A number of high-profile runoff elections are taking place today, as well as a significant effort to begin flipping seats to the GOP in the Commonwealth of Virginia. But which of these races will impact the present pattern that appears to be leading to a red wave in November? And, of course, what everyone wants to know is whether Donald Trump’s influence still holds sway.
An Alabama Slammer
Having failed to take 50% of the total vote in the original primary, Republican contenders Katie Britt and Representative Mo Brooks are set to vie for the Alabama Senate nomination. Whoever wins this runoff will almost certainly wind up sitting in the Senate representing the deep red state. In the initial primary, Trump-backed Britt took 44.8% of the vote compared to Brooks’ 21.1%. Assuming Britt can hold on to those who voted for her the first time around, she needs only a fraction of the ballots cast for the three other contenders who didn’t make the runoff.
A win for Britt against Brooks would be a major feather in the cap of the 45th president.
Georgia on Everyone’s Mind
In the May 24 Georgia GOP primaries, neither Mike Collins nor Vernon Jones managed to garner more than half the votes. This runoff for the 10th congressional district is very much a test of Trump’s endorsement power. Jones has had a tough campaign and, as a 20-year Democrat, faces an uphill battle. However, he supported Trump in 2020 and switched party allegiance shortly after. The former president personally endorsed Jones for this seat after he agreed to drop out of the state’s gubernatorial race.
Collins led the primary pack with 25.6% to Jones’ 21.5%, but the crowded field with reasonably popular candidates kept either man from winning the nomination outright. In many ways, this contest has become a proxy war between Trump and Governor Brian Kemp, who last week endorsed Collins.
The result of this race will be crafting media narratives for weeks to come.
Also in Georgia, Republican runoff candidates Jake Evans and Rich McCormick will battle for the 6th congressional district nomination. After last month’s primary, McCormick held a sizable lead of 43% against Evans’ 21%. McCormick is backed by several GOP heavy hitters, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Ronny Jackson. Evans, on the other hand, is very much the underdog but has the coveted Trump endorsement. This was always going to be an uphill battle for Evans, and a victory today would be major news.
Hot on the heels of the Virginia commonwealth flipping red for newly ensconced Governor Glenn Youngkin, two seats in the only location holding actual primaries this week have become the focus of national attention. Among the other districts, the 2nd and 7th are seen as potential captures for the Republicans. These are big-money contests with a swath of endorsements for the multiple contenders. In these races, a key factor to watch is how many voters turn out for any candidate; this could indicate how tough a fight the Democrat contenders will face during the general election.
Former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich made headlines with his bold prediction for November. He said, “I think we’ll pick up between 25 and 70 seats in the House.” A loss of up to 70 seats is, indeed, shellacking territory for the Democrats and would mark the biggest House flip since 1948. But it is not memories of the immediate post-war years that have Democrat strategists losing sleep; those long dark nights of the soul instead are peppered with visions of a more recent time: 2010.
When former President Barack Obama had to guide his party through his first set of midterms, he was rewarded with a 63-seat loss ameliorated only by holding on to a slim majority in the Senate. Looking at today, President Joe Biden has a lower approval rating than his former boss, Congress is viewed more unfavorably in 2022 than in 2021, and the economic situation – despite the 2008 crash – is also arguably worse.
While the results of today’s races may not swing the needle much on the Democratic Party’s chances of surviving the incoming red wave predicted by many, the outcomes could strengthen the argument that it’s time for the president to start issuing lifejackets.