Throwing away millions to boost far-right candidates who deny GOP primary elections to those they perceived as easier to beat in the general election appears to have paid off for liberals, even as many criticized the move as undemocratic.
This year, Democratic groups launched a risky new strategy that spent more than $50 million on ads promoting 13 Republican candidates they hoped they could win in a general election. Individual Democratic candidates shelled out tens of millions more. The scheme drew criticism that Democrats could have used the funds to defend a narrow majority and the potential that far-right candidates they pushed could come to power.
But in several races his efforts have been vindicated, with Republicans now seeking a narrower majority than they expected and a Senate whose majority is still undecided.
Here are the biggest benefits of liberal offense:
Michigan: Trump-backed John Gibbs loses to Democrat Hillary Scholten after unseating Rep. Peter Meijer in the primary.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the party’s House campaign arm, drew ire when it funneled $2.4 million to Trump-backed John Gibbs to beat the more bipartisan, Republican-focused Rep. Peter Meijer. politics, in a West Michigan district.
“We thought he was an easier candidate and he has proven to be,” DCCC President Sean Patrick Maloney, who lost his own re-election bid, said last week. ‘Because he is crazy.’
While the DCCC may have contributed to winning these six races, it paid a price for its chairman: Maloney lost to Republican Mike Lawler after drawing criticism for the Democrats’ strategy, as well as other controversies.
Trump also got into the race on Gibbs’ behalf, with a vendetta against Meijer for voting to impeach him after Jan. 6.
Hillary Scholten beat Gibbs 55-42 percent on Tuesday.
In a Substack post, Meijer eviscerated Democrats for his involvement in the race and highlighted his own vote with them against Trump on January 6.
“The Democrats are justifying this political jiu-jitsu with the argument that politics is a difficult business. I don’t disagree. But that toughness is limited by certain moral limits: Those who participated in the attack on Capitol Hill, for example, clearly fall outside those limits,” Meijer wrote. “But over the course of the midterm elections, the Democrats seem to have forgotten where those limits lie.”
In a primary, Gibbs beat the more bipartisan, politically focused Republican Rep. Peter Meijer in a western Michigan district.
New Hampshire Senate race: Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) beats out Trump-backed Army General Don Bolduc
Retired Trump-backed Army General Don Bolduc has surged to the front of the primary after the Senate Democratic majority, PAC, spent $3.1 million on his race. Democrats then spent nearly the same amount, $3.3 million, defending their current incumbent, Sen. Maggie Hassan, in the general election when they turned on Bolduc and criticized him for his far-right views. .
Hassan kept his seat by nine points, 53.4 to 44.7 percent.
Trump later claimed that Bolduc lost because he had wavered in his long-standing promotion of Trump’s voter fraud claims.
“Don Bolduc was a very nice guy, but he lost tonight when he rejected, after his big primary victory, his longstanding stance on voter fraud in the 2020 presidential primary. If he had stayed strong and loyal, he would have easily won. Learned lessons!!!’ Trump wrote in Truth Social.
Democrats then spent nearly the same amount, $3.3 million, defending their incumbent, Sen. Maggie Hassan, in the general election when they turned on Bolduc and criticized him for his far-right views.
Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Race: Attorney General Josh Shapiro easily beats state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R)
Mastriano was a prime target for Democrats, as on January 6 he led a group of Trump supporters to Washington, DC, who once said women should be charged with murder for having abortions.
The Democrats, along with their gubernatorial candidate, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, spent $840,000 on television ads highlighting Mastriano’s campaign, twice as much as the Republican spent on himself.
After sliding to victory in the primaries, Mastriano’s momentum faded as he was vastly outclassed by his opponent and made few media appearances.
Shapiro won comfortably Tuesday, 56.1 to 42.1 percent.
Shapiro said he ran ads highlighting Mastriano’s extremism simply because he saw him as his most likely rival.
“I was trying to get started with the general election campaign,” he told Reuters.
PA AG Josh Shapiro won comfortably Tuesday, 56.1 to 42.1 percent over Doug Mastriano
Maryland Gubernatorial Race: Democrat Wes Moore Beats Delaware State Republican Dan Cox
Democrats launched ads appealing to the conservative base in Maryland to put state Delegate Dan Cox ahead in the GOP gubernatorial primary over the more moderate former state Secretary of Commerce and Labor. Kelly Shultz.
Their strategy, which paid off when they changed the governor’s mansion from red to blue, the limited-term moderate Republican Governor Larry Hogan will hand over the keys to Maryland’s first black governor, Democrat Wes Moore.
The super PAC of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) he spent hundreds of thousands flooding the airwaves painting Cox as “Trump’s hand-picked candidate” and an avid supporter of the second amendment.
Moore won with 60 percent of the vote to Cox’s 37.
Illinois Gubernatorial Race: Democratic Incumbent JB Pritzker Wins Over State Senator Darren Bailey
About $25 million from the DGA and about $9.5 million from incumbent Democrat JB Pritzker’s campaign went to boost state Sen. Darren Bailey (R), who said it was “terrible” that Trump was expected to concede the election of 2020.
His ads elevated Bailey above his more centrist rival, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin. The $35 million Democrats spent was nearly triple what Bailey had raised for himself at that point in the race.
After the primary, Democrats readily criticized Bailey, painting him as a Trump acolyte who had extreme views on crime and abortion, noting that he called Chicago “hell.”
Pritzker won reelection by more than 10 points, 53.9 to 43.3 percent.
The DGA said it was simply reminding all voters of Republican extremism.
“Defining Republicans early and never letting them out of their extremist box was critical to defeating election deniers across the country,” DGA spokesman David Turner said.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker won re-election by more than 10 points, 53.9 to 43.3 percent
New Hampshire District 2: Democratic incumbent Anne Kuster defeats Robert Burns
Democrats Serve PAC spent $562,000 on primary ads attacking (or highlighting, depending on who’s watching) Republican Robert Burns’ ultra-conservative ties to Trump.
That dwarfed what Burns had spent on advertising for his own primary — $16,000 — and propelled him ahead of the more moderate George Hansel, the mayor of Keene, NH, in the September primary.
On Tuesday, Democratic incumbent Anne Kuster won reelection 56 percent to 44 percent.