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GOP establishment strikes back

Thought Leader: Josh Kraushaar
January 17, 2023
Source: Axios

The 2024 election is set to draw a flood of Senate candidates built in the traditional Republican mold — with several leading contenders eyeing campaign launches just weeks into the new year.

Why it matters: The emergence of establishment figures so early in the recruitment process is a sign of the McConnell wing of the party seeking to regain its foothold over MAGA forces after November’s disappointing midterms.

Driving the news: Ohio state Sen. Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team, on Tuesday became the first Republican to announce he would challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in 2024. He ran as the most moderate candidate in the 2022 GOP Senate field, finishing in third place.

Between the lines: Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the newly minted chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has signaled he’s willing to get more involved in shaping GOP primaries than his predecessor, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.).

Reality check: Just because Republicans are looking for more credentialed candidates for the Senate doesn’t mean they’ll be able to win over a MAGA-oriented electorate.

Zoom out: The Senate is shaping up as the last vestige of establishment influence in the post-Trump era.

The bottom line: Establishment favorites like Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu didn’t run in 2022, partly out of fear Trump would squash their chances in a primary. The groundswell of interest from mainstream, electable Republicans so early this cycle is a sign the ground is shifting.

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