Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little wins GOP gubernatorial primary, and Rep. Raul Labrador is joining the job market
Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little won Tuesday's Republican primary to replace Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who is retiring after three terms. Little, 64 and Otter's handpicked successor, defeated a handful of challengers, most prominently Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist. Labrador (pictured) is the fourth Republican member of Congress to gamble on statewide office and lose this year; another GOP incumbent, Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), was unseated in his primary last week. Republican Russ Fulcher, 56, won the GOP primary to replace Labrador in Idaho's 1st congressional district.
Little will face Democratic state Rep. Paulette Jordan, 38, who is vying to be Idaho's first female governor and the first Native American woman to lead any state. Jordan, a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, beat 72-year-old businessman A.J. Balukoff in the Democratic primary. Peter Weber
Oregon state Rep. Knute Buehler won a crowded Republican primary on Tuesday and will face Gov. Kate Brown (D) in November. Buehler, the most moderate of the Republicans on the ballot, ran for secretary of state in 2012, losing to Brown, who became governor in 2015 when John Kitzhaber stepped down amid scandal. Brown won a special election to keep the governorship in 2016.
In Nebraska, state Sen. Bob Krist (D) beat two challengers to win the Democratic primary and the right to face Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) in November. Krist was a Republican until he switched to nonpartisan last September, and he entered the Democratic race in February because he was unable to run as an independent. He has promised to govern Nebraska in a less-partisan manner than Ricketts if he wins. Peter Weber
Pennsylvania voters participated in their first primaries under the state's new congressional map on Tuesday, and it looks like at least two women will break into the Keystone State's all-male congressional delegation. In the competitive 5th congressional district, in suburban Philadelphia, Mary Gay Scanlon won a crowded Democratic primary to face Republican Pearl Kim, and in the solidly Democratic 4th district, state Sen. Madeleine Dean (D) easily won her primary. Democrats have high hopes to flip three to five seats in November, a crucial test of their push to win control of the House.
Democrats already flipped one seat this year, when Rep. Conor Lamb (D) beat state Sen. Rick Saccone (R) in a special election in a solidly Republican district. Lamb will face Rep. Keith Rothfus (R) in the newly redrawn 17th district, while Saccone lost his second congressional race of the year, bested by state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler in the GOP primary in the 14th district. That district is rated solidly Republican.
In a special state legislative election on Tuesday, Democrat Helen Tai beat Republican Wendi Thomas for an open state House seat in Bucks County, a district President Trump narrowly won in 2016. This is the 41st state legislature seat Democrats have flipped since Trump was inaugurated, The Daily Beast notes. Peter Weber
If the Democratic Party retakes control of the House of Representatives in November, the White House expects the lower chamber to move forward with impeachment hearings against President Trump next year, the Washington Examiner reported Monday.
But though a vote may go against Trump in the House, the Examiner story says, it is not expected to clear the super-majority required for removal in the Senate. "There's no question that Democrats upset with President Trump will begin aggressive oversight hearings as well as start the push for impeachment," said Ron Bonjean, who advised former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).
However, Bonjean continued, "If a vote cleared a Democrat majority-led House, it would be very difficult to gain Senate approval because it would then take 67 votes to achieve removing the president. That means Senate Democrats would have to be unanimous as well as bringing with them more than a handful of Republicans."
An unnamed senior Democratic adviser agreed, arguing that Trump won't "be impeached unless special prosecutor Robert Mueller's team shows proven wrongdoing." Absent that, the adviser said, Democratic leadership will be wary of the risk. Bonnie Kristian
Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) became the year's first incumbent to lose his seat in a primary on Tuesday, conceding the race to Mark Harris, a former Baptist pastor in Charlotte. "I've called Mark Harris, I've conceded the race, and I wish him the best," Pittenger told supporters at what was expected to be his victory party. Harris edged him out by about 2 percentage points, with a third-party candidate getting 5.3 percent of the vote. Harris will face Democrat Dan McCready, a well-financed Marine combat veteran, who beat Christian Cano in Tuesday's Democratic primary.
Pittenger's 9th congressional district is one of two in the state expected to be competitive in the fall. In the other, the 13th district, Kathy Manning won the Democratic primary and will face Rep. Ted Budd (R). Manning has out-fundraised Budd and had twice as much cash on hand as of mid-April, The Charlotte Observer reports. Peter Weber
Washington Republicans breathed a sigh of relief when West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won the Republican primary for November's U.S. Senate race, beating former coal executive and ex-convict Don Blankenship, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately rubbed some ... salt? ... in the wounds. Blankenship had effectively based his campaign on opposition to "Cocaine Mitch" and his "Chinaperson" father-in-law, and McConnell's campaign team tweeted a photo of McConnell standing in a cloud of white powder, what looks like cocaine sprinkled over the photo, and the caption: "Thanks for playing, Don."
— Team Mitch (@Team_Mitch) May 9, 2018
Blankenship could, of course, get his revenge with a write-in campaign — West Virginia's "sore loser" law means he can't run as a third-party candidate — but luckily for "Gloating Mitch," Blankenship seems to think that isn't a "viable" idea. Peter Weber
Republicans really can't quit Hillary. Yes, Hillary Clinton retired from electoral politics after losing the Electoral College to President Trump in 2016, but GOP candidates and allied groups keep on running against her. From Jan. 1 to April 24, Republicans ran 12,864 ads on TV mentioning Clinton or showing her photo, USA Today reports, citing data from Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group. More than 5,000 of those ads were from Ohio's GOP gubernatorial primary, and 3,751 were aired by Republicans running to face Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in West Virginia.
It isn't a bad strategy, says Jennifer Duffy at the Cook Political Report. "The end goal is to taint somebody as not conservative enough, and there are limited ways to do that." Other "unpopular" Democrats include former President Barack Obama, featured in 18,971 GOP ads this year, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who appears in 9,721 Republican ads. Luckily for Republicans, Pelosi said Tuesday she will run for House speaker if Democrats win the House this fall. ("It's important that it not be five white guys at the table, no offense," Pelosi told The Boston Globe.)
But if you live in a state where Trump won bigly in 2016, you can expect to see a lot of Clinton on your TV set this fall, Duffy told USA Today. Or you could stick with Netflix.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) may well be retiring to spend more time with his family. "Everybody's going to write the timing is just because Republicans are going to lose — and that's true," GOP mega-donor Dan Eberhart told New York on Wednesday. "But he really just wanted to go home." Like other Republican strategists, donors, and lawmakers, Eberhart argues Speaker Nancy Pelosi is already a fait accompli. "I mean, I think the House is gone," he said. GOP donors, he told USA Today, are "going to naturally shift their focus to the Senate."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies have been making the same save-the-Senate pitch. "It seems clear now that the fight is to hold the Senate," Billy Piper, a lobbyist and former McConnell chief of staff, tells The New York Times. Scott Jennings, a longtime GOP operative close to McConnell, agreed. "If you're a donor, and you're looking at Paul Ryan saying, 'I'm going to go ahead and retire,' it's a pretty clear signal," he told New York. "If he thinks the House is lost, who would be more in the know than Paul Ryan? ... McConnell, in the last few days, has said, 'The House is lost, we have to hold the Senate.'"
There is no guarantee that Democrats will win the House, but they need to flip 24 seats to take control, and anywhere from 50 to 80 GOP-held seats are at risk in competitive races versus 16 competitive seats for Democrats, according to Cook Political Report. Ryan's retirement is "a major symbolic blow to the party as it heads into a tough campaign season," Harry Enten says at CNN, but "the writing has been on the wall for a while now. President Donald Trump's low approval rating, Republicans' poor standing on the generic congressional ballot, and Democratic performance in special elections since Trump took office all point to a bad outcome for Republicans in November." Peter Weber