ShareThis Page
Political Headlines

Republican lawmakers up for re-election brace for Trump wave

| Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, 11:00 p.m.

Presidential candidates aren't the only ones hoping to lock down a victory on Super Tuesday. Several House and Senate Republicans are facing stiff challenges from primary opponents who are tapping into the anti-establishment fervor stoked by Donald Trump's run for the White House.

Trump has inspired record turnouts in each of the four GOP nominating contests so far this year, leaving some incumbents who have previously enjoyed easy re-election contests worried that his supporters will vote to kick them out when they show up to cast their ballots for the business mogul.

“You have people turning out to support a guy like Donald Trump who is talking about blowing up the system,” said Lisa Boothe, a former House GOP aide, campaign strategist and founder of High Noon Strategies.

This intraparty tension is on display in hotly contested Southern states including Alabama and Texas, where several veteran lawmakers are scrambling to make sure the Trump wave doesn't wash their political careers out to sea.

Lawmakers holding some of the most powerful seats in Congress — such as House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala. — are among those in tight races. Also on the list are conservative Reps. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., and Martha Roby, R-Ala.

For most of these lawmakers, the concern isn't that they will lose outright on Tuesday, but that they will fail to register enough support. Texas and Alabama have two-step primaries in which candidates must receive more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

While veteran Republican lawmakers have come to fear primary challenges more in recent years following the rise of the Tea Party, campaign strategists said the concern is particularly acute this year as the anti-establishment climate is inspiring voters who would normally stay home to come out and vote in the year of Trump.

The security once provided to incumbents by name recognition and help from party backers is fraying, leaving lawmakers to wrestle with how much to embrace their congressional experience while seeking to assure restless voters that they share their anger over the status quo.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me