Check out these political snippets on the presidential, congressional and gubernatorial races from across the country.
Former President Donald Trump successfully won the New Hampshire Republican primary and did so by about a dozen percentage points, but his performance is apparently not enough to convince former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley to leave the race.
In her concession speech, Ms. Haley pledged to continue moving forward and several times referenced going to her home state of South Carolina as a place that could reverse the political tide. Polling, however, suggests that she is not as strong there as she was in New Hampshire.
Public Policy Polling, surveying for the Replace Sinema PAC (1/5-6; 590 AZ registered voters; multiple sampling techniques) sees a dead heat developing between Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) and former news anchor and 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake. Incumbent Senator Kyrsten Sinema*, running on an Independent ballot line, would significantly trail.
According to the ballot test data, Rep. Gallego would record a 36-35% edge over Ms. Lake with Sen. Sinema well behind with a 17% support figure. Among the key non-affiliated voting sector, Ms. Lake takes the largest share with 31 percent. Sen. Sinema posted 27% from this category, while Rep. Gallego trailed with 24%. If the race were a two-way contest between Gallego and Lake, the Republican would hold a 46-45% edge. This study again shows the Arizona Senate race continues as a true wild card campaign.
The University of California at Berkeley’s Institute for Government Studies, a regular California political pollster, released their latest US Senate survey result. This poll, for the Los Angeles Times (1/4-8; 8,199 CA registered voters; 4,470 weighted sub-sample; online), again finds Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) leading the crowded field, but with a smaller margin than found in other recent polls.
Baseball great Steve Garvey (R), who had placed second in two December polls, is third here, but still gained support when compared to the previous UC-IGS survey (10% in October poll; 13% in current edition). Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), second in their previous polls, is also second now, but remains stagnant at 17% support. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) remains languishing in single digit support with 9% preference.
The California jungle primary is scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 5th. The top two finishers regardless of percentage attained or political party affiliation will advance into the November general election.
Candidate filing has closed in Mississippi and an official candidate list has been released. While Sen. Roger Wicker* (R) is a prohibitive favorite over the lone Democrat who filed, 2023 Secretary of State nominee Ty Pinkins who received 40.5% of the vote against incumbent Michael Watson (R) in the November election, the Senator does have Republican primary opposition.
State Rep. Dan Eubanks (R-Walls) and retired Marine Corps Colonel T. Ghannon Burton are both qualified candidates. While it is doubtful that either can raise sufficient funds to run a major campaign against Sen. Wicker, who has been in the Senate since the last day of 2007 after being elected six times to the US House, all primary campaigns are worth watching. Mississippi has a runoff law, so Eubanks and Burton will attempt to keep the Senator from receiving 50% of the vote in the March 12th primary election. Sen. Wicker remains a heavy favorite for renomination and re-election.
In order to expand what is a favorable Republican US Senate map, a prominent member of the GOP announced her candidacy. Nella Domenici, a former hedge fund CEO and daughter of the late six-term Sen. Pete Domenici (R), is the latest Republican to declare for the seat. Last week, former Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales switched parties to enter the GOP Senate primary. The eventual winner of the June 4th Republican primary will challenge two-term incumbent Sen. Martin Heinrich (D).
The Senator is favored for re-election, but Republicans improving among Hispanics could make this a competitive contest. New Mexico’s Hispanics register 50.2% of the state population universe according to the latest US Census report. The last time Republicans won a NM statewide race was in 2014 when then-Gov. Susanna Martinez was re-elected. An August Public Policy Polling survey showed President Joe Biden topping former President Donald Trump 49-41%, suggesting the state has the potential of becoming competitive in the national election.
The new Quinnipiac University Pennsylvania poll (1/4-8; 1,680 PA self-identified registered voters; 746 Democrats; 651 Republicans; live interview) finds three-term Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) expanding his lead over Republican challenger David McCormick (R) to a full ten point advantage, 53-43%, an improvement of a net four percentage points when compared to the October Q-Poll. Within this survey sample, the split between Democrats and Republicans is almost spot on, with Republicans under-counted by approximately just one percentage point.
Emerson College just released the results of their latest Texas statewide survey (1/13-15; 1,315 TX registered voters; interactive voice response system & online) and finds Sen. Ted Cruz (R) heading into a potentially competitive general election. The ballot test found the Senator leading US Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) by a 42-40% margin, and holding only a one-point, 41-40% split over state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio). Simultaneously, former President Donald Trump leads President Joe Biden 49-41%.
The poll is not particularly surprising in that Sen. Cruz’s personal favorability numbers have never been particularly good. The presidential election turnout model, Trump beating Biden in the state, the Biden energy policies being detrimental to Texas, and the southern border controversy, however, all play politically in Sen. Cruz’s favor. Therefore, it is likely that we will see many close Texas Senate polls between now and the November election. The state’s voter history and favorable issue matrix, however, will ultimately favor Sen. Cruz and allow him to win re-election with a relatively comfortable margin.
Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott (D), a former staff member for Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd (D-WV), announced that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the open seat that Sen. Joe Manchin (D) is vacating. Though a long shot to overtake favored Republican candidate Jim Justice*, the state’s two-term Governor, the Democrats now appear to have a credible candidate to fill the major void that Sen. Manchin leaves for his party. Also in the Republican Senate primary is US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town).
U.S. House of Representatives
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) this week announced that the special election to replace resigned Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R) will be held on March 19th, two weeks after the California state primary on March 5th. Therefore, two candidates will advance to the regular general election before the special vote is held. Under California election law, if no candidate receives majority support in the first election, a runoff between the top two finishers will be held at a later date. Gov. Newsom has scheduled the potential runoff for May 21st.
CA-20 is the safest Republican seat in California. State Assemblyman Vincent Fong (R-Bakersfield) is favored to succeed Rep. McCarthy. His strongest competitor appears to be Tulare County Sheriff Mike Bourdeaux (R).
Nine-term Colorado US Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) who has typically repelled serious primary challengers throughout his eighteen-year career in Congress, announced that he will retire when the current Congress ends. He is the third of Colorado’s seven incumbents who will leave a seat open.
The Centennial State’s 5th District is anchored in the city of Colorado Springs and fully contained within El Paso County. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates CO-5 as R+18. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 74th most vulnerable in the Republican Conference. Therefore, the eventual new Republican nominee will be heavily favored to hold the seat in the November election.
Another retirement announcement comes from three-term Rep. Greg Pence (R-Columbus), brother of former Vice President Mike Pence. Saying it is an “honor and privilege” to serve the people of Indiana’s 6th Congressional District, Mr. Pence stated that he decided he would not seek a fourth term. The open seat count now ticks upward to 44. Four of these races will be decided in special elections before the regular election.
The 6th District will remain in Republican hands. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+37, making it the safest Indiana seat for the GOP. A majority of the Hoosier State Republican delegation (4 of 7) will not be seeking re-election. Reps. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville), Larry Bucshon (R-Evansville) and Mr. Pence are retiring. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) is running for the Senate.
Continuing the recent cavalcade of retirements, seven-term Indiana Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Evansville) announced that he, too, will not seek re-election later this year. This is another seat that will be non-competitive in the general election, however.
The 8th District, formerly one of the most hotly contested seats in the country to the point it was nicknamed “the Bloody Eighth,” is no longer a domain that produces close general election results and a large number of incumbent defeats. In his seven successful elections, Rep. Bucshon averaged 61.7% of the vote and has broken the 60% threshold in five consecutive campaigns. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates IN-8 as the second safest Republican seat in the Hoosier State at R+36. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 50th safest seat in the Republican Conference.
St. Rep. Bill G. Schuette (R-Midland) last week announced that he would enter the open 8th Congressional District race, but this week has changed his mind. Now, Mr. Schuette says he will run for re-election to the state House. The move may suggest an opening of the door for his father, former Attorney General, Appellate Judge, US Congressman, and US Senate nominee Bill Schuette to run for the open 8th.
Since the 8th CD is a politically marginal district and will host one of the most competitive congressional races in the country, we can expect both parties to make major efforts to win the 2024 campaign. Democrats already have several strong candidates in state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City), the national Democratic establishment choice, Michigan Board of Education president Pamela Pugh, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley, and former Genessee County Democratic Party chairman Dan Moilanen.
In 2022, then-Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell* was one of six Republicans who challenged six-term Congressman Steven Palazzo in the GOP primary. The group forced Palazzo into a runoff election, and Sheriff Ezell ultimately defeated him 54-46%. He then went onto to record a landslide general election victory with 73% of the vote. Now, Rep. Ezell faces his own primary challenge.
With Mississippi candidate filing closed, Rep. Ezell has drawn two Republican opponents, local businessman Carl Boyanton who ran in 2022 but received only 6% of the vote in the GOP primary election, and Army veteran Michael McGill. Rep. Ezell will be favored to win outright in the March 12th primary election, but this is another race to follow. A runoff will be held on April 2nd should no candidate reach the 50% plateau. Rep. Ezell is favored for renomination and re-election in this southeastern Mississippi congressional district.
The local Erie and Niagara County Democratic Party chairmen announced that they have chosen state Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) as their special election congressional nominee once Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) resigns in early February. Upon the seat officially becoming vacant, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will call a special election to fill the position for the balance of the current term. The Republican chairmen will announce their pick at a later date. Under New York election procedure, a district’s county chairmen have the power to nominate a special election candidate in lieu of holding a party primary or special district convention.
Nate McMurray, a former western New York local official who ran two close campaigns in the former 27th District that was collapsed in 2021 reapportionment, declared after the announcement naming Sen. Kennedy as the special election Democratic nominee that he will launch a regular Democratic primary challenge against him for the full term.
Both the state House and Senate during the Louisiana special legislative session to redraw their congressional map have passed different new plans, so a conference committee will have to iron out the differences. The major underlying points, however, are consistent.
First, the legislature is clearly complying with the court order to draw a second majority minority seat within the six-member congressional delegation, and second, the targeted GOP House member likely to lose his seat is to make room for the new district is five-term Rep. Garret Graves* (R-Baton Rouge). Once completed and passed into law the new court-ordered map will almost assuredly mean a net gain of one seat for the Democrats in the 2024 election.
Seven-term Palmetto State Republican Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-Laurens) is the latest House member to announce that he will not seek re-election. Mr. Duncan was hit with media reports back in September regarding his admission of having several extra-marital affairs all the while campaigning as a traditional values politician. It is probable the negative publicity influenced his decision to leave Congress.
Rep. Duncan’s western South Carolina 3rd District is safely Republican and has been so since the late Democratic US Rep. Butler Derrick left office at the beginning of 1995. Mr. Duncan now becomes the 45th House member not seeking re-election. Of the group, 23 seats are currently Democratic held while 21 come from the Republican column. One seat, the new 2nd District in Alabama, is created through the new court ordered redistricting map. It is likely we will see a similar situation develop in Louisiana when that new court-ordered map is enacted before the end of the month.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R), seeking a second term, will now face another Republican primary opponent. Former Utah Republican Party chairman Carson Jorgensen announced his gubernatorial candidacy at the end of last week. State Rep. Phil Lyman (R-Blanding) declared his candidacy in late October. While Gov. Cox, who has alienated the conservative base from time to time during his tenure, could have trouble in the Republican nominating convention, he would be favored to win a primary election. If both challengers qualify for the Republican primary, having multiple opponents will help the Governor clinch the party nomination.
Despite running in one of the most heavily Democratic states, Republican Gov. Phil Scott consistently ranks as the most popular state chief executive in the country. While he has yet to announce that he will seek a fifth two-year term – Vermont and New Hampshire are the only states that limit their Governors to two years between elections – former Middlebury Town Selectwoman Esther Charlestin this week announced that she will seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Should Gov. Scott decide to retire, the Democrats will have the inside track toward converting the State House. If he runs again, Gov. Scott becomes a clear favorite.
Rather surprisingly, a federal judge has ruled in Arizona that the No Labels Party can bar candidates from running on their party line for races other than President even though the entity is an official Arizona political party. Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D) has pledged to appeal the ruling on behalf of the state. It seems difficult to imagine a similar ruling being rendered if the Republican or Democratic Parties were to make such a move.
Mr. Fontes, who said the ruling is “dead wrong,” argues that the “…current decision will disenfranchise almost 19,000 registered Arizona voters, and if it stands, it could potentially derail the entire candidate nomination process,” according to an Associated Press story. If state candidates run under the No Labels party line, then the national party would have to disclose its donors under Arizona election law, something the national entity so far has been able to avoid. It remains to be seen if this ruling will be allowed to stand.
*denotes candidate received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2023-2024 election cycle.
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