Cameron Joseph

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.

Articles by Cameron

Sheriff who?

Senate Republicans aren’t exactly eager to discuss former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s (R) newly declared Senate campaign.

Arpaio, a deeply controversial former Maricopa County sheriff who President Trump pardoned after Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court for refusing to obey a court order to stop racial profiling, announced Tuesday that he’ll run for the Senate.

“There’ll be a lot of people running in Arizona,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner (R-CO) told TPM Tuesday.

That’s more than others were willing to say.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) simply shook her head when TPM asked her thoughts about Arpaio’s candidacy.

“I think I’ll stick to my own situation,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), who may face a primary of his own, told TPM.

Many others begged off as they entered Senate lunches less than two hours after Arpaio made his announcement.

“I hadn’t seen the news yet,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT). “I’m sure it’ll be a crowded primary.”

“Let me understand the story before I comment on the story,” said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS).

“In fairness, I have not ever had the opportunity to meet him. Obviously he’s got a name and a reputation that precedes him, but I think it’d be important for me to meet him,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said when asked if she would be happy to serve with the controversial figure.

It’s unclear how serious Arpaio is about a bid — or whether his candidacy could actually help Republicans hold the seat, as he might split the hard-right pro-Trump vote with former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R) and open up Rep. Martha McSally’s (R-AZ) path to the nomination.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), the seat’s current occupant, was dismissive of Arpaio’s intentions.

“Write about it fast, it won’t last long,” he joked, shaking his head when asked if he thought Arpaio was serious about a campaign.

Flake wasn’t the only one who predicted Arpaio wouldn’t actually be make it to the late August primary. Multiple Arizona Republicans speculated it was just a way for the limelight-loving 85-year-old to get back on camera after losing his reelection last fall (and for his consultants to rake in the cash).

“This is someone that’s just starving for attention and consultants who are more than happy to engage in a money grab,” said one senior GOP consultant not affiliated with any campaign.

But whether or not Arpaio is the eventual nominee, he could further create headaches for the party in the wake of an embarrassing loss in Alabama, where accused child molester Roy Moore lost a Senate race last month in spite of backing from Trump and the national party. His also complicates how Trump’s team might handle the race, just days after Trump promised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) he’d back incumbents and help him hold the majority.

The race is one of Democrats’ two best pickup opportunities besides Nevada. They need to defend all of their own seats and pick up two to win back Senate control — a tough challenge as they’re defending 10 seats in states Trump won last year, but one that looks increasingly possible after Alabama and in light of Trump’s terrible numbers.

Democrats are excited about their likely nominee, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) — and think she would crush either Ward or Arpaio.

“I think Kyrsten Sinema is going to be my colleague,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said, calling Arpaio “another Republican candidate who is hurting our democracy, hurting the Republican Party and clearly someone who has hurt a lot of people.”

The White House declined to weigh in on Arpaio’s campaign on Tuesday.

“I can’t comment on the specifics of any election, voicing support for a candidate in a race like that. I’m not going to weigh in to the details of that race or make comments on something that would affect that front,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

It remains to be seen whether Arpaio will seriously pursue this race. But the octogenarian’s attempted comeback isn’t exactly thrilling his potential future colleagues.

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Controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R) will run for the Senate in Arizona, throwing a bomb into the campaign to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

“I think Washington needs me, the president needs me. I’ve got a lot of experience, 60 years, I’ve dedicated my life serving our country. We’ll see what happens,” Arpaio told TPM in a brief phone conversation Tuesday morning.

Arpaio’s decision to run — first reported by the Washington Examiner — creates further chaos in the race to replace Flake, who decided to retire earlier this year after his criticism of President Trump erased his chances at winning a GOP primary.

The 85-year-old former Maricopa County sheriff has a long history of controversial actions and hostility to immigrants. His department’s sometimes-brutal policing tactics, embrace of racial profiling, and his refusal to change them in the face of court orders led to his being convicted of contempt earlier this year — but he was spared from a possible prison sentence when President Trump decided to pardon his longtime ally.

Arpaio told TPM he didn’t discuss his decision with Trump or White House officials before announcing.

“I haven’t talked to the president about this,” he said. “This is something I decided to do, to go to Washington and be different.”

But he talked up his controversial record, describing it as an asset in the race.

“As a sheriff, I’ve done some controversial investigations,” he said, talking up his earlier work as a DEA agent and later bringing up the construction of a border wall as a way to curtail the influx of “drugs destroying our country.”

If elected, Arpaio would immediately become the Senate’s oldest member — Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are 84. But he said his age was an asset, not a problem, in the race.

“I’m a senior citizen so I don’t expect to make a career out of Washington like most politicians do,” he said.

Arpaio will square off with former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R), another firebrand conservative, in the race. Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), an establishment favorite who likely would give the GOP its best chance of holding onto the seat, is expected to announce her own bid in the coming days.

The seat is a top pickup opportunity for Democrats, who have rallied around Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The state is fast trending Democratic due to explosive growth in the Hispanic community, and Trump won it by just four percentage points last fall. Arpaio also lost reelection on the same day in the state’s most populous county, and Republicans worry that Arpaio could cost them the seat — and possibly control of the Senate, after their recent debacle in Alabama with former Judge Roy Moore as their nominee narrowed their edge in the Senate to 51-49.

It’s unclear whether Arpaio’s campaign will ultimately help his party by splitting the hardline vote and giving McSally a better chance at the nomination, or whether his huge celebrity in the state and his devoted following could make him a tough challenge in the race. It’s also unclear how vigorously the 85-year-old will run, or what campaign infrastructure he’ll be able to construct.

Arpaio declined to discuss his primary opponents. But he didn’t sound worried about his chances in the race.

“I’ve never lost a Republican primary in my political career. I don’t expect to lose this one either,” he said.

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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) will retire at the end of his term, handing Democrats a huge opportunity in a Democratic-trending district and marking the latest sign of a building blue wave in the 2018 elections.

“In this final year of my Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship, I want to focus fully on the urgent threats facing our nation,” Royce said in a statement Monday evening. “With this in mind, and with the support of my wife Marie, I have decided not to seek reelection in November.”

Royce’s decision to retire is a blow to his party’s hopes to hold onto the Democratic-trending Orange County swing seat. Royce won reelection last year by double digits even as Hillary Clinton was carrying the district by 52 percent to 43 percent — a major shift to Democrats after Mitt Romney won it by four percentage points in 2012.

His decision adds Royce to a growing list of longtime GOP lawmakers who’ve decided to leave Congress instead of facing a tough reelection battle in what’s increasingly looking like a wave election year. A high number of retirements are often a sign of a building political wave, and while many committee chairmen decide to retire from Congress at the end of their tenures rather than take on a reduced role in Congress, Democrats’ double-digit lead in many recent generic congressional ballots is unquestionably playing a role in some of their decision-making. Congressmen often decide to pack things up after talking things over with family over the holidays, and Royce may not be the last one to decide to retire.

The race was shaping up to be Royce’s toughest election in his career. He was held to 57 percent of the vote last year, a solid number but a mark that matched the lowest win percentage of his career, from his first election in 1992, and that came against a candidate who raised just $74,000 for his entire campaign. While some GOP operatives were worried Royce might not be ready to shake off the rust in the district, he was sitting on a campaign war chest of almost $3.5 million — a major sum in an expensive media market.

Democrats had already made it clear the seat would be a top target in next fall’s midterm elections — its population is roughly one third Hispanic and one third Asian American, making it a prime pickup opportunity in the age of Trump.

Five Democrats are already running for the seat that have raised at least $100,000 — including heavy-hitting self-funders Andy Thorburn, his campaign $2 million, Gil Cisneros, another self-funder, and  Mai-Khanh Tran, a pediatrician and former refugee from Vietnam who has the backing of EMILY’s List.

Royce is a longtime foreign policy hawk who often sparred with the Obama administration on issues from Iran to North Korea. He’s also taken a hawkish approach towards Russia — calling for more sanctions against the country after its invasion of Ukraine — and his decision to retire could free him up to return to his more aggressive posture towards the country.

With Royce leaving, the GOP faces a potentially tough recruiting challenge in the district, though they said they’ll fight hard for it.

“Republicans are fired up and ready to hold this seat. Orange County has no shortage of Republican talent and a highly organized ground effort with the NRCC at the forefront,” NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers (R-OH) said in a statement. “We have just one message for Democrats who think they can compete for this seat: bring it on.”


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Republicans lost their only serious candidate to challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Friday, as state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) issued a surprise statement dropping out of the race.

“We recently learned that my wife has a health issue that will require my time, attention and presence. In other words, I need to be there,” Mandel said in a statement to supporters. “Understanding and dealing with this health issue is more important to me than any political campaign.”

The shock decision leaves state Republicans scrambling for a top-tier candidate to face Brown in a state that President Trump easily carried last fall. But even before Mandel dropped his campaign, it was looking like an uphill battle for the GOP to unseat Brown, a populist warrior whose numbers have remained strong in the state.

“Ohio’s looking a lot like the rest of the nation in terms of the overall political environment. It’s going to be a tough race, Sherrod Brown’s going to be well funded and maybe that made the decision for Josh easier and maybe makes the decision for others harder to get into this,” former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine told TPM shortly after Mandel’s announcement.

Mandel had backing from the establishment and tea party wings of the GOP, and had appeared likely to cruise to nomination after other top Republicans took a pass on the race. But his decision to drop out may not be a major setback for the party. Brown defeated Mandel in 2012 by 51 percent to 45 percent, running ahead of President Obama, and Mandel had exposed his flaws as a candidate in that campaign.

Republicans are looking at a crowded primary field for governor, and either Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH), Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R) or Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) could decide to slide over to a Senate race, as could Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R), who’s currently running for lieutenant governor. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) also had spent much of the past year testing the political waters, but is leaving Congress in a matter of weeks to head the Ohio Business Roundtable, a job he’s unlikely to back out of. Businessman Mike Gibbons is the only Republican left in the race at this point.

But whoever wants a crack at Brown better hurry: The filing deadline for the primary is just a month away, on Feb. 7, and candidates will need to hustle to gather enough petition signatures to get on the ballot.

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Vulnerable Republicans on both coasts – and a few places in between – must be pulling out their hair after the Trump administration’s latest moves on marijuana and offshore drilling.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a plan to open up vast tracts of both the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines for offshore oil and gas drilling leases on Thursday afternoon, just hours after Attorney General Jeff Sessions unleashed federal prosecutors to crack down in states that have legalized marijuana, throwing eight states’ legal regimes into chaos.

Both moves risk further alienating swing voters in coastal states as well as those states that have legalized marijuana or implemented medical marijuana programs. And while neither may be an election-defining national issue, they carry a one-two punch to GOP lawmakers from Southern California to Washington and Florida to New Jersey to Maine who are hoping to hang onto their House seats and represent college educated, traditionally Republican voters already turned off by Trump and worried about the impact of the GOP tax law.

The moves also could further motivate millennial voters to turn out for Democrats. Polls show that nearly two thirds of voters now support legalized marijuana, a huge spike in recent years — and those numbers are much higher with younger voters.

“Coastal Republicans were already having a tough time dealing with constituents who were pissed off about the tax bill,” former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Political Director Ian Russell told TPM. “It’s like they’re handpicking issues they’re not winning on. It’s bizarre.”

The pair of decisions had Democrats banding together in fury — joined by some swing-state Republicans, a telling sign heading into a rough midterm.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), a longtime Trump ally and possible Senate candidate in a state where the Deepwater Horizon oil spill isn’t so distant a memory, made a rare break with the Trump administration following Zinke’s announcement.

In a statement, Scott said he opposed the decision and demanded a meeting with Zinke to “remove Florida from consideration” for more offshore drilling.

He wasn’t alone — Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), a swing-district Republican from coastal Florida, called Zinke’s proposal “extremely alarming and unacceptable” in a statement.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee who represents one of the eight states that has legalized pot sales, was even harsher in his response to Sessions, threatening to hold up all Department of Justice nominees until the policy is reversed.

Other GOP senators from states with legal pot also criticized the move. But Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), facing a tough primary as well as reelection challenge, put out an ambivalent statement that could further complicate his 2018 chances — and his Democratic opponent, Rep. Jackie Rosen (D-NV), was quick to pounce.

Offshore drilling could hurt Republicans hoping to hang onto House seats in Washington, California, Florida, Virginia, New Jersey, and even Maine and Texas. And Sessions’ move to crack down on legal pot hurts them in Maine, Colorado and Nevada, states that have legalized marijuana  sales and have competitive House races.

But nowhere do those dual blows hit harder for Republicans than in California, a state that’s just days into having legalized marijuana after passing a referendum by a double-digit margin last fall and that has a long history of opposition to oil drilling ever since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill that helped create the environmental movement.

“California voters have spoken in terms of where they stand on this issue and if you look at public polling the American public is also speaking. This guy has not only mis-prioritized the limited resources of the department, he is frankly out of sync with where the vast majority of Californians are and I would suggest even most Americans are,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) told TPM of Sessions’ move to upend states’ rights on marijuana regulation.

California Republicans are defending more than a half-dozen vulnerable members, many of them in districts on or near the coast in Orange County, and they were already facing tough races given the state’s repulsion to Trump.

“I definitely would not want to be a California Republican House member right now,” Jack Pitney, a former Republican congressional staffer who teaches at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California, told TPM. “If Trump’s approval rating could go any lower in California, it will.”

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Republicans appear to have held onto Virginia’s House of Delegates by the skin of their teeth on Thursday after winning an arbitrary tie-breaker for a race that was ended in a tie vote.

The Virginia State Board of Elections held a random drawing of two names from a bowl, and its head pulled Republican David Yancey’s name.

That gives the GOP a narrow 51-49 majority in the state House of Delegates, barring legal challenges, after a recount left an astounding tie in the election at 11,608 votes apiece and the chamber hanging in the balance.

“This election will certainly be a reminder for everybody that every vote counts,” Virginia state Board of Elections Chairman James Alcorn said before drawing the name.

That random drawing means Yancey will likely keep his seat, barring legal challenges, after a wild election and recount with the state’s lower chamber on the line. He’d held a narrow lead on election night last November, but after a December recount Democrat Shelly Simonds appeared to win the race by a single vote, and Yancey conceded.

That was overturned the very next day when a three-judge court ruled a ballot that had previously been thrown out should be awarded to Yancey, ending the race in a tie.

Simonds is allowed by law to request a second recount, and is expected to do so, meaning the seat will remain vacant when the House of Delegates begins its session next week. But that still leaves the GOP with a temporary 50-49 edge when the chamber votes on its speaker, giving them control of the chamber for the next two years and an advantage on the chamber’s committees.

That could have huge ramifications for Democrats’ longstanding push to expand Medicaid in the state, a top policy priority that may now be harder to accomplish.

Simonds didn’t concede after the result, saying she’d let her supporters know of “any next steps” while highlighting Medicaid expansion.

“There are nearly 400,000 Virginians who have been denied access to affordable health care through Medicaid expansion. I hope our lawmakers in the House of Delegates do not leave their fate to a game of chance,” she said.

Heading into election day, not even the most optimistic Democrats thought they had any shot at the chamber. The GOP held a 66-34 margin in a map that had been gerrymandered in their favor in the swing state. But Governor-elect Ralph Northam’s (D) blowout victory helped carry a number of surprising winners across the finish line. But Yancey’s victory leaves them just short of forcing shared control of the chamber, even if Simonds eventually wins legal challenges and gains the seat.

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Steve Bannon rode President Trump to the top of the political mountain — and Trump just tossed him off the edge into thin air.

In four brutal paragraphs attributed to the president himself, the White House eviscerated its former chief strategist with a vitriol unusual even for Trump.

The full statement is worth reading and rereading — it’s copied in full at the end of this post. But the gist is that Bannon is a mentally unstable, selfish, destructive bit player in Trumpland. It dismisses Bannon’s claim to have masterminded Trump’s 2016 victory (vastly understating his role on the campaign even as it correctly knocks down his self-aggrandizement), and erases much of the reflective power that Bannon still held from his stint as a top Trump campaign adviser and his White House chief strategist.

Bannon had settled back in at his Breitbart media empire after being forced out of the White House late last summer, and was using that website, nascent efforts at a super-PAC funded by the billionaire Mercer family, and a direct line to Trump to keep his reflected glory glowing bright.

Trump stuck by Bannon even after he was fired last summer, refusing to distance himself from his website’s alt-right views. But enough was apparently enough after Bannon reportedly accused Donald Trump Jr. of being “treasonous” for setting up a meeting with a Russian envoy during the campaign, according to excerpts from a new book published Wednesday.

Bannon had helped Roy Moore win the Alabama Senate GOP primary, though his impact in that race has been seriously overstated, and the blame establishment Republicans piled on him for Moore’s general election loss has been overdone as well. He had grand, if completely unrealistic, plans to force primary challenges against almost every sitting GOP senator next year. But without the Trump brand and support from others in his orbit it’s unclear whether he’ll even be able to maintain the snake-oil sales he’d been conjuring up until now.

The level at which Breitbart and Bannon depend on Trump was displayed in the site’s awkward handling of the president’s attacks on its leader. The site initially ignored Bannon’s reported comments — but finally posted both Trump’s attacks and Bannon’s alleged comments in un-bylined stories that led the website Wednesday afternoon.

Bannon may survive this yet.

The way the statement is written it sounds a lot more like it was crafted by an aide than by Trump himself, leaving the chance that the president doesn’t stick by his staff’s attempt to freeze out Bannon. And even without Trump, if Bannon can stay in the good graces of his Mercer moneymen he’ll be able to keep funding his pet projects and making the money that helped buy his Capitol Hill mansion.

We’ve seen Trump furiously dump other aides in the past only to bring them back — former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and campaign aide David Bossie have very much returned to his good graces these days, and Jeff Sessions is still attorney general in spite of Trump’s fury. The worse things get for Trump, the more likely he’ll seek outside advice — and may turn back to Bannon.

“Trump is like a child. He has a favorite toy, he gets bored with it and puts it on the shelf, and eventually he goes back to playing with it,” Kurt Bardella, a former GOP consultant and spokesman for Breitbart who has left the party and disavowed his old employer, told TPM.  “What we saw today was Trump having a tantrum. If he’ll stick to this in the long run, history tells us he probably won’t.”

Bardella also argued that even if the schism holds, Bannon may outlast Trump and his damaged presidency.

“Either Bannon will have successfully put himself on an island all by himself with no allies no fooling and no support and this is the beginning of the end, or the Trump presidency will face a large degree of political and legal scrutiny that’ll be the beginning of the end and he’ll outlast them,” he said.

But if Bannon’s exile holds, it’s unclear if he can recover.

Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart transformed from a catch-all for a trollish, rabble-rousing home for conservatives of many stripes into a weaponized news site aimed at boosting Trump and a home for the racist alt-right. When Lewandowski allegedly assaulted one of Breitbart’s own reporters, it was that reporter who lost her job — not Lewandowski.

Many of the website’s readers have their first loyalty to Trump these days, not Bannon. With this schism opening up wide, it’s hard to see who will be left to read it — or whether his benefactors will keep funding Bannon’s projects. That had the president’s own son gloating in the wake of Bannon’s brutalization.

Trump’s full statement:

Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.

Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself. 

Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books. 

We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.

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Second time’s the charm.

The House passed a sweeping tax bill once again on Wednesday, taking a mulligan one day after Senate rules forced the other chamber to make minor changes to the law and sending the package of massive corporate tax cuts to President Trump for his signature after an embarrassing misstep.

The House passed the bill by a 224-201 margin on a mostly party-line vote, after the Senate passed it by a 51-48 margin along party lines in the predawn hours Wednesday.

Trump will hold a “bill passage event” later Wednesday afternoon to celebrate it clearing Congress, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday, rather than the normal bill signing ceremony, because of the congressional glitch.

Trump called the bill “historic” and described it as and “incredible Christmas gift for hardworking Americans” while touting the corporate tax cuts at a White House event earlier on Wednesday.

The revote became necessary when Republicans were forced to remove a few provisions of the law Wednesday afternoon that didn’t comply with reconciliation rules that allowed Republicans to pass it with a simple majority in the Senate, shortly after it initially passed the House. The do-over was the latest sign of how rushed Republicans were in ramming through a plan with massive corporate tax cuts and individual cuts that analysis shows will disproportionately benefit wealthier Americans while adding almost $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade.

“A revote within less than 24 hours of original passage — this proves that this bill is rotten to its core,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) said during House floor debate before the vote.

House Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) celebrated the bill as the first “real tax reform” in decades as the House went to revote, a move that sent the bill to the president’s desk after the Senate passed the latest version late Tuesday night.

According to the Tax Policy Center, a left-leaning think tank, fully 83 percent of the bill’s benefits will accrue to the top 1 percent of Americans in the next decade.

The bill also repeals the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling — two long sought-after achievements for Republicans, who saw their broader Obamacare repeal efforts fall short this summer.

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Republicans’ almost-passed tax bill could turn their 2018 headache in the suburbs into a migraine.

Their tax plan, which is broadly unpopular with Americans, could prove particularly toxic in the wealthier suburban enclaves that have already become a major worry for Republicans heading into next year’s midterm elections — areas that already have shown major warning signs for the party in recent special elections from Alabama to Virginia to Washington. That’s a huge problem for the party as it looks to hang onto control of the House — a war that will be largely fought in those same suburbs — and hold serve in the Senate.

“It’s a negative for us in every other way than fundraising,” one GOP strategist working on a number of congressional campaigns told TPM. “What’s the reason why some of these upper income districts have historically been with us and have stayed with us even as the party’s moved right on social issues? Taxes. If the Democrats are able to successfully prosecute the case on taxes in those districts against our members, then that’s a scary situation.”

The bill starts off with historically bad poll numbers for a major piece of legislation. Just 33 percent of Americans support the effort while 55 percent oppose it, according to a poll released by CNN on Tuesday. Those numbers were just as bleak in a Monmouth University poll that came out Monday: Just 26 percent of Americans approved of the plan, with 47 percent disapproving of it. Those polls show majorities of Americans think the bill’s changes benefit the wealthy more than the middle class — a true point, looking at most nonpartisan analysis of the bill.

Even Obamacare had about 40 percent approval in most polls when it passed in 2010, with a plurality but not a majority of Americans disapproving of the law, and its passage presaged one of the largest House midterm waves in history.

Those top-line numbers are rough. And while Republicans argue it’ll get more popular as Americans start getting tax cuts next year, the bill’s future is an even starker picture in the districts where House Republican incumbents already appeared the most vulnerable — blue-state suburbs.

That’s where the bill’s new $10,000 cap for deducting state and local income and property taxes will cause tax increases for a number of voters and where high local housing prices mean the plan’s lowering of the maximum rate people can deduct for mortgage interest could significantly deflate local real estate values. Those effects are particularly severe in the wealthier suburbs of states with higher local taxes like New York, New Jersey and California —  a potentially toxic mix in areas where once solidly Republican voters have already been fleeing their party in the Donald Trump era.

An analysis of the bill from Moody’s found that 15 of the 30 counties that are worst off under the new bill are in New Jersey. Some of the hardest-hit real estate markets would be in greater New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, D.C. and Minneapolis, where a bevy of Republicans face tough races.

The areas where the bill is the biggest problem could be seen in the GOP defections on the final vote for passage: 11 of the 12 GOP no votes on the bill came from New Jersey (four), New York (five) and California (two).

“It’s not good in my district, it’s not good in New Jersey,” Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) told TPM as he exited the House floor after the vote.

Suburban members like Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Ed Royce (R-CA) just handed Democrats another attack line with their yes votes.

But even GOP no votes like LoBiondo and Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) might not be able to escape voters’ fury over the bill — as the dozens of Democrats who lost their 2010 reelection fights even after voting against Obamacare can attest.

“I don’t necessarily believe that legislative success translates into electoral success. Just ask the Democrats — they had Obamacare,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), a  suburban moderate who backed the bill and is retiring at the end of his term, told TPM.

LoBiondo’s response when asked if it would hurt him and other suburban Republicans in their reelection even if they voted against the bill: “Time will tell.”

While GOP leaders argue the tax plan will eventually become a political winner once voters find out more about it, even some of the bill’s supporters admit they’re not so sure. Republicans were in a tough spot. The party’s already facing major fundraising woes, and failure to pass the tax plan would have left them without any major legislative accomplishments to run on, while infuriating their donors.

“The only thing worse for them is if the bill fails,” former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), a one-time National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, told TPM before the bill passed. “It’s clearly worse if Republicans ended up doing nothing.”

But avoiding the worst-case scenario isn’t exactly the same as a win. And while Democrats are furious about the policy loss, they’re licking their chops about what it means for 2018.

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The House will have to take a mulligan on tax reform after the Senate parliamentarian ruled some portions of the bill don’t pass muster with reconciliation rules Tuesday afternoon, an embarrassing if temporary setback for Republicans’ top legislative priority as they close out the year.

The screw-up was on the Senate side, and is the latest sign of how fast Republicans are trying to rush through a major overhaul of both corporate and individual tax law.

The parliamentarian struck down Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) prized change to allow 529 college savings plans to be used for homeschooling expenses, as well as part of a provision exempting some private universities from a new tax on colleges’ student endowments. The title of the bill itself, “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” was also ruled to violate Senate rules for allowing the bill to pass with 51 votes rather than a supermajority.

The changes are relatively minor — but the process screw-up is embarrassing. That ruling came just hours after House Republicans passed the $1.5 trillion tax cut, patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

“In the mad dash to provide tax breaks for their billionaire campaign contributors, our Republican colleagues forgot to comply with the rules of the Senate. We applaud the parliamentarian for determining that three provisions in this disastrous bill are in violation of the Byrd rule.  It is our intention to raise a point of order to remove these provisions from the conference report and require the House to vote on this bill again,” Budget Committee ranking Democrat Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Finance Committee ranking Democrat Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a joint statement late Tuesday afternoon.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) office announced shortly afterwards that members should expect to revote on the bill Wednesday morning in response to the news. The Senate still plans to vote on the bill Tuesday night, though since it’ll now be a different bill the House will have to vote to concur with the changes before it can become law.

It’s a minor setback in the grand scheme for the GOP — but not a good look for Republicans.

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