2018 Campaign

Romney Moves Towards Senate Bid

Politico: “The former GOP presidential nominee is huddling with Utah’s class of GOP power brokers, contacting the state’s major political donors, and hitting the trail for candidates running in local races amid mounting speculation that the state’s longtime senator, Orrin Hatch, will retire. Romney is also raising money for House and Senate Republicans, winning him favor with GOP leaders ahead of a treacherous midterm election.”

“The Senate might seem like an unexpected landing place for the 70-year-old former Massachusetts governor and two-time presidential candidate. Yet those who’ve spoken with Romney in recent days are convinced he’s prepared to jump in. After falling short in his quest for the White House and then being passed over by President Donald Trump for secretary of state, friends say Romney still has unquenched political ambitions.”

Mounting GOP Retirements Threaten House Majority

“A retirement wave has hit House Republicans, emboldening Democrats who have become increasingly bullish about their prospects of winning back a majority in 2018,” The Hill reports.

“Republicans said more retirement announcements are expected in the coming days and weeks. The other veteran GOP chairmen who are facing term limits and could retire are Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul (R-TX).”

“Another long-serving Texas Republican, powerful Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, isn’t facing term limits but represents a congressional district that’s trending blue. Sessions is on Democrats’ retirement watch list, as well as Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), former Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), former Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-NY), and Reps. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Bruce Poliquin (R-ME).

House Democrats Expand Target List for Midterms

Greg Sargent: “House Democratic strategists, convinced that Tuesday’s results represent a massive voter uprising against Trumpism that will continue through next year, are adding nearly a dozen new GOP districts to their list of 2018 takeover targets, in an effort to expand the map to keep pace with the rapid deterioration of the GOP’s political fortunes.”

Do Democrats Have a Chance In Alabama?

First Read: “Move over Virginia and New Jersey, and say hello to Alabama, where the special U.S. Senate election between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones takes place a month from now on December 12.”

“The question we’ve been asking: How much will national Democrats play in the race, given their success Tuesday — but also given the fact that President Trump won Alabama by a whopping 28 points in 2016, 62 percent to 34 percent?”

“Any chance that Jones has to win — 10 percent? 20 percent? — gets diminished the more that Democrats nationalize the contest, even if it’s to make the controversial Roy Moore a household name. National Democrats will pour money into getting out the vote and other behind-the-scenes activities, but don’t expect any party TV ads or high-profile national surrogates on the campaign trail.”

Republican Candidates Can’t Have It Both Ways

Politico: “Sweeping losses in Tuesday’s elections have exacerbated a growing rift inside the GOP over whether the party’s candidates should embrace President Trump in next year’s midterms – or make a clean break. With Trump’s approval ratings cratering in swing states across the country, some senior party strategists are imploring lawmakers to abandon the president. Others argue that shunning Trump and his populist base is simply out of the question and that anything other than a full embrace of the president will spell electoral disaster.”

“In the Virginia gubernatorial race, Republican Ed Gillespie tried to have it both ways – with disastrous consequences. Gillespie, who privately agonized about the degree to which Trump should be involved in the contest, refused to campaign with the president. But at the same time, he trumpeted Trump’s culture war issues in ads.”

A Surge In Women Running for Office

Washington Post: “Women racked up victories across the country on Tuesday, and are being credited with the Democrats’ big night overall. It is a testament to the remarkable explosion of women candidates who have entered the political stage since Donald Trump was elected president one year ago.”

“The wave is likely to continue. In 2018, 40 women are already planning to run for governor. Dozens more are considering congressional and other statewide office bids. And Tuesday’s result has already become a rallying cry for activists seeking to draw even more women into the public square.”

Republicans Fear More Losses Next Year

“A wave of Democratic victories ignited a ferocious debate across the Republican Party on Wednesday over whether President Trump’s un­or­tho­dox behavior and polarizing agenda are jeopardizing the GOP’s firm grip on power in Congress, governors’ mansions and state legislatures,” the Washington Post reports.

LThe recriminations sparked by Tuesday’s results — a decisive rebuke of Trump and his policies in Virginia and elsewhere — threatened the fragile GOP push to pass sweeping tax cuts by the end of the year and raised deeper questions about Republican identity and fealty to a historically unpopular president.”

How This Year’s Elections May Change Next Year’s

Nate Silver: “While Tuesday’s results may not change the reality of the 2018 outlook all that much, it could change perceptions about it, and that could have some knock-on effects. (Politicians are often like Morning Joe panelists in how they think about elections.) Republicans’ retirement issues may get even worse; Democrats’ recruiting may get even better. Republicans might think twice about how they’re proceeding on tax reform — especially given that their current plans could have negative effects on just the sorts of wealthy coastal suburbs where Republicans performed poorly on Tuesday.”

“And there will be lots of recriminations about the race that Ed Gillespie ran in Virginia, which could change Republicans’ thinking on how they should relate to Trump. Some of this is going to be silly: Gillespie did no worse (and no better) than you’d expect given Trump’s approval rating and Virginia’s blue lean. But if those politicians think Tuesday was a huge game-changing deal, they may begin to act like it and create a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

More House GOP Retirements Coming

A Republican campaign official tells Playbook to expect several House GOP retirements as soon as this week… Republicans are telling us not to read into these retirements — they are all for personal reasons, officials say. But, needless to say, the DCCC would love some more open seats.”

Said the source: “Don’t be surprised to see some retirements this week. Mostly in safe seats but could also see in a competitive seat or two. Still well below average on retirements.”

Democrats Open Wide Lead In Generic Ballot

“Voters say they prefer Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives over Republicans by the widest margin in over a decade, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll — a fresh sign of trouble for the GOP majority one year before the midterm elections.”

“But Democrats’ effort to convert widespread disapproval of President Trump into victories in 2018 could be undercut by lower turnout, with Republicans expressing just as much motivation to vote in next year’s elections.”

“A slim 51% majority of registered voters say that if the election were held today, they would vote for or lean toward the Democratic candidate in their congressional district, while 40% say they would choose the Republican. That’s the biggest spread in a Post-ABC survey since October 2006, just weeks before a midterm in which Democrats won back control of the House and Senate amid deep dissatisfaction with then-President George W. Bush and the Iraq War.”