EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, the incoming chair of the Senate Republicans’ campaign committee, says he will do “whatever it takes to make sure we have a Republican majority” as he aims to win back control of the chamber in the 2024 election cycle.
That appears to include having the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) get involved in contested GOP primaries, which would mark a significant change from his predecessor at the committee.
“I will tell you this. If I have heard one thing since the last election, a little over a month ago, Republicans are sick of losing, and we’re gonna do whatever it takes to win. We want to make sure we have candidates that can win general elections,” Daines replied when asked if the NRSC would dip into Republican primary races.
“There’s too much at stake in the ’24 election. This is for the future of Supreme Court, the circuit courts, tax cuts, spending, border policies. We’re gonna do whatever it takes to make sure we have a Republican majority,” Daines emphasized in an exclusive interview with Fox News.
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While the NRSC in past cycles has engaged in GOP Senate primaries and even occasionally endorsed candidates, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who was chair during the just-concluded 2022 cycle, kept the committee neutral in intra-party nomination battles.
Republicans needed a net gain of just one seat in this year’s midterms to win back the Senate majority they lost two years ago. However, the expected red wave failed to materialize, and the Democrats gained themselves a bit of breathing room in the Senate, flipping a seat and taking a 51-49 majority. This despite record inflation, an unpopular Democratic president and nearly three-quarters of Americans saying the country’s headed in the wrong direction.
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A chorus of critics in the GOP are blaming poor candidate quality for Republican losses in Senate races in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire, four crucial battleground states the party heavily targeted and failed to flip.
Plenty of that blame is being directed at former President Trump, who shaped plenty of crucial primary battles. In some of these races, the nominees either supported or begrudgingly disavowed Trump’s repeated re-litigating of his 2020 election defeat to President Biden and his unproven claims his loss was due to a “rigged” and “stolen” election. Herschel Walker in Georgia, Blake Masters in Arizona, Adam Laxalt in Nevada, and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, who all won their primaries thanks in part to Trump’s endorsements and support, all went down in defeat.
Daines told Fox News that, “it’s no secret I have a good relationship with President Trump. As the chairman of the NRSC, my singular focus will be to elect Republicans to the Senate. I’ll be working with President Trump and many Republican leaders to do that.” And Daines highlighted that Trump “helped our party raise a lot of money. He energized our base.”
Republicans are looking at a very favorable Senate map in 2024, with Democrats defending 23 of the 33 seats up for grabs. Three of those seats are in red states Trump carried in 2020: West Virginia, Montana and Ohio. Five others are in key swing states narrowly carried by Biden two years ago: Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Pointing to the map, Daines noted that Senate Democrats have yet to name a chair for the rival Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and added, “it’s a job I’d never take.”
The only states where Senate Republicans may have to play a bit of defense are Florida and Texas. However, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Gov. Rick Scott, all cruised to double-digit victories last month.
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“We feel very good about Florida. We feel very good about Texas,” Daines said. “It gives us the ability to really go on offense here in this next election.”
However, adding a bit of caution, the senator pointed to some veteran Democratic senators up for re-election in 2024 and acknowledged, “the map looks good. But I think it’s important we don’t fall in love with the map. Red State incumbent Democrats are tough to beat. I mean, these red state Democrats have won races before and these are going to be tough races.”
Daines was interviewed a couple of days after Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema made major headlines by leaving the party and becoming an independent. Sinema has yet to say if she will seek another term when she is up for re-election in 2024.
When asked if he will court Sinema to join the Republican Party, Daines would only say “we’re keeping a close eye on it.”
Daines, who worked for Procter and Gamble and RightNow Technologies before serving a term in the House, won election to Montana’s open Senate seat in 2014. He won re-election in 2020, defeating Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.
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“That was a $210 million Senate race, the most expensive race on a per-vote basis in the history of America,” Daines noted.
Additionally, he touted that “knowing what it takes to run a big campaign in a nationalized race and be successful,” along with his business world experience “is something that I will bring to this new job as chairman of the NRSC.”