The TAKE with Rick Klein
If roads to 2024 lead through 2022, leading figures in the Republican Party are looking at different maps.
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley hits the midterm trail on Thursday with Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz — though she is not, at least not yet, stumping for the more controversial Republican running for governor there, former state Sen. Doug Mastriano.
Oz has been campaigning this week with prominent Republicans including a few whom Donald Trump has attacked, like the retiring Pat Toomey — one of seven GOP senators to support the former president’s second impeachment after Jan. 6.
Haley will follow Thursday’s visit with a Friday campaign stop on behalf of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia — whom Trump has blasted for his refusal to back Trump’s lies about the last presidential election. Trump even said it would be “OK with me” if Democrat Stacey Abrams replaced Kemp, in a much-circulated quote that came before the GOP primary but that Trump has not walked back.
As Axios reported last week, potential 2024 contenders Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R-Va., are largely choosing different types of midterm candidates to support.
DeSantis is hewing closer to Trump picks. Youngkin is skipping some more controversial Republicans in favor of gubernatorial candidates including Kemp — though he broke with that pattern by appearing at a fundraiser Wednesday for the MAGA-favorite former Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who is seeking to win back his old job from Democratic incumbent Janet Mills.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence, who stuck with Kemp in defiance of Trump in Georgia, is scheduled to appear in New Hampshire next to support the winner of the Senate GOP primary there, whether or not the winner is a Trump loyalist.
Behind the sometimes convoluted and haphazard travel plans are different calculations about what this year’s elections will be about for the GOP — and what that all means for 2024.
The RUNDOWN with Avery Harper
In Michigan, high-profile court decisions on abortion stand to significantly impact midterm races.
On Wednesday, a judge blocked the state’s abortion ban that dated back to 1931 and only allowed for abortions to be performed to save the life of the mother. In her ruling, Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher wrote that the ban was “facially unconstitutional because its enforcement would deprive pregnant women of their right to bodily integrity and autonomy, and the equal protection of the law.”
That permanent injunction is separate from a legal battle that will determine if Michiganders will be able to vote directly on abortion come November — should a measure be approved and added to the ballot, despite conservative objections.
Michigan’s Supreme Court will rule after Republicans and Democrats on a state board deadlocked, which stalled the ballot measure’s certification. (Republicans said the text had formatting issues.) That proposal was drafted by a group of abortion rights advocates and drew hundreds of thousands of signatures.
If the court decides to allow the ballot measure to proceed, it could be one of only a few instances where abortion is literally on the ballot after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. That, in turn, could mobilize pro-abortion voters — just like in Kansas, a historically red state where voters decided last month to keep the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution.
It’s a move that could boost Democratic candidates like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who has often referred to herself as “the last line of defense against the threat to abortion access in Michigan.”
The TIP with Alisa Wiersema
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin — whose state does not permit consecutive gubernatorial terms — appears to be broadening his political options as the halfway point of his time in office looms closer.
After traveling to Michigan for the state’s GOP nominating convention last month, on Wednesday the Republican participated in a fundraiser for Maine’s controversial former two-term Gov. Paul LePage, who is seeking another term this year. Youngkin is also expected to travel to at least five other states with competitive gubernatorial contests including Georgia, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon, reported first by Politico.
Although Youngkin has said these campaign appearances are meant to help Republicans win, his plans to campaign outside of his home state will inevitably raise his national profile ahead of possible 2024 GOP primary jockeying.
Youngkin’s 2021 victory over Biden-backed former Gov. Terry McAuliffe was largely based on school-focused pandemic-era culture wars that united suburban voters with Trump supporters and marked the first major Republican victory following Trump’s loss of the White House. At the time, Republicans celebrated Youngkin’s win as an indicator of Democrats facing voter apathy in the aftermath of Trump’s presidency. But the repeal of Roe v. Wade could throw that assumption — as well as Youngkin’s endorsement slate — off course.
“When Glenn Youngkin ran for Governor last year, he did everything he could to turn the conversation away from his unpopular stance on abortion rights […] now that he’s governor, and Roe v. Wade has been overturned, he is pushing hard to criminalize abortion in Virginia. Paul LePage is currently engaged in the same kind of dance—trying to take attention away from his draconian views on abortion rights,” Maine Democratic Party Chair Drew Gattine said on Wednesday ahead of the two Republicans campaigning together.
NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight
23. That’s the number of percentage points Republicans’ odds have dropped in winning the Senate since FiveThirtyEight first launched its 2022 election midterm forecast on June 30. And as the FiveThirtyEight crew discusses in a politics Slack chat, that has made Republicans’ path to taking back the Senate fairly challenging. Read more from the crew on Republicans’ best pick opportunities and where they need to play defense.
ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. “Start Here” begins Thursday morning with ABC’s Katherine Faulders on the latest from the investigation of records the FBI seized from former President Trump. Then ABC’s Devin Dwyer explains next steps after a federal judge ruled the Affordable Care Act can’t require coverage for certain HIV prevention drugs. And ABC’s Matt McGarry breaks down a Seattle teachers strike as the nation deals with a national teachers shortage. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
- President Biden will deliver remarks on the omicron-specific COVID-19 booster shots at 1:45 p.m. ET.
- The Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting begins.
- Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley campaigns in support of Pennsylvania GOP Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz.
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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back Friday for the latest.