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At the Races: Impeachment impact

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Two months after the House voted to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the Senate convened a court of impeachment this week. About three hours after they were sworn in as jurors on Wednesday, senators voted along party lines to dispense with the articles of impeachment without a trial. 

It’s a vote that Republicans will likely try to use against incumbent Democrats as they seek to flip control of the chamber in November. Immigration and border security are top issues for Republicans this cycle, and they’ve tried to pin responsibility on the southern border on President Joe Biden. 

“Senate Democrats just showed voters they will do nothing to hold Joe Biden and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas accountable for the disastrous border policies that caused this crisis,” Tate Mitchell, a spokesman for the NRSC, said in a statement. 

Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, one of Republicans’ top targets seeking reelection in a state that former President Donald Trump won by 16 percentage points in 2020, called the situation at the southern border “completely unacceptable.” He pointed to comments made by Republicans criticizing the impeachment and called it “a distraction that fails to make our country safer.”

“It’s time for President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to use their remaining executive authorities to help secure our border, and for Congress to pass bipartisan border security legislation to give law enforcement the resources and policy changes they have said they need to get the job done,” he said in a statement.

Tim Sheehy, Tester’s likely Republican opponent, criticized him for the vote Wednesday. He said that Tester “does more for illegal immigrants in Washington than he does for legal taxpaying American citizens.”

“At every turn, Tester has walked in lockstep with the left’s radical open border agenda, voting for taxpayer-funded flights for migrants, for sanctuary cities, and against the Laken Riley Act, to detain and deport criminal aliens,” he said in a statement. 

Democrats criticized Senate Republicans for blocking a bipartisan immigration proposal earlier this year and will likely point to that to counter attacks on immigration.

“Republican Senate candidates lost their message on the border the minute they opposed the border security bill that members of their own party helped write,” said Tommy Garcia, a spokesman for the DSCC.

Starting gate

Ca-ching: From $0 raised by ex-Rep. George Santos and $971 by Sen. Bob Menendez to the 21 percent bigger average haul posted by battleground House Democrats than Republicans, our takeaways on Federal Election Commission reports for the first quarter of the year provide a temperature check on the state of the race for control of Congress.

State of the race: The ATR team ran down the dynamics to watch and House races where they’re in play for a webinar this week. You can sign up to watch it here, and stay tuned for upcoming webinars on the Senate and presidential races.

#AL02: Tuesday’s runoff set the matchups for a redrawn Alabama district that’s a prime Democratic opportunity in November, with former Obama administration official Shomari Figures nominated to face attorney and Republican nominee Caroleene Dobson, who put more than $900,000 of her own money into the campaign.

On the trail vs. on trial: The week’s split screen had Biden campaigning throughout the battleground state of Pennsylvania while Trump was on trial in a New York courtroom, CQ Roll Call Editor-at-Large John T. Bennett writes.

ICYMI

Paying dues: New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is contributing to the DCCC for the first time since she was elected in 2018. She earmarked the contribution for the party’s Voter Protection Program, which she told The New York Times was meant to blunt potential Republican attacks that she’s supporting Democrats in swing districts. 

#KYSEN: Just in case Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or GOP colleague Rand Paul leaves before his term ends, the Republican-led Kentucky legislature took the job of filling a Senate vacancy out of the hands of the governor, currently a Democrat. The 82-year-old McConnell’s term runs through January 2027, but he has said he won’t run again to be the party’s Senate leader after this November’s election.

Trial watch: New Jersey Sen. Bob Menenedez could blame his wife and co-defendant, Nadine, at his May bribery trial, according to unsealed court filings, The Associated Presss reports. Meanwhile, NJ Spotlight’s Ben Hulac reports Menendez would be allowed to collect his pension if he’s convicted at the trial, set to begin next month, but legislation pending in the House that already passed the Senate could cut off that payment. 

Endorsement watch: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC endorsed Rep. Rob Menendez for reelection in New Jersey’s 8th District. The son of the indicted senior senator faces a well-funded challenge in the June 4 Democratic primary from Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

Hammer time: And for those who say Congress doesn’t do anything, our colleague Justin Papp has the results of an investigation into whether former Speaker Kevin McCarthy broke any laws by having congressional carpenters create eight gavels from fallen Capitol Hill trees. 

Maryland ads: Rep. David Trone, who is running for Senate, launched an ad featuring a Baltimore longshoreman who worked on the ship that crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge that highlights his efforts to rebuild the bridge. Republican former Gov. Larry Hogan, who is also running, launched a $1 million ad buy in coordination with the NRSC that says he’s running “to be a voice of common sense.”

Best served cold: Trump endorsed Jerrod Sessler, a former Navy officer seeking to unseat Rep. Dan Newhouse in Washington state. Newhouse is one of two remaining Republicans in the House who voted to impeach the former president after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol. In a post on Truth Social, Trump called Sessler “a fantastic candidate” who is running against a “weak and pathetic RINO named Newhouse who voted to, for no reason, impeach me.”  

What we’re reading

Stu says: It’s baseball season, and that’s where columnist Stu Rothenberg’s focus is aimed, but he managed to divert his attention to the former infielder vying to be a senator from California.

Data dive: Precinct-level data is essential to ensuring voting rights are being enforced, but that information is often hard to come by. “There is no entity in the United States that records election returns or maintains boundary maps for the country’s 180,000 precincts,” Bolts reports. “Many states don’t even provide this data for the full collection of precincts within their borders. Instead, universities, newsrooms, nonprofits and volunteers collectively spend thousands of hours after every major election gathering it themselves.” 

Mo Money, No Problems: Running for reelection in a solid blue state, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut has nominal Republican opposition. But that hasn’t stopped him from building a $9 million campaign account. Murphy, who faced former WWE CEO Linda McMahon in 2012, told the Hartford Courant he needs the money in case another billionaire runs against him. “I’ve had the experience of running against someone who had an unlimited personal war chest, and you always have to be prepared for that reality or the potential for anonymous, outside corporate groups to come in and spend lots of money on your race,” he said.

Focus on Foxx: The New York Times gives A1 treatment to Rep. Virginia Foxx, the North Carolina Republican leading the charge against elite institutions such as Harvard and Columbia universities. She has used her perch as chairwoman of the House Education Committee to spotlight antisemitism on college campuses, but critics say she’s fanning the flames of a GOP-driven culture war.

The count: $51.3 million

That’s how much, as of March 31, Democratic Rep. Adam B. Schiff spent this cycle to win a spot on the November ballot for California’s open Senate seat. That’s the most by a Senate candidate so far, and it compares with $31 million and $5.1 million, respectively, spent by Democratic House rivals Katie Porter and Barbara Lee, who lost the primary. Republican Steve Garvey, who won the second spot on the ballot and will face Schiff, spent $3.9 million.

Key race: #IN06

Candidates: Rep. Greg Pence’s announcement in January that he wasn’t seeking reelection set off a flurry of interest among Republicans. Ultimately, seven of them made the ballot — but the top fundraiser at the time did not qualify. The bipartisan Indiana Election Commission determined trucking company executive Sid Mahant did not meet the legal requirements to be on the ballot. The remaining GOP field consists of Jefferson Shreve, who founded a self-storage company; state Rep. Mike Speedy; state Sen. Jeff Raatz; former state Rep. John Jacob; church leader and RV industry consultant Jamison Carrier; Bill Frazier; and Darin Childress. The primary is May 7, and early voting began April 9.

Why it matters: Inside Elections rates the race Solid Republican, so whoever wins the primary is strongly favored to win in November. Educator Cynthia (Cinde) Wirth is running as a Democrat and faces no primary opponent.

Cash dash: Before he was declared ineligible, Mahant had loaned his campaign more than $2 million. Shreve, who invested more than $13 million in a failed bid for Indianapolis mayor last year, loaned his congressional campaign $4.5 million and had almost $1.5 million on hand as of March 31, according to new FEC filings. Speedy also dipped into his own funds with a $1.3 million loan and had $658,000 on hand. Carrier loaned his campaign $750,000 and had $739,000. The rest of the field trailed in both fundraising and cash on hand.

Backers: In 2022, Trump endorsed Pence, who is former Vice President Mike Pence’s brother, but he has yet to publicly back any of the candidates who are running this cycle. The super PAC of anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity has spent $67,000 so far supporting Speedy.

What they’re saying: All of the GOP candidates tout their conservative credentials and pledge to address immigration, support the Second Amendment and oppose abortion. Shreve attributes his nearly 20-point loss in last year’s mayoral race to attacks by the left for being “pro-gun, pro-Trump and pro-life,” positions that he says were too much for a Republican running in a blue city to overcome. Carrier has spoken about his son Joey, who died of a fentanyl overdose. Speedy, who worked in real estate and property development, says he wants to end the administrative state and root out Marxist ideology. 

Terrain: The 6th District includes southern and eastern Indianapolis and its suburbs, as well as a broad swath of the eastern part of the state along the Ohio border.

Wild card: The district is one of three in Indiana that’s guaranteed to receive new representation next year after a wave of retirements within the state delegation. In addition to Pence, Rep. Larry Bucshon also announced plans to leave Congress at the end of his term and Rep. Jim Banks is seeking the state’s open Senate seat.

Coming up

Pennsylvania voters pick their congressional nominees on Tuesday. The swing state has four House battleground seats, but some key matchups are already set, such as the state’s high-profile Senate race where Sen. Bob Casey and Republican Dave McCormick are running unopposed. Moderate Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick faces a primary challenge from the right in the 1st District, while three Republicans are vying to challenge unopposed Democratic Rep. Susan Wild in the 7th District. 

Photo finish

Rep. Derrick Van Orden, a Republican who faces a race rated Likely Republican in a Wisconsin district that Donald Trump won by less than 5 points in 2020, rides his Harley-Davidson on the plaza outside the East Front of the U.S. Capitol on April 12. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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