Cameron_joseph_profile2

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

For a guy who once said ex-con coal baron Don Blankenship had “blood on his hands,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has been notably restrained while discussing the former GOP Senate candidate since Tuesday’s primary.

In a pair of TV interviews following Blankenship’s primary loss to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), Manchin refused to directly criticize Blankenship for his racially charged attacks against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — while favorably comparing him to Morrisey as the true West Virginian (Morrisey moved there from New Jersey a decade ago).

Manchin also wouldn’t directly attack Blankenship for his role in failing to prevent the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 people in 2010.

And he refused to directly say whether he thought Blankenship’s ads attacking McConnell’s “China family” were racist, instead dodging the question in an interview with NBC News while offering tepid criticism.

I’d like to think that wasn’t, the terms he used, and how he used them, I would never take that course. And if Don felt that he was explaining it from his upbringing, the culture that he comes from in West Virginia. And Don’s on that Kentucky-West Virginia border. I don’t know, I can’t say, I haven’t heard that before,” Manchin said in a meandering answer. “There’s Italian-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Japanese-Americans, you know we’re all ethnic of some derivative. But the way it was said, it was taken in a connotation that might not have been flattering to a person who’s a proud American, no matter what their descent is.”

Manchin also wouldn’t take the bait when pushed on Fox News about Blankenship.

“There was only one truly conservative Republican West Virginian in the race, and that was Don Blankenship. We have had our differences on many issues. But Don, you cannot question Don’s conservatism and also him being a Republican in West Virginia. He’s the only one,” he said in a shot at Morrisey’s roots.

Blankenship had gone scorched-earth against Manchin on TV during the primary, but since his loss has been at least as critical of Morrisey, saying he wouldn’t support his former primary rival.

Manchin isn’t exactly embracing the deeply controversial coal baron in these statements. But he does seem to be looking to avoid antagonizing his on-again, off-again foe, while possibly looking to woo Blankenship supporters who don’t like Morrisey (or at least depress GOP support for Morrisey).

Manchin and Blankenship have had a complicated relationship — they were on cordial terms for much of Manchin’s time as governor, and Manchin even flew on Blankenship’s private plane to get back to West Virginia after the UBB Mine explosion since he couldn’t get a direct flight. But he became much more critical of Blankenship when the facts came out about the disaster and the coal baron took the heat for those miners’ deaths. Blankenship’s Senate race was seen partly as a way to get back at Manchin, who he blamed for an unjust prosecution almost as much as the Obama Justice Department.

Manchin ducked when asked if he’d accept a Blankenship endorsement, saying he’d have “no control” over that and hadn’t talked to Blankenship recently.

“Like I said, we have had our differences. But you cannot questions Don’s West Virginia Republican conservative roots. And we have been head to head down on many issues. I just, with the horrible tragedies we have had, it’s just — my heart still aches for all the families. And I think you know how close I have been to the families,” he said. “But on other issues on that, we have had our differences, and there have been some things we have agreed on politically.”

Manchin alluded to that barrage of ads Blankenship ran in his Fox interview, suggesting he hoped things would quiet down for the sake of the families of the dead miners.

“I hope that, in time, the good lord lets Don find peace in his heart, because these people need to move on with their lives. That’s all I have ever said,” he said. “And I hope that happens. I hope Don finds peace in his life and allows these families to find peace in theirs.”

Read More →

Billionaire GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson has made a $30 million donation to the GOP’s main House super PAC, a GOP source familiar with the donation confirms to TPM, a huge donation to try to help save the House majority.

According to Politico, which first reported the donation, the gift was made after a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) in the casino mogul’s hometown of Las Vegas, after which top officials to the Congressional Leadership Fund made the big ask.

The donation is three times what Adelson gave the group last election cycle — and far earlier, since he didn’t give them money until August 2016.

The money is a crucial boost to the group as it looks to hang onto its majority in the lower chamber of Congress. Strategists in both parties think Democrats have at least a 50-50 shot at winning House control, and Democratic candidates have basically been printing money this election cycle, putting Republicans in a situation where they may struggle to keep up and forcing the CLF to bail out members who fail to prepare themselves for an advertising onslaught.

Super PACs don’t get as much bang for their buck as candidates, who get discounted advertising rates. The CLF has already said it plans to spend huge sums to try to keep the House in GOP hands, with an initial ad reservation of $48 million in 30 House districts, and with Adelson’s help, that number will clearly rise by a large amount.

Read More →

A coalition of pro-immigration Republicans, many facing tough reelection battles, are bucking House GOP leaders to try to force a last-minute vote to let undocumented immigrants brought here as children regain their legal status.

The group, led by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), initiated a discharge petition to force a House vote on a bill to reauthorize the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Trump attempted to end last year and is currently in limbo given ongoing court challenges.

Immigration has paralyzed this institution for too long,” Curbelo said in a Wednesday afternoon press conference outside the Capitol.

He is joined on the bill by 14 other Republicans — leaving the petition just 10 votes shy of triggering a free-for-all of voting on the House floor
(assuming all Democrats support it, as expected).

That list reads largely like a who’s who of vulnerable members from diverse districts. Curbelo is in for a tough reelection fight, as are Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), Will Hurd (R-TX), Mia Love (R-UT), Mike Coffman (R-CO), John Faso (R-NY) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

This should have been resolved years ago if not decades ago,” said Denham, who represents a swing district with a large number of Hispanics.

I’m not abdicating my responsibilities to the White House,” said Love at the press conference.

She’s in a tough race in a district where President Trump performed poorly but won — and where the heavily Mormon population is strongly supportive of immigration reform.

Some other members on the bill are longtime Republican moderates who are retiring at the ends of their terms: Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Dave Reichert (R-WA).

One interesting person on the bill: Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), a close ally of the White House.

Republican leaders have long fought against this effort, and it may be much tougher for those leading this effort to get the final 10 votes that would force a floor vote on a DACA bill and other immigration measures than the first 15. But the move is a political winner for the group as they look to show some distance from Trump ahead of a tough midterm election.

Read More →

Republicans have been arguing for months that Democrats will blow a spate of winnable races by nominating hard-line liberal candidates out of step with their districts and states. On Tuesday, Democratic voters signaled they have no such plans.

In a number of races, the so-called establishment candidate handily won their primary, teeing up a tough general election battle for Republicans.

The clearest examples of this can be seen in Ohio, where former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray demolished former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to win his party’s gubernatorial nomination, and Democrats selected Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor as their nominee for the special election to replace former Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH).

Cordray won in spite of his previous opposition to gun control and Kucinich’s strong ties with the anti-war left (though Kucinich’s praise of President Trump, Russia and Syria certainly created problems for him among his base). O’Connor easily won his primary after getting a plethora of endorsements from local Democratic power players.

It was the same in North Carolina. Marine Corps veteran and green energy businessman Dan McCready (D), who has the support of the moderate Blue Dogs, cruised to victory over a poorly funded left-wing challenger. He’ll face hardline conservative pastor Mark Harris (R), who knocked off Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC). And Kathy Manning (D), a longtime Democratic Party donor, easily won her primary over a left-wing challenger to face Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) this fall.

In West Virginia, populist Democrat Richard Ojeda won the nomination for Rep. Evan Jenkins’ (R-WV) seat even though he said he voted for President Trump last year (though the state lawmaker isn’t exactly an establishment Democrat — the heavily tattooed former paratrooper led the fight to raise teacher pay and was an ardent supporter of the state’s teacher strike).

And in Indiana, a former Republican health care executive, Mel Hall (D), defeated a candidate calling for single-payer health care and will face Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) in a GOP-leaning seat this fall.

That hasn’t been the case everywhere this cycle. Blue Dog Democrats and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) had backed Jay Hulings in his bid to face Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), but he didn’t even get to the primary runoff. Instead, Air Force veteran Gina Ortiz Jones, a favorite on the left backed by EMILY’s List, is the heavy favorite to emerge in that runoff. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s attacks against hardline liberal Laura Moser (D) backfired, elevating her into the primary runoff against establishment favorite Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D), who has EMILY’s List’s support but is hated by organized labor. Most Democrats believe Fletcher would be the much more electable general election candidate in the GOP-leaning district held by Rep. John Culberson (R-TX).

Though they aren’t always favored by the party’s left flank, plenty of Tuesday’s Democratic nominees are strong liberals and populists — Cordray had support from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and led the charge against companies bilking average people, and Ojeda has a fierce populist spark. The true story from last night is that Democratic voters avoided bad fits for their districts, not that they nominated centrists over progressives. But it will be key for Democrats to keep this streak alive as the party looks to seize back the House and win other key races this fall.

Read More →

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) has lost his primary to Baptist minister Mark Harris (R), making him the first congressional incumbent of 2018 to lose a primary and boosting Democrats’ chances of winning the seat.

Harris led Pittenger by 48.5 percent to 46.2 percent with all precincts reporting when the Associated Press called the race shortly after 10:30 p.m. EST.

“I have called Mark Harris and conceded the race and I wish him the best,” Pittenger said at his election night event.

That result gives Democrats a major boost as they look to win the Republican-leaning seat, which stretches out from Charlotte and President Trump won by 11 percentage points two years ago.

Democrats were already excited about their prospects in the district — and Republicans were nervous — because of a top-tier recruit, Marine Corps veteran and businessman Dan McCready (D).

But Harris, a hardline social conservative and former state senator who led the efforts to push through the state’s discriminatory and now-overturned “bathroom law” targeting the transgender community, gives them a much easier target.

Besides having a strong moderate against a hardline conservative in the suburban district, Democrats have another big advantage: McCready has well over $1 million in his campaign account, while Harris is basically broke after the primary.

Harris’s win came in rematch — Pittenger barely beat him two years ago.

But while Pittenger went down, independent-minded Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), a frequent thorn in the side of GOP leaders, held on to win a primary of his own. He’s said he’ll retire after his next term in office.

Read More →

Republicans avoided a serious disaster in West Virginia Tuesday, as West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) defeated ex-con coal baron Don Blankenship (R) and Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV) for the right to face Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

Morrisey led Jenkins by 35 percent to 29 percent with Blankenship in a distant third at 20 percent as of 10:21 p.m. EST, when the Associated Press called the race.

Blankenship’s loss is a huge relief for Senate Republicans, who feared he might have had last-minute momentum in the race. He is just finishing up his parole after a year in prison for his role in the deaths of 29 of his workers in a mine explosion, and would have likely destroyed the GOP’s chances of defeating Manchin in a state Trump won by 42 percentage points in 2016.

But while Senate Republicans avoided a fiasco in the West Virginia, Rep. Robert Pittenger’s (R-NC) primary loss to a hardline pastor boosts Democrats’ chances in a key House race. Read about all of Tuesday’s big primaries from four states here.

Blankenship’s loss came after a nasty back-and-forth between Blankenship and Senate GOP leaders. A super PAC with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dropped more than $1 million on Blankenship’s head, attacking his ethics in TV spots. He responded with racially charged ads attacking McConnell’s “China family” and “Cocaine Mitch.”

But McConnell had the last laugh:

Blankenship conceded earlier on in a short speech, while wondering aloud if President Trump’s last-minute anti-endorsement had knocked him out of the race. 

Morrisey thanked Trump for the tweet as well, before making it clear he’d use the president to hammer Manchin.

“Joe Manchin has become just another rubber stamp for the liberal Washington elite agenda,” he said in his victory speech. “When President Trump needed Joe Manchin’s help, on so many issues Sen. Manchin said no.”

Manchin obviously would have loved to face the toxic Blankenship. But his allies had also strongly signaled that they’d rather face Morrisey than Jenkins — they spent more than $2 million to damage the congressman, seeing Morrisey as vulnerable due to his past as a lobbyist and the fact that he lived in New Jersey for most of his life.

“This out-of-state lobbyist doesn’t know squat about the needs of West Virginia,” Mike Plante, a spokesman for the pro-Manchin group that spent heavily to defeat Jenkins, said in a statement.

Republicans believe Manchin’s opposition to Trump and his daughter’s work for a company that jacked up prescription drug prices leave him vulnerable in the deep red state.

The race is just one of many big primaries on Tuesday across four states. Keep on top of them all here.

Read More →

A wealthy businessman who borrowed President Trump’s outsider message and bear-hugged the president has won the three-way primary to face Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) this fall, a crucial battle for Senate control.

Mike Braun, a former state representative who spent millions of his own money on the race, led the field with 41 percent of the vote when CNN and NBC called the race shortly after 8 p.m. EST.  Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) and Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) were both hovering just under 30 percent.

“From the beginning our message has been pretty simple – we need more outsiders and less career politicians in Washington. More folks that have done something in the real world,” Braun said in a statement after his win. “Senator Donnelly is just another career politician who has spent nearly his entire career in politics and government. When he’s in Indiana he acts like one of us, but in Washington he votes against us, against President Trump and in lockstep with the Democrats.”

Braun vastly outspent his opponents on the race, running ads highlighting his business record and one particularly effective spot with cardboard cutouts of Messer and Rokita where he asked voters if they could tell one from the other (spoiler alert: they couldn’t).

All three bear-hugged Trump in the conservative state — Rokita ran ads pledging to end Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “witch hunt” against Trump, while Messer called for Trump to get the Nobel Peace Prize.

Messer and Rokita attacked Braun for his past votes in Democratic primaries. But Braun’s strong ads and outsider brand were enough to push past the two longtime lawmakers and get over his

He’ll square off now against Donnelly in a state Trump won by 19 percentage points in 2016.

Most close to Donnelly preferred to face Rokita but weren’t strongly in favor of one candidate over the other, and see an opening attacking Braun on his business ties. As the Associated Press recently reported, Braun’s company buys many foreign products and he’s been accused of treating his workers poorly. Those attacks will go against the GOP’s ideological hits on Donnelly for voting against the GOP’s tax cuts and for his family company’s ties to Mexico.

Donnelly’s campaign focused on the positive, mentioning the bills he’s passed that Trump has signed and not mentioning Braun.

“It’s clear [Indiana voters] want a champion for working families in the Senate – one who’ll work hard and reach across the aisle to protect their access to affordable health care, defend Medicare and Social Security, and keep good-paying jobs here in Indiana,” Donnelly campaign manager Peter Hanscom said in a statement.

But Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody promised that “Hoosiers will come to understand why Rep. Braun funded his own primary campaign with the profits he made from importing auto parts from China at the expense of Hoosier workers: because he believes public office is his best opportunity to put his wallet first, and Hoosiers last.  ”

The race will be a key one in deciding whether Democrats have a shot at winning the Senate. Donnelly is one of 10 Democrats running for reelection in states Trump won in 2016, and one of five in states he won by a wide margin.

Read More →

This story was last updated at 11:30 p.m. EST to include the latest election results.

The first big multi-state primary election night of 2018 has come and gone, with major implications for the battle to control the Senate and a key swing-state governorship.

Republican voters in three states picked their nominees in three top Senate races — and their fear of a “dumpster fire” candidate didn’t materialize. Democrats, meanwhile avoided their own headache as former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray thumped former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to set up a rematch against Attorney General Mike DeWine (R), this time for Ohio Governor.

But while Republicans avoided disaster in one key Senate race, they worsened their prospects in a key House election.

Here’s the full run-down of what happened in each state.

WEST VIRGINIA — GOP Senate primary, House primary

Republicans’ renewed panic that their voters might choose a man who just got out of jail for his role in the deaths of 29 mine workers to be the party’s nominee against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) turned out to be overblown.

Party leaders were worried that Don Blankenship had the momentum heading into Tuesday’s election even though a GOP super PAC with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dropped more than $1 million against him, and strategists closely following the race said he was as likely to win as West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) or Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV) in the close race.

That alarm reached the White House:

But Morrisey won the race, with Jenkins in second place and Blankenship in distant third.

Democrats would obviously have loved to face Blankenship. But they’d also made it clear they’d prefer the hardline conservative Morrisey to Jenkins, a genial, more centrist candidate they think would give Manchin the toughest challenge. A pro-Manchin group has dropped more than $2 million to try to wipe out Jenkins.

In the race for Jenkins’ seat, West Virginia state Del. Carol Miller (R) won the primary and will be the favorite against populist Democrat Richard Ojeda.

NORTH CAROLINA: House GOP incumbents facing primaries

Rep. Rob Pittenger (R-NC) became the first congressional incumbent to lose reelection on Tuesday, falling short against a hardline preacher that gives Democrats an even better chance of capturing the GOP-leaning seat.

Pittenger lost his a rematch to minister and former Senate candidate Mark Harris (R), who is close with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and was a leading voice in the fight for North Carolina’s deeply divisive “bathroom law” that targeted transgender people.

But Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), an independent-minded Republican with a libertarian streak who is well known for bucking party leaders, defeated local county commissioner Scott Dacey, who spent nearly as much money as the longtime incumbent. He’s said he’ll retire after the next term.

 

OHIO — Gubernatorial primaries, GOP Senate primary, primaries for former Rep. Pat Tiberi’s (R-OH) seat, anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative

The big primary battles in this state were for governor — and Democrats would have had the bigger problem on their hands if the wrong candidate got through.

Eccentric former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) made a lot of noise in his bid against former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray (D). But Cordray spent much more money, had bigger-name supporters (not including Dave Matthews), and easily defeated Kucinich, who was damaged by his praise of Trump, meeting with Syrian dictator Assad, and repeated defense of Russian aggression across the globe.

On the GOP side, Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) defeated Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R), setting up a rematch of DeWine’s 2010 defeat of Cordray, who was seeking reelection as state attorney general.

Both parties also picked nominees for what will likely be the last hotly contested House special election of the year — and one where Republicans are deeply worried they might nominate a hardliner out of step with the suburban district long held by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and give Democrats an even better shot at winning the GOP-leaning district. It appeared as of late Tuesday night that the establishment GOP candidate had eked out a win — a relief for them but no guarantee he’ll win in August.

Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) won his primary to face Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). But he had a surprisingly close race against businessman Mike Gibbons even though he had Trump’s endorsement and spent much more money than Gibbons.

The state’s voters also supported a ballot amendment to minimize partisans’ ability to gerrymander the state.

INDIANA — GOP Senate primary, primaries for two GOP House seats 

Braun, a wealthy former state rep. and businessman, won the primary to face Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), one of the country’s most endangered Democrats.

He defeated hardline conservative Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN). All three, like the West Virginia candidates, bear-hugged Trump — Rokita ran ads promising to help end special counsel Robert Mueller’s “witch hunt,” while Messer called for Trump to get the Nobel Peace Prize.

Donnelly’s allies had a slight preference to face Rokita, a prickly personality who has rubbed many establishment Republicans the wrong way. But they think that Braun’s business issues could give them some fodder in the fall in what will likely be a top Senate race regardless of the nominee.

Businessman Greg Pence, Vice President Mike Pence’s brother, won the primary for Messer’s seat, while state Rep. Jim Baird (R) won the primary for Rokita’s.

 

Read More →

National Democrats are jumping into a hotly contested House primary in California, trying to avoid the disastrous situation of being left without a candidate in the general election in a Democratic-leaning district.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has launched ads against a pair of Republicans running for retiring Rep. Ed Royce’s (R-CA) district, hammering local Republican lawmaker Shawn Nelson’s “hypocrisy” for taking a government pension after promising not to and slamming former California state Sen. Bob Huff (R) for backing “billions in higher sales taxes.” The organization is spending $300,000 on cable, radio and digital ads.

The goal: To knock them both down so that only one Republican emerges in the race and Democrats don’t get locked out in a crucial pickup opportunity in their battle for House control.

California’s unusual all-party “jungle primary” means the top two candidates in the June primary election advance to the general election, regardless of party. In the past, that’s allowed two Republicans to advance in two competitive districts while a crowded Democratic field divides voters between several candidates — something Democrats are seriously concerned may happen again.

In this district, which Hillary Clinton won by nine points, there are just three competitive Republican candidates and five competitive Democrats. That means if Democrats split up their votes relatively evenly and no front-runner emerges over the next month, they’re at real risk of two Republicans advancing and their party blowing a winnable race.

The DCCC notably doesn’t go after GOP front-runner Young Kim, a former Royce staffer, in their attacks.

This district is one of four where Democrats are seriously worried they might not get a candidate through because of the high number of viable candidates running on their side — they’re also worried about getting candidates through against scandal-plagued Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Duncan Hunter (R-CA), as well as the race for retiring Rep. Darrel Issa’s (R-CA) seat.

But national Democrats are facing a tough situation in trying to massage these races, as many past attempts to push out candidates or elevate one of their own over other Democrats have led to bitter responses from those candidates and a backlash against the party.

A move like this isn’t going to cause any problems for the DCCC, but it remains to be seen how well they manage these tensions going forward — especially if they feel they have to turn on one of their own in the race’s closing days to preserve their chance at a seat. Their early efforts to play in primaries haven’t always gone so well this year.

Read More →

The first big multi-state primary election night of 2018 is here, with major implications for the battle to control the Senate and a key swing-state governorship.

West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina voters head to the polls on Tuesday. Republican voters in three states will pick their nominee in top Senate races — with at least one possible “dumpster fire” candidate in the mix. But Democrats have their own worries in Ohio, where a well-known iconoclastic Democrat has an outside shot at winning his state’s gubernatorial nomination in spite of his strange defense of Russia, praise of President Trump and ties to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Here’s the full run-down of what to watch in each state:

WEST VIRGINIA — GOP Senate primary, House primary

Republicans feel renewed panic that their voters might be about to choose a man who just got out of jail for his role in the deaths of 29 mine workers to be the party’s nominee against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) — a potential nominee referred to as a “dumpster fire” who can’t win the general election.

Don Blankenship has the momentum heading into Tuesday’s election even though a GOP super PAC with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dropped more than $1 million against him, and strategists closely following the race say he’s as likely to win as West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) or Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV) in the close race.

That alarm has reached the White House:

Republicans admit a Blankenship nomination would almost certainly end their chances of defeating Manchin in the fall in a state President Trump carried by 42 percentage points in 2016.

Democrats would obviously love to face Blankenship. But they’ve also made it clear they’d prefer the hardline conservative Morrisey to Jenkins, a genial, more centrist candidate they think would give Manchin the toughest challenge. A pro-Manchin group has dropped more than $2 million to try to wipe out Jenkins.

Republicans will also pick a replacement for Jenkins in his safely GOP seat.

INDIANA — GOP Senate primary, primaries for two GOP House seats

Republicans will also pick their nominee to go up against Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), one of the country’s most endangered Democrats, in a fight that’s become increasingly nasty in the closing weeks.

Indiana Republicans think self-funding businessman and former state Rep. Mike Braun (R) has the inside track on the nomination, but wouldn’t be surprised if hardline conservative Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) pulls off a win — and aren’t totally counting out Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN). All three, like the West Virginia candidates, have bear-hugged Trump — Rokita has run ads promising to help end special counsel Robert Mueller’s “witch hunt,” while Messer is calling for Trump to get the Nobel Peace Prize.

Donnelly’s allies have a slight preference to face Rokita, a somewhat prickly personality who has rubbed many establishment Republicans the wrong way. But they think that Braun’s business issues could give them some fodder in the fall in what will likely be a top Senate race regardless of the nominee.

Republicans will also pick replacements for Rokita and Messer — and one top candidate is businessman Greg Pence, the vice president’s brother.

OHIO — Gubernatorial primaries, GOP Senate primary, primaries for former Rep. Pat Tiberi’s (R-OH) seat, anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative

The big primary battles in this state are for governor — and Democrats have the bigger problem on their hands if the wrong candidate gets through.

Eccentric former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has made a lot of noise in his bid against former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray (D). Cordray has spent much more money and has bigger-name supporters (not including Dave Matthews, of course), and most Democrats think he’ll win. But they’re still a bit nervous that Kucinich could pull off an upset in spite of his praise of Trump, meeting with Syrian dictator Assad, and repeated defense of Russian aggression across the globe.

On the GOP side, Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) is the front-runner, but Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R) has real support as well and could pull off the upset. If DeWine and Cordray win, it’d set up a rematch of DeWine’s 2010 defeat of Cordray, who was seeking reelection as state attorney general.

Both parties will also pick nominees for what will likely be the last hotly contested House special election of the year — and one where Republicans are deeply worried they might nominate a hardliner out of step with the suburban district long held by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and give Democrats an even better shot at winning the GOP-leaning district.

Republicans will pick their nominee for an uphill fight against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) has Trump’s endorsement and much more money than businessman Mike Gibbons, and is expected to win the nomination.

The state’s voters will also decide whether to support a ballot amendment that would minimize partisans’ ability to gerrymander the state, and are expected to pass it, as well as a choice to replace Renacci.

NORTH CAROLINA: House GOP incumbents facing primaries

Reps. Rob Pittenger (R-NC) and Walter Jones (R-NC) are both facing serious primaries once again, though both are expected to hang on for victory.

Pittenger is in a rematch against minister and former Senate candidate Mark Harris (R), who is close with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R). Pittenger barely won last time, but released an internal poll earlier this spring showing him with a big lead.

Jones, an independent-minded Republican with a libertarian streak who is well known for bucking party leaders, is in a tough race himself — and local county commissioner Scott Dacey has spent nearly as much money as the longtime incumbent, along with a small investment from a GOP super-PAC with ties to House leadership. But Jones has survived tougher challenges before and is expected to hang on.

We’ll keep you updated on the races as they get called.

Read More →

LiveWire