Their task could not be more urgent. In at least seven of the ten races where Democratic senators are defending states won by Donald Trump in 2016, and roughly half a dozen gubernatorial contests, the long-expected GOP front-runners decided not to run in recent months. There’s still time to turn things around, but with the filing deadline in many states creeping up, Republicans’ window to field top-flight candidates is closing.
Party officials have feared that pattern — matched with the historic number of GOP retirements in the House — was attributable to a growing Democratic backlash against Trump. So the recent good news, they believe, provides a rare opening.
“Republicans are in a little bit of a better situation than they have been in other potential wave years. But did we know that six or eight months ago, when a lot of these candidates had to really make these decisions about whether they had to run?,” asked former Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges, skeptically. “I can’t honestly tell you that people are not concerned about this political environment. I think we’re all appropriately concerned about it.”