Grassroots Favorite Stan Grot Will Soon be Announcing Candidacy for Michigan SOS

PC: DarKen Photography

Shelby Township Clerk, Stan Grot sent an email to supporters this week inviting them to attend his announcement for Michigan Secretary of State.

Grot will likely be the first Republican to officially announce his candidacy for the office.

The Republican nominee for Secretary of State will be decided by precinct delegates at the Michigan Republican State Convention next year.

Grot is known for being an expert recruiter of precinct delegates, which will certainly benefit him in the upcoming race.

Macomb County was critical to Donald Trump’s historic victory in Michigan, and Grot’s efforts to organize and build a grassroots army certainly played a role.

Although Grot is heavily involved in Macomb politics, he has spent the summer traveling the state.

Sources tell Conservative Intel they’ve seen Grot in almost every corner of the state, speaking at events, and more importantly, interacting with the Republicans that will decide his fate next year.

Grassroots activists have encouraged Grot to run because of a six-point plan he’s created to restore voter integrity in Michigan. It includes:

  • Requiring U.S. Citizenship Documentation for New Voter Registration
  • Purging Voters Registered in Multiple States
  • Increasing Oversight of the Detroit Public Accuracy Test
  • Implementing Mandatory Photo I.D. Before Voting
  • Utilizing the Social Security Database to Remove Deceased Voters
  • Auditing Cities and Townships That Lack Competency to Conduct Elections

The Trump faithful have rallied around him too. He was a keynote speaker last week at the Michigan Trump Republican event in Muskegon, attended by over 250 people.

He also sponsored a stop on the tour this week at the Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township.

State Senator Mike Kowall has filed a committee to run for Secretary of State, but has not officially announced.

There is still some degree of uncertainty as to whether Kowall will actually run. He’s reported raising just $600 in his quarterly statement. Grot has already raised over $70,000.

Kowall is viewed as being tied in with the Lansing establishment. This should make it easy for him to raise money, but many question his ability to compete with Grot in a convention race, where support from the grassroots is so critical.

Grot’s announcement will take place over two days. The first on Tuesday, August 22nd, in front of the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing at 1:00 p.m. We’ve learned that Congressman Paul Mitchell will be in attendance to introduce Grot. It is free and open to the public.

He will then host a reception at The Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township, at 6:00 p.m. Dinner, desserts, and drinks will be served. The Palazzo Grande is located at 54660 Van Dyke Ave. Shelby Twp., MI 48316. The event is also free and open to the public, but donations are welcome and guests are asked to RSVP to

Republicans at War

The Briefting, Vol. V, Issue 33 – This week:

  • Trump at war with congressional GOP
  • Incumbent at risk in Alabama Senate primary
  • A credible challenger to Flake?


Republicans at war: There is a great deal of frustration in Republican-dominated Washington. Obamacare repeal has failed, and the great fear is that tax reform, infrastructure, and other initiatives could suffer the same fate.

President Trump angrily took to Twitter last week to lay the failure of Obamacare repeal at the feet of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And the feeling is mutual. Trump is upset enough about current developments that he is preparing to distance himself from the congressional GOP if necessary.

What does it all mean? Not too much in electoral terms. If Republicans suffer in Trump’s first midterm, history suggests it won’t be due to lack of presidential support. President Obama committed himself to be as helpful to his party as possible in both of his midterms. Both turned out to be disastrous for Democrats, and Obama’s involvement only made things worse in each case. In fact, by 2014, when Obama had learned to limit his appearances to safe Democratic states, Democrats lost the governorships in Maryland and Maine, where he had shown up to campaign.

Similarly, voters will likely either reward or punish Republicans in 2018 based on Trump’s effectiveness or lack thereof. Any attempts to separate the Republican president from the Republican Congress will likely be in vain, for better or for worse. The Republican Party is Trump’s party now, just as the Democratic Party of 2010 was Obama’s party.

So the McConnell-Trump feud might make for exciting television — after all, McConnell’s wife is Trump’s secretary of Transportation — but most persuadable voters will likely view Republican-controlled Washington as one part of the same lot.

Manchin for Energy? The defection of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice to the Republican Party could become more than just a public relations coup for President Trump.

It also means that the appointment of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin to any position in Trump’s administration would result in an immediate gain of a Senate seat for the GOP.

Although there is nothing concrete at this point, Manchin’s name is already being floated by the White House as a potential replacement for Secretary Rick Perry, who would in turn move into the new vacancy at the top of the Department of Homeland Security.

Manchin denies any discussions are underway about such an appointment. But not only would he be a perfectly acceptable secretary for most conservatives, it would also provide him with an easy and graceful exit in a state where the voters have turned very sharply against the party that dominated for 80 years. Manchin told a local newspaper on August 7 that he does not “give a sh*t” about whether he is re-elected. If he gets an appointment, he won’t have to.

As the last genuinely popular Democrat in West Virginia, Manchin has to be favored for re-election from the outset if he runs. But 2018 won’t be an easy or pleasant race for him by any means. Republicans haven’t had trouble recruiting top-shelf candidates — their primary will feature a showdown between U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Morrisey won re-election last year by a modest (by modern West Virginia standards) 10 point margin. Jenkins, a former Democrat, won nearly 70 percent in his district last year, which had been the most Democratic area in the state. Again, Manchin would be a favorite against either, but not a prohibitive favorite.

Senate 2017

Alabama: Even as they feud in public, one area where Trump and McConnell are definitely united is their common desire to elect appointed Sen. Luther Strange to a full term in the Senate seat he took over from Jeff Sessions earlier this year. McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund has poured millions into the race already on his behalf, and Trump offered Strange, as he put it on Twitter, “my complete and total endorsement!”

Strange, however, has no easy path to the nomination. The first round of voting takes place Tuesday. A September 26 runoff is almost guaranteed. What’s not guaranteed is that Strange will actually make the runoff.

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore seems certain to finish first on Tuesday and secure his spot. But Strange finds himself in a tight competition for second place with Rep. Mo Brooks, a more traditional anti-establishment conservative candidate. One poll has the two within the margin of error, and Strange at just 22 percent — add ten points and that’s still a disastrous number for an incumbent. Brooks, who was a Ted Cruz supporter in 2016, has come under attack from Strange and from the Senate Leadership Fund for attacking Trump quite vigorously during the 2016 primary.

Strange’s problem goes back to a perception, whether it is fair or not, that he obtained his seat as a trade of favors with the scandal-plagued governor who was forced to resign earlier this year. As Alabama’s attorney general, he had been investigating former Republican Gov. Robert Bentley for using state resources to conduct an extramarital affair.

The revelation of the affair created a major scandal and even discussion of impeaching Bentley, but it had mostly died down by the time he was seeking a successor for Jeff Sessions, who had just resigned the seat to become Trump’s attorney general. The accusation — which Brooks is now laying thick once again as primary day approaches — is that Strange used his leverage over the governor to get a promotion to the U.S. Senate. A milder version is that the governor packed him off to Washington to get the heat off of himself, and that Strange should have known better than to cooperate in the process.

Of course, there’s no sign that Strange’s former office actually backed off of Bentley after Strange’s appointment. In fact, the appointment itself may have been what revived the issue to the point that Bentley was forced to resign. But this whole story explains why Strange, who had been a fairly popular elected official prior to this, is polling so poorly for an incumbent in a three-way primary.

The Senate GOP leadership has treated Strange like he’s an elected incumbent, surely in part because his vote has been critical at every turn in a Senate with just 52 Republicans.

House 2017

Utah-3: The race to replace former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is on. There isn’t any serious risk of a party switch to the Democrats, but Tuesday’s primary election comes down to three candidates with serious credibility in Provo.

In the pole position (which is to say, leading in the polls) is that city’s mayor, John Curtis. Former state legislator Chris Herrod is also running. And finally, Sarah Palin has endorsed Tanner Ainge, son of Celtics basketball star and BYU grad Danny Ainge.

Primary elections can be volatile, but think of Curtis as the favorite in this first-past-the-post race.

Senate 2018

Arizona: Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has announced she is considering a challenge to vulnerable Sen. Jeff Flake, who already finds himself under pressure with a primary challenge on his hands from Kelli Ward. Flake’s criticism of President Trump could cut either way in a state where Trump did quite poorly compared to other Republicans.

Dorothy, we’re not in Ohio, Iowa or Wisconsin anymore.

You can sneer all you like at Sinema, the first avowedly bisexual member of Congress, but she has managed to hold on to a very competitive district now ever since she was first elected. Flake’s numbers are very weak, and he has gone out of his way to criticize Trump, potentially weakening his support with the base.


“Only way to put two conservatives in runoff”

As part of his “Drain the Swamp Bus Tour,” Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05) made a stop Friday in Mobile, Ala. With the top three candidates locked in a fierce battle for the runoff, Brooks urged voters in the upcoming Senate primary to vote for him, instead of one of the six lower tier candidates.

Speaking in downtown Mobile, Brooks addressed the upcoming primary, “There are great candidates in this race, but only two can make the runoff. Judge Moore is leading every single public poll–he’s in the runoff no matter what. But the fight for the second spot is a race between myself and Luther Strange. I’m asking conservatives supporting other candidates to join me–to stop Luther Strange and put TWO conservatives in the runoff.”

Brooks is in a heated competition with Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat by former Gov. Robert Bentley. Questions arose regarding Strange’s appointment due to his refusal to indict Bentley on corruption charges; Strange was Alabama’s Attorney General at the time.

Strange has aligned himself with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has launched blistering attacks on Brooks and Moore. Brooks called for McConnell to step aside in the wake of Republicans’ failure to repeal ObamaCare.

Brooks continued, “There are two tiers in this race. Three candidates are getting most of the vote, and then there are some good folks in this race who just haven’t caught fire yet. It looks hard for them to win at this point.  But a vote for Strange is a vote for McConnell. And so if you want to stop McConnell and Luther, I’m asking you not to throw your vote away, but to come join our campaign.”

Brooks’ Mobile stop is in the backyard of one of Trip Pittman, who according to latest public polls was garnering seven percent of the vote.

Brooks is part of a field of nine candidates running in the Aug. 15 primary election.

Brooks to Trump in New Ad: Fire McConnell

In a new ad, Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05) talks directly to the President, asking him to fire Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Luther Strange for their inaction in the U.S. Senate.

Earlier today, Rep. Brooks commented, “Make no mistake: a vote for Luther Strange is a vote for Mitch McConnell. The Trump agenda is dead with McConnell and Strange. It’s time to fire them both.”

Rep. Brooks’ ad release comes on the heels of President Trump calling on Mitch McConnell to step aside.

Rep. Brooks is running for Attorney General’s Jeff Sessions former seat in the U.S. Senate.

The ad will run statewide through August 15. See the new ad HERE.

The transcript of the ad follows:

You’re absolutely right, Mr. President. 

And, Luther Strange and Mitch McConnell, they’re dead wrong. They’ve failed you on Obamacare, building the Wall, balancing the budget. They fight to keep the 60% rule that kills your agenda. I sure don’t!

McConnell and Strange are weak.

But, together, we can be strong. Mr. President, isn’t it time we tell McConnell and Strange, “you’re fired”?

I’m Mo Brooks, and I approve this message.


Senator Heller “Pleased” with Defeat of Obamacare Repeal

Just when everybody thought Senator Dean Heller couldn’t hurt himself anymore on his Obamacare position, he managed to in an interview with News 4 this week.

“And obviously it got in the middle of this – this health care battle, and I feel real pleased with the way this thing turned out,” Heller said.

This comes just weeks after Heller voted in favor of the “skinny repeal” proposal at the end of July.

It marks yet another flip-flop the Senator has made on Obamacare, and honestly, it’s getting difficult to keep track.

He campaigned on repeal and replace of Obamacare, and that’s the way he voted in 2015. But now, it seems he’s had no problem turning his back on the conservative voters that elected him.

He’s more concerned about the impact it could have on Medicaid and what it might mean for his reelection chances.

Those reelection chances are starting to look quite bleak.

Businessman Danny Tarkanian announced this week he’s running for Heller’s seat.

We reported last week, a new poll shows the head to head battle between Tarkanian and Heller is statistically tied.

Tarkanian, who’s been a longstanding supporter of President Trump on social media and in the press, is holding back no punches.

“Over the past several weeks, I have been inundated with text, emails, and phone calls from people of all walks of life across the state of Nevada who are upset with Dean Heller for campaigning one way in Nevada and voting the exact opposite in Washington DC. The refrain is the same: he turned his back on us.”

“Nevada deserves a Senator who will keep his word and vote in Washington DC the same way he campaigns here in Nevada.”

“I am a conservative Republican who supports the policies of President Trump to repeal Obamacare and end illegal immigration.”

Two Birds, Same Song.



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Fishing Expedition

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Conservative Intel has partnered with Pat Cross Cartoons!

Pat loves drawing, America, and the Big Man upstairs. His work aims to combine these three elements into a petri dish and see what happens. We hope you will find his work thought-provoking, insightful, profound, and maybe, just maybe, a bit humorous.

We encourage you to visit his website and like his Facebook page!

Incumbent Senator Dean Heller in Dead-Heat with Danny Tarkanian

Things are not looking good for Nevada U.S. Senator Dean Heller. Conservatives across the nation called him out for the way he handled the Obamacare votes last week, and a new poll shows just how vulnerable he really is.

The Daily Caller reported that Heller is in a politically vulnerable position should he face a primary challenger in 2018.

A new poll reveals Heller would face stiff competition from Republican Representative Mark Amodei, and businessman Danny Tarkanian, should either choose to enter the race.

In a three-way primary between Heller, Amodei and Tarkanian, Amodei received 27 percent, Heller 26 percent, and Tarkanian 21 percent. The poll has a 4.4 percent margin of error.

In a head to head versus Tarkanian, 38% of likely Republican primary voters said they’d support Dean Heller while 34% said Danny Tarkanian. 27% surveyed were unsure. With the 4.4% margin of error, the potential race is statistically tied.

The poll also found Senator Heller’s job approval among Republicans was only 31%.

“The speculation over whether Senator Dean Heller can hold onto his seat in a General Election is a waste of energy because he would be very unlikely to survive a primary,” said John Yob, CEO of Strategic National. “Senator Heller’s vote against the ‘clean repeal’ of Obamacare  – after voting for the same bill in 2015 – seems to be the last straw for GOP Primary voters.”

“It is almost inconceivable that any United States Senator could survive a primary challenge with only a 31% job approval among voters of their own party,” said Yob.  “The undecided voters usually break towards the challenger and if that happens in this potential race it wouldn’t even be close.”

The Daily Caller attributes Heller’s vulnerability to his “political balancing act” on health care. He first voted against the Senate Republicans replacement plan, but then voted for “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act. They say it has “irked” both conservatives and Democrats.

With the results of this poll, it seems like a no brainer for Tarkanian to get in the race. He said in a recent interview he’s still mulling a run and will make a decision soon.

He has a great deal of support from the contingent of Republican voters that overwhelmingly caucused for Donald Trump in 2016. He’s an adamant defender of the President on social media and in the press.

“Worst thing Sen. Heller did was, he kept going back and forth and you couldn’t figure out where he stood,” Tarkanian said. “I think that the public deserves to have a representative in Washington, D.C., that will stand by their convictions and vote the way they campaigned on.”

Gov. Jim Justice switches from Dem to GOP

The Briefing, Vol. V, Issue 32 – This week:

  • Major party-switch increases Republican influence
  • Is there a silver lining to Republican failure on healthcare?
  • Alabama Senate race headed to runoff


Healthcare vote: The immediate and sensible reaction to Republicans’ failure to pass a healthcare reform bill is that they simple can’t govern. They spent seven years promising to repeal Obamacare but lacked a serious plan to do it.

This could well cost certain Republicans votes in upcoming primaries, but there’s another side to the issue. Democrats suffered massive losses in 2010 and 2014 because Obamacare caused so much disruption for ordinary people living under the status quo of a dysfunctional medical payment system. The anger over people losing health insurance plan and doctors they liked made it easy to oust candidates from the party of President Obama, whose false promises had led them to hope for something better.

But Republicans might have been over-optimistic to believe that the voters chose Republicans because they share any particular vision of a consumer-based healthcare system. Voters might have simply been upset at the instability that Obamacare created — which means they would be equally hostile toward a Republican bill that destabilized the status quo.

By failing to pass their own healthcare bill, which would have inevitably caused problems for some segment of the population, Republicans might well have dodged a political bullet. Especially considering that none of the Republican proposals with a realistic chance of passing would have truly repealed Obamacare, they might well be better off waiting for Obamacare to collapse under its own weight, or at least to cause big enough problems in the individual health insurance market that it would inspire a true consumer rebellion.

Granted, this requires glass-half-full thinking for a party that just suffered a massive legislative failure. But as long as insurance consumers aren’t facing a major disruption to the status quo, Republicans are at least better off today than Democrats were in July 2010 or July 2013.

Party change: Given the historically poor level of President Trump’s approval ratings, one might not have expected to see Democratic officials jumping ship to join the Republican Party. One might have even expected to see the opposite occur.

But the defection of Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia from Democrat to Republican, at a Trump rally and without foreknowledge of his own Democratic staff, has completely flipped that script. Inside the beltway, people are preoccupied with Russia and with President Trump’s every tweet. Outside the beltway, things are very different. Real life goes on. And in West Virginia, Trump has not only made friend but also found a way to expand the Republican Party’s big tent to a governor who represents a true working-class and solidly Republican state.

To be sure, Justice was something of a crypto-Republican even before his election as a Democrat last November. But when the voters chose him as governor along with Donald Trump for president, they sent a message that they were still willing to split their tickets. That may longer be a guarantee for any Democrat running for office in the Mountain State, just as it isn’t anywhere else where Trump won. The Democratic Party in West Virginia, the home of the original “redneck” rebellion by workers, is in its death throes. And having abandoned the trappings of working class values, it will most likely be dead for the lifetime of anyone reading this.

It turns out that working-class voters want to keep working with dignity, instead of becoming potential beneficiaries of the dubious government-subsidized clean energy initiatives that Hillary Clinton touted during her presidential candidacy.

The Obama Administration worked very hard to alienate the Appalachian vote at a moment when it made no sense to do so. With Obama administration officials proclaiming their intention to put the coal industry out of business — to crucify the uncooperative as an example for others — Obama went above and beyond the demands of his environmentalist base. And Republicans were more than willing to draw attention to what was going on.

Big coal’s demise is ultimately the result of market forces — of lower prices for natural gas. But this doesn’t change the fact Democrats worked very hard to put their signature on the death sentence for Appalachia’s regional economy. In doing so, they had the backing of a white urban gentry that views climate catastrophe as a greater threat than crime, the opioid crisis, a new housing bubble, or the implosion of rural job markets in places like West Virginia.

The price that Democrats have paid for their belief in environmentalist millenarianism is very high, and it stretches geographically from western Pennsylvania to southwest Arkansas. But pay it they have and they might well keep paying it.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D, who is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate, may yet win. But he will face a more skeptical electorate this time around that he has before, just because of his party label. And he has former President Obama’s policies to thank for that.

Justice’s party switch puts Republicans in complete control of state law for 48 percent of the U.S. public, compared to a mere 17 percent who fall under complete Democratic control. This puts the GOP near 50 percent of the U.S. population in terms of whom it governs without opposition. Republicans have more power at the state level than they have in a any time in the last 90 years, since the administration of President Calvin Coolidge.

Senate 2017

Alabama: The race for the former seat of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is almost certain to go to a runoff, as no candidate will likely get more than half of the vote on August 15. This expected outcome will represent a massive and important frustration of Senate Republican leaders’ hopes, after their multi-million-dollar efforts on behalf of an appointed incumbent.

The incumbent, appointed Sen. Luther Strange, polls very poorly for an incumbent. His best hope at this point is to end up in a runoff, probably against former state Chief Justice Roy Moore. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., is the candidate that old guard conservative groups are backing, but he is third in the available polls and far enough behind that his chances are doubtful.

For any incumbent polling in the low 30s, as Strange is currently in all of the polls available, victory in a runoff is very doubtful. This race is especially interesting because it permits Republican primary voters to cast a vote against the party’s leadership without any serious risk of losing ground in the Senate. And it comes within just a few weeks of the leadership’s failure to pass an Obamacare repeal bill.

Senate 2018

Missouri: Despite multiple high-profile recruiting failures, Republicans can take heart in at least one of the races where they are expected to make a serious challenge against a Democratic incumbent. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has formed an exploratory committee to run against endangered Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

If he follows through, Hawley is both a favorite to defeat McCaskill and a sure bet for the GOP nomination.

Burning the Ships

The Briefing, Vol. V, Issue 31 – This week:

  • Trump is making the GOP his own
  • Republican failure on healthcare
  • August GOP primary in Alabama

White House: The sudden ouster of Reince Priebus as President Trump’s chief of staff surely has many Trump fans cheering. Another member of the Republican establishment bites the dust, right?

But this event, combined with Trump’s estrangement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Priebus’ replacement by someone of a military and not a political background, puts Trump into what many conservatives might consider a dangerously apolitical moment.

Trump’s link to the institutional Republican Party as it existed before his rise now consists entirely of his relationship with the current congressional leadership — a leadership that has been somewhat discredited by its failure to pass a reconciliation bill to repeal part of Obamacare. Even Trump’s relationship with Sessions, a traditional conservative who embraced Trump, is now in tatters.

In one sense, these two developments further solidify Trump’s control of the GOP. He is, one could argue, burning the ships that brought him to this new world. But this also means he is cut off from the traditional interests of all wings of the party. The voices in Trump’s ear that had kept him on a more predictably Republican path are now either gone or ignored.

To date, Trump’s actions in office — notably including but not limited to his judicial appointments — have generally pleased conservatives. How much of that is Trump’s gut instinct, and how much of it has been his attachment to various figures such as Priebus, Sessions, Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, and others whose positions in his inner circle have proven to be less than stable? Trump may well demonstrate in coming months that he can do it all on his own and keep the GOP base — in other words, that the old GOP doesn’t matter any more.

But the removal of his connections to the old Republican Party puts him in a position to do whatever he likes in molding its current incarnation. It could turn out very well for conservatives, or very badly.

Obamacare repeal: Republicans’ failure to repeal Obamacare, or even to pass a non-repeal bill that at least looks a bit like repeal, is no laughing matter for the party as it heads toward the 2018 midterms.

Fingers are being pointed at John McCain and Lisa Murkowski for their no votes. They are being pointed at Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan for failing to create a consensus reform package over the last seven years. They are being pointed at President Trump for his general disengagement from the issue. And they’re being pointed otherwise in every direction you can imagine.

But the real question is whether this is simply one failure too many in terms of Republican promises. Is this the great failure that really motivates Republican base voters to stay home on election day, or at least removes any rationale for turning out?

Legislative failures and embarrassments at this point in an election cycle don’t necessarily capture voters’ interest or attention span. The government shutdown of 2013 was completely forgotten by the time of the 2014 election thanks to intervening events. No Republican was punished on any side of the intraparty feud that it generated.

And of course, the conventional wisdom of July 2015 — that Donald Trump could never win the GOP nomination, let alone the presidency — was in tatters just 16 months later. It’s a reminder of how little one can know at this point.

Still, Republicans had been promising to repeal Obamacare for seven years. Last week, they demonstrated that too few of them were committed to this goal to get the job done, even in a token sense of the idea. Six of the seven Republicans who voted against a clean repeal of Obamacare had previously voted for exactly the same thing. At what point do Republican voters simply conclude that they’ve been strung along by false promises?

Senate 2017

Alabama: With primary day coming up on August 15 for this special election, the Senate’s failure on healthcare reform could not have come at a worse moment for Sen. Luther Strange. Strange is already somewhat controversial, having been appointed to his post by a former governor whom he had previously been investigating for misconduct in office.

If there’s any real backlash among the most devoted GOP primary voters over the failure to repeal Obamacare, then this is the race where you should expect to see it show its face. The danger, still only potential, is that there will be a backfire to the Senate GOP leadership’s unusual decision to back Strange as if he were an elected incumbent, even going so far as to threaten those backing his opponents.

Strange faces two strong challengers, the ever-controversial former Chief Justice Roy Moore and Rep. Mo Brooks. Brooks is trying to run as a traditional anti-establishment conservative candidate, more in the mold of Ted Cruz than Donald Trump. Moore, however, whose reputation as the “Ten Commandments Judge” precedes him, might represent a flavor of conservatism that more resembles Trump in his absolute commitment to burning down the party establishment.

Moore is suspicious to many mainstream conservatives not because of his religious background, but because he is viewed as an ally of the state’s trial lawyers. Having recognized the futility of supporting Democrats in Alabama, trial lawyers have put their money behind Moore in two separate elections.

Moore has far more name recognition, and at least based on that he is probably the more imminent threat to Strange. But all three candidates will probably be competitive in a race where a weak incumbent has just the slightest advantage.

Governor 2018

Kansas: The appointment of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback as President Trump’s new at-large ambassador for religious freedom is probably a godsend for the state GOP. Rightly or wrongly, Brownback had reached such depths of unpopularity that he might have weighed down any Republican in the 2018 race.

Now Brownback’s lieutenant governor, Jeff Colyer, will have more than a year for a fresh start and to build up his own name recognition to help him in next year’s GOP primary. But more importantly, even if he ultimately loses that primary, he will have some time to put Brownback’s legacy behind the entire state party.

Maryland: The decision by Democratic Rep. John Delaney to retire from Congress and forgo a bid for governor in order to explore running for president is….well, kind of weird, frankly. The idea that the wealthy former banker should run for president isn’t exactly going to set the Democratic world on fire.

But immediately, it has a big impact on his state’s governor’s race. His choice not to run for governor is definitely a bullet dodged for the popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Although Hogan’s re-election can never be guaranteed in a state like Maryland (especially in a midterm with a Republican president), Delaney would have brought with him to the race massive resources and at least some part of a swingy constituency in western Maryland. Hogan’s job looks ever so slightly safer today than it did last week.