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At the Races: As 2022’s dust settles, 2024 revs up

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Editor’s note: At the Races will not publish next week on Thanksgiving Day. We’ll be back the following week.

Corrected Nov. 18 | No rest for the weary, including for your At The Races team.

Just a week after Election Day, candidates began declaring for 2024. West Virginia Rep. Alex Mooney announced Tuesday he would seek the Republican nomination for the state’s Senate seat, currently held by Democrat Joe Manchin III. Both Louisiana senators are set to announce whether they will seek the governor’s mansion next year. Later Tuesday, former President Donald Trump announced he is running for his old job in the White House. Some Republicans, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep.-elect Max Miller, said they backed Trump’s 2024 bid, while others have said they hope others enter the race. 

“The greatest entertainment — you know, since ‘SNL’ — is the debates, the Republican debates,” North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer told reporters on Wednesday. 

That’s all happening as political watchers turn again to Georgia, where a runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will determine the size of Democrats’ Senate majority for the next two years. (Democrats secured at least 50 seats over the weekend, when Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s win was called.) Warnock’s campaign has a new ad featuring Trump hyping Walker during his speech Tuesday, with an on-screen tagline that says “Stop Donald Trump Stop Herschel Walker.” 

As outside groups announced their initial spending plans for the runoff, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Senate Leadership Fund — the main GOP super PAC allied with Sen. Mitch McConnellsparred publicly. Meanwhile, Sen. Rick Scott, the NRSC chair, challenged McConnell to be the minority leader. McConnell won that contest

Democrats will pick their leaders after Thanksgiving, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she won’t be leading the House caucus again. Along with picking her successor — likely New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries — House Democrats will pick a leader for their campaign committee. California Reps. Ami Bera and Tony Cárdenas have both said they are running for the post, although there is some discussion about whether it should be an appointed position, rather than elected. Bera said he’s neutral on the change, but he is proceeding as though it would be elected. 

Republicans in both the House and Senate have selected who will lead their respective campaign arms over the next two years. North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson will lead the National Republican Congressional Committee, while Montana Sen. Steve Daines will take charge at the NRSC — when his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Jon Tester, is up for reelection. 

Meanwhile, Republicans have definitely flipped the House. The Associated Press called GOP Rep. Mike Garcia’s race in his favor Wednesday evening, giving the party at least 218 seats, enough for what will be a tight majority.

Starting gate

Making it there: A slate of wins by Republicans aligned with Trump in New York has Democrats wondering what happened. One answer, from Democratic political strategist Bruce Gyory: “Nobody owns Long Island.”

Leaders elected: Kevin McCarthy got the nod from House Republicans to be their nominee for speaker, but he’ll need to secure 218 votes, nearly the entire conference, before a January floor vote, Lindsey McPherson writes. Outgoing NRCC Chair Tom Emmer was elected as the majority whip, the No. 3 leadership position, on the second ballot.

K Street goes hunting: K Street is taking stock of the crop of soon-to-be ex-members of Congress, those who are retiring or lost their races. Headhunters and lobbyists in charge of recruiting for downtown gigs say a number of exiting members — but not all — may field lucrative overtures from K Street.

Deja lose: Many House races featured challengers who ran against the same incumbents before. And in most cases, the incumbents won again, CQ Roll Call’s Laura Weiss and Ariel Cohen report.

Map factor: While both parties drew post-apportionment maps to help their side, experts said Republicans used the redistricting process after the 2020 census to retain a small, but measurable, advantage, CQ Roll Call’s Michael Macagnone reports.

Biden’s back: President Joe Biden returned to the White House from Asia shortly after midnight Thursday morning, with the House officially going to the Republicans hours before his return. During the trip, he said that one thing the midterm election results did make clear was that the United States remains “ready to play” on the world stage.


What’s left: The AP’s tally of called races stood at midday Thursday at 218 Republicans vs. 211 Democrats, with six uncalled. Democrats who were leading are Reps. Mary Peltola of Alaska and Katie Porter of California. Republican leaders were Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and David Valadao of California, plus Kevin Kiley and John Duarte in California’s open 3rd and 13th districts. If those races all break the way they stand now, the GOP would have a 222-213 majority.

Blue wall?: Republicans’ hopes that shifting attitudes among Latino voters would help them capture seats along the border with Mexico did not pan out, CQ Roll Call’s Suzanne Monyak reports. 

Ballot bucks: A year-end spending package should include $400 million to upgrade voting infrastructure, but the House and Senate might not reach agreement to do that, Illinois Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley and election administrators said during an event at Capitol Hill’s popular Hawk ‘N’ Dove watering hole. The event was sponsored by The Center for Tech and Civic Life and CQ Roll Call.

Just a dream?: Advocates say voters’ approval of a ballot measure allowing undocumented college students to pay in-state tuition in Arizona, a state where Republicans have become increasingly concerned about border crossings, could provide momentum for policy changes on Capitol Hill, CQ Roll Call’s Caroline Coudriet reports.

Noobs arrive: For 25-year-old Florida Democrat Maxwell Frost, it was like school. Texas Republican Wesley Hunt worked the room like he was running for something. CQ Roll Call’s Jim Saksa surveys the scene as incoming House freshmen start orientation.

Eyeballs emoji: A late-in-the-cycle donation from a former House GOP leadership aide to a Democratic member is raising eyebrows among Republicans on Capitol Hill. Insider’s Dave Levinthal spied a $1,000 contribution from Neil Bradley — who is executive vice president, chief policy officer and head of strategic advocacy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — to Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger on Nov. 3. The chamber endorsed Spanberger, whose race was viewed as a key bellwether on election night to assess how big a GOP wave might be.  She first won her seat in 2018, beating then-Rep. Dave Brat, the tea party Republican who ousted then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a shocking primary result in 2014. Bradley, who worked for Cantor, also gave $1,000 each to Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Henry Cuellar of Texas. He also gave $10,000 combined to 10 Republicans, including Mike Lawler, who defeated Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney; Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska; Rep. David Valadao of California; and Barbara Kirkmeyer, who lost in Colorado’s 8th District, according to a Chamber spokesman.

What we’re reading

Stu says: By a 55 percent to 45 percent margin, voters disapproved of President Joe Biden’s job performance. So why leave his party in charge of the Senate and give the GOP only the slimmest house majority? Because that’s not what was driving their votes, Stu Rothenberg explains.

Up next: Her reelection was not even certified before New Jersey Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill became the subject of speculation on that in 2025 she could succeed Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who is term-limited after winning a second four-year term last year. 

One that got away: The Nation looks at missed opportunities for Democrats in Wisconsin’s 3rd District, where state Sen. Brad Pfaff lost to Republican Derrick Van Orden by 3.4 percentage points. “The Democrat didn’t go down because he got hit by the largely nonexistent ‘Republican wave’ of 2022,’’ according to the piece. “He fell behind because D.C. Democrats chose not to fight.”

Sliding into Congress: Lobbyist Bruce Mehlman is out with a post-election slide deck that assesses how much candidates matter and looks at what lawmakers may be able to do next year.  

Losing his election: Slate looks at what it dubs a “face plant” by DCCC leader Maloney, who lost his reelection bid: In the weeks before Election Day, Maloney set off on a Europe trip “for gatherings billed as DCCC fundraising events.”

The count: 26

That’s the page in Wednesday’s Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post carrying the story — teased on the front page as “Florida man makes announcement” — about Trump’s presidential bid. The five-paragraph story, headlined “Been there, Don that,” notes that the former president will be 78 and his cholesterol levels “are unknown, but his favorite food is a charred steak with ketchup.”

Nathan’s notes

In his look-back column, Nathan L. Gonzales says voters were primed for a sweeping change but largely opted against it.

Candidate confessions

Even before Garcia’s win in California’s 27th District gave Republicans the 218th seat needed for a House majority Wednesday night, Democrat Christy Smith shared some thoughts about why her third bid for the seat appeared to — once again — fall short. “[F]rom the outset of the primary it was an uphill battle to muster the necessary resources to run the race we needed to run here,” Smith said in a long Twitter thread posted Sunday. “As detailed by a few media outlets already, our campaign got next to zero outside resources to fight this battle.” The blame, she said, lies with House Democrats’ campaign arm. “I was fighting the institutional power of my own party from the outset of this race,” she continued. “As a state legislator who flipped my seat, I certainly understand resource allocation and the fact [that] the DCCC is a member organization with an absolute mandate to defend and protect incumbents — period. But, with every ratings group in the lead up to the General calling #CA27 the tipping point to hold the House, the utter lack of investment makes no sense.”

Shop talk: Sarah Chamberlain

Chamberlain, executive director of the Republican Main Street Partnership and president of its affiliated PAC, said the majority of seats the GOP flipped to win the House majority came from candidates her group supported, including Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who won in Oregon’s 5th District. These “Majority Makers,” she said, “are poised to be the major contributors” to legislation and policies in the 118th Congress. Main Street and its affiliates spent a total of $12 million on the midterm elections, the most they’ve spent in a cycle to date. More than 70 returning and incoming House members, and five senators, are part of the group. Chamberlain is also president and founder of the Women2Women Conversations Tour, which seeks to mobilize GOP women voters and donors.  

Starting out: “The late Amory Houghton, who was a congressman from my hometown area [in upstate New York], developed Republican Main Street Partnership, and he asked me to come and run it. I’m actually a CPA and MBA. I never took a poli sci class. He asked me to come for six months,” she recalled. “I’ve been doing this for over 25 years.”

Most unforgettable campaign moment: “There are so many,” Chamberlain said. A recent one was “Lori in Oregon winning, that was a big moment for us,” she said of Chavez-DeRemer’s victory, because it means Main Street now has two members in the blue state (along with Rep. Cliff Bentz in the 2nd District). “I’m excited about all of our members. But the fact that we could actually finally have two Republicans from that state, which is a tough state, was lots of fun.”

Biggest campaign regret: “I wish I had worked on Capitol Hill,” she said. “There just was never a right time. But I wish I had started on Capitol Hill just to have that experience.”

Unconventional wisdom: “Let me go back to the election. The trend was, through our Women2Women polling, we knew that abortion, i.e., women’s health care, was going to be very important,” she said. “And I was telling the members that from May on. And obviously this election proved it to be correct.”

Coming up

Biden will be pardoning the National Thanksgiving Turkey (and the alternate turkey) on the South Lawn on Monday ahead of Thanksgiving. That same day, the first lady is scheduled to receive the White House Christmas tree.

Photo finish

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrives in the Capitol on Thursday before announcing she would not seek a position in the Democratic leadership in the next Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This report was corrected to show the accurate amount Neil Bradley contributed to Republican candidates.

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