Check out these political snippets on the presidential and congressional races from across the country.
Robert F. Kennedy
Media reports are indicating that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is ending his Democratic nomination challenge to President Joe Biden and instead will launch a general election campaign as an Independent. He is scheduled to make an official announcement on October 9th.
Mr. Kennedy came to the realization that the Democratic Party establishment was going to block him from delegate acquisition, which gave him no hope of mounting even a competitive bid against President Biden. Mr. Kennedy’s name on the November ballot could prove more detrimental to President Biden, though he will also take votes from former President Donald Trump.
The other question that Mr. Kennedy must answer is whether his candidacy will simply attempt to affect the general election outcome, or does he strive for a national victory. If the latter, he may have a difficult time in qualifying for the ballot in all 50 states. In any event, Mr. Kennedy on the general election ballot can certainly change the course of the presidential campaign.
The Insider Advantage polling organization (9/29-30; 850 US likely voters) finds former UN Ambassador and ex-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley getting a bounce from the second Republican primary debate. According to the Iowa ballot test, former President Donald Trump continues to dominate the field with 50% support. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is second with 15%, just ahead of Ms. Haley’s 14% score.
Ms. Haley gained three percentage points since the firm’s late August poll, while Gov. DeSantis’ support fell by the same margin. No other candidate reached double digits. The candidate falling furthest from August, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, dropped from 7 to 3% support.
The new Suffolk University poll for USA Today (9/28-10/2; 462 NH likely Republican primary voters) finds Ms. Haley vaulting over Gov. DeSantis for second place in their latest New Hampshire primary poll with 19% support. Former President Trump tops the field with 49%.
Quinnipiac University tested the Keystone State electorate (9/28-10/2; 1,725 PA adults; 1,470 PA registered voters; 759 self-identified Democratic registered voters; 711 self-identified Republican registered voters; live interview) and sees former President Donald Trump moving into a slight lead over President Joe Biden in this critical swing state. The ballot test yields Trump a 47-45% edge. Pennsylvania has 19 electoral votes and is one of the four states (Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin are the others) that will likely decide the presidential campaign’s final outcome.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) kept one promise regarding who he appointed to the US Senate to replace the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) but changed another particular. Originally, he said he would appoint a black woman to the post, but also promised not to disrupt the Senate race in choosing one of the active open seat candidates.
The appointment of EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler keeps his word about appointing a black woman, but also said it would be her decision about running for a full term next year. While the Governor didn’t appoint an active candidate, he may have changed the campaign’s trajectory.
Ms. Butler, who has been living in Maryland since she became EMILY’s List president in 2021 and is a registered voter in the Free State, will change her registration back to California where she is a homeowner. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-San Diego), however, is preparing a challenge to the appointment relating to Ms. Butler’s residency.
Public Policy Polling quickly jumped into the field to test the New Jersey electorate right after Sen. Bob Menendez was indicated. The PPP survey, for the VoteVets Action Fund (9/26-27; 565 NJ Voters; Multiple Sampling Techniques), explored several potential general election scenarios, none of which looked favorable for the incumbent.
Against a generic Republican opponent, the Senator would trail 42-20%. If Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown), who has already announced his candidacy, were paired with the generic Republican, he would lead 44-32%. In a hypothetical match between Mr. Kim and former Governor Chris Christie (R), though the latter man has already said he will not run for the Senate, the former would lead 46-20%. Mr. Christie, however, would nip Sen. Menendez 27-24%. PPP did not test any Democratic primary pairings, which is the more definitive battle.
For his part, Rep. Kim is telling reporters that he eclipsed the $1 million mark in dollars raised since his Saturday announcement. In the June 30th campaign disclosure filing, the Congressman reported just over $882,000 cash-on-hand, so it is reasonable to believe he now has well over $2 million in his campaign account.
At the other end of the spectrum, three-term Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) confirmed that she will not run for the Senate. Others in the delegation reported to be considering the statewide race are Reps. David Norcross (D-Camden City), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wycoff), and Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch).
According to their 2nd Quarter filings, Rep. Norcross had just over $1 million in the bank, and Rep. Pallone almost $3 million. All pale in comparison to Rep. Gottheimer, one of the strongest fundraisers in the House, who posted more than $15 million cash-on-hand. The next campaign finance filing is due October 15th.
The aforementioned Pennsylvania Quinnipiac Poll (see PA Presidential post above) also tested the state’s budding Senate race between three-term incumbent Bob Casey, Jr. (D) and Republican businessman and 2022 Senate candidate David McCormick.
Here, we see a closer than expected early result with Sen. Casey holding only a 50-44% lead over Mr. McCormick. The surprising data point in this survey is McCormick already carrying the Independent voter segment by a percentage point, 45-44%.
Sen. Casey holds a 48-31% job approval score. With 57% of the people saying they need to know more about Mr. McCormick, he records a 25:17% favorability index. In comparison, Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) holds a strong 53-27% job approval rating, but Sen. John Fetterman (D) finds his ratio in upside down territory at 41:48% favorable to unfavorable.
U.S. House of Representatives
The House Speaker saga continues with Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) being removed from the post on a 216-210 vote and said he would not again run for the post.
With the two vacancies – the RI-1 and UT-2 special elections are scheduled for November 7th and November 21st, respectively – the House stands at 433 members. Therefore, the winning Speaker candidate must obtain 217 votes instead of the typical 218. It appears that House Majority Leader Steve Scalise* (R-LA) will next run for Speaker along with Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH). Majority Whip Tom Emmer* (R-MN) will seek the Majority Leader position. In the meantime, Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC) will preside over the House.
The appointed special master returned the new congressional map to the three judge panel late this week. As expected, the new map will feature a Republican district that stretches from Mississippi to Georgia along the Florida border that pairs Reps. Jerry Carl* (R-Mobile) and Barry Moore (R-Enterprise). As a result, a new 2nd District is created designed to elect the choice of the dominant minority community, in this case African Americans. Democrats will gain one seat in the Alabama delegation as a result of this new plan. The Alabama primary is scheduled for March 5, 2024.
Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) conceded that he will not again run for his now former position and said he will not resign from the House. Mr. McCarthy, however, left unanswered whether he will seek another term in Congress. The California candidate filing deadline is December 8th for the March 5, 2024, all-party jungle primary, so the Congressman does not have much time to decide. Should he opt for retirement, it is likely that several state legislators whose districts overlap his Central Valley CD will enter what would be an open race.
State Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), a former Minority Leader, represents 89% of the 20th Congressional District, thus putting her in strong position to be McCarthy’s successor. The state Assemblyman with the most overlap is Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), who represents 58% of the McCarthy territory. The 20th is the safest Republican district in California with a 538 data organization rating of R+31. The Daily Kos Election site ranks CA-20 as the 146th safest seat of the 222-member Republican Conference.
Last week, reports were forthcoming from Indiana that 4th District US Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) was planning to retire and announce just before the candidate filing deadline expired in order to give his son, state Rep. Beau Baird (R-Greencastle), the inside track toward winning the Republican nomination. The rumor is false. Congressman Baird announced yesterday that he will run for a fourth term next year and is heavily favored for re-election.
Charles County Democratic Party chair Lenny Proctor earlier this week became the fifth member of Rep. Steny Hoyer’s (D-Mechanicsville) party to announce a primary challenge against the former Majority Leader, a 22-term veteran who appears primed to seek election to yet another term.
The crowded field, also including Prince Georges County Environmental Director Angela Crooms, public affairs specialist Sean McKelvey, two-time congressional candidate McKayla Wilkes, and Democratic activist Joey Thompson, will split the anti-Hoyer vote, thus allowing him to again win easily.
John Lee (R), the former North Las Vegas Mayor and ex-state legislator, announced that he will enter the competitive 4th District congressional race next year. Assuming Mr. Lee wins the Republican primary, he will face four-term US Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas). Mr. Lee entered the 2022 gubernatorial race but did not fare well in the Republican primary. He placed fourth, only attracting 8% of the vote.
In the congressional race, with his North Las Vegas base included within this district, he will be a formidable general election candidate in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+5. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 34th most vulnerable seat in the 213-member Democratic Conference.
J.R. Majewski, the 2022 Republican nominee lost to veteran Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), the longest serving Democrat in the House, on a substantial 57-43% vote. This was largely due to his January 6th history. He was originally in the 2024 race, then out, and has now returns again. Mr. Majewski was able to win a contested primary in 2022 with just a base conservative vote of 36% since the remaining votes were split among three others.
His main opponent in the 2024 primary election, former state Rep. Craig Riedel, was one of the multi-candidates in the last GOP nomination contest. It appears Mr. Riedel has more unified support this time around and will likely be favored over the returning Mr. Majewski.
With the FiveThirtyEight data organization rating OH-9 as R+6, and the Daily Kos Elections site ranking the district as the fifth most vulnerable seat in the Democratic Conference, expect this race to draw a great deal of national political attention from beginning to end.
While it appears the Republican leadership is coalescing around Hudson City Councilman Chris Banweg’s candidacy, another credible candidate is entering the 13th Congressional District race. Former state Senator Kevin Coughlin (R) said that he will also become a candidate in the politically marginal district anchored in the city of Akron. The winner of the March 19, 2024, primary will challenge freshman Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron).
Mr. Coughlin was first elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1996 and was appointed to the state Senate in 2001. He would then be elected to two full terms and served until he was ineligible to seek re-election in adherence to the state’s term limit law.
The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates OH-13 as D+2. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 50.7D – 47.0R. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 13th most vulnerable seat within the Democratic conference.
*denotes candidate received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2023-2024 election cycle.
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