This week: The Briefing, Vol. X, Issue 2
- On Jan. 6, don’t play the Democrats’ game
- John James eyes a House race
- Ron Johnson is running for a third term
Capitol Riot Commemoration: Last week, Republicans tried and mostly failed to break through with their own messaging about last year’s riots at the US capitol. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, in order to counter the Democrats’ recent orgy of self-pity over the incident, in which one rioter was shot by police and hundreds of people have subsequently been charged with crimes.
Republicans may finally be realizing now, however, that the only way to win this game is not to play it.
Democrats are scared. Joe Biden’s approval rating has fallen all the way to 40 percent. His disapproval rating has climbed above 50% in the last nine independent polls. Twenty-five Democrats have now announced they are retiring from the U.S. House — a high number and not a good sign of what they see coming in the midterms.
This is why they are obsessing over January 6, as we noted last week, creating a commission and holding a 9-11 style commemoration. Democrats don’t really believe that “our democracy” is in peril, or that this will be, as Rep. Eric Swalwell put it, the last election ever held in the U.S. They just don’t have any other good issues to run on, so existential panic has become their last resort. Between inflation, the border crisis, the supply-chain crisis, and the dog’s breakfast that Biden is making of foreign policy, even the liberal media cannot make Biden seem competent. There’s very little in Democrats’ record that they will want to run on in 2022.
This means that Republicans have to stop worrying about such distractions and instead focus like a laser on the very bread-and-butter issues that are going to restore their majority.
They should not ignore or rug-sweep questions about Jan. 6 — they need only engage by noting that each of its individual perpetrators is rightly facing justice, full stop.
Then, change the subject to something that’s actually relevant. Talk about the economy, especially inflation and the damage it is doing to Americans’ savings and wages. Talk about the supply chain crisis and the effect it is having. Talk about how arrogant and hypocritical government officials are reimposing COVID mandates at this late stage, measures that are unnecessary and won’t help stop the spread of the disease, but will harm businesses and employees. Talk about how high gas prices are, and how difficult it is to hire quality candidates for jobs. They need to talk about Democrats’ soft-on-crime policies in major cities and the damage they are doing there.
Public safety and personal prosperity are profound motivators in elections. The January 6 Capitol riot, on the other hand, was a one time unpleasant experience that today means very little to anyone except for Democrats and the media.
Republicans shouldn’t play their game by engaging on January 6th. They need to focus on the issues that are going to throw Democrats out of power in november.
Michigan: Former Republican Senate nominee John James had been looking at the governor’s race, but he may bow out instead to run for congress in the newly constituted tenth district. This would help him avoid a crowded and expensive statewide primary, instead entering a race where he would probably begin as the frontrunner for the nomination. This Macomb County-area district is a swing seat, with a slight Republican advantage, but It would allow James to build up, expand, and extend his political career. Were he to succeed, he could help build new Republican bases of support within the state and even potentially set up a future statewide race.
Wisconsin: Despite encouragement from President Trump, former Rep. Sean Duffy has decided not to run for governor. This essentially leaves the field to Rebecca Kleefisch, the former lieutenant governor under Scott Walker.
Missouri: It’s a tale of two primaries. On the Republican side, everyone and his mother is jumping into the primary for the open seat being left by the retiring Sen. Roy Blunt. On the Democratic side, on the other hand, nobody wants to run.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who had been the most prominent Democrat not to skip the race at this point, just announced that he will run for re-election. This leaves two relatively unknown figures — former State Sen. Scott Sifton and Marine veteran and attorney Lucas Kunce.
The Show-Me State has moved so far toward the Republican Party that it is almost hard to imagine that, just 15 years ago, a Democrat like Claire McCaslkill was able to topple a sitting Republican U.S. senator.
New Hampshire: Republicans face the possibility of a clown-car primary after this race was rocked by Gov. Chris Sununu’s decision not to run against Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. But they will at least soon have one major, well-known candidate in this race. State Senate President Chuck Morse has signaled that he will be announcing his candidacy later this month. He may not have a clear field, as Brigadier Gen. Donald Bolduc is already running and Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith is supposedly about to announce as well. Former Rep. Frank Guinta
Pennsylvania: The other shoe may be about to drop. Hedge Fund CEO David McCormick has stepped down from his position, possibly — probably even — in anticipation of his making a run for Senate as a Republican against Dr. Mehmet Oz, Jeff Bartos, and former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands. Oz is of course the celebrity candidate, but McCormick, a former Bush administration official in the Treasury Department, could enter as a self-funder with more political experience and more reliable ideological views than Oz.
Oz is calling himself a conservative, and he might even be one. But because he has never really been involved in politics, his ideology remains something of a mystery.
South Dakota: It’s official — John Thune is running for re-election, saving Senate Republicans the minor annoyance of having to recruit and introduce a new candidate to the electorate.
Wisconsin: Here’s a much more consequential decision. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson officially announced over the weekend that he is running for a third term.
Although Johnson is not a lock for re-election, he will be much harder for Democrats to dislodge than it would be for them to win this seat in an open-seat race. Johnson has at his disposal the power of incumbency, his own natural political talent, and the Republican lean of 2022. Democrats already in the race include Lieutenant Gov. Mandela Barnes, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.