The Take with Rick Klein
Former President Donald Trump most definitely lost Arizona in November 2020.
Then he won it in August 2022 — for his chosen candidates, at least through the GOP primaries. Much like Trump’s political movement, that means complicated and potentially competing things for the Republican Party’s highest-profile midterm election efforts.
Partially obscured by the result of the Kansas referendum on abortion was the fact that Tuesday largely brought a MAGA romp: Trump-endorsed election-denying candidates clinched GOP nominations up and down the ballot in Arizona. Trump’s choices for governor cruised in Michigan and leads in votes counted so far in Arizona — while also offering unproven claims of “fraud” and “irregularities.”
Term-limited Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who was seeking a state Senate seat, lost his primary after testing before the House Jan. 6 committee. Also losing was Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer, who became the sixth (out of only 10) House Republicans who supported Trump’s second impeachment to be assured of leaving Congress after this year — four via retirements, and now two with primary losses.
For all that, Trump’s impact could be greatest on the Senate landscape. Arizona’s Blake Masters joins Trump picks in Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania as untested and controversial figures running in critically important states for Republicans’ prospects of flipping the upper chamber.
It’s one big reason that Democrats outlook for holding the Senate is much brighter than it is in the House. FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast now puts Democrats as slight favorites to keep the Senate, though only a one-in-five shot for keeping the House.
This week’s primaries all but finish the lineup of candidates in competitive Senate races. Republicans were able to breathe a bit easier with the primary win of less-scandal-plagued of the two men named “Eric” — state Attorney General Eric Schmitt over former Gov. Eric Greitens — both of whom Trump endorsed in Missouri.
Trump’s track record has been better in congressional races than gubernatorial contests, and his influence has been greater in open seats than in taking down incumbents. But judging a track record in primaries will matter little if the GOP leaves seats on the table in November.
The RUNDOWN with Avery Harper
On the heels of a proposed amendment’s failure to strip the Kansas state constitution of the right to an abortion, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that his administration says will make it easier for people crossing state lines to get abortion care.
The order allows states where abortion is legal to apply for Medicaid waivers that would assist in covering the cost of treating patients from out of the state.
Biden mentioned Kansas voters in remarks on the order from the White House on Wednesday, during his COVID-19 isolation at the first meeting of the administration’s interagency reproductive health task force.
“The voters of Kansas sent a powerful signal that this fall the American people will vote to preserve and protect the right and refuse to let it be ripped away from politicians,” Biden said.
Abortion is undoubtedly mobilizing voters: In Kansas, turnout was nearly double the amount of voters who cast ballots in 2018 — but one can’t assume that the energy will be only on the pro-abortion access side of the issue.
In addition to voters satisfied with the result in Kansas — and hoping to see more states reject similar conservative efforts — there are also anti-abortion voters hoping to build on the momentum of the overturning of Roe v. Wade to create even more abortion restrictions or bans across the country.
Still, most Americans won’t have the opportunity to vote singularly for or against abortion and most Americans aren’t single-issue voters. As a result, the effect of the abortion debate on the November midterms won’t be so easy to see.
The TIP with Alisa Wiersema
The Conservative Political Action Conference returns to Dallas on Thursday with a high-profile lineup of Republican speakers — including President Trump, whose closing remarks on Saturday will be his first public comments following this week’s primary election results.
The three-day event has already been the subject of criticism from US lawmakers and advocacy groups over the conference inviting far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to deliver remarks on Thursday, despite Orban’s position as a Vladimir Putin ally and his recent comments against so -called race mixing.
During a speech in Romania last week, Orban also appeared to joke about the Holocaust while making a reference to reducing European demand for natural gas. Ahead of CPAC, Orban visited with Trump, who lauded the Hungarian leader in a statement.
“Few people know as much about what is going on in the world today,” Trump said.
The gathering of conservatives in Dallas is slated to include other notable pro-Trump political figures who will take to the stage amid the aftermath of the House Jan. 6 committee’s public hearings investigating the Capitol insurrection. Although the hearings cast Trump as the catalyst for the attack — extensive testimony and evidence from those in his inner circle and White House — many Republicans have dismissed the committee’s findings and insisted the hearings won’t vote influence.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist who was found guilty of criminal contempt of Congress last month for defying a subpoena from the committee, will keynote a speech on Friday. At the time of the verdict, ABC News’ Mike Levine reported that Bannon’s attorney said his defense will appeal his case and “this is round one.”
NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight
58. That’s the percentage of independents who think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, per polling data from Civiqs, and as FiveThirtyEight contributor Michael Tesler writes, there is evidence of a shift in attitudes on abortion toward Democrats post the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Even more Republicans are saying abortion should be legal in more circumstances. Read more from Michael on why abortion might be a potent wedge issue for Democrats in the 2022 midterms and beyond.
ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. “Start Here” begins Thursday morning with ABC’s Rick Klein explaining how the win for abortion-access advocates in Kansas could be a learning moment for Democrats. And Dawn Etcheverry, president of the Nevada State Education Association, describes the teacher shortage crisis. Then ABC’s Trevor Ault reports on an Equifax miscalculation that affected millions of credit scores. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
- President Joe Biden holds a virtual roundtable with business and labor leaders at 1:45 pm ET.
- White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a press briefing at 2:45 pm ET.
- The Conservative Political Action Conference begins in Dallas.
- Tennessee votes in its Republican gubernatorial primary.
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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back Friday for the latest.