The first of a four-part political trip around the country to briefly touches upon the outlook for all 50 states. We begin with the west.
Part I looks at 13 western states, most of which feature major political action that will help determine majorities in the House and Senate, as well as housing some of the most competitive Governors’ races.
The Last Frontier was the host of an interesting special at-large US House election that saw the new Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system produce state Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Bethel) as the replacement for the late Rep. Don Young* (R), even though Republican candidates received an aggregate 60% of the vote. Now, however, it appears Rep. Peltola will win a full term regardless of whether she faces former Governor Sarah Palin or businessman Nick Begich, III, whose late grandfather and uncle served in the House and Senate, respectively, as Democrats. It is further possible that Ms. Peltola will win without even being forced into a RCV round because she may garner majority support on the initial vote.
Conversely, Sen. Lisa Murkowski* could be forced into a RCV runoff with former State Administration Director Kelly Tshibaka in what would be a double-Republican race. This is a competitive contest, though the Republicans will retain the seat regardless of the outcome.
The Grand Canyon State is one of the hottest political domains in the country. A now toss-up Senate race featuring Sen. Mark Kelly (D) and venture capitalist Blake Masters (R) suggests that this contest will end with a very tight result. Sen. Kelly has a slight lead in polling, but Republicans have the edge in early voting. The Governor’s race is also close, but late polls suggest that Republican Kari Lake has late momentum in her race opposite Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
Four competitive seats are on tap in the House delegation. Rep. David Schweikert* (R-Fountain Hills) face a tough first-time candidate in businessman Jevin Hodge (D) from a new 1st District that is much less Republican than his current 6th CD, a place in which his 2020 re-election percentage did not exceed 52.
Republican Eli Crane, in a new district that is heavily Republican, is favored to unseat Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona). Restauranteur Kelly Cooper (R) is challenging Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) in a new 4th CD that is now only slightly Democratic. While the Congressman is favored, Mr. Cooper is a formidable challenger. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson) retiring leaves the new 6th CD as a toss-up battleground between former Hispanic Chamber of Commerce executive Juan Ciscomani* (R) and ex-state Senator Kirsten Engel (D).
While there is no suspense for Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and appointed Sen. Alex Padilla* (D), several Golden State House races are important in relation to determining the House majority. Republicans are polling well in the competitive districts and their early voting totals are much improved. Therefore, their fate in 2022 might be better than their typically poor performances here.
GOP Reps. David Valadao* (R-Hanford) and Mike Garcia* (R-Santa Clarita) have tough redistricting draws, but most data suggests that Valadao is in a toss-up race, and Garcia appears slightly favored. Freshman Reps. Young Kim* (R-La Habra) and Michelle Steel* (R-Orange County) both have much different districts but are each at least slight favorites to win.Democratic Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) didn’t fare particularly well in redistricting, but moving to retiring Rep. Jerry McNerney’s (D-Stockton) 9th District helps. He faces, however, a credible opponent in San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti (R).
The most competitive open seat lies in the state’s Central Valley as state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) and local businessman John Duarte (R) battle for a toss-up created district. The seat leans Democratic, but the voting history is better for Republicans. A GOP victory here would go a long way toward cementing a strong new majority.
The Senate race has attracted attention, but in the end incumbent Michael Bennet (D) has a clear inside track for re-election, while Gov. Jared Polis (D) is a safe bet to win a second term.
The new 8th Congressional District that Colorado earned in national reapportionment was drawn as a 50/50 seat. Polling and early voting suggests that state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer* (R-Weld County) has a slight advantage over state Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-Eastlake). In the open 7th CD from which Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada) is retiring, state Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) appears as the favorite over military veteran Erik Aadland (R).
Sen. Brian Schatz (D) is a lock for re-election, and Lt. Gov. Josh Green (D) is a prohibitive favorite to succeed term-limited Gov. David Ige (D). Rep. Kai Kahele’s (D-Hilo) open 2nd CD will go to Democratic in the person of former state Sen. Jill Tokuda, who won a crowded Democratic primary.
Sen. Mike Crapo* (R) and, after his Republican primary win, Gov. Brad Little (R) both appear as easy winners in the general election. Same for Reps. Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian) and veteran Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) in the fast-growing state’s two congressional districts, both of which have already more than 900,000 residents, the two largest CDs in the country.
No Senate or Governor’s race on the ballot, so the new 1st District, awarded in reapportionment, is the only competitive race on the political board. Former Congressman and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (R) is viewed as the favorite, but Democrat Monica Tranel is running a tough campaign. The Republican trend here will likely save Zinke, but the margin will probably be less than originally expected.
Tough races from the top of the ballot to the bottom face Silver State voters, and the Senate race may yield the Republicans their top conversion opportunity. Polling between former Attorney General Adam Laxalt* (R) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) has been nip and tuck. With an improved standing among Hispanics, who now are 31% of the state’s population, an upset here is possible. Additionally, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak is in a toss-up race with Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo (R), and this seat could flip, too.
In the House races, the new redistricting plan drew three lean Democratic seats in Las Vegas. To gain the majority, Republicans will need to score at least one win here.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) also finds herself in a tight re-election campaign, this one against former Albuquerque television news meteorologist and 2020 US Senate candidate Mark Ronchetti (R). The Governor is only a slight favorite as we head toward election day.
The Democratic map drawers created a congressional plan that would eliminate freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell* (R-Alamogordo), but her race against Las Cruces City Councilman Gabe Vasquez (D) is now a clear toss-up and the Congresswoman may yet pull out a victory.
The Beaver State is one of the 2022 political hotbeds. With an open Governor’s race where a strong independent might flip the race to the Republican nominee in a plurality finish, Oregon is certainly a state to watch from the Pacific zone. Sen. Ron Wyden (D) faces only perennial opposition as he is on the ballot for a fifth full term.
Reapportionment delivered a new seat to Oregon, which was placed in the area between Salem and Portland. The primary saw Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader* (D-Canby) lose to newcomer Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who is a former local official in Santa Clara County, California. Polling suggests that businesswoman and former local Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer* (R) has a chance to score an upset win. Competition is also strong in the new 6th District and in the adjacent seat from which veteran Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) is retiring.
The US Senate race is dominating the Utah political talk as Sen. Mike Lee (R) is on the ballot for a third term, but this time he faces a strong Independent opponent in former presidential candidate (2016) Evan McMullin. Democrats decided not to file their own candidate so they could coalesce behind Mr. McMullin and give Sen. Lee a serious challenge. The strategy has worked, as polling shows this race falling into the single-digits. Chances are still good that Sen. Lee pulls away, but this contest has evolved into much more of a serious battle than once believed. Look for a close result.
All four Republican US House members are seeking re-election, and each will have little trouble winning another term.
Republicans recruited a strong candidate in former nurse and veterans’ activist Tiffany Smiley. She has become a very good fundraiser and has polled close to veteran Sen. Patty Murray (D). Though Ms. Smiley has put forth a strong effort, it will likely not be enough in a strongly Democratic state like Washington. Though she may do well, a close loss is likely on the political horizon for Ms. Smiley as opposed to losing big.
In the House races, Democrats are taking a shot at converting the 3rd District after veteran Joe Kent bounced Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler* (R-Battle Ground), a supporter of the second Trump impeachment. Democratic businesswoman Marie Perez is running a spirited effort, but the 3rd District is traditionally Republican, thus still giving Mr. Kent an inherent advantage. Republicans are again trying to unseat 8th District Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Sammamish), but it is likely that GOP candidate Matt Larkin* will also experience a close loss against the two-term Congresswoman.
The big political news here came in the August primary when Rep. Liz Cheney* (R-Wilson) was unseated in a landslide. This means attorney and Trump backed GOP nominee Harriet Hageman will take the seat in January. This was one of the former President’s biggest Republican primary victories of the year.
* denotes the candidate has received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2021-2022 election cycle.
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