GOP skirts disaster in Ohio

It took over $3.5 million, visits from the president and vice president, and a late endorsement from the sitting governor, but Republicans appeared likely to eke out a victory in a House special election Tuesday night seen as a bellwether for the November midterms.

The potential victory gave President Donald Trump bragging rights after his last-minute trek to the central Ohio district provided GOP candidate Troy Balderson a much needed lift. And though the outcome was too close to officially declare a winner, Balderson’s lead at the end of the night averted an embarrassing outright loss for his party, which would have generated a crush of bad headlines about the GOP’s fading prospects and the growing likelihood of a blue wave in the fall.

Yet warning signs abound following a razor-thin outcome in a district that Republicans have held for over three decades. Trump won there by double digits Continue reading “GOP skirts disaster in Ohio”

Democrats surging on eve of pivotal special election

WESTERVILLE, OHIO — The entire Republican Party machinery has converged on this suburban Columbus district for a furious 11th hour campaign aimed at saving a conservative House seat and averting another special election disaster.

But in the final days of ahead of Tuesday’s election, signs were everywhere that Democrats are surging — from recent polling to the private and public statements of many Republicans, including the GOP candidate himself. The district has been reliably red for more than three decades, but the sheer size of the Republican cavalry made clear how worried the party is about losing it.

At a Saturday evening rally, President Donald Trump tried to juice conservative excitement for mild-mannered Republican candidate Troy Balderson while foisting a Trumpian nickname upon 31-year-old Democratic hopeful Danny O’Connor: “Danny boy.” Earlier in the week Vice President Mike Pence made the trek, while Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., recorded Continue reading “Democrats surging on eve of pivotal special election”

At Ohio rally, Trump seeks to head off blue wave

LEWIS CENTER, OHIO – President Donald Trump on Saturday implored his supporters to turn out for Republican congressional candidate Troy Balderson, as the party raced to fend off an embarrassing special election loss that could portend a November wave.

During an hour-long rally in a sweltering high school auditorium, the president repeatedly lavished praise on Balderson, a state legislator who suddenly finds himself in a neck-and-neck contest for a House seat that Republicans have held for over three decades.

“Troy Balderson, he’s the guy,” Trump said before calling the candidate onto the stage.

Looking to gin up the packed crowd, the president described Balderson as “really smart” and a “really hard worker.” And he tore into Balderson’s 31-year-old Democrat opponent, Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor, calling him a pawn of Democratic leaders and giving him a Trumpian nickname: “Danny boy.”

“You got to get out, because they want Continue reading “At Ohio rally, Trump seeks to head off blue wave”

RNC warns donors to steer clear of Kochs

The Republican National Committee is sending a warning shot to major GOP donors not to play ball with the powerful Koch political network, escalating a fight between President Donald Trump’s allies and the Kochs.

The move follows a weekend retreat in Colorado at which Koch network officials criticized the Trump administration, hinted they would work with Democrats, and announced they would not help a Republican candidate in a key 2018 Senate race.

“Some groups who claim to support conservatives forgo their commitment when they decide their business interests are more important than those of the country or Party,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel wrote in a memo to party contributors on Thursday afternoon. “This is unacceptable.”

In the memo, McDaniel notes that the RNC has long expressed concerns about the Koch network, which has developed its own data program for Republican candidates to use. The Koch data program rivaled Continue reading “RNC warns donors to steer clear of Kochs”

Bannon to Kochs: ‘Shut up and get with the program’

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon tore into the powerful Koch political network Sunday, accusing it of undermining President Donald Trump ahead of a midterm election that threatens to derail his presidency.

“What they have to do is shut up and get with the program, OK?” Bannon said in an interview with POLITICO. “And here’s the program: Ground game to support Trump’s presidency and program, [and] victory on Nov. 6.”

Bannon’s comments came as the network of major Republican Party donors, led by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, convened in Colorado Springs, Colorado to discuss the 2018 political landscape. During the retreat, top Koch officials described the Trump White House as toxic and destructive to the country.

They sharply criticized Trump’s protectionist trade policies, arguing that his actions were taking a toll on the economy. A video shown during the conference depicted images of recently shuttered businesses.

“The Continue reading “Bannon to Kochs: ‘Shut up and get with the program’”

Role reversal: Architect of 2010 GOP House takeover in trouble

DALLAS — The man who engineered the 2010 Republican takeover of the House is racing to save himself in his own election this year — and he admits, in so many words, that President Donald Trump isn’t helping.

Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, a longtime party leader and former House GOP campaign chief, is confronting a treacherous political landscape back at home — a well-funded Democratic opponent with a boffo résumé, a rapidly diversifying and more liberal district, and, perhaps most critically, a constituency of well-educated and upper-income suburban voters who increasingly are turning on the president.

His predicament underscores the grave danger confronting Republicans this fall. As the party braces for an electoral drubbing that threatens to wipe out the majority they won eight years ago, the list of incumbents under duress is growing ever longer — and even powerful lawmakers like Sessions, a sharp-elbowed tactician who hasn’t faced a Continue reading “Role reversal: Architect of 2010 GOP House takeover in trouble”

Trump ponies up to stop Democratic House takeover

President Donald Trump is intensifying his involvement in the midterm elections amid rising Republican fears that the party is confronting a November wave.

The president has signed off on plans for his reelection campaign to funnel contributions to 100 Republican candidates running in House and Senate races, the campaign said Thursday. The precise amount is unclear, but Trump is expected to send thousands of dollars to each contender.

And during a meeting with fellow GOP lawmakers on Thursday morning, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced that Trump was slated to appear at a September event benefiting House Republicans, who are trying to protect their 23-seat majority.

Additionally, as part of the financial decision, the Republican National Committee, which Trump has been aggressively raising money for, will transfer $4 million apiece to the National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The financial decision comes at a time of Continue reading “Trump ponies up to stop Democratic House takeover”

Guilfoyle to leave Fox to work for pro-Trump super PAC

Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle is expected to leave the network to join the pro-Trump America First super PAC, according to a person with direct knowledge of the hire.

Guilfoyle is also expected to hit the campaign trail for this midterm cycle with Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. The two have been dating in recent weeks.

The younger Trump has emerged as a key surrogate for Republican midterm campaigns, and Guilfoyle has traveled with him to several recent rallies, including one for Florida gubernatorial hopeful Ron DeSantis and another for Montana Senate candidate Matt Rosendale.

Guilfoyle did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did an America First spokesperson.

America First has emerged as the main pro-Trump outside group. The president attended a summer conference that the group held at his Washington hotel, and Donald Trump Jr. also gave the organization his support.

Guilfoyle’s move was initially reported Continue reading “Guilfoyle to leave Fox to work for pro-Trump super PAC”

McConnell-aligned group scraps ad campaign hitting Manchin

An outside group aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is abruptly halting a planned ad offensive in the West Virginia Senate race, an early blow for the Republican Party in a critical midterm contest.

One Nation, a prominent conservative group, on Thursday cancelled hundreds of thousands of dollars in TV and radio spending in the state. The organization had planned a $750,000 campaign casting Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a top GOP target, as weak on immigration.

The offensive started on July 17 and had been scheduled to run through July 26, according to a person familiar with the media buy.

As part of its midterm blitz, One Nation had been slated to run ads in five Senate battlegrounds this month: West Virginia, North Dakota, Nevada, Indiana, and Arizona. People familiar with the group’s plans said it intended to move forward in the other four states.

Republicans have had high Continue reading “McConnell-aligned group scraps ad campaign hitting Manchin”

RNC panel votes to recommend Charlotte as site of 2020 convention

A Republican National Committee panel on Wednesday voted to recommend Charlotte, N.C. to serve as the site of the 2020 GOP Convention, according to a senior Republican familiar with the talks.

The committee is expected to finalize the selection at its annual summer meeting on Friday in Austin, Texas.

RNC panel votes to recommend Charlotte as site of 2020 convention

A Republican National Committee panel on Wednesday voted to recommend Charlotte, N.C. to serve as the site of the 2020 GOP Convention, according to a senior Republican familiar with the talks.

The committee is expected to finalize the selection at its annual summer meeting on Friday in Austin, Texas.

Mega-donor boosts Ward in Arizona Senate race

Conservative mega-donor Robert Mercer has cut a $500,000 check to a super PAC backing Arizona Senate hopeful Kelli Ward, a major cash infusion that comes ahead of the Aug. 28 primary.

Polls have shown Ward, a conservative former state senator, trailing GOP Rep. Martha McSally. Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an immigration hard-liner, is also running in the primary for the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

Mercer, a reclusive billionaire and a former hedge fund executive, has emerged as a major Ward benefactor. With his latest contribution, he has given the pro-Ward KelliPAC $800,000 this election cycle.

Mercer also funded Ward during the 2016 election season, when she waged an unsuccessful primary challenge against Sen. John McCain.

A KelliPAC official said the organization would be using the contribution to bankroll a new TV ad casting McSally, the establishment favorite, as insufficiently conservative and attacking her for Continue reading “Mega-donor boosts Ward in Arizona Senate race”

NRCC splits with top digital staffer

The National Republican Congressional Committee has abruptly split with a top digital staffer just over four months before the 2018 midterm elections.

Daria Grastara had been working as the digital director for the NRCC’s independent expenditure arm, which is expected to spend tens of millions of dollars on advertising to protect the party’s House majority.

Neither Grastara nor the NRCC would comment on the departure.

But three people briefed on the exit said it came after Grastara gave an online video interview to Campaigns and Elections, an insider journal that tracks the campaign industry. Grastara, these people said, didn’t give her supervisors a heads-up before she gave the on-the-record interview.

In the nine-and-a-half minute video, which posted on June 13, Grastara outlines her digital work on behalf of the committee and explains how she had been experimenting with ways to mobilize voters ahead of the election.

“I’m proud of my Continue reading “NRCC splits with top digital staffer”

It’s Trump vs. Giuliani in Louisiana House race

President Donald Trump has offered his personal support to Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins, giving him a major boost in his primary.

The move is a major brush-back to the president’s personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani is set to travel to Louisiana on Monday to raise money for attorney Josh Guillory, a long-shot Higgins primary opponent who is employing Giuliani’s new girlfriend, Republican fundraiser Jennifer LeBlanc.

Giuliani’s foray into the contest is unexpected because party leaders typically protect sitting incumbents, not try to dislodge them. It has infuriated senior Republicans, who are convinced that the former mayor is acting at his girlfriend’s behest.

In recent days, aides to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the dean of the Louisiana House delegation, have contacted the White House to complain about Giuliani’s visit and to reaffirm Scalise’s support for Higgins. Officials with the Louisiana Republican Party also reached out Continue reading “It’s Trump vs. Giuliani in Louisiana House race”

Trump endorses Roby despite past disloyalty

President Donald Trump has endorsed Alabama Rep. Martha Roby, giving her a major boost in a primary battle in which she’s come under attack over her past lack of allegiance to the president.

“Congresswoman Martha Roby of Alabama has been a consistent and reliable vote for our Make America Great Again Agenda,” Trump wrote in a Friday morning tweet. “She is in a Republican Primary run-off against a recent Nancy Pelosi voting Democrat. I fully endorse Martha for Alabama 2nd Congressional District!”

The endorsement was a surprising one for the president, who over the course of the midterm year has been promoting candidates who have demonstrated loyalty to him.

Roby hasn’t always been supportive of the president. She withdrew her support for then-candidate Trump after the release of the Access Hollywood tape in October 2016 in which Trump could be heard speaking in 2005 about grabbing women without their Continue reading “Trump endorses Roby despite past disloyalty”

Conservative breakup: Club for Growth splits with Jamestown Associates

The anti-tax group Club for Growth has split with the prominent Republican advertising firm Jamestown Associates, a rare breakup in the tight-knit world of conservative politics that could have ripple-effects for GOP candidates across the country.

On March 20, Club for Growth President David McIntosh sent a memo to his staff effectively severing its relationship with the firm, which it had previously endorsed at a time when mainstream Republican Party groups were blacklisting Jamestown Associates.

McIntosh’s memo, which was obtained by POLITICO, alleged that Jamestown Associates had promised prospective clients that hiring the firm would put them in line to receive an endorsement from the Club for Growth — a powerful imprimatur in Republican primaries that often precedes hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside spending. The organization also bundles contributions directly to its favored candidates.

“This is simply not true,” McIntosh writes in the memo. “Needless to say, Continue reading “Conservative breakup: Club for Growth splits with Jamestown Associates”

Giuliani’s act of love sets off GOP furor

Rudy Giuliani’s love life is causing trouble for the White House.

In a move that blindsided the West Wing and sent Hill Republicans into a tizzy, the president’s personal attorney is throwing his support behind an obscure House candidate in Louisiana trying to take out incumbent GOP Rep. Clay Higgins. But the bizarre tale of Giuliani’s interest in an off-the-radar congressional race only begins there.

It turns out the ex-New York mayor’s new girlfriend, GOP fundraiser Jennifer LeBlanc, is working for the Republican challenger in the race, Josh Guillory. LeBlanc had been on Higgins’ payroll until late last year when she abruptly parted ways with the congressman.

"We have a National Enquirer-type situation going on down in Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District," said state Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Higgins backer who hails from the area.
Giuliani’s involvement, Landry added, is “ridiculous.”

The former mayor’s foray into the race has Continue reading “Giuliani’s act of love sets off GOP furor”

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen resigns from RNC

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, has resigned from the Republican National Committee’s finance committee, an RNC official confirmed Wednesday.

The official said RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel accepted Cohen’s resignation and that the former Trump attorney has been inactive on the committee for several months.

A separate RNC official said Cohen’s decision to resign was rooted in complaints about the president’s immigration policies.

Cohen has been a source of significant controversy for the president in recent months stemming from his central role in multiple legal issues, including a lawsuit brought by adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with the president and is suing to be released from a nondisclosure agreement brokered by Cohen.

In response to reporting about the nondisclosure agreement, both Cohen and Trump previously claimed that the president was unaware of the deal and that Trump did not know Continue reading “Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen resigns from RNC”

Trump to campaign in N. Dakota for Rep. Kevin Cramer

President Donald Trump will visit North Dakota on June 27 to campaign with GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer, a trip that could go a long way toward extinguishing tensions between the White House and the Senate hopeful.

Trump’s planned trip to Fargo, which the candidate announced on Friday on Twitter, came after Cramer took the unusual step of publicly attacking the administration for its seemingly warm treatment of his Democratic opponent, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

During a recent North Dakota radio interview, Cramer lashed out at the White House legislative affairs director, Marc Short, who played a central role in inviting Heitkamp to a high-profile bill signing with the president last month in the White House.

“If Marc Short was very good at his job, you know, we’d have a repeal and replacement of Obamacare, we’d have a replacement of the venting and flaring rule,” Cramer said in the interview.

Continue reading “Trump to campaign in N. Dakota for Rep. Kevin Cramer”

McConnell zeroes in on election — his own

On Monday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell huddled with a few top aides at the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters — but the 2018 midterms weren’t on the agenda.

Instead, they pored over plans for McConnell’s own far-off 2020 reelection campaign.

For 90 minutes, McConnell, his chief of staff Phil Maxson, state director Terry Carmack, and political adviser Josh Holmes talked about the political landscape back home in Kentucky and gamed out how the campaign would be staffed and structured.

The early discussions, which were detailed by more than a half-dozen of McConnell’s closest advisers and allies, reflects the leader’s long-held penchant for intensive — some would say obsessive — preparedness and planning.

Yet it also underscores a stark reality confronting the Kentucky Republican. At a time when anti-establishment sentiment is roiling the party, the 76-year-old McConnell, who this week became the longest-serving Senate Republican leader in Continue reading “McConnell zeroes in on election — his own”