Republicans hoping to recapture control of the U.S. Senate next year have been encouraged by recent developments, Politico reported.
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano and Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson, each a conservative, passed on entering statewide campaigns. Those developments gave GOP strategists reason to think that the party could avoid two nasty primary situations.
That came after popular West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice officially filed for a Senate run. He's trying to unseat Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who hasn't announced if he will seek reelection.
Politico reported Monday that top Republicans, including National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chair Steve Daines, "have been jubilant" by the recent developments.
Politico added that GOP officials, privately, believe they are close to landing good candidates in the battleground states of Montana, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.
"There's good people nibbling on the hook," Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said, Politico reported. "It's just up to Daines to set that up."
Unlike in 2022, when the NRSC took a hands-off approach to primaries, the committee has vowed to get involved in the intraparty battles.
Democrats currently hold a 51-49 voting majority in the Senate. But Republicans began the current cycle featuring Democrat incumbents in the red states of West Virginia, Montana, and Ohio.
"Every Republican in this business I've talked to about this is thrilled with the way this is all coming together, with the way the committee is managing things," said GOP strategist Scott Jennings, who has served as an adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Politico reported.
"The reality is you take candidates like that off the board and they then can't harm the narrative around candidates in other states or they can't influence the national conversation about Republicans trying to take back the Senate."
Potential candidates who might give GOP leadership increased hope include:
- Tim Sheehy, a decorated Navy SEAL who now runs an aerial firefighting company, is considering a run against Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
- Dave McCormick, a former hedge fund CEO and combat veteran who lost to Mehmet Oz in last year's Pennsylvania Senate primary, could oppose Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.
- Sam Brown, a former Army captain who came in second place in a GOP Senate primary last year in Nevada.
- Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., has been approached to run against Democrat Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
"It's not exactly trigonometry," said John Ashbrook, a Republican consultant and McConnell alumnus. "Better candidates give Republicans a better shot at the majority, and if the current trend holds we have a clear road all the way to victory."
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