Tough Times for Team Normal

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI)
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In a political world where florid and manic are the emotional baselines it’s hard to imagine anything more boring than whether former Rep. Mike Rogers (R) is running for Senate in Michigan. But a lot turns on these fairly prosaic questions. Rogers is expected to announce shortly that he’s running for the seat opened up by the retirement of Sen. Debbie Stabenow. His likely opponent is Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D). Since leaving office on the cusp of the Trump era in 2015, Rogers been a CNN commentator. He was the House Intelligence Committee Chair before it was taken over by the notorious Devin Nunes.

Rogers isn’t terribly exceptional as a candidate, other than being a relatively normal Republican in the pre-Trump vein and the kind of candidate Republicans have had a hard time fielding of late in competitive races. We know the record in 2022. 2024 is shaping up along the same lines. Kari Lake seems poised to gift another Senate seat to the Democrats in Arizona and similar if not so extremely self-owning cases seem afoot in other states as well. Of course, the terrain in 2024 is so heavily tilted agains the Democrats that everything has to go right for them to have a shot at maintaining control of the Senate. One thing in Rogers favor is that the Michigan GOP has been in serious disarray after being run by complete freaks for a couple cycles. So there’s no big Trumper in the race yet and perhaps Michigan Republicans can be convinced it’s time to make a change. Maybe.

How this all plays out is impossible to predict. The challenge every party faces at this point in an election cycle is that the good candidates – the ones who have jobs and options – need to be convinced it’s likely to be a good cycle for their party and thus one where they have a good shot at winning. That’s hard to know a year-plus in advance. But here’s where that top florid and manic storyline comes into play.

Not only have Donald Trump’s four indictments not weakened his hand in the battle for the Republican nomination. They’ve clearly strengthened it. Recent polls now show Trump expanding his absolute support (not just relative to other candidates) while Ron DeSantis, the only other candidate to receive significant public support to date, is now barely ahead of the Mike Pences and Vivek Ramaswamys. The window of time in which senate nominations will be decided seems almost certainly to be one in which the GOP is increasingly united behind Donald Trump and his claim that all the various criminal charges against him are part of a Deep State plot. That’s inherently tough environment if you’re not a Trump diehard and loyalist. Every turn raises another Trump loyalty test that is difficult if not impossible to finesse or dodge.

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