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Campaign Report — GOP blame-game begins after Walker loss

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, Wednesday and Thursday leading up to November’s election.   

I’m Madeleine Simon, The Hill’s deputy campaign editor, and I’ll be taking over this week. Someone forward this to you? Subscribe here.

Republicans face reckoning after Georgia loss

Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D) victory over Herschel Walker in Georgia’s Senate runoff last night delivered a real majority for Senate Democrats and a final rebuke of former President Trump during this year’s midterm elections.

Now, as Democrats celebrate a victorious election cycle — beating back what many expected to be a ‘red wave’ — Republicans are licking their wounds and pointing fingers.

“We felt this coming. To me, it never felt like the Senate Republicans wanted this guy in office. He was a Trump pick, they didn’t like that … but there wasn’t the intensity on the part of the Republicans as there was on the part of Democrats,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham said on her show shortly after Tuesday’s runoff had been called for incumbent Warnock.

“I’m pissed tonight, frankly. I’m mad,” Ingraham added, also calling out leadership in the Republican National Committee.

Attention turns to 2024: Walker is the final Trump-endorsed candidate to either lose or underperform during the midterms, with Republicans scraping together a slim majority in the lower chamber. The high-profile defeat of Walker — and Trump, by proxy — hangs over the GOP as it stares down the long road to the 2024 presidential election.

“If we don’t take our medicine here, it’s our fault. … Every Republican in this country ought to hold Donald Trump accountable for this,” GOP Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said in an interview with CNN.

Beyond Trump: While much of the chatter has centered around the former president and “candidate quality,” others are finding fault in the party’s strategy.

“One thing Republicans need to understand: the new(ish) coalition of simply swapping rural working class for suburban Rs works on paper. Hell it works in presidentials,” Josh Holmes, former chief of staff and campaign manager for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), tweeted Tuesday. “The turnout discrepancy in midterms is significant. Need to either fix rural midterm turnout or mix the appeal.”

Whatever the reasons for Walker’s loss, some Republicans who want to move on from Trump now see an opening, our Alexander Bolton writes.

OTHER TAKEAWAYS FROM LAST NIGHT

While Democrats already had enough seats to control the Senate, Warnock’s win pushes them out of the confines of a 50-50 upper chamber, handing them some much-needed breathing room.

The 51st seat adds a host of tools to Democrats’ tool belt, The Hill’s Julia Manchester writes in a roundup of the big takeaways. For one, it means the party can now do away with the power-sharing agreement that evenly splits committees, tipping the scale for Democrats to quickly pass partisan nominees and push forward Biden’s agenda.

Democrats will also be able to more easily conduct oversight investigations that Republicans disagree with, a useful counter-act to House Republicans’ likely oversight investigations.

And finally, an extra vote from Warnock could also alleviate the pressure from centrist Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), who have sometimes been the deciding factor on key legislative priorities.

Another bright spot: Turnout was also high across the board, but especially among early and mail-in voting – factors that tend to favor Democrats.

In total, 2.89 million Georgians cast their ballot in the runoff, lower than the Election Day turnout last month but higher than past runoffs. The Peach State repeatedly topped its one-day record for early voting, tallying more than 350,000 voters just last Friday.

DON’T THINK ABOUT 2023

Now that the midterms are done with, everyone’s talking about 2024. But we’re here to remind you that there are still races to watch next year. Julia breaks down key contests in 2023 here.

Kentucky governor’s race: Democrats will face a test in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race as Gov. Andy Beshear (D) defends his seat against a growing field of Republican challengers. So far, 12 Republicans have filed to run for the state’s highest office, including former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, state Rep. Savannah Maddox, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck and state Auditor Mike Harmon.

Louisiana governor’s race: With incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) unable to run for reelection in Louisiana, Republicans are looking to the state’s governor’s mansion as another potential pickup opportunity in 2023.

Louisiana’s Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson is the only well-known Democrat in the state to say they are considering a run, but much of the attention seems to be on the potential GOP primary field.

Wisconsin Supreme Court: Wisconsin will also be home to another high-profile election battle, this time in its Supreme Court.

Supreme Court elections in the state are officially nonpartisan, but the election, which is set for April 4, could determine the makeup of the state’s highest court for the next two years.

Virginia General Assembly: Both of Virginia’s legislative chambers are up for election in the commonwealth in 2023, two years after Republicans flipped the House of Delegates and won the governor’s mansion.

New Jersey Legislature: Both of New Jersey’s legislative chambers are up for reelection next year, with Democrats looking to defend their majorities. Democrats presently hold a 24 to 16 majority in the state Senate and a 46 to 34 majority in its General Assembly.

The state’s Republicans have expressed optimism about 2023, pointing to their gains in 2021. However, they will likely face an uphill climb in the state, where congressional Democrats performed relatively well in 2022.

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

Tags Herschel Walker Laura Ingraham Raphael Warnock
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