Check out these political snippets on congressional, gubernatorial and state races from across the country.
Media reports from Arizona suggest that both defeated gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Senate contender Blake Masters are considering entering the 2024 US Senate contest. This campaign will be unique since it features the incumbent, Kyrsten Sinema, originally elected as a Democrat running as an Independent.
Democrats looked to be headed for a tough primary battle between Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) and Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) until the latter man announced that he would not run statewide. Other potential Republican candidates include Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb and state Treasurer Kimberly Yee. This race will prove interesting since both eventual major party nominees and Sen. Sinema all would have legitimate victory scenarios in a tight three-way general election campaign.
Golden State Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) last week announced that she will enter the 2024 US Senate campaign, apparently irrespective of what veteran Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) decides about her own political future.
Accompanying the Porter video announcement was a poll that the David Binder Research company conducted for the Congresswoman’s campaign committee soon after the November election. The study tested a hypothetical general election battle between Reps. Porter and Adam Schiff (D-Burbank). Also included in the poll were Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Ro Khanna (D-Fremont), both of whom have also discussed running for the Senate. No Republican alternative was listed.
The Binder survey (11/19-21; 600 CA registered voters; live interview & online) projected that Reps. Porter and Schiff would advance into the general election from the state’s top two jungle primary system. Between Porter and Schiff, the electorate would break 37-26% in Porter’s favor with Republicans backing the Orange County Congresswoman in a 25-5% clip. This is largely due to Schiff’s strong negative ratings among Republicans, likely over his prominent role in the Trump impeachment process.
Rep. Lee is reportedly telling supporters that she will run for the Senate next year, following Rep. Porter’s lead, but will not formally declare her intentions until Sen. Feinstein announces her expected retirement. Rep. Schiff is expected to follow a similar path into the Senate contest. Assuming all of this does happen, Los Angeles School Board member Nick Melvoin (D) announced that he will run for Rep. Schiff’s House seat.
Not backing down from a potential Republican primary race against former Governor Mitch Daniels, four-term US Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) announced last week that he will enter Indiana’s open Senate race next year.
Mr. Daniels has been sending signals that he will also run for the Senate, but the Banks move means the May Republican primary will likely be the big battle to replace first-term Sen. Mike Braun (R) who is bypassing re-election to run for Governor. Other potential GOP candidates include term-limited Gov. Eric Holcomb and US Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville), among others.
While Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s (D) decision to retire after the 2024 election caught many by surprise and leads to several individuals assessing their own chances of winning an open Senate race in a lean Democratic state, one person who is apparently ready to jump into the race is three-term Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing).
Other Democrats reportedly seriously considering their own candidacies are Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and possibly Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor), Haley Stevens (D-Birmingham), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit). Multiple names are being mentioned on the Republican side but there is little definitive movement toward anyone from the GOP making a declaration of candidacy at this time.
Lucas Kunce, the attorney and Iraq and Afghan War veteran who lost the 2022 Missouri Democratic Senate nomination to philanthropist Trudy Busch Valentine, announced that he will mount a 2024 challenge to Sen. Josh Hawley (R). Ms. Busch Valentine then lost 55-42% to new Senator Eric Schmitt (R) in November.
Last August, Mr. Kunce failed to claim the Democratic nomination by a 43-38% margin against Ms. Busch Valentine, a member of the Busch beer family, in what should be considered an under-performance. Mr. Kunce was a favorite of the progressive left, raised $5.6 million, and appeared to be the race leader until Ms. Valentine became a late entry into the primary campaign.
While Mr. Kunce is a credible candidate, he must prove he can mount a stronger effort in 2024 if he is to seriously challenge Sen. Hawley in a state that will likely be a lock for the eventual Republican presidential nominee.
Not yet even sworn into office, Nebraska Senate-Designate Pete Ricketts (R), who new Gov. Jim Pillen (R) chose to fill the vacancy that former Sen. Ben Sasse’s (R) resignation created, may already be drawing a 2024 Republican challenger.
Rancher Chuck Herbster, the 2022 gubernatorial candidate who former President Donald Trump endorsed and would lose to Mr. Pillen with then-Gov. Ricketts’ strong support, confirmed that he is considering launching a nomination challenge when the latter man first faces the voters in the May 2024 Republican primary. One reason Mr. Herbster lost the ’22 primary, however, was because several women went public with sexual harassment accusations, a controversy sure to arise again if he makes another attempt to seek public office.
Regardless of Mr. Herbster’s plans, it is probable that Mr. Ricketts will face a contested primary next year. His appointment was not unanimously well received within all quarters of the Nebraska Republican Party, but he has a full year in which to build an expanded intra-party winning coalition.
Ohio State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians Major League Baseball club, will return for a second consecutive US Senate contest. This time, he hopes to challenge veteran Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in the 2024 general election.
In the last election, for the open seat created when Sen. Rob Portman (R) announced he would not seek a third term, Sen. Dolan competed against six opponents, losing to now-Senator J.D. Vance (R) by a 32-23% margin with former state Treasurer Josh Mandel placing second less than a point ahead of Mr. Dolan.
In the current election cycle, Sen. Dolan’s chances for the party nomination appear better. If he is successful in the Republican primary, Sen. Dolan faces a difficult general election opponent in Sen. Brown even though Ohio has been moving decidedly closer to the GOP in recent elections. In 2018, Sen. Brown defeated then-US Rep. Jim Renacci (R), 53-47%.
In a media interview, term-limited West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) confirmed that he is “seriously considering” making a US Senate run next year. Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has not committed to seeking re-election. He could retire or enter the open Governor’s race since Mr. Justice is ineligible to run for a third term. Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) has already announced his intention to challenge Sen. Manchin. At this point, West Virginia appears as the Republicans’ top national conversion target.
US House of Representatives
Arizona Rep. David Schweikert’s (R-Fountain Hills) 3,195-vote victory over media consultant Jevin Hodge, a percentage margin of just 50.4 – 49.6%, proved to be the twelfth closest US House result in the 2022 election cycle. Predictably, since Mr. Schweikert, plagued with an ethics controversy surrounding his handling of campaign and federal monies and who significantly under-performed in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+7, will draw another serious challenge in 2024.
Already, three individuals are publicly taking action or mulling challenges. Dr. Andrew Horne, a local orthodontist, has officially announced his candidacy. Mr. Hodge, the 2022 nominee, confirms that he is considering another run. Former local news anchor Marlene Galan-Woods (D), widow of the late Republican-turned-Democrat Attorney General Grant Woods, also acknowledges her potential interest in making a congressional run in the state’s new 1st CD. Count on this race developing into another major national target campaign next year.
Local Phoenix area restaurant owner Kelly Cooper (R), who lost in November to Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix), 56-44% from a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates only as D+1, announced that he will run again in 2024. With Congressman Stanton eschewing a US Senate run, the chances are good that we will see a re-match congressional race here next year. In 2022, Mr. Cooper upset GOP establishment favorite Tanya Wheeless in the Republican primary with a 28-25% win within a field of five contenders.
We continue to see a chain reaction of political moves in California since Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) announced her intention to run for the Senate. In anticipation of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) entering the Senate contest, though he has yet to say so, we saw two credible Democratic candidates quickly announcing for what they think will be the Congressman’s open seat.
Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education Vice Chairman Nick Melvoin (D) has declared for the House seat, and immediately afterward state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Burbank) announced that she, too, will compete for Rep. Schiff’s federal position.
Additionally, businessman Josh Bocanegra (D) who was originally looking to enter the US Senate race, has now decided to also compete for the Burbank anchored congressional seat. Most recently, actor Ben Savage (D), brother of actor Fred Savage, who has appeared in film and television in roles from 1989 to the present, made public his intention to enter the 30th District congressional field. Through all of this, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) has yet to publicly confirm her own 2024 plans, though all of these moves are based upon her expected retirement.
The CA-30 seat will remain in Democratic hands, but it is likely we will see two Democrats advance to the general election from the top two jungle primary format that California has used since the 2012 election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the district as D+45.
The whirlwind of California political activities in early anticipation of the 2024 election continues. With Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) already declaring for the US Senate and three others announcing for Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Burbank) House seat even though he has yet to say he’s running for the Senate, we now see a state legislator, Sen. David Min (D-Irvine), also making a move.
Sen. Min announced his intention to compete for Rep. Porter’s open seat and will have the Congresswoman’s endorsement. Since California state Senate seats are larger than congressional districts, Sen. Min’s overlay into the current 47th CD from his 37th District state Senate seat is substantial and includes the region’s anchor city of Irvine.
Responding to four-term northern Indiana Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) announcing for the open Senate race, the first major potential US House candidate has filed an exploratory committee. State Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) confirmed that he is testing the waters for a congressional run but has not made any final decision about entering the open contest. A crowded Republican field is expected in a seat where the GOP nominee will have a major advantage in the general election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates IN-3 as R+34.
After Navy veteran Tyler Kistner (R) ran two close but unsuccessful campaigns against Rep. Angie Craig (D-Prior Lake) in 2020 and 2022, Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy (R) recently announced that he will attempt to win the party nomination in hopes of becoming the Congresswoman’s 2024 challenger. There is little indication as to what Mr. Kistner might be thinking about a third congressional run, but him losing two consecutive races suggests that the party leaders will be looking for a new contender.
Despite former Gov. Matt Bevin (R) teasing political observers by coming back to his 2015 gubernatorial announcement location to make a speech hours before candidate filing was closing, he did not jump into the race and the Republican field of challengers vying to oppose Gov. Andy Beshear (D) is now set. Another potential entry who decided against filing is John Schnatter, the founder of the Papa John’s pizza company.
The major Republicans who are now officially running include Attorney General Daniel Cameron, former UN Ambassador Kelly Craft, state Auditor Mike Harmon, state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, and Somerset Mayor Alan Keck. The 2023 Republican primary is set for May 16th, with the general election scheduled for November 7th. Expect this to become a toss-up general election campaign.
It is believed that US Rep. Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge), who was just elected to a fifth term in the House, will imminently announce his 2023 gubernatorial candidacy. With both Sen. John Kennedy (R) and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) deciding not to run for Governor and incumbent John Bel Edwards (D) ineligible to seek a third term, the race becomes wide open.
The early leader appears to be Attorney General and former Congressman Jeff Landry (R), but with the candidate filing deadline set for August 10th and the initial primary scheduled for October 14th, this race still has months to develop. Since this is an odd-year election, Rep. Graves would not have to risk his House seat in order to enter the statewide contest.
A Siena College poll conducted for the Mississippi Today organization (1/8-12; 821 MS registered voters; live interview) finds first-term Governor Tate Reeves (R) holding only a four-point, 43-39%, edge over newly announced Democratic candidate Brandon Presley, a cousin to the late music legend Elvis Presley, as the February 1st candidate filing deadline fast approaches. The statewide primary is scheduled for August 8th, with a runoff on August 29th for those candidates not receiving majority support on the initial vote.
Gov. Reeves polled close in the 2019 election, but in the end won a 52-47% victory over four-term Attorney General Jim Hood (D). While his job approval rating, according to the Siena poll, is 48:45% positive to negative, his personal rating is an upside down 40:48%. It is unusual to see a personal rating register more negative than in a job approval score.
Two-term state Attorney General Josh Stein (D), who barely won re-election in 2020 with a scant 50.1 – 49.9% majority, announced his bid for Governor. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term in 2024, which will lead to another tight North Carolina open statewide campaign.
Mr. Stein, who is the early favorite to win the Democratic nomination, will probably face Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson who looks to have the inside track toward becoming the GOP standard bearer. We can expect another close statewide election in this highly competitive political state.
Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) announced his 2024 gubernatorial candidacy in what will likely become a crowded open seat Republican primary. Mountain State Gov. Jim Justice (R) is ineligible to seek a third term and may run for the Senate.
Already in the race is state Del. Moore Capito (R-Charleston), son of West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R), and auto dealer Chris Miller, the son of 1st District Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-Huntington). Two other minor candidates have also entered the race. No Democrat has yet come forward.
Former state Delegate S. Marshall Wilson is also running, representing the Americans Coming Together Party (ACT). Many more candidates are expected to enter the race. Rumors persist that Sen. Joe Manchin (D) may run for Governor or retire instead of seeking re-election.
Despite the US Supreme Court already hearing the Alabama racial gerrymandering case that should set the benchmark for how congressional districts must comply with the Voting Rights Act, a federal three-judge panel late last week struck down the South Carolina congressional map as a racial gerrymander and ordered a new draw to be completed and passed into law before March 31st. Depending upon the eventual Supreme Court ruling, however, this action may become moot.
The panel ruled that the District 1 and 6 configurations, those of Reps. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston) and Jim Clyburn (D-Columbia), constitute a racial gerrymander because the legislature’s map packed too many African American voters into Mr. Clyburn’s district. On the other hand, the judges declared that the District 2 and 5 formation, those of Reps. Joe Wilson (R-Springdale) and Jeff Duncan (R-Laurens), does not constitute a racial gerrymander.
It is unclear at this time if Palmetto State Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) will appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court or comply with drawing a new map, one that could easily be rendered irrelevant depending upon the future SCOTUS action. The high court will rule on the Alabama case before the end of June.
Though now-US Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) defeated US Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) in the November election, Tidewater Democrats rebounded with a tight special election win to convert her vacated Senate seat. Democrat Aaron Rouse captured a close 50.4 – 49.5% victory over Republican Kevin Adams to expand the Dems’ Senate advantage to 22-18.
In 2020, President Joe Biden carried this state Senate district with a 54-44% margin, but GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin won the seat 52-48% in the 2021 gubernatorial election. Therefore, the 7th Senatorial District is clearly politically marginal in nature.
In two House of Delegates special elections, each party held a risked vacancy in landslide proportions. In the 24th District where Delegate Ronnie Campbell (R-Rockbridge) passed away in December, the deceased incumbent’s wife, Ellen Campbell, easily succeeded her late husband with a 66-34% victory.
In Fairfax County’s 35th House of Delegates district, Democrat Holly Seibold recorded a 67-33% win to keep the seat in the Democratic column. She will replace Del. Mark Keam (D) who resigned to accept a position in the Biden Administration. The pair of victories now yield 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats in the state House.
Embattled first-term Mayor Lori Lightfoot continues to see support drift away. At an event the Chicago Teachers Union sponsored to declare its support of Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson for Mayor, US Reps. Jonathan Jackson (D-Chicago) and Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) also announced their endorsement of the county official. Rep. Jackson criticized Mayor Lightfoot for not keeping her 2019 campaign promises to support his endorsement of Commissioner Johnson.
The congressional member endorsements were a bit surprising since polling suggests that Mayor Lightfoot’s top competitor is their colleague in the House of Representatives, Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago). The Mayor’s election is February 28th. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers will advance to an April 4th runoff election.
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