The Latest: 5 Initial House Republicans to Watch

National News

Roll Call: As 2023 started, 18 House and Senate campaigns were in debt

  • “As lawmakers wrangle over the nation’s debt, 18 members of the House and Senate started this year with campaign committees that each reported at least $100,000 in unpaid bills.” (Though some have since been paid.)
  • “OpenSecrets tabulated that candidates and outside groups spent a record $8.9 billion on the 2022 midterm races.”
  • “The campaign debt, he added, may be a function of the overall picture of increasing money in politics.”

U.S. House of Representatives Updates

The Texas Tribune: Texas GOP censures U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales over party-splitting votes in Congress

  • “The Republican Party of Texas voted Saturday to censure U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales (TX-23), R-San Antonio, over his recent votes that split with the party. The State Republican Executive Committee passed the censure resolution 57-5, with one member abstaining. It needed a three-fifths majority to pass.”
  • “The move allows the party, which is otherwise required to remain neutral in intraparty contests, to set aside that rule for Gonzales’ next primary.”
  • “On Monday — two days after the censure — received a primary challenger in Julie Clark, chairwoman of the Medina County GOP.
  • However, the NRCC spokesperson Delanie Bomar stated, “Congressman Gonzales is a valued member of the House majority, and we look forward to supporting his re-election.”

Cook Political Report: Five Potential Flashpoints for 2024 House Republican Primaries

  • “A new report this week by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Joshua Ferrer and Michael Thorning found that 21.3% of eligible voters cast ballots in 2022’s congressional primaries.”
  • “It’s early, but the first congressional primaries of 2024 are now less than a year away.”
  • “As the primary battle lines for 2024 come into focus, here’s an initial list of five Republicans to watch.”
  1. Tony Gonzales (TX-23) – “Texas, scheduled to kick off the season on March 5, is the site of the first ultra-conservative fusillade fired at a GOP moderate, two-term San Antonio Rep. Tony Gonzales (TX-23).” (Gonzales was the only House Republican to vote with all Democrats against Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s proposed House rules package.)
  2. French Hill (AR-02) – “Hill is the definition of a “Chamber of Commerce Republican” and went on CNN last December calling for a non-Trump GOP presidential nominee in 2024, but his allies say the furor over his past votes couldn’t be any worse than it was in 2022. Hill’s perch on the Financial Services Committee ensures he’ll be well-funded.”
  3. Dusty Johnson (SD-AL) – In 2022, there “was an underwhelming showing for Johnson.” “If a better-funded Freedom Caucus-style candidate emerges in 2024, Johnson could be vulnerable.”
  4. Dan Newhouse (WA-04) – “Newhouse is one of just two pro-impeachment House Republicans left standing after eight others retired or were defeated in primaries in 2022. Newhouse has been able to scrape by in this deep-red district since 2014 by downplaying party labels and cobbling together a fragile coalition of Democrats, Republicans and independents. But his hold on the seat is tenuous, and he may need another split field to get by again.”
  5. Dan Webster (FL-11) – “A former 1990s Florida House speaker nearly got caught napping last August when he came within seven points of losing his primary to Laura Loomer.” Loomer has filed paperwork to run again in 2024. But rather than formally announcing, she’s embarked on a holy war against Gov. Ron DeSantis, pillorying proposed changes to the state’s resign-to-run law in a bid to boost Trump. She’s also taken a new role as creative director for American Liberty Fund, an anti-McCarthy Super PAC that spent $281,000 on her behalf in 2022. Loomer’s incendiary tactics helped her raise $794,000 last cycle, outspending the notoriously lazy Webster. But look for the pro-McCarthy CLF to spend much more heavily here in 2024 to prevent the GOP PR disaster she could become if elected.”

Split Ticket: Our 2024 House Ratings

  • “Republicans had an excellent chance to secure a comfortable House majority in 2022.”
  • “Although the political environment undoubtedly favored the GOP before Dobbs, the Republicans’ combined 52.5% showing in the 34th probably overstated the party’s national advantage.”
  • “ Democrats ended up overperforming in four more House special elections in seats redder than the nation that fall, upsetting prominent Republicans in New York and Alaska. The coalitions in most of these districts (e.g., NE-01, MN-01, NY-19) pointed to a probable Dobbs effect, albeit in unorthodox ways.”
  • “Along with a 19-point defeat of an anti-abortion referendum in Trump +15 Kansas, the Democrats’ House overperformances suggested that Dobbs had had a material impact on swing voters nationwide — hardly a surprise considering most Americans are pro-choice.”
  • “After accounting for uncontested seats, we found that Republicans won the House popular vote by just 1.6 points.”
  • “Had national Democrats made more efficient spending decisions by focusing on districts which Republicans unexpectedly won by less than one percentage point (e.g., CO-03, MI-10, AZ-01), they could have retained the House majority.”

Here are the 2024 Split Ticket House ratings:

  • “We might expect the national generic ballot average to shift into neutral or Democratic-leaning territory in 2024 due to polarization.”
  • “Republicans are now playing defense. Of the 21 CVI crossover seats, the GOP carried 13 in 2022 — including 6 districts bluer than D+5. Eight of those vulnerable Republicans are untested freshmen like Anthony D’Esposito (NY-04) and Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05). Tom Kean Jr. (NJ-07) and George Santos (NY-03) are the only members of the group who have run in a presidential cycle before.” 
  • “While Democrats do have freshmen like Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) facing challenging reelections in unfavorable territory, there are more battle-tested incumbents like Jared Golden (ME-02), Matt Cartwright (PA-08), and Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) on the Democratic than Republican side.”
  • “The biggest obstacle to Democratic House control stems from North Carolina and Ohio, where freshly-drawn Republican gerrymanders could wipe out upwards of half a dozen Democratic incumbents.”

Senate Updates

PunchBowl News: Kelly Travels to Montana to Boost Tester

  • “Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) fundraised in Montana this weekend to help his endangered Senate Democratic colleague, Jon Tester.”
  • “Senate Democrats are facing a brutal map in 2024 and Kelly’s assistance for Tester is an example of how the party is trying to protect its red-state incumbents.”
  • At this time, no Republicans have filed to challenge Tester for the Montana U.S. Senate seat.

FOX News: Ted Cruz says 2024 Senate re-election will be ‘firefight’ as Democrats come at him with ‘everything they have’

  • “Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas predicts that he’s “going to face a very serious race” as he runs for re-election next year.”
  • “”Some people say money doesn’t matter in politics. Really, they’ve never run a race,” Cruz said to laughter from the crowd as he pointed back to his hard-fought razor-thin Senate re-election victory over then-Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke. “We were out raised and outspent three to one.””
  • “And pointing to his 2024 re-election campaign, he predicted that “this is going to be, I believe, a $100 million race… I guarantee you there are a dozen Democrat gazillionaires who are looking back at 2018 and saying ‘we came two points away from beating that S-O-B. And next time I’m writing another million-dollar check.’” Speaking to the donors, he said “that’s why I’m talking to you. .. I need your help once again… they’re going to come after us with everything they have.””
  • “While no major Texas Democrat has yet to jump into the Senate race, the senator forecast that “they’re going to run a serious candidate.”

The Hill: Ohio secretary of state ‘actively’ considering Senate run in 2024

  • “Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) said on Saturday that he was being encouraged to run for Senate in 2024 and was “actively” considering a run.”
  • “Ohio is one of three states won by former President Trump that is being targeted by Senate Republicans. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as a “toss-up.””
  • “While Trump won the state by eight points and Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Oh.) won the state by six points, Brown will be a formidable opponent. The incumbent senator is a known name in the Buckeye State, having served in elected office since 1975 and in the Senate since 2007. Brown even held LaRose’s post as secretary of state in the 1980s and early 1990s. LaRose called Brown a “talented politician,” but referred to him as “one of the most liberal members” of the Senate.”
  • ““His values are misaligned from Ohio,” LaRose said. “For many years he has been portraying himself as this working-class hero, man of the people. It’s not true.” 
  • “A good candidate can beat him,” he added. “We need a battle-tested candidate that’s ready to go and that’s why I’m exploring it.” 
  • “Ohio state Sen. Matt Dolan (R), who came in third in last year’s GOP Senate primary, announced his Senate candidacy in January. Other contenders include 2022 Senate candidate Bernie Moreno, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), and Attorney General Dave Yost (R).”

Presidential Updates

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: The Republican Presidential Primary: Still Early, but Maybe Getting Late

  • “The calendar year before the presidential primary voting begins is often defined by winnowing, as contenders emerge and then fade.”
  • “But Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are taking up so much oxygen that we may already have the top contenders, with everyone else who runs essentially an afterthought.”
  • “DeSantis is polling well for a non-candidate, but we need to see how he actually performs before assuming that his support is solid.”
  • “If another candidate supplants DeSantis (or Trump), or at least vaults into their stratosphere, don’t necessarily assume it will be someone who is currently well-known now or has a lot of formal political experience.”
  • “In the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, Trump and DeSantis together get about 75% of the total support.”
  • “A recent national survey from the GOP firm Echelon Insights showed Trump leading DeSantis 46%-31%, with Pence at 9% and Haley at 6%. Trump dominated among those who do not have a bachelor’s degree, 54%-27%, but DeSantis led Trump, narrowly, 36%-33% among those who had a bachelor’s degree or more.”