This is the final chapter of a slow-building 2024 shadow primary. By throwing themselves into House races, potential candidates seek the goodwill of lawmakers and activists, test campaign themes, and present themselves to voters across the country who will eventually determine the party’s next presidential candidate.
And there’s another reason home runs are an appealing playground for those looking to run: It’s a way to market yourself without drawing the attention of former President Donald Trump, who made it clear that he was interested in a return offer.
“They’re trying to figure out, how do you lay the groundwork without being seen as maybe trying to push the president aside?” said former Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, former NRCC chairman, who noted that several of the potential candidates had previously served in the Trump administration. “Until President Trump decides what to do, I think they can be helpful in running the House in their own way and stay focused on that and not run into the big elephant in the room. room.”
The 2024 contestants are likely interested in more than home runs. As the midterm elections approach, potential candidates are also certain to enter contests for the Senate and for governor. Glenn Youngkin, the GOP candidate in this year’s race for governor of Virginia, has received support from Cruz, Haley and others.
But the stakes are especially high in the tightly divided House, with Republicans appearing to be the early favorites to win the President’s Hammer given their broad control over the redistribution and the out-of-power party’s historic tendency to win seats in the first mid-term election of a president.
“They recognize that the majority of the House is within our grasp and want to be able to indicate the money they have raised and the candidates they have supported to help Republicans when we win the House,” said Dan Conston, president of the Congressional Leadership Fund, the main pro-House GOP super PAC.
Presidential candidates follow a well-worn playbook. Richard Nixon scolded the country for declining candidates during the mid-term of 1966, when Republicans saw massive gains in the House. Nixon used the election to relaunch his run for president two years later.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, backed dozens of Republicans in the 2010 election, when Republicans captured 63 seats and took control of the House. Two years later, Romney became the GOP candidate.
The importance of the campaign through Romney’s card during midterm 2010 “cannot be understated,” said Matt Waldrip, a former Romney chief of staff and longtime confidant.
“There is no better way to understand the issues facing voters across the country and to forge relationships with those who strive for the same ideals as you than to walk into the bunker with them during their days. election campaigns, ”said Waldrip.
Much of the focus is on the House races that take place in key states in the presidential nomination process. A plethora of potential candidates rallied behind Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks as House Democrats questioned whether to overturn her six-vote victory in the 2020 election. dropped in March.) While Cotton raised money for the Miller-Meeks legal fund, Pompeo took advantage of a trip to Iowa to accuse Democrats of trying to “steal the seat. ”
Haley, meanwhile, posted no less than half a dozen tweets in support of Miller-Meeks and ordered supporters to fill MP’s coffers.
The chit building spans New Hampshire, where several potential White House contenders have come in contact with Republican Matt Mowers, who is set to run another House campaign after failing in 2020. Mowers has hosted virtual events this year with Pompeo and Cotton benefiting the Downward Candidates and the State Party.
There is also interest in special elections. After Trump endorsed Louisiana Republican Julia Letlow in her run for a vacant seat earlier this spring, several potential hopefuls reached out to McCarthy and his team to help the now congressman. After supporting Letlow, Haley provided 11-hour support to Mark Moores, a Republican candidate in this week’s special election for a seat in New Mexico. The former ambassador cut down on robocalls, sent voting-themed text messages and raised tens of thousands of dollars through an online fundraiser.
Getting involved in congressional contests is especially crucial for former Trump administration officials looking to stay in the limelight without the platform to hold high office at the moment. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is embarking on a cross-country fundraising campaign, endorsed Letlow and was headlining a Texas fundraiser for a McCarthy plus political team early this month. Pence is expected to headline another event for the Minority Leader this summer.
Pompeo has become a strong advocate for House Republicans since leaving the State Department. On a swing in the Midwest this spring, Pompeo stopped in Iowa for Reinforce Home State Representative Ashley Hinson and Nebraska Representative Don Bacon, whose home media market is expanding into neighboring Iowa.
Haley has been among the most active of all potential candidates, using a newly formed political action committee, Stand for America, to support the candidates. She recently traveled to Texas attend an event for First-year Rep. Beth Van Duyne and sent emails and texts to raise money for House Republicans.
Some of the potential White House hopefuls are helping House candidates whose political profile matches theirs. While Haley highlighted his support for the candidates, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the special guest at an event for another Republican from the Northeast, Rep. Andrew Garbarino of New York. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, an outspoken critic of Trump, is expected to campaign for vulnerable Republicans running in battlefield districts, as he did in the 2020 election.
The hope is that their support will pay off right across the board – and that when it comes to their turn to run in four years, the House Republicans they’ve backed will return the favor with their own endorsements. The sitting members of Congress maintain networks of donors and supporters who can play a critical role in influencing presidential primary contests.
“The House,” said former Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, former NRCC chairman, “is going to be a great base to have.”