Daniel Donner: “Historically, special elections for state legislatures have tended to fly under the radar except among the more dedicated elections geeks, such as reside here at Daily Kos Elections. But as is our wont, we’ve been paying close attention to them, and we’ve seen a clear trend of Democratic overperformance this cycle.”
“Republicans in Congress, including several powerful committee chairmen, are rushing to retire rather than face re-election in the fall, a clear recognition that President Trump’s low approval rating will be a heavy weight on the party even with an improving economy,” the New York Times reports.
“While the president’s party almost always drops seats in a midterm election, the losses have averaged 40 seats since 1962 when the president’s approval rating is under 50 percent. Mr. Trump’s numbers are below 40 percent in most polls, the worst of any president at this point in his term in the history of polling. His ratings are also far worse than any first-term president when the unemployment rate is under 5 percent.”
Nate Cohn: GOP House retirements are surging, but not as much in competitive races
Joe Arpaio (R), “a close ally of President Trump and former sheriff known for his provocative approach to combating illegal immigration, is running for Senate in Arizona,” the Washington Examiner reports.
“The 85-year-old Arpaio could shake up the late August Republican primary in a critical open-seat race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).”
Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) told her fellow Arizona Republican House colleagues that she plans to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Roll Call reports.
Arizona Republic: “But McSally can expect opposition from some on the right, including a political-action committee aligned with the conservative Club for Growth, which warned recently that it would oppose her candidacy.”
Ron Brownstein: “Congressional Republicans spent last weekend huddling with President Trump at Camp David to frame their legislative agenda in 2018. But they have already placed the bets most likely to determine their fate in November’s midterm election, as a series of dramatic events late last week demonstrated.”
“The first has been to align more closely with Trump even as questions have mounted about both his basic fitness for the presidency and the potential legal exposure that he and his inner circle might face in the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. The second has been to pursue a policy agenda, on issues from taxes to health care to the environment, aimed almost entirely at the preferences of their party’s conservative base, with strikingly few concessions to any voices or interests beyond their core coalition.”
Vice President Mike Pence “is jumping into the midterm elections, planning visits soon to Nevada and Pennsylvania and helping recruit a candidate in Ohio amid an aggressive push to retain Republican control of Congress,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Mr. Pence, in an interview at his White House office Monday, conceded that history shows it is difficult for the president’s party to stave off midterm election losses, but said that economic gains could help Republicans strengthen their grip on the Senate.”
“Mitt Romney — who is said to be eyeing a bid for U.S. Senate from Utah — was treated last summer for prostate cancer,” NBC News reports.
“Romney’s treatment, which involved surgery at the University of California-Irvine Medical Center, was successful, and he has a good prognosis.”
“Democratic donor Tom Steyer, who has spent more than $100 million since 2016 on political campaigns, will forgo any run for office this year and focus instead on ending Republican control of the House of Representatives,” the Washington Post reports.
Said Steyer: “I’ve said all along, the question I always ask is: Where can I make the most differential impact? And when I look at the jobs I can run for in California, they all have reputable Democrats running for them already.”
“Steyer’s decision removes some of the drama from California’s races for governor and U.S. Senate, which had attracted ambitious Democrats who had been wanting to move up for years.”
“A massive influx of Puerto Rico residents displaced by recent hurricanes is transforming communities in Florida and other states, and a conservative group is moving quickly to woo them ahead of the midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports.
“Residents of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens who can participate in presidential primaries but cannot cast a vote for president — unless they move to the mainland and register to vote. With hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans leaving the island, they are poised to transform several communities in Florida and bolster fledgling island communities in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas, while adding to their already large numbers in New Jersey, New York and parts of New England.”
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Washington Post: “Long before voters decide in November who will control the House, the Senate and 36 governor’s seats across the country, the most wide-open primary season in decades will plunge the nation’s two major political parties into historic battles over who they are.”
“Races that Democrats once left uncontested are now brimming with candidates. Races in which Republicans had hoped to clear the field have grown crowded. And the power of national parties on both sides to moderate the conflicts remains low, as populist passions roil both the liberal and conservative grass roots.”
Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) announced his withdrawal from the race for U.S. Senate due to a health issue with his wife, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
Mandel was vying to challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in a rematch of the 2012 race.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the chairman of the DSCC, “has downplayed the party’s chances of picking up GOP-held seats in the 2018 elections outside of Nevada and Arizona — until now,” Politico reports.
“He previously always emphasized that the party’s priority was protecting its incumbents, 10 of whom are running for reelection in states President Trump won. But in an interview Thursday… Van Hollen sounded more optimistic about encroaching on GOP territory.”
Van Hollen said all eight GOP-held seats “will be in play. We have candidates in every one of those eight states, with the exception of Mississippi, where we are talking to some very strong candidates.”