Check out these political snippets on the presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and local races from across the country.
Gov. Brian Kemp
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has hired two national fundraisers to expand his federal political action committee’s financial base. Some believe his strengthening the Hardworking Americans PAC is a prelude for Kemp joining the presidential campaign, but it could also bring long term benefits for a potential US Senate run when Sen. Jon Ossoff (D) next comes in-cycle in 2026. Gov. Kemp was re-elected to a second term over Stacey Abrams (D) with a 53-46% victory margin. He is ineligible to again run for his current position in the 2026 election.
Former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley (R), as promised, this week officially announced her presidential campaign joining former President Donald Trump in the GOP field. Analysts pointed out that her announcement portfolio relies heavily on her background with little in the way of future vision. This approach largely proved a mistake for Republicans nationally in 2022, and the principal reason that many believed GOP candidates underperformed in the last election.
For his part, former President Trump seems to welcome her into the race, as he probably will with others. He understands a crowded field will likely award him the nomination with base support nationally of approximately 35%, just how the 2016 Republican campaign unfolded.
OH Predictive Insights, a frequent Arizona pollster, just produced new US Senate numbers (1/31-2/9; 1,000 AZ registered voters; online opt-in panel). Under various configurations, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) leads the various candidate machinations, but he scores only between 31-34% in the three-way hypothetical contests.
Along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I), Gallego was tested with Republicans Doug Ducey, the former Governor, 2022 Senate nominee Blake Masters, 2022 gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, and 2022 gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson. Sen. Sinema slightly improves her standing, topping out at 22%, while the highest Republican score is 27% from Mr. Ducey. The latter man, however, has repeatedly said he will not be a 2024 Senate candidate.
As expected, veteran Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), now the longest serving Democrat in the chamber since former Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has retired, announced last week that she will not seek re-election to a sixth full term in office. The Senator originally claimed the seat in a 1992 special election and won her first six-year term two years later.
Sen. Feinstein, 89 years of age, was first elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1969 and became Board President in 1978. Later that year, she succeeded then Mayor George Moscone (D) after his tragic assassination. Mayor Feinstein would then win election to the position and served a total of nine years. She lost the 1988 Governor’s race to then-Sen. Pete Wilson (R) but rebounded to win the Senate seat four years later.
Two Democratic House members, Reps. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) had both announced their Senate candidacies weeks before the incumbent made public her own re-election decision. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) immediately filed a Senate committee after Sen. Feinstein made her intentions public.
Through a Twitter announcement yesterday, Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D) announced that he will seek a fourth term next year. Speculation about his potential retirement had become relatively intense.
The best indicator as to whether a politician will continue running is how much money he or she raises. The fact that Sen. Tester reported over $2.88 million cash-on-hand for the year-end Federal Election Commission financial disclosure report and bringing in just under $4.5 million before his in-cycle period even began definitively suggested that he would remain an active candidate.
The Democratic leadership needs Sen. Tester to run again in order to increase hope of holding the party’s tenuous Senate majority. The Democrats face a 2024 election map that forces them to defend 23 of 34 in-cycle seats and keeping the Montana seat is no sure thing even with their best candidate.
Sen. Tester is Montana’s only Democratic statewide elected official, and the Big Sky Country has moved decidedly to the right since his last victory, a tight 50-47% result in 2018 over now-Congressman Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive).
When Wolverine State Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced on January 5th that she would not seek re-election in 2024, a spate of speculative activity occurred particularly among Democrats as to who may run to succeed the veteran incumbent. Despite the seemingly heightened interest level, no major candidate has yet to announce. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) was thought to be on the verge of declaring her Senate candidacy and is still expected to at some point, but she has yet to come forward.
The Republicans were quiet immediately after the Stabenow announcement, which caught many by surprise, but now increased chatter is evident. Last week, former US Rep. Mike Rogers said he is considering running, and this week speculation is surrounding potential Senate bids from Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-Holland), veteran ex-Rep. Fred Upton, and former US Rep. Peter Meijer. The latter man was denied renomination in the 2022 election cycle. The Michigan race promises to be highly competitive, but Democrats will be favored to win a close contest.
Before Cornhusker State Senator Pete Ricketts (R) was appointed to replace resigned Sen. Ben Sasse (R) on January 12th, former gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster indicated he would consider launching a primary against the eventual appointed incumbent. Now, he appears to be doubling down on that comment, again saying he is seriously considering developing a 2024 Senate campaign.
Mr. Herbster lost the 2022 Republican primary to now-Gov. Jim Pillen largely with then-Gov. Ricketts’ substantial help. Former President Donald Trump supported Herbster in the primary, but the endorsement came before several women came forth to accuse the agribusinessman of sexual harassment. Though Trump did not rescind the endorsement, his support was not enough to overcome the Pillen-Ricketts team.
Two-term Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello announced that he will launch a Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Bob Menendez in the New Jersey June 2024 primary election. Sen. Menendez is not expected to have much trouble winning renomination and re-election next year, but he now has at least one opponent who attracts significant media attention even though he is a small town mayor. Roselle Park is a city of approximately 14,000 people within populous Union County.
Four-term Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin (R), who gave up his congressional seat to challenge Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) in November and lost 53-47%, says he is considering launching a campaign against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) next year. Mr. Zeldin said “it would be a pretty epic clash” between the two if he decided to make the run.
This would be a tough race for Mr. Zeldin, or any Republican, in a presidential year. New York will surely back the Democratic presidential nominee meaning it would be even more difficult to defeat a sitting incumbent Senator who will be enjoying what should be a favorable turnout model in one of the country’s strongest Democratic states.
Sen. Bob Casey, Jr’s. (D) office staff released a statement indicating that the Senator’s surgery for prostate cancer is complete and doctors at least preliminarily believe he will need no further treatment. Sen. Casey previously said he hopes to run for re-election to a third term so long as his health responds. With early indications being positive, it is likely the Senator will be back on the ballot in 2024.
Two-term Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) announced yesterday that he is fully committed to seeking re-election to his current position and will not enter the 2024 presidential contest. Under Texas law, it would have been permissible for Sen. Cruz to simultaneously run for both offices, but he has chosen to concentrate on winning another Senatorial term. In 2018, he defeated then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) only 51-48% in a race many thought the Senator might lose. His focus on re-election suggests that we will see a more aggressive Senate campaign in this election cycle.
Mountain State Gov. Jim Justice (R) has been leaning toward challenging Sen. Joe Manchin (D) next year, and a new poll will likely add fuel to his fire. The Tarrance Group, polling for the Senate Leadership Fund (2/5-7; 609 WV registered voters, including an oversample of 100 likely Republican primary voters; live interview), projects Gov. Justice leading Sen. Manchin by a substantial ten-point margin, 52-42%.
Testing the other known potential Republican candidates, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town), the results prove very different. Against each of these Republicans, Sen. Manchin holds a lead. If AG Morrisey were to return for a re-match from their 2018 campaign (Manchin won 50-46%), the Senator would be staked to a reversed 52-42% advantage. He would fare even better opposite Rep. Mooney. In this pairing, Sen. Manchin’s margin would be a stronger 55-40%.
At this point, Rep. Mooney has announced his Senate candidacy. Mr. Morrisey says he is looking at the Senate race, along with the open Governor’s campaign, Rep. Mooney’s open congressional seat, and running for re-election. Mr. Justice, who is ineligible to seek a third term as Governor, is reportedly nearing a decision about the Senate race and even making public statements saying he’s likely to enter.
U.S. House of Representatives
California former state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D), who lost the second closest 2022 congressional election – a 565 vote result opposite now freshman-Rep. John Duarte (R-Modesto) – has filed a new 2024 committee with the Federal Election Commission. Prior to this action, Mr. Gray had said little about running again.
Viewed as the clear favorite at the beginning of the ’22 race, Mr. Gray failed to win the seat, and even placed behind Mr. Duarte in the June jungle primary. On paper, the new 13th District favors the Democrats. The FiveThirtyEight organization rates the seat D+7, while Dave’s Redistricting App scores the partisan lean as 53.7D – 43.9R. At this point, Democrats Phil Arballo, a former two-time congressional contender, retired Army Colonel Brad Boyd, and educator Angelina Rosario Sigala have all declared their candidacies. Regardless of who becomes the Democratic finalist, this race will be a top tier national Democratic conversion target.
Aspen Democratic former City Councilman Adam Frisch, who held Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) to the closest victory in any House race (546 vote margin), announced yesterday that he will return to seek a re-match with the two-term Congresswoman.
Mr. Frisch, however, already has Democratic primary opposition. Late last week, veterinarian and former congressional candidate Debby Burnett announced her candidacy, but she faces a difficult road to deny Mr. Frisch renomination after his strong general election performance. It is likely we will see another close general election here in 2024.
Second-term Indiana US Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) announced that she will not enter the open US Senate primary, and won’t even seek re-election to the House. Rep. Spartz had previously confirmed that a Senate race was under consideration, but she was not viewed as a particularly strong potential candidate. The surprise decision, however, was her saying that she will retire completely from elective politics when her current term ends. The Congresswoman said she has teenage daughters who need her guidance at home.
The Spartz retirement decision means six seats will already be open in the 2024 election cycle. Aside from the Indiana Congresswoman leaving the House, Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Katie Porter (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jim Banks (R-IN), and Alex Mooney (R-WV), have all formally announced their intentions to run for the Senate.
We’ve already seen brisk political activity in several New York Upstate districts. Dan Butterman (D), an insurance executive who has three times failed to win a state Assembly seat, says he will join the growing field to challenge freshman Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-Red Hook). Also in the race are Democratic activist Joe Cerullo and Independent marketing executive Hal Stewart. Stronger Democratic candidates are expected to emerge.
In two other Upstate districts, former Congressman Mondaire Jones (D) is contemplating a comeback effort against freshman Rep. Mike Lawler (R-Pearl River) in the Westchester County anchored 17th CD, and a pair of Democrats have announced their candidacies against freshman Rep. Brandon Williams (R-Syracuse) in the 22nd District.
Madison Gesiotto Gilbert (R), who lost to now freshman Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) in a tight 53-47% November contest, is reportedly mulling taking another shot at winning the seat in 2024. Should the Ohio map be re-drawn, which is a possibility before the 2024 election, this district could become more Republican. If not, then Rep. Sykes will be considered a clear favorite for re-election.
Army veteran Kyle Sinclair (R), who lost 68-32% against Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) in Texas’ 20th District last November, announced he is moving to the 28th District to challenge veteran Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo). The Congressman’s most serious vulnerability is in the Democratic primary, however, as illustrated in his 2022 victorious race for renomination decided in a May runoff by just 311 votes. We can expect to see more political action next year in this CD that stretches from San Antonio to the Mexican border.
Though candidate filing for the Louisiana Governor’s race does not close until August 10th, the open race field is already winnowing. At the end of last week, Louisiana Democratic Party chair Kate Bernhardt announced that she will not become a gubernatorial candidate after considering the possibility of entering.
The top candidates appear to be Attorney General Jeff Landry (R), state Treasurer John Schroder (R), and state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson (D). Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is ineligible to seek a third term. The state’s jungle primary is October 14, 2023, with a runoff on November 18th if no contender receives majority support in the first election.
A late January 2023 Mississippi gubernatorial poll, for the first time, shows Gov. Tate Reeves falling behind Democratic Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley in a head-to-head ballot test question. Tulchin Research, polling for the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Southern Majority IE PAC (1/21-25; 500 projected MS likely voters; live interview, email & text) projects Mr. Presley, a cousin to the late singing legend Elvis Presley, pulling ahead of Gov. Reeves, 47-43%.
An earlier January poll, from Siena College (1/1-12; 821 MS registered voters), however, posted Gov. Reeves to a 43-39% edge. The closeness of the two early polls project that we will likely see a hard-fought gubernatorial campaign conducted in the Magnolia State later this year.
The Remington Research Group released a survey of what will be an open 2024 Show Me State Governor’s race. The study (2/8-9; 820 MO presumed likely Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system) projects Attorney General Jay Ashcroft, son of former US Senator and Attorney General John Ashcroft, leading the open GOP primary to replace term-limited Gov. Mike Parson (R) in the 2024 election.
The ballot test finds Mr. Ashcroft drawing 28% support, more than tripling that of Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe who posts 9% preference. The eventual Republican gubernatorial nominee will begin the general election campaign as a clear favorite.
Former Tar Heel State three-term Congressman Mark Walker (R-Greensboro), who was redistricted out of his 6th District seat and then subsequently lost a GOP US Senate primary, indicated he is now interested in running for Governor next year.
Mr. Walker fared poorly in the 2022 US Senate contest, however, placing a distant third to now-Sen. Ted Budd in the Republican primary. In that race he secured only 9.2% of the GOP vote. In the Governor’s race, Mr. Walker would face Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) and likely several others. Incumbent Governor Roy Cooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.
It is probable that a new congressional redistricting map will be drawn to replace the current interim court map before the 2024 election. As has been the Republican map drawers’ past practice, a new plan would reconfigure one of the seats in the Greensboro area to favor a Republican candidate. Therefore, another House run could be an option for Mr. Walker.
The North Carolina state Supreme Court is sending clear signals to the US Supreme Court over the state’s election and redistricting law challenges. Before departing at the end of their term in January, the former NC Supreme Court panel, with a 4D-3R majority, declared the state Senate map a partisan gerrymander and overturned the NC voter identification law. On Friday, the new 5R-2D court announced it will hear arguments to overturn those rulings in the middle of March.
The move is significant since SCOTUS is considering the North Carolina political gerrymandering case and will rule before July 1st. The state court, however, potentially taking action on similar cases before the US Supreme Court ultimately decides, could allow the latter panel simply to yield to the state’s decisions. At the end of the process and regardless of which court sets the final parameters, it is probable that we will see wholescale redistricting of the North Carolina political boundaries before the 2024 election.
As we approach the February 28th non-partisan mayoral election in Chicago, an independent IZQ Strategies survey (1/27-2/2; 1,040 likely Chicago primary voters; SMS text) sees former Chicago Schools CEO Paul Vallas taking the lead within the crowded candidate field with 25% support.
Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, who US Reps. Jonathan Jackson (D-Chicago) and Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) support, pulls into second place with 15%, while Mayor Lori Lightfoot and US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) drop into a tie for third position with 12% preference apiece.
The latest survey, however, finds Rep. Garcia rebounding from the previous studies that were showing him trending downward. The new Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies survey conducted for four local Chicago news outlets (1/31-2/3; 625 Chicago likely primary voters; live interview) returns Rep. Garcia to the lead with 20% support, followed by Mr. Vallas at 18%, and Mayor Lightfoot placing a close third with 17%. From the field of nine candidates, the top two will advance to an April 4th runoff election, assuming no one receives majority support on the 28th.
Reports are emanating from Houston that veteran US Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) is conducting citywide polling to determine her chances in the open Mayor’s race scheduled for November of this year. Incumbent Sylvester Turner (D) is ineligible to seek a third term. Today, the leading contender appears to be state Sen. John Whitmire (D), who was first elected to the legislature in 1972. He served ten years in the state House of Representatives before moving to the state Senate in 1982. He is Texas’ longest-serving state Senator.
The crowded primary to replace term-limited Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) has created a national controversy. One of the ten Democrats vying for the position, businessman Jeff Brown, has been running a commercial with film of former First Lady Michelle Obama praising him at an event.
According to an official response statement from Ms. Obama, the film is doctored and she was including both Mr. Brown and another individual as praiseworthy for their business and community efforts at a gathering that occurred several years ago. Ms. Obama further stated that she does not take sides in Democratic primaries, and is supporting no candidate in the Philadelphia race. The field of ten Democrats are competing to win the May 16th primary in order to advance in a heavy favorite’s position to the November general election.
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