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Campaign Report — GOP stands with Trump after FBI search

Former President Trump
Greg Nash
Former President Trump arrives on stage to give a keynote address during the America First Policy Institute Summit in Washington, D.C., on July 26, 2022.

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, tracking all things related to the 2022 midterm elections. You can expect this newsletter in your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday leading up to November’s election.   

Email us tips and feedback: Max Greenwood (mgreenwood@thehill.com), Julia Manchester (jmanchester@thehill.com) and Caroline Vakil (cvakil@thehill.com).  

2024 Republicans blast Mar-a-Lago search

Republicans — including some of Donald Trump’s potential 2024 rivals — are putting the Department of Justice on blast over the FBI search of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate, calling it a political stunt and a weaponization of the justice system.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Countless times we have examples of Democrats flouting the law and abusing power with no recourse,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “Democrats continually weaponize the bureaucracy against Republicans. This raid is outrageous. This abuse of power must stop and the only way to do that is to elect Republicans in November.”

The RNC did not stop at that statement. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman tweeted a screenshot of a fundraising text message that appears to be from the RNC, reading “THIS IS NOT A DRILL: UNPRECEDENTED move Biden’s FBI raids Pres. Trump’s home.”

Trump’s allies close ranks: Trump’s Save America Joint Fundraising Committee also appeared to get in on the action, blasting out their own fundraising email with a letter from the former commander-in-chief. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) went so far as to threaten an investigation into Attorney General Merrick Garland in the case that Republicans take back the House in November.

The efforts illustrate how Trump’s allies are working to paint him as a martyr-like figure and the victim of a politicized attack from Democrats and the Biden administration. Trump even touched on the political implications it could have on his decision whether to run for president again in his statement announcing the raid, claiming the search was being spearheaded by Democrats who do not want him to run in 2024.

Potential 2024 Republican presidential contenders, who would likely benefit if Trump did not run for president in two years, also condemned the raid. Former Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he shares “the deep concern of millions of Americans” over the raid, while South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem called the raid “an unprecedented political weaponization of the Justice Department.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the FBI raid was evidence of a “banana republic.”

Wisconsin headlines another primary night

Voters in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin are heading to the polls today as all four states hold their respective primaries.

Our Max Greenwood breaks down six key races for us to watch for tonight, with Wisconsin perhaps featuring some of the most closely watched ones.

In the Badger State’s gubernatorial race, watch for the Republican primary between former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleesfisch and businessman Tim Michels. Considered a bit of a Trump-Pence proxy war (former Vice President Pence has backed Kleefsich while former President Trump has endorsed Michels), the primary will be the latest test of whether a Trump-endorsed candidate can prevail in their race.

The primary comes a week after a separate Trump and Pence sided with different candidates in Arizona’s GOP gubernatorial race, which ultimately handed the former president a win when his preferred candidate, Kari Lake, won.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans this Senate cycle, has one primary challenger, though the incumbent is expected to prevail. Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) is considered the presumptive Democratic Senate nominee given several competitive challengers cleared the field for him.

In the North Star State (for all you trivia folks, that’s Minnesota), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is fending off challenges from four different Democrats, with former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels considered her most competitive challenger. While Omar has a competitive fundraising advantage, Samuels has still received some notable endorsements from the Star Tribune’s editorial board, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) and former Minnesota Secretary of State Joan Growe.

And in Vermont, key an eye on its at-large district, which has attracted several challengers after Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said he would be running to fill retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) Senate seat. The race has drawn and divided some of the most high-profile Vermont names, with Leahy endorsing House candidate and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has backed state Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint. A WCAX 2022 Vermont Election Survey released by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center earlier this month found that 63 percent likely Democratic primary voters would back Balint, followed by 21 percent for Gray.

POLL WATCH

A new poll out from Monmouth University shows that recent hearings from the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot’s haven’t changed Americans’ views much on the attack. Polling conducted before the bombshell testimony offered by former Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson found 65 percent considered Jan. 6, 2021 a riot; 50 percent considered it an insurrection and 34 percent said it was a legitimate protest.

Polling conducted after the last hearing held by the select committee said that 64 percent still considered it a riot; 52 percent considered it an insurrection and 35 percent considered it legitimate protest. The poll also found 4 percent fewer people believed former President Trump was directly responsible for the attack.

That raises the question: How much of Americans’ opinions on Jan. 6 will be shaped by the committee hearings? The panel has already said it will kick off more hearings in September, but the poll indicates that people’s views on the attack may already have been formed at this point. The revelations they have exposed might have bigger implications, however, for what it might mean for Trump and those name-checked by the committee.

AD WATCH

Democrats’ Senate campaign arm is out with three ads hitting Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), considered one of the most vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in November, over 2017 tax legislation passed under the Trump administration, which Johnson supported and says his business benefited from.

The ads, which include one TV ad and two digital ads, will be running statewide in Wisconsin and are part of $33 million that they set aside for advertisements ahead of November. The ad launches come on the same day as the state’s primary. Though Johnson has one primary rival, he’s expected to prevail and take on the presumptive Democratic candidate, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

His race against Barnes, however, is less certain. There’s been little recent polling of the Wisconsin Senate race. A Marquette Law School Poll survey of Wisconsin released in June found that Barnes received 46 percent in a hypothetical matchup with Johnson, who received 44 percent, but the polling fell within the margin of error, effectively tying the two.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Campaign page for the latest news and coverage. See you Thursday. 

Tags Ilhan Omar Kevin McCarthy Mandela Barnes Mike Pence Ronna McDaniel
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