State Political Parties in Disarray, Scramble To Get House in Order as 2024 Looms
Both parties are scrambling to get their respective houses in order before the 2024 campaign begins in earnest.
State political parties play a critical role in organizing volunteers, raising funds, and supporting statewide candidates. As 2024 approaches, some state parties are facing internal strife, threatening the campaigns of several candidates in must-win states.
Some state Democratic parties are reeling from mismanagement and fallout from poor performance during critical races. Republican state parties are being taken over by the same MAGA conservatives who cost the party several House, Senate, and gubernatorial races in 2022. Both parties are scrambling to get their respective houses in order before the 2024 campaign begins in earnest.
In 2021, an activist with the Democratic Socialists of America, Judith Whitmer, was elected chairwoman of the Nevada Democratic Party. Her tenure was marred by infighting, the loss of the governor’s office, and a razor-thin U.S. Senate election.
Senator Sanders — who endorsed Ms. Whitmer — reportedly said he was disappointed by her leadership. A person close to Mr. Sanders told Politico that many liberal activists “feel sad about what could have been. It was a big opportunity for Bernie-aligned folks in the state to prove some of the folks in the establishment wrong. And that hasn’t happened,” the source said.
On Saturday, Ms. Whitmer was defeated in her bid for a second term by a vote margin of 314 to 99. Her successor, Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, ran a campaign of unifying the state party ahead of the 2024 elections. “This victory belongs to all of us fighting to unite our Democratic family because we know how much we are capable of when we come together as one team,” Ms. Monroe-Moreno said.
The state’s junior senator, Jacky Rosen, is running for re-election alongside three vulnerable members of the House. The state will also likely be one of the closest contests in the 2024 presidential election. In both 2016 and 2020, the Nevada presidential outcome was decided by less than three points.
As Nevada Democrats try to recover from two years of mismanagement and poor electoral results, Michigan Republicans have just ushered in a slate of what President Biden likes to call “MAGA Republicans.”
In February, Michigan Republicans appointed Kristina Karamo to be their chairwoman for the next two years — a critical period, as the state could decide both the presidency and the Senate majority.
Ms. Karamo was her party’s nominee for secretary of state in 2022 and has claimed that her election — along with the 2020 presidential election — was stolen. President Trump congratulated her on her victory, calling her “a powerful and fearless Election Denier.”
A former Michigan Republican Party chairman, Saul Anuzis, told the Sun that his party’s shift will have to be balanced with well-funded independent campaigns for both the presidency and the U.S. Senate. While he has concerns about extremists in the party, he still believes Ms. Karamo could deliver results next year.
“Right now the delegates and party leadership are either MAGA or ultra-MAGA,” Mr. Anuzis said in a phone interview. The new leadership “needs to make the case to donors why they deserve to get funding. And with the Senate race — we’re still waiting on a candidate — they will run their own operation independent of the party.”
There will be a host of critical elections in Michigan next year, including the presidential race, the campaign to succeed Senator Stabenow, and a number of competitive House races.
One moderate Republican who ran for the state house last year, Christine Barnes, told the Washington Post that “the party is a hot mess right now” following Ms. Karamo’s election.
The Arizona Republican Party, like Michigan’s, has faced serious challenges in the last few years. In 2017, Republicans held the governor’s office, the attorney general’s office, the secretary of state’s office, as well as both U.S. Senate seats. Now, those five positions are occupied by Democrats.
A former Trump campaign official, Jeff DeWit, was recently elected to lead the floundering organization. Following the departure of Chairwoman Kelli Ward, who clashed often with the state’s Republican governor and was a chief proponent of Mr. Trump’s claim that he actually won the state, Mr. DeWit wants to bring new voters into the party. In a radio interview, he said the party needs to “refocus on the positive” and win over independents.
“It seems like the political system has been really focused on the negative and there’s so much character assassination going on,” Mr. DeWit said. “I know some people who have registered as independents. For the most part, they are just fed up with the political system. They are not happy with the negativity. They are not happy with the rhetoric. I ran on a platform of unity and coming together to get back to the basics, talking about the positives and winning elections.”
In Florida, Democrats have suffered a string of losses that has many pundits believing the Sunshine State is now ruby red. Last year, Governor DeSantis won re-election by the largest margin for a Republican candidate since the 1860s. Senator Rubio, likewise, easily beat back a well-funded challenger by double digits.
Democrats are already talking about abandoning the state in next year’s elections, given the resources it would require to win the Republican-leaning state.
A Democratic strategist, Fernand Amandi, told the Washington Post that there is despair in his party. “The thing about Florida Democrats is we keep learning with every passing year that just when you thought you had hit bottom, you discover that there are new abysses to fall deeper and deeper into,” he said. “There is no plan. There’s nothing. It’s just a state of suspended animation and chaos.”
Any hope of possibly challenging Senator Warren in 2024 have been dashed by recent chaos in the Massachusetts Republican Party. For the last four years, the state GOP has been led by a pugilistic former state representative, Jim Lyons — an ardent supporter of Mr. Trump who often criticized the state’s popular Republican governor, Charlie Baker.
Mr. Lyons racked up more than half a million dollars in debts before being ousted from the party chairmanship last month. He initiated a number of lawsuits against fellow state Republican leaders over disputes about spending reports and independent expenditure groups, and now his successor, Chairwoman Amy Canavale, is responsible for those payments.
“Clearly, the vote was a signal that our party is going to take a different track moving ahead. And I’m taking that as a signal that we also need to reach out to unenrolled voters in order to get Republicans elected to Congress, to positions up and down the board,” Ms. Canavale told WBUR on the night of her election.
No Republican has been elected to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1994, but there have been unusually close races in both the sixth and ninth congressional districts in recent Republican wave years. The two districts are anchored in the more conservative suburbs north of Boston and south coast, respectively. They are two seats Ms. Canavale would like to target.
Mr. Rice is a Staff Reporter based at Boston. He covers current events in politics.