2024 contest looms with hurdles for both sides

2024 contest looms with hurdles for both sides
2024 contest looms with hurdles for both sides

NEW YORK (AP) — Both political parties are opening the new year by facing critical questions about who and what policies they want to adopt as the next election looms.

The challenges are especially pressing for Republicans, who had hoped to approach 2023 with a secure grip on one, if not both, houses of Congress. Instead, a disappointing midterm election yielded only a slim majority in the House that will expose fierce intraparty divisions this week as California Rep. Kevin McCarthy battles for the presidency. And before the month is out, the Republican National Committee must resolve its own divisive leadership battle.

A central figure in virtually everything is Donald Trump, the former president who transformed the GOP more than seven years ago and is still fighting to exert his will on Republicans in Congress, the RNC and Republican voters as the next presidential primary season.

RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel acknowledged in an interview that her party’s biggest political challenge may come from within as party leaders navigate Trump’s outsized role.

“There is so much at stake that we cannot afford to be divided as we approach 2024,” McDaniel said, promising the RNC would be neutral in the impending presidential nomination process. “If we are divided, we will lose.”

For now, at least, Democrats seem much more united than their Republican counterparts.

But it all hinges on Joe Biden and the 80-year-old president’s pursuit of his re-election bid. If he avoids another term — and an official announcement may be months away — Democrats would be thrust into a murky future with no obvious popular alternatives.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has not ruled out another presidential bid, said Democrats are also at a “pivotal moment,” facing cracks in their delicate political coalition among young people, African Americans, Latinos and working-class voters.

“It hurts me very, very badly to see more and more working class people voting Republican,” he said in an interview. “Politically, this is a disaster, and Democrats need to recognize this serious problem and fix it.”

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While many voters may be tired of the endless campaign that is American politics, especially after a high-stakes midterm election in 2022, the tense dynamic ensures that the political spotlight will only shine brighter in the during the new year. If history is any guide, the opening debates of the presidential primaries are only seven months away. And the debate stage should be packed — at least on the GOP side. No less than 10 top Republicans are actively evaluating the 2024 presidential candidacies in defiance of Trump, emboldened by the growing belief that the former president is more politically vulnerable than he has ever been.

At the moment, Trump is the only announced candidate for the Republican primary. But a handful of candidates are expected to join in late March, while some more high-profile candidates — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, among them — think they can wait until late spring or even early November. been to make their intentions known.

Few people think Trump will be easy to unseat in a GOP primary. Already, he has begun to go after potential rivals by name, and he maintains a firm grip on the party’s most active voters, who will dominate the GOP primaries.

Still, voters will have several options in a likely field that includes DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and incumbent Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, among several others. Most have already begun actively courting donors and making connections on the ground in early states on the presidential primary schedule.

Before the presidential nomination process begins in earnest, the GOP must first resolve a contentious House leadership fight. And by the end of the month, the Republican National Committee will decide whether to elect McDaniel to a fourth two-year term.

Much of the energy from Trump’s Make America Great Again movement has rallied behind California lawyer Harmeet Dhillon in an increasingly nasty leadership fight that will be decided at the committee’s winter meeting later. in the month after three consecutive disappointing election cycles.

Trump and his loyalists will figure prominently in each of the clashes. But leading establishment Republicans are pushing back much more aggressively.

Steven Law, a key ally of Mitch McConnell who leads the Senate GOP super PAC, has promised to “play a much more assertive role” in shaping future Senate contests. So is the new head of the Senate GOP campaign arm, Sen. Steve Daines. , R-Mont., suggests his committee will actively play in the Republican primaries to ensure that candidates who can be more competitive with the wider general election audience advance. elevate unsuccessful candidates to extend support beyond the grassroots.

On paper, Senate Republicans have big opportunities ahead of them in red states like West Virginia, Montana and Ohio, where Democrats are up for re-election in 2024. To take full advantage of them, however, the GOP must avoid the same “candidate quality” issues that plagued the party in November’s midterms as a slate of deeply flawed Trump-backed candidates lost key Senate contests in Arizona, Georgia, in Nevada, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

“Recruiting is going to be the first job, from now on,” Law said. “The first step is to do everything we can to get the best possible candidate in the field.”

Law was optimistic that Trump would stay out of the 2024 Senate primaries given the needs of his presidential campaign. McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate Republican leader, expressed a similar sentiment in a recent interview with NBC News.

“We can do a better job with less potential interference,” McConnell said of Trump. “The former president may have other things to do.”

Meanwhile, Democrats have their own issues to deal with — the most pressing, of course, is whether Biden will seek a second term. Already, he is the oldest president in the history of the United States. Polls suggest a significant number of voters from both parties do not want him to run again.

The Democratic president, who spent New Years weekend with family in the US Virgin Islands, said he intended to make a final decision over the holidays.

Biden told reporters the day after the midterm elections that he intended to run, but was a “respect for fate.” in front of Biden’s decision-making process.

An official campaign launch is not expected until the second quarter of 2023, both to maximize the incumbent advantage offered to Biden – allowing him to try to stay above the political fray for as long as possible. — and to avoid having to report fundraising during the historically weak first quarter.

And while a Biden race in 2024 is likely, some Democrats are trying to change their minds.

A progressive group has been running ads under the “Don’t Run Joe” banner across Georgia, Michigan and South Carolina in recent days. The ad campaign features Democratic voters condemning the president as “the status quo Joe,” while pointing to his weak poll results.

“If he runs, the election is in serious jeopardy,” a voter said of Biden in the new ad, which will also begin airing on CNN in Washington, DC, on Monday, according to one of the leaders of the band, Norman Solomon.

However, there is no clear Democratic alternative if Biden does not run. This may help explain why most Democratic officials openly encourage the president to run again.

In an interview, progressive leader Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California, said he would not challenge the president in a primary and he discouraged anyone from the party’s progressive wing from doing so.

“At this point, I don’t think anyone’s candidacy would do anything other than weaken the president. And why would you want to do that before an election that’s going to be close? ” he said.

Quentin Wathum-Ocama, president of the Young Democrats of America, has criticized Biden in the past but said he was “good” if Biden wanted to run again.

Even if young people aren’t too enthusiastic about the Biden administration, he said, they feel a “sense of duty and obligation” to support the party because of the threats to democracy that Trump and his allies represent.

“We’re not always going to be super excited, but we’re going to show hell,” Wathum-Ocama said. “We are compelled to show up because we know what will happen next – and it could be something even scarier than what we saw on January 6.”

Sanders insisted that the Democratic Party “must be more than the anti-Trump party.”

The Vermont Independent said Democrats in Congress must act urgently to combat the erosion of working-class voters who are increasingly willing to back Trump and his Republican allies. He called on Senate Democrats to pass a higher minimum wage, among other pro-worker laws that would test the new Republican-controlled House’s commitment to working-class voters.

As for his own intentions for 2024, Sanders, 81, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020, said now was not the right time to discuss the possibility of launching another candidacy for the White House.

“I will make a decision when the time is right,” Sanders said. “People need to breathe.”


AP White House correspondent Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

. contest profile with of the obstacles for the two parts

. contest looms hurdles sides

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