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William Timmons and Shri Thanedar

The House members who want their colleagues out of Congress

It’s six months until Election Day. As we count down to November, we’re excited to bring you deeper insights and analysis with The Tally: Election 2024, our in-depth coverage of the election, the changing power dynamics in Congress and the majority-making races to watch.

Welcome to the first installment of what will be a recurring Friday feature. Today we’ll be focusing on the House.

Primary warfare: There’s an unwritten rule around Capitol Hill that’s quickly fading away — Don’t endorse against your own colleagues. This cycle, Speaker Mike Johnson has had to plead with his conference to avoid backing primary challengers against incumbents.

Even the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus, an organization that places very high value on incumbency, is trying to oust a sitting Democratic lawmaker.

Here’s a look at two primaries that are flying under the radar this year — Reps. William Timmons’ (R-S.C.) and Shri Thanedar’s (D-Mich.) races — and why their colleagues want someone else in their seats.

CBC leaders get involved: The current and previous chairs of the influential CBC — Reps. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) and Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) — are endorsing Adam Hollier over Thanedar in a bid for what they say is a more accurate representation of the district.

“For more than five or six decades, that community had been represented by a Black American,” Beatty told us. “We want to make sure that we have fair representation.”

Thanedar — who represents the Detroit-area seat — is an Indian immigrant, while Hollier is Black.

Horsford and Beatty both said their decision wasn’t meant to be a negative endorsement against Thanedar.

“This is more about what Adam offers than anyone else,” asserted Horsford, hailing Hollier’s military service and experience advising Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The incumbent: Thanedar said he’s been an effective freshman member. Thanedar touts how he’s secured earmarks, gotten bills signed into law and handled thousands of constituent calls.

“People aren’t worrying about my race,” Thanedar said. “They’re worried about crime. They’re worried about education. They’re worried about the sidewalks that are falling apart.”

Thanedar, a wealthy biotech executive, recounted what residents told him during a recent jazz event he attended in the Russell Woods area of Detroit:

The challenger: Hollier – a former state senator who lost to Thanedar in the 2022 primary – traveled to D.C. this week to meet with a number of House Democrats to rally support for his campaign.

“Representation matters, not because it’s important to have somebody who looks like you, but it’s important to have somebody who understands your life experience,” Hollier said.

Thanedar is trying to get Hollier kicked off the ballot by challenging hundreds of signatures for Hollier’s nominating petition. In turn, Hollier accused the incumbent of “silencing our votes.”

The leadership: House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries hasn’t endorsed Thanedar yet, but the New York Democrat told us he has a strong track record of supporting incumbents. Thanedar said Jeffries has promised him an endorsement closer to Michigan’s August primary.

“I met [Jeffries] in the hallway somewhere and I said, ‘Hey, don’t forget about me.’ And he said, ‘No, no Shri, I’m not forgetting about you,’” Thanedar said.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, the same Republican infighting that’s plagued the House GOP conference during this Congress is evident on the campaign trail. Timmons is facing Adam Morgan, a state representative who chairs the South Carolina Freedom Caucus.

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Timmons. But both candidates have been trying to outdo each other over who is more MAGA.

HFC eyes a new recruit: Morgan is endorsed by nine members, including Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), and Timmons’ fellow South Carolinian, Rep. Ralph Norman.

Morgan’s endorsers report no personal issue with Timmons but prefer Morgan because of his hardline record with the state-level Freedom Caucus.

Norman, who held an April rally for Morgan alongside Gaetz, attacked Timmons as ineffective.

“William only got 52% of the vote [in the last primary.] I don’t know what he’s done for his constituents,” Norman said.

The incumbent: Timmons is painting Morgan as an anti-Trumper in disguise and has been touting his support from the former president across social media channels.

“He has never supported Trump up until the day DeSantis dropped out,” Timmons said of Morgan. “His biggest supporter, Ralph Norman, is the only member of Congress to support Nikki Haley.”

Timmons is also backed by Johnson.

The challenger: Morgan is running on his record of leading the state Freedom Caucus and leaning into red meat culture war issues in the statehouse.

Morgan, who was vying for Trump’s backing, said he believes the former president will end up regretting his Timmons endorsement.

“Trump’s endorsed a number of incumbents,” Morgan said. “I think this is definitely going to be one that he’ll regret doing.”

— Max Cohen and Mica Soellner

Presented by AARP

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.