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At the Races: It’s not easy being green

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Democrats are greeting this year’s Earth Day with ambitious climate policy proposals that are sure to become issues in the 2022 midterms. 

Republicans have so far left little doubt about their views on President Joe Biden’s pledge, unveiled today, to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and on the introduction this week of a new version of the Green New Deal. 

An NRCC email this week called  the Green New Deal an “insane” entree to a “socialist takeover of the economy” and vowed to hold “every single House Democrat” responsible. 

Despite similar threats during the last campaign cycle, Democrats in Washington have embraced much of the original proposal, as our colleague Benjamin J. Hulac reported today

That’s no doubt partly due to the perceived threat from progressive primary challengers. Massachusetts Sen. Edward J. Markey’s work with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the original proposal — which he co-sponsored again this time — helped him fend off a primary challenge from Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III last cycle. 

But concern about climate change remains a stubbornly partisan issue. As Hulac pointed out, a Gallup poll on Monday showed 68 percent of Democratic-leaning voters were concerned “a great deal” about climate change, compared with just 14 percent of GOP-leaning voters. 

Many House Republicans who were willing to buck their party on climate change have since lost their seats. Senate Republicans who have proposed an alternative to Biden’s infrastructure plan, which is laden with climate proposals, say they would pay for their more modest plan in part through fees on electric vehicles

The NRCC, which points to fears over job losses in the oil and gas industry as a major reason Republicans flipped several House seats in 2020, has promised to use vulnerable Democrats’ support for Biden’s climate agenda against them this cycle as well.

But in one sign that there could still be some bipartisan movement on the issue, Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger and Nebraska Republican Don Bacon, both 2022 targets in the House, announced this morning they had joined forces on legislation geared toward encouraging farmers, ranchers and foresters to participate in carbon markets and to embrace “climate smart” practices.

Starting gate

Not sweating it: Democratic senators in competitive races reported sizable first-quarter fundraising hauls, but Republicans looking to defeat them aren’t nervous yet. The first-quarter reports also provided some other early clues about the fight for the chamber

Back in business: Ohio Republican Steve Stivers, once considered a possible candidate for the state’s open Senate seat, will depart the House next month to run the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

Cashing in: After the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, corporations pledged to stop contributing to House Republicans who objected to certifying certain Electoral College results. But many of those Republicans made up for much of those lost contributions thanks to an influx of small-dollar donations, first-quarter fundraising reports showed. 

PAC up your troubles: Will Donald Trump or Jim Risch be the one to Save America? Who would you want to split a Six PAC with in Iowa? And are the owners of the DAVE PACs defending America’s values or American values? Congress shows its stripes when it comes to naming leadership PACs, and sometimes that involves heavily used gimmicks or names someone else was already using, CQ Roll Call politics editor Herb Jackson reports.

Political pressure: Much of corporate America’s lobbying agenda consists of traditional business matters, such as tax and infrastructure, but a new issue has emerged for some of the biggest companies and groups: voting rights.

It’s personal: Louisiana state Sens. Karen Carter Peterson and Troy Carter are exaggerating their differences — especially when it comes to style and personality — as the two Democrats vie for a solid-blue, New Orleans-area House seat in the special election runoff Saturday to replace former Rep. Cedric L. Richmond


The Senate map: In Arizona, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Blake Masters, who works for venture capitalist Peter Thiel, are considering bids for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. In Ohio, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, announced she’ll be running for governor, and not for the state’s open Senate seat. And in North Carolina, GOP Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson also passed on a Senate run.

RNC –> #MOSEN: In the GOP primary for Missouri’s open Senate seat, former Gov. Eric Greitens announced that Kimberly Guilfoyle, a onetime Fox News host who is dating Donald Trump Jr., will be his campaign’s national chairperson. Guilfoyle is well known for her spirited speech at last year’s Republican National Convention. Another Republican featured at the convention, Mark McCloskey, is thinking about joining Greitens in the primary, according to Politico. McCloskey and his wife made national headlines last summer for pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home in St. Louis. GOP Reps. Billy Long and Jason Smith are both holding fundraisers at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort next week as they weigh Senate runs.

Plan B: Illinois GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, whose vote to impeach Trump and creation of a PAC to support anti-Trump Republicans earned him  a primary challenger, said he would consider running for governor or Senate if his seat is carved up during redistricting.

They’re running: Former Iowa state Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, a George W. Bush administration alum, launched a bid against Democrat Cindy Axne, a GOP target, in the 3rd District.  And North Carolina Democrat Jay Carey, an Army combat veteran, launched a campaign against freshman Republican Madison Cawthorn, bringing the number of challengers to the Trump loyalist to six — five Democrats and one Republican. That’s the largest field the 11th District has seen in 20 years. 

#MN02 redo: Take two for Tyler Kistner. The GOP Marine veteran said this week he would seek a rematch against Democratic-Farmer-Labor Rep. Angie Craig in Minnesota’s 2nd District. Kistner lost to Craig by 2 points last fall after an usual campaign, even by 2020 standards. After a third-party candidate in the race died, Minnesota’s secretary of state first postponed the election, but a judge later declared it back on.

Not coasting: The blue lean in New Mexico’s 1st District’s was thought to be one reason Biden picked Rep. Deb Haaland for her post as secretary of Interior. But the candidates in the June 1 special election to replace the Democrat have been treating the race as competitive. Democratic nominee Melanie Stansbury and Republican nominee Mark Moores both released negative TV ads this week. 

Can they do that? Hillery Brotschol, a 29-year-old screenwriter and film producer seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Democrat Mikie Sherrill in New Jersey’s 11th District, tells InsiderNJ she wants to make America great again but “our party needs to move on from Donald Trump.”

Hot potato: DCCC Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney called on the NRCC and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to reject $175,000 in campaign contributions from Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose tweets after the Derek Chauvin verdict were characteristically inflammatory. The request turned the tables on Republicans’ continued efforts to taint vulnerable Democrats who received campaign contributions from Ocasio-Cortez. 

Carrying costs: After Greene and GOP Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri each raised more than $3 million last quarter, ProPublica found expenditures that illustrate “how politicians can pad their fundraising figures — if they’re willing to pay for it.”

#FL20: Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t yet set a date for a special election for the seat of the late Democrat Alcee L. Hastings, who died April 6. With the razor-slim margins in the House, Democrats in the Sunshine State have demanded DeSantis take action, the Sun Sentinel reported. The Palm Beach Post has more on the candidates eyeing the heavily Democratic seat.

Outsize influence: Just 12 megadonors contributed a combined $3.4 billion to federal candidates and political groups between January 2009 and December 2020, according to a new analysis by Issue One using data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

What we’re reading

Into the unknown: House races are frozen across the country due to a delayed redistricting process. National Journal has a rundown of the states that are particularly affected by the uncertainty. 

Waiting game: The Atlantic dives into the Wisconsin Senate race, where Republicans and Democrats are waiting for GOP incumbent Ron Johnson to decide if he’s running. 

The El Dorado of the North: The Alaska Senate race is “the first proxy battle” between Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, CNN says in its report on the contest between GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka. 

The land of opportunity: Politico takes a look at Republican hopes of reviving the party’s brand in California through the recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

NRSC stands for what?: Some Republicans believe Florida Sen. Rick Scott is using his perch atop the NRSC for his own political gain, dubbing the committee the “National Rick Scott Committee,” The Washington Post reports

Cheney vs. MAGA: The New York Times Magazine takes an in-depth look at Liz Cheney, from her fight with Trumpworld to her political roots.

The year of the peach: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Rep. Nikema Williams isn’t finished with her other job as the head of the Georgia Democratic Party. And Republicans in the state are still fixated on Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was fixed — even if it costs them in the midterms, Politico reports. 

Partisan realignment: College-educated voters, especially women, are leading the defection from the Republican Party, according to an NBC News report using Gallup poll data. 

Voting for change: The Wall Street Journal takes a thorough look, including with multiple graphics, at the nearly 1,800 election and voting bills that state lawmakers have introduced across the country. Both Democrats and Republicans have sponsored bills related to mail and absentee voting, among other issues.   

The count: $125,000

That’s how much, combined, the GOP’s House and Senate campaign committees got in February and March from six corporate PACs — Altria, Cigna, CVS, Dow Chemical, Home Depot and Intel — that had said after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot they would reconsider or change contribution policies toward the 147 Republicans voting to reject electoral votes for Biden from Georgia, Pennsylvania or both states. The six PACs gave another $125,000, combined, to Democratic House and Senate committees.

Nathan’s notes

Voter turnout will be down next year, Nathan L. Gonzales writes, but it won’t be because of state laws that make voting more difficult.

Candidate confessions

Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger reported a jump in his campaign fundraising during the first quarter — $1.1 million this year, up from $326,000 over the same period in 2019. But it’s not necessarily as easy at it looks to raise all that money as an anti-Trump Republican. 

“In terms of just the small-dollar stuff, it’s all a new world, without using rage and anger and fear on Twitter. It takes a little more work,” he told our colleague Chris Cioffi recently. “I’m not going to reveal a ton of it, but it really is day by day because it depends what the news cycle is. … It’s just finding the people that are with you. And it’s unfortunate that it takes this much money now, but that’s where we’re at.”

Kinzinger also said some of his colleagues, including Cheney, who also voted for impeachment, have hired security personnel.  

“The need for security is sad,” he said, adding that he had security for a few days after the controversial vote. He “didn’t feel too much of a threat,” he added, though back in his district, “generally, I just carry a gun.” He hardly ever brings his gun to Capitol Hill, but he did on Jan. 6. 

Shop talk: Jesse Hunt

After his most recent stint leading the press shop at the NRSC for the 2020 cycle, Hunt has taken on a new role as communications director for the Republican Governors Association. 

Starting out: Hunt said he has long been interested in “the cross section of media and politics,” and grew up reading The Boston Globe and other local newspapers in his native Massachusetts. He was captivated when Republican Scott P. Brown won a Senate special election in the liberal state in 2010. “I identified early as a conservative and, being from Massachusetts, there aren’t many conservatives,” Hunt said. “And the fact that Scott Brown was on the cusp of taking the ‘Kennedy seat’ really was an eye-opening experience for me.” Hunt caught the “political bug” two years later as an intern for Brown’s unsuccessful reelection campaign.  

Most unforgettable campaign moment: “It would probably be campaigning with Gov. Jeb Bush for president up in New Hampshire when I was his spokesman up there,” Hunt said, recalling that Bush’s mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, joined her son on the campaign trail. “To see her campaign alongside Jeb was just a surreal moment. … The gov’ and all of his family members were some of the kindest people you’ll ever find in politics.”

Biggest campaign regret: Hunt’s first job in politics, with GOP opposition research group America Rising, took him to Baton Rouge, La. “It was a very interesting experience for someone who lived their entire life in the state of Massachusetts, to move to Baton Rouge by yourself and live by yourself and not really have a network of people down there,” Hunt said, later adding that the experience was a bit of a culture shock and in hindsight he would have had friends and family visit more often. “It got awful lonely down there,” he said.

Unconventional wisdom: “There is this entirely new world both on the right and the left that has created these other media ecosystems that are pretty foreign to a lot of us. When I say ‘us,’ I mean political operatives, reporters, who are used to being in a bubble. … Voters are consuming some of this information that is on people’s YouTube channels. People who have massive Twitter followings, that is a source of news for a lot of people that I don’t think that we’ve fully reckoned with. We’re no longer talking necessarily about blogs, or other platforms like that. You’re talking about millions of people who consume information in a very different way than a lot of the people who are making the news.”

Do you know someone who works in campaigns whom we should feature for Shop Talk? Email us at

Coming up

Saturday night, we’ll know which Democrat — Troy Carter or Karen Carter Peterson — has won the special election runoff for Louisiana’s 2nd District.

Photo finish

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus huddled around a laptop and a phone Tuesday in an ornate room off the House floor to learn that a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. They stressed there is more work to be done to address police brutality. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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