Republican governors are optimistic about their 2022 midterm prospects against Democrats after a big win in Virginia and a better-than-expected performance in New Jersey, but they’ll face an additional challenge before next year’s general election: challenges within their own party.
“We intend to protect incumbents and keep red states red, but we’ve also demonstrated that we can win in any state in the country,” Republican Governors Association chair Doug Ducey told reporters. “I believe we saw the roadmap in the state of Virginia.”
As RGA chairman, Ducey will have to navigate a slew of races in key battleground states, including the race to replace him in Arizona, while also attempting to broaden the map of Republican-controlled governorships. When the calendar turns to 2022, his organization will have more cash on hand than it has in any previous midterm election cycle.
While Republicans are optimistic about their chances against Democrats next year, and money is pouring in, the RGA faces a new challenge in 2022: several GOP incumbents are facing primary challengers.
“We’ve never had a situation in which our incumbent governors had to face primaries. Governors never really had that experience, even during the height of the Tea Party primaries when the House and Senate guys were being elected, because you only run for reelection once “According to RGA executive director Dave Rexrode. “Where appropriate and necessary, we will financially support our incumbent governors in primaries. We’ve never done anything like that before.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott faces primary challengers to his right, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine faces former Representative Jim Renacci, and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp faces former Georgia state representative Vernon Jones, who was a Democrat but switched parties.
But former Senator David Perdue, who is also considering a run against Kemp, could pose a bigger challenge. On Wednesday, Perdue broke his nine-month Twitter silence to take a shot at Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, and he told a Georgia talk radio show that he and his wife “I’ve been praying for our situation. ”
“I’m worried about the state of our state,” said Perdue. “In Georgia, we currently have a divided party. Don’t think about me. It’s split. And a lot of people believe that the people in power have not fought for them and have caved in to a lot of things that did not have to be done back in 2020.” Ducey was quick to point out that the Perdue challenge is still “hypothetical,” but he added that if it does happen, “the RGA is in the business, of course, of supporting our incumbents and ultimately electing Republican governors.”
He stated that the RGA will make decisions about how to use its resources “race by race,” including how it will support incumbents.
Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, according to Ducey, will be among the top targets for Republicans to flip next year. Republicans are eyeing more than ten Democratic-held seats for potential pickups, including bluer states like Connecticut and Minnesota, depending on the national mood.
Democrats will defend 16 seats next year, a mix of incumbents and open seats, and they believe they will remain in Democratic hands. They claim that their incumbents will have solid records in education, infrastructure, and voting rights to run on.
Republican governors at the RGA’s annual conference praised Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s victory earlier this month, saying it demonstrated that candidates in 2022 must focus on state-based issues and can win in a variety of states. Republican governors previewed the issues on which they will attack Democrats, including the southern border, rising energy prices, business vaccine requirements, COVID response, education, and the cost of living.
Youngkin claimed victory by “looking forward rather than back.” The governor-elect stated that candidates must decide whether to keep Mr. Trump at arm’s length based on their own race. He stated that his campaign “built a coalition of all voters in Virginia,” and that “President Trump was helpful to me.”
Republicans, he advises, should keep hammering away at issues like education.