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The 2024 Senate Season Has Officially Begun— With Trump Calling 5’7” Mitch Daniels (R-IN) A “Midget”

And Arizona Looks Like A Complete Clusterfuck Again

While the Democrats will likely win back the House next year, the Republicans are looking forward to winning back the Senate. The Senate map looks great for them and all they need to do is net two seats. Although 10 Republican seats will be up, the closest thing to flippable seats are long shots in deep red territory: Missouri, where Lucas Kunce is challenging Josh Hawley; Texas, where Ted Cruz is up and may draw a popular challenger like former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro; and Florida, where Rick Scott is up for reelection but where the Democratic Party is so dysfunctional that the party is on the verge of extinction outside of a few shrinking blue ghettos. That’s it for the Dems. The Republicans, on the other hand, have a wealth of plausible targets— Montana (Jon Tester), Ohio (Sherrod Brown), Michigan (open), Wisconsin (Tammy Baldwin), West Virginia (Joe Manchin), Arizona (Kyrsten Sinema), Pennsylvania (Bob Casey), Virginia (Tim Kaine) and Nevada (Jack Rosen).

Let’s start in a very implausible state, solid red Indiana, where Mike Braun is leaving his seat to run for governor. Unfortunately, there's no Democrat who will be in serious contention... but there will be a bloody Republican civil war, probably between MAGA congressman Jim Banks (who has already declared) and relatively mainstream conservative former governor Mitch Daniels. Get a taste of what’s coming by watching this incredibly vicious ad the fascist-oriented Club For Growth is already running against Daniels:

A few days ago, Adam Wren and Burgess Everett reported that “Party officials and insiders are girding for an increasingly nasty primary battle… The ensuing fight could open years-old fault lines between the establishment and Trumpist wings of the party… Trump allies believe that the state’s 2024 Senate primary for the seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Braun could provide a crucial pulse check on the health of Trump’s brand and the ideological direction of the party.”

The divisiveness of the primary— rising even before Daniels entered the race— has reached such a fever pitch that Rep. Greg Pence has weighed withdrawing his endorsement of Banks, according to two Republicans familiar with the matter…
In a series of tweets in recent days, Donald Trump. Jr. accused Daniels of being a “weak RINO,” “Mitt Romney 2.0,” and “Mitch Romney (RINO-IN).” In private conversations, the elder Trump has also made derisive remarks about the 5-foot-7 Daniels’ height, calling him a “midget,” according to two people with knowledge of his remarks.
In response, Mark Lubbers, Daniels’ closest advisor and confidante, has unloaded on what he has called the “Trump crime family” in recent statements.
At its core, the potential matchup would be an epic one. On one side there’s Banks— a 43-year-old up-and-comer who has tried to apply a MAGA touch to the GOP establishment. On the other is Daniels, a 73-year-old former Ronald Reagan aide who practices the genteel Midwestern conservatism of his late mentor, former Sen. Richard Lugar.
“Mitch frightens them,” Bill Oesterle, Daniels’ first campaign manager in his 2004 run for governor, said of the Trump wing of the party. Daniels’s candidacy would be “an existential threat to whatever is left of their waning influence.”
…One national Republican strategist who works on Senate races predicted it would “be a bloodbath.”
At the heart of it is Trump, who once called Indiana “Importantville” for the decisive role it played in helping him secure enough delegates for his party’s nomination during the Republican primary in May 2016. His former vice president, Mike Pence, hailed from the state, and he once operated one of his casinos in Gary. A spokesman for Trump did not respond to a message seeking comment. The former president posted an article about Banks’ candidacy on Truth Social Wednesday.
Lubbers, who has long opposed Trump’s takeover of the party, said in an interview that the race could be “ground zero of the Republican Civil War.” Banks, he added “has become the proxy for beating everything that’s gone wrong since the grifters took over our party. This is Gettysburg. … Poor Banks has been given the role of George Pickett.”

Banks is hardly the only MAGA crackpot running for the Senate. In his case, though, it doesn’t jeopardize a seat. In Arizona, there are two MAGA crackpots running and they could very much jeopardize a Republican opportunity. Arizona’s Senate election is one of the most complicated of the cycle. Conservative Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has left the party and is now an independent, who could run again or become a lobbyist or even switch to the GOP, which has been a longtime coming. It seems likely that Democrat Ruben Gallego will run as the Democrat in the race, but din’t discount the possibility of Schumer lending a hand to Sinema in a 3-way matchup between her, Gallego and a Republican. But which Republican?

Two MAGA losers from last year, Kari Lake and Blake Masters, are thinking about primarying each other next year. That could be very awkward for Trump, who has strongly supported both of them, Lake because she’s his kind of media animal and Masters because he was paid to back him by Masters’ rumored ex-lover and sugar-daddy, billionaire Peter Thiel.

Reporting for the Washington Post this week, Liz Goodwin and Wingett Sanchez wrote that “Lake, the former television news anchor and Trump acolyte who made election denialism the centerpiece of her campaign, lost her bid for Arizona governor in November by more than 17,000 votes. She has so far unsuccessfully sought to reverse the results in court and has also been sizing up a potential 2024 Senate race, said a person familiar with Lake’s conversations. Lake won’t make a decision until her court case is officially over, this person said. ‘It is true that dozens of people have reached out to Kari suggesting she run for U.S. Senate,’ said a statement Tuesday from her operation’s Twitter account. Lake has talked to supporters, consultants and even other potential candidates, including Mark Lamb, the Republican sheriff of Pinal County who dons Western wear and appears regularly on conservative media. The two spoke about the race over dinner recently at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, people familiar with their talk said. Lamb is ‘seriously considering running for the United States Senate in 2024,’ said his political spokesperson Corey Vale in a statement. He and his wife ‘are praying about this next step and will make a decision in early 2023.’”

Masters confirmed to The Post that he’s “seriously” considering running for the Senate again, despite having run significantly behind the rest of the GOP ticket last year.

  • Kimberly Yee (treasurer)- 1,390,135 (55.7%)

  • Kari Lake (governor)- 1,270,774 (49.7%)

  • Tom Horne (superintendent of public instruction)- 1,255,977 (50.2%)

  • Abraham Hamadeh (attorney general)- 1,254,613 (49.99)

  • Mark Finchem (secretary of state)- 1,200411 (47.6%)

  • Masters (senator)- 1,196,308 (46.5%)

Ruben Gallego will be officially announcing he's running for Senate on Monday. While I was writing, this invitation arrived:

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