Once a GOP rising star, Ohio congressman retires following vote to impeach Donald Trump

Ohio Rep. ​​Anthony Gonzalez, who was one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, announced Thursday evening that he would not seek reelection out of disgust for “​​the toxic dynamics inside our own party.”

Gonzalez, who also said that his family had received death threats following his January vote, further told The New York Times that he’d devote “[m]ost of my political energy” toward ensuring that Trump never returned to the White House. Trump, for his part, celebrated Gonzalez’s departure by emphasizing his earlier endorsement for former White House aide Max Miller and gloating, “1 down, 9 to go!” 

The current version of Ohio’s 16th District, which contains the western suburbs of Cleveland and Akron, supported Trump 56-42 in 2020. The Buckeye State will lose a House seat during the upcoming round of redistricting, but it’s unlikely this constituency will be the one that gets eliminated since the GOP has more or less complete control over the map-making process. The Trump-backed Miller will also be hard to stop in a primary despite allegations that he physically attacked his then-girlfriend, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, last year.

Despite the nature of Gonzalez’s departure, the two-term congressman began his political career looking like a GOP rising star not long ago. Gonzalez had a well-regarded football career at the Ohio State University, and he was named an Academic All-American. After he left the NFL following his stint on the Indianapolis Colts, he went on to serve as chief operating officer for an education technology company in San Francisco.

Gonzalez moved back to Ohio before he entered the 2018 race to succeed Rep. Jim Renacci, who initially launched a campaign for governor before switching to the Senate race later in the cycle. Gonzalez’s main intra-party rival was state Rep. Christina Hagan, who was a prominent Trump backer in 2016 when Ohio Gov. John Kasich was also seeking the GOP presidential nomination.

Hagan pitched herself as the true Trump believer of the race and argued that Gonzalez’s Silicon Valley connections made him an insider. Gonzalez, though, enjoyed a massive financial advantage over Hagan and benefited from outside spending from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; his ties to his locally popular alma mater also probably made it tougher for his opponent to frame this as a battle between the dreaded establishment and a Trump-flavored outsider. Ultimately, Gonzalez prevailed 53-41, and his easy general election win made him the first Latino to represent Ohio in Congress.

Gonzalez loyally voted with the Trump administration during his first term and opposed impeaching him in 2019, but he changed course after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. “The President of the United States helped organize and incite a mob that attacked the United States Congress in an attempt to prevent us from completing our solemn duties as prescribed by the Constitution,” the congressman said as he explained his vote for impeachment, adding, “During the attack itself, the President abandoned his post while many members asked for help, thus further endangering all present. These are fundamental threats not just to people’s lives but to the very foundation of the Republic.”

That vote quickly made Gonzalez radioactive with the party base and enticed Miller, who hails from a very wealthy and well-connected family, to challenge him. Gonzalez raised a serious amount of money to defend his seat, but he acknowledged Thursday, “Politically the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now.” The outgoing congressman continued, “You can fight your butt off and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy? And the answer is, probably not.”

New York legislature prepares for impeachment of increasingly isolated Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Following Tuesday’s bombshell release of the New York attorney general's investigation report concluding that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, five district attorneys have confirmed that they’re investigating sexual harassment allegations against the governor, with two of them saying that they’ve already opened criminal investigations. Cuomo may have more immediate worries, though, as the Associated Press reports that 86 of the 150 members of the state Assembly say they support opening impeachment proceedings.

If a majority of the lower chamber votes to impeach him, Cuomo’s powers would be temporarily transferred to a fellow Democrat, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul; the governor would only regain his powers if he manages to avoid conviction in the Senate. It will likely be a little while, though, before impeachment can start. The Democratic-run Assembly has given Cuomo until Aug. 13 to submit evidence in his defense, and two members of the Judiciary Committee, Tom Abinanti and Phil Steck, tell the AP they expect the chamber’s investigation to end in “weeks or a month.”

The pair said that plenty of their colleagues want Cuomo impeached much faster following the release of Attorney General Tish James’ report. However, they argued that the Assembly needs time to build a strong argument for the Senate, which is also controlled by Democrats and would ultimately decide Cuomo’s fate.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris said that, should the Assembly vote to impeach, his chamber could begin Cuomo’s trial weeks later. As we’ve written before, members of New York’s highest court, known as the Court of Appeals, would also sit as jurors. Democratic Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins would not participate, however, because she is second in the line of succession after the lieutenant governor. As a result, the jury would consist of seven judges—all of whom are Cuomo appointees—and 62 senators, with a two-thirds majority, or 46 votes, needed to convict the governor and remove him from office.

Cuomo could avoid all this by resigning, but he’s continued to proclaim his innocence and refuse to quit. The governor was similarly defiant in March as more and more allegations surfaced about his behavior and other alleged abuses in office, but while he had enough allies back then to hang on, his situation has very much deteriorated following James’ Tuesday press conference. Several longtime Cuomo backers, including state party chair Jay Jacobs and the state’s influential unions, have turned against him, and the New York Times notes that he has very few prominent defenders left.

Indeed, Cuomo’s most high-profile advocate at this point may be disgraced Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who characteristically compared Cuomo’s situation to the multitude of allegations leveled at his old client. Giuliani’s son, former White House staffer Andrew Giuliani, announced earlier this year that he’d run against Cuomo.

The presidential race was tight in this New Jersey district, but a freshman Democrat ran well ahead

Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide takes the turnpike through New Jersey, which is home to a number of competitive House seats. You can find our detailed calculations here, a large-size map of the results here, and our permanent, bookmarkable link for all 435 districts here.

Joe Biden’s 57-41 victory in the Garden State was only slightly larger than Hillary Clinton’s 55-41 performance in 2016, an improvement due in part to the decline in third-party voting, but there were plenty of big changes below the surface. Biden captured nine of the state’s 12 House seats, which was two more than Clinton took last time, while Donald Trump held on to the remaining three seats. All of the Biden districts are controlled by Democrats, while Republican representatives prevailed in two of the trio of Trump seats.

We’ll start with a look at the one Democratic-held Trump seat, Rep. Andy Kim’s 3rd District, which was also the state’s closest district in the 2020 presidential race by far. Barack Obama had carried this South Jersey constituency, which is located in the Philadelphia suburbs and central Jersey Shore, 52-47 days after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area in 2012, but it swung hard to the right four years later and backed Trump 51-45. This time, the 3rd settled between those poles and supported Trump 49.4-49.2, a margin of about 800 votes.

Local Republicans in past years have run well ahead of the top of the ticket here, but the opposite happened in 2020. Kim won a second term by beating Republican David Richter 52-45, a result that was considerably wider than his 50-49 victory against Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur in 2018.

GOP outside groups opted not to spend to boost Richter, a decision that may have had to do with the sheer cost of running for office in what may be the most expensive place in the nation to advertise: About 57% of the 3rd is in the pricey Philadelphia media market, while the balance is in the very expensive New York City market. To reach all voters on television, it's necessary to blanket both—an extremely costly proposition. Kim's mammoth fundraising made that heavy lift possible, but Richter's weak finances put such an undertaking out of reach.

Republicans, however, had more success in the 2nd District just to the south. This coastal seat swung from 54-45 Obama to 51-46 Trump in 2016, and it favored Trump again last year, though by a smaller 51-48 margin. National Democrats worked hard last year to deny a second term to Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who had switched from the Democrats to the GOP in late 2019 after opposing Trump’s first impeachment. But Congress' most infamous turncoat ran ahead of the man he’d pledged his “undying support” to and defeated Democrat Amy Kennedy 52-46.

Trump’s best seat by far, unsurprisingly, was once again the 4th District to the north in the Monmouth County area, though he did drop from 56-41 in 2016 to 55-44 last year. This constituency is held by 21-term Rep. Chris Smith, who was the only Republican in the state’s delegation from January 2019 until Van Drew switched parties nearly a year later.

We’ll now move up north and hit the two Trump/Biden seats, both of which began the decade as conservative turf. The 5th District in northern Bergen County and more distant exurban areas had lurched slightly to the left, going from 51-48 Romney to 49-48 Trump in 2016, but Trump’s toxicity in the suburbs helped propel Biden to a 52-47 win. The seat is held by Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a moderate who unseated arch-conservative Scott Garrett in 2016 and secured his third term 53-46 last year.

The swing to the left was even more pronounced in the neighboring 11th District in the Morris County area. This ancestrally red region had gone from 52-47 Romney to 49-48 Trump in 2016, but Biden took it 53-46 this time. Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill flipped this seat in 2018 by winning the race to succeed longtime Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen and successfully defended it 53-47 in 2020.

Trump also bombed in the 7th District just to the south, though the GOP showed signs of life downballot. This seat, which includes Hunterdon County and New York City's western exurbs, had already swung hard from 52-46 Romney to 49-48 Clinton, and Biden’s margin ballooned to 54-44. Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski, though, won his second term by a considerably smaller 51-49 margin in a very expensive race against state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., who is the son and namesake of well-regarded former Gov. Tom Kean Sr.

While Trump’s margin took a nose dive in all of New Jersey’s competitive seats, though, he did make gains in a trio of safely blue constituencies in the northern part of the state. Rep. Albio Sires’ 8th District in Jersey City dropped from 76-21 Clinton to 73-26 Biden, which fits with the pattern we’ve seen in other seats with large Latino electorates. Rep. Donald Payne’s heavily Black 10th District in Newark likewise ticked down from 85-13 Clinton 83-16 Biden. Finally, Rep. Bill Pascrell’s diverse 9th District, which is home to Paterson and some of New York City's closer-in suburbs, shifted from 64-33 Clinton to 62-37 Biden.

Democrats have full control of the New Jersey state government, but that doesn’t guarantee that they’ll get a favorable congressional map for the coming decade. That’s because a 1995 state constitutional amendment created a bipartisan redistricting commission consisting of six Democrats, six Republicans, and a tiebreaking member. Last time, the crucial 13th member favored GOP-drawn boundaries over those proposed by Democrats, though Republican mapmakers didn’t anticipate the leftward swing that would later unfold in the state’s northern suburbs.

After a successful midterm, New York Democrats look to flip more GOP-held House seats

Candidate filing closed last month for New York’s June 23 primaries, and we’ll be running down the state of play in the state’s big congressional races here.

The state does publish a list of candidates who've filed for Congress, but it doesn't include all House seats. Candidates running for a district that is contained entirely within a single county or within the five boroughs of New York City file with their local election authorities, while everyone else files with the state.

As a result, the state's list only covers 14 of New York's 27 congressional districts; the rest we've had to obtain from New York City, Suffolk County, and Monroe County. We've consolidated these various lists and put them into a single document here. We're still missing NY-04 (which is entirely located in Nassau County), but Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice faces minimal opposition for a fourth term. 

NY-01: GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin won reelection last cycle 51-47 against Democrat Perry Gershon, and Gershon is once again running for this eastern Suffolk County seat. However, two other notable Democrats—Stony Brook University professor Nancy Goroff and Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming—are also competing in the June primary.

Goroff, who has the support of EMILY’s List, ended March with a $646,000 to $504,000 cash on hand lead over Gershon, though Gershon demonstrated last cycle that he’s capable of some serious self-funding. Fleming, who is the only elected official in the primary, was further behind with $305,000 on hand.

While Zeldin only pulled off a modest win in 2018, he’ll be difficult to unseat in a presidential year. Although this seat narrowly supported Barack Obama in 2012, Donald Trump took it 55-42 four years later. Zeldin also had a hefty $1.8 million to defend himself in a race Daily Kos Elections rates as Likely Republican.

NY-02: Longtime GOP Rep. Peter King’s retirement makes this southern Long Island one of Team Blue’s top pickup opportunities in the nation, but Republicans still have a good chance to keep it. The district swung from 52-47 Obama to 53-44 Trump, and Republicans do well downballot in this area. Daily Kos Elections rates this contrast as Lean Republican, but it’s one we’ll be watching closely for developments.

While plenty of Republicans jumped in the race in the months after this seat opened up, almost all of them dropped out after Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino picked up endorsements from King and the leaders of the Nassau and Suffolk County Republican parties. Fellow Assemblyman Mike LiPetri decided to stay in the primary, but Garbarino ended March with a $322,000 to $136,000 cash on hand edge.

On the Democratic side, Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon faces little intraparty opposition. Gordon, an Army veteran who deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, spent months challenging King before he retired, and she ended the last quarter with $536,000 to spend.

NY-09: Democratic Rep. Yvette Clarke defeated community organizer Adem Bunkeddeko in an unexpectedly close 53-47 primary last cycle, and Bunkeddeko is back for a rematch.

This time, though, three other candidates are also running for this safely blue seat in central Brooklyn. The most notable newcomer is New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, a self-described "conservative Democrat” who has a record of consistently opposing LGBTQ rights. Clarke ended March with a $267,000 to $116,000 cash on hand lead over Bunkeddeko, while Deutsch had $65,000 to spend.

NY-10: Longtime Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler faces a primary challenge from Lindsey Boylan, a former economic adviser to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a safely blue seat that includes the west side of Manhattan and part of southern Brooklyn. Boylan entered the race last spring arguing that the incumbent had been slow to use his powerful post as chair of the House Judiciary Committee to fight the Trump administration. Nadler, though, later went on to play a prominent role in impeaching Donald Trump.

Nadler ended March with a $957,000 to $147,000 cash on hand lead over Boylan. One other Democrat, political organizer Jonathan Herzog, is also in, but he had just $27,000 on hand.

NY-11: Democrat Max Rose’ 53-47 win over GOP incumbent Dan Donovan was one of the biggest upsets of 2018, and this is a constituency that Republicans badly want to take back.

National Republicans, including Donald Trump, have consolidated behind Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis. While a few other local Republicans, including disgraced ex-Rep. Mike Grimm, talked about running here (Grimm even said at one point he was “90% of the way there to run”), Malliotakis’ only intraparty foe is former Brooklyn prosecutor Joe Caldarera. Malliotakis ended March with a wide $884,000 to $51,000 cash on hand lead over Caldarera, though, and she should have no trouble winning in June.

The November election will be a much tougher affair for Team Red, though. Rose is one of the strongest fundraisers in the House, and he had $3.33 million in the bank at the end of the first quarter. Rose, who is a captain in the National Guard, also earned national attention in early April when he was deployed to Staten Island to set up an emergency hospital to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this is still a difficult area for Democrats. This seat, which includes all of Staten Island and part of southern Brooklyn, swung from 52-47 Obama to 54-44 Trump, so even a strong incumbent like Rose will be in for a real fight. National Republicans have also reserved $1.4 million in fall TV time for a contest that we rate as a tossup.

NY-12: Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney defeated attorney Suraj Patel 60-40 in an expensive 2018 primary, and Patel is back for a rematch. However, while Patel outraised the congresswoman last time, Maloney ended March with a $427,000 to $195,000 cash on hand lead. Two other candidates are also running, which complicates Patel’s task. This seat, which includes the east side of Manhattan and nearby parts of Queens and Brooklyn, is safely blue.

NY-14: Freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), who pulled off one of the most shocking primary wins we’ve ever seen, faces an expensive intraparty challenge from the right from former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.

Caruso-Cabrera has the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and she ended March with a large $854,000 war chest after just seven weeks in the race. AOC, though, has a national base of support to draw on, and she had a massive $3.51 million in the bank. Two other Democrats are also running for this safely blue seat in the East Bronx and northern Queens.

NY-15: Longtime Rep. José Serrano is retiring from the bluest district in the entire country, and 12 fellow Democrats are running to succeed him. However, the crowded field in this Bronx seat could allow New York City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr., who has a long and ugly history of homophobia, to win the nomination with just a plurality.  

A number of other candidates are running well to Diaz’s left. The best-funded contender at the end of March by far was fellow New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who held a $939,000 to $125,000 cash on hand lead over Diaz. Torres, who would be the first gay Latino member of Congress, also has the backing of the Hotel Trades Council, which is one of the most influential unions in city politics.

Assemblyman Michael Blake has the support of two other powerful unions, SEIU 32BJ and 1199 SEIU, but he had just $77,000 in the bank. Other notable candidates include former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez; and activist Samelys Lopez, who has the endorsement of neighboring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Working Families Party.

NY-16: Longtime Rep. Eliot Engel faces four Democratic primary opponents in this safely blue seat, which includes southern Westchester County and the northern Bronx. The challenger who has attracted the most national attention so far is middle school principal Jamaal Bowman, who has the support of the Working Families Party. Engel ended March with a huge $1.05 million to $217,000 cash on hand lead over Bowman while two other contenders, educator Andom Ghebreghiorgis and attorney Chris Fink, each had about $80,000 to spend.

NY-17: Longtime Rep. Nita Lowey is retiring from a safely blue seat that includes much of Westchester County and all of Rockland County, and 10 fellow Democrats are running to succeed her. The best-funded contender is former federal prosecutor Adam Schleifer, who had $1.52 million in the bank in March after self-funding most of his campaign. Behind him in the money race is former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas, who had $688,000 on hand.

Another candidate to watch is attorney Mondaire Jones, who was challenging Lowey before she retired. Jones, who had $544,000 in the bank, would be the first openly gay black member of Congress. (It was only after she died in 1996 that news accounts identified legendary Texas Rep. Barbara Jordan as a lesbian; she never discussed her sexuality during her lifetime.)

The contest also includes two state legislators. Assemblyman David Buchwald had $496,000 in the bank while state Sen. David Carlucci, who was a founding member of turncoat Independent Democratic Conference, had only $99,000. Also in the race are former NARAL board chair Allison Fine; Catherine Parker, who is the majority leader of the Westchester County Board of Legislators; and Army veteran Asha Castleberry-Hernandez, though none of them had much money to spend.

NY-18: Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney is seeking reelection in a Lower Hudson Valley seat that swung from 51-47 Obama to 49-47 Trump, but it doesn’t look like the GOP will be making much of an effort to beat him. The only Republican candidate is 2018 Senate nominee Chele Farley, who lost that contest to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand 67-33. Maloney ended March with a wide $893,000 to $258,000 cash on hand lead in a race we rate as safe Democratic.

NY-19: Freshman Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado should have been a top GOP target, but national Republicans failed to recruit a strong candidate after their top choice, 2018 gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, declined.

Delgado ended March with a massive $2.65 million to $254,000 cash on hand lead over fashion designer Ola Hawatmeh, who has been self-funding most of her campaign; the other Republican, Army veteran Kyle Van De Water, had a mere $14,000 in the bank. This Hudson Valley seat swung from 52-46 Obama to 51-44 Trump, so it’s still possible for the GOP to score a win here if the political climate is good for them, but we’re rating this swing seat as likely Democratic.

NY-21: GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik defeated Democrat Tedra Cobb 56-42 last cycle in a contest that didn’t attract much attention, but their rematch has turned into a nationally watched affair. Stefanik infuriated progressives and delighted Trump and his fans with her antics during an impeachment hearing in November when she sought to violate House Intelligence Committee rules and then lied about why the committee's chair, Democrat Adam Schiff, had cut her off. Both candidates raised millions afterwards, and Stefanik ended March with a $4 million to $2.38 million cash on hand lead.

However, as Stefanik’s large win last time demonstrated, this is a very difficult race for Team Blue. The district, which includes the farthest upstate reaches of New York, swung from 52-46 Obama all the way to 54-40 Trump, and we rate this contest as safe Republican.

NY-22: Democrat Anthony Brindisi unseated GOP incumbent Claudia Tenney 51-49 in 2018, and Tenney is back for a rematch. The former congresswoman faces minimal intraparty opposition, but Brindisi ended March with a wide $2.16 million to $408,000 cash on hand lead.

Despite Brindisi’s huge financial edge and Tenney’s many mistakes last cycle, this is still a tough race for Team Blue. This seat, which includes Binghamton, Utica, and Rome, moved from a tiny win for Mitt Romney all the way to 55-39 Trump, and national Republicans have reserved over $2 million in fall TV time here. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as a tossup.

NY-23: GOP Rep. Tom Reed beat Democrat Tracy Mitrano 54-46 last cycle in an expensive race, and Mitrano is running again. This seat, which includes Ithaca and southwestern New York, moved from 50-48 Romney to 55-40 Trump, and Reed ended March with a wide $763,000 to $206,000 cash on hand lead. So far this contest hasn’t attracted much outside attention, and we rate it as safe Republican.

NY-24: Rep. John Katko, who is one of just two Republican incumbents seeking reelection in a Clinton seat, defeated Democrat Dana Balter 53-47 in 2018, and Balter is running again. First, though, Balter has to get past Navy veteran Francis Conole, who held a small $313,000 to $268,000 cash on hand edge at the end of March.

Whoever wins the June primary will be in for a difficult race against Katko, who had $1.19 million to defend himself; the incumbent’s allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund have also reserved $600,000 to aid him. This Syracuse seat moved from 57-41 to just 49-45 Clinton, and this is an area where Republicans do well downballot. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as lean Republican.

NY-27: The special election to succeed disgraced GOP Rep. Chris Collins, who is scheduled to report to prison on June 23 after pleading guilty to insider trading charges, will take place on the same day as the regular two-year primary. (The contest was originally set for April, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo moved it due to the coronavirus pandemic.) That’s created a bit of an awkward situation for state Sen. Chris Jacobs, who is the GOP’s special election nominee but faces primary challenges from the right from both attorney Beth Parlato, who has the Conservative Party’s backing, and Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw.

However, the split field could give Jacobs the advantage as the de facto incumbent; Parlato and Mychajliw will also need to win over plenty of Republican voters at the same time that they’re supporting Jacobs in the special election. Jacobs ended March with a $521,000 to $451,000 cash on hand lead over Parlato, while Mychajliw had $72,000 to spend.

The Democratic candidate for the special election is 2018 nominee Nate McMurray, who faces no intraparty opposition in the regular primary and had $267,000 in the bank. McMurray held Collins, who was under indictment but had not been convicted, to a 49.1-48.7 win last cycle, but he’s in for an even tougher race in June. This seat in the Buffalo suburbs moved from 55-43 Romney to 60-35 Trump, and Jacobs doesn’t have Collins’ problems. We rate the special election as safe Republican.

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Anti-impeachment Trump surrogate launches bid against GOP senator in Georgia special election

On Wednesday morning, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins announced that he would challenge appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a fellow Republican, in this year’s special election, a move that complicates GOP hopes of holding this key seat. Collins is currently serving as one of Donald Trump’s designated surrogates during his impeachment trial, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote that the congressman hopes to have Trump’s inner circle behind him.

Collins’ bid almost certainly crushes the GOP hopes of winning outright in November, at least under the state’s current election law. That's because all candidates from all parties will run together on a single ballot, and if no one takes a majority, a runoff between the top two vote-getters—regardless of party—would be held in January of next year.

However, neither Democrats nor Collins’ GOP allies in the state legislature are keen on this unusual law, and they’re currently working to change it. On Tuesday, the House Governmental Affairs Committee overwhelmingly advanced a bill (with a lone Republican voting “nay”) that would require a partisan primary in May and a general election in November, which are the same rules that govern the state’s regularly scheduled Senate race.

However, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who appointed Loeffler over Collins despite Trump’s wishes, likes the status quo just fine. He’s said he’ll veto this legislation if it makes it to his desk, though if Democrats and Republicans unite behind the bill, they could overturn a Kemp veto with a two-thirds supermajority.

It’s not hard to see why Loeffler and her supporters don’t want to alter Georgia’s electoral calendar. A survey from the Democratic firm PPP taken just after Loeffler was selected in December showed Collins destroying her 56-16 in a hypothetical GOP primary. Collins’ bonafides with the Trumpist base would be hard to overcome if the primary took place less than four months from now, but Loeffler could benefit from an additional half year of incumbency, as well as the extra time to air ads.

It’s not just the far-right that would benefit from this proposed change—Democrats likely would, too. Right now, Team Blue’s only declared candidate is businessman Matt Lieberman, but former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver recently said that he planned to run while the Rev. Raphael Warnock is also reportedly going to get in soon. If all three Democrats wind up competing in an all-party primary in November, it will almost certainly be impossible for any of them to secure a majority. The prospect of a multi-way split on the left could also lead to the nightmare scenario of both Loeffler and Collins advancing to what would be an all-GOP runoff.

Thanks to her vast wealth, though, Loeffler doesn’t have to wait to see how things shake out to start upping her name recognition. She’s already up with a new TV spot that’s part of her opening $2.6 million buy that portrays her as (of course) a political outsider. The senator has reportedly pledged to spend $20 million of her own money, so Georgians will see a lot more from her over the coming months.

Loeffler may also get some air support from outside groups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the incumbent, as has the NRSC, though Senate Republicans may prefer to focus their attention on other races in a cycle when control of the chamber is on the line. The NRSC made it very clear on Wednesday, though, how little they wanted Collins in this race with this rather ungrammatical pair of phrases: “Doug Collins’ selfishness will hurt David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and President Trump. Not to mention the people of Georgia who stand to bear the burden of it for years to come.” 

It’s not clear who might come to Collins’ aid, but the anti-tax Club for Growth has already made it clear that he’s no friend of theirs. On Monday, the Club tweeted that the congressman “should start being more responsible with taxpayer dollars and improving the 57%” he received on its scorecard.

Trump, however, has yet to endorse Loeffler and has openly expressed his enthusiasm for Collins. Could the occupant of the White House side against a sitting senator from his own party? If anyone would do it, it’s Donald Trump.

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