Check out these political snippets on the presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, state and local races from across the country.
The DNC’s Rules & Bylaws Committee approved President Joe Biden’s suggested alterations for the 2024 primary schedule. This means that South Carolina moves into the first primary position on February 3, 2024. Following on February 6th will be New Hampshire and Nevada. The newcomers to the early group are Georgia, slated for February 13th, and Michigan two weeks later on February 27th.
Republicans say they will maintain the traditional schedule kicking off with the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary with Nevada and South Carolina following. The New Hampshire Democrats are objecting to being moved from the first primary position and state law allows them to ignore a political party’s rule. Though this is the first definitive step to nomination rules changes, more details must be finalized before any schedule takes effect.
Quelling political speculation that he would run for President in 2024, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) early this week made clear his intentions for the next election. Saying in a response to a question from radio host and national commentator Hugh Hewitt, Sen. Scott said, “I have no plans to run for President and I have a 100% plan to run for the US Senate [in 2024]. I’m running for re-election for Senator from the great state of Florida.”
Speculation is also surfacing that outgoing US Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) may challenge Sen. Scott. In a response to a reporter’s inquiry, Rep. Murphy didn’t close the door on such an option and pointed out that Florida is still not as “red” as the electorate voted in the 2022 election. Of the 11 Republican in-cycle seats for 2024, the Florida campaign could be the most competitive, but even here Sen. Scott must be rated a heavy early favorite for re-election.
As predicted, Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) defeated GOP former professional football player Herschel Walker* (R) 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 majority in the Senate, a net gain of one seat from the present 50-50 split. The outright majority will give the party at least one more vote than the Republicans on every Senate committee and make it easier for the leadership to confirm Administration appointments, including federal judges.
The secondary election was necessitated under Georgia election law because neither Sen. Warnock nor Mr. Walker received majority support in November. Unlike in most states, an absolute majority is required to win a Georgia general election.
Sen. Warnock has now secured a full six-years in the Senate after winning the 2020 special election to fill the balance of then-Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) final term. Sen. Isakson resigned at the end of 2019 due to health reasons and then later passed away. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) then appointed businesswoman Kelly Loeffler (R) to fill the post until the 2020 special election of which Rev. Warnock won in that cycle’s subsequent runoff.
Early political reports coming from the Hoosier State suggest that Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) will not pursue a 2024 US Senate bid when his tenure as Governor comes to an end. Mr. Holcomb is ineligible to seek a third term.
When asked about running for the Senate this week on wishtv.com, however, Gov. Holcomb replied, "there’ll be time for me to think about the future in the future. But it would be next to irresponsible for me to take my eye off the job that I’ve got."
This response suggests the Senate race door is not fully closed and will certainly remain an option for Mr. Holcomb as time moves forward. With universal statewide name identification and the ability to quickly raise large amounts money, Gov. Holcomb has the luxury of waiting to make a decision until he sees how an open Senate field develops. First-term Sen. Mike Braun (R) is a clearly preparing a run for Governor, thus leaving his Senate seat open.
Reports from the state have also surfaced indicating that former Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), who has ruled out a run for his former job, is making moves to assess his chances for a political comeback in an open US Senate race.
Cornhusker State Junior Senator Ben Sasse (R) has now set January 8, 2023, as the date he will officially resign his elected position in order to become president of the University of Florida. Governor-Elect Jim Pillen (R), who will appoint a replacement for Sen. Sasse, has asked individuals who want to be considered for the Senate appointment to apply before December 23rd. One person who confirmed he will apply is outgoing Gov. Pete Ricketts (R).
In the open Republican gubernatorial primary back in May, Gov. Ricketts became actively involved and endorsed Mr. Pillen, a University of Nebraska Regent, over eight other Republican candidates including Trump endorsed businessman and rancher Charles Herbster. Mr. Pillen would win the Republican primary with four percentage point margin and claimed the general election with just under 60% of the vote.
Though others will apply for the soon-to-be vacant Senate position, Gov. Ricketts is viewed as the clear favorite for the early January appointment. The new Senator then will stand for election in 2024 to fill the unexpired portion of Sen. Sasse’s final term. The seat is next in-cycle for a full six-year term in 2026.
Two Republicans are already reportedly beginning to test the waters about challenging three-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in the 2024 election. Both Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) and US Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Troy) are admitting to be at least considering entering the upcoming Senate race.
Sen. Brown was first elected in 2006, when he unseated then-Senator and now Governor Mike DeWine (R), and has averaged 53.4% of the vote in his three elections. Previously, Sen. Brown served seven terms in the US House, as Ohio’s Secretary of State, and in the state House of Representatives.
U.S. House of Representatives
The final unresolved House race was called last weekend, and California Republican John Duarte, an agriculture-related businessman, was projected a 565-vote winner over Democratic state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced). The victory gives the Republicans a 222-213 House majority and provides GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy* (R-CA) a much-needed vote for Speaker, this one from a neighboring district part of which touches his own CA-20 CD.
The race is officially over even though final numbers have not yet been recorded. Mr. Gray conceded the race to Mr. Duarte and, since California has no automatic recount law the outcome is final.
California Rep. David Valadao* (R-Hanford) is tied for representing the most Democratic seat in the country that sends a Republican to the US House. Long Island Rep-Elect Anthony D’Esposito (R-Hempstead) holds the other. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates both Mr. Valadao’s CA-22 and Mr. D’Esposito’s NY-4 at D+10.
Despite the odds stacked against him, Rep. Valadao was able to post a 51.5 – 48.5% victory over state Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) in November, who was arguably the most difficult opponent Mr. Valadao faced in his five winning electoral campaigns. Late this week, Mr. Salas, who risked his Assembly seat to run for Congress, filed a committee to seek a re-match in 2024. If he ultimately follows through and runs two years from now, this race will again become a top national Democratic conversion target.
US Ambassador to the Holy See and former US Senator Joe Donnelly (D), who also served three terms in the House, is apparently not closing the door on entering the open 2024 Governor’s race back in his home state of Indiana. While Mr. Donnelly is serving as the Ambassador in Rome, most politico observers believe he will return to again run statewide.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick (D) has already filed a gubernatorial committee, but says she will make a final decision about running after the first of next year. Sen. Mike Braun (R) is in a similar situation to Ms. McCormick, as he, too, has filed a gubernatorial committee without making a formal announcement, but will likely do so as early as next week. Should Messrs. Donnelly and Braun run and win their party nominations, it would set up a re-match of the 2018 US Senate race, a contest that Mr. Braun won 51-45%.
In preparation for launching a gubernatorial bid, he just released the results of an internal poll. The study, from the Mark It Red research group (11/18-22; sample size not released), finds Sen. Braun opening with a large Republican primary advantage in what will be an open race for Governor. According to the survey results, Sen. Braun would lead Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and venture capitalist Eric Doden, 47-10-5%, respectively.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D) said that he has not made up his mind whether to seek re-election, run for Governor, or retire. Sen. Manchin said he will make a decision about the 2024 election after the first of next year.
The interesting part of his statement is acknowledging that another run for Governor is an option on his political table. Before winning a special 2010 US Senate election, Mr. Manchin served as Governor from January 2005 to November of 2010, having won two elections to the state’s top elected post.
Early polling suggests he would not fare well in a Senate race against Gov. Jim Justice (R), who is ineligible to seek a third term, and Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town). This makes West Virginia the top early 2024 election cycle Republican conversion opportunity.
State and Local
The North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case that was heard before the US Supreme Court this week is a potential landmark case but some North Carolina state political sources suggest the arguments may go by the proverbial wayside.
The high court will rule before the end of June, but before such occurs, the new North Carolina legislature may draft new redistricting plans for the US House, state Senate, and state House of Representatives. Since a court map is only an interim plan, the legislature can replace it with a permanent draw at any time.
If this occurs as described, and new maps are enacted – remember, in North Carolina, the Governor has no veto power over redistricting legislation – it is possible that the action could render the case before the Supreme Court as moot. If so, the issue of whether the Constitution views state legislatures as solely independent when handling redistricting could well go unanswered.
* denotes the candidate has received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2021-2022 election cycle.
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