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Senate GOP candidates for 2024

Senate Republicans seek to block far-right candidates

Senate Republicans are hoping 2024 is the year they finally shake off their perennial “candidate-quality” problem to retake the majority.

This has especially been a problem for Republicans in the Donald Trump era.

In the 2020 and 2022 elections, several GOP candidates fell short of their Democratic opponents in states they should have won — often because the primary produced a far-right nominee backed by Trump. That’s in part how Democrats gained their slim Senate majorities.

Many GOP candidates this cycle are benefitting from an NRSC that’s more aggressively wading into primaries to box out the more extreme candidates. And this time, Republicans are looking to enlist Trump’s help in that push. 

It’s why NRSC Chair Steve Daines (R-Mont.) endorsed Trump early on in the presidential race. The campaign arm is also coordinating more closely with the former president to ensure he doesn’t back unwinnable candidates. 

Bernie Moreno (Ohio):

The Cleveland-area businessman is locked in a three-way primary with Secretary of State Frank LaRose and state Sen. Matt Dolan to take on Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Moreno has jumped to the front of the pack after securing Trump’s endorsement last month. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) — a close ally of the former president — described Trump’s backing as “very helpful,” particularly in his state where the former president remains popular.

“Most endorsements will move votes one or two points in a given direction,” Vance told us. “Trump’s endorsement can actually win an election.”

But remember, Trump’s endorsements also hurt Senate Republicans in the last few cycles, leading to several close calls and candidates who lost in the general elections.

Sam Brown (Nevada):

Brown is a top GOP recruit in a state that’s trending more Republican. Brown has an inspiring background; he was badly injured in a roadside bomb explosion while serving in Afghanistan in 2008. He later received a Purple Heart.

What’s more, Brown has much of the Senate GOP apparatus behind him, including Daines and Senate Minority Whip John Thune. Both Daines and Thune have attended and headlined fundraisers for Brown.

Brown is challenging Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen. 

Kari Lake (Arizona):

Republicans are coalescing around Lake, a staunch Trump ally who lost her state’s gubernatorial race in 2022. Lake has a history of embracing conspiracy theories and election denialism, including about her own unsuccessful race.

This will be a major test for Republicans and the NRSC, as Lake fits the bill for previous Trump-endorsed GOP candidates who sailed through a primary only to lose in the general election.

Lake and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) will face off for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (I-Ariz.) seat. It’s unclear whether Sinema will run for reelection as an independent. Recent polls have shown Sinema trailing far behind Lake and Gallego in a three-way contest.

Tim Sheehy (Montana):

The NRSC has also been heavily involved in Montana, rallying around Sheehy as fears grow that Trump-aligned Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) could enter the race. 

Republican senators have openly derided Rosendale, but he has kept the door open to launching a campaign. Rosendale lost to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in 2018, and it’s safe to say that Tester would love a rematch this year.

David McCormick (Pennsylvania):

This is McCormick’s second Senate campaign in two consecutive cycles. In 2022, he lost in the GOP primary to Trump-endorsed Mehmet Oz, who went on to lose the general election to Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.).

McCormick doesn’t face any serious GOP challenger, but Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) will be difficult to defeat in November — even with McCormick’s staggering fundraising totals as of late. McCormick’s campaign recently announced that it raised $5.4 million last quarter.

— Andrew Desiderio

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