Check out these political snippets on the presidential, congressional and gubernatorial races from across the country.
At the Republican Jewish Coalition event in Las Vegas, former Vice President Mike Pence, saying it is evident that “now is not my time,” suspended his 2024 presidential campaign. Mr. Pence follows former US Rep. Will Hurd and commentator Larry Elder in dropping out of the presidential race. Upon his exit, Mr. Pence did not endorse another candidate. Mr. Hurd now supports former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, while Mr. Elder is backing former President Donald Trump.
Rep. Dean Phillips
Three-term Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips (D-Plymouth) filed to enter the New Hampshire Democratic primary this week as a Democratic challenger to President Joe Biden. Rep. Phillips had been calling for other Democrats to oppose the President, and now he is takes up the mantel. Conversely, Mr. Biden’s campaign announced that the President will not participate in the New Hampshire primary saying that he will “follow the rules” that he proposed to the Democratic National Committee that changes the progression of pre-Super Tuesday states.
It is likely we will see Biden’s New Hampshire supporters initiate a write-in effort for the President, and Rep. Phillips risks losing to such a campaign. Doing so would likely doom his fledgling national effort. The Phillips campaign is a long shot at best and will likely be short lived. President Biden remains the prohibitive favorite to win renomination next year.
Before Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. announced his Independent candidacy, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump were generally at parity in national polling, with either contender clinging to a small lead or falling into a tie. We see two new national surveys adding Mr. Kennedy to their questionnaire, yet the leader still records the same type of close margins. Dr. Cornel West is included in some polls as another Independent candidate, but it is doubtful that he can qualify for enough state ballots to become a viable factor.
HarrisX (10/16-23; 3,029 US registered voters; online) sees Trump leading Biden and Kennedy, 40-38-18%. In what is now an unrealistic head-to-head pairing between Trump and Biden, the former President’s edge is four percentage points.
Suffolk University (10/17-20; 1,000 US registered voters; live interview) sees a similar Biden-Trump-Kennedy 38-37-14% split. If the two major party candidates were only running against each other, the Suffolk data finds a 43-41% division in President Biden’s favor. Again, with such small margins that don’t greatly change, it appears that Kennedy may be pulling almost equally from both major party candidates.
A new national Quinnipiac University survey (10/26-30; 1,772 US Adults; 1,610 US registered voters; live interview) finds Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., running as an Independent general election candidate, securing 22% support in a ballot test featuring he, President Joe Biden, and former President Donald Trump. The Kennedy presence dragged both President Biden (39%) and Mr. Trump (36%) below the 40% mark. Mr. Kennedy’s strongest groups were voters aged 18-34 (38%), Independents (36%), and Hispanics (33%).
As has been the case with other polling, Mr. Kennedy draws slightly more support from the Trump/Republican coalition than he does from the Biden/Democratic voter group. In this particular survey, 14% of Republicans and 12% of Democrats support Kennedy.
The Alaska Survey Research firm tested the 2024 general election with, for the first time, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on the questionnaire as an Independent candidate. Some have been saying that Kennedy on the ballot could force former President Donald Trump below 50%, which would jump-start a Ranked Choice Voting round. This could open the door to President Biden winning Alaska even though he would be nowhere close to victory in the initial vote.
According to the ASR data (10/13-18; 1,375 AK likely general election voters; online) Mr. Trump is leading the field but with just 37% support. President Biden follows with 29%, while Mr. Kennedy draws 17%. In an initial test without Kennedy, Mr. Trump would lead President Biden 45-37%.
Therefore, both candidates would yield 8% support to Mr. Kennedy. The key here for Trump is making sure he does not fall below the 50% threshold and this poll suggests he would be in danger of doing so if Kennedy continues to remain relatively strong.
According to the new Selzer & Company poll for the Des Moines Register newspaper (10/22-26; 404 IA likely Republican Caucus attenders; live interview), former President Donald Trump is still enjoying a healthy lead over the Republican field, but his support level appears stationery. According to this survey, he has 43% of the impending Iowa Caucus vote, scheduled for January 15, 2024. This is a one point increase from Selzer’s August survey. Tied for second place are Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and ex-UN Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Both record 16% support.
A group of leading Democrats, including the state’s two Senators and their pair of US House members, as well as all ten Democratic state Senators and most of the party’s large delegation to the state House of Representatives, are forming an organization to qualify President Joe Biden as a write-in candidate for the still unscheduled Democratic presidential primary. Mr. Biden is choosing to bypass New Hampshire because the state did not agree with the new Democratic National Committee presidential primary scheduling recommendations.
Though the show of internal Democratic strength is positive for the Biden campaign, their move also increases the stakes for the New Hampshire primary. US Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) is a candidate and will secure a ballot position. Therefore, the pressure would be on the Biden write-in effort to defeat Phillips, otherwise his national campaign would begin with a major political black eye.
Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando (D), who was one of the first individuals to declare for the Senate once incumbent Ben Cardin (D) announced his retirement, now becomes the first to withdraw. Mr. Jawando indicated he does not see a path to victory for himself, hence his decision to end the campaign. With his main opponents for the Democratic nomination having much more in the way of resources, a gap which was looking to grow larger, Mr. Jawando was finding it hard to compete.
Also, during the week, Gov. Wes Moore (D) endorsed the candidacy of Prince Georges County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. The Democratic primary looks to be evolving into a battle between Ms. Alsobrooks and Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac). The eventual Democratic nominee will become a prohibitive favorite to succeed Sen. Cardin in the general election.
New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy (D) may be joining the US Senate race. Rumored to be a candidate once the scandal involving incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez (D) broke, Ms. Murphy had not taken any official step to create a formal campaign. That changed this week as she filed a Senatorial exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission but stopped short of declaring her candidacy. An announcement may be coming soon.
Ms. Murphy may have a difficult time in the Senate Democratic primary. Sen. Menendez, though faring poorly in early polling, has not indicated that he will resign or retire. Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) immediately announced his Senate primary entry upon the Menendez indictment becoming public and has jumped out to an early lead. An early October Data for Progress poll showed Mr. Kim leading an entire proposed candidate field, including Sen. Menendez, by a large margin. Ms. Murphy stood at just 4% support.
Franklin & Marshall College again surveyed the Keystone State electorate (10/11-22; 873 PA registered voters; live interview & online) as they do several times per year, and while this particular sampling period is long the US Senate ballot test results are consistent with other previously published surveys.
According to the F&M data, Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) has a 46-39% advantage over Republican former hedge fund CEO David McCormick (R). Sen. Casey runs four points ahead of President Biden within the same sampling universe, while Mr. McCormick’s support percentage is three points below that of former President Donald Trump.
YouGov, polling for the University of Texas, conducted a new statewide poll of the Lone Star electorate (10/5-17; 1,200 TX registered voters; 568 likely Republican primary voters; 409 likely Democratic primary voters; online; weighted sample). In testing the Senate Democratic primary, the pollsters found US Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) leading state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio), 2022 congressional candidate Sherri Taylor, former Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez, and state Rep. Carl Sherman (D-Dallas) 21-10-3-2-2%, respectively. Nine additional names were also included on the ballot test question.
Though Rep. Allred, the Democratic establishment backed candidate, has a lead in polling and certainly fundraising, the large field and his underwhelming early support total suggests it will be difficult for him, or any other candidate, to win the primary outright on March 5th. Therefore, advancing to a May 28th runoff election between the top two Democratic primary finishers appears a likely result.
U.S. House of Representatives
The recently completed court-driven Alabama congressional map creates a new majority minority district anchored in the capital city of Montgomery, but then stretches southwest to encompass downtown Mobile. Now we see that the draw results in a pairing of two Republican Congressmen. Two-term Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) announced that he will challenge Rep. Jerry Carl* (R-Mobile), also serving his second term, in the state’s new 1st District. The seat now spans the entire width of southern Alabama from the Mississippi border to Georgia.
This will be a short-term paired campaign in that the Alabama state primary is held concurrently with the Super Tuesday presidential vote on March 5th. Should no one receive majority support, the top two finishers will advance to an April 2nd runoff election. This version of AL-1 favors Rep. Carl in that he already represents 59% of the new territory as compared to 41% for Rep. Moore.
Trent Franks (R), who was elected eight times to the House but was forced to resign when discovered that he was asking two female staff members to be surrogate mothers for he and his wife, announced that he will enter the open 8th District race next year with the goal of succeeding his successor. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria), who won the seat in a 2018 special election after Franks’ resignation, is retiring.
Mr. Franks’ reappearance in Arizona politics is a surprise, and he is certainly no lock to win the August 2024 Republican primary. Already, nine other Republicans have declared their candidacies, including 2022 US Senate nominee Blake Masters, state House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria), 2022 Attorney General nominee Abe Hamadeh, and state Sen. Anthony Kern (R-Paradise).
Five-term Colorado US Rep. Ken Buck (R-Windsor) announced that he will not seek re-election next year. Saying, “I always have been disappointed with our inability in Congress to deal with major issues & I’m also disappointed that the Republican Party continues to rely on this lie that the 2020 election was stolen & rely on the 1/6 narrative.” Rep. Buck has been an outspoken critic of his party in recent weeks, and his retirement is unsurprising. He had been rumored to be looking at potential media commentator openings as a Republican on the liberal CNN and MSNBC channels.
The 4th District, which covers most of eastern Colorado, is the strongest Republican seat in the state. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+26. Former President Donald Trump carried the district with a 58-40% margin in 2020. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks CO-4 as the 115th most vulnerable seat in the 222-member Republican Conference.
In a developing story, a federal judge has struck down the Georgia congressional map as a racial gerrymander. The main district in question is Rep. Rich McCormick*’s (R-Suwanee) 6th CD. It remains to be seen what steps the state takes. The Judge is giving the lawmakers until December 8th to redraw the map.
Disability rights activist Sarah Corkery (D) became the first individual from either party to announce a challenge to two-term Iowa US Rep. Ashley Hinson* (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids). Three of the four Iowa districts are competitive, including Rep. Hinson’s 2nd. According to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, IA-2 rates R+4. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 51.4R – 45.6D. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks IA-2 as the 29th most vulnerable seat in the Republican Conference.
While the district is competitive on paper, Rep. Hinson is in strong position. She won re-election last year with a 54-46% margin against then-state Sen. Liz Mathis (D) who, like Ms. Hinson, is a former television news anchor and very strong challenger spending $4.2 million in her race against the Congresswoman. Rep. Hinson also outperformed then-President Trump in the district by a net four percentage points. Therefore, though the district is politically marginal, Rep. Hinson, who is reporting more than $1.3 million in her 2024 campaign account, is a well-positioned incumbent.
Nine-term Maryland US Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Baltimore) announced late in the week that he will retire from the House after this current Congress ends. In a statement, Mr. Sarbanes said, “…before coming to Congress, I also found great reward in working with nonprofits, volunteering and otherwise contributing to my community. That too is a powerful form of public service. For some time now, I have found myself drawn back to that kind of work — wanting to explore the many opportunities to serve that exist outside of elected office. With that in mind, I have decided not to seek re-election in 2024.”
Mr. Sarbanes’ departure will ignite a major Democratic primary battle for the open seat. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as D+14. President Joe Biden carried the district with a 62-36% margin. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks MD-3 as the 79th most vulnerable district in the Democratic Conference. In a presidential election year, this race will be decided in what promises to be a crowded Democratic primary.
April McClain Delaney (D), a former US Commerce Department official and wife of former Congressman and 2020 presidential candidate John Delaney (D), announced this week that she will enter the crowded 6th District Democratic primary with the hope of succeeding Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac). The Congressman is leaving the House to run for the Senate.
Ms. Delaney is the 12th Democrat to declare her candidacy. Seven Republicans have also entered. It is likely we will see competitive contests in both party primaries and for the general election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the open MD-6 as D+1. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the seat as the 20th most vulnerable district in the Democratic Conference.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell (D) who was challenging for the Democratic US Senate nomination, announced he is ending his statewide bid and will instead launch a primary challenge against Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-St. Louis). Four Democrats opposed Rep. Bush in the 2022 election, two years after she upset veteran Rep. Lacy Clay (D), but she was easily renominated with 69.5% of the primary vote. Mr. Bell will be a credible challenger, but Rep. Bush must be viewed as the favorite for renomination and then an easy re-election in a 1st District that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+52.
Former two-term US Representative Tom Malinowski (D) responded to a statewide op-ed piece asking him to challenge the man who unseated him in 2022, freshman US Rep. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield). While Mr. Malinowski has not publicly ruled out running again, his response to the piece suggests that he will not become a candidate. Saying, “I am very happy in my life right now, and looking forward to the next challenge, not backward.” Currently in the Democratic primary are former State Department official Jason Blazakis and progressive left activist Sue Altman.
Pastor Michael Gerald (D) announced that he is putting his Democratic primary challenge against Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers) on hold until Westchester County Executive George Latimer (D) decides whether he will run for Congress. Rep. Bowman has been on the hot seat regarding being found guilty of deliberately pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building and could face an expulsion resolution. Obviously, this has generated negative publicity for the Congressman.
Prior to winning the County Executive’s position in the 2017 election, Mr. Latimer had served in the New York State Senate and Assembly. Westchester County contains 91% of NY-16, so a Latimer challenge to Rep. Bowman, should it materialize, would become a major campaign.
Fifteen-term Oregon US Representative Earl Blumenauer* (D-Portland) announced this week that he will retire at the end of the current Congress. Mr. Blumenauer, first elected to the House in a 1996 special election, has served in public office consecutively since 1973, including his time in the Oregon House of Representatives, the Multnomah County Commission, and as a Portland City Commissioner, in addition to his 28+ years in Congress. He currently serves on the Ways & Means and Budget Committees.
Rep. Blumenauer leaves a safely Democratic Portland suburban anchored seat that covers Hood River County and parts of Multnomah and Clackamas counties. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+43. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates a whopping 70.5D – 25.0R partisan lean. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks OR-3 as the 155th most vulnerable seat in the Democratic Conference.
North Carolina Redistricting
As expected, Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte), saying a Democrat cannot win the newly drawn 14th District, announced that he will not seek re-election and instead is now a candidate for the open Attorney General’s position. In a video showing him as a boxer delivering and taking punches, Mr. Jackson said he is targeting corrupt politicians, big corporations, and organized crime in his run for the top law enforcement job in the Tar Heel State.
Like in the nine other Republican districts on the new congressional map, the new 14th that begins in Charlotte and moves west to encompass all or parts of five counties, will likely elect the GOP nominee. All indications point to state House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland County) as Rep. Jackson’s eventual successor.
US House Appropriations Committee chair Kay Granger* (R-TX) declared that she will not seek a 15th term next year. Before winning the 1996 congressional election, Ms. Granger served as Mayor of Ft. Worth.
The 12th District is anchored in the city of Ft. Worth, which covers approximately 31% of Tarrant County, and then stretches west to annex about 80% of Parker County. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates TX-12 as R+24. Former President Trump carried the district with a 58-40% margin in 2020. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks TX-12 as the 108th most vulnerable district in the Republican Conference. There are now 24 open seats for the next election. Of those, 15 are currently Democratic held, 8 by Republicans, and one Alabama seat that the new redistricting plan created.
Though Democrats are viewed as a clear underdog to convert the open West Virginia Governor’s mansion next year, the party now has a candidate capable of running a credible general election campaign. Huntington Mayor Steve Williams (D) announced his candidacy late last week. He is a former state Delegate and ex-Huntington City Manager.
Republicans are headed for a competitive gubernatorial primary among Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, state Delegate Moore Capito (R-Charleston), Secretary of State Mac Warner, and businessman Chris Miller. Mr. Capito is the son of US Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Mr. Miller is US Rep. Carol Miller’s (R-Huntington) son.
*denotes candidate received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2023-2024 election cycle.
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