Former president Donald Trump has announced a flurry of rallies across the country for the final days of the 2022 midterm campaign. That in and of itself is nothing new; presidents often stump for down-ballot candidates at crunch points in midterm cycles, and Trump enjoys going out on the campaign trail — in part for the benefit of GOP candidates, but mostly for himself.
What makes this next batch of Trump rallies peculiar is his choice of states. He did announce he would go to Latrobe, Pennsylvania to stump for his anointed Senate candidate Mehmet Oz (fresh out of his debate with Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman) and for gubernatorial Doug Mastriano, who is significantly trailing Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro despite (or because of) his MAGA credentials.
But other than that visit to a crucial swing state, Trump’s itinerary will take him to mostly Republican areas.
While he campaigned for Blake Masters and Kari Lake earlier this month in Arizona, he has yet to announce another jaunt to the state, where Masters, while still struggling, is putting up a competitive fight against incumbent Senator Mark Kelly. He visited Nevada this month, but seems less than focused on the ultra-competitive contest there even as Adam Laxalt tries to build on Trump’s gains with Latino voters in 2020.
And while rumors floated that Trump would head to Georgia to campaign with Herschel Walker after his debate with Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, those plans never came to fruition – for good reason. With the exception of Walker, many of the Georgia Republicans that Trump endorsed fell flat, including both David Perdue’s challenge to Governor Brian Kemp and Jody Hice’s challenge to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Instead of helping out in these vital races, then, Trump is focusing on states where he can brag about being undefeated in primary endorsements.
Next Thursday, he will head to Sioux City, Iowa, to stump for Governor Kim Reynolds and long-serving Senator Chuck Grassley. Reynolds seems to be cruising to re-election. But there are signs that Grassley — currently the longest-serving Republican Senator — might in fact be in trouble. A Civiqs poll showed him beating his Democrat opponent Mike Franken, who faces allegations of sexual misconduct, by just eight points — and a survey earlier this month by J Ann Selzer, the state’s most revered pollster, showed the octogenarian Senator in his tightest race in decades.
Grassley’s announcement of Trump’s visit to the state didn’t mention the president at all, aside from a lukewarm headline (”Grassley campaign statement on Trump visit to Iowa”). That is a big departure from last year, when Grassley hopped onstage with Trump and gleefully accepted his endorsement in Des Moines.
Trump is also headed to Ohio — specifically Vandalia, not far from Dayton. Like Iowa, the Buckeye State has long moved on from its swing state days, and GOP Governor Mike DeWine has an easy path to re-election. But Trump-backed Senate candidate JD Vance is struggling.
Though some recent polling shows he might be pulling slightly ahead, Vance only has a prayer’s chance against Democratic Representative Tim Ryan. That’s not because of anything Trump has done, but because of the work of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom the former president despises more than any other Republican, and whose Senate Leadership Fund has been carpet-bombing the Ohio airwaves.
Besides these, Trump will campaign in his adopted home state of Florida alongside Senator Marco Rubio, the man he once dubbed “Liddle Marco”. Florida has become decisively more Republican in the past few years and Rubio, who is beloved by the Cuban-American community in Miami, where the event will take place, seems relatively untroubled by the challenge from his Democratic rival, Congresswoman Val Demings.
But one person is not yet billed to appear with Trump: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, his most likely 2024 Republican primary challenger. Despite an awkward debate performance this week, DeSantis is expected to decisively win his own race – and to become the first Republican candidate for governor in two decades to win Miami-Dade.