The second our second of four installments covering the political preview in all 50 states. This edition looks at the country’s central region.
While Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D) is a cinch for re-election, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) margin against the candidate he wanted to face, conservative state Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville), appears a bit closer than he and political analysts originally foretold. The Governor will win a second term, but maybe not by the landslide he was expecting in this solidly blue state.
The Illinois congressional map is one of the nation’s most gerrymandered draws, and will likely cost the Republicans at least two seats. Rep. Adam Kinzinger* (R-Channahon) saw his district disappear in the re-draw, meaning his is the state’s lost seat from reapportionment. Democrats are poised to gain a Hispanic district in Chicago in the person of state Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago). The Democratic map drawers, knowing they had to add a Hispanic seat in the city, paired Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and Marie Newman (D-LaGrange) in order to create the new Hispanic majority 3rd District.
The Republican pairing of Reps. Rodney Davis* (R-Taylorville) and Mary Miller (R-Oakland) allowed the Democrats to create a new 13th District that stretches from the Champaign-Urbana region all the way to the Illinois side of the St. Louis suburbs. Former Obama Administration official Nikki Budzinski (D) is poised to win this seat next week.
The most competitive Illinois seat lies in the Rockford-Quad Cities area that now stretches into Peoria and Bloomington. The new 17th District, shaped like a big letter “C”, features a spirited contest between Republican Esther Joy King* and Democratic former television meteorologist Eric Sorensen. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates this district D+4, but it appears in the toss-up category for this election. The winner succeeds retiring Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline).
Sen. Todd Young* (R) is poised to win a second term, though a pair of earlier research studies found Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott (D) within striking distance. Expect Sen. Young to easily carry the day on Tuesday in a state where Republicans are forecast to finish strong.
The most competitive congressional seat lies in the region’s northwest corner, where freshman Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-Highland/Gary) is battling a tough challenge from Republican Jennifer-Ruth Green. Many see this race also falling into the toss-up category despite its long history voting for Democratic congressional candidates. The special election to replace the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) in the adjacent 2nd District will take place concurrently with the general election. Republican businessman Rudy Yakym is expected to easily hold the seat and win both the special and regular elections on Tuesday.
Sen. Chuck Grassley* (R) leads a very busy Iowa ballot. The Senator, seeking an eighth term at age 89, is in a closer battle than he usually finds, this time against retired Navy Admiral Michael Franken (D). Late polling suggests that Sen. Grassley will still win a comfortable, but not overwhelming victory, meaning he is likely to win in the 50s instead of his customary 60s. Conversely, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) looks to be cruising to re-election and is expected to easily win a second full term.
In the state’s four congressional districts, three are highly competitive. In new District 1, freshman Rep. Ashley Hinson* (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids) is favored for a second term against state Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha). Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks* (R-Ottumwa), who was a six-vote winner in 2020, looks to be favored over state Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City) by more than her previous victory margin, but this contest will still be close in a historically competitive southeastern Iowa district.
The 3rd District battle may be the most competitive within this trio of races. Rep. Cindy Axne* (D-Des Moines) is running for a third term having never achieved majority support. State Sen. Zach Nunn* (R-Bondurant) is one of the Republicans’ better challenge candidates, and certainly has a strong chance of unseating the Congresswoman. This race will draw national attention on election night.
Sen. Jerry Moran* (R) is breezing toward a third term, while Gov. Laura Kelly (D) is in a battle royal in attempting to win a second term. Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) and the Governor are in a tight contest that could go either way. Kansas’ voting history, even considering a strong turnout to pass an abortion rights ballot proposition in the August primary, still favors Republicans, which may give Mr. Schmidt the final push he needs to unseat the incumbent.
Little action is occurring the state’s three Republican congressional seats, but Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Roeland Park/Kansas City) is in a toss-up race against 2020 nominee Amanda Adkins*, a former Kansas Chamber of Commerce executive. This is another race that is expected to go down to the wire and will likely grab national attention.
Inconsistent polling suggests at least a semi-competitive Governor’s race featuring incumbent Gretchen Whitmer (D) and challenger Tudor Dixon (R), an online radio personality. Early voting reports are heavily Democratic, which could be an indication of an impending Whitmer victory.
Reapportionment cost Michigan a seat, and a new citizens redistricting commission has drawn a tight map, thus creating several highly competitive districts. Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) and Dan Kildee (D-Flushing) are in tight races. Former Republican US Senate nominee John James* is fighting for a closely partisan congressional district in the Detroit suburbs against former Macomb County prosecutor Carl Marlinga (D).
Republicans also must protect a more Democratic western Michigan 3rd District after freshman Rep. Peter Meijer* (R-Grand Rapids), one of the ten Republican Trump impeachment voters was denied renomination in the August primary. The Michigan races will certainly draw considerable attention on election night. We can expect a series of close finishes.
Gov. Tim Walz (D) is favored to win a second term, but polls are indicating a tightening of the race.
The congressional action comes in the southern part of the state as special election winner Brad Finstad (R-New Ulm/Rochester) defends his new seat against the man he defeated in August, former Hormel Corporation CEO Jeff Ettinger (D). In the traditionally close southeastern 2nd CD, two-term Rep. Angie Craig (D-Eagan) again finds herself in a tight contest with Republican Iraq War veteran Tyler Kistner. A Kistner upset victory here would possibly signal a big night forming for the GOP around the country.
For all intents and purposes Attorney General Eric Schmitt* (R) won the right to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R) with his GOP primary victory in August. Mr. Schmitt is the clear favorite in Tuesday’s election opposite Democratic nominee Trudy Busch Valentine, a member of the Anheuser Busch beer family. All eight House incumbents look to have easy rides on November 8th.
There is no Senate race in Nebraska this year, but the state will have a new member after December. Incumbent Sen. Ben Sasse (R) is resigning his seat to become the President of the University of Florida. Either outgoing Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) or the likely new Governor, University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen (R), will make the appointment once the vacancy is official. If the new Governor decides, it would not be surprising to see Mr. Ricketts chosen.
New Congressman Mike Flood* (R-Norfolk), who won a June special election to replace resigned Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Lincoln), defends his seat for a regular term. In the competitive Omaha anchored 2nd CD, Rep. Don Bacon* (R-Papillion) is once again in a tight contest, this time against state Senator Tony Vargas (D-Omaha). The new district is slightly more Republican than the previous iteration, but it remains competitive. Both Reps. Flood and Bacon are favored to again prevail, however.
Very little in the way of competition exists this year in the Peace Garden State. Sen. John Hoeven* (R) and at-large Rep. Kelly Armstrong* (R-Dickinson) are prohibitive favorites for re-election.
Though the state features two US Senate elections, a closer than expected gubernatorial race is dominating the Sooner State’s political scene. Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), somewhat due to accusations of his administration mishandling the Covid relief funds and regarding certain business dealings that involved Mr. Stitt prior to his election, has made the Governor’s campaign competitive. The Democratic nominee is Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who has won a statewide election in what is typically a solidly Republican state.
Sen. James Lankford* (R) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin* (R-Westville), the latter of whom is looking to succeed resigning Rep. Jim Inhofe (R), are both headed to Tuesday night victories. Four of the state’s five US House incumbents are seeking re-election and each will record strong victories. In Rep. Mullin’s open eastern Oklahoma 2nd District, GOP nominee Josh Brecheen, a former state Senator, is heavily favored to defeat Democratic nominee Naomi Andrews.
Sen. John Thune* (R) and at-large Rep. Dusty Johnson* (R-Mitchell) are both poised for easy re-election wins. Gov. Kristi Noem (R), who polling a short time ago was posting close results, appears to be substantially widening her lead according to late survey research. Expect a statewide Republican sweep on Tuesday night.
The Badger State is a major political battleground as close races for the state’s Democratic Governor, Tony Evers, and Republican Senator, Ron Johnson*, are nip and tuck. Both are considered toss-ups, though polling now slightly favors Sen. Johnson in his re-election contest.
Republicans are poised to convert an open Democratic seat in western Wisconsin, that of retiring Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse). Retired Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden (R) is now a heavy favorite to defeat Democratic state Senator Brad Pfaff (D-La Crosse). All other congressional incumbents are seeking re-election and favored to easily win.
* denotes the candidate has received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2021-2022 election cycle.
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