As primaries build, here’s who’s next in line

The primary challengers just keep on coming, with the additions this week of Minuteman founder Chris Simcox running against Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain joins board of Biden's presidential transition team Meet the first woman to run for president Jill Biden shuts down Jake Tapper's question about husband's 'occasional gaffe' MORE (R-Ariz.), Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton possibly challenging Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien lining up a run against Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.).

And rest assured, there are plenty more to come.

Four incumbents lost in primaries last year and several others came close or were held to 50 percent or lower, so blood is in the water. But some of the most serious primary challenges to emerge so far have actually come against members who haven’t exactly been primary-prone — people like Kanjorski and Reps. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) and Sandy Levin (D-Mich.).

So who else is at risk of a serious intra-party challenge? Here’s a scorecard:

Already taking shape: Cohen, Kanjorski, Boyd, Levin and Reps. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), Henry Brown Jr. (R-S.C.), Bob Inglis (R-S.C.)

Ripe: Reps. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungHopes for DC, Puerto Rico statehood rise Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum House Democratic campaign leader predicts bigger majority MORE (R-Alaska), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), Jane Harman (D-Calif.)

Roe and Young both face potential rematches in races they won narrowly. Kilpatrick took a measly 39 percent in 2008, and Richardson’s financial and real estate problems didn’t come to light until it was too late to primary her in 2008. Harman is a special case: She has never been a friend of liberals or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), she yielded 38 percent to a poorly funded primary opponent in 2006, and now she has to deal with some serious accusations about influence-peddling and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Worth keeping an eye on: Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.)

Towns, Lamborn and Kucinich have all taken 50 percent or less in recent primaries, but Towns’s and Lamborn’s opponents couldn’t get much traction last year, and Kucinich probably isn’t as vulnerable with his fleeting presidential campaigns further in the rearview. Visclosky could be in trouble thanks to the PMA Group scandal, as he is a top recipient of its money and a top PMA earmarker. He recently asked permission to use campaign funds for his legal fees — never a good sign.

Sliver of a chance: Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records MORE (R-Utah), John FlemingJohn Calvin FlemingTrump wants Congress to delay Census deadlines amid pandemic Meadows sets up coronavirus hotline for members of Congress The Hill's Morning Report - Iran strikes US bases in Iraq; Trump to speak today MORE (R-La.), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonDemocrats raise alarm about new US human rights priorities Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez defeats Valerie Plame in New Mexico primary Trump campaign launches new fundraising program with House Republicans MORE (R-S.C.)

The first five are freshmen coming off tough primaries where feelings could still be hard, though it’s difficult to see former Rep. Jim Ryun (R-Kan.) trying again versus Jenkins; Wilson was weak in the general election, and there appears to be something in the water in the Palmetto State, with free-for-alls forming for all of the other three GOP-held House seats.

Have proven themselves and should rest easy: Reps. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowRepublican wins Georgia secretary of state runoff to replace Kemp The most important runoff election is one you probably never heard of Our democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget MORE (D-Ga.), Ralph HallRalph Moody HallJohn Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America Rising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief Former Texas GOP Rep. Ralph Hall dead at 95 MORE (R-Texas), Ron Paul (R-Texas)

Lipinski and Carson both sailed in tough primaries last year, and it’s doubtful that any serious opposition shows up to face Barrow or either of the Texans, who turned away nominal opponents in 2008.


Dems branding GOP
as Cheney’s,
Gingrich’s party

In recent weeks, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Bush strategist Karl Rove have raised their profiles to attack President Obama and defend the Bush administration’s legacy.

Democrats, fresh off a campaign to install radio host Rush Limbaugh as the nominal head of the Republican Party, are now citing Cheney, Gingrich and Rove as the best the GOP has to offer.

That sound you hear is Republicans around Washington slapping their foreheads in frustration.

“The conservatism of the 21st century should be divorced from personality politics and simply be about ideas,” said Craig Shirley, a veteran Republican message man. “But since the GOP appears to be bankrupt of ideas, this line of attack will be effective from the standpoint of putting them on the defensive again.”

On Wednesday, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) released a new Web advertisement highlighting the three big-name Republicans. “Meet the new GOP,” the ad says. “Same as the old GOP.”

Web ads by themselves mean little beyond the creator’s e-mail list and, occasionally, a few Beltway media types. But the DNC’s latest is part of a larger effort to help Cheney, Gingrich and Rove steal the spotlight from congressional Republicans who might have their own plans to offer.

“We’re going to come back to this repeatedly,” DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse told The Hill. “It’s a growing theme: ‘Party of No,’ ‘Party of No New Ideas,’ and now ‘Party of No New Leaders.’ ”

Like the Limbaugh storyline, which started after several prominent Republicans had to kowtow after offering unflattering takes of the radio host, Democrats are beginning to embrace the opportunity to label their opponents as the party of the past.

“If the GOP continues to follow [Cheney, Gingrich and Rove], they risk permanently alienating vast parts of the electorate that will only become more important as time moves forward,” explained Democratic strategist Peter Giangreco.

In recent weeks, Cheney has emerged to criticize the Obama administration for what he said was making America less safe. Gingrich has started to draw parallels between Obama and Jimmy Carter, especially on their foreign policy. And Rove has taken shots at Vice President Biden, calling him a “serial exaggerator” after Biden bragged of a meeting with Bush that Rove said never happened.