Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Today's Episode of "How the House Turns"

We had an item yesterday about the members of the Squad, and their prospects for reelection. Everything in that piece was pretty standard for the world of politics—some Squad members have managed to make themselves fairly bulletproof, others have some weaknesses and have drawn challenges from the center-left.

Now, we'll direct our attention to the other side of the aisle, where there tends to be much more drama of a soap-operaesque sort (our spell check doesn't like "operaesque" any better than it liked "degerrymandering"—tough luck, spell check). To start, the right-wing equivalent of the Squad is the "Gaetz Eight," the group of Republican members who joined with the Democrats to expel Kevin McCarthy from the speakership. McCarthy may be out of Congress now, but he hasn't forgiven or forgotten. And so, he and his allies are working hard to recruit primary challengers to try and unseat Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and his seven friends.

Thus far, two of the eight have strong challengers: Nancy Mace (R-SC) and Bob Good (R-VA). Those challengers are going to find themselves benefiting from McCarthy's vast network of donors. The former speaker and his advisers think that Eli Crane (R-AZ) is, like Mace and Good, particularly vulnerable to a challenge, and so finding someone to do that is the top priority right now. The remaining quintet, including Gaetz, might not be targeted this cycle if a viable opponent cannot be found. However, Team McCarthy promises they will be back next cycle, and the cycle after that, and the cycle after that, until vengeance has been wrought upon all eight apostates.

And speaking of Mace, this is not the only drama in which she is involved. Somebody (very possibly someone linked to McCarthy) has been chatting with The Daily Beast, and has revealed that there is rather a lot of turnover among members of Mace's staff. To be more precise, she had nine staffers in her Washington office as of November 1 of last year, and since then all nine have either been fired or have quit. And all have said unflattering things about their departures, using words like "abusive," "toxic," "delusional" and "demoralizing."

Now, allow us to pause here and note that there have been numerous stories of this sort about women who are or were members of Congress (Mace, Katie Porter, Kyrsten Sinema, Kamala Harris, etc.) but very few about men. It is entirely possible there's some underlying sexism in this story in any or all of the following ways:

In this case, however, we think that it's not about Mace's gender. Some of the specific stories related to the Daily Beast are pretty shocking, like Mace not allowing Catholic staffers to take an hour off to attend services on Good Friday, or Mace's new chief-of-staff calling the Capitol police on one of the fired staffers for... reasons unknown. Said one anonymous witness to that incident: "At that moment, I felt the most unsafe I ever had on the Hill, when I realized she was using the Capitol Police to intimidate staff."

And finally, a story that's somewhat unusual and dramatic, but at least not in a negative way. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN) had previously announced her retirement from the House, but now she has changed her mind, and will file to run for reelection. "As someone who grew up under tyranny," she explained. "I understand the significance of these challenging times for our Republic, and if my fellow Hoosiers and God decide, I will be honored to continue fighting for them."

Exactly what that means is anyone's guess. Spartz is certainly a conservative, but she's also known for bucking the party line far more often than is normal, especially for a Republican member. So maybe she wants to be around to rein in Donald Trump if he is reelected. Or maybe she wants to be around to rein in Joe Biden if HE is reelected. People who know Spartz say she might have been referring to the "tyranny" of the national debt. Possibly also a factor is that she was born in Ukraine and grew up there, coming to the U.S. at 22. Maybe she wants to stay in the House to keep voting for aid to Ukraine. Who knows? In any case, having "retired," she encouraged a couple of serious competitors to jump into the race, and they say they're not getting out. So, she'll have a tougher row to hoe than otherwise would be the case. However, as an incumbent, she's still going to be the favorite to keep the seat. (Z)

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