former Carlyle Group executive Glenn Youngkin (R) held a rally in Danville, where the focus of his attention remained on parents’ role education, reiterating that “on day one” he will “ban critical race theory.”
  • YOUNGKIN SAYS: “Friends—today a political ideology has made its way into our classrooms. It forces all the kids to view everything through the lens of race, it divides us into buckets. And then it pits our kids against one another.” (NBC News)
  • POLLS. Two new polls found McAuliffe with a razor-thin lead. A Wason Center poll (Oct. 17-25; 944 RVs; +/-3.5%) found McAuliffe leading Youngkin, 49%-48%, with activist Princess Blanding at 1%. (release) A VCU poll (Oct. 9-21; 722 LVs; +/-6.4%) found McAuliffe leading Youngkin, 41%-38%. (release)
  • HOTLINE ANALYSIS. While polls have tightened in recent weeks, the surveys are on par with trends throughout the general election, showing McAuliffe with a narrow lead. The Wason Center’s first poll of the race from August showed McAuliffe leading Youngkin by nine points, which narrowed to 4 points in their early October poll, and now, the race is divided by 1 point. The VCU polling has been less linear than the Wason Center—their first survey from August showed McAuliffe leading by 3 points, the second from September showed him leading by 9 points, and the most recent survey shows him leading again by 3 points.

WISCONSIN: Rebecca Kleefisch Privately Calls for Ballot Harvesting Despite Public Opposition

Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) “over the weekend told Republicans they needed to ‘hire mercenaries’ and engage in ‘ballot harvesting’ to help her win next year's race for governor—a practice she has said she wants to ban,” according to audio of her speech obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  • “If her campaign strategy works, she said she would quickly sign legislation overhauling how elections are conducted.”
  • KLEEFISCH SAYS: "We execute with excellence, we will beat them at their own game. And the next morning, we all wake up, take a shower with steel wool, and then, after swearing in in January ... [the Legislature] is going to pass all these bills again, and then I'm going to sign them all. And we will never do elections like that again, but this is how we win. … If you are recording, I don't want you to put this part online to share with Democrats, OK? It is about election strategy.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
 
 

Overlooked: Welcome to Atlanta

The Houston Astros’ stadium, Minute Maid Park, is in Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s (D-TX 18) district, while the Atlanta Braves’ stadium, Truist Park, is in Rep. Barry Loudermilk’s (R-GA 11) district.

 
 

Inside National Journal Daily

Kraushaar: A MAGA-vs.-mainstream acid test in North Carolina
The North Carolina Senate primary will reveal whether mainstream forces still exert influence in the Trumpified Republican Party.

Senate Democrats still debating the ACA 12 years later
Moderates and progressives who weren’t around to vote for Obamacare in 2009 are trying to reshape landmark law via the reconciliation package.

Enviros sound alarm on Dem plans for hydrogen energy
As hydrogen gains steam among Democrats, climate hawks say provisions in the infrastructure and reconciliation bills could reward hydrogen produced with natural gas.

Democrats weigh forcing big tech to share research data
As the limits of leaked Facebook research become clear, momentum is building for legislation that requires social-media companies to grant outside academics an inside look into their platforms.

Amid increasing wildfire threats, officials raise concerns about FEMA aid programs
Lawmakers acknowledged that some emergency-management protocols are more well-suited to addressing hurricanes and floods.

Quorum Call Episode 239: Before the Finish Line
The team looks at the final stretches of the Virginia governor race, as well as key House races.

Wednesday Q+A with Leana Wen
The public-health expert discusses COVID booster shots and the precautions people with underlying risk factors should consider.

 
 

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Editor: Leah Askarinam
Associate Editor:  Alex Clearfield
Digital News Producer: Taameen Mohammad
Staff Writers: Matt Holt, Kirk A. Bado, Mary Frances McGowan, Dylan Wells, Erin Covey, Mini Racker
 

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