Check out these political snippets on the presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and local races from across the country.
The Michigan Senate approved a bill to move the Wolverine State presidential primary from the day designated as Super Tuesday in March to the second Tuesday in February. The move underscores the state leadership’s desire to move Michigan into one of the four primary slots allowed before Super Tuesday.
With the Democrats clearly preparing to change the nominating rules, voting schedule, and primary order of the states, Michigan is attempting to get a head start toward becoming a more prominent force in the presidential nominating system. If the state formally takes the action of legally moving their election date, it is likely that the Republicans would have to follow suit and also schedule the Michigan primary early in the process.
The Alaska votes are in and projected, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski* (R), with a 1,914 plurality vote advantage on the aggregate count and a 54-46% result through two elimination rounds of Ranked Choice Voting, was re-elected to a fourth full term. Originally, she succeeded by appointment her father, then-Sen. Frank Murkowski (R), who was elected Governor in 2002.
The final result was easily predictable, and one could argue Sen. Murkowski really won her re-election when people voted to change the state’s election system in 2020. Initiated with support from the Senator’s political organization, the hybrid jungle primary/Ranked Choice Voting system allowed Ms. Murkowski to skip what was her most vulnerable election, a partisan Republican primary. With four people now automatically advancing into the general election, the partisan nomination phase within the traditional election cycle was in effect eliminated. In 2010, Sen. Murkowski lost the Republican primary, but was re-elected when she won a write-in Independent campaign in that year’s general election.
With most people believing that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) will not seek re-election in 2024 when she will be 91 years of age, Southern California Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said this week that he is considering launching a US Senate exploratory committee. Mr. Schiff is already in a battle to keep his seat on the Intelligence Committee after Rep. Kevin McCarthy* (R-CA) said, should he be elected Speaker, that Mr. Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) would be removed from the panel.
Should Sen. Feinstein retire, we will see a strong Democratic battle to replace her. In California’s jungle primary system, it is likely that two Democrats would advance into the general election. One thing is certain: Rep. Schiff would be able to raise the money to compete. In his bid for re-election to the House in the current cycle, he raised over $22 million.
As predicted, Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) defeated GOP former professional football player Herschel Walker* (R) last night in the Senate runoff election, but the approximate 51-49% contest was much closer than many prognosticators expected.
The Warnock win gives the Democrats a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, a net gain of one seat from the present 50-50 split. The outright majority will provide the party at least one more vote than the Republicans have on every Senate committee and make it easier for the leadership to confirm Administration appointments, including federal judges.
As expected, Indiana Sen. Mike Braun (R) filed papers with the Secretary of State’s office in Indianapolis, which is his first step toward foregoing re-election to a second term in the US Senate in order to become an open seat gubernatorial candidate. Incumbent Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) is ineligible to seek a third term under Indiana’s term limit law.
Should he soon become a candidate, Sen. Braun will very likely face credible opposition in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Already venture capitalist Eric Doden (R) has announced his Senate candidacy. Other potential names being bandied about include former two-term Gov. Mitch Daniels, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, retiring Congressman Trey Hollingsworth (R-Jeffersonville), and former state Senator and ex-Indianapolis mayoral candidate Jim Merritt. For the Democrats, the only announced candidate is Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick.
Assuming he shortly makes a formal announcement of candidacy, the Indiana Senate seat will be the first to open in the 2024 election cycle.
While Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) has already announced his bid to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D) next year, Gov. Jim Justice (R), who is ineligible to seek re-election in 2024, indicated this week that he, too, is considering launching a Senate campaign.
Gov. Justice’s approval numbers are high – rated as the sixth most popular Governor nationally at 65:29% favorable to unfavorable according to the Morning Consult quarterly ratings for the period ending September 30, 2022 – so he would certainly be a formidable candidate for the Republican nomination and against Sen. Manchin. A Triton Polling & Research organization August poll found Gov. Justice leading Sen. Manchin 47-32% in an early hypothetical race survey, for example.
U.S. House of Representatives
After winning the August special election through the Ranked Choice Voting system to replace the late Alaska Rep. Don Young* (R), at-large Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Bethel) has now clinched a full term when the state’s preliminary final vote count was released the day before Thanksgiving. The end result was predicted especially when Rep. Peltola easily placed first in the aggregate count, with a 49-26-23% margin spread over former Governor Sarah Palin (R) and businessman Nick Begich, III (R).
The first round of Ranked Choice Voting, which eliminated distant fourth-place finisher Chris Bye (Libertarian), almost put Ms. Peltola over the top. In this round, against both Ms. Palin and Mr. Begich, Rep. Peltola scored 49.2% of the adjusted vote. This result meant eliminating Mr. Begich, who was the third-place finisher. The third RCV round easily went to Rep. Peltola, who defeated Ms. Palin on a 55-45% tabulation. The Peltola victory increases the House Democratic Conference to 213 members as compared to the Republicans’ 221 with one California race remaining outstanding.
The Associated Press, in a race that appeared to be clinched days ago, finally projected California Republican state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay/Sacramento) as the winner of the newly created open 3rd Congressional District that stretches from the northern Sacramento suburbs all the way into southern California via the Nevada border. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates CA-3 as a R+8 district, so the outcome of Mr. Kiley defeating Democratic physician and Iraq War veteran Kermit Jones is hardly a surprise result.
In the lone undecided US House race, California Republican candidate John Duarte, a local farmer and agri-businessman, predicts that he will eventually win the election once officials finally count all the ballots. The state allows counties 33 days to finish their processing and tabulation procedures, with a certification deadline of December 16th.
Mr. Duarte supports his prediction by pointing out that most of the uncounted ballots are from Fresno and San Joaquin Counties in areas where the Republican performed better than his opponent, state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced). Currently, the districtwide count is stalled with Mr. Duarte clinging to a 593-vote lead. If the remaining ballots from the five counties perform like the counted ballots, Mr. Duarte would win by approximately 483 votes.
It is difficult to know just how many ballots remain. Percentage estimates as to how much of the vote has been counted have not, heretofore, proven particularly accurate. Therefore, the final count remains a clouded picture.
The Associated Press, also this week, projected that Rep. David Valadao* (R-Hanford) had defeated state Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) in their hard-fought congressional race. This, despite Rep. Valadao finishing a distant second on the jungle primary back in June when he received only 26% versus Mr. Salas’ 45% in a field of four candidates in the most Democratic congressional district in the country that elects a Republican to the House.
According to the California Secretary of State’s official count, Mr. Valadao held a 3,381 vote lead with just over 100,000 votes counted. Based upon the number of outstanding ballots and where they are from, the AP made the unofficial projection, and Mr. Salas then conceded the race.
Though Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) may be the projected winner with just a 554-vote margin from a total vote count of 327,110, and Democrat Adam Frisch has conceded the race, the tabulation process may not be over. Because the race is within the .5 percent range that triggers an automatic recount under Colorado state law, we still may see a post-election proofing procedure after the final canvass even though Rep. Boebert has declared victory and Mr. Frisch conceded.
Colorado’s new 8th District earned in national reapportionment was drawn as a 50/50 seat with the slightest Democratic lean, and that is exactly the way the election finished. Over the weekend, Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-Eastlake) was projected the winner, claiming a 1,625-vote win from a total of 236,426 currently counted ballots, giving her a 48.4 – 47.7% victory over Weld County Republican state Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer*.
Because this margin is likely to remain beyond the .5 mandatory recount range, this win will soon be certified.
The court-drawn North Carolina congressional map featured a new 13th District that contained the southern Raleigh suburbs, the city of Fayetteville, and Republican Johnston County, which made the CD a toss-up seat. Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel carried the district with a 52-48% margin, defeating Republican Bo Hines, who received the Donald Trump endorsement in the GOP primary.
Mr. Hines, 27, was a former football player for North Carolina State University, but had no other particular ties to the region and actually planned to run in another district before this open seat was drawn. This week, he filed a new 2024 committee, presumably sending signals that he intends to run again.
Mr. Hines did not receive particularly favorable marks as a candidate, and there is a good chance we will see a new North Carolina map drawn after the Supreme Court rules on the state’s partisan gerrymandering case before them. Even if Mr. Hines decides to run, he can expect heavy competition in the Republican primary before getting another opportunity of opposing Rep-Elect Nickel.
Reports from southern Virginia are carrying the news that three-term Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) passed away this week after a long battle with cancer. Mr. McEachin was re-elected to a fourth term on November 8th with 65% of the vote in a 4th Congressional District that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+30.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) will schedule a special election to replace Mr. McEachin in accordance with state law. The true battle for the seat will come in the Democratic primary. Candidates will likely begin announcing for the special election after Mr. McEachin in laid to rest.
Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem), who was just re-elected to a seventh term with 73.5% of the vote, may be drawing a 2024 Republican primary challenge. Freshman state Delegate Marie March (R-Floyd) made a statement saying that Rep. Griffith has “been in Congress too long,” and hinted that she might challenge him in the next GOP primary.
Rep. Griffith was first elected in 2010, defeating long-time incumbent Rick Boucher (D) and has had little in the way of competition ever since. He has averaged 72.4% in his six re-election victories and has not yet faced a Republican primary challenge.
Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) already announcing that he will challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the next election year has ignited the first of what promises to be political musical chairs for what will be an open 2nd Congressional District. State Treasurer Riley Moore (R) announced his congressional candidacy yesterday and is the first major candidate to enter the 2024 race. Rep. Mooney’s successor will likely be decided in the Republican primary in a seat that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+34.
One race that did not need a Ranked Choice Voting round was the Alaska Governor’s contest. Incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) won a second term in the aggregate count, scoring 50.3% of the vote against three other candidates.
In a distant second place was Democratic former state Representative Les Gara who posted 24.2% of the vote, while former Gov. Bill Walker, again running as an Independent, followed. The latter man recorded 20.7% of the aggregate popular vote. In the final general election qualifying position was Republican former Kenai Borough Peninsula Mayor Charlie Pierce who managed to secure only 4.5% of the vote.
Gov. Dunleavy, who faced an aborted recall effort early in his tenure, is the first re-elected Alaska chief executive since Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles won a second term in 1998.
Statements from Sen. John Kennedy* (R) uttered soon after his re-election victory on November 8th – he captured 62% of the vote to win a second term outright against a field of 12 opponents – suggest that he is moving closer to entering the 2023 open Louisiana gubernatorial contest. The Senator said he will make a decision after the first of the year. Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.
Sen. Kennedy looks to be the favorite in such a race, to the point that Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) says he will wait to see what Sen. Kennedy decides before he makes his own decision about whether to seek the Governor’s position. Until Sen. Kennedy acknowledged that he is seriously considering running, Mr. Nungesser looked to be a certain candidate. Already in the race is Attorney General and former US Congressman Jeff Landry (R).
Louisiana will conduct a statewide jungle primary next October 14th. If no one receives majority support in the first election, a runoff will be held on November 18, 2023. Should Sen. Kennedy run and be elected, he would be able to choose his own successor for the Senate seat. Once an individual is chosen, he or she would serve until the next general election (2024). At that point, candidates would run to serve the remaining portion of the current term, which would mean next facing the voters in 2028 since Mr. Kennedy was just re-elected to a full term.
West Virginia state Delegate Moore Capito (R-Charleston), son of US Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R) and grandson of the late former Governor Arch Moore (R), this week announced his own campaign for Governor. He hopes to succeed term-limited Gov. Jim Justice (R) who may soon launch his own run for US Senate. Delegate Capito was first elected to the state House in 2016 and currently chairs the House Judiciary Committee.
State and Local
Yesterday, it was announced that eleven candidates, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D), have qualified for the 2023 Chicago mayoral election. Among Ms. Lightfoot’s opponents are US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago), state Representative Kam Buckner (D-Chicago), Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, and Chicago Aldermen Roderick Sawyer and Sophia King.
The election features a non-partisan jungle primary on February 28th. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election on April 4th. Obviously, with as strong a field as we see lining up against Mayor Lightfoot, a runoff appears inevitable. Should Rep. Garcia be elected Mayor, his 4th Congressional District seat would then be vacated, thus raising the specter of seeing another special election called.
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